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Palestine | International

More Settler Homes Planned
by Arab News (repost)
Friday Feb 25th, 2005 5:12 PM
GAZA, 26 February 2005 — Israel plans to build over6 , 000more settler homes in West Bank this year in a move that is likely to affect the Middle East peace process.
A report in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper said yesterday that6 ,391 homes for settlers were slated to be built this year, a sharp increase over2004 . The report drew a call from the Palestinians for US pressure on Israel to drop any such plan in the interests of peace.

Statistics on the website of the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), whose2005 construction plan was cited by Yediot, showed the government agency marketed1 , 783new housing units in the West Bank in 2004 and1 , 225in 2003.

An ILA spokesman was unavailable for comment.

Responding to the report, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz’s office said in a terse statement he had approved building permits for “a limited number of housing units” in settlement blocs.

The statement gave no figures.

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the construction would violate a US-backed road map that calls on Israel to cease all “settlement activity” on territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East War.

“We urge personal and direct intervention by President Bush to make sure such a plan will not be implemented,” Erekat said.

The election of Mahmoud Abbas last month as Palestinian president and a cease-fire he and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon declared at a Feb. 8 summit in Egypt have raised hopes of reviving the road map after four years of bloodshed.

Palestinian leaders have also warmed to an Israeli evacuation of all 21 Jewish settlements from Gaza and four of 120 in the West Bank due to start on July20 . But they note Sharon pledged to keep big West Bank settlement blocs forever.

“As for the major clusters, don’t expect us to stop construction there. In any future agreement, Israel will retain them,” a government official said, citing a need to accommodate the “natural growth” of their populations.

About225 , 000Israelis live in 120 settlements in the West Bank. The international community views settlements as illegal.

Under the ILA plan, a third of the new Israeli homes in existing Jewish enclaves in the West Bank this year would be built just outside Jerusalem in Maaleh Adumim, Israel’s largest settlement and home to 30,000, Yediot Ahronot said.

The newspaper, Israel’s biggest, also said the government intended to approve retroactively about200 settlement outposts erected without its authorization in the West Bank, but Mofaz’s office denied this.

“The defense minister has made it clear on numerous occasions that all the unauthorized outposts will be removed, and that will be the case,” his office said.

In a new development in the Gaza pullout plan, security officials said Mofaz intended to speed up the pace of evacuation this summer in a bid to avoid lengthy confrontations with settlers who refuse to leave.

Mofaz now aims to complete the withdrawal in four weeks instead of seven, the officials said.

— Additional input from agencies

http://arabnews.com/?page=4§ion=0&article=59568&d=26&m=2&y=2005
§Israel Defies Bush, To Expand Illegal Colonies
by palestine-pmc.com Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 1:34 PM
The Israeli Yedioth Ahronoth daily reported Friday that Israel plans to build 6,391 homes for the illegal settlers in the Jewish colonies in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank in 2005, a sharp increase over 2004, in defiance of US President George W. Bush’s call in Brussels Monday on the Jewish state to “freeze all settlement activity.”

Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat on Friday urged US President Bush to press Israel “to make sure such a plan is not implemented and that his call for a freeze in all settlement activity is implemented.”

Bush reaffirmed Monday US commitment to the creation of a viable Palestinian state with contiguous territory in the West Bank.

Erekat said the construction would violate a US-backed and UN-adopted “roadmap” for Palestinian – Israeli peace that calls on Israel to cease all “settlement activity” on Palestinian territory it occupied in the 1967.

Statistics on the Web site of the Israel Lands Authority (ILA), whose 2005 construction plan was cited by Yedioth Ahronoth, showed the Israeli government agency marketed 1,783 new housing units in the West Bank in 2004 and 1,225 in 2003.

Yedioth Ahronoth said a third of the new Israeli homes planned this year in the West Bank would be built just outside Jerusalem in the colony of Maaleh Adumim, Israel's largest settlement in the West Bank, which has a population of more than 30, 000.

Most of the rest will be built in several colonies south of Jerusalem.

Confirming the report, Israeli “Defense” Minister Shaul Mofaz's office said in a statement he had approved building permits for “a limited number of housing units” in settlement blocs, but the statement gave no figures.

Another Israeli government official also confirmed the report to Reuters.

“As for the major clusters, don't expect us to stop construction there. In any future agreement, Israel will retain them,” the official told Reuters, citing a need to accommodate the so-called “natural growth” of the illegal settlers.

However the ILA spokesman Adam Avidan said that this was “a draft of a plan that was submitted in 2003,” adding: “It was never approved.”

Avidan said he did not know how many new homes would be built this year in existing Jewish colonies in the West Bank.

The newspaper, Israel's biggest, also said the Israeli government intended to approve retroactively about 200 settlement outposts erected without its authorization in the West Bank, but Mofaz's office denied this.

“The defense minister has made it clear on numerous occasions that all the unauthorized outposts will be removed, and that will be the case,” his office said.

More than 425,000 Israeli Jewish settlers live in more than 155 colonies in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank. The international community views these colonies as illegal.

Israel's government last Sunday approved a plan to “disengage” its occupation forces and illegal Jewish settlers from the Gaza Strip and endorsed a new route of its Wall of Annexation and Expansion in the West Bank.

The changed route of the Wall of Annexation and Expansion, which the Jewish state is building on occupied Palestinian land, will incorporate seven percent (7%) of the West Bank area and the Jewish colonies of Maale Adumin and Gush Etzion, east and south of Jerusalem.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon pledged after a meeting with President Moshe Katsav Monday there will be no negotiations on Jerusalem, which “will remain united as the eternal capital of the Jewish people. It will not be divided.”

This statement contradicts his statement to Al-Ahram Saturday that the Wall Israel is building on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank will not mark the definitive border of an eventual Palestinian state.

Anti-Wall Protesters Tear Gazed

On Friday the Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) used tear gas to disperse some 700 people, mostly Palestinian villagers from Rafat northwest of Jerusalem and Deir Balut in the northern West Bank and a few foreign and Israeli peace activists, who were protesting the leveling of land by Israeli bulldozers to prepare the ground for the Wall's imminent erection.

The villagers had organized a mass prayer by the site and clashes later broke out with IOF troops.

A dozen protesters suffered breathing difficulties after inhaling tear gas and were treated on the spot.

Palestinians dub the Wall as an “Apartheid Wall.”

Jewish Rabbi for Dismantling Israeli Colonies

Separately spokesman of Natouri Karata, which is an anti Zionism institution, Israel David Wice, demanded Thursday the dismantling of Israeli colonies, which are located on land that belongs to the Palestinian people.

“Zionism is against Judaism,” the Rabbi said in a statement to reporters underlining that Natouri Karata Institution has been opposing Zionism as well as condemning its criminal sins committed against the Palestinian people.

Wise pointed out that the Palestinians are victims of the immoral Zionism, which denied them their existence and rights on their own lands.

“We always demonstrate in the United States and Europe against Zionism but the media doesn't pay us any attention,” the Rabbi said pointing out that Karata institution has been refusing to live under the Zionist system represented by Israel.

http://www.palestine-pmc.com/details.asp?cat=1&id=807
by Daily Star, Lebanon
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 12:10 AM
In what appeared to be a positive sign for the peace process, Israel announced that it will speed up the pace of its withdrawal from Gaza to avoid an extended confrontation with Jewish settlers who are opposed to the evacuation orders. At the same time, however, Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot, reported that the Jewish state had approved a plan to build over 6,000 new housing units in the West Bank. Although the Israeli Lands Authority, the government agency in charge of settlements, has denied the report, saying that the plan was only a draft proposal that had never gained approval, Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz's office did admit that plans had been approved to build "a limited amount of settlements."

Mofaz's office did not say exactly how many homes or settlements the "limited" number would involve. But it really doesn't matter. The fact is that while Israel is touting its renewed commitment to the peace process, it is persisting with settlement construction. While Israel has nominally accepted the idea of a freeze on expansion, it has fiercely defended its right to continue construction to accommodate "natural growth." Such duplicity in approach is tantamount to Palestinian extremists saying that they'll go along with the peace but will maintain a "limited" quota of suicide bombings. The settlements, like terrorism, are both a blatant provocation and a violation of the U.S.-backed "road map" to peace. In this sense, settlement expansion amounts to violence, and violence - in all of its forms - must not be tolerated.

U.S. President George W. Bush has made securing Middle East peace a priority in his global agenda. At this crucial juncture, which is being hailed as a rare window of opportunity, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice must proceed carefully in order to succeed in achieving this goal. The Bush administration has sent mixed messages in the past on the issue of settlements. While the United States has endorsed the road map, it has turned a blind eye to the issue of settlement expansion. In August 2004, Washington sought "clarifications" from the Israeli government when it announced plans to construct over 1,500 new settlements, but refrained from issuing serious public criticism.

America must be clear. Sending mixed messages now will only endanger an already fragile truce between the Israelis and the Palestinians. The United States must stand firm behind the road map and all of its principles. America must encourage a restraint that is wider than the war that wounds by encouraging both sides to abandon violent practices.

http://dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&article_id=12985&categ_id=17
by Why do you care more about Israel than SFBAY?
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 12:16 AM
Why do you people care more about terrorists losing their homes in the desert on the other side of planet earth than you care about the tens of thousands of homeless people in and around San Francisco and the Bay Area?

by well
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 12:20 AM
If all the money going to kill people in Iraq and support Israel in its war were instead used to fund social programs I bet there would be a lot fewer homeless people. The conflicts in Iraq and Palestine may seem far away but they have many local effects (aside from the fact that many peopel over here have friends and relatives suffering over there as a result of US forign policy)
by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 1:19 AM

And what about the attack the Palestinians committed yesterday?
by ANGEL
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 2:00 AM
>>>Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat said the construction would violate a US-backed road map that calls on Israel to cease all “settlement activity” on territory it captured in the 1967 Middle East War.<<<FROM ABOVE ARTICLE>

Sharon keep insisting he wants Peace with the Palestinian People, but he and his government refuses to see the things that keep Peace from being achieved.....

Thirty-six years of war should be enough for such a small number of people, when you consider the World Population.
Allowing the Palestinian People to have their small state in the Whole of the West Bank and Gaza can solve this conflict.
There are 1,200,000 or so Arabs living inside Israel Proper.
There are 400,000 or so Jews living inside the West Bank and Gaza.
Trying to remove all the settlement can be an almost undoable task.
So Set the Borders for Israel to it Pre 1967 Border (Green Line) and have the State of Palestine inside the West Bank and Gaza.
If the U.N. can decide the Borders of Israel in 1948,
The U.N. can decide the Borders of Palestine in 2005.
You would end up with Israel with a majority Jewish Population and Palestine with a majority Muslim Population.
This would allow for the Israeli Military to Guard and Control the Israeli pre 1967 borders instead of confiscating Palestinian Land and Demolishing Palestinian Homes in the West Bank and Gaza that only goes to fuel the need for the Palestinian People to fight for their Freedom.
The Jews who do not like living in the new Palestinian State can feel free to move to Israel if they so choose.
The Arabs living inside Israel can feel free to move to the new Palestinian State if they so choose.
Almost every nation on earth has more then one ethnic group or religious group, so why not Israel and Palestine?
It would sure be better then the never-ending conflict we have right now.

Who has died and how in this struggle for Palestinian Freedom?
CLICK HERE > http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html

by Critical Thinker
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 5:28 AM
Crucial questions as for the money are:

(1) How come there's no audible outcry here over all the sums in US foreign aid provided to states besides Israel and Iraq?

(2) How much of the US aid allocated to Israel has gone into construction of homes and infrastructure for Jews in Judea-Samaria over the last year? I daresay little.

The PA or Palestnians are now given increasingly growing sums of aid lately. Does anyone here complain?

As to the effects on people living in the Bay area, some Jews may also claim that their acquaintances or brethren in Judea-Samaria are enduring unnnecessary hardship due to what they may perceive as an American foreign policy lacking in forcefullness toward the Palestinians as far as insistence on cracking down continually on Palestinian terror goes.


Then, of course, we've got the resident flake who's apparently too much into autopilot mode apologizing for Palestinian terror that he/she is unable to flip the switch that would enable him/her to at least to enjoy a split second of moral clarity and condemn the recent terrorist attack.
by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 5:42 AM

You should already know that terrorists are never responsible for what they do. The blame is always on others: the Israelis, Putin or the US.

I am feeling like becoming a terrorist myself and start killing terrorists.

I would like to see what these same people had to say.
"The settlements, like terrorism, are both a blatant provocation and a violation of the U.S.-backed "road map" to peace. In this sense, settlement expansion amounts to violence, and violence - in all of its forms - must not be tolerated."

This writer would have us believe that building a house is morally equivalent to a suicide bombing.

Currently the Jewish settlements are on 1.7% of the land in the West Bank. I understand that the plans to build new homes will place them very close to the green line and behind Israel's new security barrier.

The settlement are not illegal under UN resolution 242 or the Oslo Accords. All this talk of "illegal" settlements under "international law" has to do with violating previously agreed peace treaties. Israel has a peace treaty with Jordan and another one with Egypt. These were the former occupiers of the West Bank and Gaza. Therefore, Israel is not engaged in any "illegal" occupation.

BTW: Saeb Erekat isn't even a native Palestinian. He was born in the United States.
by ?
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:11 AM
Is the West Bank Israeli territory that is now annexed? If not how can it be legal for Israel to build permanent settlements on it? Either its part of Israel or its not. Either Palestinians i the West Bank are second clas Israeli citizens denied basic voting right or the settlements are being built on land that isnt in the same country as the government aproving of them and defending them with troops.
by Critical Thinker
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:23 AM
Judea-Samaria has legally been a no-man's land since 1948 when Jordan illegitimately overtook it and then annexed it, only to lose it to Israel in 1967. It's a territory contested by both Palestinians and Israelis who both have legitimate rights to settle in it.

by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:35 AM
Illegal Arab immigration into "Palestine" - part of Oslo
Anyone who has been following these posts, should recognize the theme of illegal Arab immigration. In other words, many of what are called "Palestinians" today immigrants from Syria, Iraq, Jordan and Egypt (many who until this last generation even retained their native language).

Who is a Palestinian?
There is no religion, culture or language test for "who is a Palestinian". The Arab Legion never allowed a census of Palestinian refugees. The Jordan government refuses to disclose the percentage of Palestinians in Jordan, potentially revealing that the majority of Palestinians live in Jordan giving feul to the claim that "Jordan is Palestine".
The U.N. defines that any Arab who had lived for TWO YEARS in Western Palestine before 1948 "He and his descendants could claim the right of return". Today 3-5 million Arabs, without proof or document are claiming to be descendants of these original refugees and are claiming to be "Palestinians" with the "right of return" to Western Palestine [Israel].

For politically motivated reasons, from 1920-1948, the British government deliberately tried to create an artificial Arab majority in Western Palestine by severely restricting Jewish immigration and actively encouraging illegal Arab immigration.


How many Arab Immigrants to the West Bank and Gaza?
Terms such as "settlers" and "settlements" apply to Palestinians as much as Israelis. Over ~400,000 Arabs have entered the West Bank and Gaza via Jordan since the start of Oslo. The Arabs have bult ~261 settlements in the West Bank since 1967. In comparison ~200,000 Jews have entered the West Bank and Gaza (including Jerusalem Suburbs) and built ~144.settlements.
The number of Arab settlers is based on statistics collected on the Allenby bridge and other connection points between Israel and Jordan. I don't know yet whether it also includes the border between Gaza and Egypt.

The statistics are based on the number of Arabs day workers entering, but not leaving Israel, published by the Israel Central Bureau for statistics during the Netanyahu administration and subsequently denied as "recording errors" by the Barak administration.

The original report claimed upwards of 400,000 KNOWN illegal immigrants in Israel since the start of Olso, obstensively pushing the West Bank population from 1 million to 1.5 million Arabs.

The Barak Administration disregarded this figure and reported a revised figure of approximately 170,000 allowing for their "estimated number of recording errors at border control".

Israel CONTINUES to have a policy of essentially allowing unhindered immigration to the Palestinian Autonomy across the Jordanian, and Egyptian borders.

The Palestinian Authority several times has tried to claim control of border control, resulting in some conflict at the Allenby and Adam bridges. Israel during the Barak administration tried to appease the PA by allowing liberal policies towards would-be-immigrants, threatening deportation only if they appeared outside Palestinian Autonomy regions. It is unclear that Sharon administration's policy is any different.

In addition, numerous reports have been occurring in the press of substantial illegal (unreported) immigration. This appears from time to time where job-seeking "infiltrators" are stumbled on by the police or border patrol. They come from as far away as Iraq, Syria, Kuwait and India.

The number of settlements can be seen by doing a comparison of maps in 1967 and today.

We must be aware of the implications of massive illegal Arab immigration into the West Bank and Gaza There have been twenty at least new Arab settlements since 1998.

As Winston Churchill said in 1939, "So far from being persecuted, the Arabs have crowded into the country and multiplied till their population has increased more than even all world Jewry could lift up the Jewish population." [Martin Gilbert, Churchill, vol. 5, p. 1072. ]

Various military and political circles talk about the "retaking of Area As" to achieve Israeli security, but the population movement is one thing that can't be "undone" or "retaken".

57,000 Jordanians here illegally
Ha'aretz: By Ruth Sinai Ha'aretz, 4 April 2001
Deputy Public Security Minister Gideon Ezra claims there are 57,000 Jordanians illegally in Israel, mostly in Galilee villages, and warns they could become a security risk. But a Labor Ministry expert counters that number is "totally illogical."

Ezra, who asked for reports from border control stations on the numbers of Jordanians who entered the country and then when they left, calculated a difference of 57,000 between the number entries and exits over the last three years.

"They enter with tourist visas for three months, or for shorter periods. A few seek family reunification, some marry Israelis and many disappear in the country," said Ezra, a former senior officer in the Shin Bet.

"They come to work like any foreign worker," he noted, adding that as opposed to foreign workers from China or Romania, they can become a security risk, like the Jordanian who, a few months ago, was involved in the terror attack on the Number 51 bus in Tel Aviv. Now the Public Security Ministry is looking into ways to bring down the number of illegal Jordanians here, he said.

But Benny Fefferman [disagreed]...

Speaking at a seminar yesterday on the subject of foreign workers here, he said the ministry estimates there are altogether some 100,000 workers without legitimate visas in the country. The Central Bureau of Statistics estimated the number of foreign workers without visas in 1999 at 90,000. Fefferman said that the phenomenon of vastly disparate numbers between entries and exits to the country is "well-known" and mostly a result of poor record-keeping at the borders.

...He said that only a few years ago ... the assumption in Israel was that there were as many as 400,000 illegal foreign workers here...


Some 184,000 refugees have returned since 1948
Jerusalem Post, January 2, 2001
Israel has allowed 114,000 refugees to return to the territories for humanitarian reasons over the years, according to the Foreign Ministry's legal adviser, Alan Baker. Some 70,000 refugees have been allowed to return to Israel proper, most of them in the framework of family reunions after 1948.


100,000 Palestinians are already illegally "returned: to Israel
Ha'aretz: By Avraham Tal Ha'aretz 28 December 2000
Since the start of the 1950s, Israel had rejected the refugee clause in Resolution 194, but under the Oslo accords it agreed that refugees should constitute one of the issues to be negotiated in final status talks. Palestinians could view this as an achievement: for them, the very fact that the refugees were recognized as a problem about whose resolution Israel must negotiate constituted a toehold in a door which had previously been locked.

The Palestinians have seen, and continue to see, that Israel has grown soft and retreated from once intractable positions: Israelis negotiate with the PLO, assent to the establishment of a Palestinian state and partition areas in Jerusalem. Why, then, the Palestinians reason, shouldn't Israel become pliant and compromising about refugees?

This assumption is strengthened by the fact that the first cracks in Israel's position on refugees have already appeared. The Beilin-Abu Mazen document (which the Palestinian politician consistently denounces, for reasons that are not hard to deduce) holds that most refugees will be settled in the Palestinian state, apart from a small number which will return to Israel in accord with humanitarian criteria. A proposal akin to this formulation has apparently resurfaced in U.S. President Bill Clinton's current plan - according to the outgoing president's proposal, only a small number of refugees will be entitled to return to the State of Israel.

An official policy of "family reunification" was carried out after Israel's founding, and up to the end of the 1960s this policy permitted the return of 40,000 persons. How many more families can be "reunited" after 50 years? When one takes into account the clan network structure of Palestinian society, the potential apparently is unlimited.

How many more are to return under this reunification formula, or some other framework? In 1949, David Ben-Gurion agreed to accept 100,000 refugees. The proposal was rejected and removed from the national agenda; yet recently it has been mentioned anew. In actual fact, since 1967, Israel has "absorbed" close to this number. According to data compiled by Professor Arnon Sofer, about 50,000 Palestinians returned illegally to Galilee and Triangle areas and mixed in with local population groups there. Another 20,000 Palestinians, he says, settled in Jerusalem (not counting those who came under the reunification policy), and about 1,000 Palestinian women married Israeli Bedouin men. Israel doesn't enforce immigration laws (and other laws) in Arab communities.


Over 40,000 entered PA without Israel's consent
Jerusalem Post, June 14, 2000
Over 40,000 Palestinians have entered the Palestinian Authority from a variety of Arab countries without the agreement of the Israeli government, Israel Radio reports.

Many of these obtained temporary permission to stay, but have been remained in the PA indefinitely.

At a meeting of the Ministerial Committee on Security, Prime Minister Barak said Israel would agree to the continued residence of 5,000 of those Palestinians, the report says.

Barak also said Israel was to release three administrative detainees in a gesture to the PA for cooperation on security matters.


by ?
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:36 AM
"It's a territory contested by both Palestinians and Israelis who both have legitimate rights to settle in it. "

If the goal of settlements is really the eventual annexation of the land where the settlements are built (which it sounds like you are almost suggesting) then what will the end result be? The settlements not near borders pretty much make an eventual goal of a two state soilution impossible unless the new Palestinian state is going to look like Swiss Cheese.
by ?
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:39 AM
"Over 40,000 Palestinians have entered the Palestinian Authority from a variety of Arab countries without the agreement of the Israeli government, Israel Radio reports."

So its part of Israel? If so Palestinians should have a right to vote. You cant have it both ways saying that Israel should have ultimate control and has historical right to the land and then argue that its not really Israel so Palestinians have no rights as Israeli citizens.
by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:40 AM
Vol. 2, No. 16 19 January 2003



Diplomatic and Legal Aspects
of the Settlement Issue
Jeffrey Helmreich

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
One may legitimately support or challenge Israeli settlements in the disputed territories, but they are not illegal, and they have neither the size, the population, nor the placement to seriously impact upon the future status of the disputed territories and their Palestinian population centers.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The outbreak of the Al Aqsa Intifada in the fall of 2000 began to erode the orthodoxy that settlements were driving Palestinian anger and blocking peace. New York Times foreign affairs analyst Thomas L. Friedman wrote in October 2000: "This war is sick but it has exposed some basic truths." In particular, Friedman wrote, "To think that the Palestinians are only enraged about settlements is also fatuous nonsense. Talk to the 15-year-olds. Their grievance is not just with Israeli settlements, but with Israel. Most Palestinians simply do not accept that the Jews have any authentic right to be here. For this reason, any Palestinian state that comes into being should never be permitted to have any heavy weapons, because if the Palestinian had them today, their extremists would be using them on Tel Aviv."

In recent months, however, the settlements have re-emerged as an explanation for the failure of nearly every ceasefire and diplomatic effort to quell the conflict. The Mitchell Report in 2001 and recent remarks by visiting U.S. senators have raised the question of settlements (though not directly blaming them for the conflict), and the UN General Assembly concluded its 2002 session with over 15 agenda items condemning "illegal" Israeli settlements. Settlements have also become a focal point in the Quartet's December 2002 "road map."

In fact, since their establishment nearly three decades ago, settlements have been the cause celebre of critics seeking to attribute the persistence of the conflict to Israeli policy. The criticism falls into two categories: moral/political arguments that settlements are "obstacles to peace," and legal claims that settlements are illegitimate or a violation of international norms. The pervasiveness of these claims masks the fact that, upon closer scrutiny, they are false, and they hide the true source of grievances and ideological fervor that fuel this conflict.



An Obstacle to Peace?
Settlements make up less than 2 percent of the West Bank. According to Peace Now, which opposes Israeli settlement in the territories, the built-up areas of the settlements take up only 1.36 percent of the West Bank (Foreign Affairs, March/April 2000). B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights watchdog group, places the figure slightly higher, at 1.7 percent. The much larger numbers often used to describe the land comprising Israeli settlements are reached only by including roads and adjacent areas, as well as land between settlements or between settlements and roads, nearly all of which is unpopulated. In truth, settlements simply do not comprise enough land to be serious obstacles to any political or geographic eventuality in the area, be it a Palestinian state or a continuation of the Oslo process.

Settlements do not block the eventual establishment of a contiguous Palestinian entity. Some critics charge that settlements prevent peace by blocking the potential for a contiguous Palestinian state in the West Bank, which is proposed in most peace plans. This claim ignores certain basic realities.

The settlers would not block a peace agreement. Most Jews living in the West Bank express a deep love of the land and an attachment borne over two millennia when Jews yearned, prayed, and at times sought to return to their ancestral homeland. This natural bond has led to the view, popular in some Western circles, that these Jews prefer land to life, and would sacrifice the blood of Palestinians and fellow Jews on the alter of their biblical vision. This image -- while dramatic and a neat counterpart to the image of Islamic fundamentalism -- is simply untrue of the settlers today.

A majority of the settlers have already indicated a willingness to relocate if a final agreement should require it, according to a poll taken by Peace Now (Agence France Presse, July 31, 2002). Even if such polls are disputed by opponents of Peace Now, such data indicates a far more pragmatic approach on the part of large numbers of settlers than has been allowed them by their critics.

Recall that the residents of Yamit in the Sinai were relocated as a result of the peace agreement with Egypt. Thousands of Israelis were involved in this operation. The Yamit community was removed by none other than Israel's Prime Minister Ariel Sharon when he served as minister of defense in the second Begin government.

The overwhelming majority of settlers, close to 80 percent, live in communities such as Elkana, Maale Adumim, Betar, and Gush Etzion, located close to, if not contiguous with, pre-1967 Israel, and which can be connected geographically to the "Green Line" without involving Palestinian population centers. For separate reasons, the settlements in the strategic Jordan Valley do not impede the contiguity of the main Palestinian population centers, or prevent their expansion -- the Jordan Valley is, after all, sparsely populated by Palestinians, with the exception of Jericho, which is today under full Palestinian control.

Most settlements are concentrated in a few areas that, for security reasons, Israel cannot afford to cede. For example, the settlement of Ofra is located next to Baal Hatzor, the highest point in the West Bank and the location of the main early warning station for the Israeli air force. It was from high points along the West Bank hill ridge that neighboring Arab armies twice invaded Israel's low-lying heartland, in 1948 and in 1967, which was then nine miles wide and completely exposed.

The late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin, architect of the Oslo Peace agreements, coined the term "security settlements" to describe those communities, in order to emphasize those settlements located on strategic terrain essential to Israel's security interests. And yet, as noted above, these areas make up barely two percent of West Bank territory and nearly all of them do not encroach upon Palestinian population centers or block their contiguity. Moreover, Israel cannot, in any event, afford to withdraw from these small but strategic points even if they were entirely unpopulated. Thus, the presence of settlements in such locations is not the reason Israel remains in these areas.



Settlements are Not Illegal
The settlements are not located in "occupied territory." The last binding international legal instrument which divided the territory in the region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the context of the British Mandate. These rights under the British Mandate were preserved by the successor organization to the League of Nations, the United Nations, under Article 49 of the UN Charter.

The West Bank and Gaza are disputed, not occupied, with both Israel and the Palestinians exercising legitimate historical claims. There was no Palestinian sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza Strip prior to 1967. Jews have a deep historic and emotional attachment to the land and, as their legal claims are at least equal to those of Palestinians, it is natural for Jews to build homes in communities in these areas, just as Palestinians build in theirs.

The territory of the West Bank and Gaza Strip was captured by Israel in a defensive war, which is a legal means to acquire territory under international law. In fact, Israel's seizing the land in 1967 was the only legal acquisition of the territory this century: the Jordanian occupation of the West Bank from 1947 to 1967, by contrast, had been the result of an offensive war in 1948 and was never recognized by the international community, including the Arab states, with the exception of Great Britain and Pakistan.



The Settlements are Consistent with Resolution 242
Many observers incorrectly assume that UN Security Council Resolution 242 requires a full Israeli withdrawal from the land Israel captured in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Some may have a hidden agenda aimed at depriving Israel of any legal rights whatsoever in the disputed areas. In either case, they use this misinterpretation to conclude that settlement activity is unlawful because it perpetuates an "illegal" Israeli occupation.

The assumption and the conclusion are deeply flawed. Resolution 242 calls for only an undefined withdrawal from a portion of the land -- and only to the extent required by "secure and recognized boundaries." Israel has already withdrawn from the majority of the land it had captured, and nearly all of the areas in which it retains communities are essential to "secure and recognized boundaries." The specific location of Israeli settlements was determined by Israel's Ministry of Defense over the last 30 years, not by the settlers themselves, and they were set up in order to strengthen Israel's presence in those few areas from which it cannot, militarily, afford to withdraw.



Settlements are Consistent with the Geneva Conventions
In three recent emergency special sessions of the UN General Assembly, Israeli settlement was cited as a violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. These international humanitarian instruments, forged in the ashes of the Holocaust to prevent future genocidal brutality and oppression, were never invoked in 50 years until the case of condominium construction in Jerusalem during 1998. Was such construction -- any settlement construction -- a violation of the Geneva Convention?

No. The relevant clause, Article 49, prohibits the "occupying power" from transferring population into the "occupied territory." Aside from the fact that the territory is not occupied, but disputed, Morris Abrams, the U.S. Ambassador to the UN in Geneva, had pointed out that the clause refers to the forcible transfer of large populations. By contrast, the settlements involve the voluntary movement of civilians. The U.S. Department of State, accordingly, does not view Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention as applicable to settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. For that reason, the official U.S. position has been over the years that settlements are legal, even though successive administrations have criticized them on political grounds. (Only the Carter administration for a short time held that settlements were illegal; this position was overturned by the Reagan administration.)



Settlement Growth Never Violated Oslo
Although certain Palestinian negotiators demanded a settlement freeze, the peace agreement ultimately reached by Israel and the Palestinians at Oslo, along with the Interim Agreement of 1995, allow settlement growth as well as the growth -- and creation -- of Palestinian communities in the disputed territories. The Palestinians acquired planning and zoning rights in Area A, while Israel retained the same rights in Area C where the settlements were located. Indeed, their legal status was to be addressed and decided only in the final status negotiations which, unfortunately, never took place. Until this point is reached, settlement growth remains within the legal scope of the Oslo Agreements.

At the October 5, 1995, session of the Knesset at which the Interim Agreement was ratified, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin proclaimed that we "committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth" (Israel Foreign Ministry, http://www.israel-mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00te0). On the basis of this understanding of Oslo II, the Knesset voted to approve the Agreement.



Conclusion
One may legitimately support or challenge Israeli settlements in the disputed territories, but they are not illegal, and they have neither the size, the population, nor the placement to seriously impact upon the future status of the disputed territories and their Palestinian population centers.

* * *
Jeffrey S. Helmreich is the author of numerous articles on Israel for American newspapers and journals.


http://www.jcpa.org/brief/brief2-16.htm
by Critical Thinker
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 10:57 AM
Let me add this to my preceding post: as I and others never tire from trying to educate and remind users on this board, Judea-Samaria had been populated by Jews for two millennia prior to the 1948 Jordanian invasion and occupation. Jews were forced out of E. Jerusalem, Hebron, Jenin and the Etzion Bloc and the entire "West Bank" for that matter by either an illegal occupier or murderous mobs, many of whose members were themselves illegal migrants from neighboring Arab countries. How can Jewish settlement or resettlement in Judea-Samaria be illegal in and of itself? The spuriousness of that notion becomes self evident once one is acquainted to ALL the historical facts and discussions of this territory in int'l law.


I don't know what the future holds. Maybe Sharon or his successor/s will evacuate even more Jewish residential areas, which seems pretty likely; maybe the security barrier will be dismantled and eventually more territory than presently defended by the barrier will be acknowledge under a final settlement as part of the State of Israel, while still allowing for a contiguous Palestinian state.
by ?
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 11:09 AM
"How can Jewish settlement or resettlement in Judea-Samaria be illegal in and of itself?"
Its Israeli Settlements that are illegal since its a territory occupied after a war. It really has nothing to. Jeiwsh histroy, Palestinian history and the like have nothing to do with it. If Israel really thinks it has rights to the land and should own it as part of Israel it should commit to that opinion and decide which Palestinians get to become Israelis. The occupation has gone on for such a long time it cant just be a "no mans land anymore"; Israel has had plenty opf time to decide if its going to annext the land or not. By not making a choice it gets the best of both worlds while Palestinians get the wordt of both worlds. Israel gets to control the land and build Israeli towns but Palestinian remain a nonpeople with no rights.
by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 11:17 AM

According to the UN, there are no "occupied territories". The UN resolutions call that area "disputed" territories.
by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 11:20 AM

Hadn't the Palestinians breeched all the accords they signed, they would have have their state for a long time.

For not to mention that they didn't want it when it was offered to them by the UN in 1948.
by if you really want a 2 state solution
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 11:20 AM
Is Israel making a claim that its Israeli territory and thus should be annexed? Are Palestinians not claiming that its their territory? There seems to a lot of hatred between both sides but no real dispute about what should happen to the territories.
by apartheid
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 11:23 AM
It seems like supporters of Israel want a one state solution with the West Bank controlled by Israel with Palestinians either expelled or living as foreign workers with no citizenship rights.
by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 11:25 AM

See above.
by Critical Thinker
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 11:30 AM
>>>"Its Israeli Settlements that are illegal since its a territory occupied after a war."<<<

Even the usually anti-Israeli UN during the Cold War never ruled, least of all in a legally binding format, that they were illegal for that reason. Those flaunting conspiracy theory junk would blame that outcome on Abba Eban's legendary diplomatic skills (as if it was within his power to prevent the almighty UN from rendering that verdict), but I find such arguments unconvincing.

>>>"If Israel really thinks it has rights to the land and should own it as part of Israel it should commit to that opinion and decide which Palestinians get to become Israelis."<<<

I preferred that Israel do that under pre-Oslo Likud governments, but Shamir wasn't bold enough.

>>>"The occupation has gone on for such a long time it cant just be a "no mans land anymore"; Israel has had plenty opf time to decide if its going to annext the land or not. By not making a choice it gets the best of both worlds while Palestinians get the wordt of both worlds. Israel gets to control the land and build Israeli towns but Palestinian remain a nonpeople with no rights."<<<

This portion of your portrayal of matters is irrelevant for the time span since the intifada's outbreak.
by ANGEL
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 9:44 PM
We should not make the settlements the problem....
There are 1,200,000 or so Arabs living inside Israel Proper....
Do we make them the problem....No....They are just Arabs who happen to live inside Israel.

If we were to go ahead and make the Viable Palestinian State called for in the Road Map to Peace Now, in the whole of the West Bank and Gaza (only 22% of what is TODAY (forget the past, it is gone, gone, gone) Israel, West Bank and Gaza)....Much of the violence we see would come to an end.

Just like you have Israel with 1,200,000 or so Arabs.
You would have Palestine with 400,000 or so settlers.

By making it easy for the Jews to move to Israel proper if they wanted to, you would not have to force anyone to move.

It would happen naturally, A Jewish family living in the State of Palestine in the West Bank decided they want to move to Israel. They put their house up for sale (just like a person would anywhere in the U.S. if lets say, they wanted to move from Ohio to Texas).....They sell their house and the Israel Government sets up an agency to help them move to Israel Proper....The same could go for the Arabs inside Israel.

No one knows until it is done.......

Peace could just be around the corner......

""IF"" only 200,000 settlers decided to move to Israel.
""IF"" only 500,000 Arabs inside Israel decided to move to the new Palestinian State....once it was a Viable State with its own Government free from the Israeli Occupation.
You would end up with Palestine with a Palestinian majority and only 200,000 Jewish settlers.
You would end up with Israel with a Jewish majority and only 700,000 Arabs...
Of course this is not exact but it is a sample of what could happen.

But if you want any kind of Peace you have to start somewhere......

And there are some things that cannot be disputed.
In 1948 Israel did not include the West Bank and Gaza......
The Majority of the Palestinian People living in the West Bank and Gaza Today, were born there and have lived their whole lives there.

It is true that the Majority of the Jews living inside Israel were born there and have lived their whole lives there but the majority of their ancestors came there from Russia, Germany and other European Nations from the late 1800's to 1947 after World War II.

The Jews decided to call their State Israel and their People Israelis.
The Arabs living in the West Bank and Gaza should be able to call themselves Palestinians if that is what they want to be called.
by Sefarad
Saturday Feb 26th, 2005 9:54 PM

You know that the solution was on their way, since Sharon and Abbas had come to agreements. But now the Palestinians have killed Israelis again.
by Critical Thinker
Sunday Feb 27th, 2005 5:45 AM
ANGEL seems incapable of making his/her mind up whether the Jewish residential areas in Judea-Samaria should be a problem. From one post or thread to the other, he/she veers between two conflicting positions. ANGEL is apparently torn between these views.
My views have always been the same.....
The problem is not that Arabs are living in Israel, or that Jews are living in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Problem is that the West Bank and Gaza are under a brutal occupation.
The Problem is that Israel has superior military equipment, while the Palestinians do not.
The Problem is that the Viable Palestinian State in the Whole of the West Bank and Gaza has not yet been formed, therefore the reason for the conflict has not yet ended.

If the Population of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza had not gone from around 100,000 in the early 1990's to around 400,000 thousand today, the Palestinian State could be more easily achieved today and the end of the conflict nearer, but since this population increase did occur then if you want to have peace you cannot allow it to be the problem.

And for the solution, let there be a Viable Palestinian State, etc, etc, see my previous post.....

We should not expect Israel to give up its land inside the pre 1967 borders and we should not expect the Palestinians to give up their land inside the West Bank and Gaza.

It was not long ago that we went to war with Iraq because they invaded Kuwait......Iraq was defeated and removed from Kuwait, but Kuwait did not all of a sudder get to keep all of Iraq.......even today with this latest was in Iraq, Iraq is still Iraq. Hypocrisy and double standard do not lead to peace, and people are not blind and they can see through this.
by hoan
Monday Feb 28th, 2005 2:04 AM
angel time for your meds, you are trippin again
My views have not always been the same.....
The problem is not just that Arabs are living in Israel, or that Jews are living in the West Bank and Gaza.
The Problem is also that the Jews in Israel Proper, the West Bank and Gaza are under brutal terrorism.
The Problem is also that the Palestinians have superior lust for blood and violence, while the Israelis do not.
The Problem is also that the Palestinian Violence and Hatred have not been significantly reduced so that there could be a Viable Palestinian State in Part of the West Bank and Gaza, therefore the reason for the conflict has not yet ended.

If the Population of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza that has gone from around 100,000 in the early 1990's to around 400,000 thousand today had not been brutally terrorized, a Palestinian State could be more easily achieved today and the end of the conflict nearer, but since this population increase did occur then if you want to have peace you cannot allow it to be the Problem.

And for the solution, let there be an official Palestinian war on terrorism so that we could have that Viable Palestinian State eventually, etc, etc, see my previous post.....

We should not expect Israel to give up its land inside the pre 1967 Borders and some land beyond them, and we should not expect the Palestinians to give up their land inside the West Bank and Gaza.

It was not long ago that we went to war with Iraq because they invaded Kuwait......Iraq was defeated and removed from Kuwait, but Kuwait did not all of a sudder get to keep all of Iraq.......even today with this latest that was in Iraq, Iraq is still Iraq. Hypocrisy and double standard against Israel do not lead to peace, and people are not blind and they can see through this.