Israeli settlement: Wikis


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Map of Israeli settlements (magenta) in the West Bank as of 2006.
Map of Israeli settlements in the Golan Heights as of 1992.
A neighbourhood in Ariel, home to the Ariel University Center of Samaria, Israel's largest public college

Israeli settlements are Israeli-only civilian communities in the Israeli-occupied territories (lands that were captured from Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War).[1] Such settlements currently exist in the West Bank,[2] East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. The latter two areas are governed under Israeli civil law but all three territories are considered to be under military occupation by the international community.[3][4][5]

Eighteen settlements formerly existed in the Sinai Peninsula and twenty-one in the Gaza Strip. All were abandoned as part of Israel's withdrawal from these areas in 1982 and 2005, respectively.[6]

As of November 2009, approximately 400,000 Israelis live in the 168 officially-recognised settlements in the West Bank, and 280,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem.[7] Settlements range in their character from farming communities to suburbs to frontier villages, and, in the case of East Jerusalem, city neighborhoods. The three largest settlements, Modi'in Illit, Maale Adumim and Betar Illit, are cities with over 30,000 residents each.

International intergovernmental organizations such as the Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention,[8] every major organ of the United Nations,[9] and the European Union have declared that the settlements are a violation of international law. A review of Israel's country report conducted by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination stated "The status of the settlements was clearly inconsistent with Article 3 of the Convention which, as noted in the Committee's General Recommendation XIX, prohibited all forms of racial segregation in all countries. There is a consensus among publicists that the prohibition of racial discrimination, irrespective of territories, is an imperative norm of international law."[10] Non-governmental organizations including Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch have also characterized the settlements as a violation of international law. In 1978, the Legal Adviser of the Department of State to the United States Congress concluded that "the establishment of the civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law."[11][12] Israel, the Anti-Defamation League and some prominent legal scholars disagree.[13][14][15] Under Israeli law, West Bank settlements must meet specific criteria to be legal; Approximately 100[7] unauthorized small communities which do not meet these criteria exist and are called illegal outposts.[16][12][17][18]

Israeli policies toward these settlements have ranged from active promotion to removal by force, and their continued existence and expansion since the 1970s is a key issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict[19]. The ongoing settlement construction by Israel is frequently criticized as an obstacle to the peace process by third parties including the United Kingdom,[20] the European Union[21], the United Nations [22] and the United States[22].



  • In Hebrew, the common term for the Israeli settlements outside the Green Line is hitnakhluyot (Hebrew: התנחלויות; singular התנחלות/hitnakhlut, hitnakhalut). This term, was introduced when the Likud party came to power in 1977, 'evoking Biblical injunctions and promises to "inherit" the land through settlement'; it officially replaced the earlier and emotionally neutral word hityashvut. Associated with this change, the Likud also prohibited use in news reports of the terms Occupied Territory and West Bank, to describe where the settlements were built.[23] The terms Land of Israel, Judea and Samaria were to be used officially instead.[citation needed] The term hitnakhluyot is still widely used in the media and in public, although some think it has acquired a derogatory connotation in recent years. The settlers themselves are called mitnakhalim (Hebrew: מתנחלים; singular - מתנחל/mitnakhel). Most settlers, their supporters, and most official Israeli government references use the term yishuvim (יישובים; singular - יישוב/yishuv) for settlements and mityashvim (מתיישבים; singular - מתיישב/mityashev) for settlers. These terms evoke a continuation of earlier Zionist settlement history, and refer to pre-state settlements inside Israel as well. The English term "settler" is also often associated primarily with the Religious Zionist movement, while other religious settler populations (such as the Haredi residents of Betar Illit and Modi'in Illit) do not associate themselves with this Zionist term.[24]
  • In Arabic, settlements are called mustawtanaat (Arabic: المستوطنات), and settlers are mustawtineen (مستوطنين). Mustamaraat (مستعمرات) is another term used among Palestinians,[25] which translates literally as colonies; from the Palestinian point of view, most settlers are considered foreigners to Palestine.
  • The official Israeli government term for the district encompassing West Bank settlements is Judea and Samaria. These names for two sub-regions, first documented in Assyrian inscriptions from the 8th Century BC, derive from the biblical Israelite kingdoms of the same name in the area and were resurrected for use by the Israeli government after its occupation of the area in 1967. This change in terminology, reflected a historic attachment to these areas and rejection of the 'West Bank' name that was seen as implying Jordanian sovereignty over them.[26][27]

Historical timeline

Settler population by year in the West Bank, Gaza Strip, East Jerusalem and Golan Heights 1972-2007[28][29]

The cease-fire agreement following the 1967 Six-Day War left Israel in control of a number of areas captured during hostilities.

  • From Jordan, Israel gained control of the entire western bank of the Jordan River, including parts of Jerusalem previously controlled by Jordan - East Jerusalem, and the West Bank.
  • From Egypt, Israel gained control of the entire Sinai peninsula up to the Suez Canal, and the Gaza strip.
  • From Syria, Israel gained control of most of the Golan Heights, since 1981, administered under the Golan Heights Law.
  • In 1967, the municipal borders of Jerusalem were extended to include all of the Old City as well as other areas. Residents within the new municipal borders were offered the choice between citizenship (subject to a few restrictions) and permanent residency (if they wished to retain their Jordanian passports). This annexation has not been recognized by any other country.
  • The Sinai, Gaza Strip, and West Bank were put under Israeli military occupation. Residents were not offered citizenship or residency, though they typically had de facto work permits within Israel and freedom of travel there.
  • In 1978, Israel forcibly evacuated its citizens from the Sinai and demolished their homes when the area was returned to Egypt pursuant to the Camp David Accords. The last Israeli community in the area, Yamit, was evacuated in early 1982.
  • In 1980, the Knesset asserted Jerusalem's status as the nation's "eternal and indivisible capital" by passing the Jerusalem Law.
  • In 1980 the UN declared the Jerusalem Law "null and void", and the Security Council in resolution 465 ordered Israel to dismantle the settlements.
  • In 1981, Israel extended its law to the Golan Heights, passing the Golan Heights Law, which granted permanent residency, ID cards, and Israeli citizenship to the residents, but did not formally annex the territory.
  • In 2003 Israel and the Palestinians agreed the Road map for peace plan, where Israel undertook to freeze settlement building to accompany unconditional cessation of Palestinian violence.[30][31]
  • In August 2005, all settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank[6] (or northern Samaria)[32] were forcibly evacuated as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan.
  • In 2007 Israel decided to build 300 more Israeli homes in the Har Homa neighborhood of East Jerusalem, near Bethlehem. The move was condemned by the United States and the European Union.[33]
  • In early 2008, the Jerusalem municipality said it planned to build 600 new housing units. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated in response that settlement expansion should stop and was inconsistent with 'road map' obligations.[34]
  • In 2009, US President Barack Obama demanded a complete freeze on settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The Israeli government agreed to a freeze in the West Bank. Peace Now argued that Israel was attempting to fool the United States.[35] On 25 August 2009 Netanyahu said that he would attempt to gain an agreement with the U.S. to continue building settlements before attempting to talk with the Palestinians.[36] On 28 August 2009 US officials said they would not impose conditions on the parties, but that it would be up to the parties themselves to determine if the threshold for talks had been met.[37] Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar defended the freeze as an attempt to "protect the vital interests - Jerusalem and the relationship with the United States - and to avoid national isolation, because we won't be able to do the things close to our hearts while under international isolation."[38]
  • On 6 September 2009, Hamas leader Khalid Mashaal called Israel's proposal to temporarily halt settlement construction in exchange for improved relations with Arab countries "Dangerous", as he viewed it as an attempt to avoid US demands. The Hamas leader's opposition to the Israeli proposal was supported by Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.[39]
  • On 18 November 2009, the United States government voiced their dismay at the approved by the Israel's interior ministry of 900 additional housing units at a Jewish settlement in East Jerusalem. A White House spokesman said the move makes it "more difficult" to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Settlements on occupied territory are considered illegal under international law, though Israel disputes this and consider Gilo, the planned settlement area "an integral part of Jerusalem".[40]
  • In December 2009, the Israeli government ordered a 10-month lull in permits for new settlement homes in the West Bank.[41] The restrictions, which Israeli politicians and media have referred to as a "freeze"[41], do not apply to East Jerusalem (whose de facto annexation by Israel is not recognised internationally), municipal buildings, schools, synagogues and other community infrastructure in the settlements.[41][42] About 3,000 homes already under construction will be allowed to proceed.[41] The Israeli government said the move was aimed at restarting peace talks, but Palestinian officials said it was insufficient.[41] Palestinian officials have refused to rejoin peace talks until a total building halt is imposed, including in East Jerusalem.[41] The announcement followed calls by the US government for a total freeze in settlement building.[41] The US government, the European Union, Russia and the UN have criticized Israel's plans to continue building in East Jerusalem[43] but both the US and the EU have stated that there should be no preconditions for resuming the suspended peace talks.[44][45]

Settlement types and locations

Upper L: 3 are outside barrier Top L of center: part of Israel's unilateral disengagement Whole right: Jordan Valley
L: W. Samaria bloc to Kedumim Center: hills around Nablus/Shechem
Lower L: W. Samaria bloc to Ariel Lower middle: E. Trans-Samaria Hwy outside barrier

The Jewish population in the areas held since 1967 live in a wide variety of centers:

  • Self-contained towns and small cities with a stable population in the tens of thousands, infrastructure, and all other features of permanence, e.g. Beitar Illit (a city of close to 45,000 residents), Ma'ale Adummim, Modi'in Illit, Ariel.
  • Jewish neighborhoods adjacent to Arab neighborhoods in the same city, e.g. Hebron, or the Muslim Quarter.
  • Neighborhoods, where both Jews and Arabs live together, e.g. Jerusalem.
  • Suburbs to other population centers, especially Jerusalem (e.g. Gilo), and the Sharon area (e.g. Karnei Shomron).
  • Settlement blocs, e.g. Gush Etzion, the vicinity of Ariel, the Shechem/Nablus area.[46]
  • Frontier villages, such as those parallel to the Jordan River.
  • Unauthorized residential outposts, consisting of campers, trailers, and even tents; these are often referred to as "wildcat" outposts. Most of these settlements are the results of recent construction. Newly constructed developments are largely on hilltops, at some distance from Arab communities, which are typically found in valleys.[47] [13] [14]
Upper left: Modiin bloc Upper middle: Mountain ridge settlements outside barrier Right: Jordan Valley
L above center: Latrun salient Center: Jerusalem envelope, Ma'ale Adummim at right
Lower L of center: Etzion bloc Lower center: Judean Desert Lower right: Dead Sea

Settlements on sites of former Jewish communities

A few of the settlements were established on sites that had been inhabited by Jews during the British Mandate of Palestine.

partial listing only

  • Jerusalem – Jewish presence since biblical times, various surrounding communities and neighborhoods, including Kfar Shiloah, also known as Silwan - settled by Yemenite Jews in 1884, Jewish residents evacuated in 1938, settled again in 2004
  • Gush Etzion - four communities, established between 1927 and 1947, destroyed 1948, reestablished beginning 1967[48]
  • Hebron - Jewish presence since biblical times, forced out in 1929 (because of the Hebron massacre), some families returned to the ruins in 1931 but the British evacuated them again to "prevent another massacre"; resettled in 1967[49]
  • Kfar Darom - established in 1946, evacuated in 1948, resettled in 1970, evacuated in 2005 as part of the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip.
  • Kalia and Beit HaArava - the former was built in 1934 as a kibbutz for potash mining. The latter was built in 1943 as an agricultural community. Both were abandoned in 1948, and subsequently destroyed by Jordanian forces. Resettled after the Six Day War.
  • Gaza City had a Jewish community for many centuries that was evacuated following riots in 1929. After the Six Day War, Jewish communities were built elsewhere in the Gaza Strip, but not in Gaza City proper.

Illegal outposts

Pressured by America, the Sharon administration commissioned the Sasson report which found that the Israeli government had funded the creation of Jewish settler outposts in the West Bank that were illegal and in violation of stated government policy. According to the report, the Housing and Construction Ministry, the World Zionist Organization, the Education Ministry and the Defense Ministry cooperated to "systematically establish illegal settlement points", paying millions of dollars to create the infrastructure for scores of settlements. [50][51]

The summary of the Sasson Report[52] explains that local law requires the fulfillment of a number of basic conditions before establishing a settlement in the Judea, and Samaria. It lists four pre-conditions that must be fulfilled in each case. The second pre-condition regarding title to the land cites the precedent established in the Elon Moreh case. The third pre-condition is that a settlement can only be established according to a lawfully designed building scheme, which has the power to produce a building permit. The fourth pre-condition is that the bounds of jurisdiction of the settlement must be determined in advance by order of the Commander of the area. The Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that the fulfillment of the applicable Hague IV Convention criteria is a mandatory and integral part of satisfying those three pre-conditions of the local law. Sasson summed-up the situation by expaining:

An unauthorized outpost is a settlement which does not fulfill at least one of the above mentioned conditions. And I must emphasize: an unauthorized outpost is not a “semi legal” outpost. Unauthorized is illegal.

The report found “blatant violations of the law” by officials and state institutions. Many of the more than 100 outposts investigated added at state expense paved roads, permanent housing, power lines and other infrastructure. According to the report, some of the outposts were established on private lands owned by Palestinians with the help of Housing Ministry architects, the Housing Ministry funded many of the trailers used to start the outposts, and Defence Ministry officials allocated such private land to the quasi-official Jewish Agency.[53]

As part of the 2003 "Road map" for peace, Israel committed itself to remove about two dozen such settlements, an obligation it has yet to fulfill.[54]


As of November 2009, approximately 280,000 Israelis live in the 121 officially-recognised settlements in the West Bank, a further 190,000 Israelis live in settlements in East Jerusalem and there are a further 102 unauthorised outposts in the West Bank which are not officially recognised by Israel.[7]

Except for areas that were effectively annexed to Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, Israeli citizens and others can only move to areas captured in 1967 with the permission of the Israeli government.[citation needed] According to various statistics,[55][56][57] the demographics can be estimated as follows:

Jewish population 1948 1966 1972 1983 1993 2004 2007
West Bank (excluding Jerusalem) 480 (see Gush Etzion) 0 1,182 22,800 111,600 234,487 276,462[58]
Gaza Strip 30 (see Kfar Darom) 0 700 1 900 4,800 7,826 0
Golan Heights 0 0 77 6,800 12,600 17,265 18,692
East Jerusalem 2,300 (see Jewish Quarter, Atarot, Neve Yaakov) 0 8,649 76,095 152,800 181,587 189,708
Total 2,810 0 10,608 1 106,595 281,800 441,165 484,862
1 including Sinai

In addition to internal migration, in large though declining numbers, the settlements absorb annually about 1000 new immigrants from outside Israel. In the '90s, the annual settler population growth was more than three times the annual population growth in Israel.[59] In the '00s, the large settler population growth continues.[60] The population of settlements in the West Bank has been growing at a rate of 5-6% since 2001.[7]

According to the NGOs B'Tselem and Peace Now, the Israeli government has implemented a consistent and systematic policy intended to encourage Jewish citizens to migrate to the West Bank. One of the tools used to this end is to grant financial benefits and incentives to citizens.[61][62]

As of 2007, the total number of Israeli settlers was 484,862. This figure includes settlers in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights.[63]


The Golan Heights is administered under Israeli civil law as the Golan sub-district, a part of the Northern District. As the residents of pre-1967 communities in the Golan Heights (mainly Druze) are Israeli citizens, Israel makes no legal or administrative distinction between these communities and the post-1967 settlements.

East Jerusalem is defined in the Jerusalem Law as part of Israel's capital, Jerusalem. As such it is administered as part of the city and its district, the Jerusalem District. Pre-1967 residents of East Jerusalem and their descendants have residency status in the city but are mostly not citizens of Israel. Thus, the Israeli government maintains an administrative distinction between Israeli citizens and non-citizens in East Jerusalem, but the Jerusalem municipality does not.

Settlements in the West Bank are encompassed in the Judea and Samaria District. Authority for planning and construction in the district is held by the Israel Defense Forces Civil Administration. Since Israeli civil law does not apply to the West Bank, settlers in the area are theoretically subject to martial law. In practice, however, settlers are generally judged in civil courts within Israel proper. The district consists of four cities, thirteen local councils and six regional councils.

The Yesha Council is an umbrella organization of municipal councils in the Judea and Samaria district. (Yesha is a Hebrew acronym for Judea, Samaria and Gaza, which was coined when there were Israeli settlements in the Gaza strip.)


Higher education

The major Israeli institution of higher education in the West Bank is the Ariel University Center of Samaria (formerly The College of Judea and Samaria), Israel's largest public college. The college was accredited in 1994 and awards bachelor degrees in arts, sciences, technology, architecture and physical therapy.[64]

Teacher training colleges in West Bank settlements include Herzog College in Alon Shevut and Orot Israel College in Elkana. The Golan Heights boasts Ohalo College, located in Katzrin.[64]

Curricula at Israeli academic institutions in the West Bank are overseen by the Council for Higher Education in Judea and Samaria (CHE-JS).[65]


The UK Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has suggested that products produced by the settlements for sale in UK markets be labeled as such.[66]

Debate on the settlements

Palestinians argue that the policy of settlements constitutes an effort to pre-empt or even sabotage a peace treaty that includes Palestinian sovereignty, and claim that the settlements are built on land that belongs to Palestinians.[67][68]

The Israel Foreign Ministry asserts that some settlements are legitimate, as they took shape when there was no operative diplomatic arrangement, and thus they did not violate any agreement.[69][70][71] Based on this, they assert the following specific reasons for accepting settlements as legitimate:

  • Prior to the signing of the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, the eruption of the First Intifada in the late eighties, down to the signing of the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty in 1994, Israeli governments on the left and right argued that the settlements were of strategic and tactical importance. The location of the settlements was primarily chosen based on the threat of an attack by the bordering hostile countries of Jordan, Syria, and Egypt and possible routes of advance into Israeli population areas[citation needed].These settlements were originally thought of as contributing to the peace and security of the state of Israel at a time when peace treaties had not been signed. Some supporters of the settlements still cite these reasons.[72][73][74][75][76][77]
  • Many religious Jews assert the biblical Jewish connection to the areas in dispute, arguing that their claim to build is equal to the biblical Jewish connection to the other areas in Israel.

Legal Status

The consensus view of the international community is that the building of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law, although Israel disputes this.[41][78][79][80] This view is largely based on UN Security council resolutions, including resolutions 446, 452, 465, 471 and 476 which find the settlements to be illegal.[81] The legal arm of the UN, the International Court of Justice, has found the settlements to be illegal under international law.[82]

Settlements, Palestinians, and human rights

Settlements (darker pink) and areas of the West Bank (lighter pink) where access by Palestinians is closed or restricted. Source: United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, January 2006.

Human rights organisation Amnesty International argues that Israel's settlement policy is not only illegal, but is discriminatory and a violation of Palestinian human rights.[83] The Israeli human rights centre B'Tselem has highlighted the impact on Palestinian freedom of movement due to Israeli travel restrictions. In Hebron especially, "grave violations" have of Palestinian human rights have occurred due to "the presence of the settlers within the city."[84][85][86] They claim that more than fifty percent of West Bank land has been expropriated from Palestinian owners "mainly to establish settlements and create reserves of land for the future expansion of the settlements". While the seized lands mainly benefit the settlements, the Palestinian public is prohibited from using them in any way.[87] They also regard some of the roads established by Israel throughout the West Bank which are closed to vehicles with Palestinian license-plates as 'discriminatory'.[88]

Human Rights Watch reports on "settler violence" which refers to the phenomenon of violence, such as stoning and shooting, committed by Israeli settlers against Israeli security forces and Palestinians who live in the Palestinian territories.[89] In recent years Israeli withdrawals from Gaza and Hebron have triggered settler rioting in protest. There is also continual conflict between settlers and Palestinians over land, resources and perceived grievances.

According to B'Tselem, more than fifty percent of the land of the West Bank has been expropriated from Palestinian owners "mainly to establish settlements and create reserves of land for the future expansion of the settlements". While the seized lands mainly benefit the settlements, the Palestinian public is prohibited from using them in any way.[87] According to Meron Benvenisti,

'the entire "settlement enterprise" has become a commercial real estate project, which conscripts Zionist rhetoric for profit'.[90]

The recent construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier routed inside the green line to encompass a variety of settlements has also been cited as an infirengement on Palestinian human and land rights. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates that 10% of the West Bank will fall on the Israeli side of the barrier.[91][92]

Relations with Palestinians

Human rights

Human rights organisation Amnesty International argues that Israel's settlement policy is not only illegal, but is discriminatory and a violation of Palestinian human rights.[83] The Israeli human rights centre B'Tselem has highlighted the impact on Palestinian freedom of movement due to Israeli travel restrictions. Travel restrictions imposed on Palestinians have been compared to South Africa's apartheid regime.[93] In Hebron especially, "grave violations" have of Palestinian human rights have occurred due to "the presence of the settlers within the city."[84][85][86]


Palestinians have been highly involved in the construction business since the settlements first started appearing in the West Bank. The Palestinian Authority estimates over 12,000 Palestinians are employed by Jewish and Arab contractors in building and expanding settlements. It is reported that even supporters of Hamas and Islamic Jihad work in the settlement business. A lack of jobs and relatively high salary has been cited as a motivation for Palestinian involvement. Arab workers are said to be paid approximately 3 times as much by Israeli contractors than Palestinian employers. Jewish employers pay an average of NIS 400 ($100 USD) while Palestinian contractors pay NIS 100 to NIS 150 per day.[94]

According to a 2008 annual report by Kav LaOved, many Palestinians who work in Israeli settlements are not given the same basic protections that apply to Israeli workers under Israeli labor law such as a minimum wage, payment for working overtime, work safety and other social rights. Instead, many Israeli employers in the West Bank treat Palestinian workers according to Jordanian labor law which is much more "lax" than Israeli law. Jordanian law does not require minimum wage, payment for working overtime and other social rights. This system was legally challenged in 2007 by Kav LaOved and reached the Israeli Supreme Court which ruled that Israeli labor law does apply to Palestinians working in West Bank settlements. The court ruled that applying different rules in the same work place based on differing nationalities constituted as discrimination and was unacceptable. In spite of the ruling, Kav LaOved believes the law will not be enforced as only a few workers have gained rights that they are legally entitled to. The ruling has however allowed Palestinian workers to file lawsuits in Israeli courts which has led to an average settlement of "100,000 shekels."[95] Israeli human rights group B'Tselem has expressed similar concern for the conditions of Palestinian workers in the West Bank.[96]



IDF soldiers face off against Palestinian demonstrators near Nablus, August 2009

Between the beginning of the Second Intifada and the end of 2008, 237 Israeli settlers were killed by Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, while 45 Palestinians were killed by Israeli settlers in those areas.[97]

Palestinian violence against settlers

Types of fatal attacks by Palestinians against settlers have included suicide bombings of buses and hitchhiking posts, firing of rockets and mortars, shootings, stabbings, bludgeonings, stonings and axe attacks. Children, including infants, have often been targeted in these attacks. Incidents which received relative notoreity include:

  • 26 March 2001: A ten-month-old Israeli infant was shot in the head and killed by a Palestinian sniper while seated in her stroller on the streets of Hebron.[98]
  • 8 May 2001:Two 14-year-old boys from the settlement of Tekoa were found dead in a nearby cave after their heads were smashed in by rocks. A group called Hizbullah-Palestine claimed responsibility[99]
  • 12 June 2001: A five-month-old infant, the son of settlers, was hit in a Palestinian stoning attack on the car in which he was travelling. The baby died from his injuries after six days.[100]
  • 19 June 2002: an Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades suicide bombing at a crowded bus stop and hitchhiking post frequented by settlers in the French Hill neighborhood of East Jerusalem killed 10 civilians.[101]
  • 20 June 2002: a Palestinian gunman entered a home in the settlement of Itamar and killed a mother and three of her children. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for the attack.[102]
  • April 2009: An ax-wielding Palestinian killed a 13-year-old boy and wounded a 7-year-old boy in the settlement of Bat Ayin.[103]

Settler violence against Palestinians

Palestinians are often the victims of violence comitted by Israeli settlers. There is continual conflict between settlers and Palestinians over land, resources and perceived grievances. The Israeli withdrawal from Gaza and settler evictions in other areas have triggered settler rioting and attacks against Palestinians in protest. Extremist settlers using a tactic called Price Tagging, if the Government sends police or soldiers to dismantle an outpost that is being built, the settlers make the Palestinian population pay the price. [104]

Human rights group B'Tselem says that the violence is "a means to harass and intimidate Palestinians" and that the evacuations are a necessary part of the peace process. According to B'Tselem that when a building is evacuated by the Israeli government, settlers lash out at Palestinians because they're "easy victims" and as a means to widen the area under settler control.[105]

Unlike Palestinians, Israeli civilians living in the Palestinian Territories are not subject to military or local law, but are prosecuted according to Israeli penal law. [106] Haaretz has stated "Israeli society has become accustomed to giving lawbreaking settlers special treatment", noting that no other group could similarly attack Israeli law enforcement agencies without being severely punished [107].

Olive farming is a major industry and employer in the Palestinian West Bank and olive trees are a common target of settler violence. [108]

There are a number of extremist groups associated with the settler movement. Gush Emunim Underground was a terrorist organization linked to the settler activist group Gush Emunim. They carried out attacks against Jewish students and Palestinian officials, attempted to bomb a bus and planned an attack on the Dome on the Rock.[109][110]

According to B'Tselem 45 Palestinians were killed by Israeli civilians between 2000 and 2008 [111], of which the vast majority would be settler-related. B'Tselem also keeps a record of incidences of settler violence of which there have been 2 so far in 2009 [112].

Violence of activists against the settlers

International left wing and pro-palestinian activists frequently demonstrate near settlments, There have been recorded cases of vandalism stone-throwing and physical attacks. Often after the act they would record any response on film in order to propogade it on the internet and other media as evidence of settler violence.[113][114] [115]

Environmental issues

The Municipal Environmental Associations of Judea and Samaria was set up by settler councils to promote environmental awareness in the West Bank. Their stated goals include a commitment to find solutions to sewage treatment problems and to work with the Palestinian Authority on environmental issues.[116]

Sewage and water

While Israeli settlers account for only 10% of the population in the West Bank, they are responsible for approximately 25% of all sewage according to a study by Haaretz. Residents of Beit Duqqu and Qalqilyah have accused settlers of polluting their farmland for "15 years." Villagers claim children have become ill after swimming in a "local stream" polluted with sewage by settlement Givat Zeev.Legal action has been taken against 14 colonies by the Israeli Ministry of the Environment but enforcement is problematic due to difficulties by the Israeli administration in the West Bank.Some Israeli settlers have criticized Palestinians on "their own environmental record." The Palestinian Authority has reportedly been targeted by environmentalists for not doing more to prevent water pollution.[116][117]

Settlers and Palestinians share the mountain aquifer as a water source, and both generate sewage and industrial effluents which endanger the aquifer. A 2004 report by Friends of the Earth Middle East said that inadequate sewage treatment existed among Palestinians and settlers. Sewage from Palestinian sourcces was estimated at 46 million cubic meters a year, and sources from settler sources ar 15 million cubic meters a year. The report concluded that sewage from many settlements received unsatisfactory treatment, while sewage from Palestinian villages was disposed in unlined cesspits with no treatment at all, and sewage from Palestinian cities was generally discharged without treatment into streams or the open environment.[116][118]

According to a 2007 study conducted by the Israel Nature and Parks Authority and the Israeli Ministry of Environmental Protection, Palestinian towns and cities produce an estimated 56 million cubic meters of sewage per year, 94 percent of which is discharged without adequate treatment, while Israeli sources produce an estimated 17.5 million cubic meters per year, 31.5 percent of which is discharged without adequate treatment.[119]

Industrial waste

Settlers also operate industrial and manufacturing businesses that can create pollution as many do not conform to Israeli standards according to Palestinian environmentalists. [116][117] Abu Shusha, a former Palestinian quarry located between Kedumim and Nablus in the West Bank is to be converted to an industrial waste dump that will receive 10,000 metric tons each month from Israel. Pollution experts warn that the dump will threaten Palestinian water sources.[120]

Settlements and the peace process

Gush Katif was a block of 16 Israeli settlements in the southern Gaza Strip. Its 8,000 residents were forced to leave and had their homes demolished in August 2005 as part of Israel's unilateral disengagement plan.

The settlements have on several occasions been a source of tension between Israel and the U.S. President Jimmy Carter insisted that the settlements were illegal and unwise tactically, and decades after leaving office he wrote Palestine Peace Not Apartheid. President Ronald Reagan stated that they were legal, though he considered them an obstacle to negotiations.[14] In 1991 there was a clash between the Bush administration and Israel, where the U.S. delayed a subsidized loan in order to pressure Israel not to proceed with the establishment of settlements for instance in the Jerusalem-Bethlehem corridor. In 2005 the United States ambassador to Israel, Dan Kurtzer, expressed U.S. support "for the retention by Israel of major Israeli population centres [in the West Bank] as an outcome of negotiations",[121] reflecting President Bush's statement a year earlier that a permanent peace treaty would have to reflect "demographic realities" in the West Bank.[122] In June 2009, President Barack Obama said "The United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." [123]

Although the Oslo accords did not include any obligation on Israel's part to stop building in the "settlements", Palestinians argue that Israel has undermined the Oslo accords, and the peace process more generally, by continuing to expand the settlements after the signing of the Accords. Israel previously also had settlements in the Sinai Peninsula, but these were forcibly evacuated and destroyed as a result of the peace agreement with Egypt.

Most Israeli and U.S. proposals for final agreement have also involved Israel being allowed to retain long established communities in the territories near Israel and in "East Jerusalem" (the majority of the settler population is near the "Green Line"), with Israel annexing the land on which the communities are located. This would result in a transfer of roughly 5% of the West Bank to Israel, with the Palestinians being compensated by the transfer of a similar share of Israeli territory (i.e. territory behind the "Green Line") to the Palestinian state. Palestinians complain that this would legitimize what they see as an illegitimate land grab, and that the land offered in exchange is situated in the southern desert, whereas the areas that Israel seeks to retain are among the West Bank's most fertile areas, including major aquifers. Israel, however, sees the current "Green Line" as unacceptable from a security standpoint - Israel would have at some points no more than 17 kilometers from the border to the sea. For more details, see Proposals for a Palestinian state.

Former President George Bush has stated that he does not expect Israel to return entirely to pre-1967 borders, due to "new realities on the ground." [124] One of the main compromise plans put forth by the Clinton Administration would have allowed Israel to keep some settlements in the West Bank, especially those which were in large blocs near the pre-1967 borders of Israel. in return, Palestinians would have received some concessions of land in other parts of the country.[125]

Both U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, who played notable roles in attempts at mediation, noted the need for some territorial and diplomatic compromise on this issue, based on the validity of some of the claims of both sides.[126][127]

Proposal of Palestinian citizenship for remaining settlers

A number of proposals for the granting of Palestinian citizenship or residential permits to Jewish settlers in return for the removal of Israeli military installations from the West Bank have been fielded by such individuals[128] as Arafat[129], Ibrahim Sarsur[130] and Ahmed Qureia[131]. According to Rabbi Yehoshua Magnes, the possibility that any such exchange of sovereignty over the Jewish settler population can occur without subsequent Arab reprisal violence is low[132].

Dismantlement of settlements


Given the dispute over the territories where the settlements were built, the issue of dismantling them has been considered. Arab parties to the conflict have demanded the dismantlement of the settlements as a condition for peace with Israel. As part of the Israel-Egypt Peace Treaty, Israel was required to evacuate its settlers from the 18 Sinai settlements. The evacuation, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamit. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation.

During the peace process with the Palestinians, the issue of dismantling the West Bank and Gaza Strip settlements has been raised.

As part of the Disengagement Plan, Israel has evacuated the Gaza Strip and part of the West Bank, including all 21 settlements in Gaza and four in the West Bank, while retaining control over Gaza's borders, coastline, and airspace. Most of these settlements have existed since the early 80's, some are over 30 years old, and with a total population of more than 10,000, many of whom have yet to find permanent housing[citation needed]. There was significant opposition to the plan among parts of the Israeli public, and especially those living in the territories. American President George W. Bush has said that a permanent peace deal would have to reflect "demographic realities" in the West Bank regarding Israel's settlements.[133]

Within the former settlements, almost all buildings were demolished by Israel, with the exception of certain government and religious structures, which were completely emptied. Under an international arrangement, productive greenhouses were left to assist the Palestinian economy but these were destroyed within hours by Palestinian looters.[134] Following the withdrawal, many of the former synagogues were vandalized by Palestinians, in a clear instance of religiously motivated aggression[citation needed].

Some Israelis believe the settlements need not necessarily be dismantled and evacuated, even if Israel withdraws from the territory where they stand, as they can remain under Palestinian rule. These ideas have been expressed both by people from the left [135], who see this as a possible situation in a two-state solution, and by extreme right-wingers and settlers[136] that, while objecting to any withdrawal, claim stronger links to the land than to the state of Israel.

A July 2009 survey of Israeli public opinion found that people are about evenly divided on the issue, with 46 percent of those polled in support of further construction and 44 percent opposed.[137]

Recent events

In January 2009, Israeli political activist group Peace Now stated that settlement construction rose by 60 percent from 2007 to 2008.[138] A classified Israel Defense Forces study allegedly leaked to the Israeli media that month reported that 3 out of every 4 settlement building projects did not have proper permits.[139] Israel-based Palestinian solidarity group Yesh Din argued that the report described Israelis "systematically violating international law and the property rights of Palestinian residents".[139] The Israeli government has not commented on the authenticity of the report.[139] The New York Times has published a Google Maps-based adaptation of the data.

President Barack Obama and his special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, both support taking down the settlements.[140] In January 2009, Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni vowed to dismantle them should her party win in the that month's election.[141] Likud Chairman Benjamin Netanyahu planned to expand them, saying specifically that "I have no intention of building new settlements in the West Bank... But like all the governments there have been until now, I will have to meet the needs of natural growth in the population. I will not be able to choke the settlements."[140]

On 15 October 2009, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he had ended talks with the Americans over the settlements.[142]

Operation Price Tag

Operation Price Tag is a coordinated tactic adapted by the Israeli settlers movement of attacking Palestinian property in retaliation for attempts by the Israeli government efforts to remove illegal West Bank outposts. Several hundred, mostly young Israeli settlers, are involved. Israeli security forces, the Israeli Defense Force, IDF, are poorly equipped to deal with the outbreak.[143] The Israeli government has responded with a plan to increase law enforcement and cut off aid to illegal outposts.[144]

See also


  1. ^ Donald MacIntyre, The Big Question: What are Israeli settlements, and why are they coming under pressure?, The Independent 29-05-2009
  2. ^
  3. ^ BBC NEWS | In Depth | Israel and the Palestinians | issues | Jerusalem: Crucible of the conflict
  4. ^ B'Tselem - East Jerusalem
  5. ^ UN Security council resolution 497 of 1981
  6. ^ a b So argued the government of Israel before the country's Supreme Court in the spring of 2005, defending its decision to dismantle all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip and four in the northern West Bank.. 
  7. ^ a b c d "Palestinians shun Israeli settlement restriction plan". BBC. 2009-11-25. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  8. ^ Conference of High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention: Declaration, GENEVA, 5 DECEMBER 2001 [1]
  9. ^ See UN General Assembly resolution 39/146, 14 December 1984; UN Security Council Resolution 446, 22 March 1979; and International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion, 9 July 2004, Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, para 120
  10. ^ See CERD/C/SR.1250, 9 March 1998
  11. ^ The Carter Administration View: "Settlements are Inconsistent with International Law"
  12. ^ a b "Letter of the State Department Legal Advisor, Mr. Herbert J. Hansell, Concerning the Legality of Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories", cited in Progress report - The human rights dimensions of population transfer including the implantation of settler prepared by Mr. Awn Shawhat Al-Khasawneh.
  13. ^ Stephen Schwebel, "What Weight to Conquest", American Journal of International Law 64 (1970), 345-347.
  14. ^ a b Rostow, Eugene. Bricks and stones: settling for leverage; Palestinian autonomy, The New Republic, April 23, 1990.
  15. ^ Lacey, Ian, ed. International Law and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (pdf) - Extracts from Israel and Palestine - Assault on the Law of Nations by Julius Stone, Second Edition with additional material and commentary updated to 2003, AIJAC website. URL accessed April 10, 2006.
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  17. ^ "7. The vast majority of jurists in Israel and abroad hold the opinion that the Fourth Geneva Convention is binding on Israel in the territories it occupies, and that Article 49 indeed prohibits the establishment of settlements."
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    • Myron J. Aronoff (1991). Israeli Visions and Divisions: Cultural Change and Political Conflict. Transaction Publishers. p. 10. "[...] “Judea and Samaria”, the biblical terms that the Likud government succeeded in substituting for what had previously been called by many the West Bank, the occupied territories, or simply the territories. The successful gaining of the popular acceptance of these terms was a prelude to gaining popular acceptance of the government’s settlement policies." 
    • Shlomo Gazit (2003). Trapped Fools: Thirty Years of Israeli Policy in the Territories. Routledge. p. 162. "[...] the Likud Government was not satisfied with the name ‘Administered Territories’. Even though the name ‘Judea and Samaria’ had been officially adopted as early as the beginning of 1968 instead of the ‘West Bank’, it has hardly been used until 1977." 
    • Emma Playfair (1992). International Law and the Administration of Occupied Territories: Two Decades of Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Oxford University Press. p. 41. "On 17 December 1967, the Israeli military government issued an order stating that “the term “Judea and Samaria region” shall be identical in meaning for all purposes . .to the term “the West Bank Region”. This change in terminology, which has been followed in Israeli official statements since that time, reflected a historic attachment to these areas and rejection of a name that was seen as implying Jordanian sovereignty over them." 
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    • "Prior to forming his new coalition with the Labor Party, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon strong-armed members of his Likud cabinet to support Labor's idea of unilateral withdrawal from Gaza and four settlements in northern Samaria." Getz, Leonard. "Likudniks Against Sharon: Rebels or Loyalists?", The Jewish Exponent, 01-13-2005.
    • "Understandably so: in the end, the Gaza withdrawal took all of six days while the pullout from four settlements in northern Samaria was accomplished in a single day." Zelnick, Robert. Israel's Unilaterialism: Beyond Gaza, Hoover Press, 2006, p. 157.
    • "The four West Bank settlements that Israel is evacuating are all located in the biblical Land of Israel — territory that observant Jews believe was promised to the Jewish people in the Old Testament. The area of the West Bank, known as northern Samaria, was inhabited by the tribe of Menashe, one of the 10 tribes of Israel that were forced into exile." "Biblical significance of West Bank settlements", International Herald Tribune, August 23, 2005.
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  128. ^ Let them stay in Palestine
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  130. ^ Arab MK: I would agree to grant settlers Palestinian citizenship
  131. ^ PA: Settlers can become Palestinian citizens
  132. ^ Israel's Religious Right - Not a Monolith: "Second, a policy of retaining Jewish settlements under Palestinian control is likely to provoke more opposition than dissolving them; settlement is perceived as a half of the inseparable whole understood as the "Jewish presence in the land." Maintaining communities without Israeli sovereign control over them is the same as losing the land.36 Thus, transferring settlements to Palestinian control while allowing Jewish settlers to remain in them would also be perceived as jeopardizing Jewish lives and would be prohibited under the requirement to preserve human life. Therefore, it is better to dissolve the settlements than to maintain them under PA control"
  133. ^ "". 2005-03-25. 
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  136. ^ "". 
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  140. ^ a b Netanyahu would let West Bank settlements expand. By Mark Levie. Yahoo! News. Published Jan. 26, 2009.
  141. ^ Dead link
  142. ^ Netanyahu: Israel and U.S. have resolved settlements row
  143. ^ "West Bank settlers' lawlessness, violence" article by Ori Nir in The Washington Times October 22, 2008 Wednesday
  144. ^ "Israel Acts to Cut Off Funds to Illegal Settlements" article by Isabel Kershner in The New York Times November 2, 2008

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