The issue of settlements
in the Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and
the Gaza Strip has become one of the most
contentious issues surrounding the Israel-Palestinian
conflict. The issue has been made even more
complicated by misconceptions and reported
inaccuracies told and regurgitated by Palestinian
activists and the media alike. The following
details the facts surrounding the historical,
religious, political, and moral and ethical
debate surrounding settlements and settlements
- Following the Six Day
War, a war waged against Israel by her
hostile Arab neighbors, Israeli military
strategists viewed strategically located
settlements as forming the "first
line of defense" if attacked again.
Following the unwillingness of Israel's
Arab neighbors to negotiate land for peace
as stipulated by UN resolution 242, the
Israeli government authorized the building
of paramilitary settlements that were
located in strategically vital locations
in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (also
in the Golan Heights). Military strategists
often referred to them as "trip wires"
against future Arab attacks from invading
countries or terrorist attacks.
- The green Line (Israel's
pre 1967 Borders) were often referred
to as the "Auschwitz Lines".
This term highlighted Israel's susceptibility
to attack from Arab neighbors and the
close proximity between Israel's population
centers such as Tel Aviv and Netanya to
- The majority of Israel's
military analysts still hold the view
that the "security" settlements
are vital for Israel's security and may
prevent hostile acts within the green
- As Israel obtained
the West Bank and Gaza Strip as a result
of a defensive war. As a country acting
in self defense it may sieze territory
to prevent any further hostilities.
various parts of the so-called occupied
area... [were] the result of a war which
they [the Israelis] won." - U.S.
Defense Secretary, Donald Rumsfeld
- There has been a continues
Jewish presence in and around biblical
sites holy to Judaism in the West Bank
(Judea & Samaria). These sites include:
Joseph's Tomb in Nablus, and The cave
of the Patriarchs in Hebron.
- Hebron is the second
holy city for Judaism. Jews were massacred
and ethnically cleansed in Hebron in 1929.
To deny settlements in Hebron is to condone
the forceful transfer of the ancient Jewish
community from their land.
- Judea and Samaria were
part of the biblical land of Israel. It
is dicrimatry to declare that Jews may
not live there.
- Jewish settlements
had existed prior to the 1948-49 war (Hebron,
and Gush Etzion) and were destroyed during
hostilities. Under Arab 1948-67 occupation
Jews were refused access to their holy
shrines and not allowed to live on these
- The vast majority of
settlements in the West Bank and Gaza
Strip were built on uninhabited land and
have not displaced any Arabs. Jews who
have established settlements have worked
the land and are therefore entitled to
the benefits of their labour. Much of
the land was previously left to waste
and deemed infertile.
- The West Bank and Gaza
strip are disputed land and therefore
not governed by Israeli law. The Ottoman
land laws apply to these areas. Ottoman
law states that if the land is uninhabited
for over three years it may be purchased.
"The Jewish right
of settlement in the area is equivilant
in every way to the right of the local population
to live there" - Professor Eugene
Rostow (former Undersecretary of State for
and International Law
Critics of settlements
have often cited article 49 of the Fourth
Geneva convention, arguing that settlements
are contrary to International law. This
assertion is incorrect.
Article 49 of the Fourth
Geneva conventiuon states:
mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations
of protected persons from occupied territory
to the territory of the Occupying Power
or to that of any other country, occupied
or not, are prohibited." (Fourth
Geneva Convention, Article 49(1)).
There are several reasons
why this is not applicable to the case of
Israel and the disputed territories.
- The articles in question
relates to the responsibility of a power
that has attained territory as a consequence
of an aggressive war. Israel's acquisition
of the West Bank, Gaza, and the Golan
Heights were as a result of a defensive
- The article 49 of the
Geneva Conventions refers to the forced
tranfer of civilian populations. Settlements
activity in the territories are voluntary
and the local population of the territories
have not been transferred not is it Israeli
government policy to do so.
- The article in question
refers to the "occupying power".
The West Bank and Gaza Strip are not occupied
territories but rather disputed. Previous
to 1948 the British were the occupying
power of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza
Strip but gave their mandate to the United
Nations who in tern proposed to partition
the land between Israel and the Arabs.
The Arabs launched a war against the newly
born Jewish state and rejected partition.
After the 1948-49 War Jordan, occupied
the West Bank and annexed it. The international
community refused to recognize the West
Bank as part of Jordan. Israel acquired
the West Bank from Jordan. The future
of the West Bank and Gaza Strip is unclear
(UN resolution 242 sates "lands aquired"
after hostilities not all lands must be
returned) thus making the land disputed
- The League of Nations
which provided for the establishment of
a Jewish State specifically encouraged
"close settlement by Jews on the
land". Article 6 of the Mandate of
the Leaugue of Nations states:
under suitable conditions and shall encourage,
in cooperation with the Jewish Agency referred
to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews
on the land, including State land not required
for public use."
- Between 1949-1967 the
West Bank was occupied by Jordan and there
were no Settlements as the Jordanian government
prohibited Jews to live there, no efforts
were made by Arab countries or leaders
to make peace with Israel.
- In 1977 Egyptian President
Sadat traveled to Jerusalem. A peace agreement
was reached between Sadat and Israeli
Prime Minister Menachem Begin. Israel
dismantled settlements and withdrew from
the Sinai in exchange for peace with Egypt.
- In 2000 at Camp David
and Taba Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak
offered the Palestinian leader Yasir Arafat
97% of the West Bank and 100% of the Gaza
strip in exchange for peace thus demonstrating
Israeli willingness to dismantle settlements
in exchange for peace. Arafat refused
and initiated violence instead.
- The idea that the West
Bank and Gaza strip must be a Jew free
zone if peace is to be achieved would
be deemed as racist if this suggestion
was applied anywhere else in the world.
There are over 1 million Arabs living
in Israel constituting about 17% of Israel's
total population. Jews should be able
to live in the "Palestinian territories"
Settlement Facts to Consider
- An estimated 80% of
settlers live in what are in effect suburbs
of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.
- Analyists have noted
that 80% of Settlements can be brought
into Israel's borders with slight modifications
to the "Green Line".
- Israel has demonstrated
that she is willing to dismantle settlements
for peace. Ehud Barak would have dismantled
over 100 settlements if Yasir Arafat had
agreed to his generous offer at Camp David
- Palestinian violence
aimed at ousting settlers from the disputed
territories is an attempt to ethnically
cleanse the West Bank and Gaza Strip of
its Jewish population.
ISRAEL FACTS >>