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Israeli settlers only use 12% of allocated land, but expand settlements by stealing neighbouring land



Settlers use just 9% of state-allocated land

West Bank settlements have been allocated huge amounts of land, but use very little of it, according to a Peace Now report.

Only nine percent of the area under settlement jurisdiction has been built on, and only 12 percent is being used at all, the report said, citing Civil Administration figures.

But despite their huge unused land reserves, 90 percent of the settlements exceed their boundaries, and about one-third of the territory they do use lies outside their jurisdiction, the report added.

The findings attest to the government's ongoing cooperation with the settlements' expansion, Peace Now charged: On one hand, the state earmarks huge tracts for the settlements, out of all all proportion to their size, in order to prevent Palestinian construction in those areas. Yet once an area is closed to Palestinians, the settlers begin seizing adjacent Palestinian lands, often privately owned, that lie outside their jurisdiction.

For years, the settlements' borders were concealed: The Civil Administration and other agencies refused to provide this information to nongovernmental organizations and the media, although within the Green Line, such data is readily available. The figures in this report were obtained only after Peace Now and the Movement for Freedom of Information petitioned the courts under the Freedom of Information Act last year.

The report, compiled by Dror Etkes and Hagit Ofran of Peace Now's Settlement Watch, found that Israel's policy violates the state's commitments under the Oslo Accord. This agreement stipulated that no party would take unilateral steps to change the situation in the territories until final-status negotiations status were completed. Yet even before peace talks stalled, Israel acted methodically to expand the settlements' jurisdiction, the report said.

Israel's acts also contradict official government statements, including Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's statement, following a meeting with King Abdullah of Jordan in May, that "construction in the settlements takes place only within the authorized boundaries."

The report lists 164 settlements, outposts and industrial zones in the West Bank. Of these, 92 saw their areas of jurisdiction expanded or redefined after the Oslo Accord was signed in 1993, as part of a construction drive that doubled the number of West Bank settlers in the subsequent decade.

Several settlements' areas of jurisdiction have still not been demarcated, probably because sizable portions of their built-up areas are located on private Palestinian land, as is true of the two veteran settlements of Ofra and Psagot near Ramallah.

Etkes charged that Israel uses the term "jurisdiction" in a misleading and manipulative way to enable the settlements to expand almost without limits and block Palestinian construction in these areas.

The lands assigned to Ma'aleh Adumim, for example, were an attempt to form a barrier between Palestinian communities in the northern and southern West Bank, he said. The Judea and Samaria police station is now being built in the E-1 area between East Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim, which was annexed to the settlement's territory, even though this area is far from Ma'aleh Adumim's built-up areas, which are located on the other side of the Jerusalem-Jericho road. This reflects Israel's efforts to create Jewish territorial contiguity in the region. There are also plans to build a commercial and tourism center in E-1. Yet 76 percent of Ma'aleh Adumim's land is currently not being used for any purpose.

The huge area allocated to the settlements is most conspicuous in the small communities of the Jordan Valley and Judean Desert. Kibbutz Mitzpeh Shalem, population 180, for instance, has jurisdiction over 35,408 dunams - about the size of Petah Tikva. Kibbutz Kalia, population 271, on the Dead Sea shore, has jurisdiction over 25,304 dunams.

Illegal construction outside a settlement's area of jurisdiction is often encouraged by the state, as demonstrated by the illegal outposts, Etkes said. The Civil Administration prevents Palestinians from building in areas under settler jurisdiction. Yet virtually no legal action is taken against illegal settler construction, and such structures are rarely demolished, he charged.


SOURCE

Haaretz, "Settlers use just 9% of state-allocated land", 6 July 2007.
http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/878955.html


NOTES

91% of land given to Jewish settlers by the government of "Israel" is not built on, because each settlement builds around the edges of its allocated boundaries, annexing half as much land again. Why would any Israeli settler waste time building on the Palestinian land that they are given by their government, when they can steal the land around it and build on that instead?

The regime and its allies are fully aware that the state of "Israel" is expanding illegally in this way. They are complicit in the land grab. This is the approved and permitted strategy for the imperial conquest of land for the creation of an artificial new state.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 06 July 2007.

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