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Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15

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Today: Jul 22, 2017

Land Confiscation & Settlements

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Factual statement

Land confiscation

Since the 1948 War, Israel has confiscated Palestinian land in Jerusalem for 'public interest'. The confiscation has partly been on an individual basis, but has also taken place on a far larger scale. The confiscation of areas of land covering thousands of dunums is no rare example. Most of this confiscated land has been used for the construction of settlements for the Jewish population of Jerusalem and roads leading to these settlements. The confiscation of land continues to take place for these purposes.

After the 1948 War, Israel confiscated all Palestinian owned land in West Jerusalem, which was 40 percent of the total area. In 1967, one of the first moves was the confiscation and destruction of the houses of the Old City's Al-Magharbeh to create a plaza in front of the Western Wall. Since then many other examples followed. Between 1967 and 1994, a total of 24.8 square kilometers of land (35 percent) was expropriated in East Jerusalem out of the 70.5 square kilometers annexed in 1967. 80 percent of this land was taken from the Palestinians.

The Israeli authorities used most of this land for the construction of settlements for the Jewish population of Jerusalem and roads leading to these settlements (16 square kilometers). The other nine are not yet developed, but probably will be in the future for the same purposes. Israel continues to confiscate Palestinian land. It earmarked six square kilometers more in East Jerusalem for confiscation.

Recent developments

In 2001, land confiscations took place in four Palestinian neighborhoods, namely Beit Hanina, Beit Safafa, Shufat and Sheih Jarrah. According to the Municipality, land was confiscated for public interest, namely to build schools, public parks, the eastern ring road and to develop a railway network and to build a railway station at the French Hill junction. The Municipality is also going to demolish houses for this purpose.

In 2001, the Israeli authority sent letters for confiscation to all people who own land on the 580 dunums of East Jerusalem needed to build the ring road around the eastern part of the city. The total area of land that will be confiscation for this purpose is 1070 dunums.



Settlement and by-pass road construction

There are some 190 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, inhabited by approximately 390,000 settlers, of whom 180,000 live in the East Jerusalem area.

Since 1967, numerous Jewish settlements have been established in East Jerusalem. Settlements are established in former individual Palestinian houses as well as in neighborhoods.

The Old City and Palestinian neighborhoods around the Old City like Silwan, Ras Al-Amud and Sheikh Jarrah are increasingly exposed to extremist Jewish settler groups, who aim to take over as much Palestinian property as possible. For example in Sheikh Jarrah, there are currently 28 homes in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood threatened with eviction by Israeli authorities. The families of two of these houses have been evicted on April 22, 2002.

These settler organizations have the assistance of the Israeli government that provided large amounts of money, as well as information and legal backing. The costs budgeted for settler security in 2001 was, for example, US$ 5.1 million. (See Map of Jerusalems Old City)

Besides taking over of property by settler groups, the Municipality has planned and overseen the construction of sixteen Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem since 1967: Old City; Ramat Ashkol, Givat Hamiftar, French Hill; Hebrew University; Gilo; Neve Yacob; Ramot; East Talpiot; Malst Defna; Atarst; Pisgat Ze'ev; Pisgat Omer; Rekhes Shufat; Givat Hamatos; Har Homa.

These settlements are totally new neighborhoods built on confiscated Palestinian land. Most of these are built on strategic places and form an inner ring in East Jerusalem, isolating the city from the West Bank, and an outer circle ring ('Greater Jerusalem') reaching far into the West Bank. The 'Greater Jerusalem' plan presented in 1995 follows Israel's vision of a metropolitan Jerusalem stretching from Ramallah in the north to Hebron in the south, and from Bet Shemesh (west) to Jericho (east), covering 30 percent of the West Bank. The total area comprises 440 square kilometers of which less than a quarter lies within pre-1967 Israeli borders. Three-quarters are in the occupied pre-1967 borders and includes the ring settlements of Givat Ze'ev and Ma'ale Adumim. The Israeli government endorsed this plan in 1998. (See Map of Metropolitan Jerusalem)

Besides the settlements itself, the Israeli government opened a network of bypass roads. These roads link settlements to each other and Israel and have a 50 to 75 metre buffer zone on each side of the raod in which no building is permitted. These roads isolate a large number of Palestinian villages in the eastern parts of the city.

If the additional settlements on the Municipality's agenda are built, including the bypass roads to link the settlements, East Jerusalem will be completely separated from the West Bank and integrated into Israel's vision of a 'unified' city.

The building and connecting of settlements from around and inside Jerusalem starts now on land for the 'Greater Jerusalem Plan', which was confiscated in the 80s. This project is called the 'Eastern Gate Project'. The Municipality will implement this project in three phases and it will include, amongst others, 2000 housing units for Jewish settlers. The Municipality approved the plan.

The Municipality built an additional 2,000 housing units in existing Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem in 2001, for example in Har Homa, Ras Al-Amud, Pisgat Ze'ev, and Ne'ev Jacov. These constructions took place without new planning schemes. For example, the master plan for Pisgat Ze'ev was approved in 1985 for 12,000 housing units. Now, Pisgat Ze'ev is being expanded by 1000 housing units annually.

Recent developments

There are currently several new plans for settlement construction in East Jerusalem:

  • Continuing construction on a settlement in the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras Al Amud. The settlement will be called "Ma'aleh Hazeitim," and will consist of 132 dwellings built on 15 dunums of land. The Municipality approved this plan and the houses are currently being built. 32 housing units have been sold so far.

  • Baba Az-Zahara (Old City): approval for the construction of 200 housing units, which included digging for historical sites.

  • Publicly stated intention of the Israeli-controlled Jerusalem Municipality to build 200 dwelling units for Jews in the portion of Abu Dis that is within the municipal boundaries. No further information available at this moment.

  • Continuing rapid construction of the settlement of Har Homa on Jabal Abu Ghneim to house approximately 30,000 Jews.

  • The approval of the construction of 500 new dwelling units in the settlement of Gilo and 3,000 units in Pisgat Ze'ev. Continuing construction on the Eastern Gate settlement, intended to cover an area of 2,500 dunums on land from Issawiya, Anata and Shufat. Plans are also underway to establish a railway station and a commercial high tech residential area in the settlement. In Shufat, 15 to 17 dunums will be confiscated for this purpose. The project is in the process of approving. There is no further information available at this moment concerning plans for Issawiya and Anata.

  • To start building on 30 dunums in A-Tur are in the process of approving.

  • The Municipality approved a building project on 115 dunams in the neighborhood of Jabel al-Mukaber.

  • Approval of the expansion of Ma'ale Admuim by Israeli Supreme Court. The settlement will house 30,000 residents, and will expand onto 53 sq kilometers of land. All surrounding Arab villages have lost their land to this expansion. A 50,000 dunum "plot" has been allocated for the expansion of Ma'ale Adumim but remains undeveloped at the present. This land belongs to the village of Palestinian village of Issawiyeh.

  • There are plans underway to build on 10 dunams of land in Silwan and 42 dunams in A-Ram. Both these plans are not yet approved by the Municipality. At this moment, the Municipality is building the Jerusalem Ring Road, which requires the confiscation of Palestinian land and additional demolition of Palestinian homes. This road will connect the surrounding settlements to the city and will include two tunnels and one bridge. The project will cost NIS 900 million. One tunnel will be constructed under Mount Scopus to connect Jerusalem with the settlement of Ma'ala Adumin. This road will run through the Palestinian neighborhoods of Anata, Essawiyyeh, Tor, Ezariyyeh, Abu Dis, Ras al-Amud, and Sur Bahir and requires the confiscation of Palestinian land and the demolishing of Palestinian houses.

Impact of land confiscation and settlement policy

The Israeli settlement policy dramatically changed the demographic reality of East Jerusalem. From an almost negligible Jewish population in 1967, Israel announced in the summer of 1993 that the Jewish settler population had outnumbered that Palestinians in East Jerusalem. This was the result of a concerted effort of the Municipality, with the support of the Knesset, to encourage Israeli Jews and new immigrants to populate the settlements in East Jerusalem. One example of the measures taken to promote the settlements was that new Jewish settlers are exempted from the Arnona (municipal) tax for a period of five years, after which they are charged at a reduced rate. In addition to tax-breaks, favourable apartment purchase terms, and subsidies, which will ensure their continues growth, the Jerusalem area settlements have also been aggressively marketed. They are promoted as integral suburbs of Jerusalem, however, not accessible for Palestinians as they are controlled by Jewish organisations as mentioned before.

Legal statement

Israeli law
The Israeli Status Law authorizes the World Zionist Organization and the Jewish Agency to control most of the land in Israel. The large-scale and systematic confiscation of Palestinian land and property by the State and the transfer of that property to these agencies constitute an institutionalized form of discrimination as these agencies by definition deny the use of these properties to non-Jews. Until now the state of Israel has taken no legislative steps to reduce its ties with these agencies and continues to conduit funds to these agencies for settlement and immigration purposes of Jews.

International law
The international community is united in its categorization of Jewish settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as contrary to article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits an Occupying Power from transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. In numerous resolutions the Security Council and the General Assembly have condemned the settlements as illegal and in their Declaration of December 5, 2001, the High Contracting Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention reaffirmed this position.