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The settlements
Summary
Israeli Colonies are a Land Grab
Israeli Colonies are Illegal:
Israeli Colonies Threaten the Two-State Solution
The Palestinian Position on Israeli Colonies

Summary

For nearly four decades, the construction of Israeli colonies has been a central component of Israel's effort to consolidate control over the Occupied Palestinian Territories, particularly East Jerusalem. Israeli colonization has served not only to facilitate territorial acquisition and to justify the continued presence of the Israeli army on Palestinian lands, but also to limit the territorial contiguity and economic viability of areas populated by Palestinians and thereby preclude the establishment of a zviable independent Palestinian state.

Today, nearly 400,000 Israeli settlers live in more than 150 colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.



Israeli Colonies are a Land Grab

Israeli colonies are built on land stolen from the Palestinian people in order to house Israelis. Israelis are lured into the illegal colonies by a generous package of Israeli government incentives housing subsidies, income tax reductions and business grants

In order to consolidate its hold on Palestinian territory, the Israeli government has adopted a number of discriminatory measures aimed to benefit illegal settlers to the detriment of the indigenous Palestinian population. For example, while Israeli colonies benefit from massive Israeli investment in roads and other infrastructure, Palestinian areas remain undeveloped due to Israeli prohibition of construction and confiscation of arable land and water resources. Palestinian residents of the occupied territories on whose land these colonies were established are denied access to both the colonies and to the infrastructure that serves them. Reminiscent of South African apartheid, the Israeli government has set up legal and judicial systems whereby settlers are subject to a separate set of courts and laws than neighbouring Palestinian towns and villages.

Israeli colonies are given a greater allocation of the superior water resources that typically lie beneath them. According to B'Tselem, an Israeli human rights organization, the water consumption of the population of the Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley _ a population of less than 5,000_is equivalent to seventy-five percent of the water consumption of the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank (approximately two million people) for domestic and urban uses."

In the Israeli-Occupied Gaza Strip, among the most densely populated areas in the world, a settler population of approximately 6,500 controls more than 20% of the Gaza Strip's territory and has full freedom of movement. In order to facilitate freedom of movement for these settlers, the Gaza Strips Palestinian population of more than 1,100,000 is subjected to checkpoints, curfews and military invasions. [ Interactive Map of Gaza. ]



Israeli Colonies are Illegal:

The Fourth Geneva Convention:
The Fourth Geneva Convention, ratified by Israel in June 1951, prohibits Israel from establishing colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Article 49 (6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention states "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." According to the Commentary of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the prohibition on the establishment of colonies is intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population to occupied territory for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed, to colonize those territories. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race."; (emphasis added).

United Nations Security Council Resolutions:
The United Nations recognizes that Israel' practice of establishing colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal and a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
*UNSCR 452 (1979): "Calls upon the Government and people of Israel to cease, on an urgent basis, the establishment, construction and planning of settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem.";

* UNSCR 465 (1980):
•"Determines that all measures taken by Israel to change ... the demographic composition ... of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem...have no legal validity and Israel's policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in those territories constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention...and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."

•"Calls upon the Government and people of Israel to ... dismantle the existing settlements ..."

 

War Crimes:
The establishment of colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is a war crime:

*The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court of 1998 (Article 8(b)(viii)) defines "the transfer directly or indirectly by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies as a War Crime indictable by the International Criminal Court.

*The Head of the International Committee of the Red Cross Delegation to Israel stated on May 17, 2001 that:
The policy of settlements as such in humanitarian law is a war crime. The transfer, the installation of population of the occupying territories is considered as an illegal move and qualified as a grave breach [of the45 Fourth Geneva Convention]. It's a grave breach, formally speaking, but grave breaches are equal in principle to war crimes.


Israeli Colonies Threaten the Two-State Solution

Israel's on-going colony construction in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are effectively pre-empting the possibility of a viable two-state solution. Israeli colonies together with their infrastructure (by-pass roads, military checkpoints and military bases) divide Palestinian communities from each other, limit the natural growth of Palestinian towns and cities, restrict access to water and agricultural resources and block economic development.

In addition, colonies and their infrastructure reduce the amount of land remaining on which to create a viable Palestinian state. As of 2002, more than 40% of the Occupied West Bank was under the jurisdiction of colonies and colony councils. (Report: Israeli Colonies and the Threat to the Viability of a Two-State Solution).

There is no sign that Israel has any intention of stopping or even slowing colony construction. Since the signing of the Oslo Accords, the number of settlers illegally living in the Occupied Palestinian Territories nearly doubled and the pace of construction of colony infrastructure (such as by-pass roads) has accelerated.



The Palestinian Position on Israeli Colonies

Israeli colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territories are not only illegal but also threaten the viability of a two-state solution. As part of a viable two-state solution, all Israeli colonies must be evacuated. One way to achieve a peaceful evacuation of the colonies would be for the government of Israel to remove all economic and other incentives luring Israelis into Occupied Territory while simultaneously providing similar incentives for current settlers to move back to Israel.


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