Jewish West Bank settlers grab more land - report
11 Sep 2008 03:00:03 GMT
Source: Reuters By Ori Lewis
JERUSALEM, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Jewish settlers in the occupied
West Bank have annexed tens of thousands of acres of land, some of it
privately owned by Palestinians, an Israeli human rights group said on
A report issued by Israel's B'Tselem human rights organisation
said some settlements had grabbed land up to two and a half times
greater than their own designated area either by fencing it off or by
It said settlers should return to Israel.
Israeli government officials were initially not available to
comment on the report but a spokesman for Jewish West Bank settlers
said the land annexation was an authorised security measure.
"It must be clear to B'Tselem that if their demands are heeded,
it will be easier to murder Jews," Yesha Council spokesman Yishai
Palestinians say settlement building denies them land they want
for a contiguous state and a U.S.-backed peace "road map" calls on
Israel to halt all settlement activity in the West Bank.
In a summary of the 58-page report, B'Tselem said two main means
were used to secure land.
"Settlers, and sometimes members of Israel's security forces
violently attack and harass Palestinians who venture near settlements,
erecting fences and other physical and electronic devices around the
land, blocking Palestinian access."
B'Tselem said it could only give a rough estimate of the land in
question, as in most cases there was no official sanction or
However, the report gave more specific details for 12 settlements
which lie east of a barrier which Israel has built in the West Bank, a
project Israel calls a security necessity and Palestinians describe as
a land grab.
It described Israel's unofficial annexation of 4,558 dunams
(1,126 acres) of land around the 12 settlements as part of a plan
called the Special Security Area plan which has more than doubled the
area under the settlers' control.
It said half this land was privately owned by Palestinians.
"The closing of lands around settlements primarily harms
Palestinian farmers, who face almost impassable bureaucratic obstacles
when attempting to access their lands. As a result, many are forced to
stop cultivating," B'Tselem said.
It added that in many cases the Israeli authorities turn a blind
eye to "unlicenced" closure of land and that they systemically avoid
enforcing the law on "criminal settlers."
About 70,000 settlers live east of the barrier made up of both
high concrete wall and chain-link security fence that extends for a
total of 405 km (252 miles), much of it snaking through the West Bank.
This week, Israeli Vice Premier Haim Ramon presented a
compensation plan to buy out settlers who agree to leave homes located
beyond the barrier, before implementing any peace deal with the
Israel has said it intends to continue to build in settlement
blocs it wants to keep in any future peace deal. (Editing by Matthew
B'Tselem board members
Co-chairs: David Kretzmer, Professor of Law, Faculty of Law and
School of Public Policy, Hebrew University, and Gila Svirsky,
Co-founder of Coalition of Women for a Just Peace
Neta Amar: Lawyer, Legal Advisor for IHL Project, Diakonia and
Staff Attorney for Rabbis for Human Rights
Anat Biletzki, Professor of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University
Orna Ben-Naftaly, Head of the Law and Culture Division and the
International Law Division, the Law School, the College of Management
Menachem Fisch: Professor of the History and Philosophy of
Science, Tel-Aviv University and Senior Fellow, Shalom Hartman
Tamar Hermann: Dean of Academic Studies, the Open University of
Israel, and Senior Research Fellow, the Israel Democracy Institute.
Amnon Kapeliouk: Journalist, Le Monde Diplomatique
Peretz Kidron: Journalist and Translator
Menachem Klein: Lecturer in Political Science, Bar Ilan University
Victor Lederfarb: Financial Administrator, the Association for
Civil Rights in Israel
David Neuhaus: Jesuit Priest, Reverend, Lecturer in Religious
Studies at Bethlehem University and Seminary of the Holy Land in Beit
Danny Rubinstein: Journalist, Ha'aretz Newspaper;
Alla Shainskaya: Senior Staff Scientist, Weizmann Institute of
Ronny Talmor: Author and editor
Oren Yiftachel: professor of political geography and urban planning,
Rayef Zreik: Co-founder of Adalah, The Legal Center for Arab
Minority Rights in Israel, Lecturer at the Faculty of Law, Tel-Aviv