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Today's New York Times, Ha'aretz, and Yediot Ahronot report on a new study by Peace Now's Settlements Watch team:  Breaking the Law in the West Bank – One Violation Leads to Another: Israeli Settlement Building on Private Palestinian Property (pdf).

Key findings include:  Palestinians privately own nearly 40% of the land on which the settlements have been built, including over 40% of the land in settlements located in "settlement blocs," west of the fence being constructed by Israel.

"Jehoshua ben Hananiah said: ‘Once I was traveling on a road and seeing a beaten path leading across a meadow I took that path. Said a little girl to me: ‘Rabbi! Is this not a meadow that thou art crossing?’ And I answered: ‘Is this not a beaten path?’ And she answered: ‘Yea; such robbers as thou art have made it a beaten path.’”
Babylonian Talmud, Erubin 53b.

Peace Now Logo

  The Peace Now report is based on maps and figures leaked from inside the
  government.  The data in the report "demonstrate that the property rights
  of many Palestinians have been systematically violated in the course of
  settlement building."

"Peace Now demanded that Attorney General Menachem Mazuz launch an investigation into the findings and put the responsible elements on trial.

According to the Executive Summary:

Peace Now’s Settlement Watch team has compiled precise information regarding the legal status of the land on which Israeli settlements have been constructed in the West Bank over the last four decades. The data, which is compiled and made public here for the first time, has enormous significance. It indicates the direct violation of Israeli law carried out by the State itself, driven by the architects and leaders of the settlement movement.

Israel never annexed the territories in the West Bank conquered in the war of June 1967, leaving the status of this land as "spoils of war".  During the past forty years of occupation, Israel has ruled the territories through military orders and the laws of the State. In so doing, Israel has ignored international laws and agreements, such as the 4th Geneva Accords and the Hague Agreement, which define and limit changes the occupier may make in occupied territory during the period of occupation.

This report demonstrates that, in addition to ignoring international laws and agreements, Israel has violated even its own norms and laws in the West Bank, through the confiscation of private Palestinian property and the building of settlements upon them.

Data which its source is the Civil Administration, applied to each and every settlement by the Peace Now Settlement Watch team, indicate that a large proportion of the settlements built on the West Bank are built on privately owned Palestinian land. This, despite the fact that Israeli law guarantees the protection of the private property of the civil population resident on the West Bank.

The data presented in this report demonstrate that the property rights of many Palestinians have been systematically violated in the course of settlement building. The government's own information confirms this contravention of Israeli law - law, defined precisely in the landmark Elon More decision of the Israeli High Court of Justice in 1979 (discussed in detail, below).

Peace Now condemns the violation of Israeli law carried out over the past forty years by the State of Israel. We condemn the efforts of politicians and bureaucrats to launder the land grab, which deprived thousands of Palestinians of the basic human right of possession, on the individual and collective levels.

We demand that the present Israeli Government rectify the situation, which means returning the private land to its owners.

Key findings include:

> Palestinians privately own nearly 40% of the land on which the settlements have been built;

> Palestinians privately own over 40% of the land in settlements located in "settlement blocs," west of the fence being constructed by Israel, including 86.4% of Ma’ale Adumim, 44.3% of Giv'at Ze'ev, 47.7% of Kedumim, and 35.1% of Ariel;

> More than 3,400 buildings in settlements are constructed on land that is privately owned by Palestinians;

> “Survey lands” are areas whose ownership has yet to be determined and on which development is not legal, yet 5.7% of settlement territory is “survey land” and 2.5% of the “settlement blocs” are on “survey lands;”

> Only a small percentage of settlement land was purchased by Jews; and

> Over 50% of the land on which settlements have been constructed has been declared “State land,” often through controversial means and mostly for the benefit of settlements.



An interactive map by Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) that enables one to examine particular settlements and outposts is available here.  Below, are maps showing the West Bank as a whole and Maale Adumim in particular.



IMHO, those of us who are strong supporters of Israel have a particularly strong obligation to support the strong legal action for which Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) has called.  Supporting Israel does not mean supporting everything that Israelis or its governments do.

While it probably is too much to expect the Bush administration to do anything constructive, IMHO, we nevertheless also should recommit to a two-state peace settlement, including a viable Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (with its capital in portions of Jerusalem).  But for Israel, complying with its own domestic law, which at least on a declarative basis recognizes the ownership rights of Palestinians in West Bank land, is an obligation independent of progress on making peace and combating terrorism.

There is a partner; there is a plan.

Originally posted to another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:01 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip jar and invitation to comment. nt (21+ / 0-)

    "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

    by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:00:43 AM PST

  •  I'm not surprised to see this diary (4+ / 0-)

    I am surprised to see it posted by this another American.

    Mazel tov.

  •  Glad this has come out. The report (5+ / 0-)

    also says only 1.2% of the land falls under the category that Israeli law would allow settlement i.e. Jewish land. But the Four Geneva Convention does not and settlements in occupied land.

    Washinton Post has a good article:

    The Israeli government did not annex the West Bank after the 1967 war - keeping the Palestinian population there from voting in the Jewish state - and soon began sponsoring settlement construction in the territories. International law has been widely interpreted to prohibit civilian settlement or construction on land occupied during war.

    Who will be brave enough to stop the ethic cleansing in Palestine's West Bank? Who will stop the crimes against humanity? Stop military aid.

    by mattes on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:19:46 AM PST

  •  More excellent work... (6+ / 0-)

    ...from Shalom Acshav.

    The urge to save humanity is almost always a false face for the urge to rule it. ~ H.L. Mencken

    by Jay Elias on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:23:13 AM PST

  •  heard this on the BBC this morning (4+ / 0-)

    It's not really surprising to anyone who's been following it, it's just another political scandal the likes of which Blair and Bush have gone through time and again.  Everyone will be outraged at Israel, while the U.S. will blindly continue trying to obtain benefit from Israel by not criticizing the government.  

    I'm not very hopeful for anything concrete and good to come from this.

    I'm not bitter; I merely want obstinate politicians to stop condemning thousands of people to early graves.

    by Nulwee on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:34:03 AM PST

  •  Unfortunately, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    weasel, anonymousredvest18

    it also seems to be too much to expect from the Democratic Party, given the recent remarks of their leadership.

    •  Maybe the congress critters (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anonymousredvest18, RAZE, curmudgiana

      need to be educated. We can begin by sending these types of diaries to them, especially the new incoming congress people.

      Who will be brave enough to stop the ethic cleansing in Palestine's West Bank? Who will stop the crimes against humanity? Stop military aid.

      by mattes on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:48:01 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  I'm not so sure. I believe, or at least hope, (5+ / 0-)

      that Democrats are capable of critical support of Israel.  (I know that my own representative, Barney Frank, has taken such positions.)  What the Democratic Party will not do, IMHO, is associate itself with positions inimical to Israel's continued existence.  Hence my contention that, if only on pragmatic grounds, those who actively desire some justice for the Palestinians ought to adopt conciliatory frames.  Conciliation and criticism are not incompatible.  Neither is support for Israel and support for (the creation of) a Palestinian state alongside Israel in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (with its capital in portions of Jerusalem).  Nor, I hope, is support for a Palestinian State and support for the continued existence of Israel within the Green Line (as mutually agreed to be adjusted).

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

      by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 07:53:07 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I believe Mattes is right (4+ / 0-)

        In this diary http://www.dailykos.com/...
        I have the reactions of Nancy Pelosi and some of the other members of the Democratic leadership to Jimmy Carter's new book, in which he deplores precisely this sort of land-grabbing activity, and they attack him viciously for being anti-Israeli.

        Congress is the problem here, and Congress has to be changed.

        •  Carter's misuse of the word "apartheid" (0+ / 0-)

          mostlikely is to blame.  I haven't yet read his book, so I can't say much more.  I would note, however, that his rhetoric in his interview with the Forward is much more sensitive.  Among other things, Carter says:

          My support for Israel is proven and deeply ingrained in my own soul, but I don’t think Israel will ever have peace unless they are willing, as I’ve said earlier, to live within their borders that are reconfirmed even recently with the international quartet’s so-called road map, and that says that United Nations Resolution 242 must be implemented and Israel must withdraw from occupied territory.

          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

          by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 08:22:11 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  His use of the term (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            weasel, anonymousredvest18

            refers to the effects of the Wall, which Desmond Tutu, who ought to know the meaning of the world, has also condemned in those terms.

            That passage you quote is perfectly representative of Carter's book.

            •  Yes, Tutu ought to know better. (0+ / 0-)

              The barrier -- in most places, it's a fence, not a wall -- primarily is intended for security purposes.  Indeed, it's original proponents came from the Israeli peace camp.  Ariel Sharon and his ilk originally opposed it because they feared it would signal Israeli recognition that the West Bank is separate from Israel.

              The primary problem with the barrier is its route, that is, the fact that parts of it run east of the Green Line.  Even in this respect, however, the government has had to adjust the route in places because the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that only security considerations may be used in determining the route.

              In all events, Carter knew, or reasonably should have known, that "apartheid" is a word that signals the illegitimacy of the regime or country to which it is applied.  Especially when an outsider applies the word to Israel, she should not be surprised at sparking more heat than light.

              "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

              by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 08:38:49 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Israeli regime IN THE WEST BANK (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                curmudgiana

                is quite illegitimate, at the very least, it violates property rights and individual rights in a systematic fashion, so it does not BEHAVE like a legitimate regime.

                That is apart from the consideration if the occupation is legitimate.

                I am not sure if South African white government was as abusive of the rights of Blacks as Israeli occupation is with Palestinians, at the very least there is no obvious superiority for either regime.

                One thing is, as Americans we believe that property rights are important.  With notable exceptions, however: Serbians on Croatia, but chiefly, Palestinians.  Even so, never did USA government declared that these consfiscations are legitimate, we merely, by silence, declare that they are unimportant.

                •  Yes, it's illegitimate, but it's not apartheid. (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  livosh1

                  Moreover, the title of Carter's book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid does not signal the reader that he talking only about the West Bank (or the West Bank plus the Gaza Strip).

                  I'm not defending the Occupation, lehavdil.  Rather, I offering one reason why most Democratic office-holders and candidates would be reluctant to associate themselves with Carter.  His, IMHO, poor choice of language amounts to shooting himself in the foot.

                  "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

                  by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 11:00:09 AM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Present or Future tense? (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    RAZE, curmudgiana

                    Carter's choice of title leaves some ambiguity which some choose to ignore.  In fact, some like Abe Foxman encourage Americans to judge Carter's book (harshly) by its cover and to ignore it.  Sure, many radical activists, even international leaders like Desmond Tutu, have been calling the occupation Apartheid for years; however, in recent months, other peace activists, like Jeff Halper of ICAHD, have begun using the term.  The difference is that some who have been reluctant to use the term in the past to describe "what is", despairing of the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution, are fearing the direction of "what may become."  We must choose: do we really want peace or will we allow "the facts on the ground" to consolidate into apartheid?  America's failure to become involved in the peace process has made the latter possiblity more likely.

                    "If you can't stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen." - Harry Truman

                    by Rusty Pipes on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 11:45:30 AM PST

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  : (0+ / 0-)

                    Hendrik Verwoerd, South African Prime Minister and architect of apartheid refered to Israeli policies as "apartheid" in 1961, as well as Desmond Tutu in 1989 and 2002.

                    As I said, these people, more than anyone, ought to know what the word "apartheid" means and to be able to recognize it when they see it.

                    You may not like the word.  You may find it offensive.  But this doesn't make it any less true.

                  •  apartheid -- "apartness" (0+ / 0-)

                    in this case -- keeping races apart.

                    On difference is that South Africa was nowhere as methodical and successful in keeping the races apart.

                    Look at the regime INSIDE West Bank.  There are two races -- not like "Whites" and "Blacks", but nevertheless two communities, one with the inferior status, one with the superior.

                    The grounds occupied by the superior community, and the roads that connect them and assorted security zones are  forbidden  to the inferior community.  There is no similar prohibition for the superior community against entering lands and road allowed for the inferior.

                    Inferior community is subjected to assorted indignities, notably, checkpoints when they have to cross roads reserved for the superior community.

                    All members of the superior community are armed.  An interesting wrinkle: many members of the inferior community are armed too, but in that case they have the status of "militant" and can be killed at random.

                    When militants of the superior community attack members of the inferior community, the security forces almost always defend them, although often they also try to prevent the attack.  When militants of the inferior community attack or demostrate, live ammunition is used (or often lethal "non-lethal" ammunition).

                    Totally unique is the institution of "illegal settlements" of members of the superior community.  The law of their own community regards them as illegal, yet they are provided with utilities, separate roads and military protection.  Once a year, in a very strange ritual, one or two such settlements are "closed".  The protracted nature of such closing contrasts with a very efficient way houses of inferior community are bulldozed for assorted reasons (built without a permit, family member is a militant, security risk or a suspicion of "tunnel building" etc.)

                    There were just too few Whites in South Africa to organize such extensive harrasment of the inferior communities.  Besides variety, there is intesity: percentage of the members of inferior community subjected to daily checkpoints, or extra-legal detension, or attacks of various kinds.  Feel free to explain why the term apartheid is unduly harsh.

        •  Ms. Pelosi's info for your convenience: (0+ / 0-)

          District Office - 450 Golden Gate Ave. - 14th Floor - San Francisco, CA 94102 - (415) 556-4862
          Washington, D.C. Office - 2371 Rayburn HOB - Washington, DC 20515 - (202) 225-4965

          Who will be brave enough to stop the ethic cleansing in Palestine's West Bank? Who will stop the crimes against humanity? Stop military aid.

          by mattes on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 08:23:25 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Geneva Initiative (0+ / 0-)

    I was in Israel when a copy of the Geneva Accords was sent to every home in the country.  When our copy arrived in our mail box, my husband and I read through it carefully.  It seemed to us that many Israelis felt this was another idea that would never get anywhere.  

    The leadership of the Palestinians does not want peace.  In the past month, the  PM and FM among other officials have said PUBLICLY that Palestinians will never give up the fight for Palestine.. all of it.    

    It is difficult to make peace with a group that constantly calls for your extermination.

    As for the settlements, they are excuseless.  They should be removed... the only exception perhaps those around Jerusalem.

    •  Both the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      anonymousredvest18

      are divided.  The Palestinian Prime Minister and Foreign Minister may have one position; the President has another.  Moreover, the obvious fact that making peace will continue to be difficult is no excuse for not trying.  Indeed, I would argue that, purely from a self-interested perspective, Israel (and not only the Palestinians) need peace.

      BTW, what problems, if any, do you have with the Geneva Initiative?

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

      by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 08:01:51 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  my opinion (0+ / 0-)

        I have no issues really with the Geneva Initiative.  I simply don't believe it will work because I believe most Palestinians in authority want to get rid of Israel.  THe problem is that these groups Hamas, Fatah whomever can always spawn off a new group to continue the terrorism and claim that its not them launching the Qassams or suicide bombers.  

        I honestly believe that there will be a peace agreement and that within ten years either the Palestinian state as a whole or terrorist groups with no connection to the state (wink, wink) will attack Israel and we will be back where we started.  I do not think the Palestinians or the rest of the Arab world will ever accept Isreal's presence.

    •  BS (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rusty Pipes, anonymousredvest18, RAZE

      I'm calling bullshit.  You can read it in Haaretz today: http://haaretz.com/...

      The 5 major factions in Palestine, including "Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP)," all offered "to immediately halt Qassam attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip" if Israel would halt attacks into Gaza.  

      Interestingly, whereas the Haaretz story last night focused on the offer of truce, today the story was re-written to be further proof of the evil of Palestinians.  The story now begins with the explanation that "Palestinians would fire rockets at Sderot so long as Israeli attacks on Gaza continue."

      So, an offer of truce has again been used as proof that Palestinians don't want peace because they want Israel to reciprocate in ceasing attacks.

    •  Pumpkinlove, I'm sure the Palestinians would (0+ / 0-)

      agree with you.

      It is difficult to make peace with a group that constantly calls for your extermination

      •  Another genocide smear? (0+ / 0-)

        When has Israel EVER called for the extermination of the Palestinians?   Let's be honest, if they wanted to, they could do it.  

        On the other hand, it is common rhetoric from Palestinian factions to talk about the end of Israel and the removal of all Jews.

        •  Here you go, here's what Israel's deputy prime (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rusty Pipes

          minister, Avigdor Lieberman, said just days ago on November 18:

          Israel must get tougher with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad militant groups, particularly their leaders.

          "They ... have to disappear, to go to paradise, all of them, and there can't be any compromise," he said.

          http://cbs2chicago.com/...

          And yes, to be honest, we know that Israel could exterminate allof the Palestinians if it wanted to. I know that Israel's military superiority is important to many who pledge allegiance to Israel, but it isn't important to everyone else. Although such comments remind me of a playground bully, I think it is more important on finding ways that all people can live together, rather than bragging about who can kill who.

  •  It would be good to see some political (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Paul in Berkeley, mattes

    folks poll the Israeli public on this. Most average Israelis prefer a two-state solution, and I can only believe that the right Labor candidate willing to, at the very least, enforce domestic laws vis a vis settlement construction as part of an overall security platform could do well. Maybe then, some change could be affected.

    If they're just going to keep building and building, one can only wonder just how they're going to ever find a peaceful solution.

    •  Here you go . . . (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mattes, Rusty Pipes, RAZE, Red Sox

      On September 26th, I diaried the results of recent public opinion polling of both the Israeli and Palestinian publics:  Majorities of Israelis and Palestinians support negotiations.

      Among the key findings were these:

      • a majority of Israelis "would support holding negotiations with a Palestinian unity government that includes the Islamic Hamas movement."  Likewise, a majority of Palestinians support negotiations between Israel and the Hamas-led Palestinian government.
      • 66% of Israelis and 84% of Palestinians agree that, in order to prevent in the future a war between them similar to the war in Lebanon, there is a need to reach soon a permanent settlement between Israel and the Palestinians.
      • 70% of both publics believe that they cannot rely only on themselves and also need the involvement of the international community in the conflict resolution process.
      •  67% of Palestinians support Hamas's "refusal to recognize the state of Israel in order to meet international donor demands and Palestinians."  But 64% would support a Palestinian recognition of Israel as a state for the Jewish people after a peace agreement is reached and a Palestinians state is established.

      "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

      by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 08:32:21 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  No, I know that much... (0+ / 0-)

        ...I mean polling on this specific report's political salience. We know that most Israelis and Palestinians support a peaceful, two-state resolution. But heretofore, Israeli politicians have lacked the political capital to make real progress because no Israeli voter wants to talk about concessions to the Palestinians when they feel under siege. I'm wondering if demonstrable evidence (assuming this report is truthful) that the Olmert administration is either breaching Israeli law to exasperate the situation or allowing others to do so would be a salient political issue for a peace-minded Labor candidate.

        •  Sorry, I misunderstood you. nt (0+ / 0-)

          "My country, right or wrong; if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right." Carl Schurz

          by another American on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 08:40:48 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Another problem generally ignored in polls (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mattes, Rusty Pipes

          Is most Israeli have been numbed for so long, they cannot recognize: (1) the moral repugnancy of annexing the Palestinians without according them the rights of citizens, and; (2) the immorality of the whole settlements enterprise.

          •  They equate settlements with defense. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            another American

            It should be pointed out that settlements are creating the anger and driving the terrorism.

            Who will be brave enough to stop the ethic cleansing in Palestine's West Bank? Who will stop the crimes against humanity? Stop military aid.

            by mattes on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 09:05:22 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I think the Barrier (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              mattes, RAZE

              did a way with the equation of settlements with security.  It is probably the most positive effect of the Barrier.  The notion that the Palestinians live in political limbo does not cross the minds of most Israelis.  There are few (mostly immigrants from the US) who do not see it as a moral problem.  Most Israelis simply do not see it.

              •  Don't be stupid (0+ / 0-)

                EVERY Israeli knows that the Palestinians live in political limob.. much better than the armchair quarterbacks on DKos.  

                Most ISraelis do not support the settlements.. its a waste of money and blood, its foolish, its wrong.  However, most Israelis are afraid to leave the West Bank and Gaza because it will just give Palestinians a chance to build up their weapon stash (as they have during every short episode of peace).

          •  Long term, the settlements are a (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Ptah the Great

            "liability". That exposes the big lie.

            Who will be brave enough to stop the ethic cleansing in Palestine's West Bank? Who will stop the crimes against humanity? Stop military aid.

            by mattes on Tue Nov 21, 2006 at 09:06:24 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

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