Land Grab beyond Hypocrisy

Tuesday, November 28, 2006 10:35 AM

Last week word came via Peace Now, an Israeli peace group, and from the BBC that over a third of the land on which Tel Aviv has built "settlements" for Jewish immigrants in occupied Palestinian territory (or "so-called occupied territory" in the words of Secretary of Defence Don Rumsfeld) is privately owned Palestinian property. (See below.) This conclusion is not based on the research of Peace Now or the BBC, but is contained in a report from the Israeli Government itself--from an entity called the "Civil Administration"--the entity "which manages the civilian aspects of Israel's occupation of the West Bank". Peace Now concludes overall that 40% of the land in "the settlements" has been "effectively stolen".

And Washington talks about bringing "democracy" to the Middle East! That's a ludicrous cover story, of course, but if we were to take it at face value for just one second, it instantly begs the question: "Why doesn't Washington start with bringing "democracy" to its presumptive best friend and ally in the Middle East?" On numerous levels, Washington cannot do that, and not just because the "Israel Lobby" in Washington has a tight choke hold on U.S. foreign policy in the region, thereby making any official move toward sanity and objectivity impossible. There are additional factors to be considered.

The major reason a serious, high-level and honest re-examination of Washington's alliance with Tel Aviv is off the table is that it inevitably would open up a pandora's box as to the nature of the Jewish State itself. Peace Now, the BBC and the "Civil Administration" should be very, very careful about referring to stolen property, because they might find out, with a little research, that most if not all of the Jewish State is just that. I am talking about its pre-1967 borders, which are recognized by the UN and the international community. In this regard, I refer you to the informative website of the Palestine Land Society.

The facts of the Jewish-Zionist conquest of Palestine, the ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians, the stealing of their land, both private and public, is there for all to see, and cannot be denied. It is an amazing story. Can you imagine just how grotesque and nauseating Washington’s talk bringing “democracy” to the Middle East must sound to the people on the ground there--most especially to the hundreds of thousands of Palestinian refugees sitting in camps in Jordan, Lebanon, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and in Syria? All that Washington has brought to the Middle East, post World War II, is confusion, cover-up, and more evasion of the central issue, this being, the illegitimate origins of the “Jewish State” itself.

Remember what ex-CIA Middle East operative, Robert Baer, told the Sunday Observer (London) in March, 2002: "There is no debate. People will not address the question of Palestine in the context of the World Trade Centre attacks. It's not in the terms of the discussion. They simply believe that Israel has the right to defend its democracy like the U.S. does. They don't understand that Israel gives no democratic rights to the Palestinians whatsoever. They don't see that it's not a democracy."

In short, America was attacked "here" in retaliation for what Washington had done "out there". The attack did not result in Americans asking the most basic question "why?". Instead, the attack was cynically utilized to propel Washington to go "out there" yet again, and do more of the same, thereby creating additional problems and instability. No wonder we are in a jam.

Settlements 'violate Israeli law'

More than a third of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank are built on privately owned Palestinian land, an Israeli campaign group has reported.

BBC News, Tuesday, November 21st, 2006

Peace Now says nearly 40% of the land the settlements sit on is, according to official data, "effectively stolen" from Palestinian landowners. This, the group says, is a violation of Israel's own laws. Settlements in the occupied West Bank are illegal under international law, although Israel rejects this. About 430,000 Jews live in these residential areas in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Leaked data

Peace Now called on the Israeli government to return the private land to its Palestinian owners. In recent years the Israeli government has said repeatedly that it respects Palestinian property rights in the West Bank. An Israeli official has said the government is reviewing the report.


130 settlements were constructed either entirely or partially on private Palestinian land. 19,800 acres of the land used by the settlements, nearly 40% of the total, is private Palestinian land. 86.4% of Maale Adumim is built on privately-owned land

The data on which the findings are based comes from a 2004 survey by the Civil Administration, which manages the civilian aspects of Israel's occupation of the West Bank. The data was leaked to Peace Now via an official in the Civil Administration. The group says the government had refused to give this information to it.

The group says that the data it has received has been "hidden by the State for many years, for fear that the revelation of these facts could damage its international relations".  According to the report, 86.4% of the Maale Adumim settlement block, the largest in the West Bank, is built on private Palestinian land, and not on what the Israeli government refers to as "state land". The settlement is home to 32,372 people and lies due east of Jerusalem.

'Violation' of Israeli law

"The claim by the State and settlers that the settlements have been constructed on state land is misleading and false," Peace Now says. "The vast majority of settlement construction was done against the law of the land and the Supreme Court ruling and therefore unauthorised. [The data] indicates the direct violation of Israeli law carried out by the State itself, driven by the architects and leaders of the settlement movement."


Illegal under international law according to Fourth Geneva Convention (article 49), which prohibits an occupying power transferring citizens from its own territory to occupied territory. Israel argues international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to West Bank because it was not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state before 1967.

In 1979 the Israeli High Court forbade the establishment of settlements on privately-owned Palestinian that has been seized by Israel for military purposes. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at its core a conflict over land and in the West Bank property rights, BBC Jerusalem correspondent Crispin Thorold says. This is the area which Palestinians want to be the basis of a future independent state.

If confirmed the findings could have major implications for any future peace deal. Some of the settlements that the Israeli government wants to be included within its final borders are built on land overwhelmingly owned by Palestinian individuals. Peace Now is an Israeli group that monitors Israel settlements in the West Bank. The oldest peace movement in Israel, it advocates the setting up of a Palestinian state on land occupied by Israel in 1967.