B'Tselem's Position paper: As part of normalizing ties with the United Arab Emirates, Israel has decided not to officially annex the West Bank as yet. De facto, it annexed the West Bank long ago, treating the area as sovereign Israeli territory while acting unilaterally to establish and perpetuate control. The uproar over official annexation has subsided, but the reality remains unchanged: the international community has welcomed Israel back with open arms – legitimizing its continued policy of dispossession with no price.
The report shows how the justices of Israel’s Supreme Court have validated the state’s planning apparatus in the West Bank, enabling it to continue implementing illegal policies. Time and time again, the justices have ignored the fact that the planning apparatus imposes an almost blanket prohibition on Palestinian construction with the object of enabling Israel to take over as much Palestinian land as possible. The report, Fake Justice: The Responsibility Israel’s High Court Justices Bear for the Demolition of Palestinian Homes and the Dispossession of Palestinians, is based on a careful examination of hundreds of High Court cases, judgments and decisions regarding the demolition of Palestinian homes in the West Bank. In none of these cases did the justices accept the arguments of the Palestinian petitioners.
The report B’Tselem published today shows how Israel has been taking over Palestinian rural space, fragmenting it, dispossessing its residents of land and water, and handing over these areas to settlers. The process is illustrated through a case study of three villages in the Nablus District - ‘Azmut, Deir al-Hatab and Salem - telling what these communities have undergone since Israel established the Elon Moreh settlement nearby. Through this case study, the report illustrates a broader policy Israel has been implementing throughout the West Bank for decades, and in which the settlers play a key role.
The occupation is 49 years old. That’s 17,898 days. International law defines occupation as a temporary situation, but after nearly 50 years the reality in the West Bank and Gaza can no longer be considered temporary. It is unreasonable to keep hoping that Israel end this situation of its own volition. As the occupation enters its 50th year, B’Tselem presents the current situation in the West Bank and Gaza. The facts are well-known. Equally well-known is that standing idly by means perpetuating the current situation. Determined action is needed now to clearly demonstrate the termination of local and international cooperation with the occupation.
60% of the West Bank is designated Area C, under exclusive Israeli control. It is home to 180,000 Palestinians and includes most West Bank land reserves. Israel, citing “state lands” or “firing zones”, largely prohibits Palestinian construction. Israel’s planning policy ignores local needs: refuses to recognize villages or draft plans; blocks development and infrastructure hook-ups; and demolishes homes. Thousands are in danger of expulsion for living in firing zones or “illegal” communities. Israel has appropriated most water sources and restricts Palestinian access to them.
The report surveys the broad spectrum of issues regarding the Israeli authorities' human rights record in the West Bank and Gaza Strip over the past year, the 44th year of the Israeli occupation. An interactive version of the report is available online and distributed through social media. The report documents a sharp increase in the number of uninvolved Palestinians killed by the Israeli security forces in the Gaza Strip in 2011. There was also an increase in the number of Israeli civilians killed by Palestinians, compared to 2010.
The report examined Israel's policy of declaring land in the West Bank "state land". The research reveals that large areas were classified as state land for the use of settlements even though the land was actually privately or collectively owned by Palestinians. This was achieved by re-writing the interpretation to the Ottoman Land Law. This way, between 1979-2000, Israel declared more than 900,000 dunums as state land, an addition of 170% to the total before 1967.
Israel exploits the natural resources in the Jordan Valley more than in the rest of the West Bank and prevents Palestinians from using most of the area's land and water resources.
A report analyzing the mechanisms Israel uses to gain control of West Bank land for building settlements. The report, which is based on official state information, shows that one-fifth of the settlements' built-up area is private Palestinian land and that the settlements control 42 percent of West Bank land.
The report reveals that as far back as the 1970s, Israel planned to annex Ma’ale Adummim. To do this, it expropriated over the years tens of thousands of dunams of Palestinian land and expelled hundreds of Beduin who were living there. Implementation of plans to expand the settlement will destroy north-south territorial contiguity in the West Bank and impede realization of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
The report warns about the danger inherent in neglecting wastewater treatment in the West Bank. The report criticizes both Israel and the Palestinian Authority for their failures, which have harmed the health and future water supply of all residents of Israel and the West Bank.
The report reveals that, based on the Sasson report criteria that the government adopted, Ofra is an illegal outpost. 58% of the settlement's built-up area is registered under the names of Palestinians in the Land Registrar. Also, no area of jurisdiction has ever been defined for the settlement, and no outline plan has ever been approved for it, making the hundreds of houses built there illegal.
A report on Israel's blocking of Palestinian access to land around settlements lying east of the Separation Barrier. The report reveals that state authorities and settlers have de-facto annexed rings of land amounting to tens of thousands of dunams to these settlements.
Since the beginning of the second intifada, in September 2000, Israel has imposed restrictions on the movement of Palestinians in the West Bank that are unprecedented in scope and time. As a result, the fundamental right of West Bank Palestinians to freedom of movement, their exercise of which was limited in any event, has become a privilege that Israel extends to them as it deems fit. Indeed, Palestinian travel in the West Bank is now an exception, which must be justified to the Israeli authorities, and almost every trip entails uncertainty, friction with soldiers, much waiting, and often great expense.
Israel’s regime of occupation is inextricably bound up in human rights violations. B’Tselem strives to end the occupation, as that is the only way forward to a future in which human rights, democracy, liberty and equality are ensured to all people, both Palestinian and Israeli, living between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea.