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Who Lives In The West Bank

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History Of The Settlement Movement

West Bank wall continues to afflict Palestinians’ lives

Following Israels resounding victory over the Arab armies in the Six-Day War, strategic concerns led both of Israels major political parties – the Labor and Likud – to support and establish settlements at various times. The first settlements were built by Labor governments from 1968 to 1977, with the explicit objective to secure a Jewish majority in key strategic regions of the West Bank – such as the Tel AvivJerusalem corridor – that were the scene of heavy fighting in several of the Arab-Israeli wars. In 1968, only five sparsely populated settlements existed beyond the Green Line.

The second wave of settlement construction began with the 1968 occupation of the Park Hotel in Hebron, a city with a long, rich Jewish history dating back to biblical times that had only been interrupted by a massacre of Jewish residents by Arabs in 1929. During Passover 1968, Rabbi Moshe Levinger and his wife, Miriam, rented a hotel for 10 days in the center of Hebron and invited 30 families to stay with them. In 1971, the government relocated them to Kiryat Arba, a former military base on edge of the city.


The overall area in dispute is very small. According to one organization critical of settlements, the built-up areas constitute only 1.7% of the West Bank. That is less than 40 square miles. Even if you add the unbuilt areas falling within the municipal boundaries of the settlements, the total area is only 152 square miles.

Effects On Palestinian Human Rights

Amnesty International argues that Israel’s settlement policy is discriminatory and a violation of Palestinian human rights. B’Tselem claims that Israeli travel restrictions impact on Palestinian freedom of movement and Palestinian human rights have been violated in Hebron due to the presence of the settlers within the city. According to B’Tselem, over fifty percent of West Bank land expropriated from Palestinians has been used to establish settlements and create reserves of land for their future expansion. The seized lands mainly benefit the settlements and Palestinians cannot use them. The roads built by Israel in the West Bank to serve the settlements are closed to Palestinian vehicles’ and act as a barrier often between villages and the lands on which they subsist.

Human Rights Watch and other human rights observer volunteer regularly file reports on “settler violence,” referring to stoning and shooting incidents involving Israeli settlers. Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza and Hebron have led to violent settler protests and disputes over land and resources. Meron Benvenisti described the settlement enterprise as a “commercial real estate project that conscripts Zionist rhetoric for profit.”

The construction of the Israeli West Bank barrier has been criticized as an infringement on Palestinian human and land rights. The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimated that 10% of the West Bank would fall on the Israeli side of the barrier.

Palestinian Garbage And Sewage

In 1995, the Palestinian Water Authority was established by a presidential decree. One year later, its functions, objectives and responsibilities were defined through a by-law, giving the PWA the mandate to manage water resources and execute the water policy.

About 90% of the Palestinians in the Territories had access to improved sanitation in 2008.Cesspits were used by 39% of households, while access to the sewer network increased to 55% in 2011, up from 39% in 1999. In the West Bank, only 13,000 out of 85,000 m³ of wastewater were treated in five municipal wastewater treatment plants in Hebron, Jenin, Ramallah, Tulkarem and Al-Bireh. The Al Bireh plant was constructed in 2000 with funding by the Germanaid agencyKfW. According to the World Bank report, the other four plants perform poorly concerning efficiency and quality.

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What Would Change With Annexation

Assuming it happens , the settlements and surrounding areas will become permanent parts of Israel . Reversal would require the support of a large majority of Israeli MPs, something which is very unlikely.

In practice, Israeli laws already apply to settlers, though not to Palestinians, who are subject only to Israeli military orders and Palestinian laws, so there would be little noticeable change in that respect.

One of the most significant differences annexation would likely make is in settlement construction – long one of the thorniest issues between Israel and the Palestinians.

Currently, building and zoning in the West Bank requires the approval of Israel’s defence minister and prime minister, and can take months or years. Following annexation, it would become a local matter and consequently easier for Israel to build there.

Beyond the annexed areas, the Israeli military will continue to exercise overall authority – something Palestinians say has deprived generations of their basic civil rights.

Arrests And Administrative Detention

Living the American Dream in the West Bank

An estimated 650,000 Palestinians were detained by Israel from 1967 to 2005, one in three of all Palestinians in the first two decades alone. The military court system, regarded as the institutional centerpiece of the occupation, treats Palestinians as “foreign civilians” and is presided over by Jewish Israeli judges drew on prior British Mandatory law, where its application to Jewish activists was vigorously protested by the yishuv representatives. Four provisions entail long detention of suspects incommunicado without access to a lawyer coercive interrogation to obtain evidence and the use of “secret evidence”. Over this period, tens of thousands have been subject to administrative detention, whose rationale is to incarcerate suspects who, in conventional criminal law, might not be convictable. Taisir al-Arouri, a Bir Zeit University professor of Mathematics, was arrested at night on 21 April 1974 and released on 18 January 1978, after suffering 45 months of imprisonment without trial or charges being laid, only after Amnesty International issued a public protest.

It was considered by one scholar in 1978 as “an aberration of criminal justice” of a provisory nature. In 2017 Amnesty International, noted that “hundreds of Palestinians, including children, civil society leaders and NGO workers were regularly under administrative detention”, and regards some, such as Khalida Jarrar and Ahmad Qatamesh, as prisoners of conscience.

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Working For The Occupation

Try as they might to make their accommodations with Israel, Palestinians often find themselves caught in the occupations gears.

Majed Omar once earned a good living as a construction worker inside Israel. But in 2013, his younger brother was spotted crossing through a gap in Israels security barrier. A soldier shot him in the leg.

Mr. Omar, 45, was collateral damage. Israel revoked his work permit just in case he had ideas about taking revenge something Israel says happens too often.

He sat unemployed for 14 months. When Israel reissued his permit, it only allowed him to work in the fast-growing West Bank settlements, where workers are paid half as much, searched each morning and supervised by armed guards all day.

Which is how he came to be the foreman on a crew that remodels Jewish homes and expands Israeli buildings on land the Palestinians have long demanded as part of their hoped-for state.

In a small way, its like digging his own grave, Mr. Omar said. But were living in a time when everyone sees whats wrong and still does it.

Crumbling Infrastructure And Poor Housing Conditions

Crumbling infrastructure and poor housing conditions have been a particular problem since the 2014 conflict in Gaza. Since that time, many schools, health centers, government offices and even private homes have remained uninhabitable or dangerous to work or live in.

The problems with infrastructure affect Palestinians living in Gaza in many ways.

For instance, crumbling infrastructure puts over half a million Palestinians who live in low-lying areas of Gaza in danger of being flooded every winter.

Poor housing conditions result from an inability to access building materials for maintenance and repair work.

As bad as things are in Gaza and parts of the West Bank, they can be even worse in Palestinian refugee camps. These camps are consistently overcrowded. They often lack even basic infrastructure like sanitation or roads. Electricity is only available on an inconsistent basis, and during times of crisis, camps will go without power for months.

Since agreements between the host countries and UNRWA determine the borders of these camps, refugees can only build structures within these boundaries. As the number of refugees increases, either through a growing population or via new arrivals, the camps become even more crowded.

Even when construction is allowed, there can still be problems communicating approvals to the proper local authorities. In one case, when Palestinian refugees received permission to repair a local school, Lebanese police showed up to make them stop.

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A Young And Growing Population

The population of the West Bank and Gaza is almost completely Palestinian Arab. The bulk of these are Sunni Muslims: 92 percent of West Bankers and 99 percent of Gazans, with the rest Christians. In addition to the Palestinian population, approximately 214,000 Jewish settlers live in the West Bank and Gaza, according to the Foundation for Middle East Peace in Washington, D.C.

71 years
Capital The Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, although they do not exercise authority over the city. Ramallah and Gaza City serve as the de facto capitals of the West Bank and Gaza, respectively.

* Palestinian population only.Source: U.S. Census Bureau.

Life expectancy at birth is relatively high compared with Arab countries. But the territory faces several significant health concerns relating to underdevelopment, the legacy of occupation, and ongoing political turmoil and violence. The Palestinian uprising since October 2000 itself comprises a major health problem. Between October 2000 and late February 2002, more than 1,000 Palestinians were killed and over 17,000 injured in clashes with Israelis. Israeli forces have reentered parts of Areas A and B, prevented movement among many Palestinian areas, and laid siege to Palestinian towns. The escalation in tensions between the two sides has resulted in reduced access to health and medical facilities for some Palestinians.

What Is The Problem With The West Bank In Israel

Annex: How Many Palestinians Actually Live in the West Bank?

With more Palestinians becoming homeless in East Jerusalem than on record since 2004, demolitions in 2020 resulted in record numbers. This was the largest single demolition project Israel has carried out in the West Bank in a decade in Humsah al-Baqaia in 2020. The illegally occupied property of Palestinian property also needs to be saved.

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Why Do Palestinians Object To The Israeli Settler Movement

Though they are neighbors and sometimes co-workers, relations between Jews and Palestinians on the West Bank are seldom friendly. West Bank Palestinians, who are majority Muslim, see themselves as the areas indigenous inhabitants many of their ancestors have lived and farmed in the West Bank for many centuries.

Palestinians contend that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are built on stolen land and that the settlers use of water a scarce resource is likewise illegal.

Palestinians frequently experience harassment from extremist Israeli settlers, sometimes as Israeli soldiers look on. There are hundreds of reports of extremist settlers, many of them armed, violently attacking Palestinians, burning their fields and uprooting their olive trees.

Additionally, Israel has appropriated West Bank land to build a network of roads connecting settlements to Israel and to each other. These roads are generally off-limits to Palestinian drivers, hampering their freedom of movement and making travel within the West Bank more difficult and time-consuming.

The Israeli army security checkpoints that dot the West Bank, which are meant to protect Israelis from terror attacks, also restrict and complicate the ability of Palestinian people to move around.

Are West Bank Residents Israeli Citizens

There are about 350 Jewish settlers in West Bank territory, all Israel citizens with rights and liberties just like anyone else. Many Palestinians from East Jerusalem hold special residency status, a special type of status similar to that obtained by Israeli citizens, which provides them with certain rights while Israelis do not.

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Geography And Municipal Status

Lower middle: E. Trans-Samaria Hwy outside barrier

Some settlements are self-contained cities with a stable population in the tens of thousands, infrastructure, and all other features of permanence. Examples are Beitar Illit , Ma’ale Adumim, Modi’in Illit, and Ariel . Some are towns with a local council status with populations of 2,00020,0000, such as Alfei Menashe, Eli, Elkana, Efrat and Kiryat Arba. There are also clusters of villages governed by a local elected committee and regional councils that are responsible for municipal services. Examples are Kfar Adumim, Neve Daniel, Kfar Tapuach and Ateret. Kibbutzim and moshavim in the territories include Argaman, Gilgal, Niran and Yitav. Jewish neighborhoods have been built on the outskirts of Arab neighborhoods, for example in Hebron. In Jerusalem, there are urban neighborhoods where Jews and Arabs live together: the Muslim Quarter, Silwan, Abu Tor, Sheikh Jarrah and Shimon HaTzadik.

Under the Oslo Accords, the West Bank was divided into three separate parts designated as Area A, Area B and Area C. Leaving aside the position of East Jerusalem, all of the settlements are in Area C which comprises about 60% of the West Bank.

Updates And Related Matters

In The West Bank, Living Side By Side  But Agreeing On ...

The Israeli government announced in 2019 that it has made monetary grants available for the construction of hotels in Area C of the West Bank.

According to Peace Now approvals for building in Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem has expanded by 60% since Trump became US president in 2017.

On 9 July 2021, Michael Lynk, U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territory, addressing a session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, said “I conclude that the Israeli settlements do amount to a war crime,” and “I submit to you that this finding compels the international community…to make it clear to Israel that its illegal occupation, and its defiance of international law and international opinion, can and will no longer be cost-free.” Israel, which does not recognize Lynk’s mandate, boycotted the session.

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Why Is This Being Talked About Now

Until recently, Mr Netanyahu would have faced solid opposition among the international community to such a move.

However, Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, unveiled in January, allows for Israel to “incorporate” all the settlements – something no previous US administration had countenanced.

It is possible that Mr Netanyahu wants to get it done before the US presidential election in November in case Mr Trump’s rival Joe Biden – who opposes annexation – is elected and reverses US policy.

An agreement which returned Mr Netanyahu to office as head of a national unity government in May set 1 July as the date from which the annexation process could be initiated.

Economic And Social Benefits And Costs Of The Occupation

Many Israeli businesses operate in the West Bank, often run by settlers who enjoy the benefits of government subsidies, low rents, favourable tax rates and access to cheap Palestinian labour. Human Rights Watch claims that the “physical imprint”, with 20 Israeli industrial zones covering by 2016 some 1,365 hectares, of such commercial operations, agricultural and otherwise, is more extensive than that of the settlements themselves. The restrictions on Palestinian enterprise in Area C cause unemployment which is then mopped up by industrial parks that can draw on a pool of people without job prospects if not in settlements. Some Palestinian workers at the Barkan Industrial Park have complained anonymously that they were paid less than the minimum Israeli wage per hour , with payments ranging from $1.50 to 2-4 dollars, with shifts of up to 12 hours, no vacations, sick days, pay slips or social benefits. Many such businesses export abroad, making the world complicit in the settlement project.

Israeli policy aimed to impede any form of Palestinian competition with Israeli economic interests. The approach was set forth by Israel’s then Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1986, who stated:

“there will be no development initiated by the Israeli Government, and no permits will be given for expanding agriculture or industry, which may compete with the State of Israel”.

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Proposal Of Dual Citizenship

A number of proposals for the granting of Palestinian citizenship or residential permits to Jewish settlers in return for the removal of Israeli military installations from the West Bank have been fielded by such individuals as Arafat,Ibrahim Sarsur and Ahmed Qurei. In contrast, Mahmoud Abbas said in July 2013 that “In a final resolution, we would not see the presence of a single Israelicivilian or soldieron our lands.”

Israeli Minister Moshe Ya’alon said in April 2010 that “just as Arabs live in Israel, so, too, should Jews be able to live in Palestine.” … “If we are talking about coexistence and peace, why the insistence that the territory they receive be ethnically cleansed of Jews?”.

The idea has been expressed by both advocates of the two-state solution and supporters of the settlers and conservative or fundamentalist currents in Israeli Judaism that, while objecting to any withdrawal, claim stronger links to the land than to the State of Israel.

Am: Checkpoint 300 Bethlehem

Life as Jewish settler in the West Bank | DW Documentary

One of the main crossing points for Palestinian labourers entering Israel, Checkpoint 300 in Bethlehem has long queues from the early hours. Outside the entrance lanes, street vendors sell coffee, tea and food to the workers, some of whom have travelled from villages an hour away in the south Hebron Hills, getting up at 3am. On busy days, when the passage is slow, some climb on to the bars to pass over the heads of the men below, and jump to the front of the line.

Murad Wash, 34, installs floors in Jerusalem. Today is one of the better days, he says, drinking his tea and watching the steady stream of workers. The line is moving quickly. The problem when it is slow is if there is a pick-up time with a car on the other side. If you miss that you have to pay for a taxi.

It is like being in a zoo, he adds, nodding towards the barred lane and turnstiles that access the main part of the checkpoint. People just want to feel human and have a good life, like anywhere else.

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