Friday, July 6, 2007

NY Times: Israeli Settlements Found to Grow Past Boundaries


According to the report, based on official data released by the Israeli government after a court order, 90 percent of the settlements sprawl beyond their official boundaries despite the large amount of unused land already allocated to them.

More than 10 percent of the land included within the official jurisdiction of the settlements is owned privately by Palestinians, as is 70 percent of the land the settlements control outside of their official boundaries, said the report, whose findings were published in Haaretz newspaper on Friday. Peace Now opposes the settlements and tracks them.

Dror Etkes, who prepared the report with Hagit Ofran of Peace Now, said that in his view the official data showed that the government had taken West Bank land beyond the needs of the settlements, possibly to prevent Palestinian construction there and to add a zone of separation between the settlers and the Palestinians.

But once an area is closed to Palestinians, settlers have seized adjacent Palestinian lands, often privately owned, without being stopped by the Israeli Army, which is the legal sovereign in the occupied territories.

“There is a pattern of a failure to enforce the law on the settlers,” Mr. Etkes said. “But the lack of enforcement isn’t an accident. It became another tool to achieve the military goals of the occupation, which is to allocate the land and hold it.”

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Just a reminder that "Israeli" settlements are illegal under international law, but since when did the apartheid state respect international law anyway?

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