Since 1967, Israel has colonized the oPt by systematically transferring parts of its Jewish civilian population into the West Bank and Gaza Strip, in violation of international law. Today, more than half a million Israeli settlers, including over 190,000 in and around East Jerusalem, live in settlements established on land illegally seized from us in the oPt. These settlements range in size from nascent settlements or “outposts,” consisting of a few trailers, to entire towns of tens of thousands of settlers .
The aim and effect of Israel’s settlement enterprise has been to alter the oPt’s status, both physically and demographically, so as to prevent its return to us. The construction of Israeli settlements is designed to illegally confiscate our land and natural resources while confining our population to unsustainable, ever-shrinking enclaves and severing East Jerusalem from the rest of the oPt. By limiting the territorial contiguity and economic viability of the oPt, Israeli settlements pose the single greatest threat to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, and hence, to a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Colonizing the oPt
The Israeli government has adopted a number of discriminatory measures aimed at bolstering its settlement enterprise. Israelis are lured to settlements through a variety of Israeli-government incentives, including housing subsidies, income tax reductions, disproportionate budget allocations and business grants. Contrary to Israel’s claim of “natural growth,” these incentives have led to the rapid growth rate in the settler population – in some cases, reaching three to four times that of the rate of growth in Israel. Israel’s settlements also benefit from massive Israeli investment in roads and other infrastructure. Settler roads, including so-called ‘bypass’ roads, connect settlements to each other and to Israel. For our population, who is generally restricted and in some cases prohibited from using them, these roads create a grid of physical barriers that crisscross the entire West Bank.
Israel enforces movement restrictions on us – or a ‘closure regime’ – through the erection of hundreds of military checkpoints and roadblocks. Parallel to securing virtually unchecked freedom of movement and access for Israeli settlers, this physical restriction scheme severely restricts our movement and access, isolates our communities, preventing their expansion, restricts our access to farmlands and natural resources and destroys our territorial contiguity. The presence of Israeli settlements and settlers is a primary source of instability, resentment and a historically proven trigger to clashes between our indigenous population and the armed settlers. In addition to the socioeconomic and humanitarian damage caused by the settlements, Israeli settlers, and the soldiers charged with protecting them, routinely subject our population to attacks, humiliation and harassment………..