Only 1.7 percent of the territory of the West Bank is built-up settlement area, while the territory "controlled by the settlements" amounts to 41.9 percent of the West Bank, according to a report published Monday by B'Tselem, the Israeli information center for human rights in the occupied territories.
The report, entitled "Land Grab: Israel's Settlement Policy in the West Bank", presents the various mechanisms by which Israel's governments have taken control of land and have encouraged Israeli citizens to move to settlements.
These techniques include the de facto annexation of the settlements to Israel, the planning system which invests significant resources to expand the settlements, and the granting of numerous economic incentives intended to raise the standards of living in the settlements. For example, in the year 2000, Jewish local councils in the West Bank received grants from the government averaging sixty-five percent more those received by their counterparts inside Israel. Settlement regional councils received grants averaging 165% more than their counterparts in Israel.
According to this report, 6.8 percent of the West Bank is area within the boundaries of the national outline plan for the Jewish settlement enterprise, while a further 35.1 percent is land that falls under the jurisdiction of the Jewish local and regional councils, beyond the borders of the outline plan.
The report divides the West Bank into four lengthwise strips.
The Eastern strip, which includes the Jordan Valley, the shores of the Dead Sea and eastern slopes of the West Bank ridge, is home to 5,400 Jewish settlers. The municipal boundaries of this strip encompass some 76,000 dunams, yet the areas under the jurisdiction of the regional councils that are not included within the municipal boundaries total some 1.2 million dunams.
Some 34,000 settlers live in the Mountain strip. The municipal boundaries of the settlements in this strip encompass 62,000 dunams, but another 409,000 dunams that are not a part of any particular settlement fall under the jurisdictions of the area's four regional councils.
The Western Hills strip stretches, from north to south, across an area 10-20 kilometers wide between the western border of the Mountain strip and the Green Line. Around 85,000 settlers live in this area, within municipal boundaries encompassing 110,000 dunams. A further 264,000 dunams come under the jurisdictions of the three regional councils in the strip.
The settlements in the Jerusalem metropolis, which, according to B'Tselem, includes the city's new neighborhoods, are home to 247,000 individuals, within municipal boundaries encompassing 130,000 dunams. Another 90,000 dunams fall under the authority of the two regional councils in this strip.
B'Tselem chairman Prof. Anat Biletzki has told a news conference the manner in which the settlements and their jurisdictions were laid out prevented any possibility of creating a territorial continuum between Palestinian cities and towns. The layout, she added, markedly reduced the economic, and particularly agricultural, development potential of the Palestinians. (Albawaba.com)
© 2002 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com )