[News] Israeli land seizures has made 2 states impossible
News at freedomarchives.org
News at freedomarchives.org
Wed May 11 08:59:23 EDT 2005
Important COHRE-BADIL Study
Wednesday 11 May 2005
Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
fwd by: BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing Has Made a Two-State Solution
Impossible Says New Study
An international human rights group warns that a two-state solution to the
57 year Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been made a practical
impossibility due to Israel's continuing expropriation of Palestinian
property and denying Palestinian refugees the right to recover their
original homes and lands.
This is one of the main conclusions of "Ruling Palestine: A History of the
Legally Sanctioned Jewish-Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing in
Palestine", a new report released by the independent Geneva-based Center on
Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) and BADIL Resource Center for
Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. It reveals in stark detail how
Zionist leaders, and later successive Israeli Governments, manipulated key
Ottoman and British laws and the Israeli legal system to dispossess
Palestinians of their land and property. The report clearly documents how
Israel has built a domestic legal framework which seeks to legitimize what
are clearly discriminatory land and housing policies.
If land confiscations continue and if what Israel refers to as its
"security barrier" is completed as planned, Palestinian land within the
occupied West Bank and Gaza will be reduced to less than eight percent of
the territory comprising Mandate Palestine.
At the time of Israel's establishment in 1948, the Jewish population owned
less than ten percent of the land. Today, these figures are almost
precisely reversed, with Israel asserting effective military control
throughout the entire territory of Mandate Palestine, and owning, using or
controlling nearly 90% of the land within both Israel and the Occupied
COHRE's Executive Director, Scott Leckie said: "Our research reveals that
Israeli law, far from providing impartial protection and equal treatment to
all those that it affects, has been fundamental to the expropriation of
Palestinian land and property since the State of Israel was unilaterally
declared in 1948. Israeli laws designed to lay legal claim to the lands and
property of 'absentees' - the Israeli euphemism for forcibly displaced
Palestinian refugees - have permitted the confiscation of Palestinian
lands, and their transfer to Israeli control, on a massive scale."
"In the period 1948-49, the formation of Israel was followed by more than
30 separate military operations by Jewish-Israeli forces, which led to the
flight or expulsion of over 800,000 Palestinians and the destruction of 531
Palestinian towns and villages. The calculated theft of Palestinian lands
through both legal means and military aggression, as well as widespread
housing demolitions and the imposition of apartheid-like laws by Israel,
are difficult to see as anything other than a cruel form of ethnic
cleansing", Leckie said.
Today, more than five million Palestinian refugees continue to be prevented
from returning to their homes and recovering their land and properties.
Although millions of refugees throughout the world have returned to their
original homes in recent years, as the cases of Bosnia-Herzegovina,
Afghanistan, South Africa, Mozambique and Kosovo demonstrate, Israel
remains steadfastly opposed to Palestinian refugees asserting their
recognized rights to land, housing and property restitution.
"Paradoxically, if Israel were willing to return confiscated land to
refugees this could be a comparatively simple process contrasted with
restitution programs elsewhere. Most of these lands remain under the public
control of the Israeli State and have not been transferred to private
hands, large portions of the land confiscated since 1948 remain empty and
virtually all Palestinian refugee families retain their original land and
property titles and records proving their ownership rights", Leckie said.
Ruling Palestine shows that by 1949 Israel had seized some 20,500 sq km of
lands in Mandate Palestine using laws designed to legitimize the
progressive 'nationalization of land and property. Of these lands,
Palestinians had individually or collectively owned some 90% (nearly 18,850
sq km) of which about 85% (some 16,000 sq km) had belonged to the
depopulated Palestinian villages.
"Although the United States routinely supports the rights of refugees
throughout the world to recover their former lands, homes and properties,
it refuses to recognize that Palestinian refugees should also enjoy their
legitimate property rights. The hypocrisy of the US stance which explicitly
denies the property rights of Palestinian refugees is blatant and
unjustifiable if terms such as human rights and the rule of law are to have
universal application", Leckie added.
The study shows how Israel used the 1954 Prevention of Infiltration
(Offences and Jurisdiction) Law to expel 'internal refugees' (Palestinians
who were declared absent from their villages at the time of Israel's
creation but remained in Palestine). These 'absentees' were effectively
defined as infiltrators, and when caught were barred both from their
villages and from their own country. More recently, confiscations of
Palestinian land between September 2000 and May 2003 are estimated to total
more than 848 sq km. Currently, the 1.2 million Palestinians who have
Israeli citizenship (so-called 'Arab Israelis') and constitute about
one-fifth of Israel's population own less than three percent of the land.
The report also reveals that the Israeli Government enacted land and
property laws in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip which enabled it to
take control of an additional 4,700 sq km of land in these areas. Israel's
construction of a security wall (planned to encircle the entire West Bank)
has severely affected towns such as Qalqilya, Tulkarm, Jenin and
surrounding villages. Once completed, the land confiscated due to the
construction of the wall will reduce the area of the West Bank by 15%.
"In the last few years, Israel has again used its domestic law - backed
with military might - to illegally expropriate large amounts of remaining
Palestinian lands and property. In so doing, it has violated numerous
international standards. Despite almost universal condemnation by the
international community, Israel continues to carry out discriminatory land,
housing and property policies and practices which make a sustainable and
just peace a practical impossibility", Leckie added.
The report illustrates that, even if a final settlement could be
negotiated, a viable Palestinian state would hardly be feasible, given the
shortage of available land and infrastructure and the lack of territorial
contiguity. These problems are compounded by the ubiquitous and disruptive
presence of hundreds of strategically located Jewish settlements,
especially in the West Bank, the territorial stranglehold on annexed East
Jerusalem and the splitting of the West Bank into unconnected northern and
southern enclaves. Under the controversial E-1 Plan, the huge Ma'ale Adumim
settlement is to be expanded and integrated into 'Metropolitan Jerusalem'.
This will set the seal on Israel's isolation and control of East Jerusalem
and drive a wedge into the Palestinian heartland, creating an uninterrupted
Israeli corridor from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea.
Leckie warned, "This new study concludes that what little remains of the
Palestinian homeland is disappearing in front of our eyes - it's as if
Israel is deliberately erasing it from the map".
"COHRE and BADIL proudly work with a range of Israelis who have begun the
painful task of acknowledging the history of land rights abuses by Israel
and resultant Palestinian dispossession. As with the end of all enduring
conflicts, lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians will only be
possible when ordinary Israelis acknowledge past wrongs, embrace the
process of reconciliation and overcome their fear of their historic
neighbors. We look forward to the day when both sides move beyond the
current impasse of 'us vs. them' towards a mutual and equitable future
where the rights of both peoples are respected in full", Leckie said. (ends)
For interviews and additional information contact COHRE's Media Officer,
Radhika Satkunanathan at tel: +41.22.733.4641, +61.400.899.474 or
<mailto:radhika at cohre.org>radhika at cohre.org.
Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE)
83 Rue de Montbrillant, 1202 Geneva, Switzerland.
Tel No: +41-22-733-4641
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
PO Box 728, Bethlehem, Palestine
<mailto:info at badil.org>info at badil.org - http://www.badil.org
The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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