Israel’s most generous offer turns Palestine into prison

“Israel’s supposed ‘offer’ to withdraw from 95% of the Westbank will create not peace but rather a Palestinian prison state. The issue is one of control, viability, and sovereignty - not just territory.”

“Just as prison guards ‘control’ only 5% of a prison (the outer walls, cells, and corridors), so too will Israeli border crossings, settlements, and bypass roads continue to control a Palestinian mini-state. The only solution: dismantle the Matrix of Control completely.”

- Jeff Halper, Israeli Committee against House Demolitions

“The international community does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over any part of the occupied territories.”

- US State Department, Report on Human Rights Practices, FEB/01

All borders controlled by Israel

  • Palestinian state surrounded by Israeli troops.

  • Israel controls seaport, airport, airspace, and ‘security’ zones.

  • Israel regulates all entry/exit, trade.
  • Palestinian areas disconnected

  • Israel annexes settlement blocs.

  • Israel retains strategic highway segments, thus controlling the movement of people and goods.

  • 370,000 Israeli settler(1) remain on confiscated Palestinian land.
  • Natural resources stripped

  • Israel keeps control of acquifers, diverts water to itself.

  • Israeli ‘long-term lease’ on Jordan valley farmland.
  • East Jerusalem encircled by Israel

  • Palestinian economic heart(2) cut off from Westbank.

  • No Palestinian sovereignty over religious and cultural centers.

  • 200,000 Palestinian East Jerusalemites surrounded by Israeli settlements.
  • Gaza becomes ‘world’s largest prison’

  • One million impoverished Palestinians confined to 60% of tiny Gaza;

  • 6000 Israeli settlers in other 40%
  • “You know, it’s not by accident that the settlements are located where they are…Come what may, we have to hold the western security area, which is adjacent to the Green Line, and the eastern security area along the Jordan River and the roads linking the two. And Jerusalem, of course. And the hill acquifer.”

    - Ariel Sharon, Prime Minister of Israel, quoted in the Israeli newspaper Ha’aretz, 12 April 2001


    Israel’s Occupation places 3 million Palestinians under Siege

    Settler population doubled since ‘Oslo peace process’ began (1993)

  • 400,000 settlers in Westbank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem.

  • 2,850 Palestinian homes demolished.

  • 10,000 Palestinians made homeless.
  • Palestinians confined to enclaves

  • Westbank carved into 200 disconnected islands.

  • Separated by Israeli settlements, highways, and checkpoints.
  • 250 miles of Israeli bypass highways

  • Free movement for Israeli settlers and soldiers.

  • Highways 3 football fields wide with fenced-in margins.

  • Barriers to Palestinian movement, city growth.

  • Can be closed to Palestinian traffic indefinitely.
  • Palestinian land expropriated and agriculture destroyed

  • 72% of the Westbank declared Israeli ‘state land’.

  • 50,000 acres seized

  • 150,000 olive and fruit trees uprooted
  • ‘Closure’ imposed on occupied territories

  • No Palestinian crossing between Gaza and Westbank.

  • Jerusalem off-limits to most Palestinians.

  • Unemployment rate 50% in the Westbank, 80% in Gaza.

  • Closure has brought impoverishment: Palestinian per-capita income down by 75% since 1993.
  • ‘Greater Jerusalem’ Expansion Plan

  • Israel controls the economic heart of the Westbank and renders a Palestinian state non-viable.

  • Palestinian sections lack city services; all growth constrained, house demolitions ongoing.
  • “These restrictions severely impair not only the right of freedom of movement, but also other human rights [including] the right to work and make a living, the right to proper medical treatment, the right to education, and the right to maintain family life. These restrictions…are one of the primary reasons for the increased distress and despair in the Occupied Territories.”

    - Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, May 2001

    “Resettlement of the Israeli civilian population in occupied territories, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

    - US Ambassador William Scranton, New York Times, 25 march 1976

    Analysis of B’tselem Map of the West Bank

    The Eastern Strip includes the Jordan Valley and the shore of the Dead Sea. Approximately 5,400 settlers live in this area, mainly in kibbutzim and moshavim. With the exception of the Jericho enclave, almost the entire area of the Eastern Strip is included within the areas of jurisdiction of two regional councils: Arvot Hayarden and Megillot, which jointly occupy over 1.2 million dunam. The injury to the Palestinian population caused by the settlements in this area relates mainly to the restriction of possibilities for economic development in general, and agriculture in particular, resulting from the denial of the two resources required for this purpose: land and water.

    The Mountain Strip is situated along the central mountain ridge that crosses the West Bank from north to south. Most of the settlements in this area were initiated by Gush Emunim. The population of the settlements totals approximately 34,000. Some of the settlements are dispersed in a string formation along Road No. 60 - the main north-south traffic artery in the West Bank. With the goal of protecting the safety of settlers in this area, the IDF imposes severe restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians along this road, making it impossible to maintain normal everyday life. In addition, these settlements block, to a lesser or greater extent, the potential for urban development in the major Palestinian cities situated along the mountain ridge (Hebron, Ramallah, Nablus and Jenin).

    The Western Hills strip extends from north to south, and is ten to twenty kilometers wide. The proximity of this area to the Green Line and to the main urban centers of Israel has created great demand among Israelis for the settlements in this area. The total population of the settlements in this area is approximately 85,000. The seizure of land limits the potential for urban and economic development in the Palestinian communities. The transfer of powers to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords has led to the creation of over fifty enclaves of area B in this area, as well as a small number of enclaves defined as area A. These areas are completely surrounded by area C, which remains under full Israeli control. As a result, these settlements interrupt the territorial contiguity of the Palestinian villages and towns located out along this strip.

    The Jerusalem metropolis includes the settlements established in the area annexed to the Municipality of Jerusalem (these settlements are referred to as “neighborhoods” in domestic Israeli discourse), as well as the settlements around the area of jurisdiction of the city that function as satellite communities. The settlements in this area include approximately 248,000 residents. The ramifications of these settlements in terms of the Palestinian population vary in the different parts of the metropolis. The establishment of the settlements in East Jerusalem entailed the expropriation of extensive areas of privately-owned Palestinian land; the area of jurisdiction of the settlements in the area east of the metropolis (Ma’ale Addumim and the adjacent community settlements) dissect the West Bank into two parts; the settlements in Gush Etzion, located south of the metropolis, block the urban development of Bethlehem and sever it from the adjacent Palestinian communities.

    Almost two million dunam of land seized by Israel over the years, mainly by means of its declaration as “state land,” have been included within the areas of jurisdiction of six regional councils, but not attached to any particular settlement. Some of these areas, particularly in the Jordan Valley, are farmed by settlers or used by the IDF as training zones. The vast majority of this land, however, is empty, constituting reserves for the future expansion of the settlements and the establishment of new industrial and tourism zones.