Israeli settlements in the occupied territories have recently become much more central to the whole Israeli-Arab conflict. Massive loss of land by West Bank Palestinians, and an upsurge in Jewish settlements and in the number of settlers, have attracted international attention to Israeli colonization of Palestine — a phenomenon which dates back to the June 1967 war in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, the Golan Heights and, before 1982, the Sinai. In Israel proper, this “Judaization” of the land has been a central tenet and practice of Zionism ever since the waves of Jewish immigration began in the late nineteenth century. In the last two years, colonization across the Green Line (Israel’s pre-1967 borders) has shown qualitative as well as quantitative changes. In an effort to assure Israeli Jewish predominance over the West Bank, the government of Prime Minister Menachem Begin is striving to change its demographic balance by “transplanting” tens of thousands of Israeli Jews from the overpopulated coastal zone to “Judea and Samaria.” Attracted by the subsidized housing, young Israeli families without strong ideological convictions are flooding the older, vanguard settlements formed by the pioneer zealots of Gush Emunim (Bloc of the Faithful). This article analyzes Israel’s settlement policy as it has evolved in this latest period, with emphasis on the West Bank. A brief outline of the period of the first Begin government provides the necessary context for this discussion.

The First Begin Government: 1977-1981

The “wild” settlement actions of the Gush squatters, a radicalized offshoot of the National Religious Party (NRP), contributed to the fall of the Labor government led by Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin. The Gush stresses the need to keep the whole Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael), including all occupied territories, and to resist all external pressure to relinquish them in return for peace with the Arab states. They took it upon themselves to stake out a Jewish presence precisely in heavily Arab-populated central regions of the West Bank. This was in contrast to the Allon Plan, the Labor Alignment’s conception of the future of the territories: Israeli settlements in the arid and depopulated Jordan rift to guard Israel’s eastern frontier, but Palestinian concentrations in the Samarian hills would either be left to their own devices or be linked to Jordan through a corridor at Jericho.

When the Likud-NRP coalition led by Menachem Begin came to power in 1977, it inherited both the territorial intransigence of Begin’s Revisionist Herut (which had never accepted the 1947 partition of Palestine) and the messianic activism of Gush Emunim. Begin quickly legalized Elon Moreh (near Nablus), Ofra (near Ramallah) and Ma’ale Adumim (on the road from Jerusalem to Jericho). These three illegal Gush Emunim settlements had challenged Rabin’s authority, and in the process enjoyed the barely restrained support of his Labor rival, Defense Minister Shimon Peres. Begin promised to build “many more Elon Morehs.” [1]

This was the honeymoon period between the Faithful and the Likud. Gen. Ariel Sharon, Likud’s new agriculture minister, set out to implement what was little more than a variation of the Gush’s own plan, which proposed a second axis of Jewish population in Palestine, parallel to the coastal one, from the Golan through the West Bank and the Arava rift to the Red Sea. [2] The marked increase in the number of gar’inim (settlement nuclei) “going up to the soil,” however, did not match the much more massive confiscation of private Arab lands. In other words, the “de-Arabization” of the land was not followed by a corresponding “Judaization.” An administrative order of September 1979 allowed Israeli citizens to buy West Bank lands privately from Arab owners, but few transactions occurred. Palestinians were unwilling to voluntarily part with their land, Jordanian law made its sale punishable by death, and speculators and middlemen escalated the prices.

Begin came to power at a time of growing international recognition of the PLO as the legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. International isolation was affecting Israel’s morale. Zionism’s crisis of legitimacy was, more than any other factor, responsible for the deep social and political metamorphosis which the Jewish state experienced under Begin. Israel succeeded in breaking the Arab encirclement by making peace with Egypt, but Sadat’s price was the whole of Sinai, including the cluster of moshavim (cooperative settlements) in the Rafah approaches around the new Israeli city of Yamit, which a few months before had been the object of ambitious planning. [3] Voluntarily giving up Jewish settlements was unprecedented in Zionist history. Begin was only persuaded to do it as a means of consolidating Israel’s hold on the West Bank, with its heavier ideological weight.

The “autonomy” project for the West Bank and Gaza, adopted at Camp David in September 1978, threatened the prospect of Israel’s indefinite and unrestricted de facto control over these territories. The various territorial compromises and settlement scenarios which the Zionist left had elaborated after the Six Day War, ridiculed at the time as “playing chess with oneself,” suddenly became real again — this time under a regime which would not be content with less than peace and territories. This contradiction could only be masked by formulas that inevitably became the object of disputes the moment after they had been agreed on. Having accepted “autonomy” for the inhabitants, but simultaneously bent on annexing the soil, Israel set upon a course of transforming the reality in the West Bank by a speedy and large-scale Jewish influx. Within Israel, one place this controversy emerged was in the World Zionist Organization (WZO) Settlement Division. Its heads were Matityahu Drobles, a Herut nominee appointed by Begin, and Ra’anan Weitz of Mapai. Drobles proposed to the government plans to neutralize the risks of autonomy: at the time, there was talk of settling 150,000 Jews in Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip in five years. [4] Labor-oriented settlement professionals like Weitz considered the whole project a dangerous fantasy in view of Israel’s limited financial and manpower resources. Weitz feared that neglect of the Galilee might lead to Arab “encroachment” on Jewish land in Israel proper.

Likud’s grandiose programs yielded rather scarce results at first. Though the number of colonists continued to increase at a higher rate than under Alignment governments, the number of new Jewish settlements did not rise dramatically after Likud’s first year. Growth took the form of consolidation. [5] In the autumn of 1979, the Supreme Court decided to uphold the claim of Arab villagers from Rujayb, near Nablus, that it was illegal for the government to seize their privately tilled lands for the reestablishment of the Elon Moreh gar’in on its original site (it had been displaced to the village of Qaddoum in 1976 as part of the Rabin government’s “compromise” with Gush Emunim). This important setback temporarily impeded further land seizures for civilian settlements. [6] American pressure on Israel at this time to “freeze” the establishment of new settlements also contributed to a certain slowdown in activity. In July 1980, the Israeli government announced it would erect only ten settlements more in the West Bank, and afterwards would concentrate on “thickening” existing ones.

The first Begin government’s very narrow parliamentary margin was eventually eroded by a split in the Democratic Movement for Change (DMC) and by the “secession” of the Likud extreme right, Guela Cohen and Moshe Shamir, who joined the Tehiya (Renaissance) Party. Tehiya, established as the political arm of Gush Emunim to foil any Israeli retreat after the Camp David accords, was the political expression of a trend toward cooperation and even convergence of religious and secular Zionists, the latter often former Labor hawks from the Ahdut Ha’avoda fraction. This trend was apparent in the establishment of a number of mixed religious/secular settlements in the West Bank: Ma’ale Shomron, Teqoa, Beit Horon and Kfar Adumim. Gush Emunim hoped that their common devotion to the Land of Israel would catalyze a Jewish religious revival among the Israeli population at large. Yuval Neeman, an unemotive nuclear scientist, led this fervidly ultra-nationalist party which attracted a considerable portion of Israeli youth, a generation for whom the Green Line was an antiquated concept.

While Tehiya clamored for more and faster settlement, a return to power of the Labor Alignment threatened from the other side to undo the “work” of the Likud in this field. Begin and Sharon feared electoral defeat in the June 1981 elections as a result of Likud’s miserable economic performance. Polls showed close to 70 percent of Israelis in favor of colonizing the territories in one way or the other, so Begin and Sharon moved to capitalize on the popular issues of territory and settlement. Begin swore publicly that he would never give up “Judea and Samaria.” [7] In Yamit, 80,000 came to demonstrate against withdrawal. [8] Likud’s expected fall from power stimulated Sharon’s eleventh-hour effort to augment the number of West Bank colonists to a degree that would impede any future attempt to repartition Eretz Yisrael.

Sharon’s goal was to increase the number of West Bank colonists from around 17,000 to at least 20,000 before election day. To circumvent financial restrictions, the government negotiated with private building contractors to turn over land for a nominal fee (e.g., in Karnei Shomron) in return for a promise to build large numbers of apartments. Sharon defended this “lands-for-flats” scheme by which city dwellers would be able to acquire a more or less free home in Samaria. [9] In Ma’ale Adumim, the government offered land and infrastructure free to families who would build their own home. The Likud organized tours of the new West Bank settlements and building projects for tens of thousands of Israelis. Gush Emunim and fellow colonists, meanwhile, were none too sure of victory, and “dug in” to weather a hostile Labor cabinet by soliciting support from sympathetic American and South African Zionists. The Council of Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza tried to secure the support of the Labor-oriented Jordan rift and Rafah approaches settlements. The Jericho corridor was “filled” with Jewish settlements — Beit Ha’arava was the first — to preclude Labor’s “Jordan option.”

The New Begin Government

Against all expectations, Likud’s stunt politics on election eve — the bombing of the Iraqi nuclear plant, the sudden tax bonus for Israeli consumers — enabled it to retain power. But Yadin’s Democratic Movement for Change, as well as Dayan’s group and Weizman’s influence, were eliminated. Begin thus formed a new and much more rightist coalition. The new Begin government had an even shakier political base, and much of this regime’s actions can be understood in the light of its attempts to create a new “national consensus” around the Herut program of complete “Judaization” of the remaining occupied territories. For this, it needed a landslide victory that would smash Labor’s remaining political strongholds and complete Israel’s swing to the right.

In the last years, Herut has exploited the Ashkenazi/veteran/elite image of the Alignment in the eyes of the Oriental Jews. The Alignment’s greater openness to outside pressure, especially American, may indicate its more realistic assessment of Israel’s international entanglement. It reflects also the more “Westernizing” or “normalizing” character of left Zionism, in contrast to the more isolationist and anti-universalist bias of the right. This is precisely Labor’s vulnerability vis-a-vis the Oriental majority. The Labor Alignment as a whole now finds itself in the unenviable position, occupied a decade ago by the then-Foreign Minister Abba Eban, of representing “gentile influence,” whereas Begin has taken up Ben-Gurion’s “It doesn’t matter what the goyim are saying, it matters what the Jews are doing.” Despite Israel’s evident dependence on American support, the Likud is playing the anti-American card internally. This dovetails with its resistance to further territorial concessions, and confirms that it is the more “national” — unifying and Jewish — of the two main political blocs.

While Labor favored the return of the bulk of the West Bank to Jordan, its position on the existing Jewish settlement there was much less clear-cut: It never declared that these should be removed for peace. This reflected, no doubt, the continuing strength of hawkish kibbutzim and moshavim federations in Labor’s bosom, behind which there stood the historical tradition of initiating pioneer settlements as a living frontier of the Jewish state, along with the ideology of “normalizing” the Jewish diaspora’s aberrant class structure through agricultural self-labor. For right Zionism, political power over a sovereign Jewish territory has always been what mattered. Its lack of colonizing ideology has been filled by Gush Emunim, with its different scheme for redemption. The right’s attitude towards Jewish settlement was purely instrumental, unhampered by any residual guilt over the exploitation of Arab labor. For Herut, settlement was a means to achieve control over the whole of Eretz Yisrael; for Labor, control over the land was the precondition and the basis for settlement.

Likud faced the task of neutralizing the prestige of Labor’s colonizing tradition while simultaneously using elements of it to reproduce its achievements in the occupied territories. This explains the accusations of Begin and Sharon, holding Dayan’s and Peres’ “soft” politics responsible for the prevalent pro-PLO feelings among Palestinians in the occupied territories. As defense minister, Sharon immediately set out to correct their “negligence.”

Since 1981, the Begin government has been preparing the practical annexation of the West Bank and Gaza by a double strategy of uprooting all expressions of Palestinian national resistance to occupation and of simultaneously moving the maximum number of Jews across the Green Line in order to deprive the autonomy concept of any content. This policy is built on a hawkish trend in Israeli public opinion (only 19 percent of a September 1981 poll opposed continued colonization of the West Bank), [10] and has been passively supported by Washington. In February 1981, President Reagan even declared that Israeli settlements were “not illegal.”

The specter of recognition of the PLO obsessed Israel, especially after the partial recognition implicit in the July 1981 ceasefire with the guerrillas in southern Lebanon. Allowing the PLO non-criminal status would sustain Palestinian resistance in the territories and even risk a “spillover” effect on the Israeli Arabs. Such a separate Palestinian Arab national identity fundamentally undermined Jewish “historical rights” to the whole of the Land of Israel. “Elimination of PLO influence” became the watchword under the new regime.

Sharon took a diversionary tack at first. He clashed with Maj. Gen. Dani Matt, coordinator of government activities in the Administered Areas, under whom the “liberal” occupation regime had degenerated into the policy of the “strong arm.” Sharon started with declarations suggesting a softer course. [11] Soon it became clear, however, that his pseudo-liberalization aimed only at stimulating an “alternative West Bank leadership” more willing to collaborate with Israel in developing docile “autonomous” institutions, based on the Village Leagues. In November 1981, Sharon installed a Civil Administration in the West Bank, headed by Hebrew University orientalist Menachem Milson, to take over all but strictly security matters from the Military Government. West Bank cities greeted the new civilian governor with a massive boycott which triggered off an unprecedented wave of repression against all urban classes. Demonstrations in the first months of 1982 resulted in more Arab casualties than had fallen in all previous 15 years of occupation. West Bank newspapers were closed, as was the Birzeit University. Houses of relatives of convicted rioters were blown up. The National Guidance Committee was outlawed and most city councils dismissed. In what looked like an economic war, many shops, enterprises and farms of Palestinian notables suspected of nationalist sympathies were closed down. The rural classes were not spared, as the Village Leagues afforded their clients no protection against renewed massive land expropriations. Settler vigilantes became more freely involved in quelling demonstrations, and distinguished themselves from the Israel Defense Forces by their greater brutality. Their relationship to the Military Government or Civil Administration remained opaque. Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are integrated in a regional defense system, but there appears to be some latitude between their official tasks and their voluntary policing of the area by terrorizing the Arab population. [12] The vigilantes, insulated by a juridical vacuum, are doing the “dirty work” of the occupation, beating the Palestinians into submission or departure.

he Transformation of Gush Emunim

After Begin’s reelection, Matityahu Drobles of the WZO reduced his earlier assessment and calculated that the West Bank’s Jewish population would have to rise only from 20,000 to 100,000 in four years to secure the territory for Israel once and forever: this “Program of the 100,000” became Israel’s operative guideline for actual settlement policy. Existing urban nuclei, such as Ariel and Elkana, would expand to 50,000 inhabitants; another 36,000 would dwell in satellite towns around Jerusalem and in West Samaria; the rest would go to smaller settlements. [13]

A program of these dimensions, however, could no longer count solely on the Land of Israel idealists. It was doubtful whether Gush Emunim could mobilize volunteers for the “ten last settlements.” Over the years, Gush Emunim had exhausted its human reservoir. In addition, growing institutionalization and professionalization substituted for its original messianic impetus: Today it employs eight full-time activists; another ten work for Amana, the Gush settlement movement officially recognized and financed just like the older kibbutz and moshav movements. Many first-line cadres like Hanan Porat, now a Member of Knesset, decided to join Tehiya and left Gush organizationally weakened. Others, like Israel Harel, have devoted their energies to the Council of Settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. There they cooperate with non-Gush colonists, who are as numerous as the Gush settlers. Some Emunim express worries about the sectarian “in-crowd” ambience reigning in their settlements, which might discourage potential newcomers Gush Emunim’s reaction to the intensification of West Bank settlement has generally been ambivalent. Increasingly they find themselves in the position of obsolete veterans. One reaction has been emphasis on “quality.” Unhappy with private land transfers, they founded their own Land Redemption Fund, under whose provisions Arab lands once bought may never be resold to gentiles. Jewish attachment to Eretz Yisrael is being fostered in Gush Emunim’s “university” in Kedumim. While many Emunim wish to continue the colonization task, others want to concentrate on changing Israeli mentality to ignite a broader religious revival. This religious-nationalist vanguard has, in general, not yet succeeded in providing leadership to the recent wave of settlements.

The Hebron Troubles

Though Gush Emunim continued to demand more settlements, the partisan “wild” settlement which had been its hallmark in the 1974-1977 era has largely given way to routinization and coordination with the settlement authorities. It survives only in Hebron with the followers of Rabbi Moshe Levinger, a precursor of Gush Emunim who settled there illegally as early as 1968 and forced Labor to establish, in 1970, the all-Jewish town of Kiryat Arba adjacent to it. Levinger’s followers were untiring in their guerrilla campaign to extend Jewish religious rights at the Tomb of the Patriarchs and to reclaim property rights in what used to be the Jewish quarter of Hebron before its elimination in the 1929 troubles. In March 1981, they broke in weekly on Friday prayers in the Machpelah Cave Mosque, the scene of many earlier religious incidents, demanding and eventually obtaining an extension of Jewish prayer rights.

A year later, yeshiva students from Kiryat Arba were involved in a violent “pray-in” on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem which caused serious rioting. This was one month before the outrage there perpetrated by Allan Goodman, an American immigrant connected with Rabbi Meir Kahane’s Kach movement. Yeshiva students from the Jewish quarter of Jerusalem’s Old City repeated the attempt in the summer of 1982. Recently, eccentric hassidim from Reb Nahman of Bratslav’s Yeshivat Birkat Avraham have begun to encroach on Arab rights in the Muslim quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem, behaving so unpredictably that inhabitants long for the days of the Gush Emunim. [14]

Back in 1981, Kiryat Arba colonists began to encroach on Arab dwellings bordering the Hadassah House, a ruined Jewish edifice in downtown Hebron occupied illegally in 1979 by Miriam Levinger with a few score women and inhabited since as a yeshiva in defiance of the government’s verbal objections. The continuous intimidation and acts of hooliganism at the hands of Kiryat Arba vigilantes against Hebronites, the connivance of IDF soldiers and the ambivalent reaction of Israeli authorities repeat on a smaller scale the “operations” carried out in Gush Emunim’s pioneer days before 1977. Hebron’s Arabs are so terrorized by Levinger’s groups that they do not believe it worthwhile to lodge complaints at the Israeli military office. The settlers aptly exploit every Palestinian act of reprisal to wrest concessions in favor of “Lower Kiryat Arba.” [15] Today, the reconstruction of Hebron’s ancient Jewish quarter is underway, involving (as in the Old City of Jerusalem) the forced removal of a number of its Arab inhabitants.

Yamit and Beirut

Gush Emunim’s severest setback after Elon Moreh was the final evacuation of the Sinai in the spring of 1982. Resistance to Israeli withdrawal was widespread in 1981, the opponents politically strengthened by the assassination of Sadat. The anti-withdrawal opposition enjoyed undercover aid from Jewish Agency sources, [16] while the Alignment’s real position was less “dovish” than its official attitude. The government itself tolerated the Sinai activists’ demonstrations. The new Egyptian president was able to assuage Israel’s official fears, however. Internal disunity among the opponents of withdrawal and their threats of civil unrest gradually eroded support for them.

Some observers remarked that the “national trauma” was all too well orchestrated and staged, [17] but Yamit left an enduring mark on Gush Emunim and its national-religious periphery, which the impact of the Lebanon War would reinforce. Yamit signified, within the right Zionist camp, the defeat of the extremists of the lunatic fringe in favor of the “managers.” The completion of the Sinai withdrawal opened the way for the participation of Tehiya in Begin’s cabinet. Since Tehiya had no differences of principle with its coalition partners but only differences of degree and emphasis, it tended to become indistinguishable from Herut.

The military neutralization of Egypt, sealed by the return of the Sinai, opened the way for “Sharon’s war” to liquidate the PLO’s military and political infrastructure in Lebanon. The real target of the war was not Lebanon but the political identity of the West Bank and Gaza Palestinians: to demoralize them so much that they would accept their permanent subjugation and the incorporation of their territories into Israel under the guise of “autonomy,” as an alternative to outright annexation and mass deportation to Jordan, the “Palestinian state” of Sharon’s vision. [18] As far as the Labor Alignment was not itself drugged by the “collective adrenalin” of war, it remained confused and divided in the first crucial weeks. The invasion subsequently created a deep polarization in Israeli society, but the Begin government has held its own in the first year after Lebanon, and has been able to carry through its “Judaization” program in the West Bank.

The West Bank Palestinian population has maintained its near-unanimous identification with the PLO, but resistance to land deals reportedly weakened somewhat as the balance of power seemed to swing in Israel’s favor. [19] While the recent period has witnessed a spectacular growth of West Bank settlement, Israel’s occupation policy has been less successful in other aspects: the Civil Administration came under increasing fire, and Sharon had to appoint a commission to investigate the results of the division of powers. Milson, who had alienated both the mayors and the Village Leagues, resigned. The Village Leagues themselves were not immune to politicization, which affected their usefulness to Israel.

Taking Over West Bank Lands

Sharon’s transition from agriculture to defense diminished his direct supervision over the colonization process. In his place, the new deputy minister of agriculture, Michael Dekel, has assumed a less flamboyant but more efficient style. “How does the Government buy lands in Judea?” a reporter from Haaretz asked Dekel in September 1982. “There are various methods,” he replied with a smile. “More than this I can’t say.” [20]

In order to implement the grandiose settlement of which Drobles is the godfather, Dekel and the other settlement authorities need a lot of land, a commodity which the Elon Moreh verdict of 1979 had threatened to render scarce. An estimated one third of the surface of the West Bank had already come under de facto Israeli control by 1981. Only a small part was actually being settled. Most of this was seized on security grounds rather than purchased. Over the last few years, the Israeli authorities have made good use of a new system of land acquisition, that of declaring certain tracts to be state lands, paralleling a procedure used to “nationalize” lands of Israeli Arabs. According to Ottoman land law, most land belonged in principle to the sultan. [21] Continuous private cultivation enabled a person — with certain restrictions — to request registration in the tabu (land register): All remaining uncultivated non-private land was considered state land (mawat). Systematic recording of immobile property began only under the British mandate, after 1928, and continued under Jordanian rule. One third of the West Bank — the Jenin, Ramallah and Jericho regions — had been registered when Israeli occupation interrupted the process in 1967. Of this cadastrated land, around 900 square kilometers is state land. The amount of state lands among the other two thirds is unclear: Depending on the definitions used, the total amount of West Bank state lands could amount to as much as 2,700 square kilometers, or 47.5 percent of its total surface. This is still appreciably less than the 75 percent claimed by Sharon as the “indispensable minimum” for Israel’s security.

Since the state of Israel considers itself heir to the Jordanian crown, itself successor to the Turks, it is now “reclaiming its properties.” Israel’s claims are painstakingly researched by Pleah Albeck, an expert from the Ministry of Justice: She generally vetoes the seizure of cultivated lands, which in the past had caused much bad publicity. Enough remains, as about 55 percent of the West Bank is barren. [22] This circumstance limits the option to establish agricultural settlements, but agriculture had anyhow become a problematic sector of Israel’s economy because of its small internal market. In Dekel’s words:

Zionism is a political movement, no boy scouts’ movement for good citizenship. For some reason, we are still captive to old theories that settlement means agriculture. In Judea and Samaria, state lands are rocky lands. Every attempt to confiscate agricultural lands used to stamp us with the label of “expulsive Zionism.” We don’t do this any more, and the fact is there have been no Supreme Court cases in the last period. As far as agricultural lands in Judea and Samaria are in Jewish hands, they have been bought in cash by private entrepreneurs. In Gaza and in the Jordan rift, however, the state does possess agricultural lands, so settlements with an agricultural character are established there. [23]

By “reclaiming state lands,” Israel has vastly extended its possibilities for settlement. Between 200,000 and 300,000 dunums (200-300 square kilometers) have been “recovered” in this way — about 10 percent of the estimated maximum. Dekel imputes the slow pace to a lack of Israeli experts, and expects another five years to complete the process. [24] Palestinian owners informed of the impending loss of their land have three weeks to gather whatever documents they possess proving their claim and to prepare their case before a military court of appeal. This procedure was approved by the Supreme Court in a February 1982 verdict. Israeli settlements do not become owners of the soil, but obtain long-term tenancy rights (49 years renewable) as in Israel proper.

Other methods of land acquisition are quantitatively less significant. In Gush Etzion, property belonging to Jews before 1948 is being reclaimed. Private sales from Palestinians amounted to no more than 7,500 dunums by 1983: 3,500 were bought by Hemnuta Company, the subsidiary of the Jewish National Fund across the Green Line, and 4,000 by Gush Emunim and other private buyers. Of late there has been talk of more substantial transactions, but Israelis as well as Palestinians are inhibited in this activity, since registration in the tabu is impossible as long as Israel does not officially annex the West Bank. Property rights arising from such deals are afforded a measure of official protection by means of certificates of ownership under Jordanian law, letters from neighboring property owners stating that the surveyor’s data were correct, notarized affidavits from the mukhtar and from the seller stating that the latter was the legal owner of the land, as well as an official transaction approval form from the Israeli authorities in the West Bank. [25] According to official Israeli declarations, confiscation of private cultivated land occurs only when the construction of public utilities (such as roads to Jewish settlements) demands it. The owners have a formal right to indemnification. Land seizures for security purposes have been carried out by the Likud government only in the cases of Elon Moreh and Bracha, near Nablus.

One serious danger to Israel’s ambitions in the territories is the Reagan Plan of September 1982. The settlement authorities are working hard to foreclose this updated but more radical version of Labor’s “Jordan option.” Immediately after the publication of the Reagan Plan, Israel announced the establishment of seven new settlements in the West Bank. Both Dekel and Deputy Prime Minister Ehrlich denied a direct link: the seven formed part of a group of 18 whose planning antedated the Reagan Plan by two months. In 1982, Dekel boasted of a total of 86 existing settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, of which the Likud had built 50: 23 in the Jordan valley, 36 in Samaria, 17 in Judea, and 10 in the Gaza Strip. In addition, there are about 30 nahals (military agricultural settlements), some of which were founded as a means to circumvent the Supreme Court’s 1979 Elon Moreh verdict. The West Bank’s Jewish population had risen to 30,000, [26] living in 5,800 dwellings. Together with another 70,000 to be settled by 1986, these would form an irresistible pressure group of 100,000 — strong enough to block any significant territorial concession. Not even a dovish Labor Cabinet would be able to overlook such a lobby. “Conquest through settlement” then would perpetuate, justify and eventually supersede Israel’s military reign over the West Bank. The 100,000 threshold would make evacuation unthinkable: such a mass uprooting would provoke a “non-ideological civil war,” in the words of Gush Emunim’s Benny Katzover. [27] The Begin government is waging a race against the clocks of elections or foreign pressure, and will not allow any additional freeze — such as the one proposed in November 1982 by Moshe Arens, then ambassador in the United States.

Non-Ideological Settlements

Expanding the West Bank’s Jewish population by 70,000 to 80,000 people implies building an extra 20,500 dwellings at a rate of around 5,000 a year. Settling one family in the West Bank averages 3.5 million Israeli shekels (around $100,000), 2.1 million of which comes from the government budget and 1.4 million to be paid by the families. [28] To combat the stunning costs of this program, Dekel sees it as his task to slim down government financial participation from a current 60-68 percent to 45-50 percent. One of the considerations behind the new emphasis on building cities instead of the small, close-knit and perhaps more stable Gush Emunim-type villages is financial: Settling one family in a rural settlement costs approximately 4.1 million shekels, whereas providing them an apartment of 94 square meters in town, including infrastructure and basic amenities, comes to around 3 million. [29]

The government, in order to reduce its costs, is offering private contractors profitable “development schemes.” West Bank lands are now being allocated to projected settlements through the Israeli Lands Authority, which had distributed an estimated 200,000 dunums (200 square kilometers) by the end of 1982. The new “cheapness” of West Bank land facilitates its transfer to contractors, bypassing the traditional system in which first the WZO Settlement Division (for temporary structures) and afterwards the housing ministry would lease the services of contractors. Herut’s Housing Minister David Levy introduced the sale of lands to consortia of contractors who commit themselves to build, advertise and sell the units to private citizens. Levy and Dekel point out that their respective ministries remain in effective control of the total colonization process. Subsidies to buyers are graded in function of a plot’s distance from the densely populated coast. The most “popular” zones around Jerusalem and immediately to the east of Kfar Saba and Petah Tikvah enjoy least governmental aid; the barren region to the east of the Ramallah-Nablus divide and to the north of Jenin and south of Hebron receive the maximum. Contractors are reportedly building around 35 percent of the settlements now. In some cases they even took the initiative and began building villa projects that were approved after the fact. [30] In the Kafr Qasim-Qalqilya region in western Samaria, Jews already outnumber Arabs. [31]

The success of the new settlement drive can be simply explained. It enables Israelis who would otherwise never have the chance to exchange their cramped three-room apartment in Tel Aviv for a cottage in the West Bank. Unlike their predecessors, the Israeli families moving in today typically are not strong on Zionist convictions. Most are young urban dwellers attracted by a combination of “greed and need”: relatively cheap housing and economic incentives such as tax deductions, combined with the crowded conditions, noise and pollution of greater Tel Aviv. A home in the West Bank is, on average, two to three times cheaper than a comparable one inside Israel. Demand for Ma’ale Adumim lots was so great that a distribution lottery had to be organized. Private enterprises like the one building beautifully situated Nofim in West Samaria — and incidentally spoiling a unique nature reserve — offered $100,000 villas for a down payment of $15,000, the remainder obtainable at easy loans which become permanent after five years of habitation: the success was so great that a second, similar project was immediately floated.

By the beginning of 1983, 1,300 temporary and 2,150 permanent dwelling units and 500 villas had been built in West Samaria, all due to receive their inhabitants by this summer. The “100,000” are only a beginning: Herut settlement planners promise to increase the West Bank’s Jewish population to 1.4 million within 30 years. [32] Though Israeli buyers in the West Bank are warned that they will have no claim on compensation in case of Israeli withdrawal, thus being forced to shoulder the political risk together with the government, speculation is rife.

The architects of the new settlement drive emphasize suburb-like “dormitory” settlements lacking a local economic base which would require higher expenditure and a slower tempo of “Judaization.” A majority of “colonists” commute daily to their jobs in Jerusalem or the Tel Aviv metropolitan area and come home to spend their leisure time in the West Bank’s Jewish enclaves. Small-scale high technology plants or artisan workshops have been opened in some places.

Often the new settlements cater to specific groups. Ariel, with its 200 families, is the “capital of Samaria”; most of its inhabitants are employed in the Israel Aircraft Industries and in other defense-related industries. They are veteran Israelis, including many ex-kibbutzniks. This town, which had been projected by Dayan in the early 1970s, is a stronghold of Labor hawks. Ma’ale Adumim, originally a Gush Emunim site, is now inhabited by 650 mainly young families from Jerusalem. It is scheduled to become a spacious town of 50,000 by 1990. Planning of this settlement on the Jerusalem-Jericho road likewise goes back to the days of Labor hegemony. Alon Shvut, in the Etzion block; has a population of 800, all commuters. Kiryat Arba, with 600 families in 1981 the largest Jewish concentration in the West Bank, is a special case because of its mixed makeup: 60 percent is religious, and the yeshiva element remains dominant; 55 percent is Oriental Jewish, but there are also many immigrants from the United States and the Soviet Union. Kedumim and Ofra remain typical industrial Gush Emunim settlements, whereas Emanuel will be populated by Agudat Yisrael Orthodox from Bnei Braq, an overcrowded religious quarter of Tel Aviv: The originally anti-Zionist Agudat Yisrael has made a volte-face. Beit Aryeh is attracting Herut youth working in the aircraft industries. Other settlements will serve Liberal Party families, Bank Leumi employees, or other identifiable groups. Elkana is a prosperous villa town, as will be Karnei Shomron and Alfei Menashe. [33] By offering them alternative housing, the Likud evidently hopes to bind part of the mainly Ashkenazi “middle classes” to its annexationist program.

The Opposition

Opposition to the new settlement drive has not been very effective to date. The peace movement mobilizes only the left wing of the Alignment, while its right-wing stands even to the right of Herut. Labor’s ill-defined center criticizes the central West Bank colonization mainly on pragmatic grounds or in the light of electoral considerations: they must spare the sensitivities of the Jordan Valley colonists. In contrast to the current building boom in “Judea and Samaria,” the older, Labor-affiliated Jordan rift outposts are in trouble as a result of bad harvests and financial difficulties. Debts are high, morale is low because of internal problems and doubts about the future of Israel’s presence. The colonists fear a “second Yamit.” Gad Ya’acobi opposes excessive West Bank colonization because it detracts from moving against “re-Arabization” of the Galilee. [34] The ambiguity of Labor’s position is apparent in the approval of its political bureau to Histadrut participation in building the West Bank settlement infrastructure — something which, in any case, has been going on for some time. [35]

More serious are the cracks within the religious front. Religious-secular cooperation and convergence have not materialized as Gush Emunim had hoped. “Mixed” settlements, like Ma’ale Shomron, are running into difficulties. Participation in the Begin cabinet has blurred the identity of Tehiya, whose popularity has dropped. Like other ideological parties, it cannot escape the conflicts between purists and pragmatists. [36]

Under the impact of the Lebanon war, a dovish wing has crystallized within the National Religious Party. Heavy casualties among soldiers from military yeshivot have reportedly induced this soul searching. Rabbis from Mount Etzion in the West Bank have voiced veiled criticism of the government. Together with a number of disillusioned Emunim, they founded the religious pacifist group, Netivot Shalom. Even a former Gush Emunim stalwart such as Education Minister Zevulun Hammer has taken his distance from Israel’s current occupation policy by intimating that the cause of “the unity of the Land” has been paid for by growing disunity of the Jewish people. The Gush Emunim group around Rabbi Haim Druckman, which remained part of the National Religious Party at the time when others opted for the religious-secular Tehiya, has broken away to form the separate party, Matzad (Rally for Religious Zionism). [37] The net result of all these shifts may yet be a reversion of the National Religious Party to its traditional centrism.

Herut Intransigence

With the Alignment in halfhearted opposition, the National Religious Party increasingly hesitant and Gush Emunim in crisis, the political burden of the new settlement drive devolves on Herut, whose apparatchiks also form its organizational backbone. Eschewing both the model of Jewish separatism and “Hebrew labor” underlying the classic left Zionist conception, and a future based on any minimally tolerable Jewish Arab modus vivendi, they favor the Jabotinskian vision of an “iron wall” of Jewish military might to crush any gentile-Arab resistance to Jewish-Arab “coexistence” on their terms.

Certain provisions are taken to avoid direct Jewish-Arab contact in the field: Thus, new roads to the settlements circumvent Arab villages so as not to deter prospective buyers. Politicians and functionaries such as Sharon, Dekel and Drobles are driving Israel inexorably to a major explosion which may very well involve the expulsion of all Palestinians living in “western Eretz Yisrael” Dekel has openly deplored their presence in the territories: He would gladly “exchange” them, if it were possible, since he is persuaded that “the aspiration to liquidate the people of Israel is part of the existential program of the Arab people.” [38]

Dekel has also declared himself in favor of stimulating Palestinian education: The higher their schooling, the less chance they have to find employment. Upon realizing they have no future in Eretz Yisrael, they emigrate. In a renewed “demographic debate,” directed primarily against Labor ideologues who warn of the “danger” of the higher Palestinian Arab birth rate, Dekel points out that Arab emigration from the West Bank has left their number stagnating since 1967. This makes “Judaization of Judea and Samaria” a sound proposition. [39] For Drobles, “the plan is a plan for Jews. I don’t care if the Arabs accept it or not.” For Dekel, the “Judaization” of the West Bank realizes an old dream of Ben-Gurion, the “population dispersal” of Jews all over their country. A more populist, “social-imperialist” note is struck by David Levy, who justifies West Bank settlement as a solution for Israel’s housing problem.

Point of No Return

Although the present massive settlement drive is running full steam, the champions of the “100,000 scheme” still have to surmount some obstacles before they reach the point where “nothing will be left to negotiate.” [40] Until now, most colonists have clung to regions adjacent to the Green Line. The dense urban clusters may bring in more Jews than do agricultural settlements, but in view of their greater mobility, it is doubtful whether this will produce an irreversible “Judaization” of the land. It is true, however, that each new settlement makes more hypothetical any political solution based on two states.

Is an enormous project such as the Drobles Plan at all realistic? In view of lagging immigration to Israel, and of the low Israeli Jewish birth rate, colonization will not increase but redistribute the Jewish population. Even at the present cut-rate prices, West Bank housing will remain too expensive for a broad stratum of the population. Disappointments may dampen the initial enthusiasm: Basic amenities like telephones, post offices and kindergartens often arrive long after the housing has been finished. Nor are the social conflicts characteristic of Israeli society at large absent from these new communities. Deficient coordination, red tape and bureaucratic struggles are another problem, no less acute now than they were under Labor. Decentralized, often haphazard planning is fostered by the large number of committees and semi-official bodies whose interrelationships are much less harmonious than the hierarchies on paper suggest.

The main executive arm for settlement policy, the Jewish Agency/WZO, is internally divided, though Drobles and Weitz are theoretically held in check by a common director. Drobles’ position is further weakened by competency fights with Agriculture’s Michael Dekel: Though Drobles is the author of the blueprint used as a guideline for the various government ministries, Dekel considers the Jewish Agency/WZO as an executive organ for the government’s decisions. Drobles, on the contrary, stresses the autonomy of the Jewish Agency/WZO in settlement matters. [41] Dekel has enemies who resent his attempts to dominate the colonization apparatus. Housing Minister David Levy attacked him over the distribution of state lands to private entrepreneurs by the Israel Lands Administration, an organization subordinate to the Agriculture Ministry. Levy has also found fault with the concentration of Jewish settlements near the Green Line, which enables easy commuting to the metropolitan area but leaves the “wilder” eastern West Bank relatively unaffected. [42]

Dekel has also been criticized for allowing contractors to misuse his words in advertisements. Cases of land fraud and cheated buyers have already led to pressure for stricter control over the private sector, which Dekel opposes. He has lukewarm support at best from his superior, Agriculture Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Simcha Ehrlich, who is ex officio head of the Interministerial Committee on Settlements, formally the supreme body on colonization policy questions. Dekel has, however, been “covered” by Begin. Science and Technology Minister Yuval Neeman negotiated a separate budget for additional settlements as quid pro quo for Tehiya’s participation in Begin’s cabinet. This has not pleased Treasury Minister Yoram Aridor, who charged Neeman with planning settlements in a way inconsistent with that of other departments. [43] Other influences on settlement policy include the Ministry of the Interior, which finances the regional councils; Trade and Industry Minister Gideon Patt opposes industrially inefficient small-scale settlements; Sharon has kept in touch with colonization through Gen. Uri Bar-On. Even if these various counteracting forces could ever be brought together in one superministry of settlement, Israeli colonization would still be obstructed by its professional but inflexible and paternalistic planning tradition.

Such bureaucratic and political conflicts sometimes reproduce themselves on the micro-level of individual settlements: As in Israel proper, each settlement has to belong to one of several settlement federations affiliated to the political parties, thus sustaining divisive arrangements which pervade Israeli politics. An extreme example is the tug of war between the adherents of Rabbi Levinger and the Kach movement of Rabbi Kahane, which erected a “wild” settlement near Hebron called El Naqam (God Revenges), over monies from Kiryat Arba’s council. [44] Another factor that makes implementation of the Drobles Plan questionable is its financial dimension. At an estimated $100,000 per family dwelling, the 20,000 units needed to lodge 100,000 Jews in the West Bank require an outlay of $2 billion. The World Zionist Organization will be hard put to muster this astronomical sum within three years. [45]

Lastly, current Palestinian “accomodation” to the metamorphosis of the West Bank is a product of coercion and intimidation rather than persuasion, and may be no more than a transient phenomenon. Even in the present adverse conjuncture, the Palestinians under Israeli occupation are displaying great resilience. Appeals of dispossessed land owners to the Supreme Court are frequent. Civil disobedience, though suppressed, could well reappear. Colonists and colonized are waging a relentless struggle over control over the land, in which not every weapon rests in the hands of the colonists. The permanent insecurity which Arab stones and grenades cause to the Israeli settlers induce psychological pressures. Already a number of settlers in Kiryat Arba talk of leaving.

In general, the immediate colonial relation between Israeli Jews and Palestinian Arabs which West Bank “Judaization” produces is likely to be a graver consequence than its being, in diplomatic parlance, an “obstacle to peace.” The eventual willingness of Israeli society to forego the Sinai for what they assumed would be a real peace is a hopeful sign, but the problems with regard to the West Bank are much more complex. Future development will depend on the interaction of the Palestinians’ steadfastness with the evolution of the opposition within the Israeli Jewish society. Of particular significance will be whether the peace movement will break through the ranks of Oriental Jewry, Israel’s conservative “poor whites” and the mainstay of Herut ascendancy. Tehiya’s Yuval Neeman may not be far off the mark when he sees the real cleavage in Israel not as one between religious and secular Jews, but as one between those who legitimize the Zionist presence in Palestine on the basis of historical continuity with the land, and the others who consider the existence of Jewish Israelis as sufficient legitimation in itself, for which exclusive claims on the land are immaterial. [46]

Author’s Note: This article is based mainly on Israeli newspaper reports. Fuller references are obtainable upon request. Semadar Tsaban assisted in collecting part of the material. Bertus Hendriks commented on an earlier version. To both, my thanks.


[1] Concerning the encouragement Begin gave to Gush Emunim during the “12 settlements” operation in the autumn of 1977, see Y. Litani in Kol Ha’ir, December 3, 1982.
[2] Gush Emunim, Blueprint for settlement in Judea and Samaria (n.d.) [Hebrew]; Jerusalem Post, September 4, 1977 (in Israleft 112). See Michel Korinman, “Israel, Jordanie, Palestine: trois scenarios israeliens,” Herodote 29-30 (1983). Sharon had been Rabin’s adviser on settlement affairs during the 1975-1976 Sebastia crisis, the first and decisive government capitulation to Gush Emunim pressure.
[3] Haaretz, February 13, 1978 (in Israleft 123).
[4] Al-Hamishmar, April 27, 1979 (in Israel and Palestine Supplement 75, July 1979, p. 10).
[5] Jewish population in the West Bank (not including the annexed “greater Jerusalem”): 1972: 1,182; 1973: 1,514; 1974: 2,019; 1975: 2,581; 1976: 3,176; 1977: 5,023; 1978: 7,361; 1979: 10,001; 1980: 12,424; 1981: 16,119. Central Bureau of Statistics, quoted in Meron Benvenisti, “The West Bank and Gaza Data Base Project: Pilot Study Report” (1982), p. 65.
[6] See Rafik Halabi, The West Bank Story (New York, 1981), and Danny Rubinstein, On the Lord’s Side: Gush Emunim (Tel Aviv, 1982) [Hebrew].
[7] Jerusalem Post International Edition, May 10, 1981.
[8] Jerusalem Post International Edition, February 22, April 5 and May 10, 1981. A similar percentage had favored annexation of the Golan (ITIM Agency, September 15, 1980).
[9] Yediot Aharanot, January 22, 1981 (in Israleft 182); Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 25 and February 1, 1981.
[10] Jerusalem Post International Edition, September 13, 1981.
[11] Haaretz, August 6 adn 18, 1981 (in Israleft 191 and 192); Jerusalem Post International Edition, Spetember 6, 1981.
[12] Jerusalem Post, May 17, 1981, March 22 and May 12, 1982; Ma’ariv, March 19, 1982; Haaretz, April 27, 1982; and numerous other reports. See In Their Own Words: Human Rights Violations in the West Bank, affidavits collected by Law in the Service of Man (World Council of Churches, 1983). Several Israeli commentators have charged the Begin government with direct responsibility for the settlers’ outrages.
[13] Jerusalem Post International Edition, October 4, 1981.
[14] Jerusalem Post International Edition, February 1 and 15, 1981 and March 27, 1983. Regional councils with responsibilities similar to their counterparts in Israel were also established. Haaretz (March 8, 1981) specifies such councils for Elkana, Etzion, Kiryat Arba, Binyamin, Samaria and Gaza Coast (in Israleft 185).
[15] Thus the murder of the yeshiva student Yehoshua Sloma in January 1980 led to government sanction of the reconstruction around the Avraham Avinu synagogue. Later, the murder of six others “yielded” the renovation of Hadassah House. The murder of a postman, Zvi Segal, resulted in the “Judaization” of 21 dwellings around Avraham Avinu. Zvi Bar’el (Haaretz, November 2, 1982) captured the dynamics of this process: “Every time the answer was wrapped in the justification that ‘these are the houses of Jews, and we come to take them back.’ ‘And what about our houses in Jaffa, Haifa and Akka?’ the Arabs would ask. Instead of an answer, they got a smile with the expression of ‘Now really!’ or something like ‘Say thank you we didn’t revenge ourselves on you for the massacre of 1929.’”
[16] Jerusalem Post International Edition, April 10, 1983.
[17] Davar, October 9, 1981 (in Israleft 194).
[18] Haaretz, April 30, 1982 (in Israleft 205/206).
[19]Ma’ariv and Yediot Aharonot, June 11, 1982; Haaretz, August 27, 1982. See Chief of Staff Rafael Eitan in Haaretz, July 4, 1982: “There is a military solution to the terrorist problem in south Lebanon…. Only through a military blow shall we stop the situation in which the terrorists continue to play with Israel. A crushing military blow will allow us afterwards to negotiate on our own conditions.” Negotiate with whom? The hidden party, according to Haaretz’s Binyamin Omri, was the moderate elements in the West Bank.
[20] Haaretz, June 11, 1982. According to a public opinion poll by the political science department of Najah University (Nablus), 66 percent of the interviewees, who constituted a representative sample of the West Bank population, considered the PLO the only legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, 22 percent considered it a legitimate representative. 76 percent would like a PLO-led Palestinian state to take the place of Israel’s occupation; 1 percent agreed with “autonomy.” See Amnon Kapeliuk, Al-Hamishmar, April 30, 1982 (in Israleft 205/206). According to a report in Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 16, 1983, the supply of lands offered on sale by Palestinian landowners either despairing of their future or intent on making a fast shekel has since the Lebanese war outdistanced demand.
[21] Interview with Michael Dekel in Haaretz Weekly Supplement, January 7, 1983.
[22] The description of land procedures is based on the interview with Pleah Albeck in Haaretz Weekly Supplyment, February 11, 1983.
[23] Benvenisti, op cit., p. 12.
[24] Interview with Michael Dekel in Haaretz Weekly Supplement, September 24, 1982.
[25] Ibid.
[26] Jerusalem Post International Edition, April 24, 1983; Kol Ha’ir, January 14, 1983. See also Uri Davis and Walter Lehn, “And the Fund Still Lives: The Role of the Jewish National Fund in the Determination of Israel’s Land Policies,” Journal of Palestine Studies 7/4 (1978).
[27] Interview with Michael Dekel in Ma’ariv, October 8, 1982; 22,000 West Bank settlers according to Benvenisti’s estimate, op. cit., p. 65.
[28] On paper, only the World Zionist Organization is responsible for financing the colonization across the Green Line. A purely formal division exists between the Jewish Agency’s Settlement Department, which retains responsibility for settlement within the Green Line, and the WZO’s Settlement Division, which directs the settlements in the occupied territories. The Jewish Agency is largely financed by (tax-deductible) gifts from American Jewry; the Hativah is funded by the Israeli government and by Jewish contributions from countries which do not interfere with the use made of their monies, such as South Africa. Channeling settlement monies of the Ministry of Agriculture through the Hativah to its field workers in the occupied territories formally implies no direct Israeli government involvement in colonization across the Green Line: Legally the settlements are a venture of the WZO (Interview with Michael Dekel, Haaretz Weekly Supplement, January 7, 1983). WZO expenditure in the occupied territories’ settlements amounted to 2 billion shekels in 1982. The government is investing considerably higher sums in more devious ways, but this remains shrouded in secrecy. (See Zvi Shuldiner in Haaretz, July 25, 1980.) Benvenisti estimates total expenditure for the Jewish population of the West Bank at 5 billion shekels in 1982 as against 650 million shekels for the Arab population (op cit., p. 18). A Peace Now pamphlet of January 1983 speaks of 6 billion shekels ($200 million) in 1982 and a total Israeli investment in the West Bank settlements to date of 20 billion shekels.
[29] Interview with Michael Dekel in Ma’ariv, October 8, 1982.
[30] Ma’ariv, October 8, 1982; Jerusalem Post, January 7, 1983. 4.5 million shekels per family according to Dekel in Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 2, 1983. In late May, there were reports that some Knesset members had been involved in West Bank land transactions that represented conflicts of interest. According to a Jewish Telegraphic Agency account (May 31, 1983): “The issue arose in the Cabinet after media reports that MKs of both Likud and the Labor Alignment who happen to be lawyers were providing their firms’ legal services to land entrepreneurs on the West Bank. The media questioned the validity of some of these sales after it was discovered that only a few entrepreneurs carefully verified the ownership of private land bought from local Arabs before they put it on the market for Israeli buyers. In addition, Voice of Israel reported yesterday that about 20 sites on the West Bank advertised in Israel for the construction of private villas were never approved by the ministerial settlement committee.”
[31] See Ma’ariv, October 8, 1982. One dunum of land in Ramat Kidron, a new housing project between Ma’ale Adumim and Teqoa not far from Jerusalem, costs as little as $3,500 (of which $2,000-$2,500 went to the Arab owners), 20 times less than in fashionable Kfar Saba. By the time the offer was sold out, the price per dunum had risen to $5,400, of which 70 percent could be acquired by mortgage. See Jerusalem Post International Edition, April 24, 1983; and Meron Benvenisti, “The West Bank and Gaza Data Base Project: Pilot Study Report” (1982), p. 64.
[32] Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 16, 1983; Yediot Aharonot, January 14, 1983.
[33] Jerusalem Post International Edition, February 1 and 15, March 1 and May 3, 1981; Ma’ariv, October 8, 1982, Yediot Aharonot, January 14, 1983; and Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 16, 1983.
[34] Yediot Aharonot, December 18, 1981 (in Israleft 198); Haaretz, November 2, 1982.
[35] Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 9 and 16, 1983.
[36] Kol Ha’ir, November 5, 1982; Haaretz Weekly Supplement, January 28, 1983.
[37] Jerusalem Post, October 1, 1982 (in Israleft 212/213); Haaretz, November 4, 1982; Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 2 and 30, 1983.
[38] Interview with Michael Dekel in Haaretz Weekly Supplement, September 24, 1982.
[39] Interviews with Michael Dekel in Ibid., and Ma’ariv, October 8, 1982. According to Dekel, the Arab population of the West Bank rose from 595,000 in 1967 to 699,000 in 1980, and is growing at the feeble rate of 0.6 percent yearly. According to another report, about 128,500 Palestinian Arabs emigrated from the West Bank in the same period (not counting refugees from the 1967 war), at an annual rate variously estimated at from 3,000 to 10,000 a year (Jerusalem Post International Edition, October 4, 1981). The natural growth rate of the Gaza Palestinians is 2.4 percent, that of Israeli Arabs 3.2 percent, that of Israeli Jews 2 percent. The WZO estimates a West Bank Arab population of 1.2 million within 30 years, to be counterbalanced by 1 million Jews. See also Janet Abu Lughod, “Demographic Consequences of the Occupation,” MERIP Reports 115 (June 1983).
[40] Interview with Meron Benvenisti in Jerusalem Post, September 10, 1982 (in Israleft 211).
[41] Interview with Michael Dekel in Haaretz Weekly Supplement, September 24, 1982.
[42] Yediot Aharonot and Kol Ha’ir, January 14, 1983.
[43] Jerusalem Post, September 1, 1982 (in Israleft 211); Haaretz, November 4, 1982.
[44] Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 16, 1983.
[45] Jerusalem Post International Edition, January 30, 1983.
[46] Interview with Yuval Neeman in Jerusalem Post International Edition, June 7, 1981.

How to cite this article:

Peter Demant "Israeli Settlement Policy Today," Middle East Report 116 (July/August 1983).

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