Despite Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s August 1992 assurance of a “settlement freeze” in the Occupied Territories, and despite the Declaration of Principles of September 1993, settler population expansion and Israeli land confiscation has continued.

In 1994, the settler population grew by approximately 10.5 percent. Although this figure is up slightly from 1993, it is less than the 12 percent in 1992 and 15 percent in 1991, and even less than the 11.4 percent average annual increase of the previous decade. [1] Jewish settlers still account for less than 15 percent of the West Bank’s population, and less than 1 percent of Gaza’s. Settler areas in the West Bank are five times less densely populated Arab areas and seven times less densely populated than Israel.

The Palestinian Authority estimates that in the year-plus since Oslo, Israel has confiscated more than 20 square miles. [2] The Jerusalem Media and Communications Centre gives a 13-month estimate of 57 square miles confiscated — 2.5 percent of the Occupied Territories — if “closed military areas” and “nature reserves” are included. [3] In annual terms (2.3 percent) that is higher than the 2.1 percent of the Occupied Territories which Israel has confiscated, on average, each year since 1967.

Much of the construction of new settlement housing since Oslo has been in occupied East Jerusalem. Following the June 1967 war, Israel annexed the 2.5 square miles of the city under Jordanian occupation, as well as 24.5 square miles of adjacent West Bank lands, to comprise “Greater Jerusalem.” [4] Within this area, Israel has confiscated roughly one third of all private land since 1967. [5] A further 52 percent of the total annexed area of “Greater Jerusalem” has been designated as “green areas” or unzoned, on which Palestinian owners are not allowed to build. [6]

Since 1967, some 38,000 housing units have been built for Jews, with government subsidies, on confiscated Arab land, and a further 20,000 units are under construction or “in the pipeline.” A combination of high property taxes and restrictions on Arab building has forced up to 50,000 Palestinian residents to leave the city for other area in the West Bank. [7] Over the past five years the Jewish settler population of the city has grown by 40,000, and Jewish residents in the occupied part of the city now outnumber Palestinian Arabs by some 160,000 to 155,000. [8] In April and May 1995, Israel confirmed plans to confiscate a further 134 acres of mostly Arab-owned land in East Jerusalem. [9]

Endnotes

[1] Report on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories (January 1995).
[2] New York Times, January 16, 1995. See also The Independent, January 1, 1995.
[3] Palestine Report, December 31, 1994.
[4] Financial Times, May 12, 1995.
[5] Washington Post, April 28, 1995.
[6] Financial Times, May 12, 1995.
[7] Financial Times, May 12, 1995.
[8] Report on Israeli Settlements; Financial Times, May 12, 1995.
[9] Washington Post, April 28, 1995; New York Times, May 15, 1995.

How to cite this article:

Peter Ogram "Settlement Expansion," Middle East Report 194-195 ( ).
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