As Palestinians commemorate Land Day, the anniversary of an uprising against Israel’s land confiscation, a report from the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics released a report showing Israel’s settlement project is rapidly escalating.
Thirty-five years on from the uprising, in which six young protesters were killed by Israeli forces, Palestinians constitute almost half of the population of the Palestine under the British Mandate, but have access to less than 15 percent of the land, the PCBS report said
Israel’s separation wall has confiscated around 733 square kilometers of occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank, the report notes. Israel says the wall was built to prevent attacks, but its route runs deep inside the West Bank, often as far as 22 kilometers, according to UN reports. Land between the wall and the Green Line has been used for illegal Israeli settlements and military bases.
PCBS found that in 2010, Israel built 6,794 Jewish-only housing units on occupied Palestinian land, four times more than in 2009.
Under the Fourth Geneva Convention, it is illegal for an occupying power to transfer its population into territory it occupies.
In September 2010, President Mahmoud Abbas refused to continue peace negotiations while Israel continued to build on land which would be a Palestinian state in a peace agreement.
Despite pleas from across the international community — including the US, EU, UN and Russia — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to extend a curb on illegal building, and peace talks collapsed.
While US President Barack Obama says Israeli settlement building is an obstacle to peace, his administration recently vetoed a UN resolution condemning settlement construction.
After the vote, US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said “we reject in the strongest terms the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity.”
“Continued settlement activity violates Israel’s international commitments, devastates trust between the parties, and threatens the prospects for peace.”
However, Rice said the resolution risked encouraging the parties to stay out of negotiations.
Historically, more Jewish-only housing has been built on occupied Palestinian land during peace negotiations than in any other time.