The new book , Israeli settlements and the erosion of the two-state solution by Mohammad Shtayyeh was issued yesterday, emphasizing the development of Israeli Settlements in the Palestinian Occupied Territories from the beginning of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967 and until today.
The first chapter includes the Israeli Labor Party plans, represented by Allon plan, which targeted the colonization of the Palestinian part of the Jordan Rift Valley while keeping and open corridor in Jericho with Jordan for a functional division. Allon based his plan on the following: “A security border that is not a state border is not a security border… a state border that is not settled along its length by Jews is not a state border.” In addition to the Palestinian rift area, settlements also concentrated around Jerusalem during Labor Party rule (1967-1977). The Labor Party aim was to have control over security, borders and natural resources, while administration over the Palestinian population would be assigned to Jordan.
The second chapter presents the dramatic change that occurred when the Likud won the elections in 1977, causing a shift in the settlements construction from the rift area to the heart of the populated Palestinian areas between the big cities, around them, and even within them as in the case of Hebron. Likud’s settlement efforts were concentrated on the bases of different settlement plans, with the most important among them being Drobles Plan, Sharon Plan, Weizman Plan, and the World Zionist Organization Plan, all of which aimed at reinforcing settlements and concentrating them all over the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Dr. Shtayyeh states in his book that the Israeli government has provided all the possible support in order to accelerate the settlement pace including financial incentives, soft loans, exemption from taxes, considering the settlements top priority areas, and building infrastructures of roads, water, electricity, and sewage. He says that Israel spends about 2.3 billion NIS annually for the development of settlements infrastructure, and that the total amount spent on the settlements construction is estimated to be about 50 billion NIS, that is excluding the amounts spent by individuals, private companies, and Zionist organizations all over the world supporting Zionist settlements in Palestine.
The study further adds that Israel used all methods to confiscate land for the benefit of the settlements by declaring several areas as closed areas, security zones, areas for public use, and areas prohibited access to, as well as forging documents of certain land deals. All of these measures aimed at confiscating the largest area possible for the benefit of the settlements expansion.
Then the study explains the legal status of the settlements as being illegitimate and illegal according to the resolutions of the United Nations and the policies of the United States, despite the disparity of views regarding the settlements by the different American administrations. In addition to that, it shows that the European Union also considered the settlements as illegal and illegitimate from the very beginning.
The study also highlights the settlers’ acts of violence, which range from killings, confiscation and destruction of property, cutting down trees, and forbidding cattle from access to green pastures; to the fact that the settlers have also created a terrorist organization to crack down on Palestinians under the name “Price Tag”. All of These terrorist acts are conducted with the awareness of the Israeli army.
The last chapter handles settlements within the frame of the peace process. It states that ultimately all the settlements should be dismantled; however, settlements should be stopped all over the West Bank, including Jerusalem, in any political initiative without accepting any false pretenses such as temporary cessation, cessation excluding natural growth of population, and cessation except for outposts; all of which are excuses to throw dust in the eyes of the international public.
The study concludes that the Israeli government has the ability to take the required measures in order to stop the incentives and privileges granted to the settlers. It adds that the world should stipulate in its aids and relationships with Israel the extent of Israel’s compliance with the International Law, and that the settlements should be excluded from all the economic and commercial agreements signed between them. Finally, it states that all the tax exemptions granted to the settlers should be ended.
In the recommendations part, the study calls for boycotting the settlements’ products, as well as stopping the settlers from access to Europe and America, as a step towards forbidding the settlers with European and American passports from living illegally in the settlements while holding these passports.
Dr. Shtayyeh ends the study with statistical figures, revealing that the number of Israeli settlers at the beginning of 2015 was about 651,000 settler living in 185 settlements, in addition to about 220 unauthorized locations in the West Bank and Jerusalem, therefore representing 21% of the total population of the area. Then he says that by the beginning of 2015 the number of Jews living in Historical Palestine was 6.1 million individuals, whereas the Palestinian population also reached 6.1 million in the same year, and that in 2020 the Palestinians will make up to 53% of the population in Historical Palestine. The final situation then puts Israel in a place to choose either the acceptance of the two-states solution, or the erosion of it and slipping into a one state situation in which Israel becomes a de facto and a de jure apartheid state. This will change the dynamics of the conflict and the dynamics of solution.
Dr. Mohammad Shtayyeh is a Member of the Fatah Central Committee, and President of the Palestinian Economic Council for Development and Reconstruction –PECDAR