In the West Bank, Israel “grants” 99.7% of Palestinian public-land to colonial Jewish settlers.
JERUSALEM — Over five decades in control of the West Bank, Israel has marked out hundreds of thousands of acres as public land, and it has allocated almost half of them for use.
But only 400 of those acres — 0.24 percent of the total allocated so far — have been earmarked for the use of Palestinians, according to official data obtained recently by an anti-settlement group after a freedom of information request. Palestinians make up about 88 percent of the West Bank’s population.
The group, Peace Now, said the other 99.76 percent of the land went to help Israeli settlements.
The lopsided allocation is hardly surprising. Israeli legal experts say the whole point of seeking out state lands, the bulk of which were designated in the 1980s, was to aid the growing settlement enterprise, which most of the world considers a violation of international law.
But the paucity of land allocated to the Palestinians shows the extent of competition over territory, and the effort Israel puts toward building the settlements.
“We took the most important and precious resource — the land — for our use only,” said Hagit Ofran of Peace Now’s settlement-watch unit.
“The protected population has nobody else to care for it,” she said, referring to the Palestinians, “so the occupier has to do that.”
Peace Now based its calculations on data obtained from the Civil Administration, the Israeli authority that carries out civilian policy in the West Bank, including land administration, under the command of the military.
The Civil Administration gave the numbers to Peace Now in mid-June, more than two years after the group submitted a request under the Freedom of Information Act, together with the Israeli Movement for Freedom of Information.
Defending the land policies, the Civil Administration said on Monday: “Applications for the allocation of state land are routinely submitted by all the population, both Palestinian and Israeli. It should be emphasized that the number of requests submitted by Palestinian residents is generally very low.”
Photo: Palestinians working on a vineyard in the West Bank, with an Israeli settlement in the background. Source: Tomas Munita / The New York Times.