Palestinian land seized by Israeli army, given to settlers:NGO

Jérusalem (AFP)


Israel grabbed over 10,000 hectares (24,700 acres) of Palestinian land in the past 50 years, citing security needs, but nearly half has gone to its West Bank settlements, an Israeli NGO said Thursday.

A report by Kerem Navot, which monitors Israeli settlement and government land appropriations in the occupied West Bank, covers seizure orders issued between 1969 and 2014.

It says that nearly 47 percent of the land requisitioned under rules permitting seizure for "urgent military needs" is today used for settlement housing or access roads.

Some was initially used to house military infrastructure that was later passed to settlers, it says.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six Day war and today about 450,000 Israelis live there in settlements deemed illegal under international law.

The Israeli military told AFP on Thursday that it was unaware of the report but that it would be "studied by the competent authorities".

The report's author, researcher Dror Etkes, said that the first wave of settlement took place under the relatively doveish Labour party.

"The Labour party, between 1967 and 1977, is the party that establishes the concept of seizure of land for settlements," he said at press briefing ahead of the report's publication.

Seizures peaked, however, between 1979 and 1983 under the right-wing Likud, he said.

Kerem Navot says that under humanitarian law such requisitions must be temporary and the owners must be compensated.

But it says that its research shows that 60 percent of the Palestinian land appropriated by Israel is being held indefinitely and there is no "fair compensation mechanism".

Even the setting up of the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo peace accords did not halt the seizure of land supposedly under PA control, Etkes said.

And in the rare case when seizures were cancelled, "not once was the land returned in the same state it had been prior to confiscation," he said.