Report summary

For the complete report (PDF), click here

May 2005

Jointly published by the Centre on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) and BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency & Refugee Rights

This comprehensive 150-page study (with its 90 pages of appendices) carefully documents and illustrates how relentlessly effective the colonising Jews and the ‘Jewish State’ – Israel – have been in using ruthless policies, strategic planning, ‘the rule of law’ and an iron fist to displace Palestinians and dispossess them of most of their land and much of their property, slowly but surely erasing Palestine from the map.

In its comprehensive historical scope, the study ranges from the inception of the Zionist movement in the late 19th century, which paved the way for early Jewish immigration to Palestine and acquisition of land there, to very recent developments such as the building of ‘the Wall’ in the Israeli‑occupied West Bank and the wave of housing demolitions. It takes in: the late Ottoman period, which ended a few years after World War I; the British Mandate period, which began between the wars and ended with the creation of the State of Israel through force of arms in 1948; the subsequent destruction and depopulation of Arab villages and towns, the forced exodus of the Palestinian refugees; and the progressive encroachment on and constriction of Palestinian life and development, involving massive loss of territory, housing and other property, and ongoing erosion and violation of economic, social and cultural (ESC) rights.

Playing a central role in this process have been Israeli amendments to Ottoman and British law, Israeli law within the Jewish State itself, and hundreds of Israeli military orders and regulations – which have force of law – in the Occupied Territories. In particular, this study critically examines – from a housing and ESC rights perspective – Jewish-Israeli policies and laws on land and property. In the process, however, it also highlights related areas of Israeli state and military control through ‘legal’ means, revealing how all‑enveloping, intricately interwoven and tight is the net that is steadily being closed around the Palestinian people.

Using ‘facts on the ground’ and figures, the study demonstrates that even if a final settlement to the conflict could immediately be negotiated, a Palestinian state would be utterly unviable given the shortage of available land and infrastructure, the lack of territorial contiguity, the ubiquitous and disruptive presence of countless settlements and their associated legal and physical infrastructure, the legal and territorial stranglehold on East Jerusalem, and the imminent splitting of the occupied West Bank into unconnected northern and southern halves by the envisaged ‘Metropolitan Jerusalem’, the connection of Ma’ale Adumim, and the E-1 Plan. Palestine is rapidly being wiped off the map.

The study also shows that this process of colonisation, dispossession and rigid constraint falls far short of meeting the standards of relevant international treaties and agreements. Specifically, Israel’s discriminatory policies towards Palestinians are shown to constitute violations of large numbers of key UN resolutions adopted by the international community over the past several decades.

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