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The Facts


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Israel & Palestine / THE FACTS

The Facts: The Occupation
The 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank (from Jordan) and Gaza (from Egypt) and
the Golan Heights (from Syria) is today the primary source of conflict between Israelis and
Palestinians. The presence of Israeli settlements, roads and military infrastructure, and
their control of resources, dominates the daily life of three million Palestinians.

History and geography

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Photo: Richard Swift

. Of the 1948 British-mandated Palestine, Israel now takes up 78%. Since 1967 Israel has occupied the other 22%, which Palestinians lay claim to as their homeland.1

. According to the current stage of the peace accord signed in Oslo in 1993, 18% of this occupied land is under full Palestinian Authority control and 82% is under Israeli control.

. There are 3 million Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza. There are a total of 6.1 million Israelis of whom 1 million are of Palestinian origin.2

. Some 750,000 Palestinian refugees fled from what is now Israel during the 1946-48 war. They now live on the West Bank and Gaza, in neighbouring Arab countries (Lebanon and Jordan have the largest number) or they have left the region entirely. The current refugee population numbers up to 5 million, depending on who is counting. Some 3.7 million are officially registered with the United Nations as refugees.3

. Israel proper is 21,060 square kilometres and Palestine is 6,220 square kilometres.2

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[image, unknown] . There are currently 170 Israeli settlements on Palestinian land with 213,672 settlers in the West Bank, Gaza and the Golan Heights. There are another 170,400 in what used to be Arab East Jerusalem.4

. Settlement boundaries enclose nearly 10% of West Bank land.

. There are 300 miles of settler-only 'by-pass' roads paid for by the US at a cost of $3 billion.4

. The Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory, states that 'the Occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies'.4

. Since the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords some 200 square kilometres of Palestinian farm and pasture land have been expropriated for settlements, highways and infrastructure; 80,000 olive and fruit trees have been ripped up because they were in the way of construction.5


[image, unknown] . Since 1967 East Jerusalem has expanded from 6.5 to 70 square kilometres, incorporating the land that previously belonged to 28 separate Palestinian villages. Israeli-only satellite settlements now ring East Jerusalem. Their population is projected to grow to 250,000 in the next 15 years.6

. Since 1967, 80% of the housing units built in East Jerusalem are for Israelis only. Zoning conditions and expensive permits prevent much Palestinian construction. Badly overcrowded East Jerusalem needs an additional 20,000 homes for Palestinians.6

. Since 1967, 2,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished in East Jerusalem.6

. On average, the municipality of Jerusalem invests seven times as much in services for its Israeli residents as for its Palestinian ones.7

Social Conditions

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Photo: Richard Swift

. Average annual income in Israel and Palestine: Israel: $17,000, Palestine: $1,700

. Settlers represent about 10% of the West Bank population and use some 37% of the West Bank water, leaving the remaining 63% to the 1.9 million Palestinians.9

. Some 26% of West Bank Palestinian households have no connection to piped water. Israeli settlers pay an average of three times less for domestic consumption than Palestinians.10

. The current unemployment rate in Israel is 10.2% - the highest in 10 years.11 In Palestine the unemployment rate is 60%.12

. Life expectancy amongst the Jewish population is 76.1 for men and 80.8 for women. Among non-Jews it is 74.1 for men and 77.8 for women.8

. The Israeli military interventions in spring 2002 are estimated to have cost $350 million in damage to Palestinian infrastructure (schools, roads, waterworks, power supply, government buildings). In an entire year Palestinian public investment amounts to $200 million.13

1 'Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories', Foundation for Middle East Peace, Washington, 2002.
2 World Guide 2001/2, ITeM, Montevideo.
3 Fact Sheet, Al-Awda Organization, Orange, Connecticut.
4 Foundation for Middle East Peace op. cit.
5 Jeff Halper, , News From Within, Jerusalem, November, 2000.
6 Jeff Halper, Jerusalem Factsheet, Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions, Jerusalem.
7 Fact Sheet - Jerusalem, Passia, Jerusalem, 2001.
8 Central Bureau of Statistics, 1995-1999, Israeli Government Publication, Jerusalem.
9 Eyal Weizman, 'The Politics of Verticality', www.opendemocracy.net 2 May 2002.
10 JAD Issac, Roots of Water Conflict, Applied Research Institute, Jerusalem.
11 Elias Zananiri,  Israel's Unemployment Crisis, Arab Media Internet Network, 26 February 2002
12 Arab Finance, Cairo, 29 January 2002.
13 World Bank estimates quoted by Samir Abdullah, www.palestinereport.org 22 May 2002.

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New Internationalist issue 348 magazine cover This article is from the August 2002 issue of New Internationalist.
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