Sunday, May 22, 2005
Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing Has Made a Two-State Solution Impossible
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights (E/15/05)
An international human rights group warns that a two-state solution to the 57 year Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been made a practical impossibility due to Israel's continuing expropriation of Palestinian property and denying Palestinian refugees the right to recover their original homes and lands.
This is one of the main conclusions of "Ruling Palestine: A History of the Legally Sanctioned Jewish-Israeli Seizure of Land and Housing in Palestine", a new report released by the independent Geneva-based Center on Housing Rights and Evictions (COHRE) and BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights. It reveals in stark detail how Zionist leaders, and later successive Israeli Governments, manipulated key Ottoman and British laws and the Israeli legal system to dispossess Palestinians of their land and property. The report clearly documents how Israel has built a domestic legal framework which seeks to legitimize what are clearly discriminatory land and housing policies.
Here are some excerpts from Al-Awda's Press Release
"In the last few years, Israel has again used its domestic law - backed with military might - to illegally expropriate large amounts of remaining Palestinian lands and property. In so doing, it has violated numerous international standards. Despite almost universal condemnation by the international community, Israel continues to carry out discriminatory land, housing and property policies and practices which make a sustainable and just peace a practical impossibility", Leckie added.
The report illustrates that, even if a final settlement could be negotiated, a viable Palestinian state would hardly be feasible, given the shortage of available land and infrastructure and the lack of territorial contiguity. These problems are compounded by the ubiquitous and disruptive presence of hundreds of strategically located Jewish settlements, especially in the West Bank, the territorial stranglehold on annexed East Jerusalem and the splitting of the West Bank into unconnected northern and southern enclaves. Under the controversial E-1 Plan, the huge Ma'ale Adumim settlement is to be expanded and integrated into 'Metropolitan Jerusalem'. This will set the seal on Israel's isolation and control of East Jerusalem and drive a wedge into the Palestinian heartland, creating an uninterrupted Israeli corridor from Tel Aviv to the Dead Sea.
Leckie warned, "This new study concludes that what little remains of the Palestinian homeland is disappearing in front of our eyes - it's as if Israel is deliberately erasing it from the map".
"COHRE and BADIL proudly work with a range of Israelis who have begun the painful task of acknowledging the history of land rights abuses by Israel and resultant Palestinian dispossession. As with the end of all enduring conflicts, lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians will only be possible when ordinary Israelis acknowledge past wrongs, embrace the process of reconciliation and overcome their fear of their historic neighbors. We look forward to the day when both sides move beyond the current impasse of 'us vs. them' towards a mutual and equitable future where the rights of both peoples are respected in full", Leckie said.