Today, Peace Now released a new report entitled “Torpedoing the Two State Solution — The Strategy of the Netanyahu Government,” detailing a number of trends in settlement expansion that directly, and it seems, deliberately, undermine the viability of the two-state solution.
This report stands in sharp contrast to the meme which appears to be gaining currency among defenders of the occupation status quo, arguing that settlements aren’t really an issue in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, since they take up only a tiny fraction of the West Bank ( see Dore Gold in Slate and Evelyn Gordon in Commentary).
Peace Now’s Hagit Ofran confirms: the built-up area of settlements comprises around 1 percent of the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem), but that doesn’t mean that the meme-mongers are right.
Because that 1 percent doesn’t even begin to tell the whole story.
Since 1967, Israel — using various means — has taken control of around 50 percent of the West Bank. Almost all of that land has been turned over to the settlers. The 1 percent of the West Bank on which the built-up areas of settlements are located is just the beginning. Because almost 10 percent of the West Bank is included in the “municipal area” of settlements. That is, the jurisdictional borders of settlements, as drawn by Israel, are so large as to allow settlements to expand many times over onto land that is in the meantime totally off-limits to Palestinians. In addition, almost 34 percent of the West Bank has been placed under the jurisdiction of the Settlement “Regional Councils.” That is more than an additional one-third of the West Bank under the control of the settler and totally off-limits to Palestinians.(...more)