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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem



After the occupation of 80% of Palestine in 1948-49 and the expulsion of 90% of the population of the occupied areas, the Zionists plundered and usurped more than 90% of the lands of Palestinians in the areas they occupied. Jews did not own more than 5.6% of the lands of Palestine in 1948.

The Zionists were not satisfied with occupying 80% of Palestine. They started planning for the occupation of the remaining 20%, namely the West Bank and Gaza. Moshe Shertok (later changed his name to Sharett), who was Foreign Minister and later Prime Minister, stated in his diaries that the Zionist military establishment was planning to occupy the rest of Palestine. In her book, Israe15sSacred Terrorism, Livia Rokach translated and commented on extracts from Sharett's diaries in order to expose Israeli plans for military aggression:

"On October 19, 1953, a cabinet meeting was convened where: Ben Gurion spoke for two and a half hours on the army's preparations for the second round ...( He) presented detailed figures on the growth of the military force of the Arab countries which (he said) will reach its peak in 1956." (19 October 1953, 54). It was not a prophecy. This meant that Israel would wage war within that date. Sharett added: "As I listened ... I was thinking ... that we should proceed against the danger with non-military means: propose daring and concrete solutions for the Refugee problem through the payment of compensations, improve our relations with the powers, search ceaselessly for an understanding with Egypt." This was certainly not what the Israeli security establishment was driving at. On October 26,1953, a group of American Zionist leaders was lectured to, in Israel, by Colonel Matti Peled. The conclusions from that presentation, Sharett noted, were "implicitly clear:

"One, that the army considers the present border with Jordan as absolutely unacceptable. Two, that the army is planning war in order to occupy the rest of Western Eretz Israel (i.e. the West Bank and Gaza)."(26 October, 1953, 81).(1)

Israel also wanted to make war on Egypt and occupy the Gaza Strip and to make war on Syria and occupy the Golan Heights. According to Rokach:

War with Egypt was to remain a major ambition of Israel's security establishment, but the time was not yet ripe. On February 25, Ben Gurion, himself, put the brakes on his collaborators' impatience when he rejected Lavon's proposal "to go ahead immediately with the plan for the separation of the Gaza Strip from Egypt." The Old Man was determined to stick to his timetable. Now, Sharett noted later, "Ben Gurion suggested to concentrate on action against Syria." (27 February, 1954,377)(2)

Israel, together with Britain and France, waged the 1956 war of aggression against Egypt, occupying the Gaza Strip and Sinai and committing war crimes and crimes against humanity against the Palestinians and Egyptians. The condemnation of the General Assembly of the United Nations and the influence exerted by the United States and the Soviet Union compelled the three aggressors to withdraw from Egypt and forced Israel to withdraw its forces to the 1949 Armistice Lines. This was only a temporary setback for Zionist objectives. During the following ten years, Israel was constantly planning and waiting for the opportune moment to attack Egypt, Jordan and Syria in order to occupy Sinai, the Gaza Strip, the West Bank and the southern part of Syria. This objective was fulfilled in June, 1967, in which Israel attacked Egypt, Jordan and Syria and occupied these areas. This time the United Nations was unable to compel Israel to withdraw from the occupied areas because of the connivance of the United States, which sabotaged all United Nations efforts to bring about a withdrawal. Israel remained in occupation of Sinai until Egypt entered into the Camp David agreements, but it is still, to this day, in occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Syrian Golan Heights.


Israel had a well-calculated plan to settle and annex the occupied territories. This is evidenced by the following facts:(3)

(a) The existence, in the government of Israel, of a Ministerial Committee for Settlement of the Territories;

(b) Express pronouncements to this effect by Israeli Ministers and leaders;

(c) A memorandum presented on 8 July, 1971 to the Special Committee by Mr. Rouhi El-Khatib, Mayor of Jerusalem at the time of the June 1967 hostilities, the facts of which are confirmed by other evidence;

(d) Uncontradicted reports, appearing in the information media, of the planned establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories;

(e) The absence of any serious attempt at repatriation of the refugees to their homes in the occupied territories;

(f) The mass expulsion and continued deportation of individuals from the occupied territories;

(g) the continued transfer of the population of the occupied territories to other areas within the occupied territories.(3 )

Housing Minister Ze'ev Sharef on a television broadcast of 18 February, 1971, was reported to have said:

The Government of Israel would not bow to international pressure to halt the building of housing developments across the cease-fire line in Jerusalem. In the same report the Minister is reported as saying that these housing developments are taking place on expropriated lands.(4)

The former Minister of Transport and Chairman of the Herut Executive, Ezer Weizman, in a television interview, stated:

The Jordan River would make the best eastern border for Israel; Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) must remain under Israeli control; and whoever controls northern Sinai ... controls the security of Israel."(5 )

Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon "called for urban, rather than agricultural settlements within the administered areas (since) ... urban settlements would bring more people to the areas than would farming communities."(6)

Defence Minister Moshe Dayan stated: "After a peace arrangement, we will also remain in most of the areas ... the Golan Heights, and the West Bank." Mr. Dayan called for Israelis to "devote their best efforts to these areas."(7)

Mrs. Golda Meir, stated in October, 197 1: "Our borders are fixed by the people who live along them. If we retreat, the borders will retreat with us. The danger is then that somebody else will fix the boundaries for us."(8)

President of Israel Salman Shazar, speaking at the opening ceremony of the twentieth anniversary celebrations of the Jewish National Fund on 12 January, 197 1, stated: "The Jewish National Fund's work in preparing land in the Golan Heights for settlement strengthens our firm determination that the Golan remain in Israeli territory."(9)

Deputy Prime Minister Yigal Allon stated in the Knesset on 2 December, 1970, in the course of a debate on a motion on "the establishment of Jewish suburbs in cities" in the occupied territories, that he was in opposition to the establishment of such suburbs because of political and other reasons. Mr. Allon is reported as stating that the Government of Israel pursued a "realistic policy based on Middle East and international political possibilities." He is also reported as stating that the Government had already decided on the establishment of a further four Nahal settlements and of a semi-urban settlement; on the sequestration of 11,400 dunums of land of East Jerusalem and southwards for the setting up of residential areas for both Jews and Arabs; as well as development of a Jewish Quarter at Hebron. In the course of the debate reference was also made to what are referred to as "Basic Principles," as endorsed by the Labour Party, National Religious Party and Gahal. According to Mr. Begin, who was presenting the motion which was the subject of this discussion, these "Basic Principles" called for the "acceleration of permanent settlement, rural and urban, on the soil of the Homeland." The same report cites the Deputy Prime Minister, Mr. Allon, as stating with reference to Mr. Begin's remarks on the historical rights to the Land of Israel that this was the moral basis for the renaissance of the Jewish State, but "historiographical or theological absolutes cannot replace policy. The future map of Israel, in the framework of a peace treaty, was to be founded on historical rights as the ~ moral basis, defensible borders as a security basis, a Jewish and Democratic State as national and social basis."

Mr. Begin, presenting his motion, said experience had proved there was no reason why Jew and Arab could not live, work, trade and send their children to school together. It would be good for peace, security and understanding between the people, he said. No people in history had suffered as much as Israel on behalf of its land. He said a recent "nonsensical" decision of the United Nations General Assembly made out as though Israel were depriving someone (Palestine Arabs) of self-determination. Israel's rights were solely over this Land, while the Arabs had fourteen sovereign States. "We liberated the Land of Israel, and there is no reason why Jews should not live in Jericho, Hebron, Bethlehem, Shechem, Tulkarm and Rarnallah."(10)


Jerusalem was the first victim of Israeli annexation and settlement. During the first week of occupation in June, 1967, Israeli bulldozers started demolishing Arab homes, buildings and institutions in Old Jerusalem. The Israelis demolished in four different quarters of Jerusalem 1,215 houses, 427 shops, 5 mosques, 3 monasteries and 4 schools, i.e. a total of 1,654 buildings. 7,400 Palestinian Christian and Muslim Arabs were expelled from the city. The Knesset adopted an illegal decision on June 28, 1967 annexing the Old City of Jerusalem.

The General Assembly and the Security Council passed several resolutions declaring that the annexation of Jerusalem was invalid and called upon Israel "to rescind all measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any action which would alter the status of Jerusalem." They are General Assembly Resolution 2253 ES-V of July 4, 1967, General Assembly Resolution 2254 ES-V of July 14, 1967 and Security Council Resolution 298 of September 25, 197 1, the texts of which are as follows:

2253 (ES-V) Measures taken by Israel to change the status of the City of Jerusalem

The General Assembly,

Deeply concerned at the situation prevailing in Jerusalem as a result of the measures taken by Israel to change the status of the City,

1. Considers that these measures are invalid;

2. Calls upon Israel to rescind all measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any action which would alter the status of Jerusalem;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the General Assembly and the Security Council on the situation and on the implementation of the present resolution not later than one week from its adoption.

1548th plenary meeting, 4th July, 1967.

2254 Measures taken by Israel to change the status of the City of Jerusalem

The General Assembly,

Recalling its resolution 2253 (ES-V) of 4 July, 1967,

Having received the report submitted by the Secretary- General,

Taking note with the deepest regret and concern of the noncompliance by Israel with resolution 2253 (ES-V),

1. Deplores the failure of Israel to implement General Assembly resolution 2253 (ES-V);

2. Reiterates its call to Israel in that resolution to rescind all measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any action which would alter the status of Jerusalem;

3. Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council and the General Assembly on the situation and on the implementation of the present resolution.

1554th plenary meeting, 14th July, 1967.

Resolution 298 (197 1) of 25 September 197 1

The Security Council,

Recalling its resolution 252 (1968) of 21 May, 1968, and 267 ( 1969) of 3 July, 1969, and the earlier General Assembly resolutions 2253 (ES-V) and 2254 (ES-V) of 4 and 14 July, 1967, concerning measures and actions by Israel designed to change the status of the Israeli-occupied section of Jerusalem,

Having considered the letter of the Permanent Representative of Jordan on the situation in Jerusalem and the reports of the Secretary-General, and having heard the statements of the parties concerned on the question,

Reaffirming the principle that acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible,

Noting with concern the non-compliance by Israel with the above-mentioned resolutions, Noting with concern also that since the adoption of the above-mentioned resolutions Israel has taken further measures designed to change the status and character of the occupied section of Jerusalem.

1. Reaffirms its resolutions 252 (1968) and 267 (1969);

2. Deplores the failure of Israel to respect the previous resolutions adopted by the United Nations concerning measures and actions by Israel purporting to affect the status of the City of Jerusalem;

3. Confirms in the clearest possible terms that all legislative and administrative actions taken by Israel to change the status of the City of Jerusalem, including expropriation of land and properties, transfer of populations and legislation aimed at the incorporation of the occupied section, are totally invalid and cannot change that status;

4. Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all previous measures and actions and to take no further steps in the occupied section of Jerusalem which may purport to change the status of the City or which would prejudice the rights of the inhabitants and the interests of the international community, or a just and lasting peace;

5. Requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the President of the Security Council and using such instrumentalities as he may choose, including a representative or a mission, to report to the Council as appropriate and in any event within sixty days on the implementation of the present resolution.

Adopted at the 1582nd meeting
by 14 votes to none, with 1
abstention (Syrian Arab Republic).

By its resolution No. 446 of March 22, 1979, the Security Council established a Commission "to examine the situation relating to settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967 including Jerusalem. The said Commission investigated the situation and submitted its report to the Council, Document Sl13450 and Add. 1 of July 12, 1979.

The Commission stated:

The situation in Jerusalem was described more extensively by four witnesses (Nos. 15, 16, 18 and 21). One of them (No. 21) recalled that the Knesset had adopted on 28 June, 1967, a decision of "annexation" on the basis of which the following measures were taken:

1. Abrogation of the Arab Municipal Council of Jerusalem;

2, Elimination of certain municipal services and amalgamation of others with their Israeli counterparts;

3. Application of all Israeli laws to Arab citizens;

4. Closure of the Education Department and transfer of all Arabpublic schools to the authority of Israel's Ministry of Education, this leading to the use of Israeli curricula including the reading in primary schools of a book entitled I am an Israeli;

5. Issuance of Israeli identification cards to all inhabitants;

6. Non-recognition of Jerusalem Islamic Courts;

7. Obligation for professional individuals to register their names with Israeli professional associations;

8. Closure of Arab banks and exclusive use of Israeli currency;

9. Physical transfer to Arab Jerusalem of a number of Israeli ministries and departments.

As to the methods used by Israel to Judaize the Arab sector, the same witness (No. 21) said that, immediately after the 1967 war, Israel resorted to the demolition, in four different quarters of Jerusalem, of 1,215 houses, 427 shops, 5 mosques, 3 monasteries and 4 schools, i.e., a total of 1,654 buildings. As aresult, the witness said, 7,400 inhabitants were forced to leave (another witness, No. 15, referred to "more than 5,000" people). Then a "Jewish Quarter" was established, which as of today contains 320 housing units built on 116 dunums and inhabited by a Jewish settler population of 1,300 persons. Finally, 94,564 dunums of Arab lands situated within the limits of the municipality of Arab Jerusalem were confiscated.

Another witness (No. 15) stated that the aim of those expropriations in Jerusalem was to surround with Jewish settlers three specific areas still mainly occupied by Arabs. Such a policy, he said, was a threat to the very presence and existence of Arabs in the city.

A number of witnesses (such as No. 18) referred to the archaeological excavations which, he said, although repeatedly condemned by UNESCO, were continuing, thus inflicting serious damages to Islamic shrines.

As to the number of settlements in Jerusalem, a witness (No. 21) indicated that nine of them had been built within the boundaries of Arab Jerusalem and 10 more within the framework of so-called greater Jerusalem. The same witness concluded his statement, saying that through the policy of settlements Israel's aim was to seize the land and gradually expel its inhabitants. That view was also expressed in various terms by a number of other witnesses.

Some of the witnesses heard by the commission described in detail the measures taken by Israel in the Judaization of Jerusalem: (11)


The witness said that, while the establishment of settlements in the occupied territories was initiated in mid- 1968, the measures concerning Jerusalem started only a few hours after the occupation and on 28 June 1967 an annexation decision was passed by the Knesset, by which Israel attributed to itself the right of control over Arab Jerusalem to satisfy its interests only and in defiance of international law.

104. The following measures were taken:

1. Abrogation of the Arab Municipal Council and linking of Arab Jerusalem to Israeli Jerusalem;

2. Elimination of certain municipal services and amalgamation of others with the Israeli services;

3. Application of all Israeli laws to Arab citizens;

4. Closing down of the Education Department of Arab Jerusalem and putting all Arab public schools under Israel's Ministry of Education, forcing them to follow the curricula of Israeli schools, which included the reading in primary schools of a book entitled i Am an Israeli;

5. The issuing of Israeli identification cards to the inhabitants of Arab Jerusalem;

6. Non-recognition by Israel of Jerusalem Islamic Court;

7. Obligation for Arab professional individuals to register their names with Israeli professional associations if they wanted to practice their professions;

8. The closing of Arab banks and the imposition of the exclusive use of Israeli currency;

9. The transfer to Arab Jerusalem of a number of Israeli ministries and departments.

As to the methods used by Israel to colonise the Arab sector of Jerusalem, they included the following:

First, Israel resorted immediately after June 1967 to the demolition of 1,654 buildings in four different quarters, including 427 shops, 1,215 houses, 5 mosques, 3 monasteries and 4 schools. As a result, 7,400 inhabitants of Arab Jerusalem were forced to leave. Israel then established a "Jewish quarter" which as of today contains 320 housing units on 1 16 dunums, with a settler population of 1,300.

Second, the Israeli authorities resorted to the confiscation of Arab lands situated within the municipality of Arab Jerusalem, totalling 94,564 dunums. That was carried out by various methods including the application of Israeli laws issued before 1967. Among these laws were:

1. The "absentee property" law, adopted by the Knesset on 14 March 1950, which replaced the emergency decrees concerning absentee property issued on 19 December 1948. Under that law, the citizens of Arab Jerusalem were regarded as absentees whether their property was in eastern or western Jerusalem:

2. The law of acquisition of land for the public interest in 1943 under the Mandate Government. Under this law, the Israelis expropriated land and buildings by claiming that they were to be used for the public interest and established on them settlements for Jewish emigrants. An example was an area of 11,860 dunums expropriated under a decision of the Ministry of Finance issued on 30 December 1970 and published in the Official Journal on 30 August 1970;

3. Defence and emergency decrees of 1945, issued under the British Mandate and still in force today. Under these decrees, the Military Governor could issue instructions to deport people from Palestine and expropriate property. Under the British mandate the Jews themselves were opposed to these decrees, including a lawyer named Jacob Shapiro, who had said that these decrees "did not exist even in Nazi Germany." But after the creation of the State of Israel, things were reversed and the decrees continued to be implemented, even by Mr. Shapiro, when he became Minister of Justice in 1966. Under these decrees four Arab quarters were destroyed in old Jerusalem and 7,400 of its inhabitants expelled. These decrees also give the right to the Military Governor to declare any area closed for security purposes. In that way very large areas of Arab lands were closed and included in the plan for Greater Jerusalem, including 70,000 dunums in the Beit Sahur area, 100,000 dunums in the Assabkia area, and 1,194 dunums in the village of Anata;

Turning to the question of settlements in Jerusalem, the witness indicated that nine of them had been built within the boundaries of Arab Jerusalem. One, the so-called Jewish quarter, was built within the old city and the other eight, although outside the walls, were still within the boundaries of the Arab municipality.

He further indicated that 10 settlements were built within the framework of so-called Greater Jerusalem. Before the 1967 war, Arab Jerusalem had an areaof 13 square kms. Since then the area has been increased to 67 square kms and the project for Greater Jerusalem called for an area of 55 square kms.

The establishment of settlements in Jerusalem was accompanied by repeated violations of the sacred places, both Christian and Moslem, and of the historical and cultural heritage of the Old City.

As to the impact of the settlements on the economic, financial and cultural life of the Arab population, the witness said that before 1967, Jerusalem had been the spiritual capital of Jordan and the financial and commercial center of the West Bank. After the occupation, the Arab population, which was 96,000 in 1966, decreased to 78,000 in 1978 despite the fact that the birth-rate was between 3 and 3.5 per cent. This shows the efficiency of the deportation measures to which the Arab inhabitants are subjected. The fact that all economic activities in Arab Jerusalem had fallen under the control of Israeli laws and regulations, including taxation laws, had had a negative effect. Arab companies are now placed in a position of unfair competition, especially in such important services as transportation and tourism. Meanwhile, on the social level, the Jewish inhabitants of the new quarters have introduced practices which are contrary to Arab social customs and moral behavior.

In conclusion, the witness said that the objective pursued by Israel through its policy of settlements could be summarized in one sentence: seizure of the land and gradual expulsion of its inhabitants.

Replying to questions, the witness stated that there were in fact several Israeli authorities who made the decisions regarding the establishment of new settlements and the selection of the settlers. He cited the Ministerial Committee presided over by the Minister of Agriculture, an official Committee of the Jewish Agency presided over by Professor Ra'anan Weiz, special bodies in every political party and special organizations such as the Gush Emunim. The witness said also that since the occupation Arab judges had remained unemployed since Arab citizens had to submit their cases for trial to Israeli courts and tribunals which did not include Arab judges.


The witness gave an account of the Israeli measures taken after the war of 1967 in the annexed city of Jerusalem as follows: (i) terrorism and intimidation (300 Arabs were killed) forced more than 5,000 residents to flee from their houses, and from property expropriated under the "absentee law"; (ii) the destruction of Arab property, which on the pretext of reorganization had the result of expelling some 1,000 more inhabitants and preparing the way for new Israeli installations; (iii) the administrative and political annexation of Jerusalem to Israel; (iv) the Judaization of the Arab economy in Jerusalem by replacing the Jordanian currency by Israeli currency, closing the Arab banks, confiscating their assets and prohibiting in Jerusalem the Arab agricultural, industrial and commercial products, thus paralyzing the Arab production and creating large unemployment among the Arab population while, at the same time, the installation of many Israeli factories inside and around Jerusalem contributed to the continuous process of colonization; (v) the taking of a census of the residents of Jerusalem on 25 June 1967 and the registration of the Arabs; these actions were aimed at depriving the absentees of their properties, which were confiscated in accordance with the Absentee Law of 1950.

After expropriating about 70 per cent of Jerusalem's land and property belonging to some 60,000 Arab inhabitants who had left Jerusalem in 1948 after the massacre in Deir Yassin, the Israeli authorities began in 1967 a new series of expropriations. In that connexion, Mr. El-Khatib referred to two of his sons who were studying abroad and relatives who being away had been prevented from coming back while their property had become part of an Israeli settlement.

The witness emphasized that all the expropriation operations were carried out under the pretext of public interest, but instead of hospitals, schools or roads, Israeli settlements had been built. He then gave a detailed account of the successive expropriation operations performed after the war of 1967 inside and outside Jerusalem, as a result of which a sharp reduction in Arab ownership had taken place. According to the figures provided by Mr. El-Khatib, before the British Mandate, Christian and Moslem Arabs properties accounted for 94 per cent and Jewish properties 4 per cent, while 2 per cent were still owned by foreigners. Between 1948 and 1966, as a result of the Israeli policy of expropriation based on the Absentee Law in the occupied part of Jerusalem, the ownership of properties had changed to 25 per cent for the Arabs, 73 per cent for the Jews and 2 per cent for the foreigners. In 1978 the figures were 14 per cent for the Christian and Moslem Arabs, 84 per cent for the Jews, while the foreigners had kept their 2 per cent.

The witness emphasized that the policy of expropriation in Jerusalem aimed mainly at surrounding with Jewish settlers, three specific areas: the Mosque of the Dome of the Rock; another area still mainly occupied by Arabs; and some Arab villages just outside Jerusalem. This, he said, constituted a threat to the very presence and existence of Arabs in the city. Although after each operation of confiscation or expropriation the Israeli occupation authorities stated that compensation would be paid to the owners of the land and that the owners should meet with the officials in order to carry out the transaction for the compensation, no Arabs had agreed to give up their rights to their land and property.

Mr. El-Khatib further stated that under the pretext of discovering Jewish historical sites the occupation authorities had started excavating under Arab quarters, thus causing the collapse of buildings, which the Arab inhabitants had to vacate, and the destruction of landmarks of historical, cultural, religious and commercial nature. Those facts were well known since in the past 11 years UNESCO had adopted 13 resolutions condemning Israel for those activities and asking it to stop such excavations. In order to organize and expand these operations, the Israeli authorities had created the Company for the Restoration and Urbanization of the Jewish District of the Old City of Jerusalem, which was entrusted with the evacuation and demolition of Arab buildings and properties within the city wall, that is the area which includes not only the Jewish Quarter, as the Israelis claim, but also four Arab quarters which were expropriated on 14 April 1968. That Company had sent evacuation notices to about 6,000 Arab inhabitants, who when they refused to leave were called before Court. In order to ensure the evacuation, the Company also resorted to such action as excavations in the streets supposedly for repairs, but which in fact caused the house concerned to collapse. They also cut the water supply and took other measures which caused hazardous health conditions for the inhabitants and compelled them to leave. As a whole, 740 families grouping 4,125 persons had been expropriated.

According to the witness, this Company and other Israeli organs were co-ordinating their actions to replace the historical remains, buildings and other property in Arab quarters with new buildings in which some 500 Jewish families were living. Mr. El-Khatib then spoke of the question of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories in general and in Jerusalem in particular. Referring to the Lebanese magazine Arab Week of 10 October 1977, he cited that between 1967 and 1977 the Israelis had established 123 settlements out of which 33 were not publicly announced because they were Nahal settlements which belonged to military organizations, with their own rules, regulations and statutes. Furthermore, he had heard on the Israeli television a statement according to which within the past five years the Government of Israel had created 36 new settlements, of which 28 were in the West Bank, 5 in the Golan Heights and 3 in the Gaza Strip. After 7 June 1967, the authorities had been building new Jewish quarters in Jerusalem on confiscated or expropriated Arab lands with a population density higher than that of any other settlement in the occupied territories. The witness cited a report in The Jerusalem Post of 8 November 1974 which under the title "On building a fortress Jerusalem" gave an account of wide-scale construction on the expropriated Arab lands.

Mr. El-Khatib also referred to a book by Mr. Mehdi Abdal-Hedi, who had personally visited the location of every quarter and settlement built recently on the occupied territories. According to that author, the new quarters built in and around Jerusalem after 1967 includes about 15,000 apartments, inhabited by some 100,000 Israeli newcomers, and about 100 factories, employing some 5,000 workers, all of whom were living there illegally.

Mr. El-Khatib cited also some figures showing the changes in the population proportion in Jerusalem. At the end of the British Mandate in 1948, the population of Jerusalem and its surrounding villages and Israeli settlements around Jerusalem was 240,000 inhabitants, of whom 140,000 were Arabs and 100,000 Jews - which means 58.2 per cent Arabs, as against 41.8 per cent Jews. When Israel occupied and annexed the second part of Jerusalem in 1967, the total population was 279,006 inhabitants; 80,000 Arabs - Christians and Moslems - and 190,000 Jews, in other words, 30 per cent Arabs and 70 per cent Jews.

According to the Israeli newspapers, by the end of 1978 the population of Jerusalem increased to about 400,000, of whom 100,000 were Arabs and 300,000 were Jews - which means 25 per cent Arabs and 75 per cent Jews.

In response to questions the witness said that many people had been killed after the cease-fire - some in their homes, some in the streets of Jerusalem. When the cilrfew was lifted, Mr. El-Khatib went around the town. He himself saw the bodies in the streets and talked to the families of the victims.


Many uncontradicted reports appeared in the information media about the planned establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories:

Examples of such reports are:

(i) The master plan for construction of housing units in occupied Jerusalem, which was made public earlier this year. This plan involves not only the construction of approximately 21,000 units inside occupied territory but also construction of these units on expropriated land of which 74 to 80 per cent belonged to Arabs. The information on the housing units was given by Housing Minister Ze'ev Sharef during a press conference which was reported in the Jerusalem Post on 5 March 1971. The information concerning the expropriated lands was contained in a report of a press conference given by Mayor Teddy Kollek reported on 29 January 1971. In this connection, the Special Committee also had occasion to view a film which is purported to have been taken recently in the area where the construction is in progress.

(ii) Announcements, such as that reported in the Jerusalem Post on 1 March 1971, that two more settlements were planned for the Golan Heights during 1972 and one more settlement was planned in Rafah.

(iii) A report published on 5 January 1971 in the Jerusalem Post, according to which the first "moshav shitufi" (settlement) in Sinai was established on 4 January 1971. The settlement was established near Rafah.

(iv) A report published on 30 December 1970 in the Jerusalem Post, according to which industrial buildings in Hebron were to be constructed in the new Jewish Quarter that was being built. The area of the construction of these industrial buildings extended to 1,500 square meters, according to the renorted statement of Finance Minister Pinhas Sanir. The Minister was further reported as stating that this was only the first phase, and that when part of these buildings had been occupied, construction of additional structures would begin, totalling 4,000 square meters.

(v) Reports, such as the one appearing in the Jerusalem Post on 30 December 1970, in which the establishment of two civilian settlements in the Jordan Valley and on the Golan Heights during 197 1 was announced.

(vi) The announcement made on 3 December 1970 according to which a settlement, Kfar Darom, was re-established in the Gaza Strip. According to this report this settlement had existed prior to 1948 and it had been over-run by the Egyptian Army during the 1948 war.

(vii) A report published on 30 December 1970 according , to which a settlement which had been founded by the Jewish Agencies Settlement Department near Latrun was becoming permanent.

(viii) Reports, such as that appearing in the Jerusalem Post on 15 June 1971, according to which the first permanent Jewish civilian settlement in Hebron was inaugurated. A report also states that the first 50 families will be moving into the estate in Hebron at the beginning of September 1971. At the present moment, according to the report, they are housed in temporary quarters in the grounds of military government buildings. The Special Committee was shown a film purporting to be evidence of this statement.

(ix) A report appearing in the Jerusalem Post on 17 December 1970 according to which Acting Prime Minister Yigal Allon disclosed that the Government of Israel had decided on the establishment of five more Jewish settlements in the occupied territories.12


The Security Council Commission established under Resolution 446 of 1979 visited Jordan, Syria and Egypt and heard the testimony of 42 witnesses. Israel refused to cooperate with it. Its representative in the United Nations informed the Chairman of the Commission that "his mission was not prepared to have any contact with the Commission."

The following is a summary of the testimony of witnesses about the war crimes committed by the expulsion of Palestinians and the usurpation of their lands, taken from the Report of the Commission to the Security Council (Document S/13450 and Add. 1, pages 3-38):


The witness gave an account of incidents that had taken place between 5 June 1967 and 6 October 1969 when he was expelled from his home town. One month after the invasion in 1967, Israeli authorities had evacuated the inhabitants of three villages, Omwas, Beit Nouba, Yallo, in the Ramallah area in order to establish a new city to accommodate new settlers, approximately 100,000 people. The villages were then completely demolished. Six to eight thousand residents who had been displaced had not been offered alternate housing. They had even been forced, in some instances, to leave the Ramallah area and to cross the bridge to the East Bank.

In another incident, which occurred in the Jericho area five months after the occupation, the Israeli authorities cut the water, then expelled the families and confiscated the land. Most of the inhabitants had come to the Ramallah area where they received help from the municipality. But the mayor had been ordered by the Israeli military governor to stop any kind of assistance because the Israeli authorities wanted those people to leave the area. Despite petitions to the United Nations, foreign embassies and press conferences, Israel had refused to let the displaced persons return to the area. Some of the families had settled in the Ramallah area and some had gone to Amman.

The witness referred to various types of pressure used to force Palestinians to leave their homes, including the cutting off of water; repeated imprisonment of land owners and of leaders of refugee camps with the offer to release them if they would sign a paper agreeing to leave the area; refusal to allow their children to attend school, and confiscation and destruction of houses owned by Palestinians living abroad. Mr. Zaru also cited numerous instances of confiscation of land, totalling 74,750dunums altogether, supposedly because it had become a military zone, which had nevertheless been given to settlers. He also enumerated various areas totalling more than 32,000 dunums which had been confiscated in his area.

The witness stated further that Israel refused reunion of families in disregard of the Geneva Convention.


In 1967 the witness was living in the village of Deir Jareer, which comprised 33,161 dunums of land. Immediately after the 1967 war, close to 11,000 dunums of land were confiscated by Israel as a military zone. In 1975, a military camp was established on 2,000 dunums of one of the most fertile lands. The witness had personally owned six dunums there. Roads had been built and electricity and water extended to the area which was called Negmet as-Sabah. But in fact it became a settlement and many Arab inhabitants had had to leave for other towns while the occupation authorities were leasing the confiscated land to new settlers.


The witness concentrated on four particular aspects of the question of Israeli settlements: (i) whether the settlements were constructed on State or private land; (ii) pattern and process of land seizure; (iii) exploitation of the underground . water resources of the West Bank by the Israelis for the exclusive use of the settlers; and (iv) the impact of the Israeli settlements on the Arab population.

(i) Whether the settlements are constructed on State or Private Land.

The Israelis claimed that settlements were established only on State land and that no privately owned land was seized for their establishment. Although the establishment of settlements, whether on State or private land, is illegal under article 4 of the Geneva Convention and relevant United Nations resolutions, the witness had carried out a survey of most of the lands seized after 1967 and currently under direct control of the Israeli civilian settlements, in order to verify that assertion. These land estimates did not include areas seized for military bases or fenced off for military purposes, such as the Zhor Area (that land next to the Jordan River) or large areas closed off, again for undefined security purposes, in the highlands of the West Bank overlooking the Jordan Valley.

As stated by the witness, the categories of land ownership considered as private were the following: (a) mulk land or private land where the owners have clear title deeds; (b) miri land which has been actively cultivatedfor generations by the fanners and registered at the Ministry of Finance for land tax purposes; (c) jiftlik or mudawwar lands which have also actively cultivated by Palestinian fanners and which, in the nineteenth century, were nominally under the title of the Ottoman Sultan and were recognized by the British and Jordanian Governments as private lands.

The categories of land included under State ownership or what are called"public domain" lands included the following: (a) mawat lands or waste land including desert, forests, and rocky cultivated mountain tops not owned by individuals; (b) lands which were the sites of British Mandate Taggart forts and Jordanianpolice or army camps; and (c) lands which have been designated for community purposes such as parks and hospitals.

Based on the above criteria, the witness had found that out of an estimated 125,630 dunums of cultivable land taken by the Israelis for the exclusive use of the civilian colonies, 11,816 dunums, that is 9.4 per cent, were State lands and 113,814 dunums (90.6) per cent were private lands. The witness submitted a document providing details of estimated land areas of settlements in the West Bank, West Bank Highlands and East Jerusalem.

(ii) Pattern and process of land seizure

The process by which lands under cultivation by Palestinians were seized and transferred for use by Israeli civilian colonies began with the erection by the Israeli armed forces of boundary markers or barbed wire fences which defined the area to be grabbed. The military governor then informed the leaders of the village which owned the land that for security reasons they were not allowed to enter the closed-in areas. If it happened that this closed area had crops or fruit-bearing trees, the Israelis, over the last 11 years of occupation, had systematically destroyed, bulldozed, defoliated, uprooted, and cut down such crops and trees. This planned destruction had taken place invariably in almost all the areas that included seizure of privately owned cultivated land. In fact, the destruction of Palestinian homes and crops began right after the 1967 War with the seizure of 20,000 dunums of cultivated land in the Latrun salient belonging to three villages (Beit Nuba, Yalu, and Amwas) which were completely erased. The witness noted that Israeli colonizers of the settlement of Mevo Horon, built on the ruins of Beit Nuba, were now cultivating the lands of these three villages.

Similarly, the destroyed villages of El-Ajajreh and Jiflik were replaced by the settlement of Massua; Makhrouk by Argamon; Artas by Allon Shevot; Frush Beit Dajan by Hamra; wheat fields defoliated by planes in Akraba were now cultivated by the settlement of Gitit which, furthermore, was in the process of expansion through additional confiscation; 600 plum trees were cut down on Beit Ummer land now cultivated by Migdal Oz; and in Beit Furik, the bulldozed land had passed under the control of the settlement of Mekhora.

Furthermore, it should be noted that land seizure was not a static process. As the settlement grew and more settlers were brought in, additional land in the nearby vicinity was taken in the same manner; thus, every settlement was a continuous threat to the surrounding Palestinian villages.

(iii) Exploitation of the underground water resources of the West Bank by the Israelis for the exclusive use of the settlers

The witness noted further that the Israeli colonization process in the West Bank had not been restricted to land seizures. It had also involved the exploitation of the scarce underground water resources by the Israeli authorities who had been drilling deep bore holes and installing powerful pumps in all areas of the West Bank. The pumping of this underground water had taken place mostly in the Jordan Valley in favour of the Israeli agricultural settlements, for domestic and irrigation purposes. To date, the Israelis had drilled some 20 deep boreholes (from 300 to 600 metres deep) in the Jordan Valley and were pumping an estimated 15-17 million cubic meters per year to irrigate exclusively the lands seized for the Israeli settlements. A number of these wells had been drilled in close proximity to local Arab springs contrary to Jordan laws regulating the drilling of new wells. For example: two wells in the Jericho area above Ain Sultan spring; three wells drilled on the site of Al-Au'ja spring; two wells drilled on the site of the Phasa'el spring; four wells drilled in the Wadi Fara' basin; and two wells drilled in the Bardala basin. Already the impact of these well-drilling practices had been felt in Jericho where the salinity content of the water, being pumped from pre-1967 Arab wells, had noticeably risen in the last two years. The outflow of the Al-Aujaspring which was on average 1 1-millioncubic metres per year was presently down to a trickle. Informed hydrologists linked this drastic reduction in the outflow of the Al-Auja spring to the three Israeli wells dug on the site of this spring. The depletion of the Al-Auja spring was presently threatening the destruction of all cultivation for the village of Al-Auja. To alleviate a disaster, the fanners of Al-Auja had asked the military authorities either to stop pumping from their new wells or to supply the Arab farms with water from Israeli wells, or to be allowed to drill for the village a new well which would complement the water supply of the spring. The Israelis had categorically rejected these requests.

Another example of the impact of these Israeli wells could be seen in the Bardala region, where two wells dug by the Israelis had completely dried up all springs and wells in the region belonging to farmers from three villages: Bardala, Ain al-Bayda, and Kardala. Recently, the Israeli military authorities had accepted the responsibility for the drying up of the Arab wells and had agreed to supply water from the Israeli wells to the villages. This outcome placed the Palestinian villagers in a position of total dependence upon the Israeli settlers for their water supply.

Not only had the Israelis been freely developing new wells and thus stealing the scarce water resources for their own exclusive use, but they had also since 1967 placed a ban on any new Arab wells for irrigation purposes. They had also restricted the amount of water the Palestinians could pump from pre-1967 existing wells by forcing water meters to be placed on these wells. In brief, the occupation forces were not only using a resource that did not belong to them, but they were also preventing the indigenous population from

(iv) Impact of the Israeli settlements on the Arab population

The impact of the colonization process on the local Palestinian population had been devastating, the witness said. Thousands of farmers had been displaced from their lands, from their source of livelihood, their works, and their natural resources. The villages that had been most hard hit by these land seizures were those located on the eastern highlands overlooking the Jordan Valley, mainly Majdal Beni Fadal, Akraba, Beit Furik, Beit Dajan, Tammun, and Toubas. For example, the village of Beit Dajan had lost an estimated 80 per cent of its cultivable prime land with the result that 90per cent of its population of 2,000 inhabitants had become partially or completely landless farmers. The same had happened in the nearby village of Beit Surik where an estimated 60 per cent of its land holdings had been seized or closed off for the settlement of Mekhora and some 80 per cent of the village population of 4,000 had become partially or totally landless. As Israeli settlements were now being built everywhere on the West Bank, they were adversely affecting more and more villages. Then some of the landless farmers had to become wage labourers, sometimes in the Israeli settlements established on their own lands. Many of them had to go elsewhere.


The witness referred to expropriations of land, violations of human rights, sacrileges committed against religious areas, settlements established in the Hebron areaand individual land seizures. In 1968 a group of people had established a settlement in the Hebron area. In 197 1, Israeli military authorities had by decree closed 3,000 dunums of agricultural lands with houses on them ostensibly for security reasons. The authorities had started a building for border police and then 1,500 houses and a synagogue. Small industries had been established in the area and some 2,000 Israelis were presently living there.

Detailing the pressures exerted on the Arab population, the witness referred to a number of instances of harassments and imprisonment of adults and children and to a recent proposal to unify the municipalities of Hebron and Kiryat Arba, the new settlement, under a Jewish mayor. In 1979, the settlers of Kiryat Arba had taken an additional piece of 500 dunums of land to build 500 housing units. The people of Hebron had gone to the Israeli court to ask that that decision not be implemented. The court had decided that the decision to build houses for the purpose of establishing a settlement was illegal. Nevertheless, the establishment of the settlement had continued. The witness also gave a detailed account of sacrileges committed against various religions. With regard to individual seizures of land and buildings, the witness cited among others an instance in which the settlers in Hebron, using as an excuse an old synagogue, which had been in ruins for 500 years, had destroyed a building belonging to the municipality of Hebron. He noted that letters and cables to newspapers from the people of Hebron were censored by the military authorities and that, meanwhile, Israeli settlers continued to survey other areas for new settlements in Hebron. as elsewhere.

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Encyclopedia of the Palestine Problem
By Issa Nakhleh

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