At least 119,000 dunums of Palestinian land expropriated in the Gaza Strip immediately after the 1967 War returned to Palestinian ownership and control in 2005 as a result of Israeli decolonization (“Gaza disengagement”). Approximately one-third of the land Israel illegally annexed in occupied eastern Jerusalem has been expropriated and 12 settlements have been built there for some 193,700 Jewish settlers.iii The majority of the remaining land was re-zoned so as to prevent Palestinian use. While Palestinians constitute over 50 percent of the population of East Jerusalem, only 13 percent of the Israeli-annexed land in the city is currently zoned for Palestinian construction, and most of this land is already built-upon.iv
On 24 September 2007 the Israeli military commander of the West Bank signed a land expropriation order targeting Palestinian land for the construction of a settler road that would link the southern, eastern and northern areas of the West Bank at the expense of Palestinian property rights, territorial contiguity and ultimately, self-determination.v The road will circumvent the Israeli colony of Ma’ale Adumim and other adjacent settlements, and run near the southern and eastern edge of the planned route of the Wall surrounding these colonies. Once constructed, the enclosed "Adumim bloc" will de facto confiscate 61 km2 of the occupied West Bank, an area referred to by Israel as “E-1.”
In Israel – Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute approximately 20 percent of the population but their local authorities use and control only 3.4 percent of the land.vi Approximately 76 percent (1,113 km2) of their privately and collectively owned land was expropriated between 1948 and 2001. 93 percent of the land in Israel has been nationalized, while the discriminatory land regime managed by the Israel Land Administration (ILA) and the Jewish National Fund (JNF) denies Palestinian citizens equal access to landvii and bars land restitution in court.viii
The 1965 Planning and Building Law gave official recognition to 123 Palestinian communities but little or no space for expansion. All other Palestinian communities, even if established prior to the creation of the state of Israel, are classified as illegal and referred to as “unrecognized villages.” Unrecognized villages cannot apply for building licenses and homes can be demolished. Nearly 100,000 Palestinian citizens of Israel live in unrecognized villages.ix
By 2008, nearly all Palestinian-Arab communities still lack approved master plans for their future development and suffer from related developmental problems, including a lack of industrial zones, open public spaces and effective public service institutions.x
89 percent of all towns and villages in Israel are classified as Jewish.xi Palestinian Arab citizens are excluded from purchasing leasing rights in 78 percent of these towns and villages. In these so-called community or agricultural towns, “selection committees” (which include a senior officer from the Jewish Agency or the World Zionist Organization) screen applications for housing units. Palestinians are filtered out often under the pretext that they are not “suited for social life in a small community or agricultural settlement.”xii
i These laws and military orders include: the 1943 Land (Acquisition for Public Purposes) Law; 1967 Military Order No. 59 (Government Properties); 1969 Military Order No. 364 (Government Properties) Amendment No. 4; 1953 Jordanian Land Law (Acquisition for Public Needs) as amended by 1969 Military Order No. 321 (Concerning the Lands Law – Acquisition for Public Needs); 1981 Military Order No. 949 (Concerning the Lands Law – Acquisition for Public Needs); 1967 Military Order No. 25 (Transactions in Real Property); 1974 Military Order 569 (Registration of Special Transactions in Land); and 1983 Military Order 1060 (Law on Registration of Unregistered Immovable Property) Amendment No. 2.
ii More than 130 Jewish colonies have construction on privately-owned Palestinian land.Around 60,000 dunams of land used by colonies is actually private Palestinian land accounting for 40% of their land mass. "Breaking the Law in the West Bank - The Private Land Report - Nov. 2006", The Private Land Report, Peace Now, November 2006. Also see "Secret Israeli Database Reveals Full Extent of Illegal Settlement" Uri Blau, Haaretz, 1 February, 2009.
iii "40 Years after the Unlawful Annexation of East Jerusalem: Consolidation of the Illegal Situation Continues Through the Construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail", Al-Haq Press Release Ref.: 21.2007e. 28 June, 2007.
iv "The Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem: Understanding the Phenomenon of 'Illegal Construction'" OCHA Special Focus, April 2009
v Open Letter to Quartet Members: Israel’s Recent Land Confiscations East of Occupied Jerusalem, Al Haq Intervention November 1, 2007, Press release ref.: 27.2007E
vi Report: "The Human Rights Status of the Palestinian Arab Minority, Citizens of Israel”, Mossawa, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, October 2008.
vii After legal challenges by Palestinians citizens protesting their inability to bid for JNF land, for example, the Israeli state proposed in 2005 that JNF lands be available to Jews and non-Jews, though the Israel Lands Association (ILA) will compensate the JNF with substitute land for any plot purchased by a non-Jew. This allows the JNF to maintain its current hold over 2.5 million dunums of land. See "Adalah’s Report to The UN CERD In Response To The List Of Issues Presented To Israel", 1 February, 2007, p. 2.
viii Israel's Land Laws as a Legal Political tool: confiscating and Appropriating Palestinian Arab Lands and Creating Physical and Legal Barriers in order to Prevent future Property Restitution" Osama Halabi, Working Paper No.# 7, December 2004.
ix See Jonathan Cook, On the Margins, p. 18.
x Mossawa Report, 2008, p. 20.
xi"International Human Rights Day" Press Release, Adalah, 10 December, 2007.