December 19, 2010

IV. Background

Israel began building settlements in the West Bank almost immediately after defeating Jordanian forces and occupying the territory in 1967. Since then, the number of Jewish settlers and settlements in the West Bank has grown continuously under a series of Israeli governments. At the time Israel and the Palestinian Liberation Organization signed a “Declaration of Principles” at the end of 1993, the population of the settlements in the West Bank (including settlements in East Jerusalem) totaled some 247,000 residents.[14] By the end of 2009, the figure had risen to roughly 490,000 people.[15]

Israel also annexed 72 square kilometers of the West Bank from Jordan in 1967 that it declared part of the Israeli municipality of Jerusalem. Commonly called “East Jerusalem,” the area now includes settlements in which 188,232 Jewish settlers resided at the end of 2008 (the last year for which figures are available).[16]

The first Jewish settlement to be established after Israel occupied the West Bank in 1967 was Kfar Etzion, named after a Jewish community in the area that pre-existed the State of Israel that Arab armed forces destroyed during the Israeli-Arab war in 1948.[17] Some of the settlement’s founders were related to the original community’s members. Other early settlements in the rest of the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem) were either military bases or “Nahal settlements” founded by IDF soldiers whose duties combined military service and forming the “core” of agricultural settlements, which were later expanded and became wholly civilian.

There are currently four types of officially recognized settlements as defined by their organizational structure: community (which tend to be middle-class, and are registered as cooperative associations and managed by general meetings); cooperative (which to some extent share ownership of means of production); urban (which have more than 2,000 residents and are managed by elected committees); and rural (which have fewer than 2,000 residents and are managed similarly).[18] There are also unofficial settlements, or “outposts,” that Israel does not officially recognize (but which it has nonetheless supported by providing housing, roads, connections to electricity and water networks, and other benefits).

Early settlements were influenced by an unofficial plan developed by Yigal Alon, labor minister and head of the Ministerial Committee on Settlements in 1967, to establish a “Jewish presence” in areas of the West Bank not densely populated by Palestinians, encompassing the eastern parts of the West Bank (the Jordan Valley and the desert area east of Jerusalem). Settlement and annexation of these areas was initially conceived as necessary for state security and as part of a plan to hold on to certain areas of the West Bank as part of the Jewish state.[19] In 1974, religious-nationalist Israelis formed Gush Emunim (“Bloc of the Faithful”), a settler lobbying group, which sought to pressure the government to establish settlements in far larger areas of the occupied West Bank on the basis of asserted Jewish religious rights to the area.[20] In January 1981, the Israeli cabinet adopted the “Drobless Plan,” which called for increased civilian settlement in the occupied West Bank.[21]

The Israeli government established many settlements in the early 1980s. Beginning in 1977, Ariel Sharon, as agriculture minister and chairman of the Ministerial Committee for Settlement, created 67 new settlements. In a departure from earlier plans to settle sparsely populated areas such as the Jordan Valley, Sharon established many settlements in the geographical center of the West Bank.[22] As of 2009, Israel recognized 121 settlements in the West Bank; it considers another 12 settlements in East Jerusalem (including annexed areas of the West Bank) as part of Israel rather than as settlements.

Israel also built 17 residential and agricultural settlements in Gaza, most of which were referred to as “Gush Katif,” but abandoned them in 2005 when it withdrew from the coastal strip, in addition to four settlements in the northern West Bank.[23] The government subsequently moved some of the former Gaza settlers to an unauthorized settlement “outpost” in the West Bank, Maskiyot, and subsequently officially “recognized” the settlement.[24]

With the exception of Maskiyot and settlements in East Jerusalem, “since the mid-1990s, successive Israeli governments had adhered to a policy of not authorizing the establishment of new settlements” in the West Bank, due to international criticism of Israel’s settlements policy, according to Daniel Kurtzer, a former US ambassador to Israel.[25] Indeed, Israel has established only four officially recognized settlements since 1991. However, it has continued to “expand” existing settlements based on what it terms “natural growth,” although Israeli government statistics show that a significant proportion of the growth in the settlement population results from Jewish immigration. From 1993 to 2009, the settlement population almost trebled, from 109,100 to 301,200 (or 490,000 including East Jerusalem). Moreover, Israel has “turned a blind eye to the outposts set up with the sponsorship of the Settlement Department of the [World Zionist Organization], which receives its budget from the government.”[26]

In response to the dwindling number of new “authorized” settlements, settlement activists have created an increasing number of “outposts,” or settlements constructed without prior Israeli approval. Thanks to the combination of new outpost construction and the continuing enlargement of existing settlements, the number of settlers has continued to accelerate since 2001.[27]

The fastest-growing sectors among settlers include “national-religious” Jews, who believe in a Biblical right to expand the boundaries of Israel to include the West Bank.[28] National-religious settlers comprise more than 80 percent of the 70,000 settlers east of Israel’s “separation barrier” in and around the West Bank.[29]

The second fastest-growing sector is ultra-Orthodox Jews, who are the majority of the population in settlements to the west of Israel’s separation barrier. Most live there for economic rather than ideological reasons.

In 2005, an Israeli government report on the outposts identified 105 outposts, including 15 located wholly on Palestinian private property and 39 partly on Palestinian private property. Written by Talya Sasson, an Israeli Justice Ministry official, at the request of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the report sharply criticized the government for providing the outposts, which are illegal under Israeli as well as international law, with support and services that in some cases rivaled those offered to officially recognized settlements. The Sasson report also criticized the role of the settlement division of the World Zionist Organization (WZO) – an international, non-governmental body, whose settlement division is funded by the Israeli government and leases lands to settle in the West Bank from the Civil Administration. The report found that the WZO had improperly provided lands it administered to settlers, who erected outposts without necessary approvals and notifications and had even established settlements on privately owned Palestinian lands; the report recommended that the Civil Administration immediately cancel any outstanding land allotments to the WZO, among other measures.[30] The Civil Administration, the report found, had in turn allocated settlements privately owned lands and lands whose ownership Israel had not determined (a category that Israel refers to as “survey land”), and had authorized the connection of outposts to water and electricity networks. Subsequent Israeli governments have not implemented the report’s recommendations.

The Rural Building Administration branch of the Ministry of Construction and Housing provided financing to settler regional councils for activities including “land preparation, development, road break through and paving, connecting water, electricity and other facilities, preparing infrastructure for caravans [trailer homes], etc., and establishing public buildings in unauthorized outposts.”[31] In one example, in 2003 the ministry gave settlers more than 33 million shekels (US$ 8.7 million) to buy 520 caravans or trailer homes to place in outposts. The aid “was disguised as building new neighborhoods within existing settlements.”[32] The government report notes that the housing ministry “never bothered to check” the land registry to see whether Palestinians had title to the lands where it was financing outpost construction.As of June 2009, the current Israeli government under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of the right-wing Likud Party failed to appoint any staff to a ministerial committee that had been established to follow up on the recommendations of the critical report.[33]

Key features of Israel’s settlements policy are also discriminatory against Palestinians and have forcibly displaced Palestinians from their homes and villages. As discussed below, these features include: the means used to confiscate Palestinian land and the transfer of that land to build settlements; restrictions on Palestinians’ ability to plan and build on land they retain as opposed to the permissive planning and building of settlements; and the combination of state support for Jewish settlers with lax enforcement of relevant Israeli laws that regulate settlement construction.


Israeli Jurisprudence and Discrimination

The Israeli Supreme Court (which typically sits as the High Court of Justice when dealing with cases relating to state actions, including in the occupied territories) ruled in 1979 that settlements could not be established on land privately owned by Palestinians on the grounds of “military necessity,” as they had been previously.[34] As a result the Israeli military began to transfer to settler control lands that had been declared “state lands.” The Court later refused to accept petitions against such settlement policies on the basis that the settlements issue was primarily political.[35] The Court has never ruled that all civilian settlements are unlawful under the laws of occupation, although it overruled the Israeli government’s position that Israel’s obligations under the Geneva Conventions and customary international humanitarian law did not apply to the occupied West Bank.[36]

The Court has adopted a distinctly different approach to discrimination cases between cases inside Israel involving Arab (Palestinian) citizens of Israel and those in the West Bank.

Inside Israel, the Court has stated that “the principle according to which one may not discriminate on the basis of…nationality… [or] religion… is a basic constitutional principle, which is an essential and indispensable part of our fundamental legal perceptions and an integral part of them”.[37] In 2006, the Supreme Court struck down a National Priority Areas scheme to provide a variety of benefits to certain communities on the basis that only four of 500 communities that would benefit were Arab Israeli, despite the fact that a high percentage of poor communities in Israel are Arab Israeli. Then-Chief Justice Aharon Barak ruled that the “invalid and discriminatory… effect” of the policy was an “essential matter”:

The government’s decision deals with one of the most basic rights – the right to education. Its result is infected with one of the most “suspect” distinctions, which is the distinction made on the basis of nationality and race. It should be expected that governmental policy in this area will maintain equality between Jews and Arabs.[38]

Similarly, in 2000 the Supreme Court struck down the Israel Land Administration (ILA) policy of transferring lands inside Israel to the Jewish Agency (JA) because the JA did not allow non-Jews to buy lands.[39] It clarified that the discrimination test is not one of intent but of outcome:

The outcome (“effect”) of the policy of differentiation now in place is discriminatory, even if the motivation for differentiating is not the desire to discriminate. The existence of discrimination is determined, inter alia, by the effect of the decision or policies, and the outcome in the matter at hand is discriminatory….[40]

Six of 11 judges on the Court ruled in 2006 that the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law, which denies Palestinian and other Arab spouses of Israeli citizens or residents the possibility of securing legal status in Israel, and soprevents family reunification, violated the constitutional guarantee of equality, since the law would affect Arab citizens of Israel almost exclusively. The Chief Justice suggested that only individual security assessments might justify differential treatment, and not sweeping bans on the basis of race, which are not forms of “permissible distinction”:

This distinction is not based on the security risk presented by the Palestinian spouse from the [occupied territories], since even if there is no information with regard to the risk that he presents, and even were it proved de facto that he presents no danger, his entry into Israel is prohibited. My conclusion is, therefore, that the serious violation of the realization of the right of Israeli Arab spouses—and them alone—caused by the Citizenship and Entry into Israel Law is not based on a relevant distinction.[41]

However, the same Court has not, to Human Rights Watch’s knowledge, ever ruled on the specific issue of discrimination in claims by petitioners in cases regarding Palestinians in the West Bank or addressed the issue of discrimination when it comes to state policies in the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a number of cases the Court has ruled against the Israeli military for policies that harm Palestinian residents of the West Bank illegally. But in none of these cases has the court addressed discrimination; it has instead typically applied a judicial “proportionality” test, which has focused on the question of whether the harm or restriction in question is proportional to the stated purpose, without first analyzing the legality of the policy or practice under the discrimination test, according to which differential treatment on the basis of race, ethnicity or religion would have to be narrowly justified.[42]

In at least two cases, the Court has not ruled on specific discrimination arguments brought by the petitions. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) raised this argument in a case concerning highway 443, a road running through the West Bank which the IDF closed to all Palestinian traffic following killings of Israelis on the road during the first years of the second intifada. The Court ruled the road closures exceeded the military commander’s authority on grounds of disproportionately, and because although the military had initially claimed in the 1980s that the road would be built for the benefit of Palestinians as well as Israelis, the total ban on Palestinian traffic imposed in 2002 rendered the road solely for Israeli use, a step that exceeded the authority of the military commander in the occupied territories. The President of the Court noted, in her concurrence with the opinion, that:

 …these security mechanisms, which create total separation between different populations and prevent an entire population group from using the road, lead to a sense of inequality and the connotation of faulty motives. The consequence of pushing an entire population off from using a public resource is extremely harsh. Thus, the military commander must do all in his power to minimize such situations and prevent the harsh impact and the feeling of discrimination that accompanies them.[43]

However, neither the opinion nor the President’s concurrence adjudicated ACRI’s claim of discrimination in its ruling. Instead, the President of the Court warned that:

…we must be careful and restrained in using definitions that give the security mechanisms used to protect those using the road a meaning of separation based on illegitimate bases such as race and nationality.[44]

In another case, the Court similarly found that the harm of a travel ban the military imposed on the Palestinian population was “disproportionate” compared to the relevant security considerations. The military had banned the residents of 12 Palestinian villages (comprising approximately 25,000 people) in the western Hebron governorate from access to a three kilometer-long segment of a road (Road 3265) that connected them to the city of Hebron, in order to protect settlers from the nearby settlement of Negohot and its illegal outpost (a total of approximately 200 people) after a settler was shot and killed on the road in 2000.[45] The court did not address the argument raised by the petitioners regarding racial discrimination, and did not apply the basic principle that differential treatment on the basis of race or religion needs a very high level of justification, in particular if it is applied to all Palestinians.

Several other cases where discrimination against Palestinians in the West Bank is claimed are currently before the Court.[46]

Israel’s High Court has repeatedly referred to human rights law in rulings regarding the Israeli military’s actions in the West Bank, and in at least one case based its decision on the norms of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).[47] However, it has not clearly ruled that Israel’s international human rights obligations apply there.[48] The Israeli government has repeatedly rejected the applicability of its human rights obligations to the territories it occupies, despite rulings by the International Court of Justice and the findings of other UN human rights bodies, including the committees that oversee the application of the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.[49]

Land Confiscation

Israel asserts military and civil control over Area C. But it also asserts de facto property rights over land, which it often confiscates from Palestinian owners and hands the contractual rights over to settlers. In total, according to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, settlers control some 42.8 percent of the West Bank (all of which falls inside Area C), including the built-up areas of settlements (1 percent of the West Bank); lands inside settlement municipal boundaries (9.3 percent of the West Bank, which is almost always gated and fenced and which Palestinians require military permits to enter); and lands controlled by settler regional councils that oversee multiple settlements (33.5 percent , including large land reserves for settlements).[50]

In the vast majority of cases, settlers who purchase homes in the West Bank do not obtain full title to the property, but sign contracts with the “settling body,” usually the World Zionist Organization, according to which they receive the right to use the property for a specified time. The settling body was granted authority to settle the area by the Israeli Civil Administration.[51] In a few cases, according to an Israeli lawyer who has litigated on behalf of Palestinians affected by settlements, “purchasers contracted to waive their right to know that their home has received all the necessary approvals and permits from the Israeli authorities due to the complexity of the land authorizing process.”[52] In some cases, contracts for settlement homes include a clause stipulating that the settlers agree to receive compensation in the case of Israel’s withdrawal from the West Bank.[53] In a minority of cases, settlers have purchased title to property directly from registered Palestinian owners.

The processes by which Israel has confiscated land in the West Bank and granted it to settlements—thoroughly described elsewhere[54]—include seizing or requisitioning private Palestinian lands for military purposes; expropriating Palestinian land for “public needs”; declaring Palestinian property as “absentee property”;[55] and registering Palestinian land as “state land.” [56]

In all these instances, the government subsequently transferred land it had confiscated from Palestinians to Jewish settlements. For example, according to an Israeli government database that was leaked to the press in 2004, the government has built 42 settlements on some 31,000 dunams of land it seized purportedly for “military purposes” (one of the 42 was evacuated in 2005).[57]

The majority of Israeli settlements in the West Bank (not including in East Jerusalem) were founded on “state land.”[58] Israeli authorities consider 26.7 percent of the West Bank to be state land and have consistently financed settlement construction and control over state land, while refusing to allocate such land for Palestinian use (with one exception, the Jahalin Bedouins near Ma’ale Adumim, discussed in this report).[59]

The term “state land” derives from the Ottoman Land Law of 1858, which remained in force during British and Jordanian rule over the West Bank, and which Israel continues to apply, with significant amendments made by military orders. (Israel, as an occupying power, is prohibited with limited exceptions from altering the laws in force in the West Bank).[60]

A 1967 Israeli military order authorized the government to seize as “state lands” any lands that had been claimed by the territory’s previous rulers, pursuant to the Ottoman Land Law.[61] Israel thus initially appropriated at least 600,000 dunams (600 square kilometers) that the Ottoman, British and Jordanian rulers of the West Bank had claimed as state lands, primarily in the Jordan Valley.[62]

After a 1979 court ruling prohibited the Israeli Civil Administration from using other methods to seize lands for settlement construction, Israel expanded its definition of what constituted state land in a way that would allow it to seize property over which Palestinians could not prove individual ownership; at the same time, Israel imposed highly restrictive criteria of proof.[63]

The new procedure was based on a different section of the Ottoman law, according to which Palestinians could claim ownership of land even if it they were not officially registered as its owner on the basis of having continuously cultivated it for 10 years. Under the law, this category of agricultural land would revert from private to state ownership if it lay fallow for three years. Beginning in 1979, the Israeli military Custodian of Government Property conducted a massive survey of the West Bank, including an examination of land ownership records and aerial photographs, which was intended in part to document lands that had been uncultivated with the goal of claiming those lands as state lands.

In addition to the formerly Ottoman-, British- and Jordanian-owned territories it had previously claimed as state land, Israel thus claimed state property rights in large areas amounting to some 913,000 dunams (913 square kilometers), over which it asserted that Palestinians had no individual ownership rights, such that these lands were state lands by default.[64]

Moreover, Israel suspended a practice of the former British and Jordanian rulers of the West Bank, of conducting and partly completing surveys intended to register private land ownership on the basis of its cultivation (as well as various other provisions of the Ottoman land law). Israel froze this survey upon occupying the West Bank in 1967 and has not conducted one since.[65] Instead, as noted, beginning in 1979 it conducted a survey specifically designed to identify uncultivated land as the basis for seizing it, rather than allow Palestinians to claim ownership of lands on the basis of cultivation or other grounds. In the case of the vast areas seized as state lands, Israel has not paid Palestinians compensation, since it views the lands as never having been privately owned.

Israel transferred the majority of the seized lands to settlements, whether as built-up settlement areas, municipal areas, or land reserves under the control of settlement regional councils. As B’Tselem has pointed out, “Exclusively using the seized lands to benefit the settlements, while prohibiting the Palestinian public from using them in any way, is … illegal in itself. This would be the case even if the process by which the lands were seized were done fairly and in accordance with international and Jordanian law.”[66] In fact, Israeli law creates severe hurdles to Palestinians seeking to regain ownership of lands confiscated by the Israeli authorities.

Palestinians have only 45 days to submit an appeal from the date of the declared seizure of their lands to a military appeals committee, but as human rights groups have documented, they often learn of the land seizure much later, when they attempt to build on the land and receive stop-work orders from the Civil Administration.[67] Palestinians notified on time would still face costs to appeal, including paying a court fee, submitting a precise map of the contested land prepared by a qualified surveyor, and retaining a lawyer to represent them. Many cannot afford this.

Nor can many Palestinians meet the burden of proof of ownership to show they are the registered owner of the land. Many Palestinians did not register their ownership of lands while under Ottoman rule, although many have receipts for payment of land tax to the Jordanian authorities or the Civil Administration.[68] According to Israeli jurisprudence, such records do not constitute evidence of ownership for purposes of appeal against the Israeli state.[69]

Those Palestinians identified as “unregistered” owners of land could appeal the confiscation of their land only by meeting a high burden of proving that they continuously cultivated the land in question for 10 years. But courts have presumptively treated land shown to be uncultivated at any point by government aerial photographs as though it had been fallow for three years, the period permitted for confiscation as “state land” under Ottoman land law.[70] It often has been impossible for Palestinian farmers to produce evidence that would disprove such a presumption.

The majority of lands thus confiscated without compensation were formally transferred to the Israeli Ministry of Housing and Construction or to the settlement division of the WZO (the choice was made on an ad hoc basis), which would subsequently transfer the lands to settlers.[71] (The WZO’s activities supporting settlements and outposts are discussed below.)

Israel’s expropriation of West Bank lands is based on regulations, laws and practices that violate Israel’s obligation as the occupying power to limit its actions in the occupied territory to those required by military necessity, to maintain public order, and to ensure the welfare of the population, as well as the prohibition of transferring civilians into the occupied territory. Instead, Israel has granted itself control over enormous areas in the West Bank, in many cases by dispossessing Palestinian owners to whom it never granted a fair hearing to contest the loss of their property, and transferred those lands for the sole benefit of Jewish settlers.

Discriminatory Restrictions, Planning, and Forced Displacement in Area C

Israeli policies not only directly affect Palestinians’ ability to use and improve land that has been confiscated, they also affect land that has not been seized. Moreover, similar restrictions either do not exist for or are not enforced against Jewish settlers.

The West Bank lands that Israeli authorities seized according to the policies discussed above are all located within Area C. In addition to property that Israel declared “state land,” Area C includes land that the Israeli military acquired control of by other means (such as by military requisition orders) as well as land that Israel has not officially confiscated but over which it asserts full control.[72]

Israel has facilitated the construction of 121 officially recognized settlements in Area C. These include the cities of Ma’ale Adumim, near Jerusalem, with roughly 35,000 residents; Ariel, in the central West Bank, with roughly 17,000 people; as well as the ultra-Orthodox settlements of Beitar Illit, near Jerusalem, with close to 35,000 people, and Modi’in Illit, between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with more than 40,000 residents. It has also supported – by, in various cases, providing caravans, building access roads, approving connections to utility networks, and providing IDF soldiers as guards – more than 100 outposts there, even though they are illegal under Israeli law.

At the same time, Israel controls and severely restricts land use of the 150,000 Palestinians who live in Area C.[73] Israeli restrictions and demolitions of Palestinian property in Area C have forcibly displaced thousands of residents, some of them permanently.[74] In these areas, the main displacement triggers were Israeli military orders, house demolitions, and inadequate shelter (where this category included lack of access to water, electricity and sanitation).[75]

Israeli restrictions on Palestinian building in Area C reflect a change of policy that is apparently linked to reservation of land for settlement construction. Until the late 1970s, Israeli authorities approved most Palestinian building applications in rural areas.[76] According to figures from the Civil Administration Planning Bureau, in 1972 and 1973, when there were few Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Civil Administration approved, respectively, 97 percent of 2,199 and 96 percent of 1,466 Palestinian residential building permit applications in the “rural sector” of the West Bank.[77] During the 1980s, Israeli authorities gradually adopted a position that opposed Palestinian construction, while simultaneously earmarking land for the settlements.[78] From 2000 to 2007, the Civil Administration approved just 5.6 percent of 1,624 Palestinian building applications in Area C.[79] One effect of this policy has been to create a striking disparity between the population density of Palestinian communities versus Israeli settlements in Area C: under the town plans that Israel applies to Area C, the density levels of Palestinian villages range from 24 to 70 housing units per hectare compared to 2.7 t0 12.8 units for Israeli settlements located in the same area.[80]

Another effect, discussed below, is that Palestinians who need new homes have been left with no option but to build without Israeli permits. These “illegal” structures are then subject to demolition orders. Under Israeli military orders implementing planning and building laws in the West Bank, Palestinian villagers in Area C may not build new homes unless these fall within approved plans. Israeli military orders exclude Palestinian participation from the planning bodies responsible for taking the steps necessary to authorize any construction in Area C. The Israeli Civil Administration has sole control over the planning process; there are no Palestinians on the planning committees whose approval is required for such plans.

The lack of Palestinian participation derives from changes Israel made to the Jordanian Planning Law applicable in the West Bank. [81] In 1971, an Israeli military order modified the Jordanian law on the grounds that the law required the inclusion of Jordanian government representatives in the planning process, and nullified provisions that provided for Palestinian participation in planning.[82] As a result, when Israeli policy shifted in the 1980s and Israeli authorities began denying the vast majority of Palestinian building applications, Israel also controlled the planning bodies that would determine the legality of Palestinian building.[83] Since 1967, Israeli authorities have created outline plans for only 16 of 149 Palestinian communities in Area C.[84]

By contrast, Israeli settlers participate fully in planning settlements and are responsible for licensing and inspecting building activities in these areas.[85] The 1971 Israeli military order created a separate planning framework for settlements by establishing a fourth category of planning committee (called a “special local planning committee”) reserved for settlements.[86]

The plans that Israeli authorities draft for Palestinian communities without their participation sharply limit the territory or area allocated to a town and into which it could expand in the future; in several cases, such plans actually exclude parts of Palestinian communities that were already built-up before the plan was imposed, retroactively rendering those buildings outside the planned area “illegal.” By comparison, Israeli planning allows settlements to be built and to expand on large tracts in Area C, parts of which may have been confiscated from Palestinian owners.[87]

The plans applied to Palestinian communities are also of much poorer quality than those applied to Israeli settlements.While the Jordanian Planning Law dictated that villages and small towns should have detailed outline plans, Israeli authorities create such detailed plans only for settlements. Israeli plans for Palestinian communities in Area C merely divide the town or village into residential zones that may differ from each other in permissible housing densities. These “special plans” do not allocate lands for public buildings, parks, or even roads. According to Bimkom, “not a single [Israeli] settlement has a special plan” of the kind applied to Palestinians.


Discriminatory Enforcement

Israel’s settlement policy also discriminates in its differential enforcement of law where that law applies to both settlers and Palestinians.[88]

For example, Israeli authorities are far more likely to demolish Palestinian buildings that they have declared illegal than they are to demolish Israeli buildings declared illegal. Because Israeli authorities grant so few building permits to Palestinians in Area C, an increasing proportion of Palestinian construction is deemed illegal under Israeli law and subject to demolition. Between January 2000 and September 2007, Israeli planning institutions approved just 5.6 percent of 1,624 Palestinian building permit applications.[89] During the same period, the Israeli Civil Administration carried out 34 percent of the demolition orders it issued against 4,820 Palestinian buildings—an average of 240 buildings a year.[90] However, from 1997 to 2009, Israeli authorities executed only 3 percent of 3,449 demolition orders issued against buildings in settlements and outposts, according to Civil Administration records cited by Peace Now, an Israeli anti-settlement group.[91] An Israeli government database documented more than 4,300 illegal structures in at least 87 settlements (not including outposts, all of which are by definition illegal under Israeli law).[92] Israel’s state comptroller found that from 2000 to 2004, the Israeli authorities were notified of 2,104 illegal construction sites in settlements, but took no action at all in between 77 to 92 percent of these cases.[93] Unlike home demolitions carried out against Palestinian structures, the execution of the orders against illegal construction in Israeli settlements must be approved by the defense minister; while Israeli authorities have demolished illegal buildings in settlements and outposts, as the Sasson report notes, the minister’s approval “is generally not given” to carry out demolitions .[94]

There is no indication that Israeli settlers are building illegally due to an overall lack of approved building permits inside settlements (not including outposts, which violate Israeli laws). In any case, many settlers voluntarily moved to the West Bank from Israel or overseas, while many Palestinians have no choice but to build illegally if they wish to remain on their land.

In addition to failing to enforce demolition orders against Israeli settlements and outposts, Israeli authorities have failed to enforce planning and other laws against them, with the result that settlements have been built in violation of Israeli law not only on “state land” but also on private Palestinian land. In 2004, then-Minister of Defense Shaul Mofaz requested Brig. Gen. (Res.) Baruch Spiegel to assemble a database that would include current information regarding the status under Israeli planning laws and other regulations of each settlement in the West Bank. The database, which was leaked to the public in 2009, lists 118 settlements, including more than 30 settlements that were to some extent built on private Palestinian land, as well as many others that violated Israeli legal requirements regarding their construction.[95]

Israeli governmental support for “outposts,” or settlements built without official approval and so illegal under Israeli law, presents an even more striking contrast to Israel’s enforcement of restrictive building codes against Palestinian communities. An Israeli governmental report, published in 2005, sharply criticized Israeli agencies and ministries for providing significant support to the outposts. Former US ambassador Kurtzer summarized the findings of the report (written by Talya Sasson) as follows:

Sasson outlined systematic and systemic illegalities and misconduct on the part of the government in support of settlement outpost activity. Indeed, the Sasson report indicted an array of Israeli official behavior, spread over many years. Sasson found that the settlers themselves had in some cases [gained employment in] government offices responsible for various aspects of settlement activity, including the housing ministry, or they had found allies ready to circumvent the law, even lawyers to make legal what clearly was not. Budgets were redesigned to divert funds to the outposts. Indeed, the pattern of outpost activity was transparent and patently illegal: Settlers would stake an unauthorized claim to a piece of land and bring in caravans in which to live. Shortly after that, the authorities would establish linkages to electricity and other infrastructure, including paving some roads. In short order, the “illegal” or unauthorized outpost was being treated to essentially the same level of government services and support enjoyed by settlements that had gone through the formal processes of approval.

In several cases, Israeli authorities have retroactively recognized outposts as “neighborhoods” of settlements in the same area, a form of post-hoc authorization for illegal construction not enjoyed by Palestinian communities. An example is the outpost of Sansana in the southern Hebron hills, which was built without an approved plan but was nonetheless recognized in 2009 as a neighborhood of the settlement of Eshkolot, even though the outpost is located some three kilometers away, is not linked to the settlement by road, and is separated from it by Israel’s separation barrier.[96] The most recent instance is the outpost of Givat Hayovel, north of Jerusalem; the High Court of Justice ordered the demolition of illegal structures there, but on May 7, 2010, the state announced to the court that it would legalize the outpost if it was located on state land rather than private Palestinian land, and requested an extension to conduct a survey.[97]

Sasson found that decisions “to establish outposts … probably” originate with “regional [settler] councils” in the West Bank, but received significant support and were even “inspired” by government policies and officials.

Some of the officials working in the Settlement Division of the World Zionist Organization and in the Ministry of Construction and Housing cooperate [with settlers] to promote the unauthorized outposts phenomenon. After the mid nineties, these actions were apparently inspired by different Ministers of Housing, either by overlooking or by actual encouragement and support, with additional support from other Ministries, initiated either by officials or by the political echelon of each Ministry … The establishment of unauthorized outposts violates standard procedure, good governing rules, and is especially an ongoing bold violation of law.[98]

As noted, there are currently approximately 100 Jewish settlement outposts in the West Bank, all of them illegal under Israeli law, which have not been demolished. Israeli authorities have not acknowledged the pattern of differential enforcement measures against illegal construction in Palestinian communities and in settlements.[99]

East Jerusalem

Discriminatory rights violations similar to those affecting Palestinian residents of Area C – including land confiscation, building restrictions, and unequal application of law that can lead to home demolitions and forced displacement—also affect the 270,000 Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem, who comprise 35 percent of the total Jerusalem population but are confined to just 13 percent of its land area.[100] Around 190,000 Jewish settlers, living in 12 settlements, have access to 25 percent of the land area of East Jerusalem that is zoned for settlement construction.[101] Municipal plans thus allot 2.8 times more land to each settler than they provide to each Palestinian.

Planning in East Jerusalem is driven explicitly by concerns about the ratio of Jewish to Palestinian residents of the city. The most recent municipal plan, “Jerusalem 2000,” stated that “according to state decisions,” municipal planning should attempt to maintain a “demographic balance” of 70 percent Jews to 30 percent Arabs in the city, but that demographic trends indicated a ratio of 60:40 by the year 2020.[102] To address this problem, the plan proposed a number of means to “maintain a Jewish majority in the city while attending to the needs of the Arab minority,” such as building new Jewish neighborhoods, providing subsidized planned housing units to lower housing costs, “densification” of existing Jewish neighborhoods, and incentivizing Jewish Israelis to move to the city by addressing such issues as “personal security, employment, […] education, quality of the environment, cultural life and society, [and] municipal services.” The plan recognizes the “acute housing shortage” affecting “the Arab population,” but proposes “thickening and densification” of existing Palestinian neighborhoods as a response, and building new residential areas only for “wealthy Arab households”; the plan also emphasizes that “it would be necessary to firmly enforce the prohibition of illegal building, a phenomenon that is widespread within the Arab sector in the city.”

Israel considers Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem to be a special category of permit-holders who are residents of the city and may vote in municipal elections, but are not Israeli citizens.[103] Israeli authorities cancel the residency permits of East Jerusalem Palestinians who cannot prove that the city is their “center of life,” including those who hold foreign passports or residency, those who reside outside the city for seven years or more, whose primary residence is elsewhere, and others; in 2008 alone, Israel cancelled residency permits of 4,577 East Jerusalem Palestinians.[104] As noted, Israel considers East Jerusalem to be Israeli territory and has not contested the applicability of its human rights obligations there, including non-discrimination.

Israel applies municipal regulations and Israeli laws to East Jerusalem residents, as opposed to the Israeli military orders and Ottoman, British and Jordanian laws that apply to Palestinians in the West Bank. One such law is the Israeli Law of Absentee Property of 1950.[105] The original law states that, if a person was in an “enemy country” at the time of the 1948 Israeli census, his or her property will be confiscated by the Custodian of Absentee Property without compensation and without the need to notify the property owner. In 1967, Israel applied an amended version of this law to the occupied territories it annexed to Jerusalem, with a regulation stating that East Jerusalem property would be confiscated from anyone who was not physically present there at the time of the census in 1967.[106] This included Palestinians who fled to other parts of the West Bank, Jordan, or elsewhere during the fighting.[107] According to the Israeli non-profit organizations, Ir Amim and Bimkom, “Today, if during the process of registering land, any of its original owners are proven not to have been physically in the area annexed in 1967, a pro rata portion of the land [based on the number of owners not present in East Jerusalem in 1967] will be confiscated by the Custodian of Absentee Property.”[108]

In areas not zoned for construction, building permits are impossible to obtain. From 2000 to 2008, Israeli authorities demolished 670 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem on the basis that they were “illegal,” forcibly displacing thousands.[109] In 2009, Israeli authorities demolished 57 Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem, displacing 300 people, half of them children, as well as other structures such as businesses.[110] In addition, at least 60,000 Palestinian East Jerusalemites live in homes that are technically illegal and could be subject to demolition orders.[111] At the same time, the municipality has collected tens of millions of dollars in fines for illegal construction from Palestinians in East Jerusalem who have no option but to build illegally if they want to build at all.[112]

Residents of several Palestinian neighborhoods have hired and paid for planners to create and submit plans to the municipal authorities—a service that Israeli authorities provide free in Israel proper—in the hope that they would be able to request building permits if the plans are approved, or have their current homes legalized. Human Rights Watch is not aware of the municipality ever having accepted such plans. In 2005, for example, the municipality rejected plans submitted by Wadi Yasul, a Palestinian neighborhood where 400 residents are at risk of home demolition, because the area has been designated a “green area” in which construction is prohibited; the plans cost $50,000 to develop.[113] In 2008, Israeli authorities rejected 172 proposed Local Planning Schemes submitted by Palestinians in East Jerusalem. In 2009, the city planning council rejected two plans submitted by residents of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Jebel Mukabber on the grounds that they conflict with the “Jerusalem 2000” master plan, which is intended to guide construction there through 2030, although that plan has not yet been approved or made available for public comment.[114] The municipality has also rejected one plan and failed to consider a second, revised plan submitted by residents of the al-Bustan neighborhood as discussed below.

Even if a master plan is approved that allows legal Palestinian construction in more areas of East Jerusalem, current building codes constitute an additional hurdle that makes it impossible for many East Jerusalem residents to submit plans that could be approved. These building codes require that each building include parking, road access, and a connection to sewage networks. Palestinian neighborhoods often lack such features, primarily because the Jerusalem municipality has not provided adequate planning, construction or infrastructure to their neighborhoods for decades, a legacy of discriminatory neglect that starkly contrasts with the general situation in West Jerusalem and in Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem.[115] To obtain building permits under current building codes, Palestinian residents of Jerusalem would thus be obliged to pay for the construction of roads, parking lots, and other services that the municipality has failed to provide, but they are unlikely to be able to do so because of the costs involved—65 percent of East Jerusalem families live under the poverty line (as opposed to 31 percent of the West Jerusalem population).[116] The municipality itself is responsible for the poor condition of the road and sewage networks in East Jerusalem, and for the dense and unplanned nature of its residential areas, in sharp distinction to Western Jerusalem.

In one area of the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan, the city of Jerusalem announced a plan in January 2010 that would benefit a Jewish settlement that is funding and operating an archaeological site in the neighborhood as a tourist area; under the original plan, the construction of the plan’s parks and public spaces would have required the demolition of 88 Palestinian homes in the al-Bustan part of the neighborhood, though a revised plan reduced the number of homes to be demolished to 22. In February 2009, Israeli planning authorities rejected a plan paid for and submitted by al-Bustan residents, on the grounds that it conflicted with the city’s future intention to designate the area as a “green zone.”[117] Many of the residents’ homes were built without permits, since the area is not zoned by Israel for Palestinian construction; Israel has granted no building permits for Palestinian home construction in al-Bustan since 1967.

In Jerusalem, Israel’s differential enforcement of housing laws against Palestinian and Jewish residents is equally striking. It is predictable that building violations would be more “serious” in East as opposed to West Jerusalem, given the comparative lack of house-building permits issued to Palestinians. However, enforcement is also more severe in East Jerusalem. According to Peace Now, based on official figures, from 1996 to 2001, 82 percent of building violations in Jerusalem were in Jewish neighborhoods and 18 percent were in Palestinian areas; but only 20 percent of enforcement actions against violations were in Jewish neighborhoods and 80 percent were in Palestinian areas.[118] According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, Israeli authorities are 10 times more likely to demolish homes as a result of building violations in largely Palestinian East Jerusalem , with around 270,000 Palestinian residents (and 190,000 settlers), as opposed to in largely Jewish West Jerusalem, with around 310,000 residents.[119]

Settler Incentives and Funding Sources

Virtually all Israeli governments have supported settlements for a variety of reasons, which initially included a view that permanent communities in the West Bank would form a first line of defense against invasions or uprisings. Currently, apart from their effect strengthening Israel’s position in any final-status negotiations with Palestinian leaders over the West Bank, civilian settlements provide additional residential space for Israelis, including large settlements providing relatively low-cost housing for the rapidly-expanding ultra-orthodox Jewish sector. While some Israeli restrictions on Palestinians – such as the military order requiring Palestinians to obtain special security permits to enter settlements – are related to settlements’ security, other restrictions appear merely punitive – such as de facto prohibitions on building or repairing homes, schools and clinics in Area C communities – and thus excessive and discriminatory even under Israeli law, which does not acknowledge the settlements’ illegality under the law of occupation.

Settlements receive funding from the Israeli government and private donors (including foreign individuals and charities, many based in the United States). Some private supporters are Jewish, but settlements also receive considerable support from Christian groups. While most settlements are primarily residential, some earn income through agricultural or industrial activities.

The Israeli government funds settlements through the state budget and governmental institutions such as the Institute for Social Security, the World Zionist Organization (WZO) or the Israeli Lottery Institution. In addition, as discussed below, the government provides a variety of hard-to-track subsidies and grants to settlements.

The Israeli government currently provides incentives to settlers under a “national priority areas” scheme. In 1998, the government approved a map of “national priority areas” that receive a variety of benefits based on factors including their socioeconomic status and security needs.[120] The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in 2006 that the national priority plan discriminated against Palestinian citizens of Israel in education and ordered the government to cancel these provisions by the summer of 2009.[121] But on July 14, 2009, the government passed a National Priority Areas law that extended the plan until 2012, violating the court’s deadline.[122] On December 13, 2009, the Israeli cabinet revised the map, which continues to include settlements.[123] The map now designates 91 of 121 settlements—home to more than 140,000 settlers—a “national priority area A”; settlers there will receive the greatest benefits under the plan, including tens of thousands of dollars worth of development and construction grants and subsidized mortgages per housing unit. The plan slated 12 settlements as “national priority area B,” which receive funding for shorter periods and do not receive support for housing infrastructure.[124]

 The stated rationale for including settlements is that “communities under threat in Judea and Samaria” (the Biblical name for the West Bank), where security risks are highest, and those located up to seven or nine kilometers from an international border, need extra support to meet “the attendant security expenses.”[125]

Israeli government ministries provide significant benefits under the national priority areas scheme to encourage Jewish Israelis to move to the settlements.

One of these is funding for housing construction provided by the Ministry of Construction and Housing. From 2000 to 2006, for example, the ministry funded 53 percent of housing starts and 42 percent of all residential construction costs in settlements, as opposed to 10 percent of housing starts and 20 percent of all costs inside Israel and no housing for Palestinians in the West Bank.[126]

Settlers building housing receive subsidies equivalent to 69 percent of the value of the land. The land itself is already priced at an artificial discount by the Israel Lands Administration, which typically controls the sale of lands from the state in the West Bank. The housing ministry also subsidizes up to 50 percent of development costs, for a total of between NIS 60,000 and 100,000 (US$15,800 to US$26,300) in subsidies per settlement apartment.[127] The housing ministry also provides grants to offset mortgage costs in national priority areas, starting at NIS 97,000 (US$25,500) in area A, as well as subsidized four-year mortgages to pay for construction. A state comptroller’s report found that there were no criteria for allocating such mortgages and that each settler recipient was given NIS 240,000 (US$63,200) state-subsidized mortgage regardless of his or her finances.[128]

Settlers also receive numerous educational benefits from the Ministry of Education for children from kindergarten to university, and salaries for teachers that are 12 to 20 percent higher than those inside Israel, including an 80 percent home-rental subsidy. The education ministry also provides national priority area settlers exemption from kindergarten tuition and matriculation exam fees, nearly-free (90 to 100 percent subsidized) transportation to school, extension of the school day in kindergartens and schools, extension of the school year for an additional month, and priority for university scholarships.[129]

The Ministry of Industry and Trade provides grants for investors and infrastructure for industrial zones in settlements; the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs gives incentives for social workers in settlements; and the Ministry of Finance reduces tax for individuals and companies.[130] In the Jordan Valley, for example, the Israeli government provides grants covering up to 24 percent of costs for developing industrial establishments, hotels or tourist attractions.[131] Israeli and multinational companies that invest in settlements and nearby industrial zones benefit from a variety of subsidies and in turn provide income to settlers.[132] Settler industrial zones employ approximately 5,000 workers, including Israelis and Palestinians, but often pay Palestinians as little as one-third the Israeli minimum wage to which they are entitled, according to Kav LaOved, an Israeli worker’s rights NGO.[133] Some Israeli employers deduct taxes and social security from Palestinian workers’ paychecks, but these deductions go to the state of Israel, which provides no services or benefits to the workers except in cases of work accidents or the bankruptcy of the employer; from 1970 to 2009, the majority of funds withheld from Palestinian workers’ paychecks (roughly 10 percent of the paycheck), supposedly for the payment of unemployment, disability, old-age and child benefits, were transferred from the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor to the Ministry of Finance and thus to the state budget, according to a study by an Israeli economist and the head of a workers’ rights NGO.[134]

The Israeli Ministry of Agriculture also provides substantial benefits to settlers, following its own classification scheme. For example, the agriculture ministry classifies settlements in the northern Jordan Valley as Administrative Development Area A, subsidizes 25 percent of investments in agriculture, and provides tax benefits on such investments and from 25 to 30 percent of profits. Most of the agricultural settlements in the northern Jordan Valley produce for export, mainly to Europe. Since European Community law excludes goods made in settlements from preferential tariff-free import treatment, the Israeli government also indemnifies farmers in settlements from lost income resulting from the customs duties imposed on their produce by EU countries.[135]

In May, the Palestinian Authority promoted a “You and Your Conscience” campaign urging Palestinians not to purchase goods made in Israeli settlements, and instituted a law imposing criminal penalties on Palestinians who commercially buy, sell or transport 500 banned settlement products.[136] A bill pending in the Israeli parliament would penalize Israelis, Palestinians and others who participate in boycotts of any Israeli goods, including settlement goods.[137] In many third countries (including members of the European Union), as noted, domestic legislation and regulations on imports requires that producers provide accurate country-of-origin information, and do not extend tariff benefits to settlement products.

In addition to direct governmental funding, settlements receive funding from the World Zionist Organization (WZO). The Israeli economist Shir Hever estimates that between 2000 and 2002, the WZO provided NIS 385 million (US$101 million) to agricultural projects in the settlements.[138] In 2009-2010 Israel designated NIS 143 million (US$37.6 million) for the WZO settlement division to spend on developments in the West Bank, the Golan Heights (annexed from Syria in the 1967 Middle East War), and the Galilee (in northern Israel).[139]

The Israeli government provides proportionally more subsidies and funding per capita to settlers than to other Israelis, even though settlers’ standard of living is, on average, 10 times higher than Israelis who do not receive similar governmental benefits.[140] Settlements receive more money than even other “national priority A” areas inside Israel (usually lower-income communities located outside the Jerusalem-Tel Aviv core): Israel provided 5.5 times more funding per housing unit to subsidize building settlement apartments than for apartments in national priority A areas inside Israel from 2000 to 2002, according to a report by Israel’s state comptroller.[141] Settlement municipalities also receive proportionally more governmental budget support than do communities inside Israel.[142] This may account for the fact that settlers, who on average earn more than people inside Israel, nonetheless pay lower municipal taxes than residents of Israel.[143] From 2000 to 2006,

[s]ettlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and the Golan Heights received surplus funding for governmental services, compared with the government funding provided to communities inside Israel, in the sum of NIS 3.143 billion, which supplemented the relatively low local taxes of NIS 2.028 billion. […] Per capita, government funding of governmentservices in the settlements was 36 percent higher than in development towns [low-income communities inside Israel…]. Per capita expenditure in the development budget – the “irregular budget” – ofthe settlements was 1.3 times higher than in local authorities inside [Israel].[144]

The Israeli government has increased funding to settlements even in years when it cut funds to municipalities inside Israel.[145]

Israeli governmental agencies also sponsor various incentive programs to bring Jewish immigrants to Area C. For example, Jewish immigrants to Israel who move upon arrival to communities in the Gush Etzion area—a large settlement bloc south of Jerusalem and west of Bethlehem that is home to some 55,000 people—receive additional benefits and support as part of the Ministry of Absorption's “Community Aliyah” (Aliyah Kehilatit) program.[146] The program offers immigrants benefits such as enhanced Hebrew language courses and extra rent subsidies, entrepreneurship stipends, academic assistance for school children, cultural and special activities, and counseling services, in addition to the benefits offered to all new Jewish immigrants to Israel.[147] The settlement city of Ariel, north of Ramallah, also offers “benefits that are in addition to benefits offered to new olim [immigrants to Israel]” through the “community aliyah” program.[148] With another program, “Go North,” the Nefesh B’Nefesh organization—which is partly funded by the Israeli government—advertizes that North American and British Jews who move to the Upper Jordan Valley (in the occupied West Bank) and to other areas will receive one-time “family grants” of up to US$25,000, “vehicle grants” of up to US$16,000 over two years, and local assistance from program officers who manage social and educational programs and activities.[149]

Settlements also benefit from foreign private funding, although this source is far less significant in dollar terms than Israeli governmental funding.

The WZO’s American Section is registered as a US tax-exempt charitable organization. The WZO, created in 1897, is a confederation of pro-Israel groups from dozens of countries, including Hadassah, B’nai B’rith, and other groups. “American Jewish groups control 30 percent of the organization’s main governing bodies, including the World Zionist Congress, which is convened in Jerusalem every four years,” according to the former editor of the Jewish Daily Forward newspaper.[150] As noted above, the Israeli government authorizes the settlement division of the WZO to create settlements in the West Bank on lands licensed to it by the Civil Administration, and the Sasson Report strongly criticized the WZO for violations including establishing settlements on Palestinian lands that the Civil Administration had not granted to it.

According to Meron Benvenisti, the former deputy mayor of Jerusalem, the WZO created the settlement division in 1971 to fill a role previously played by the Jewish Agency inside Israel, but which the Agency could not continue to fulfill in the occupied Palestinian territories because it was unable to secure tax-exemptions for donations received for settlements in the United States.[151] At the time, the Jewish Agency had recently come under US governmental scrutiny for concealing that it had received funding from the Israeli government.[152] The WZO’s membership organizations have disagreed on the body’s role in establishing settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories; at the quadrennial meeting in June, these bodies approved an anti-settlement resolution.[153] Currently, the settlement division of the WZO is fully funded by the Israeli government, but is not subjected to the budgetary laws that constrain government ministries because of its status as an independent, non-governmental organization.[154] It can thus channel governmental monies into settlements that benefit only Jewish Israelis without the reporting restrictions and concomitant transparency imposed by the Israeli budget law on government ministries.

The New York Times identified 40 American groups that had collected more than $200 million in gifts for Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem since 2000. They gave most of the money to build schools, synagogues, and other public buildings, but some was given for settler housing “as well as guard dogs, bulletproof vests, rifle scopes and vehicles to secure outposts deep in occupied areas.”[155] US taxpayers may deduct their donations to registered US charitable organizations that solicit money for settlements.

Human Rights Watch documented the discriminatory effects of Israeli policies in several settlements that have received funding from American NGOs. For example, according to Palestinian residents of a nearby village, settlers from Itamar and its outposts, south-east of the Palestinian city of Nablus, have confiscated their land, effectively barred them from accessing agricultural lands, repeatedly attacked the village, and continue to build housing that is illegal even under Israeli law, even as Israeli military orders have prohibited the villagers from building or renovating their homes. Itamar has received numerous grants from the US registered “Central Fund of Israel,” according to tax statements. [156] Itamar is also the intended beneficiary of a fundraising campaign by the “Christian Friends of Israeli Communities,” an evangelical Christian group “established in 1995, in response to the Oslo Process, the devastating series of agreements that ceded land to the Arabs in the heart of Biblical Israel,” that is registered as a US non-profit.[157] The “One Israel Fund,” another registered charitable organization, states that it works “in concert with communities, [Israeli] government officials and the IDF” and lists on its website a number of settlements that “receive direct support from One Israel Fund” in areas that Human Rights Watch researched —including the “Maskiyot development fund,” to develop a settlement in the northern Jordan valley.[158] The Israeli government, according to news reports, retroactively authorized illegal civilian construction in Maskiyot and ensured the settlement’s connection to water and electrical networks, even as the Civil Administration has repeatedly destroyed the homes of hundreds of Bedouin residents of nearby communities that date back to the 1950s, that lack any connection to utilities, on the grounds that they lacked building permits.[159]

To be tax-exempt under the US Internal Revenue Code, “an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501(c)(3).”[160] The Internal Revenue Service states that such exempt purposes include “charitable” purposes, such as “relief of the poor, the distressed, or the underprivileged,” and “eliminating prejudice and discrimination; defending human and civil rights secured by law,” among other purposes.[161] The US Supreme Court, in 1983, upheld an Internal Revenue Service (IRS) decision to reject the tax-exempt status of racially discriminatory private schools in the US. According to the court, only organizations whose activities meet common law definitions of “charity” are entitled to tax exemptions. “Charitable exemptions are justified on the basis that the exempt entity confers a public benefit,” and must moreover “demonstrably serve and be in harmony with the public interest” and “not be so at odds with the common community conscience as to undermine any public benefit that might otherwise be conferred.” Racial discrimination in education undoubtedly fails to meet those criteria, “violates deeply and widely accepted views of elementary justice,” and should not “be encouraged by having all taxpayers share in [the] support [of discriminatory schools] by way of special tax status.”[162] The Court cited a number of other cases in which US tax authorities had validly required organizations seeking tax-exempt status to provide services to a sufficiently large number of people for those services to qualify as a “public” benefit,[163] and to show that their services were open to all on a racially non-discriminatory basis.[164]

US courts and administrative bodies like the IRS have not ruled or decided on the issue of whether donations that support settlements or the discriminatory policies and practices that accompany them violate US law, or whether the US is in violation of its international obligations by granting tax-exemptions to such donations and to organizations that transfer them. Charitable organizations registered with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) are publicly listed and in some cases file tax forms (“Form 990”) that are also publicly available and that show that the organizations have received donations that are then transferred to settlements.

Corporate Involvement in Settlements

Israeli and international businesses that benefit from settlements, where generous Israeli subsidies encourage investment, play an indirect role in the harmful treatment that Palestinians receive due to discriminatory Israeli policies.[165] Business interests in settlements take a number of forms. Israeli construction companies, including publicly-traded corporations whose shares are owned by foreign investors, build settlements.[166]

Corporations also invest in settlement industrial zones and agricultural production. The Agrexco Agricultural Export Company, for instance—the largest such exporter in Israel, in which the Israeli government holds a 50 percent ownership interest[167]—is responsible for marketing 60 to 70 percent of the agricultural produce grown in settlements, which accounted for roughly 5 percent of total revenue, according to court testimony by the general director of Agrexco UK in 2006.[168] Photographs taken in 2009 show “Carmel Agrexco” signs on packing houses for agricultural produce in two settlements documented in this report, Ro’i and Mechola, in the northern Jordan Valley.[169] In 2009, at an annual awards ceremony recognizing farmers who had produced agricultural goods for export, Agrexco honored an herb farmer from the settlement of Mechola and the research and development director for agricultural exports from the Jordan valley.[170] Numerous other companies operate in the northern Jordan Valley.[171]

Commercial agriculture in settlements benefits from discriminatory access to enormous quantities of water: Israeli settlements in the Jordan Valley house around 6,000 to 9,000 settlers, but consume one quarter of the annual water consumption of the entire Palestinian population of the West Bank, some 2.5 million people.[172] As is discussed in a case study in this report, the over-extraction and discriminatory allocation of water resources in the northern West Bank to service agricultural settlements has contributed to drinking water shortages and a sharp decline in lands under cultivation for Palestinians.

Corporations also benefit from the low cost of Palestinian agricultural labor in settlements. Human Rights Watch interviewed an Israeli worker in an agricultural settlement who described a system according to which Israelis were employees of a given company, whereas Palestinians were employees of the “contractor” who mediated with the Israeli company. Israeli employees received at least minimum wage (around 21 shekels per hour) and appropriate employment benefits under Israeli law, the worker told Human Rights Watch, whereas none of the Palestinian workers earned minimum wage or received other benefits; instead, the company paid the contractor around 90 shekels per worker per day, in the knowledge that the contractor would take up to 25 shekels of that amount as his own commission.[173] According to Corporate Watch, a US-based NGO that interviewed Palestinian agricultural workers in a different settlement in the northern Jordan Valley, the workers do not receive health insurance or holiday pay, and are paid, on average, around 75 NIS (US $19.75) per day, half the minimum wage to which they are legally entitled.[174]

Other companies, including multinationals, extract natural resources from the West Bank primarily for the benefit of Israelis. In 2009 the Israeli NGO Yesh Din petitioned the Israeli High Court to halt Israeli companies from continuing operations at 11 quarry sites in the West Bank that supply 10 million tons of the 44 million tons of building materials Israel uses each year.[175] Noting that these companies sent at least 75 percent of the gravel and other construction materials they produced to Israel, Yesh Din cited a High Court ruling that held that Israel’s actions in the occupied territories were limited by “its security interest in the area, or on the interests of the local population…. A territory held through belligerent seizure is not a field open for economic or other exploitation."[176]

While states are the primary duty-bearers under international humanitarian and human rights law, businesses and other actors have responsibilities. Indeed, as the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states, “every organ of society” does.[177] In addition, companies may be bound by international human rights standards, insofar as such standards have been incorporated into domestic legislation in the countries in whose jurisdictions the companies operate.

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on business and human rights in 2008 published a framework—endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council—according to which businesses have the responsibility to “respect” human rights.[178] Corporate responsibility to respect human rights entails due diligence—including creating, implementing and monitoring human rights policies, based on core human rights and International Labour Organization treaties—and avoiding complicity in abuses.[179]

Another set of principles relevant to multinational businesses with operations or subsidiaries in Israeli settlements are the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises. The guidelines comprise “recommendations on responsible business conduct addressed by governments to multinational enterprises.”[180] For example, they urge multinational corporations to, “Respect the human rights of those affected by their activities consistent with the host government’s international obligations and commitments,” and to “Encourage local capacity building through close co-operation with the local community.”[181] The guidelines apply to companies in or from the 33 member countries of the OECD, including Israel, which acceded to the OECD in September 2010.[182] The guidelines are addressed to all parent and local entities within multinational enterprises (MNEs), which are defined broadly as private or state “companies or other entities established in more than one country and so linked that they may coordinate their operations in various ways.”[183]

In addition to human rights law, international humanitarian law, including the law of occupation, has been held to apply to corporate officers. The US Nuremberg Military Tribunals in 1948 held corporate officers personally accountable for confiscating property under laws that contravened rules of international humanitarian law.[184]

Compliance with human-rights principles would, at minimum, require companies to determine the extent to which they contribute to, and take measures to mitigate and prevent any involvement in violations of Palestinians’ human rights, including, for example, agricultural or industrial operations located on Palestinian land that Israeli authorities confiscated in violation of the laws of armed conflict and based on discriminatory policies.

[14] B’Tselem, Land Grab, 2002, p. 8.

[15]According to the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, by 2009, 301,200 settlers lived in the West Bank excluding East Jerusalem. Figures for East Jerusalem in 2009 are not available, but 184, 707 settlers lived there in 2007, according to the Jerusalem municipality and the Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies. Figures compiled by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook: Israel’s Settlement Policy in the West Bank, July 2010, pp. 6-7, (note: Human Rights Watch citations are to an advance edited version of the B’Tselem report; pagination may be slightly different in the version available online).

[16] See B’Tselem, (accessed May 12, 2010).

[17]Some members of the Israeli government opposed the settlement, and Foreign Ministry legal advisor Theodor Meron argued in a 1967 memo to Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.” An English translation of Meron’s memo is available at (accessed April 3, 2010).

[18] B’Tselem, Land Grab, 2002, pp. 23-24.

[19]See Yigal Alon, “Israel: the Case for Defensible Borders,” Foreign Affairs, October 1976, (accessed September 30, 2010).

[20]The history of the settlement movement has been described by, inter alia, Akiva Eldar and Idith Zertal, Lords of the Land: The War for Israel’s Settlements in the Occupied Territories (English trans.), Nation Books, 2007 ; B’Tselem, Land Grab, 2002; and Gershom Gorenberg, The Accidental Empire: Israel and the Birth of the Settlements (Times Books, 2006).

[21]Mattityahu Drobless, “Settlement in Judea and Samaria – Strategy, Policy and Plans,” World Zionist Organization, Settlement Division, September 1980. The plan, originally published in 1978, states, for example: “The civilian presence of Jewish communities is vital for the security of the state.… There must not be the slightest doubt regarding our intention to hold the areas of Judea and Samaria forever.… The best and most effective way to remove any shred of doubt regarding our intention to hold Judea and Samaria forever is a rapid settlement drive in these areas.”

[22]Shaul Arieli, Roby Nathanson, Ziv Rubin, Hagar Tzameret-Kertcher, “Historical political and economic impact of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories,” Israeli-European Policy Network (article), June 2009, p. 3, (accessed July 8, 2010).

[23]Many commentators have speculated as to why Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, “the father of the settlements,” took the decision to unilaterally withdraw settlers from Gaza and areas of the West Bank; the Israeli position was that the withdrawal, which Palestinians opposed because it was done unilaterally, was intended to restart a stalled peace process, while other Israeli officials stated that it was the price for holding on to other West Bank settlements; see “Q & A: Sharon’s Gaza plan,” BBC, February 20, 2005, (accessed September 5, 2010). According to Prime Minister Sharon’s evacuation plan of May 28, 2004, Israel evacuated the settlements of Ganim, Kadim, Sa-Nur and Homesh, and all military installations in the northern West Bank. An army decree declaring northern Samaria a closed military zone went into effect at midnight, August 15, 2005, Ynet, August 15 2005,,7340,L-3127274,00.html (accessed September 5, 2010).

[24]In 2008, according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper, the Israeli Defense Ministry allowed an outpost in the Jordan Valley known as Maskiyot to install six caravans intended for settlers who had previously been evicted from Gaza settlements. The Interior Ministry allowed the families living there to register Maskiyot as their permanent address and authorized final building plans for the 20 homes. Maskiyot is the most recent settlement to be recognized in the West Bank (not including East Jerusalem, which Israel, as noted, considers part of its territory). “Ground broken for first 20 homes in new Jordan Valley settlement,” Jerusalem Post, August 7, 2009, (accessed April 25, 2010).

[25]Daniel Kurtzer, “Behind the Settlements,” The American Interest, Spring (March/April) 2010, pp.4-14. Israeli commentators note that in the 1993 Oslo Accords, Israel promised to halt settlement growth “so as to refrain from changes which may influence the final agreements.” Arieli, Nathanson, Rubin and Tzameret-Kertcher, “Historial, political and economic impact of Jewish settlement,” p. 4.

[26]Arieli, Nathanson, Rubin and Tzameret-Kertcher, “Historical, political and economic impact of Jewish settlement,” p. 5, citing the report of Talya Sasson, Report: Opinion Concerning Unauthorized Outposts. An English summary of the Sasson Report is available at (accessed on April 4, 2010). Human Rights Watch drew on the full Sasson Report, available in Hebrew, in writing this report.

[27] “From 1992-2001, the number of Jewish settlers increased by approximately 93,000 and four settlements were added; in the period from 2001-2009, another 95,000 settlers were added to the population and 100 additional outposts established.” Akiva Eldar, “Border control / Nothing natural about it,” Haaretz, June 2, 2009, (accessed July 15, 2010),citing Col (Res.) Shaul Arieli, former deputy military secretary to then-prime minister Ehud Barak.

[28]For example, a settler website, Yesha Homestead, encourages Jews to “reclaim Judea and Samaria” by “buying out … the Arab population”; the website offers settlement lands for sale. The website adds, “With so called Palestinians confined to Cantons, the option remains open for them to sell and find a better life elsewhere. The United Nations Charter gives them this right. Their right to emigrate is an inalienable basic human right.” “Yesha Homestead: Reclaim Judea and Samaria,”, accessed October 31, 2010. The website advertises land for sale in “Galil, Golan, Samaria, Jordan Valley Jerusalem, [and] Judea.” “Perpetual Homestead,”, accessed October 31, 2010.

[29]International Crisis Group, Israel’s religious right and the question of settlements, July 20, 2009, p. 8.

[30] For a description of the role and origins of the World Zionist Organization, see B’Tselem, Land Grab, pp. 20-21.

[31]The ministry’s disguised aid was significant, although only partial figures are available. In the period between 2000 and 2004 alone, and not including financing for planning, infrastructure and public buildings, costs amounted to 71,870,000 shekels (US$19 million). Sasson, Summary of the Opinion Concerning Unauthorized Outposts [the English translation of the summary has no pagination].

[32] Id.

[33] B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 20.

[34]The Court approved the establishment of several Jewish settlements on the grounds of “military necessity” in several cases (H.C.J. 606/78, Ayub v. Minister of Defense 33 (2) P.D. 113) until 1979, when the Court ruled against the establishment of a civilian settlement on these grounds.(H.C.J. 390/79 Dweikat v. Government of Israel 34 (1) P.D. 1.)

[35] The Court refrained from ruling on the legality of the settlements under international law, but constrained the military commander’s power to requisition private land for civilian settlements. The Court has since refused to adjudicate the legality of settlements subsequently established on land that Israel claims as “state land,” on the basis that the issue was political. (“The unsuitability of the questions raised in the petition for a judicial determination by the High Court of Justice derives in the present case from a combination of three aspects that make the issue unjusticiable: intervention in questions of policy that are in the jurisdiction of another branch of Government, the absence of a concrete dispute and the predominantly political nature of the issue.” H.C.J. 4481/91 Bargil v. Government of Israel 47 (4) P.D. 210,, accessed November 18, 2010.)

[36]Israel's official position, stated in 1971 by then Attorney General Meir Shamgar, is that international humanitarian law, which prohibits settlements, does not apply to the West Bank because its annexation by Jordan never received international recognition. The land occupied was not therefore "the territory of a High Contracting Party," a requirement for application of the Fourth Geneva Convention. However, Israel undertook voluntarily to comply with what it referred to as the "humanitarian provisions" of the Fourth Geneva Convention, although it never specified what constituted the convention's "humanitarian provisions." Israeli authorities have argued that it is possible to “strike a delicate balance between the basic assumption regarding the temporary nature of the regime of belligerent occupation in the area and the status of Israeli civilian settlements in the area.” “Complementary Argument on Behalf of the State,” HCJ 1526/07, Yassin v. Civil Administration, July 5, 2007. The Israeli High Court of Justice has repeatedly stated that the laws of occupation apply to Israel’s belligerent occupation of the West Bank. See B’Tselem, Land Grab, pp. 37-38, citingShamgar, "The Observance of International Law in the Administered Territories," 1 Israel Yearbook of Human Rights (1971) 262, pp. 262-266, and HCJ 785/87, Afo v.Commander of IDF Forces in the West Bank, Piskei Din 42(2) 4. See also, e.g., HCJ 2056/04, Beit Surik Village Council v. Government of Israel, June 20, 2004 (“The authority of the military commander flows from the provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation,” citing the Hague Regulations of 1907 and IV Geneva Convention of 1949).

[37]HCJ 114/78, Burkan v. Minister of Finance PD 32(2) 800, 806.

[38]H.C. 2773/98 and H.C. 11163/03, The High Follow-up Committee for the Arab Citizens in Israel, et. al. v. the Prime Minister of Israel.

[39]HCJ 6698/95 Ka’adan v. Israel Lands Authority, PD 54(1) 258, March 8, 2000.

[40] Ka’adan, para. 30 of Chief Justice Barak’s judgment.

[41]HCJ 7052/03, Adalah v. Minister of Interior, para. 50 of Chief Justice Barak’s judgment.

[42]Human Rights Watch interview with Limor Yehuda, lawyer, ACRI, March 25, 2010. For example, in the “Beit Surik” case in 2004, issued a week before the International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion on the separation barrier Israel is building in the West Bank, the Israeli High Court of Justice determined that the decision to construct the barrier was based on legitimate military needs, but that the route of the barrier in certain areas was disproportionate due to its impact on the daily fabric of life of the local Palestinian population, and the State was accordingly ordered to change the route. The justices “ignored the question of the illegality, in international law, of the settlements that Israel established in the West Bank. Thus, the High Court did not examine the effect of this illegal action on the legitimacy of the considerations underlying the construction of the barrier.” Nasrat Dakwar, “The Separation Barrier and International Law,” ACRI, June 17, 2008, (accessed August 10, 2010).

[43]HCJ 2150/07, Concurring opinion of President Beinish, para. 5; available (full text in Hebrew only) at (accessed December 12, 2010).

[44]Id., para. 6. The English summary of the concurrence provides an overview of the President’s position: “[She] warned [the petitioners] against referring to security measures adopted in order to protect persons travelling on the roads as segregation based on improper reasons of race and ethnicity, and she held that the comparison made by the petitioners between preventing the traffic of Palestinian inhabitants along road 443 and the crime of Apartheid was so extreme and radical that there was no basis for raising it at all.” Summary available at (accessed November 20, 2010).

[45]HCJ 3969/06, Al-Kharub v Commander of IDF Forces in Judea and Samaria, 22 Oct 2009.

[46]E.g., HCJ 11235/04, City of Hebron vs. the State of Israel, regarding the ban on Palestinian movement in city center of Hebron; HCJ 4057/10, ACRI v. Commander of IDF Forces in Judea and Samaria, and HCJ 3368/10, The Palestinian Ministry for Prisoners Affairs v. Israeli Minister of Defense, regarding the length of periods of arrest in military regulations in the Occupied Territories, which only apply to Palestinian residents and not settlers.

[47] HCJ 3239/02, M a’arab v. The IDF Commander in Judea and Samaria , 57(2) PD 349, les_eng/02/390/032/a04/02032390.a04.pdf (accessed October 20, 2010).

[48]See discussion in Aeyal Gross, “Human Proportions: Are Human Rights the Emperor’s New Clothes of the International Law of Occupation?”,European Journal of International Law, 2007 (18) no.1, pp. 1-35, citing among other cases HCJ 7957/04, Mara‘abe v. The Prime Minister of Israel (“we shall assume – without deciding the matter – that the international conventions on human rights apply in the area ”), (accessed October 14, 2010).

[49]For a full discussion, see section “Discrimination and Forcible Transfer in International Law,” below.

[50] B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 9.

[51]Human Rights Watch reviewed copies of several contracts for residential property in one settlement. Human Rights Watch telephone discussion with Dror Etkes, head of the settlements project at Yesh Din, an Israeli NGO, Jerusalem, October 20, 2010.

[52]Human Rights Watch discussion with Michael Sfard, lawyer, Spain, October 15, 2010.

[53] Id.

[54]See, e.g., B’Tselem, Land Grab, 2002, chapter 3, and By Hook and by Crook, 2009, chapter 3; Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, 2008.

[55] A military order transferred all Palestinian property whose owner had left the West Bank at the time of the 1967 war, regardless of the circumstances, whose owner was unknown, or whose owner was a resident of an “enemy country,” which at the time included Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, and others, to the Custodian for Abandoned Property. The Custodian is responsible for protecting the property pending the owner's return, but as a general rule, Israel has forbidden the return of refugees to the West Bank, making it impossible for Palestinians displaced by conflict to reclaim their property. As was the case with “state lands,” discussed below, Israel’s survey of the West Bank was conducted in an effort to claim lands over which Palestinians could not prove ownership.

[56]Since 1967, Israel has designated close to 18 percent of the West Bank as a closed military zone for the purposes of military training. In addition, over two percent of the West Bank is taken up by Israeli military bases and by a security zone along the border with Jordan. These areas, which fall under full Israeli control and lie within “Area C” as determined by the Oslo agreements, are generally closed to Palestinians. In the southern Hebron Mountains, for example, the Israeli army declared some 3,000 hectares of land as a firing zone as early as the 1970s. This notice has been renewed ever since. The area of the proclaimed firing zone includes 12 Palestinian villages. (Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone.) In addition, approximately 10 percent of the West Bank is an Israeli-designated nature reserve, in which Palestinian construction is prohibited. Of land designated as a nature reserve, some 48 percent overlaps with the closed military training zones; some of the remainder falls within “Area B,” despite the fact that under the Oslo agreements, the Palestinian Authority nominally has civil control over this area and thus the authority to authorize building. OCHA, Restricting Space: The Planning Regime Applied by Israel in Area C of the West Bank, December 2009, (accessed April 18, 2010.)

[57]Spiegel Database (prepared in 2004 at the request of the Israeli government by Gen. Baruch Spiegel), available at (in Hebrew, accessed June 14, 2010. Human Rights Watch consulted the full Spiegel database in preparing this report. See B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 22, citing the Spiegel database and a Civil Administration map of appropriated land.

[58]Large amounts of territory claimed as “absentee property” were later categorized as “state lands” on the basis that they were not cultivated (see discussion below). In total, the Israeli military declared some 11,000 buildings and 42,00 hectares of land as “absentee property” in the first years of the occupation. State Comptroller, Annual Report 37, p. 1189, cited in B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 59.

[59] B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 24.

[60]Fourth Hague Convention of 1907, art. 43 (the occupying power must respect, “unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country”).

[61]The Israeli military Order Concerning Government Property defined state land as land that, on the “determining date” (June 7, 1967), belonged to an enemy country (Jordan) or was registered in its name. Military Order Concerning Government Property (Judea and Samaria) (No. 59), 1967. As discussed below, the definition of state property later expanded. State land thus includes the roughly 13 percent of the West Bank that was registered as belonging to the Jordanian government, which Israel took possession of when it occupied the West Bank in 1967.

[62] B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 27; Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 27.

[63]Israeli authorities accelerated the amount of territory they denominated as “state land” following a 1979 court ruling that invalidated another method of seizing land: namely, seizure for “military purposes.” Between 1967 and 1979, Israel used military orders to expropriate land for the establishment of both military bases and settlements. During this period Israel claimed that the civilian settlements established on land expropriated through military orders were intended to serve a security function, therefore the expropriation was legal. The 1979 high court ruling invalidated this practice (HCJ 390/79, Dweikat et al. v. Government of Israel et al., Piskei Din 34(1) 1, also known as the “Elon Moreh” case). In the aftermath of the ruling, the government alternatively turned to declaring vast parts of the West Bank as “state lands”: from 1980 to 1984, it declared approximately 800,000 dunams, or 800 square kilometers, of the West Bank to be state land. As well, Israel continued to build settlements on lands expropriated through military orders issued prior to the 1979 court ruling. While military requisition orders are supposed to be temporary, they often have no end-date, according to information obtained by the Israeli human rights group Yesh Din from the government; Human Rights Watch interview with Dror Etkes, Yesh Din settlements researcher, Jerusalem, December 21, 2009.

[64]State Comptroller, Report 56A, 31 August 2005, p. 190, cited in B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 24. The Ottoman Land Law allowed individuals to claim ownership of lands that they had cultivated for ten years, but under certain conditions, allowed the state to confiscate the land as “state land” and sell it if the owner of the land failed to cultivate it for three or more years. Section 78, “Ottoman Land Law,” in Planning, Building and Land Laws in Judea and Samaria, ed. Maj. Aharon Mishnayot (Judge Advocate's Office and Civil Administration of Judea and Samaria) (in Hebrew), cited in B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 52.

[65] A systematic survey and registration of the ownership of state lands began during the British Mandate over Palestine from 1923 to 1948, but only one-third of the West Bank had been surveyed by 1967, when Israel issued a military order freezing the process of surveying and registering land, purportedly to prevent the fraudulent registration of land that belonged to people who had left the West Bank during the war. (Israeli military orders allowed the government to register confiscated land, however.) Order Regarding the Regulation of Land and Water (Judea and Samaria) (No. 291), 5729-1968, cited by B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 54.

[66]B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 47.

[67]The Israeli military authorities typically informed the mukhtar, or local Palestinian village head, of the declaration that lands were state lands, leaving it to the mukhtar to inform any potential Palestinian owner. Order Regarding Appeals Committees (Judea and Samaria) (No. 172), 5727-1967, cited by B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 54.

[68] B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 54.                                                                                                      

[69]Avraham Sochovolsky, Eliyahu Cohen and Avi Ehrlich, Judea and Samaria – Land Rights and Law in Israel (Tel Aviv, 1986), cited by B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 56.

[70] Id.

[71]For an example of the Israeli government’s use of the WZO to act as an agent in leasing privately-owned Palestinian lands to the settlement of Ofra, see Amy Teibel, “Lawsuit brings murky West Bank land deals to light,” Associated Press, June 20, 2009, (accessed July 15, 2010). See also Tovah Lazaroff, “WZO to spend NIS 20 m. on agriculture over the green line,” Jerusalem Post, July 20, 2009, (accessed July 13, 2010).

[72]The administrative division of the West Bank into different “areas” has no bearing on Israel’s obligations under international law, including its obligations not to discriminate unlawfully against a given group and its obligations as an occupying power.

[73]According to Bimkom, 47,000 Palestinians live in 149 villages that lie entirely within Area C, and another 100,000 Palestinians live in homes that fall within Area C even though other parts of their villages lie within Area B or A. The Prohibited Zone, p. 16.

[74]Save the Children UK, “Fact Sheet: Jordan Valley,” October 2009, p. 2 (accessed July 21, 2010).

[75]Save the Children UK, “Forced Displacement in the Occupied Palestinian Territory: Briefing Paper,” October 2009, p. 6,$file/Save+the+Children_BriefingpaperOct09.pdf (accessed August 24, 2010).

[76]Israel applies regional plans dating from the British Mandate to Area C. Under these plans, much of Area C is an “agricultural zone,” but building for residential and other purposes is permitted. Israel formerly approved numerous Palestinian building permit applications on the basis of the Mandatory plans, but since the 1980s has rejected an increasing percentage of such applications for contradicting the Mandatory plans, according to Bimkom. Israel’s planning scheme has allowed settlers to participate in planning committees that have created detailed plans for settlements, thus changing their status from the broad Mandate-era regional plans that are still applied to Palestinian areas. See, e.g., Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 56.

[77]Unit for Coordination of Operations in the Territories, Ministry of Defense, The Administered Territories 1972/1973: Statistics on Civilian Activities in Judea and Samaria, the Gaza Strip, and Northern Sinai, p. 217, cited in Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 11.

[78]Id.,p. 11.

[79]Id., p. 11.

[80]Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 132.

[81]The Jordanian law created a hierarchical structure of local, district, and national-level planning institutions, and ensured local participation in the planning process. City, town or village councils served as the local planning committee; the district planning committee included a local committee representative; and local government officials served on the national-level planning council. The district committee approves detailed plans; hears objections to regional and outline plans and submits opinions on these to the national planning committee; as well as various functions relating to building inspection. Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, pp. 35-38.

[82] Military Order 418 abolished district-level committees and transferred their powers to the national planning council, which is staffed by the Israeli Civil Administration. There are no Palestinian members of the national council or on its planning and inspection subcommittees, which serve a variety of functions such as issuing demolition orders against Palestinian buildings. Military Order 418 replaced the district committees with subcommittees, but at least half of their members must be members of the national planning council (i.e. members of the Civil Administration), and the subcommittees in practice are not distinct institutions, but simply parts of the centralized process dominated by the national planning council. Military Order 418 Concerning Towns, Villages, and Buildings Planning Law (1971), Art. 7A, cited in Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 39.

[83]On January 26, 2008, the Israeli High Court of Justice rejected a petition by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) for the state to provide any building or development plan for thePalestinian villageof Khirbet Tana, near Nablus, in Area C. The village’s 200 residents had built homes without an outline plan approved by the Civil Administration; as such their homes were illegal and subject to demolition. According to ACRI, “In 2008 the State announced its intention to destroy all the houses but one, claiming the area - where people have been living since 1967 - is used as a firing zone for the army.” ACRI, “High Court Approves Demolition of West Bank Village,” February 5, 2008, (accessed July 30, 2010).


[85]OCHA, Restricting Space, p. 11.

[86] Under the 1971 military order, the IDF commander of the West Bank can appoint a special committee for any area other than a city or a village. This “ostensibly neutral wording,” according to Bimkom, in practice refers only to planning areas that do not include Palestinian cities or village councils: the planning area of settlements. Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 40.

[87] Palestinians are theoretically able to contest plans for Israeli settlements, but in practice, they cannot inspect the plans as is required to challenge them. Plans for settlements are deposited either at the Civil Administration’s Planning Bureau, located at the Israeli military base in Beit El, near Ramallah, or at the office of the Special Local Planning Committee in the relevant settlement. It is almost impossible for Palestinians to obtain the necessary permissions to enter the military base at Beit El. It is also difficult for Palestinians to access the plans deposited in Israeli settlements, which have been defined since 1996 as military zones closed to Palestinians without special permits. Palestinians wishing to enter a settlement to inspect a deposited plan must go through a protracted bureaucratic procedure to request a special permit. The maps of the plans for settlements and other documents are written in Hebrew and not in Arabic.

[88]This report does not address the different treatment of Palestinians and Israeli settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories suspected of having committed crimes – the former are subject to military orders, while the latter are subject to Israeli criminal legislation – which has been extensively addressed elsewhere.

[89]Israeli planning institutions approved 91 of 1,624 Palestinian applications for building permits in Area C. Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 7.

[90]Bimkom, The Prohibited Zone, p. 7.

[91]The Civil Administration released the records to Peace Now after the group filed a lawsuit under Israel’s freedom of information act. Nadav Shragai, “Peace Now: IDF carried out only 3 percent of settlement demolition orders,” (accessed May 3, 2010).

[92]Spiegel Database, op cit. Human Rights Watch drew on the full Spiegel database, available in Hebrew, in writing this report

[93]State Comptroller, Report 56A, August 31, 2005, pp. 240-2, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p.42.

[94]Sasson Report: Summary of the Opinion Concerning Unauthorized Outposts, p. 221.

[95]Yesh Din, “Spiegel Database” of West Bank Settlements and Outposts, (accessed April 19, 2010).

[96]Akiva Eldar, “Border control / Nothing natural about it,” Haaretz, June 2, 2009, (accessed July 5, 2010)

[97]Chaim Levinson, “State to Court: we’ll authorize illegal West Bank outpost,” Haaretz, May 8, 2010, (accessed May 8, 2010).

[98]Sasson Report: Summary of the Opinion Concerning Unauthorized Outposts, op. cit.

[99]Israeli authorities have on numerous occasions denied allegations of unlawful home demolitions against Palestinian property in the context of military operations.

[100]Israel annexed 70.5 square kilometers of the West Bank to the city in 1967. Currently Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries cover some 126 square kilometers. While precise overall figures are not available, relatively few Palestinians live in West Jerusalem, which is predominantly Jewish. At least 79 percent of the lands planned for residential development in Jewish settlements and in West Jerusalem are owned by the Israel Lands Authority and are legally off-limits to Palestinians. Bimkom and Ir Amim, “Jerusalem: An Open City?”, June 2010, p. 5.

[101]There were 184,707 setters in East Jerusalem as of 2007 (when figures were last available). Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem numbered 268,400 in 2008. See e.g. Jerusalem Institute for Israel Studies, “Press Release – Jerusalem Day, 2009,” (accessed July 20, 2010), and B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook.

[102]Local Outline Plan – Jerusalem 2000, Chapter 7, “Population and Society,” [unofficial English translation], available at (accessed October 30, 2010).

[103]Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem who can prove that the city has been their center of life for seven continuous years may apply for Israeli citizenship.

[104]Hamoked, “Revocation of residency status from permanent residents of Jerusalem” (correspondence between Ministry of Interior and Adv. Yotam Ben-Hillel), November 5, 2009, (accessed August 23, 2010).

[105]Palestinian residents in the rest of the West Bank are subject to a Military Order Concerning Absentee Property, rather than to the analogous Israeli law applied inside Israel and in East Jerusalem.

[106]For a discussion of the 1950 Absentee Property Law, see Ir Amim, “Absentees Against Their Will: Property Expropriation in East Jerusalem under the Absentee Property Law,” July 2010, (accessed August 30, 2010); for the administrative order applying it to East Jerusalem, see (accessed August 30, 2010).

[107]Then-attorney general Meir Shamgar in 1969 rejected the law’s applicability to Palestinian residents of other parts of the West Bank who owned property in East Jerusalem, since they remained “under the rule of IDF forces” from the moment Israeli forces occupied East Jerusalem. In 1977, Israeli authorities nonetheless began to use the law to confiscate Palestinian property in Jerusalem. (Letter from Shamgar to the Israel Lands Authority, August 1969, quoted in Ir Amim, “Absentees,” p. 2). The law’s application was halted again following a 1992 report. written by the “Klugman committee” on East Jerusalem, that identified conflicts of interest in the law’s application, but Israeli authorities applied it again beginning in 2004, and continued to do so despite attorney general Menachem Mazuz’s instruction to then-finance minister Binyamin Netanyahu to stop. Id., p. 3.

[108]Bimkom and Ir Amim, Making Bricks Without Straw: The Jerusalem Municipality’s New Planning Policy for East Jerusalem, January 2010.

[109]Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, “East Jerusalem Demolitions,” n.d., (accessed August 22, 2010).

[110] OCHA figures on file with Human Rights Watch.

[111]OCHA, The Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem: Understanding the Phenomenon of ‘Illegal’ Construction, April 2009, p. 12. Israeli authorities have destroyed at least 730 homes from 2000 to 2009. Id., p. 4, and UN figures for 2009, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[112]According to the Israeli rights group, the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions, the municipality of Jerusalem collected NIS 111,805,931 (US$29.4 million) in fines for illegal construction between 2004 and 2008: 70 percent of this came from Palestinian residents.ICAHD, “East Jerusalem, 2004-2008,” (accessed July 20, 2010).

[113] OCHA, Planning Crisis in East Jerusalem, p. 12.

[114]The regional planning committee rejected proposed plans 11114 and 13317 on November 17, 2009, for this reason. Ir Amim and Bimkom, Making Bricks Without Straw, p. 8.

[115] According to ACRI, as of 2010, East Jerusalem lacked 50 kilometers of sewage lines and 1,000 school classrooms; 160,000 Palestinian residents lacked a connection to the water network; and there were only 8 post offices (as opposed to 42 in West Jerusalem). ACRI, “Human Rights in East Jerusalem – Facts and Figures, May 2010,” p.4.

[116]ACRI, “Human Rights in East Jerusalem – Facts and Figures, May 2010,” p. 39.

[117]Ir Amim and Bimkom, Making Bricks Without Straw, p. 3.

[118]Dror Etkes, “Settlers vs. Palestinians – Double Standards and Illegal Construction,” March 2006, (accessed May 5, 2010).

[119] In 2004 there were 13 housing demolitions in West Jerusalem, which is predominantly Jewish, and 114 house demolitions in East Jerusalem, which is Palestinian. In 2005, there were 5,653 building violations and 26 demolitions in West Jerusalem, but 1,529 violations and 76 house demolitions in East Jerusalem, (accessed September 20, 2010). Population estimates are from the Jerusalem Institute of Israel Studies, 2009/10, “Table 3/1, Population of Israel and Jerusalem, By population group, 1922-2008,” (accessed October 1, 2010).

[120]See B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, June 2010, p. 50.

[121]HCJ 11163/03, Supreme Monitoring Committee v. Prime Minister, (accessed July 13, 2010).

[122]Adalah, “On the israeli Government’s New Decision Classifying Communities as National Priority Areas,” February 2010, p. 4, (accessed July 12, 2010).

[123]Barak Ravid, “PM’s Plan would put some settlements on list of national priority communities,” Haaretz, December 11, 2009, (accessed April 27, 2010); Barak Ravid and Moti Bassock, “Cabinet okays new national priority map that includes settlements,” Haaretz, December 15, 2009, (accessed April 27, 2010). As of June 2010, the government had not determined the revised benefits under the revised national priority plan; previously determined benefits and incentives remain in effect. B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook.

[124]Letter dated January 5, 2010 from Ami Galili, an official in the Housing and Construction ministry, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 53.

[125]Many settlements that are near the Israeli border and lie to the west of Israel’s separation barrier are not included in the national priorities map; the 12 settlements in East Jerusalem are also excluded. Government Decision No. 1060, 12 December 2009, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 52; see map of settlements designated as national priority areas, Peace Now, “The Socioeconomic status in the settlements,” December 2009.

[126] Swirski, KonorAttias, and Dahan, Governmental Priority in Funding Residential Housing: 20002006, (Adva

Center, November 2000), p. 6, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 53.

[127]Letter dated January 5, 2010 from Ami Galili, an official in the Housing and Construction ministry, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 54.

[128]State Comptroller Report 54B, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 55.

[129] Suan and NeemanHaviv, Judea and Samaria Statistical Yearbook for 2007, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 58.

[130]Although the finance ministry ended the income tax reduction for settlers in 2003, the government continues to provide 10 year tax exemptions to foreign investment in communities listed as “priority area A”; foreign investors in “B” areas receive 6 years of complete tax exemption, and 4 years of tax benefits (Israeli investors are granted 1 year of such benefits).

[131] Invest In Israel Promotion Center (a government-run website), “Investment incentives,” (accessed July 15, 2010).

[132]For example, the multinational food products company Unilever owns a majority share of Beigel and Beigel, an Israeli food company with a factory in the Barkan industrial zone near the Ariel settlement. Through its ownership interest in Beigel and Beigel, Unilever reportedly “pays taxes to Israeli settlers through its annual contributions to the Shomron Regional Council, pays monthly rent to Israeli companies profiting from illegally confiscated land, and benefits from generous subsidies given by the Israeli government to the settlement’s industrial zone and guaranteed to Unilever directly as incentives to remain and expand its operation in Barkan.” United Civilians for Peace, Improper Advantage: A study of Unilever’s investment in an illegal Israeli settlement, November 2008, p. 4.

[133]The Israeli High Court of Justice ruled in 2007 that Palestinian workers employed in settlements in the West Bank should receive equal employment benefits as Israeli workers. In reality, Palestinian agricultural workers employed by Israeli settlers receive around US $15 per eight-hour workday, or one-third of the Israeli minimum wage (21 shekels or US$5.50 per hour), and Palestinian industrial workers in West Bank receive around two-thirds of the minimum wage. Roughly 20,000 Palestinian West Bank residents hold work permits and are employed in Jewish settlements in the West Bank; another 10,000 are employed without permits, most of them seasonal agricultural workers in the Jordan Valley. Roughly 20,000 more Palestinians from the West Bank work inside Israel. Salwa Alenat, “Palestinian Workers in Israeli West Bank Settlements – 2009,” Kav La Oved, (accessed July 12, 2010).

[134] Hannah Zohar, Shir Hever, “Israel Owes Billions of Shekels to Palestinian Workers,”Socioeconomic bulletin no. 25, January 2010, p. 7 and Annex 5, (accessed October 1, 2010). See also United Civilians for Peace, Improper Advantage, p. 23.

[135]See B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 60. On February 25, 2010, the Court of Justice of the European Union held that “Soda Club” products, manufactured in the settlement industrial zone of Mishor Adumim did not qualify for preferential tariff treatment under the EU – Israel Association Agreement. Case C-386/08, Brita CmbH v Hauptzollamt Hamburg-Hafen; see (accessed July 10, 2010).

[136]According to Israeli news reports, the PA introduced a law penalizing Palestinians who sell any of 500 banned settlement products; penalties range from two to five years’ imprisonment and fines of up to $15,000. Palestinians who import settlement products into the occupied territories face three to six years’ imprisonment, up to $3,000 in fines, and the confiscation of their licenses and vehicles. See Ali Waked, “PA boycott threatens tradesmen with jail time,” May 18, 2010, Ynet,,7340,L-3891081,00.html (accessed July 7, 2010).

[137]The proposed law drafted by Israeli parliamentarians would impose fines, economic sanctions, and entry bans on “initiators or promoters” of boycotts directed against Israel, including boycotts limited to settlement products. “Israel: Withdraw Legislation Punishing Human Rights Activists,” July 23, 2010,

[138]Shir Hever, “Bulletin 2: The Settlements – Economic Cost to Israel,” Alternative Information Center, August 17, 2005, p. 4, (accessed May 15, 2010).

[139]B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 60, citing the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, “Subjects in which the Ministry Operates a Nationalpriority Policy regarding Communities or Areas.”

[140]According to data from the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics, the average income for a settlement family is 10 percent higher than the national average (NIS 13,566 [US$3570] versus NIS 12,343 [US$3248] per month); and unemployment levels in settlements are below the national average (6.5 percent in the settlements compared to 7.3 percent throughout Israel). Seventy-one percent of settlement children pass their matriculation exams, compared to a national average of 65.8 percent. The settlement of Efrat, included as a national priority area, has an unemployment rate of 1.6 percent and an average salary of 7,793 shekels per month; the mixed Arab-Jewish city of Ramle in Israel, not included in the national priority map, has an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent and an average salary of NIS 4,428 (US$1165) per month. Peace Now, “The Socioeconomic status in the settlements is higher than the Israeli average,” December 2009, (accessed July 11, 2010).

[141]State Comptroller Report 54B, cited by B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, p. 56.

[142] In 2006, Israeli municipalities as a whole received 34.7 percent of their budget from the government (the remainder came from their own income), but settlement municipalities obtained 57 percent of their budget (which amounted to approximately US$456 million) from the government. Arieli, Nathanson, Rubin, Tzameret-Kertcher, “Historical political and economic impact of Jewish settlements in the occupied territories,” June 2009, p. 7.

[143]B’Tselem cites findings that from 2000 to 2006, settlement municipal authorities collected an average of NIS 2,130 (US $560) per resident in taxes and fees – only 60 percent of the per capita sum (NIS 3,496, US$920) received by local authorities inside Israel. B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, pp. 61-62.

[144]In 2004, while municipalities within Israel had to cut their budgets, on average, by 10 percent, governmental funding for the municipalities of the settlements increased by over 14 percent. B’Tselem, By Hook and by Crook, citing Shlomo Swirski, Etty KonorAttias, and Ehud Dagan, Governmental Priority in Funding Communities: 2000 2006, Adva Center, November 2006, p. 20.

[145] Shir Hever, “The Settlements – Economic Cost to Israel,” August 17, 2005, citing Shlomo Swirski, The Price of Occupation, ADVA Center, MAPA Publishers, 2005, p. 149.

[146]Malkah Fleisher, “New Immigrants to Gush Etzion Receive Extra Help,” Israel National News, May 25, 2010, (accessed July 10, 2010).

[147] Israel already extends these extra benefits to North American Jews who move to the settlements of Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim. North American, British and South African Jews who move to certain cities inside Israel also receive these additional benefits. New immigrants (olim) to the settlement of Efrat are not eligible. Id.

[148]Ariel Aliyah, “Preparing your Aliyah,” n.d.,, accessed October 31, 2010.

[149]Nefesh B’Nefesh, “Go North – Frequently Asked Questions,” (accessed July 15, 2010). New Jewish immigrants are also eligible for the grants if they move to the Golan Heights, which Israel annexed from Syria, and to certain areas inside Israel.

[150]Nathaniel Popper, “Jewish Officials Profess Shock Over Report on Zionist Body,” The Forward, March 18, 2005, (accessed July 18, 2010).

[151]Meron Benvenisti, Lexicon of Judea and Samaria, p. 50, cited by B’Tselem, Land Grab, p. 21. According to the 1971 document announcing the creation of the US section of the WZO, its functions and tasks, and programs it administers or to which it may contribute funds, shall be only such as may be carried on by tax-exempt organizations. “Agreement for the Reconstitution of the Jewish Agency for Israel,” February 1970, para. 1(d), reproduced in Appendix F, “Reconstitution of the Jewish Agency for Israel,” December 31, 1970, available at (accessed August 13, 2010).

[152] The American Section of the Jewish Agency for Israel had registered under the Foreign Agents Registration Act in September 1943; the Internal Revenue Service granted the American Section tax-exempt status in September 1948. In August 1969, under the direction of the US Department of Justice, the Agency filed a previously undisclosed 1953 “Covenant” with the Israeli government indicating that it had received Israeli government funding. The Jewish Agency’s American Section ended operations in November 1971. The World Zionist Organization - American Section registered in September 1971 as a “foreign agent” of the World Zionist Organization in Israel, stating that it was not controlled or financed by any foreign government, but occupied the same office space and employed the same management and staff as the Jewish Agency. Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy, “American Section - Jewish Agency for Israel, Inc. Deregisters as a Foreign Agent after the DOJ orders it to file secret 1953 Covenant Agreement with the Israeli Government,” (accessed August 13, 2010).

[153] J. J. Goldberg, “This Is What Israeli Democracy Looks Like,” Jewish Daily Forward, June 27, 2010, available at (accessed October 21, 2010).

[154]B’Tselem, “Encouragement of Migration to the Settlements,” (accessed August 25, 2010).

[155]Jim Rutenberg, Mike McIntire, and Ethan Bronner, “Tax Exempt Funds Aid Settlements in West Bank,” New York Times, July 5, 2010.

[156]Central Fund of Israel, Form 990, (accessed October 12, 2010).

[157]Christian Friends of Israeli Communities (CFOIC), “Background Information,” (accessed October 30, 2010). CFOIC stated in June 2010 that it seeks to raise US $63,000 for an “Itamar boy’s intervention center” to help provide vocational training for troubled settler youth, (accessed July 7, 2010). See also CFOIC, Form 990 for 2008, stating that “In 2008, CFOIC helped over 50,000 people from Judea and Samaria.” (accessed October 30, 2010).

[158]One Israel Fund, “About Us,” (accessed October 4, 2010); One Israel Fund, “Make a Donation to One Israel Fund,” (accessed December 12, 2010).

[159]The “One Israel Fund” website also allows donors to “allocate your gift directly to any of the 150+ communities” in the settlements by writing in the name of the settlement. “Make a Donation to One Israel Fund,” (accessed October 4, 2010). Another specific “project” listed on the website, for example, is the “Arzei HaLevanon Pre-Military Torah Academy of Ma’ale Efraim.”

[160]US Internal Revenue Service (IRS), “Exemption Requirements - Section 501(c)(3) Organizations”,,id=96099,00.html (accessed September 30, 2010).

[161]IRS, “Exempt Purposes – Section 501(c)(3) Organizations,”,,id=175418,00.html (accessed September 30, 2010). The full text of Section 501(c)(3) is available at

[162]461 U.S. 574, Bob Jones University v. United States (1983), pp. 590-592 (upholding IRS Revenue Ruling 71-447), available at (accessed October 25, 2010).

[163]Id., citing Crellin v. Commissioner, 46 B. T. A. 1152, 1155-1156 (1942); James Sprunt Benevolent Trust v. Commissioner, 20 B. T. A.19, 24-25 (1930).

[164]Id., citing Rev.Rul. 67-325, 1967-2 Cum.Bull. 113.

[165] Businesses also benefit from large Israeli government subsidies, such as tax incentives, to locate their operations in settlements. See “Settler Incentives and Funding Sources,” above.

[166] In Har Homa, for example, Danya Cebus, a subsidiary of Africa-Israel Investments Ltd., constructed a 20-story tower and five 8-story buildings comprising a total of 118 housing units; see company website, (accessed August 24, 2010). The Norwegian government pension fund divested from Africa-Israel in August due to its role in settlement construction. Reuters and Shuki Sadeh, “Norway government-run pension fund drops Africa Israel group shares,” Haaretz, August 24, 2010, (accessed October 14, 2010).

[167]Report of the Registrar of Government Companies, Agrexco Agricultural Export Co., Ltd., December 31, 2007, on file with Human Rights Watch.

[168]Statement cited in Profundo, UK economic links with Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, (research paper prepared for the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London), 10 February 2009, pp. 15 -17. Agrexco’s total revenue was €650 million in 2007, such that settlement produce would amount to around €30 million. Agrexco’s total revenue appears to have dropped from more than € 600 million in 2007 to€ 492 million in 2009. Agrexco – which is co-owned by the Israeli government, Israeli production and marketing boards, and the Tnuva cooperative – exports 85 percent of its products to Western Europe, primarily under the Carmel brand. In 2009, the company marketed a total of 390,000 tons of fresh produce. “Agrexco,” Dun’s 100: Israel’s Largest Enterprises, (accessed August 24, 2010).

[169]Photographs taken in 2009 by members of the Women’s Coalition for Peace, an Israeli NGO, on file with Human Rights Watch. Photographs of “Carmel Agrexco” packing houses for agricultural produce in the Mechola settlement are available at, (accessed October 1, 2010)

[170]The awards committee included members of the Israeli Ministry of Agriculture, Agrexco, and the Vegetable Growers’ Organization of Israel and the Flower Growers’ Union of Israel. Carmel Agrexco, “Awards Ceremony for Farmers Excelling in Exports 2009”, (in Hebrew, accessed October 5, 2010).

[171]A number of other companies reportedly operate in Ro’i. See, e.g., Corporate Watch, “Companies trading from Ro’i settlement in the Jordan Valley,” August 19, 2010, (accessed August 24, 2010).

[172]As of 2007, total Palestinian water consumption stood at around 150 million cubic meters (MCM) in the West Bank. The 1995 Oslo accords granted the Palestinian Authority the right to extract 118 million cubic meters of water annually from aquifers in the West Bank (although by 2007, actual extraction had fallen to 113 MCM), and to develop an additional 20.5 MCM for “immediate needs” pending a final status agreement (of which the PA has been able to develop only 12.9 MCM). While the Oslo agreement allowed the PA to purchase up to 3.1 MCM from the Israeli national water carrier, Mekorot, by 2007, the PA depended on Mekorot for an additional 22.3 MCM of water each year. Oslo granted Israel rights to extract 40 million cubic meters (MCM) of water annually from the Eastern Aquifer, which underlies the Jordan Valley. World Bank, World Bank, West Bank and Gaza: Assessment of Restrictions on Palestinian Water Sector Development, Report No. 47657-GZ, April 18, 2009, pp. 7, 12,, accessed April 18, 2010 (hereafter “Water Sector Development”) p. 7, citing The Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Annex III, Article 40.

[173]Human Rights Watch interview, N. A., Jordan Valley, November 9, 2010.

[174]Corporate Watch, “Companies trading from Ro’i Settlement.”

[175]Yesh Din v. Commander of the IDF et al., (accessed August, 24, 2010); see Ethan Bronner, “Desert’s Sand and Rocks Become Precious Resources in West Bank Dispute,” New York Times, March 7, 2009, (accessed August 24, 2010).

[176]Yesh Din, citing Justice A. Barak, Jamait Askan v Commander of IDF forces in Judea and Samaria (HCJ 393/92, Piskei Din 37(4) 785, pp. 794-795).

[177] In addition to the UDHR, the preambles of both the ICCPR and ICESCR recognize that others beyond states—specifically individuals—have human rights responsibilities, which may cover juridical persons (including businesses) as well as natural persons. Moreover, there is a broad consensus that businesses are subject to direct responsibility for human rights abuses that amount to international crimes, including enslavement, genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. See Margins of Profit, note 3, pg. 4.

[178]John Ruggie, “Respect, Protect and Remedy: A Framework for Business and Human Rights,” A/HRC/8/5, April 7, 2008, (accessed August 25, 2010).

[179]Id., paragraphs 51-81.

[180] Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, OECD Doc. DAFFE/IME(2000)20 (2000), (accessed August 24, 2010).

[181]Id., Guidelines 2 and 3.

[182] The guidelines also applied to Israel before it became an OECD member. OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, “National Contact Points,” May 2010, (accessed August 24, 2010); “Israel’s accession to the OCED,” September 7, 2010,,3343,en_2649_34487_45697574_1_1_1_1,00.html (accessed October 31, 2010).

[183] OECD Guidelines, at I.3. OECD’s Investment Committee has stated that the Guidelines apply to international investment or other activities that have an “investment nexus,” which it has not defined but that, experience shows, can encompass supply and contractor relationships. For further discussion, see OECD Watch, “The Model National Contact Point (MNCP): Proposals for improving and harmonizing the procedures of the National Contact Points for the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises,” September 2007, p. 18

[184] The Tribunal held officers of the Krupp company responsible for confiscating and using property “based upon German-inspired anti-Jewish laws” in violation of Article 48 of the Hague Regulations, “which requires that the laws in force in an occupied country be respected”; and of Article 46 of the Hague Regulations, “which provides that private property must be respected.” Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals, Vol. IX, United States Government Printing Office, Washington, 1950, pp. 1351–2.