B'Tselem's Jessica Montell on Israel's settlements

Jessica Montell, Executive Director of B’Tselem [the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories] has just written on Foreign Policy’s Middle East Channel that:
the implications of settlements extend far beyond land issues. Settlements bring with them a host of hardships for Palestinians, ranging from restrictions on movement to obstacles to sewage treatment. They dictated the winding route of the Separation Barrier deep in the West Bank which in turn causes more hardships. Perhaps the most disturbing feature of this landscape is the entrenchment of two completely separate and discriminatory legal systems in a single area. In some cases, Palestinians and Israelis literally live side by side, yet the former are governed by military law while the latter enjoy all the benefits of Israeli democracy. This discrimination is manifest in almost every sphere of life: access to justice, due process, protection from violence, planning and building codes, access to water, and much more. Israel repeatedly promised to halt construction in settlements. This was explicitly part of the 2003 Road Map agreed with the Quartet as well as the 2007 Annapolis conference under the Bush administration. Despite this, settlements continued to grow, and at a much faster rate than the Israeli population as whole. While Israel argued that this “natural growth” cannot be stopped, it also continued to provide a myriad of financial benefits to encourage Israelis to move to settlements, including free preschools, a long school day, housing and mortgage subsidies, grants and subsidies for industry and agriculture, tax breaks and government assistance to municipalities to cover their debts. It is no wonder that in 2008 fully 20 percent of settlement growth was the result of migration from Israel proper“… This can be read in full here.

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