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Demolition, Evictions And Heartache: What You Should Know About Israeli Settlements

With another round of peace talks between Israel and Palestinian officials set to resume on Aug. 14, here's a look at one of the most decisive issues at hand.

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2. That's because when it comes to peace negotiations, they're something of a sore spot


Peace talks dissolved in 2010 when Israel announced plans to build 1,600 new homes in the West Bank -- a move paralleled by Israel's announcement on Sunday that it had approved the building of nearly 1,200 new settlement apartments in East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

3. First off, the UN has deemed them illegal


Here's an excerpt from a report issued by the United Nations-created International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) in January explaining why:

"Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention also prohibits an occupying Power from transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory that it occupies. This prohibition has attained the status of customary international law. The Mission notes that the Israeli settlements in the OPT, including East Jerusalem, violate this provision and are, thus, illegal under international law."

4. Of course, not everyone agrees


The following was issued by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs in response to the UN report:

"The accepted usage in UN and other international bodies of the term 'occupied Palestinian territories' (OPT) is legally flawed and indicative of the inherent bias accompanying this entire exercise. There has never been any determination that the West Bank territories are in fact 'Palestinian territories.' The use of the expression 'OPT' constitutes a politically biased and unjustified prejudgment as to the legal status of the territories, which remain 'disputed territories' pending agreement between the parties."

6. And akin to South African apartheid


According to the press statement regarding the release of the 2013 UN report, "The settlements are maintained and advanced through a system of total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This system of segregation is supported and

facilitated by strict military and law enforcement control to the detriment of the rights of the Palestinian population."

8. That is rightfully theirs


A recent poll released by the Israeli Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University showed that of the 602 individuals polled, 63 percent of Israeli Jews said they were against an agreement that would re-establish 1967 borders, or Israel's borders prior to the Six-Day War, which resulted in the capture of the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, Old City of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights.

9. Either way, how the government encourages Israelis to move into these housing complexes is a controversy in and of itself


"A governmental scheme of subsidies and incentives has been put in place to encourage Jewish migrants to Israel to move to settlements and to boost settlements’ economic development," the 2013 UN report explained, adding that the settlements "have been defined as 'National Priority Areas' and benefit from housing and education subsidies and direct incentives to the industrial, agricultural and tourism sectors."

10. As is the issue of where the settlements have been constructed

Via United Nations

According to the same report, the settlements are "generally located amongst the more vulnerable sections of Palestinian society, predominantly agrarian villages."

Furthermore, both the housing complexes and "the associated restrictions," have decreased "Palestinian access to and control over their natural resources," including water resources in the West Bank. "Settlements," it reads, "exploit mineral extraction and fertile agricultural lands, denying Palestinians access to their natural resources."

11. Israeli settlers have suffered as well when, from time to time, the government has taken action against what it qualifies as unsanctioned or otherwise problematic settlements

Via The New York Times

This image depicts a family whose home was razed in 2009 after their West Bank residence was deemed illegal by the state. And while only a handful of families were affected in this case, greater were the implications in 2005 when Israel dismantled 21 settlements in the Gaza Strip along with four others in the West Bank as part of a "disengagement plan." According to Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, a total of 9,000 individuals were affected under this action taken to "end the stalemate of the peace process after more than four years of terrorist bloodshed."

12. Meanwhile, many Palestinians face checkpoints and other forms of travel restrictions in relation to Israeli settlements that make visiting family or attending work or school difficult and even impossible

Via The New York Times

The 2013 UN report states that "the vast majority of restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians seem to be directly linked to the settlements and include 'restrictions aimed at protecting the settlements, securing areas for their expansion, and improving the connectivity between settlements and with Israel itself.'" And while recent years have seen a "significant easing" in many areas, the report explains that they "remain in place in areas around settlements."

As a result, "The human rights treaty bodies have expressed their deep concern at restrictions on freedom of movement describing them as being targeted at a particular national or ethnic group and amounting to gross violations of economic, social and cultural rights."

16. Is a really difficult two state solution


2013 UN report:

"About 250 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem have been established since 1967 either with or without Government authorization. The number of settlers is estimated at 520,000 (200,000 in East Jerusalem and 320,000 in the rest of the West Bank). Over the past decade the settler population has grown at a much higher rate than the population in Israel itself with a yearly average growth of 5.3 per cent (excluding East Jerusalem), compared to 1.8 per cent in Israel."

17. Which is exactly what this guy is hoping for

Via The New York Times

Secretary of State John Kerry is flanked by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat seen on the left and Israel’s justice minister, Tzipi Livni, on the right. Kerry has said that the goal of the latest talks will focus on an agreement within the next nine months that would lead to an independent Palestinian state.

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