Israeli Settlements Are the Reason Palestinians Will Never See Peace


A Palestinian man from Jerusalem was forced to destroy his own home in Jerusalem on Sunday. Trying to avoid a 73,000 shekel ($20,400) fine, Zaid Ameira demolished the home he built 15 years ago on land he inherited from his father because Israeli authorities stated that the home was unlicensed.

This is only one of many recent home demolition and eviction incidents in Palestine. Israel recently unveiled plans to evict 1,300 Palestinians from their homes to save the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) time and money. Earlier this month Israel slated Dakika, an entire village on the edge of the south Hebron hills, for demolition, because according to Israeli authorities it was created illegally on "state land." In June, Israel issued home demolition orders to Palestinians in a Ramallah village to make room for the expansion of an illegal Israeli settlement.

Continual home demolitions and evictions by Israel undermines their so-called commitment to peace and illustrates their continual desire to impede the creation of an autonomous Palestinian state. Since Israel's occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the IDF has demolished over 18,000 Palestinian homes in the occupied territories, according to the Center for Constitutional Rights. It is impossible to broker a peace agreement between Palestinians and Israelis and create a Palestinian state while Israel continues its control of the West Bank and deems most of that land "state land" so that it can carry out illegal settlement expansions and forced expulsion of the Palestinian people.

Over 60% of the West Bank has been classified as "Area C", an area that is under full control and jurisdiction by Israel. According to the European Union's report on Area C and Palestinian state-building, "Palestinian presence in Area C has continuously been undermined through different administrative measures, planning regulations, and other means adopted by Israel as occupying power." Israel's policy in this area is meant to serve Israel's development of illegal settlements, military exercises, and economic interests, according to B'Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights. These interests come at the cost of hopes for peace in Israel's longstanding conflict with the Palestinian people.

One of these administrative measures is continuous home demolitions of Palestinian homes in that region. While the majority of home demolitions are made on the grounds of Palestinians' lack of building permits, Israel does not hold illegal Israeli settlers to the same requirements. According to Israel's State Comptroller report, Israelis occupying 83 settlements in the West bank are not required to pay leasing fees, and Israeli authorities do not enforce illegal construction laws for these settlements. Since the beginning of the 1990s, about 100 settlement outposts have been established in Area C without permission from the state. By the end of 2011 there were at least 325,000 settlers living in these settlements.

This number will continue to grow as Israel continues to announce plans to build new settlements and puts 91 new settlements on its "national priority funding list." Unlike illegal Israeli settlers, Palestinians are required to obtain permits to build on their privately-owned land. Obtaining these permits is almost impossible. According to the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions (ICAHD), 94% of building-permit requests filed by Palestinians are denied by Israeli authorities. "Israel's discriminatory planning restrictions result in the lack of building permits for the Palestinian population in the West Bank, forcing them to build without permits and live under the constant threat of eviction and demolition," says United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. According to the ICAHD, the goal of increased home demolitions is to prevent any viable Palestinian state and ensures Israel's control of the West Bank.

Since the occupation of the West Bank in 1967, Israel has created and maintained policies that deny Palestinians self-determination while helping to develop and construct illegal Israeli settlements. In order to create a Palestinian state, Palestinians must be provided the right to build homes in an area that is recognized as occupied Palestinian territories by the international community. The right to have adequate housing is a basic human right that is continually denied by Israel. The discriminatory housing regulations and home demolitions carried out by Israel hinder plans to create a viable Palestinian state and destroy chances for a peaceful solution to this conflict.