Israeli Govt. report reveals land grabs ARE illegal
But carries on with them anyway.
The scale of Israel's illegal land grab in the occupied territories was disclosed yesterday when the government's own investigation found at least £9 million of taxpayers' money was recently used for illegal Jewish outposts.
While domestic and international attention is focused on Israel's plan to withdraw all its settlements in Gaza, the report suggests a clear push by the Israeli government to stake out more land in the West Bank.
This policy received tacit support from the United States last year when President George W Bush said Israel could rightfully claim any territory where there was an existing Jewish community centre even if set up illegally.
Campaigners against Jewish settlements pointed out that while the investigation reported several months ago that a systemic abuse of the legal process took place in the government, no individuals have been prosecuted yet.All Israeli building on land occupied in the 1967 war is regarded by Britain and the European Union as illegal under international law.Israel has always denied that the settlements breach international law but now the government's own report, prepared by a respected lawyer, Talia Sasson, found that scores of outposts broke Israel's domestic laws.
According to her report, which used figures accurate up to June of last year, £9 million was channelled illegally by the housing ministry to Jewish communities setting up illegal settlements during the premiership of the current prime minister, Ariel Sharon, and his Likud party predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu, in the late 1990s.
It is likely that the actual figure for illegal government funding is much higher because the settlements would have received money from the defence ministry and other agencies, although Mrs Sasson was unable to trace those sums.
According to the report, 82 illegal outposts received funding from the housing ministry. At least 15 of the outposts were built on land that was wholly owned by Palestinians and 39 on land that was partly Palestinian property and partly state-owned.
While there are a total of about 8,000 Jewish settlers in Gaza, all of whom are due to be evacuated later this summer, in the West Bank the numbers of settlers are significantly higher.
There are about 180,000 Jewish settlers in communities built to the east of Jerusalem on land occupied in 1967 and a further 240,000 in more than 200 settlements and outposts dotted across the West Bank.