According to B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, over 300,000 Israelis live in more than 200 settlements and settlement outposts throughout the West Bank — all established in contravention of international law, some even in contravention of Israeli law.
Tens of thousands of hectares of land, including pastureland and farmland, have been seized from Palestinians for settlements, Al Ray Palestinian Media Agency reports:
Additional lands were confiscated for settler bypass roads, highly militarized checkpoints have been constructed in order to channel Palestinian movement away from settlements, Palestinian farmlands have effectively become off-limits to their owners.
The massive ‘Separation Barrier’ was established within the West Bank so as to keep as many settlements as possible on the ‘Israeli side’.
The presence of Israeli security forces is needed in the West Bank, according to the report, to protect the settlers, resulting in daily friction between Israeli troops and Palestinian residents and often leading to human rights violations by security forces, including acts of violence and illegal gunfire.
Under the Oslo Accords, the Palestinian Authority (PA) was established and control of the West Bank was divided between PA security forces and Israel, with Israel retaining full control over 60% of it, labeled Area C.
Furthermore, the rest of the West Bank — not contiguous but made of ‘islands’, where most of the Palestinian population lives — was handed over to the PA for full or partial control and labeled Areas A and B.
This partitioning of political power is said to create the impression that Israel does not impact the lives of most Palestinians in the West Bank. However, according to the report, this is merely an illusion:
Most Palestinian land reserves, including those for Areas A and B, remained in Area C, with Palestinians left to seek Israeli permission to expand their communities, build factories, lay water-pipes, and so on.
Israel controls all passage between the West Bank and towns in Areas A and B, and Israeli security forces regularly enter and patrol PA territory.
Settlements in occupied Palestine are Jewish-dominated civilian communities built on lands confiscated by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War, existing in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and in the Golan Heights region.
Meanwhile, Israel continues to expand its settlements in the West Bank, regardless of the Oslo Accords, which specify in article 31 that neither side will take any step to change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.
However, the expansion has continued virtually unchallenged, despite condemnation from nearly all other nations and the United Nations, to whose resolutions Israel is signatory.