Israel Settlements in the Occupied Territories
Since Israel occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights during the Six Day War of 1967 they have been building settlements for Jewish settlers in this region. There were also new towns in Gaza but Israel called all settlers back in 2005. Although the peace accord signed with the PLO in Oslo prohibited the building of new settlements the Israeli government is continuing to grant their construction.
The international community regards these settlements as illegal and the United Nations has repeatedly condemned the Jewish state for building them. The Jewish settlements in the occupied territories are one reason why peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians are at a standstill. Amnesty International and other human rights organizations argue that constructing settlements on the Palestinian territory is a violation of human rights.
Today, about 350 000 settlers live in over a hundred settlements in the West Bank. Another 300,000 live in East Jerusalem, 20,000 live on the Golan Heights. Some of the settlements are recently built small cities with their own infrastructure, urban services and transportation; others have been built in the suburbs of big cities like Hebron. Recently the Israeli government has authorized the construction of four new settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Originally the Jewish settlements were constructed in order to stop Palestinians from obtaining their own state and to establish a buffer zone between Israel and its Arab neighbors.
Settlers have largely come to the region for economic reasons. Israel’s government offers certain bonuses to people who are willing to settle there. Goods produced in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are subsidized by the government. Tax cuts and other economic incentives motivate Israelis to move to the occupied territories. On the other side there are religious fanatics who believe they are returning to their biblical homeland. They regard Arabs as aliens in their country.
Most new settlers enjoy the advantages of their new home. While Israeli settlements offer jobs to Palestinians who would otherwise be unemployed, there is regular tension between settlers and Arabs.
Many settlements are built on the best farming land. Palestinians accuse Israelis of consuming too much water and leaving them only little. Reports of violence on the side of settlers who lash out at Palestinians are not uncommon.
The future of the Jewish settlements is only one issue that needs to be resolved in order to achieve a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East. Other issues are the future of Jerusalem and the borders between Israel and a new Palestinian state.
Israel settlement in the West Bank
- accuse = blame; to say something is your fault
- advantage = the good side of something
- alien = foreigner
- although = while
- argue = to disagree with someone; to give clear reasons about your opinion
- authorize = allow
- biblical = written in the Bible
- border = line between two countries
- buffer zone = area that protects you from enemies
- community = here: all the people in the world
- condemn = criticize; to say that something is wrong
- consume = use
- economic = about industry, trade and money
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- goods = products
- government = the people who rule a country
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- human rights = the basic rights that everyone should have
- illegal = against the law
- incentive = something that gives you a reason to work harder or do something
- infrastructure = schools, hospitals, roads etc.. ; things that a city needs to exist
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- PLO = Palestine Liberation Organization = political group of Palestinians who want their own state
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- settlement = group of houses or buildings in a place where not many people have lived before
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- subsidize = when the government gives money to a company to produce something
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- violation = action that is against the law