The Israeli government has been engaging in discriminatory ground practices in Israel for decades, Human Rights Watch says.
Palestinians of Israeli citizenship are denied access to land to accommodate “natural population growth”, reflecting Israel’s policy of pushing Palestinian communities beyond the occupied territories, according to a new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report.
The U.S.-based legal group said Tuesday that Israeli government policy favors Jewish citizens because they have been confiscating land for decades and discriminatory policies have restricted Palestinian citizens to densely populated towns and villages that have little opportunity to expand.
He also said the Israeli government was “nurturing growth and expansion” in neighboring predominantly Jewish communities, many of which were built on the ruins of Palestinian villages destroyed during Nakba in 1948, which the Palestinians call a disaster that occurred in the war that took place. Israel when hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced to flee their homes.
“Israeli policy on both sides of the Green Line restricts Palestinians to dense population centers while maximizing the land available to Jewish communities,” said Eric Goldstein, HRW’s executive director for the Middle East.
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“These practices are well known in the Occupied West Bank, but the Israeli authorities also carry out discriminatory ground exercises in Israel.”
Despite the fact that Israeli Palestinian citizens make up 21% of the country’s population, Israeli and Palestinian legal groups in 2017 estimated that less than 3% of Israel’s land is under the jurisdiction of Palestinian Authority, the report said.
The Israeli government directly controls 93% of the country’s land, including occupied East Jerusalem. According to HRW, these state lands are managed and allocated by a state agency, the Israel Land Office (ILA).
Nearly half of the members of the ILA belong to the Jewish National Fund (JNF), which has an explicit mandate to “develop and lease land to Jews and not to any other segment of the population,” HRW noted.
In addition, many small Jewish cities have admissions committees that effectively prevent Palestinians from living there. These committees generally have legal authority and authority to sell public land and determine the conditions of residence.
The same goes for the Negev Palestinian Bedouin villages, most of which are unrecognized. The Israeli authorities regularly carry out demolition instructions in the Negev on the assumption that these villages do not have building permits, which residents say is impossible to obtain.
“Words on paper”
Since 1948, Israel has allowed the development of more than 900 Jewish population centers, comparing only a handful of settlements and villages for Palestinians of Israeli citizenship.
It also approved the construction of roads and other infrastructure around Palestinian communities, further preventing expansion.
Omar Shakir, director of HRW Israel and Palestine, said it was “very clear” that Palestinian towns and villages were being “loaded.”
“Israeli planning policies and land confiscation have reduced them to dense population centers for many years while Jewish communities have been allowed to flourish,” Shakir told Al Jazeera.
The Israeli-based Arab Alternative Planning Center estimates that between 60,000 and 700,000 homes in Israel, excluding Jerusalem, are at risk of demolition.
Although the Israeli government has recognized this as a “serious problem” in recent years, Shakir said no concrete steps have been taken to implement plans and proposals to help ease the plan.
Shakir added that significant investments are needed in these communities and in the allocation of public land.
Similar policies have been used to limit the growth of Palestinian communities in the occupied West Bank, the report stressed, where home demolition, land confiscation, and the expansion of illegal Jewish settlements have not eased.