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Saturday 20 December  
Dutch expert maps Israeli land grab
West Bank, Israel
West Bank, Israel

Dutch expert maps Israeli land grab

Published on : 30 September 2010 - 2:57pm | By Johan van der Tol (Photo: Foundation for Middle East Peace)
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Jewish settlers account for just one percent of the population of the West Bank, according to a Dutch map maker, but are claiming 60 percent of the land.

Palestinians have been finding it difficult to come up with exact figures detailing the growth of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Dutch map maker Jan de Jong has come to their aid.

Reliable maps play an essential role in the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations. The delineation of borders are of central importance, but good maps are scarce. Dutch cartographer Jan de Jong:

“The Palestinians had a real problem. They couldn’t call on the use of good maps or satellite images in talks with the Israelis. The only thing they could do was drive around the country and look at what was going on around the settlements. But it’s next to impossible for Palestinians to get near them.”

Of course, every internet user can get hold of satellite pictures via Google Maps. But these are not good enough for this kind of official use and expensive satellite images are needed.

Major land grab
While working on development projects, Mr De Jong set up a data base to be used by Palestinian farmers. He had at his disposal the latest detailed satellite images and was able to delineate the size of Jewish settlements. They are much bigger than Israel is publicly admitting.

“They are just one percent of the whole West Bank population, but they are claiming 60 percent of the land. The settlements are actually just built-up pockets, but the settlers include huge tracts of land around them by laying down barbed wire. So in effect it’s more like estates, containing just a few houses.”

The Israeli authorities prefer not to go into details about the size of Jewish settlements. The barbed wire barriers with which the settlement land is demarcated and enlarged are not to be found on Israeli maps. “You can’t find them, even on the most detailed Israeli maps,” says Mr De Jong. “You have to map the detail you see on satellite images and that you have recorded on the ground.”

He says construction was going on in the settlements even during the 10-month building moratorium which has just expired. “There was building work every day, except on Jewish holidays. That’s why I call it a virtual moratorium.”

Land grab
Buildings are constantly being added to the settlements, but Mr De Jong is more worried by the amount of land surrounding them. He calls it “an unbridled land grab”.

“It looks like the settlers are intent on keeping Palestinian farmers from coming near the settlements and leaving the land to go to waste. And, under Israeli law, if land is lying waste, you can claim it as your own.”

Is Mr De Jong’s work achieving anything? Will he have any effect on changing Israeli government policy? He says he is in contact with senior Israeli civil servants.

“Lots of Israeli ministry officials are interested in a kind of unbiased Western view of this information. These talks are ongoing and intense. But, at the highest level, you’re dealing with politics and that’s to do with fundamental decisions. These have nothing to do with the facts on the ground.”


  • Dutch cartographer Jan de Jong<br>&copy; Photo: Passia -


Anonymous 24 September 2011 - 12:52am

Under the law it easy to make Palestinians IDP's in the WB and they are shipped to Gaza. Israel under Netanyahu wants to send as many Palestinians as possible to Gaza. The remaining he will cut off via the Jordan valley, and fence into a second camp in the WB somewhere between Judea and Samaria. So the Palestinians will be contained in two camps one in Gaza and one in the WB. That is Netanyahu's idea of peace. He will use security as the reason to place them camps, under the guise of defending themselves.

The Observer 2 April 2011 - 4:05am / United States

First, the article is dated because it says that Jewish "settlers" account for just 1% of the West Bank population. With somewhere between 400,000 to 500,00 "settlers", the percentage is much higher.

But the important issue is the legality, or rather the lack thereof, for the "settlements" and the "settlers" in the West Bank which is Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT).

There is a considerable body of international law that clearly and unequivocally makes these "settlements" illegal.

I will provide just two examples:

In 2004, the UN General Assembly asked the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for an advisory opinion on the wall. To render such an opinion, the Court first had to deal with the so-called final status issues for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. These issues were and are: 1) borders 2) the status of Palestinian refugees 3) "settlements" in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and 4) the status of Jerusalem

These are the issues that the Israelis claim are SO COMPLICATED.

The court did NOT find them complicated at all. Here is what the court said: 1) the acquisition of territory by war is ILLEGAL, ergo Israel has NO LEGAL CLAIM to the West Bank and Gaza, that these are OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES 2) on Jerusalem, the same ILLEGALITY of the acquisition of territory by war applies, hence Israel has NO TITLE to any part of East Jerusalem 3) on the issue of "settlers", the Court ruled that Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention makes it ILLEGAL for an OCCUPYING POWER to transfer its citizens into the OCCUPIED TERRITORY, ergo ALL of the now roughly 409,000 - 500,000 Israeli "settlers" in OCCUPIED PALESTINIAN TERRITORY are there ILLEGALLY

The vote of the Court was 14 - 1. The lone negative vote was cast by the American judge. And even this judge did NOT deliver a dissent, he delivered a "declaration" in which he agreed with much in the majority opinion, and he agreed that the "settlements" were ILLEGAL. Thus, on the core issues, the decision was unanimous. The "settlements" are ILLEGAL, and the "settlers" are there ILLEGALLY.

Second: Every year the UN, by an overwhelming majority, (typically something like 164 to 7*) votes to approve the creation of a Palestinian state within the PRE JUNE 1967 BORDERS. So it is clear that only the Israelis "expect to keep" ill begotten gains, i.e. land that has been stolen from its rightful owners.

dave 1 October 2010 - 1:06pm / usa

about time we start to see real data, obviously N. korea and Iran are not alone

Hiram2 30 September 2010 - 10:31pm

“Lots of Israeli ministry officials are interested in a kind of unbiased Western view of this information. These talks are ongoing and intense. But, at the highest level, you’re dealing with politics and that’s to do with fundamental decisions. These have nothing to do with the facts on the ground.” The Headline "Dutch expert maps Israeli land grab" is biased. How can one have a land grab there own land. The Romans did a land grab on Israel and then it was land grabbed again after the Romans left and in 1948 it was taken back by the Jewish people from who it was stolen from in the first place. When East Germany was taken by the Germans, did the land belong to Russia or the Germans? First it belonged to the Germans, then to U.S.S.R., and the Germans got it back. No, the land is the property of the Jewish people and they are not going to give it back to those who squatted on it. Why? Because as one person stated "And the land grab will continue until the entire area has been 'ethnically cleansed." Not only do those squatters and their ilk in Europe only want to grab the land that of Israel but they want to finish what herr Herr Hitler failed to do. They want to "ethnically cleansed" all Jewish people from the planet. Talk about land grabs, the Europeans and the British have stolen (grabbed) more land then anyone up to this time!

kathleen 30 September 2010 - 11:30pm / USA

It is beyond ridiculous that this person says that Jews born in US have a claim to land in Palestine.Palestine was never stolen from the Jews.Romans did not kick indigenous people from their lands. They ruled the people and the people stayed there.Most Jews from US (many live in the WB on Palestinian stolen land)do not have biological ancestors from the ME.Palestinians have lived there from the time people were there;during bible times. Most Jews in Palestine/Israel are Euopean Jews not indigenous to Palestine.My ancestors are from Ireland. I can't go to Ireland and make a claim on land because I'm Irish. My religious roots are Catholic. I cannot got to Bethlehem and demnd my right for the land there either. There are Palestinians there who are the original Christians.This land is not the property of the Jewsish people. Judaism is a religion. Being Jewish does not give you the right to steal someone's land. International Laws apply since apparently you don't follow your own religion's commandments.Israelis now have 60% of the West Bank by land theft.

Hiram2 30 September 2010 - 11:56pm

"It is beyond ridiculous that this person says that Jews born in US have a claim to land in Palestine."....How can Germans born in East and West Germany claim land in East Germany when they were forced out of Germany by the Russians? They were forced out just like the Jewish people were forced out by the Romans and Muslims. They are stealing the land, it was their's in the first place. When the Germans stole the paintings and gold from the people they murdered in the 1930's and 1940's, those people died and but in the 1980's and after, the paintings and gold was returned to the families and the state of Israel of those murdered. They weren't there but they were given back what was stolen. Land, paintings, and gold, it doesn't make any difference. If you go out and steal something, you are not entitled to keep it. One is not violating a religious law by taking back what is his. In Ireland, there are people who are trying to back land (northern Ireland) from the UK. The UK stole the land and people of Irish descent are still trying to take back their land.

janv 1 October 2010 - 1:12pm / canada

"Land, paintings, and gold, it doesn't make any difference." Of course there is a huge difference between Land and any other thing. Once the land base is taken or destroyed, lives are destroyed. I have some paintings and gold for you Hiram2. They are of no value. I cannot eat them or live on them, raise my family, grow my food. We agreen that paintings, money and gold have value, but they really do not. They are all part of this fraud.

Once again you fail to look at the facts. You write a lot, but say nothing meaningful.

Hiram2 1 October 2010 - 2:25pm

There must be a difference; otehrwise, all of thosw stolen paintings wouldn't have been confiscated and returned. As to your statement " I cannot eat them or live on them, raise my family, grow my food." Your perception of eat, raise, or and grow is weak. Those are the only facts in which you can base your logic. It is build on a weak foundation and is meaningful only to you. One again you look upon facts as a horse plows a field with blinders on. You have no perception of reality because your blinders restict you from seeing anything to the left or right of your field of vision unless you can eat it, raise a family on it, or grow food on it. If you take off your blinders, which you are unable to do, you would see that those items which have no value are a value to someone who knows they can be traded for other items like money. When somone makes a statement such as " You write a lot, but say nothing meaningful.", it implies the person (you) has a limited and very restricted view of the world. There are professionals who are capable of helping you remove those blinders but their charges per hour is quite high. Give them your paintings and gold. They will trade them for money but don't feel bad when you only get to talk to them for a few minutes. I am positive your gold is a fool's gold.

Rafael Lopez Mejia 30 September 2010 - 9:55pm

Another Dutch People seeking justice in a peaceful manner with technical and geographical data for analysis, but they will not find any solutions. It is important that Jan de Jong trust in human reason, but when dealing with demagogues and murderers Israelis will dream and goodwill will be in vain.

Anonymous 30 September 2010 - 6:23pm / you know

Breathes there the man, with soul so dead, who never to himself hath said, this is my own, my native land?
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

Hiram2 30 September 2010 - 10:06pm

“Tis plain that there is not in nature a point of stability to be found: everything either ascends or declines. When wars are ended abroad, sedition begins at home, and when men are freed from fighting for necessity, they quarrel through ambition.”

Anonymous 30 September 2010 - 6:09pm / Israel

This is unfortunately of very little use, being totaly inaccurate and unreliable. Even if East jerusalem is not counted, Jews (300,000) now constitute at least 15% of the population in the West Bank. the 60% figure (which confuses C areas and security zones such as the Jordan Valley with actual settlement areas - are equally ridiculous on teh other side of the scale. Mr. de jong would do well to rely on better sources, including the israeli left.

Jack Fertig 30 September 2010 - 5:36pm / USA

This looks like it should be tremendously helpful. Too bad the map itself is not more clearly displayed here.

Vera Gottlieb 30 September 2010 - 4:33pm / Germany

And the land grab will continue until the entire area has been 'ethnically cleansed'.

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