Previous session: “Settlements Inc.” – 7 April 2017

Friday, 7 April 2017 – “Settlements Inc.” Implications of settlement activity in the West Bank

In 1977, Menhamen Begin, Israeli Prime Minister, refused Jimmy Carter’s request to halt settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territories which were home to approximately 55,000 settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. 1977 marked a turning point with settlement expansion, Begin and his Agriculture Minister at the time Ariel Sharon, established, for the first time, settlements deep in the West Bank’s heartland paving the way for a continuous settlement expansion policy that stretches to the present day. Today, there are 250 settlements and settlement outposts across the West Bank and East Jerusalem, housing an excess of 650,000 settlers in contravention of intentional law.

Settlements are a key driver of humanitarian and economic vulnerability in the occupied territories. According to the United Nations, they deprive Palestinians of their property and sources of livelihood and restrict their access to services giving rise to a range of humanitarian threats.1 Economically, settlement construction in the West Bank is accompanied by the confiscation of large swathes of Palestinian land and destruction of Palestinian property, seizure of water resources, appropriation of touristic and archaeological sites, and exploitation of Palestinian natural resources. Additionally, settlements are supported by an infrastructure of roads, checkpoints, and the Separation Wall leading to the fragmentation of Palestinian communities across the West Bank rendering a viable, contiguous Palestinian state ever less possible as 42 percent of the West Bank is appropriated for settlement activity.23 In light of this background, we ask:

* How do settlement activities impact Palestinian livelihoods in the West Bank? What are the economic and humanitarian impacts of settlements expansion?

* To what extent do settlements really hinder the political process between Israelis and Palestinians?

* What role would settlements play in a future negotiated agreement between the Palestinians and Israeli’s?

Joining us for this discussion is Yehezkel Lein. Yehezkel is the Head of Analysis, Communication and Protection Unit at UN-OCHA in the occupied Palestinian territories. He previously served as the Head of Research Unit at B’Tselem, the Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the occupied territories, a leading Israeli NGO documenting human rights violations in the Israeli-occupied territories. Yehezkel has a master’s degree in international human rights law from the University of Oxford, and a masters of political science from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

The following articles are suggested background readings on the topic. They are not required for participation, rather, they are provided for those who would like to prepare for our discussion:

Where and when?

11am-1230pm, Friday 7 April

Discussions take place on the first Friday of each month at 11am, and are held at the Centre for Arab and Islamic Studies (CAIS) at the ANU.

We welcome suggestions for topics that are of interest to participants. If you would like to suggest a topic, speaker, or make a presentation yourself, please contact us.


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