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article imageIsraeli spending on settlements grows 38% since 2010

By Ken Hanly     Aug 2, 2012 in World
Jerusalem - The Jewish newspaper Haaretz reports that spending on settlements has soared 38 per cent since 2010. The number of settlers on Palestinian territory tripled from 1993 to 342,000 in 2011. Even this total excludes 200,000 Jews living in East Jerusalem.
East Jerusalem was annexed by Israel in 1967 but the annexation is not recognized internationally. According to UN sources 3,437 Palestinians have suffered displacement through demolitions in the West Bank area as well as East Jerusalem. Under international law this activity is illegal. International law forbids forced transfer of civilian populations and placing settlers in the areas vacated.
The figures on spending come from a report that is prepared for U.S. officials. The U.S. deducts the amount spent on settlements from U.S. loan guarantees. Prior to 2003 Israel even gave tax breaks to Israeli citizens who moved to the West Bank.
Yariv Oppenheimer, head of Peace Now, complaining about the large amount spent on settlers and settlement said:"If the government would just make per capita spending for residents of the settlements equal to spending for the rest of the country's citizens, we would be able to cancel the widespread [budget] cuts and significantly reduce tax increases,"
The UN reports that Israeli demolition of homes and infrastructure in occupied areas of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem devastates Palestinian families. Sixty per cent of the West Bank is controlled by Israel.
Many of the families whose homes are demolished are already in poverty and displacement makes the situation much worse. Palestinian children involved often suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety the UN claims. After displacement not only does the poverty of families often increase but their access to education, health care, and even water and sanitation may be negatively affected.
Since Israel sets the rules in East Jerusalem and a large area of the West Bank, Palestinians must apply for permits to build in these areas. In recent years more than 94 per cent of applications have been denied. Even worse, Palestinians can only build in just 13 per cent of East Jerusalem and a mere 1 per cent of the area of the West Bank under Israeli control.
As a result of these restrictions many Palestinian-built structures are built without a permit. Such structures are considered illegal by Israel and hence subject to demolition. Palestinians unable to get permits but needing homes build without permits or not at all. The UN estimates that between 28 per cent and 46 per cent of homes built by Palestinians could be subject to demolition. Imagine living in a house where you never know when the bulldozers will come and you will be driven out.
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