Myths and Facts About Jewish Settlements

(communicated by the Israel Government Press Office)
Jerusalem, December 2, 1997

1) Myth: The Oslo Accords prohibit the expansion of Jewish settlements in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

Fact: Neither the Declaration of Principles (DOP) of September 13, 1993 nor the Interim Agreement ("Oslo 2") of September 28, 1995 contains any provisions prohibiting or restricting the establishment or expansion of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza.

When he presented the Oslo 2 accords before the Knesset on October 5, 1995, the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stated, "I wish to remind you, we made a commitment, meaning we reached an agreement, we made a commitment to the Knesset not to uproot any settlement in the framework of the Interim Agreement, nor to freeze construction and natural growth."

Under Article XXXI(5) of Oslo 2, the issue of Jewish settlements is to be addressed in the final status negotiations. According to an internal Israel Foreign Ministry legal analysis prepared on March 18, 1996 by Joel Singer, the Foreign Ministry Legal Advisor under the Labor Government, Israel rejected Palestinian attempts to bar new Jewish settlements in the context of the Oslo process. According to Singer, "In the course of the negotiations on the DOP, the representatives of the PLO tried to obtain a clause prohibiting Israel from establishing new settlements. Israel rejected this demand." Thus, Yasser Arafat agreed to the Oslo Accords despite the fact that he failed to achieve a halt in settlement activity in the interim period.

2) Myth: The expansion of Jewish settlements is an obstacle to peace.
Fact: Under the previous Labor government, the Jewish population of the West Bank and Gaza grew by approximately 50%, from 96,158 in June 1992 to 145,000 in June 1996. This rapid growth occurred concurrently with the signing of the September 1993 Oslo Accords and the September 1995 Oslo 2 Accords and did not forestall progress in the peace process.

As the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin said, "I am not ready for there to be a law in Israel to forbid building houses in existing settlements, or a kindergarten or a cultural center in a place where people live today." (AP, January 10, 1995) Former Prime Minister Shimon Peres also stated, "Building which is necessary for normal life, like schools, private apartments, we are not going to stop."
(Jewish Telegraphic Agency, January 25, 1995)

3) Myth: Israel confiscates land to build settlements.
Fact: As a matter of policy, Israel does not requisition private land for the establishment of Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza. Housing construction is allowed only on public land after an exhaustive investigation has confirmed that no private rights exist regarding the land in question.

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