SIR – There have been a number of confusing and propogandist letters about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict published in recent weeks which clearly need to be challenged with the hard facts, which I lay out below:
During Israel’s establishment in 1948, Zionist terrorists and Israeli forces ethnically cleansed more than 400 Palestinian towns and villages, including homes, businesses, houses of worship, and vibrant urban centres, which were systematically destroyed or repopulated with Jews. Most of them were demolished to prevent the return of their Palestinian owners, now refugees or internally displaced.
Israel initially expropriated some 4,244,776 acres of land belonging to Palestinians while between 1948 and 1967, Israel expropriated another 172,973 acres of land belonging to Palestinian citizens of the state.
Today, approximately 100,000 internal refugees live in more than 100 ‘unrecognised villages’ near their original demolished homes.
Palestinians have been living under oppressive Israeli military rule in the occupied territories since 1967, while inside Israel proper, apartheid policies and laws limit and contain the Palestinian population in order to create and maintain a Jewish majority with privileges denied to non-Jews. An example is that non-Jewish citizens of Israel are confined by law and zoning policies to just 3.5% of the land.
Illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are segregated housing units built for the use of Jews on Palestinian land. Their purpose is to cement permanent Israeli control over the occupied Palestinian territories and to prevent the creation of an independent Palestinian state.
All Israeli settlements violate international law and Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention which states, ‘The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’ The Hague Convention on the laws of war also forbids occupying powers from making permanent changes in the occupied territory unless it is a military necessity.
Palestinian land is stolen, homes destroyed and occupants evicted by the Israeli government and by settlers themselves for these illegal settlements. Today, there are some 650,000 settlers living on occupied Palestinian land in over 200 settlements. Checkpoints limit Palestinian movement and many are denied access to their farmland as more and more separation barriers are erected.
Although Israeli settlers and Palestinians in the occupied territories live in the same land, they are subject to two separate and unequal legal systems based on their religion. Settlers are given exclusive legal protections, rights, services and financial benefits denied to Palestinians in the same territory and subjected to Israeli military law.
This is the reality of an apartheid Israel which seeks to sell itself as under constant threat to its existence and no longer with any pretence of achieving peace or compliance with UN regulations or international norms of behaviour