RAMALLAH, April 1 (JMCC) - According to statistics released by the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, Israel
today controls 85 percent of the 27,000 square kilometers of historic Palestine.
“You cannot talk about a state – even a small state – when we have numbers that show Palestinians have less than 15 percent of what was once Palestine,” says Ola Awad, acting director of the statistics bureau.
The statistics, released on the occasion of Land Day, show that not only does Israel completely control the area it declared its state upon in 1948, its settlers and military control the vast majority of the occupied Palestinian territories
. Now, four million Palestinians have administrative control of only 15 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
In the West Bank, two million Palestinians live on and cultivate only 3,000 square kilometers, the rest eaten up by the Israeli settlement
The West Bank’s total area is 6,000 square kilometers. Israel confiscated 10 percent of the West Bank after capturing it in 1967. Israel imposes use restrictions over 30 percent of the West Bank – what is referred to as “area C”. By-pass roads connecting the settlements to one another consume another 3.5 percent of the West Bank. Finally, the Wall
that Israel is now constructing through the West Bank has confiscated in practice an additional three percent of the West Bank’s area.
While Israel removed its settlers from the Gaza Strip in 2005, it has established a buffer zone where Palestinians are unable to build and develop freely. The buffer zone, running along Gaza’s border with Israel is 87 square kilometers and equivalent to 24 percent of Gaza’s total area, says Awad.
In eastern Jerusalem
, where Palestinians hope to establish the capital of their state, 55 percent of all West Bank settlers live, comprising 17 percent of the total population.
“What is happening in practice is a drain on the land, and the creation of these facts on the ground is nearly irreversible,” says Awad. “We must act immediately before it is too late.”
Half of the eastern part of the city -- 72,000 acres -- is entirely settled by Israeli Jews, while Arabs increasingly live in isolated neighborhoods, according to director of cartography at the Arab Studies Society, Khalil Tufakji.
He says that when all is said and done, Palestinians will live on 13 percent of East Jerusalem, as some 150,000 Palestinians will be on the West Bank side of the wall and effectively removed from the city limits.
Awad, too, believes that East Jerusalem will lose more than 60 percent of its Palestinian residents to the Wall.
Tufakji predicts that if Israel implements all of its settlement plans, Palestinians will eventually comprise only five percent of the eastern city’s built-up area.
“If the reality is that East Jerusalem will retain a Palestinian population of only 20 percent – currently at about 50 percent,” he says, “then it is certainly impossible that the city will be the capital of the Palestinian state.”