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Israel's One of the World's Biggest Land-Grabbers

by Stephen Lendman Wednesday, Feb. 06, 2013 at 11:27 PM


Israel's One of World's Biggest Land-Grabbers

by Stephen Lendman

It shouldn't surprise. Israel stole Palestinian land for decades. In 1948, it stole 78% of historic Palestine. In 1967 it took the rest.

It denies Palestinians the right to their own land. It declares it state land. A new study explained more. On January 29, Haaretz headlined "Israel ranks among the world's most harmful land-grabbers."

It's a new form of colonialism. Israel prioritizes it. Palestinian land worth tens of billions of dollars has been stolen. Israel plans taking all parts of historic Palestine it wants.

US and Italian researchers discussed global land-grabbing. The US National Academy published their findings. It warned about environmental and economic damage in poorer countries.

Accessed land is usually used "to grow crops for either food or biofuel." Local populations have no say. Israel uses stolen Palestinian land for multiple purposes.

They include resource theft, settlements, commercial development, closed military zones, tourist areas, and other locations off limits to Palestinians.

Globally, hundreds of millions of dunams of land-grabbing amounts to ten times the size of Israel. Much was gotten in recent years. Sixty-two countries are affected. Twenty-four matter most. They're largely in Asia and Africa.

Leading land-grabbers include America, Britain, China and Israel.

The Jewish state made the list by exploiting Palestine and other countries. They include Colombia and Democratic Republic of Congo.

Land usage "come(s) at the expense of forests or other ecologically important zones." Host countries are robbed of their own resources. Their ability to grow food and provide for their people are compromised.

Study findings showed 60% of water used served America, Britain, China, India, Israel, and several other countries.

Israel exploits foreign resources because its own are limited. China does it for cost-efficiency.

Shortly after Israel's War of Independence, laws enacted legitimized land theft for exclusive Jewish use.

The June 1948 Abandoned Areas Ordinance referred to "any area or place conquered by or surrendered to armed forces or deserted by all or part of its inhabitants."

It gave the Israel exclusive jurisdiction rights. It permitted "expropriation and confiscation (authority over) movable and immovable property, within any abandoned area."

It meant displaced Palestinians were prohibited from returning and claiming property rightfully theirs.

The September 1948 Area of Jurisdiction and Powers Ordinance stated that "Any law applying to the whole of the State of Israel" applies "to the whole of the area."

It includes "any part of Palestine which the Minister of Defense has defined by proclamation as being held by the Defense Army of Israel."

It meant Palestinians lost all rights. They're subject to whatever laws Israel enacts.

In March 1950, the Absentees' Property Law (ABL) defined an absentee as:

"a person who, at any time during the period between (November 29, 1947) and (May 19, 1948) has ceased to exist (and no longer) was a legal owner of any property situated in the area of Israel...."

The ABL transferred property owner rights to a Custodian of Absentee Property. It prohibited returning land to their rightful owners.

Israeli law disqualified Palestinians declared "absentees." They can't return because Israel won't let them. They no longer own their own property.

In July 1950, The Development Authority (Transfer of Property) Law shielded Israel from being accused of having confiscated abandoned Palestinian land and whatever was on it.

The Development Authority (DA) is authorized to buy, sell, lease, exchange, repair, build, develop and/or cultivate seized property.

Transactions between Jews or a Jewish entity alone are allowed. "(U)nder no circumstances (may expelled) Arabs return to Israel." Occupied Palestinians have no right to land designated no longer theirs.

In July 1960, Israel's Lands Administration Law established an Israel Lands Administration (ILA).

At the same time, Israel's Basic Law affirms that "ownership of Israel Lands, being the lands in Israel of the State, the Development Authority or the Keren Kayemet Le-Israel (KKL - Jewish National Fund, JNF), shall not be transferred either by sale or in any other manner."

Israeli land means "land, houses, buildings and any thing permanently fixed to land."

The Israel Land Administration (ILA) says "93% of the land in Israel is in the public domain; that is, either property of the state, the Jewish National Fund (JNF) or the Development Authority."

ILA manages land comprising 4,820,500 acres (19,508,000 dunams). "Ownership" usually means leasing rights from the ILA for 49 to 98 years.

ILA's legal framework stems from "four cornerstones:"

• the 1960 Basic Law: Israel Lands;

• the 1960 Lands Law;

• the 1960 Israel Land Administration; and

• the 1960 "Covenant between the State of Israel and the World Zionist Organization (Jewish National Fund)."

The Israel Land Council (ILC) determines ILA policy. The Council chairman is "Vice Prime Minister, Minister of Industry, Trade, Labor and Communications."

ILC includes 22 members. Twelve are from government ministries. Ten represent the JNF.

ILA functions include:

• assuring that national land use conforms with Israeli laws;

• protecting and supervising state lands;

• making them available for public use;

• planning, developing and managing state land reserves;

• initiating planning and development; doing so includes relocating existing occupants; Palestinians are dispossessed to make way for Jews;

• regulating and managing registration of state lands;

• authorizing contracts and agreements with other parties; and

• providing services to the general public.

ILA policy objectives include:

• designating land areas for public and state requirements;

• assuring the availability of land reserves for future needs;

• preserving agricultural lands;

• administering land use in accordance with the law; and

• safeguarding state lands.

Israeli law and ILA policy prohibit Arabs from buying, leasing or using land reserved exclusively for Jews. Doing so violates international law. Israel does it with impunity.

B'Tselem explains. It says "establish(ing) settlements in occupied territory runs counter to international humanitarian law, which prohibits the transfer of people from the occupying state into the occupied area."

"It also prohibits any permanent changes in the occupied territory, with the exception of changes mandated by military needs or in order to benefit the local population."

"In addition, the establishment of Israeli settlements leads to numerous violations of Palestinians' human rights."

The 1907 Hague Convention's Regulation 46 prohibits occupied land expropriation.

Fourth Geneva's Article 49 states "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled:

"Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development."  

"They've "been established in breach of international law" on sovereign Palestinian territory.

Israel does what it pleases with impunity. No wonder it's one of the world's biggest land-grabbers. It's official policy. Washington finances and facilitates what international law prohibits.

World leaders turn a blind eye. Palestinians cope best they can. Their liberating struggle continues.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.
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