Towards Final Status
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Jerusalem
Settlements
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Resolving the issue of Settlements
1 - Settlements Under Oslo
2 - Background
3 - The Israeli Position
4 - The Palestinian Position
5 - During the Interim Period
6 - Proposals


2 - Background

Settlements are Jewish communities primarily established after the 1967 Six Day War in the territories acquired by Israel during that war, including the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights. These territories are also commonly referred to as areas "outside the Green Line" (the pre-1967 border).

Today there are approximately 144 settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, with about 130,000 inhabitants. (See Appendix III.) The motivations of the inhabitants, or settlers, of these areas ranges from political, ideological or religious goals to financial considerations as they seek cheaper, more spacious living quarters commonly available outside the Green Line.

One popular misconception about settlements is that they are solely the legacy of the Likud party. Indeed, it is true that during the 15 years (1977-1992) of Likud or Likud-shared governments a majority of the settlements in the West Bank and Gaza were established. However, Labor is primarily responsible for setting up the communities in the Golan Heights, in specific areas of the West Bank (including the Jordan Valley and Gush Etzion), and in the Sinai (which were dismantled as part of the Israel-Egypt 1979 peace treaty).

During Labor's tenure, from 1967-1977, the successive governments were responsible for the creation of 76 settlements, 24 of which were in the Golan Heights alone. With regard to the West Bank, during those years Labor primarily operated under the principles of the Allon Plan, a proposal drawn up shortly after the 1967 war by Yigal Allon under which Israel would retain that section of the West Bank which would allow it to maintain defensible borders. As a result, Labor created some 21 settlements along the Jordan Valley and Eastern slopes of Samaria during that period, and avoided construction on the mountain ridge from Nablus to Jerusalem to Hebron.

By the time Labor returned to power under Yitzhak Rabin in 1992, after the 15-year period of Likud-led governments and their steady support for settlement expansion, Labor's policy on settlements had changed drastically. Almost immediately upon entering office, Prime Minister Rabin froze all public expenditures on settlements, although he still acknowledged the right to private construction. As a result, all public construction projects were indefinitely halted. While Rabin made it explicitly clear, after the signing of the Oslo Declaration of Principles in 1993, that during the five-year interim period no settlements would be dismantled, he vigorously continued Labor's policy keeping settlement construction frozen.

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