The Separation Principle


At the heart of the Israeli Occupation is the ‘Separation Principle’, which maintains the physical, legal and administrative separation between Israeli settlers and the Palestinians under Occupation. This separation principle – in letter and in practice – systematically privileges Israeli settlers while oppressing, restricting and denying the Palestinians.

  • Since 1967, the Palestinian people living in the Occupied Territories (East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza) have been subjected to policies that severely restrict Palestinian political, economic, and human rights, while facilitating the expropriation of land, water, and resources by the Israeli government and illegal Israeli settlements.1
  • Approximately 500,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. These settlers live in Jewish-only settlements, physically separated and fenced off from the Palestinian population. 42% of the West Bank is now effectively off-limits to Palestinians because of the settlements.2
  • Israeli settlers in the West Bank live under Israeli civil law, the same body of civil law applying to all residents of Israel proper. In contrast, Palestinians living in, visiting, or traveling through the 59% of the West Bank under Israeli control (Area C and H2 in Hebron) are subject to Israeli military law, a draconian body of law issued by military decree.3
  • The harshest manifestations of Israeli military law are reserved for Palestinians who organize politically.4 Under Israeli military law, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, the right to a fair trial, and the right to life are completely suspended.5
  • Palestinians living in 59% of the West Bank and in East Jerusalem are denied access to building permits. This allows Israel to demolish Palestinian structures under the excuse that they lack proper permits. The Israeli Committee Against Housing Demolitions estimates that at least 24,813 houses have been demolished in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza since 1967.6
  • The ‘Separation Barrier’, which Israel began constructing in 2002, de facto annexes a significant percentage of the western portion of the West Bank. This reinforces the policy of Separation between Israeli and Palestinian populations, stealing productive agricultural land, and completely encircling some Palestinian communities.7
  1. “By Hook and By Crook: Israeli Settlement Policy in the West Bank” B’Tselem July 2010 []
  2. “By Hook and By Crook: Israeli Settlement Policy in the West Bank” B’Tselem July 2010 []
  3. Israel/West Bank: Separate and Unequal Human Rights Watch 19 December, 2010. []
  4. “Under Repression: Policy paper on Israeli violations of the civil and political rights of members of the popular struggle movement in the Occupied Palestinian territory.” Popular Struggle Coordination Committee September 2010 []
  5. “Tell the South African government to Act Up for Bassem and Naji Tamimi” Popular Struggle Coordination Committee []
  6. Israeli Commitee Against Housing Demolitions []
  7. Jeff Halper “Obstacles to Peace: A Reframing of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict” March 2009. []
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