Israeli settlements in occupied territories

The United Nations and most of the international community see Israeli settlements in the West Bank (above) and in East Jerusalem as illegal.
The United Nations and most of the international community see Israeli settlements in the West Bank (above) and in East Jerusalem as illegal.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Here are some things to know about Israel's settlements and the two-state solution.

WHAT ARE THE SETTLEMENTS?

They are Israeli villages, towns and even cities built on territory Israel seized during the 1967 Six-Day War fought between Israel and its Arab neighbours Egypt, Jordan and Syria.

About 430,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank, along with 2.6 million Palestinians.

A further 200,000 Israelis live in East Jerusalem, along with at least 300,000 Palestinians, who want to make East Jerusalem the capital of their future state.

Israel also seized part of the Golan Heights from Syria and the Gaza Strip from Egypt and established settlements in both. It evacuated the Gaza settlements in 2005.

WHAT IS THEIR LEGAL STATUS?

From the 1970s, Israel established a network of settlements throughout the occupied West Bank.

The Oslo Accords of the 1990s divided the territory into Israeli- and Palestinian-governed zones meant to lay the ground for a future Palestinian state, but Israel continued to build and expand settlements there.

The United Nations and most of the international community see Israeli settlements in the West Bank and in East Jerusalem - which Israel annexed in 1980 - as illegal.

WHO ARE THE SETTLERS?

Many Israeli settlers moved to the West Bank and East Jerusalem in search of affordable housing.

The government encouraged them to move to cities such as Ariel, Maale Adumim and the ultra-Orthodox settlements of Beitar Ilit and Modiin Ilit.

There are also many religious nationalist hardliners, who see living in the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria as fulfilling a divine pro- mise.

HOW DO PALESTINIANS SEE THE SETTLEMENTS?

Palestinians consider Israeli settlements a war crime and a major obstacle to peace.

The Palestinians want Israel to withdraw from all land it occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War and to dismantle all Jewish settlements, although they have accepted the principle of minor land swops equal in size and value.

Israel rules out a full return to pre-1967 borders, but has expressed a willingness to pull out of some parts of the West Bank while annexing its largest settlement blocs, which are home to the majority of the settlers in the territory.

WHAT IS THE TWO-STATE SOLUTION?

It is the declared goal of the Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and that of Washington and the bulk of the international community, as was reflected by the UN vote.

The two-state solution envisions secure and recognised international borders between Israel and a viable and contiguous Palestine - based on the 1967 lines before Israel seized the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. The two sides would also agree to land swops.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 30, 2016, with the headline 'Israeli settlements in occupied territories'. Print Edition | Subscribe