The government of Israel has, obviously, been controlling a large parcel of land it conquered from Jordan for several decades now — the West Bank — land that is presumed to be the future location of an independent state of Palestine. At the same time, Israel has been building settlements on that land — freestanding small- or medium-sized towns as well as what amount to suburbs of Jerusalem, populated by Jews who, unlike their Muslim or Christian Arab neighbors, are citizens of Israel with rights, etc. But in addition to parcels of land being controlled by governments — in this case, first the United Kingdom, then Jordan, now Israel — they are owned by individuals. So where did the settlers get the land? The Israeli government has always claimed it’s been legitimately obtained through purchase. According to this new study by Peace Now it isn’t true.
They obtained files leaked from the 2004 database of the Civil Administration, in charge of non-military aspects of West Bank administration, and concluded that fully 39 percent of settlement land area is privately owned by Palestinians. Or, perhaps, “was owned” since, obviously, it’s been taken from them. See further coverage by Steve Erlanger in The New York Times and Yair Sheleg in Haaretz. I, for one, look forward to the explanation of how Erlanger, Sheleg, their editors, the Peace Now Settlement Watch team, and the dudes in the Israeli government who leaked this to them are all anti-semites.