Al-Haq takes the occasion of Land Day to highlight the intrinsic link between land and the exercise of the right to self-determination. Over nearly 40 years of occupation, Israel’s pervasive policies of land expropriation and confiscation, settlement construction and movement restrictions have severely damaged the access of the Palestinian people to their land in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT), thereby rendering the meaningful exercise of the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination all but impossible.
In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Annexation Wall encroaches deep into occupied territory, confiscating land and exacerbating movement restrictions. When completed, the Wall will effectively annex 10 percent of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. In parallel to the construction of the Annexation Wall, Israel has severely restricted Palestinian access to the Jordan Valley, which comprises some 25 percent of the West Bank.
While no wall has been constructed, a near impenetrable system of permits, checkpoints and closures restrict the movement of goods and people into and out of the Jordan Valley. The ongoing construction of a permanent border-like terminal at Tayasir checkpoint, the main access point to the northern Jordan Valley, is a stark physical manifestation of the intended permanence of these restrictions.
Also, as with elsewhere in the West Bank, Israel has aggressively pursued settlement construction and expansion in the Jordan Valley, resulting in massive confiscation and expropriation of Palestinian land. Some 7,500 settlers live in 26 settlements, alongside some 47,000 Palestinians. These settlements control some 90 percent of the land, to which Palestinians are denied access. Recently, the Israeli government announced its decision to establish a new settlement in the northern Jordan Valley, which it appears will be used to re-s