Changing maps of Palestine / Israel

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Map 1: 1947 UN Partition of Palestine

The UN Partition Plan tried to divide the country according to demographic concentrations, but the Palestinian and Jewish populations were so intertwined that that became impossible. Although the Jews comprised only a third of the country’s population (548,000 out of 1,750,000) and owned only 6% of the land, they received 55% of the country (including both Tel Aviv/Jaffa and Haifa port cities, the Sea of Galilee and the resource-rich Negev). In the area allocated to the Jewish state, only about 57% of the population was actually Jewish (538,000 Jews, 397,000 Arabs). The Jewish community accepted the Partition Plan; the Palestinians (except those in the Communist Party) and the Arab countries rejected it. - View map

Map 2: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories

By the end of the 1948 war – called the War of Independence by Israel and the Naqba (“Disaster”) by the Palestinians – Israel controlled 78% of the country, including half the territory that had been allocated by the UN to the Palestinians. Some 750,000 Palestinians living in what became Israel were made refugees or “internally displaced” people; only 100,000 remained in their homes. More than 418 villages, two-thirds of the villages of Palestine, were systematically destroyed by Israel after their residents had left or been driven out. Of the Arab areas, now reduced to 22% of the country, the West Bank was taken by Jordan and Gaza by Egypt. The 1949 Armistice Line, today known as the “Green Line,” de facto demarcates the State of Israel until today. Since 1988, when the Palestinians recognized Israel within that boundary, it has constituted the basis of the two-state option, with the Palestinians claiming a state on all the lands conquered by Israel in 1967: the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza. - View map

Maps 3-7: Five Elements Defining the Palestinian Bantustan

Israel defines its policy of ensuring permanent control over the Occupied Territories as “creating facts on the ground.” In this conception, Israeli control must be made immune from any external or internal pressures to remove Israel from the Occupied Territories (which Israel vehemently denies is an occupation at all), as well as to foreclose forever the possibility of a viable and truly sovereign Palestinian state. Nevertheless, even Sharon recognizes that Israel needs a Palestinian state, since it can neither extend citizenship to the Territories’ three and a half million Palestinians nor deny it to them. It also needs a Palestinian state to relieve itself of the necessity of accepting the refugees. A Bantustan, a cantonized Palestinian mini-state controlled by Israel yet possessing a limited independence, thus solves Israel’s fundamental dilemma of how to keep control over the entire country yet “get rid of” its Palestinian population (short of actual “transfer”). The contours of that Bantustan are defined by five elements comprising Israel’s Matrix of Control as illustrated in the following maps: (1) Areas A and B; (2) the closure; (3) the settlement blocs; (4) the infrastructure; and (5) the Separation Barrier/Wall. A full (if complex) picture of the Matrix of Control is depicted in Map 10, and the truncated Palestinian mini-state Israel is creating in Map 11.

Map 3: Defining the Palestinian Bantustan. Element #1: West Bank Areas A, B and C

In the Oslo II agreement of 1995, the West Bank was divided into three Areas: A, under full Palestinian Authority control; B, under Palestinian civil control but joint Israeli-Palestinian security; and C, under full Israeli control. Although Area A was intended to expand until it included all of the West Bank except Israel’s settlements, its military facilities and East Jerusalem – whose status would then be negotiated – in fact the division became a permanent feature. Area A comprises 18% of the West Bank, B another 22%, leaving a full 60%, Area C, including most of Palestinian farmland and water, under exclusive Israeli control. These areas, comprising 64 islands, shape the contours of the “cantons” Sharon proposed as the basis of the future Palestinian state. The emerging Bantustan will thus consist of five truncated cantons: a northern one around Nablus and Jenin; a central one around Ramallah; a southern one around Bethlehem and Hebron; enclaves in East Jerusalem; and Gaza. In this scheme Israel will expand from its present 78% to 85-90%, with the Palestinian state confined to just 10-15% of the country. - View map

Map 4: Defining the Palestinian Bantustan. Element #2: The Closure and House Demolitions

At the very beginning of the Oslo peace process Israel established an ever-constrictive system of permanent “closure” over the Occupied Territories, a regime both arbitrary and counter-productive. Arbitrary because there was no particular rise in terrorism or security threats during this time; the security situation was certainly better than it was during the first Intifada, when there was no closure whatsoever. And counter-productive because, rather than benefiting the Palestinians, it meant that the “peace process” had actually impoverished and imprisoned them, destroying their commerce and industry and de-developing their emerging country. The permanent checkpoints depicted on the map, together with hundreds of other “flying” checkpoints erected spontaneously throughout the Territories and earthen barriers to the entrances to virtually all the Palestinian cities, towns and villages, present some 750 obstacles to Palestinian movement on any given day. They serve to accustom the Palestinians to living in a collective space defined by Areas A and B. When these cantons finally become a truncated Palestinian state, the Palestinians will already be adapted to its narrow confines. So minimal will be the Palestinians’ expectations that the addition of corridors linking the cantons will given them the feeling of “freedom,” thus leading them to acquiesce to the Bantustan. Israel’s policy of house demolitions, by which some 54,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished between 1967-2018, is designed to confine the Palestinian population to the islands of A and B as well as small enclaves in East Jerusalem. (It is also a policy that impacts seriously on the Arab population within Israel.) - View map

Map 5: Defining the Palestinian Bantustan. Element #3: Israel’s Settlement Blocs

When Ehud Barak proposed to “jump” to final status negotiations in 1999, he consolidated the settlements Israel sought to retain into “blocs,” leaving the more isolated and less strategic ones vulnerable to dismantling. Thus, instead of dealing with 200 settlements, Barak had only to negotiate the annexation of seven settlement blocs (in pink): (1) the Jordan Valley Bloc; (2) the Ariel Bloc that divides the West Bank east and west and preserves Israeli control over the Territories largest water aquifer; (3) the Modi’in Bloc, connecting the Ariel settlements to Jerusalem; a “Greater Jerusalem” consisting of (4) the Givat Ze’ev Bloc to the northwest of the city, (5) the expansive Ma’aleh Adumim bloc extending to the northeast and east of Jerusalem and (6) the Etzion Bloc to the southwest; and (7) a corridor rising from the settlements in the south to incorporate the Jewish community of Hebron. While the extent of these settlements blocs is to some extent subject to negotiations, their function, however, is to further define and divide the Palestinian cantons. Representing some 25% of the West Bank, their annexation to Israel has been approved by the US in the bi-lateral Bush-Sharon Exchange of Letters in April 2004. (Within the settlement blocs are depicted both the settlements themselves and the master plans that surround and extend them.) - View map

Map 6: Defining the Palestinian Bantustan. Element #4: The Infrastructure of Control

In order to incorporate the West Bank and East Jerusalem permanently into Israel proper, a $3 billion system of highways and “by-pass roads” has been constructed that integrates the settlement blocs into the metropolitan areas of Tel Aviv, Modi’in and Jerusalem, while creating additional barriers to Palestinian movement. This ambitious project articulates with the Trans-Israeli Highway, now being built along the entire length of the country, hugging the West Bank in its central portion. Shifting Israel’s population center eastward from the coast to the corridor separating Israel’s major cities from the settlement blocs it seeks to incorporate, the Trans-Israel Highway will become the new spine of the country, upon which the by-pass road network can be hung. The result is the reconfiguration of the country from two parallel north-south units – Israel and the West Bank, the basis of the two-state idea – into one country integrated east-west. Besides ensuring Israeli control, the reorientation of traffic, residential and commercial patterns further weakens a truncated Palestinian mini-state; each Palestinian canton is integrated separately into Israel, with only tenuous connections one to the other. - View map

Map 7: Defining the Palestinian Bantustan. Element #5: The Separation Barrier/Wall

The final defining element of the bantustan is the Separation Barrier, known by its opponents as the Apartheid Wall both because it serves to make permanent an apartheid situation between Israelis and Palestinians, and because it rises to a massive concrete wall of eight meters (26 feet) when reaching Palestinian population centers – replete with prison-like watch towers, gates, security roads, electronic fences and deadly armaments. While sold to the public as an innocent security device, the Barrier in fact defines the border between Israel (including the areas of the West Bank and East Jerusalem Israel seeks to annex) and the Palestinian mini-state. It follows not the Green Line but establishes a new demographic line that extends Israel eastward into the West Bank. Although the Barrier’s overall route has been moved closer to the Green Line in light of the International Court of Justice’s ruling, the addition of “supplementary security zones” and “special security zones” to the Barrier’s complex still retains the convoluted route around the settlement blocs in order to ensure they are on the “right” side of the Barrier. When completed the Separation Barrier will be five times longer than the Berlin Wall (some 700 kms versus 155), in places twice as high and will unilaterally annex East Jerusalem and some 8% of the West Bank. As an installation costing $2 billion, it is not designed to be dismantled.

As is plain when the route of the Wall is superimposed on the settlement blocs, its purpose is two-fold: to incorporate the settlement blocs while defining in concrete the enclaves in which the Palestinians will be confined.- View map

Map 8: The State of Israel and the Emerging Palestinian Bantustan

This map depicts the end result (so far) of 70 years of conquest, displacement, occupation and annexation. The five elements of the Matrix of Control depicted in the previous maps clearly show how a Bantustan is being created, composed of four enclaves occupying about 15% of historic Palestine, with no international borders, no territorial contiguity or internal freedom of movement, little economic viability, limited access to Jerusalem, no control of its water supplies and no control of its airspace. The Bantustan would arise on about 40% of the West Bank, although cosmetic changes – adding the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert to the east, for example, — could flesh out the mini-state without endangering the settlement blocs, “greater” Jerusalem or overall Israeli control. Altogether, the Palestinians, who will soon be the majority in the country, will be confined to 10% of the land. It appears that Israel has succeeded in its long-term goal of rendering its Occupation permanent – if only because the international will to force Israel to abandon such a massive enterprise is lacking. If that is the case, the international community is confronted with two stark choices: either to accept and condone a new apartheid situation, or to work towards a single democratic state in the entire country. By its own hand, by rendering its Occupation irreversible, by preventing the establishment of a viable Palestinian state, Israel has paved the way to such an eventuality. - View map

Map 9: The Three Jerusalems: Municipal, Greater and Metropolitan

Jerusalem is being turned from a city into a region that controls the entire central portion of the West Bank. In addition to municipal Jerusalem whose boundaries were established by Israel unilaterally as political facts in 1967, an artificial urban entity defined by an “inner ring” of settlements, a “Greater Jerusalem” with an “outer ring” of settlements is in the process of extending the city far into the West Bank. If “Greater Jerusalem” is intended for annexation, an even wider area – Metropolitan Jerusalem – is a planning unit designed to ensure that Ramallah and Bethlehem remain undeveloped satellite cities dependent upon Israeli Jerusalem even if they eventually fall across a political border separating Israel from Palestine.

The map also shows the “E-1” area, 4000 acres annexed to Ma’aleh Adumim in a combined move by the Netanyahu and Barak governments. With the addition of E-1, Ma’aleh Adumim’s master plan extends entirely across the West Bank from Jerusalem to Jericho, effectively severing the northern West Bank from the south. Palestinian traffic will likely be diverted into Israeli territory (along the “Eastern Ring Road” now being constructed in East Jerusalem), allowing Israel to control Palestinian movement even in the event that a Palestinian state emerges. E-1 reveals the subtle, sophisticated and effective use of planning for control employed by Israel. - View map

Map 10: Municipal with the Separation Barrier

Jerusalem, of course, represents one of the keys to a genuine solution to the conflict. Not only is it absolutely central to Palestinian political, cultural and religious life, but it represents the economic heart of any Palestinian state. Some 40% of the Palestinian economy will revolve around tourism in Jerusalem and its related industries.

Rather than share the city, Israeli seeks to keep Jerusalem’s resources exclusively to itself while denying a Palestinian state any developmental potential. “Judaization,” Israel’s own term for its policies of cleansing the country of any Palestinian presence, takes place on many levels. But physically taking over the urban space of the city while fragmenting Palestinian areas into small enclaves and isolating Palestinian “East Jerusalem” from the wider Palestinian society is key to this process. How this is done in radiating circles of control is illustrated in the following maps.

On the map are marked more than 50 locales outside of the Jewish Quarter where Israel has either established settlements or other types of “judaization,” such as tunnels and archaeological parks which emphasize the Jewish connection to the city while destroying all the others, Muslim and Arab in particular. It is clear, as the settlers continually assert, that the entire Old City is considered “Jewish” property. Thus the settlements extend into the Muslim Quarter (dubbed on Israeli maps “the New Jewish Quarter”), including a large Israeli-only apartment complex in the heart of the Muslim Quarter, along the northeast walls by Herod’s Gate. There is also a large settlement in a Palestinian building next to the Holy Sepulchre, in the Christian Quarter, taken over by Israelis in 1990. - View map

Maps Illustrating Demolitions and Displacements

Click here for maps illustrating Israeli demolitions and displacements by month.