“Unoccupied” Israeli Settlements

May 18, 2010

Although more and more people in the West are hearing about illegal Israeli settlements in the media and the problems they are causing for the peace process, most people don’t know that there are reasons other than political and religious ones for occupying someone else’s land.

“Quality of Life” Settlers

This term is used for those Israelis who decide to move to settlements for economic reasons, instead of political or religious ones. They tend to live closer to the Green Line (the internationally recognized 1967 border between the West Bank and Israel).

Ideological Settlers

Israelis who use religious and nationalist reasons to defend living in West Bank settlements—most of these live right in the middle of Palestinian territory and cause the most problems for their Palestinian neighbors.

Ultra-orthodox Settlers

Could be under the category of “quality of life” settlers, because they live in West Bank settlements because of the cheap and segregated (ultra-orthodox only) housing that is close to the Green Line. (Ultra-orthodox housing in Israel is expensive and overcrowded).

Short History of the Settlement Movement

The settler movement was started, as would be expected, by religious ideologists who were and still are fanatically attached to “reclaiming” the biblical Land of Israel as a state for Jewish people. What Israel consists of right now is only a small part of the larger “Land of Israel”—who’s border varies according to which ancient scripture you read but could extend as far as the Nile River in Egypt to the Euphrates River in Iraq.

Shortly after the settlement movement began, the Israeli government began to heavily subsidize the settlements for political reasons, to cater to settlement leaders and to support the right-wing national-religious groups inside Israel. Ideologically, the subsidization of settlements supported the settlement of key areas in the West Bank that had historical connections in Judaism (including the Etzion bloc) and that were in strategic locations (Jordan Valley and anywhere that is high elevation).

Because there weren’t enough fanatical Israelis to populate the necessary areas inside the West Bank for purely ideological reasons, the government decided to motivate settlers economically. Because of this, a new group of Israelis became  drawn to the settlements because they could find cheap housing, tax breaks, subsidies on transportation, education, etc…

“Unoccupied” Settlements

According to a Peace Now survey, about 77% of the almost 500,000 Israeli settlers living in the West Bank said they had moved there mainly for economic reasons. There is a large percentage of these “quality of life” settlers who register themselves with the government as living in West Bank settlements, but who do not actually live there full time.

If you visit some of these types of settlements during the middle of the day, you will find that the schools and streets are empty. There are actually not many people who live there full time. Instead, they enjoy the economic benefits of being registered as living there without the hassle of commuting from Israel to the settlements for work and without the security risk of living in occupied territory.

Palestine Monitor (Palestinemonitor.org) is currently working on a story to find out how many settlements are actually inhabited full time. So watch for the story in the next couple of weeks.




  1. Well written. This should be published in the Palestine Monitor as part of their series. Good job. Can this be picked up by ReliefWeb like one of your other articles?

  2. None of the Jewish revenant communities are “empty” – unlike many housing projects constructed by the PA which are ghost neighborhoods we see while driving along the roads throughoput Judea & Samaria.

  3. What a bunch of lies. What are the names of these so-called “empty” towns? You can’t publish them, because they don’t exist.

    There is no “Palestine” and there is no such thing as a “Palestinian” Arab – it’s a manufactured term designed to spread Islamic domination by (falsely) claiming Israeli land that was occupied by Jordan between 1948-1967.

  4. Umm yeah, like I said the journalists at Palestine Monitor are going to be investigating this further. So you can check out Palestinemonitor.org

    Maybe you should read some of the other articles as well since you dont know that “Palestinians” exist, you probably dont know all the shit the Israeli government is putting them through on a day to day basis…

    The difference between “ghost settlements” and “ghost towns” built by the PA is that its the PALESTINIANS’ land…! They can do whatever they want with it. Israelis, on the other hand, stealing Palestinian land to build settlements that aren’t even lived in full time is beyond ridiculous.

    • thanks for the heads up. i’m going to keep an eye out for the palestine monitor piece.

      as someone spending time in a quality of life settlemen, I can attest to the emptiness of the place during the day. there might be people only in it for the subsidies, but the quality of life deal really is a bargain. palestine is a beautiful place and i think most israelis want to be in their registered houses in the west bank, just the work is in jerusalem and it holds them up.

      thanks for posting! -aaron

  5. I came upon this article just recently, but I thought that a video on youtube fits well with the subject. It is titled “Palestinians buy homes in Israeli settlements – 25 May 09” (copy and paste link address below) As the title describes, its basically a report showing that as Jewish immigration to Israel is at an all time low, Palestinian-Israelis are now the ones buying settlement houses and that as of 2009 there are already hundreds living in them.I believe that it not only mirrors the Hispanic immigration issue here in the states, where displaced people with ancestral ties to this land are coming back, buying homes and are now one of the most powerful economic and political forces in the country. But it also shows how pointless Israels racist laws are when the fact is that as Jewish immigration keeps diminishing , Israeli-Jewish population growth keeps diminishing and the Israeli-Arab population keeps increasing, in just a few decades Israel will be an Arab country in all but name.

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