The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel's Policies

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The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israel's Policies

By Meron Benvenisti
American Enterprise Institute, 1984
97 pp. $25.00
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This long-awaited collection of hard data on lands and people under Israeli occupation presents a sobering portrait of the new facts in a focal point of international tension. Benvenisti, a self-proclaimed "dove" in Israeli politics, set out two years ago with a team of social scientists to discover the realities on the ground in the West Bank and Gaza, without regard to conflicting ideologies or pretensions; his purpose, he declared, was that whatever happens for the political future of the territories, no one should be able to claim unawareness of the extent of Israel's "creeping annexation." Gathered in one convenient and well-produced document, with excellent maps, tables and charts, is detailed information, much of it original and compiled only by subtle research and testing, on such features as Arab and Jewish population movement and growth rates, agricultural and industrial investment, land tenure and public administration. The thrust of Jewish settlement portrayed here is not in isolated hamlets for security purposes, but a suburban sprawl which picks up the momentum of the early Zionist enterprise to develop the land. Ironically, Benvenisti's research has been acclaimed by his political adversaries in Begin's Likud for showing how successful their expansion program is proving out; he has been criticized by his fellow "doves" for implying an inevitability to the process, and for suggesting that the trends already begun cannot be reversed by a more conciliatory Israeli government. Whether his gloomy scenario actually comes to pass or not, his data are incontrovertible; no further analyses of the West Bank and Gaza can claim relevance without reference to this important work.

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