More than 300,000 Israeli settlers are living in illegal settlements built on Palestinian land, which has been occupied since the War of 1967 when Israel captured the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
International law states that an occupying power cannot transfer its own civilian population to the territory it occupies. The occupying power also cannot forcibly remove those people inhabiting the occupied territory, regardless of the motive.
These laws have not prevented successive Israeli governments from confiscating Palestinian land, building settlements on that land and transferring Israeli citizens to the settlements.
The policies, which enable such practices to occur, are quite revealing. The Israeli Occupation Authority (IOA) issues demolition orders on Palestinian homes at which point Palestinians are told that their homes will be demolished at any given time in the near future.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) and others will move in with bulldozers and demolish the homes forcing Palestinians to relocate. The land is then expropriated and used to build settlements, bypass highways that only settlers can travel on, or other such purposes to be decided by the Israeli government or the IDF.
Over time these policies have effectively fragmented the West Bank, isolating Palestinian villages and cities separated by Israeli settlements and the wall that continues to be built on Palestinian land. This new geographical makeup has made an end to the conflict and a two-state solution increasingly difficult.
In many cases, once the land has been confiscated it is annexed and becomes part of Israel. The international community, including the United States, does not recognize the annexation of Palestinian land in the occupied territories.
However, the U.S. has also demonstrated it will not enforce various international laws, which would prevent Israel from engaging in these practices.