New 'iPhone app’ to map Jewish settlements in West Bank
A group of American peace activists has created an iPhone and iPad application that downloads and updates a map showing Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territories.
Americans for Peace Now say the “Facts on the Ground app” will show “the unfiltered realities that settlements create on the ground of the West Bank”.
It will mark each settlement with a small blue house. Clicking on any one house will open a window giving details of when it was established, the number of people who live in it, and whether they are secular or Orthodox Jewish. It also includes a graph showing its increase in population.
Settler “outposts” – unauthorised settlements – will be marked in red, while the Green Line dividing Palestinian and Israeli territory, the borders of Jerusalem and the territories’ different security zones will also be indicated.
“While people are entitled to their opinions on this divisive issue, there is only one set of facts, and our app makes these facts available in unprecedented clarity and detail,” said Debra DeLee, the group’s president.
“One of the things that make this tool so powerful is that it democratises data.”
The application is currently available only in English, but the group said it was working on a Hebrew version.
About 300,000 Israelis live in settlements within recognised Palestinian territory on the West Bank, and another 200,000 in those in east Jerusalem, which Israel says it has annexed. Settling territories occupied in wartime is generally regarded as illegal under international law.
Under the most likely scenario for any peace deal, the settlements on the West Bank would remain in return for a surrender of equivalent Israeli territory to a Palestinian state. The future of east Jerusalem is hotly contested.
The Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, is currently trying to persuade the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to maintain a freeze on settlement building that is due to expire on Sunday. He says the Palestinian side will be forced to pull out of the current round of peace talks if construction starts again.