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Israel Immune to International Law? - Netanyahu Appears to Believe So, Do You?


World  (tags: world, israel, palestine, war, crime, death, ethics, humanrights )

Ray
- 688 days ago - youtube.com
Abby Martin talks to Nora Barrows-Friedman, of the Electronic Intifada, about the Holy Land 5 case and the encroachment of Israeli Settlements on disputed territories between Israel and Palestine.



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Comments

Jason S. (57)
Saturday November 10, 2012, 8:32 pm
good posting, thanks
 

Vicky P. (464)
Saturday November 10, 2012, 9:10 pm
it seems that way..noted
 

Rose NoFWDSPLZ (275)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 1:38 am
A great Video which gets youthinkning
 

Alexa R. (333)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 7:17 pm
‘Israel’s Rights as a Nation-state in International Diplomacy’, and it can be downloaded from the JCPA website:www.jcpa.org
Its contributors include Professor Shlomo Avineri, Sir Martin Gilbert, Dore Gold, Professor Ruth Lapidot, Professor Alan Dershowitz, Professor Ruth Gavison and Dr Dan Diker. It is edited (and contributed to) by Israel’s former ambassador to Canada Alan Baker.

Summary: It is universally believed that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. This claim is made automatically by politicians, journalists, non-governmental organisations, and, of course, by the Palestinians and the entire Arab world. The claim is built on four arguments:-

(i) that Israel illegally occupies the West Bank;
(ii) that that land was sovereign Palestinian land at the time Israel took over;
(iii) that Jews have no legal right to settle on that occupied Palestinian land;
(iv) and that Israeli settlements violate the Geneva Convention of 1949.

This Beyond Images Briefing provides responses to these arguments, showing:

(i) that Israel’s entry into the West Bank in 1967 was lawful;

(ii) that that territory was not sovereign Palestinian territory at that time;

(iii) that Jews have a legal right to settle in the West Bank, and that it is a political, diplomatic and ethical question whether they do so or not; and

(iv) that settlement activity is not a violation of the Geneva Convention.

Why it is such a significant diplomatic issue: The claim that “all Israeli settlements are illegal” is misconceived. But because it is so widely believed, the Palestinians and the Arab world have no incentive to achieve territorial compromise. They argue that international law demands the uprooting of all Israeli settlements, and that they should not have to be flexible on this matter. The claim that “all settlements are illegal” is thus fatal to a negotiated two-state solution involving land swaps, and far-reaching territorial compromise.
The conventional wisdom about the ‘illegal settlements’

“We regard all settlements in the occupied territories as illegal under international law….”

- Bill Rammell, British Minister of State in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, in the UK parliament on 11 November 2008.

The statement is made routinely by Western politicians, journalists, expert commentators, NGOs, as well as by all the Palestinians and across the entire Arab world. But is it correct?

We outline four main arguments upon which the claim is built, and provide counter-arguments.

It is routinely assumed that Israel’s presence on the West Bank is an “illegal occupation”. This is in fact not the case.

• Summary: Israel’s presence in the West Bank today is not illegal under international law. Israel entered the West Bank lawfully in June 1967 in the exercise of its right of self-defence against Jordanian attack. The occupation in and of itself is not unlawful.

• In November 1947, the United Nations had voted to divide mandatory Palestine (then administered by Britain) into a sovereign Jewish state and a sovereign Arab state – a two-state solution. The Jewish leadership accepted this plan. The Arab leadership did not.

• In 1948-49, Israel fought its war of independence against the Arab residents of Mandatory Palestine, and five neighbouring states. In 1950, Jordan illegally annexed the West Bank, of which it had taken control in the course of the war.

• In June 1967, Jordan launched a massive bombardment of civilian Israeli targets from the West Bank on the first day of the Six Day War (see Beyond Images Briefing 103), and despite appeals from Israel to Jordan to stay out of the war which had started with Egypt.

• As a sovereign state, and member of the UN, Israel has a right of self-defence under the UN Charter against attack by another sovereign state.

• Exercising that right, Israeli armed forces entered the West Bank to defend itself against the Jordanian assault. That is how the current ‘occupation’ began.

• Israel is obliged under international law to withdraw from territories (not all territories) occupied in 1967 in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242, in the context of a negotiated peace agreement with its neighbours which recognises Israel’s legitimate security needs, and the need for defensible borders.

• Within weeks of the 1967 war, Israel had already proposed to withdraw from most of the West Bank – but this and many other steps were rebuffed by the Arab states.

• Israel’s subsequent Camp David Peace Accords with Egypt in 1978, and its total withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula in 1982, marked a partial fulfilment of UN Resolution 242.

• Resolution 242, which is the centrepiece of relevant international law on this topic, does not require Israeli withdrawal from all West Bank territory.

• Thus, Israel’s entry into the West Bank was lawful. And its continued presence there is lawful too. It is for all the parties to the conflict to reach a negotiated peace agreement under which Israel would withdraw.


• The West Bank territory which Israel entered in 1967 was not sovereign Palestinian territory.
• It formed part of Mandatory Palestine until 1948. The Arabs rejected the partition plan approved by the UN which would have assured the permanent status of the West Bank as Palestinian sovereign territory.

• No independent Palestinian Arab state was created in the West Bank between 1950 and 1967 either, when Jordan controlled that territory. At the same time, Jews were completely barred by Jordan from the West Bank, from East Jerusalem and from the old City of Jerusalem (the holiest site in the Jewish world).

• In 2009, over 60 years after the UN partition plan, the final legal status of the West Bank – its sovereignty and the permanent, internationally recognised borders of Israel and a future state of Palestine – has not been resolved. Israel has legitimate claims in relation to the territory too (see section (iii) below)

• For these reasons, the West Bank is properly regarded as “disputed territory” rather than “occupied Palestinian land”, which it is always called, and which implies some prior Palestinian sovereignty which in fact has never existed.

Even if the territories were lawfully entered by Israel in 1967, and even if the land was not Palestinian sovereign land at the time, why should Israel be entitled to build settlements there now?

• The Jewish people have had an unbroken connection with the Land of Israel stretching back for over 3000 years (see Beyond Images Briefing 1 - Israel and the Jewish people: the 3500 year connection). That connection is part of Jewish values, heritage and history.

• The West Bank is not alien territory for the Jewish people, but the very heart of the territorial connection. Even secular Israelis on the left of centre of Israeli politics acknowledge this connection.

• This does not mean that Israelis wish to retain the entire West Bank, or that it would be right or justified to do so. There is now a consensus in Israel that this cannot and should not happen. But this is because of politics, diplomacy, ethics and pragmatism. It is not because Jewish settlement in the West Bank is illegal per se.

• The international community formally recognised the legality of Jewish settlement activity in the area now called the West Bank as far back as 1920.

• During the decades before Israel’s independence in 1948, thousands of returning Jews had been building up an embryonic state in British-administered mandatory Palestine.

• In 1920, the League of Nations (the predecessor to the United Nations) defined the terms of the British Mandate over Palestine. Article 6 of the Mandate states:-

“The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land [Beyond Images emphasis], including state lands not required for public use….”

• The territory to which this refers includes the area between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea ie including the modern ‘West Bank’.

• During the period 1920-1948 (ie before Israel was re-established), Jews settled in locations like Neve Ya’acov, the Etzion Bloc and other areas in the West Bank. Meanwhile, Jews had had a virtually uninterrupted presence in the West Bank town of Hebron for well nearly 2000 years. Hebron and other West Bank towns play a significant role in the Jewish national heritage. Jews moving to live in these places were not carrying out “illegal settlement”. They returned there lawfully, and their presence was considered legitimate by the Mandatory powers and the international community.

• The presence of Jews in these locations was often ended by massacres carried out by Arabs (for example the Hebron massacre of 1929, and the Etzion Bloc massacre of 1948).

• But neither massacre, nor the Jordanian policy of refusing all Jews entry between 1950 and 1967, can extinguish the right of Jews to settle there, and their connection.

• Some Israeli settlements on the West Bank are considered ‘illegal’ by the Israelis themselves, namely the so-called ‘illegal outposts’ which are usually just portacabins or tents. But that is because those Jews establishing them – usually as an act of defiance following a Palestinian terrorist attack against Israeli civilians – have flouted Israeli administrative law relating to the territories in the way they have built them. It is not because the presence of Jews in the territories is illegal under international law.

• Furthermore, Israel is obliged under the diplomatic accord reached in 2003, and known as the Road Map for Peace, to freeze settlement activity. But that is an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, under which the Palestinians also have obligations. Israel’s commitment to freeze settlement activity has nothing to do with the legality of settlements per se. Israel argues that the Road Map is a two-way accord, and that the Palestinians’ blatant non-compliance with its obligations means that Israel cannot be expected to comply by itself
But what about the Geneva Convention?

A further argument for why Israel’s settlements are supposedly “illegal” is that they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons In Time of War, which was enacted in 1949.

Summary of response: This Article has been seriously misrepresented by those who argue that Israeli settlements violate it. It was enacted for a completely different purpose.

Article 49 applies between states – ie so-called ‘High Contracting Parties’. It forbids a sovereign state from “deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. Earlier on the Article describes such transfers as “forcible transfers”. The purpose of the Article, according to the International Red Cross guidance (see www.icrc.org, cited by the Israeli Foreign Ministry), has always been to protect civilian populations from being forcibly relocated against their will by their own country into the territory of a state which had been conquered.

• The West Bank is not a ‘High Contracting State’: Firstly, the territory to which the settlers have moved is, as we explained the response to argument 2 above, not sovereign Palestinian territory, but “disputed territory” whose final status has still to be decided by agreement. The Geneva Convention applies to the territory of High Contracting States – ie recognised sovereign states. It is highly questionable whether the Fourth Geneva Convention applies even in principle to such territory.

• It is forcible transfers of civilian populations to occupied territory, not voluntary settlement, which is made unlawful: Even if the Geneva Convention does apply, Article 49 was enacted to prevent an occupying power from forcibly moving part of its own population against their will to another sovereign territory. Germany had done this repeatedly before and during the Second World War, when it carried out forced population transfers of German nationals into occupied Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Article 49 was designed to render such acts illegal in the future. But the Israeli settlers move voluntarily – they have not been coerced into doing so.

• The Article applies to the movement of a civilian population into genuinely alien territory, not territory from which they were criminally expelled: Article 49 does not render illegal the return of civilian populations to places from which they were criminally ousted in the first place (eg Jews re-establishing a presence in Kfar Etzion or in Hebron)

• There has been no displacement of Palestinians as a result of settlements as such: It is implicit in Article 49 that the forcible transfer needs to force out parts of the previously present population, and replace them with the alien population. But Palestinians have not been forcibly displaced as a result of Jewish settlements. The Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank has soared during the 42 years that Israel has been present in the territories, as has Palestinian Arab life expectancy. There has been no replacement of the Palestinian Arabs by the Jews, nor forced expulsion.

The establishment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is thus not a violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Article 49, properly read and interpreted, has no application to the Jewish settlements. It was enacted for a completely different purpose.


Why does the issue matter?

The claim that “all Israeli settlements are illegal” is misconceived. But because it is so widely believed, the Palestinians and the Arab world have no incentive to achieve territorial compromise. They argue that international law demands the uprooting of all Israeli settlements, and that they should not have to be flexible on this matter. The claim that “all settlements are illegal” is thus fatal to a negotiated two-state solution involving land swaps and far-reaching territorial compromise.
Please visit our website www.beyondimages.info for more materials
 

patrica and edw jones (190)
Sunday November 11, 2012, 9:21 pm
People need to do some fact finding missions if they believe this garbage. After all - who started the wars causing the settlements to come into being in the first place? Why the P.A, Hamas et al. Until they change their mindset - the status quo remains.
 

Robert O. (12)
Monday November 12, 2012, 12:20 am
Thanks Ray.
 

Ray Shaw (13)
Monday November 12, 2012, 1:30 am
SETTLEMENTS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW:

Israeli settlements are illegal according to every basic reading of international law:

Article 46 of the Hague Convention prohibits confiscation of private property in occupied territory. Article 55 of the same document stipulates that "the occupying state shall be regarded only as administrator of publicbuildings, real estate, forests and agricultural estates... It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct."

Article 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly stipulates that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

UN Security Council Resolution 446 (1979) and 465 (1980) both condemned the settlements. Rex. 446 stated "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East." Likewise, in 465, the Security Council called upon Israel to "dismantle the existing settlements." Most recently, in February 2010, a resolution was introduced and supported by 14 members of the Security Council, "reaffirming that Israeli settlements (including East Jerusalem) are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. It also demanded once again that Israel immediately and cease all settlement activities. The U.S. was the sole dissenter, thus vetoing the resolution.

The 2004 ruling by the International Court of Justice declared that "Israeli settlements.., including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace.."

The Israeli settler movement has continued growing and expanding throughout the last few decades regardless of which political party holds sway in Tel Aviv. In other words, settlement building is not a policy of either the right or the left; it is the policy of Israel.


WHY THE SETTLEMENTS SHOULD BE STOPPED:

Settlers often carry out violent attacks against Palestinians and their property with complete legal immunity, and often with more than implicit support from themilitary itself. In fact, Israeli soldiers often protect and assist settlers, and legal proceedings are rarely brought against them. While Israeli settler violence against Palestinians is a daily occurrence in the occupied Palestinian territory, it particularly intensifies during the annual olive harvest – mostly in the vicinity of Nablus. In many cases, settler violence is used as a means to discourage Palestinians from harvesting their land. During August through October 2010, Palestinians in the West Bank reported a total of 277 cases of settler violence – ranging from arracks with knives, bats or fists; to arson; to the use of live ammunition. PLO Negotiations Affairs Dept.

Hebron also is a target for settler violence. In 1997, Israel divided the city of Hebron into two zones: 90,000 of the city's inhabitants came under Palestinian jurisdiction (H1), whereas 40,000 Palestinian Hebronites remained under direct Israeli occupation (H2), for the sake of about 450 Israeli settlers (0.3% of the total population) living among them. The Jewish settlers of Hebron are fanatic extremists even by Israeli standards. They regularly ransack Palestinian shops, cut electricity lines and water pipes, wreck cars and attack schoolchildren. Ran HaCohen

Another "hot spot" for settler expansion and violence is in neighborhoods in and around East Jerusalem, including Silwan and Sheikh Jarrah. An estimated 2,000 settlers live in these neighborhoods , in houses which have been expropriated by means of the Absentee Property Law, on the basis of alleged prior Jewish ownership, in buildings purchased from Palestinian owners, and in residences custom-built and financed by settler organizations. In addition to this residential presence, settlement activity in these areas is characterized by archaeological activity and the creation of tourist sites and visitor centers. UN OCHA in OPT

In the most severe cases, settler expropriation has resulted in the loss of property and the eviction of the long-term Palestinian residents. Other humanitarian consequences include restrictions on public space and residential growth in areas already severely overcrowded and inadequate services. In addition, the close proximity of settler and Palestinian residents, with the added military presence that comes with sustained settler presence, magnifies the potential for tension and violence: human rights organizations reported in November 2010 a sharp increase in the number of children arrested by the Israeli authorities in Silwan, following clashes with settlers and security guards. UN OCHA in OPT



SOURCES:

ICAHD, East Jerusalem Demolitions
http://www.icahd.org/?page_id=5374

AFP, Settlers attack West Bank village after demolition, 2.28.11,
http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp/article/ALeqM5gIoSD016QhfKwyE5-
rc0b0UX47nw?docId=CNG.0c072a7a730504b85eecf4e0f0fdd530.261

www.antiwar.com, Hebron, City of Terror, 2.19.03,
http://www.antiwar.com/hacohen/h021903.html

Asharq Alawsat, A Crisis in the Heart of Israel, 11.28.10,
http://www.aawsat.com/english/news.asp?section=2&id=23195

Haaretz, The UN is ripe for advancing the Palestinian agenda, 2.22.11,
http://peacenow.org.il/eng/node/297

Foundation for Middle East Peace, http://www.fmep.org/settlement_info/settlement-info-
and-tables/stats-data/settlements-in-the-west-bank-1

Haaretz, Israel vows to raise all illegal outposts built on private Palestinian land, 3.1.11,
http://www.haaretz.com/print-edition/news/israel-vows-to-raze-all-illegal-outposts-built-on-private- palestinian-land-1.346329

The Jerusalem Fund,
http://www.thejerusalemfund.org/ht/display/ContentDetails/i/2156/pid/2254

The New York Times, In Israel, Settling for Less, 8.29.10,
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/30/opinion/30taub.html?pagewanted=all

Palestine Monitor http://www.palestinemonitor.org/spip/spip.php?article7
Peace Now http://peacenow.org.il/eng/node/297

PLO Negotiations Affairs Dept.,
http://issuu.com/paperes/docs/settler_violence_summary_0810-1010

UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in the Occupied Palestinian
Territories, January 2011 Humanitarian Monitor Report,
http://www.ochaopt.org/Default.aspx
 

Ray Shaw (13)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:04 am
"People need to do some fact finding missions" - Agreed - They should also wonder why the majority of US anti-palestinian, pro-Israeli news is so biased and resort to reliable news sources...

From above: ( I hope you did not overlook this?) ...

"In February 2010, a resolution was introduced and supported by 14 members of the Security Council, "reaffirming that Israeli settlements (including East Jerusalem) are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. It also demanded once again that Israel immediately and cease all settlement activities. THE US WAS THE SOLE DISSENTER, THUS VETOING THE RESOLUTION"

Slightly hypocritical?... given that Obama requested Netanyahu to stop settlement building (For 10 months Netanyahu complied) On the day, 10 months later, the builders were building and Obama has remained silent ever since. - Why is it so?
 

Ge M. (218)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:49 am
Ray, under International Law (you should read Alex's post) Israel exists within its borders and this was ratified in an International Court.

In 1948, when the British pulled out, there was a war and the Arabs stated that they would not accept the offer. By refusing the land it legally belongs to Israel, see above. There was no claim to any land until the cowardly Arabs realised that they could not defeat Israel in war. Arafat created the Palestinian peopled so that they could use them as a propaganda machine. And they are good at it. Look at how many people do not know, understand or care as long as it is anti-Semitic.
 

Ray Shaw (13)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:55 am
"Cowardly Arabs? - UN Security Council Resolution 446 (1979) and 465 (1980) both condemned the settlements. Rex. 446 stated "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East.
 

Tommy S. (11)
Monday November 12, 2012, 4:06 am


Hamas interior minister, Fathi Hamad, Tells the Egyptian television the truth: Half of Palestinians came from Egypt and the other half from Saudi Arabia, "the invented people".

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ZtiUdl9Cd0&feature=player_embedded

and he is right
Palestinians have never existed as a nation,state,kingdom,culture or for that matter as anything,they are an invented people

Isreal has existed as a nation,kingdom and culture,in the land of Israel
Israel isn’t just a name of a state. It’s first and for all a name of a nation (Am Yisrael). Israel is the name of the father of the nation (Jacob) and Israelis are his descendants.
Genesis 32:38---And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men.

Israel became a state in 1312 B.C.E., two millennia before Islam.
.Arab refugees from Israel began calling themselves “Palestinians” in 1967, two decades after (modern) Israeli statehood in 1948.

In spite of the vast territories at their disposal, Arab refugees were deliberately prevented from assimilating into their host countries. Of 100 million refugees following World War 2, they are the only group tohave never integrated with their co-religionists. Most of the Jewish refugees from Europe and Arab lands were settled in Israel,a country no larger than New Jersey, USA.


Why do "Palestinians" live in refugee camps --- because of the PLO and the UN
http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_article=960&x_context=7
 

Alexa R. (333)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:21 am

Ray S. (6)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:55 am
"Cowardly Arabs? - "

I would say Gillian was being polite. What would you call men using children (even people with a disabilit) and women as human shields and suicide bombers? "Freedom fighters"?

And let me tell you these Palestinian youngsters and women do not become 'martrys' without intimidation - I often teach Palestinian kids and they talk/share. The average Palestinian on the street had it with their corrupt, greedy, violent and blood-thirsty leaders: http://www.care2.com/news/member/100541798/3480338

We may well see the practical breakup of the Palestinian Authority into local councils that defy edicts from Fatah Central in Ramallah
Palestinian-elections2006
Cartoon by Cox and Forkhum (www.coxandforkum.com)
50e9b615936aa496a3694eedaa5afbad895b8399
Nick Gray
On 2 November 2012
13

Fatah loses out in West Bank elections; thousands of Jerusalem Arabs want to be Israeli citizens and Palestinians would rather spend their money (and earn it) on Israel's side of the security barrier.

Are we seeing the collapse of the Palestinian Authority (PA) along with the two-state solution it was supposed to be promoting?

On October 20th, the PA held its first major round of elections since 2006 when Hamas came out on top in a surprise result.

In a shock to the restrictive policies of Fatah, a number of candidates rebelled and stood in opposition to their old party. Unfortunately for Fatah, many of them won as well.

There were local municipal elections in 93 areas of the PA and voters were faced with a mix of candidates from Fatah, Fatah rebels and various left-wing parties (no Hamas candidates, since Hamas boycotted the elections).

As reported on BBC News, Fatah only won in around 40% of the municipalities and four major towns and cities are now run by non-Fatah mayors and councils (including Ramallah, seat of PA government). This is a massive vote of no confidence in the corruption-ridden and oppressive PA regime - and there will be another round of elections in the remaining 82 municipal areas currently under Fatah control. Potentially, by Christmas, Fatah could find themselves with hardly anyone in the many towns and villages of the West Bank to govern.

Rubbing salt in the wound of chaotic election results came the news, released by Fatah's official with the "Jerusalem Portfolio", that more than 10,000 Jerusalem Arabs had been granted Israeli citizenship.

Since Jerusalem is being claimed by the PA for the capital of a Palestinian state, there may not be too many Palestinians left there to be its citizens. This exodus from PA control, against warnings and threats from both Fatah and Hamas, started in 1993 with the Oslo Accords as Jerusalem's Arab inhabitants realised what they would lose if the city came under Palestinian government.

Gone would be the top quality health care, access to good jobs and a standard of living unequalled in all the surrounding nations. Add to this the benefits of being part of a democracy and free access through Ben Gurion airport to the rest of the world and you can well understand the eagerness of many Palestinians to get the dark blue passport of Israeli citizenship. The applications have increased in recent years with fears of losing Israeli residence and coming back under PA control.

Just a week before the municipal elections and with unemployment in the PA area running at 17%, Israel increased the number of work permits for Palestinians by 10,000 to 40,000. That's official permits - it's believed that up to another 60,000 Palestinians are working in Israel illegally. And many Palestinians work in the "illegal" Israeli settlements in the West Bank as well; an arrangement forbidden by the PA but profitable for both Palestinian workers and settlement employers (but that's a whole other blog post by itself).

There are other indications of the impending collapse of the PA, adding to the futility of Mahmoud Abbas' attempts to move towards a UN-recognised state. For one, the PA is bankrupt. Its Arab donors are letting it down and not paying up. Western donor nations are being pushed to increase donations, yet the PA still pours money into paying imprisoned terrorists salaries instead of its own officials and corruption is as rife as ever. Donors to the PA are pouring their dollars into a big black hole.

After years of rampant corruption, violent gagging of independent Palestinian media outlets and only a chaotic appearance of democracy, the "old guard" PA has lost all credibility on the Palestinian street. This was clearly indicated by the rebellion of so many Fatah candidates in the municipal elections, standing (and winning) as independents against their own political leaders.

Abbas may go back to the UN again this year to apply for an upgrade to his current observer status. But since he has little political credit among his own people, no money to boost his economy and not even agreed borders for his dream state, an independent Palestine remains just that - a dream.

Watch the remaining municipal elections in November carefully. We may well see the practical breakup of the PA regime into semi-autonomous local councils defying edicts from Fatah Central in Ramallah. This could prove beneficial to local citizens as their towns decide their own economic relations with Israel, but fatal to the overall aims of Fatah and the PLO and a total waste of nearly twenty years of "two state" diplomacy.
 

Alexa R. (333)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:26 am
Ray S. (6)
Monday November 12, 2012, 1:30 am
SETTLEMENTS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW:

Israeli settlements are illegal according to every basic reading of international law:

Article 46 of the Hague Convention prohibits confiscation of private property in occupied territory. Article 55 of the same document stipulates that "the occupying state shall be regarded only as administrator of publicbuildings, real estate, forests and agricultural estates... It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct."

Article 49, paragraph 6 of the Fourth Geneva Convention explicitly stipulates that "the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

But what about the Geneva Convention?

A further argument for why Israel’s settlements are supposedly “illegal” is that they violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention on the Protection of Civilian Persons In Time of War, which was enacted in 1949.

Summary of response: This Article has been seriously misrepresented by those who argue that Israeli settlements violate it. It was enacted for a completely different purpose.

Article 49 applies between states – ie so-called ‘High Contracting Parties’. It forbids a sovereign state from “deporting or transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. Earlier on the Article describes such transfers as “forcible transfers”. The purpose of the Article, according to the International Red Cross guidance (see www.icrc.org, cited by the Israeli Foreign Ministry), has always been to protect civilian populations from being forcibly relocated against their will by their own country into the territory of a state which had been conquered.

• The West Bank is not a ‘High Contracting State’: Firstly, the territory to which the settlers have moved is, as we explained the response to argument 2 above, not sovereign Palestinian territory, but “disputed territory” whose final status has still to be decided by agreement. The Geneva Convention applies to the territory of High Contracting States – ie recognised sovereign states. It is highly questionable whether the Fourth Geneva Convention applies even in principle to such territory.

• It is forcible transfers of civilian populations to occupied territory, not voluntary settlement, which is made unlawful: Even if the Geneva Convention does apply, Article 49 was enacted to prevent an occupying power from forcibly moving part of its own population against their will to another sovereign territory. Germany had done this repeatedly before and during the Second World War, when it carried out forced population transfers of German nationals into occupied Poland, Czechoslovakia and Hungary. Article 49 was designed to render such acts illegal in the future. But the Israeli settlers move voluntarily – they have not been coerced into doing so.

• The Article applies to the movement of a civilian population into genuinely alien territory, not territory from which they were criminally expelled: Article 49 does not render illegal the return of civilian populations to places from which they were criminally ousted in the first place (eg Jews re-establishing a presence in Kfar Etzion or in Hebron)

• There has been no displacement of Palestinians as a result of settlements as such: It is implicit in Article 49 that the forcible transfer needs to force out parts of the previously present population, and replace them with the alien population. But Palestinians have not been forcibly displaced as a result of Jewish settlements. The Palestinian Arab population of the West Bank has soared during the 42 years that Israel has been present in the territories, as has Palestinian Arab life expectancy. There has been no replacement of the Palestinian Arabs by the Jews, nor forced expulsion.

The establishment of Jewish settlements in the West Bank is thus not a violation of the 1949 Geneva Convention. Article 49, properly read and interpreted, has no application to the Jewish settlements. It was enacted for a completely different purpose.
 

Alexa R. (333)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:44 am
Ray S. (6)
Monday November 12, 2012, 1:30 am
SETTLEMENTS AND INTERNATIONAL LAW:

UN Security Council Resolution 446 (1979) and 465 (1980) both condemned the settlements. Rex. 446 stated "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity and constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East." Likewise, in 465, the Security Council called upon Israel to "dismantle the existing settlements." Most recently, in February 2010, a resolution was introduced and supported by 14 members of the Security Council, "reaffirming that Israeli settlements (including East Jerusalem) are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. It also demanded once again that Israel immediately and cease all settlement activities. The U.S. was the sole dissenter, thus vetoing the resolution.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ray S, can you please explain how is this leap in logic from "have no legal validity" to "illegal" made?

Neither the Palestinians nor the Jewish settlers have "legal validity" in the West Bank or Gaza because they live in disputed territory which has no sovereignty. Had the Palestinians like the Israelis accepted the partition plan approved by the UN it would have assured the permanent status of the West Bank as Palestinian sovereign territory.

Even a basic understanding of international law as set out below makes it clear that West Bank and Gaza is not sovereign territory, but disputed territory.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

• Israel’s subsequent Camp David Peace Accords with Egypt in 1978, and its total withdrawal from the Sinai peninsula in 1982, marked a partial fulfilment of UN Resolution 242.

• Resolution 242, which is the centrepiece of relevant international law on this topic, does not require Israeli withdrawal from all West Bank territory.

• Thus, Israel’s entry into the West Bank was lawful. And its continued presence there is lawful too. It is for all the parties to the conflict to reach a negotiated peace agreement under which Israel would withdraw.


• The West Bank territory which Israel entered in 1967 was not sovereign Palestinian territory.
• It formed part of Mandatory Palestine until 1948. The Arabs rejected the partition plan approved by the UN which would have assured the permanent status of the West Bank as Palestinian sovereign territory.

• No independent Palestinian Arab state was created in the West Bank between 1950 and 1967 either, when Jordan controlled that territory. At the same time, Jews were completely barred by Jordan from the West Bank, from East Jerusalem and from the old City of Jerusalem (the holiest site in the Jewish world).

• In 2009, over 60 years after the UN partition plan, the final legal status of the West Bank – its sovereignty and the permanent, internationally recognised borders of Israel and a future state of Palestine – has not been resolved. Israel has legitimate claims in relation to the territory too (see section (iii) below)

• For these reasons, the West Bank is properly regarded as “disputed territory” rather than “occupied Palestinian land”, which it is always called, and which implies some prior Palestinian sovereignty which in fact has never existed.
 

Alexa R. (333)
Monday November 12, 2012, 8:57 am
Ray S. (6)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:04 am
"In February 2010, a resolution was introduced and supported by 14 members of the Security Council, "reaffirming that Israeli settlements (including East Jerusalem) are illegal and constitute a major obstacle to the achievement of a just, lasting and comprehensive peace. It also demanded once again that Israel immediately and cease all settlement activities. THE US WAS THE SOLE DISSENTER, THUS VETOING THE RESOLUTION"

Slightly hypocritical?... given that Obama requested Netanyahu to stop settlement building (For 10 months Netanyahu complied) On the day, 10 months later, the builders were building and Obama has remained silent ever since. - Why is it so?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Perhaps because Obama knows enough about law and international he realises that other than requesting Israel to stop settlement building, he has no legal arm to demand compliance.

This is over and above the ethical dilemma of Obama insisting that one party to an agreement (Israel to cease settlement building) keep their side of the bargain, but turn a blind eye to the violations of the agreement (cease rocket-firing) by the other party. A peace negotiation can only work if both parties comply. On man an occasion Israel, in good faith did stop settlement building for long periods of time in the hope of peace in return, but Israel's gestures of good-faith had been exploited and made a mockery of by Palestinian Authorities.
 

Ge M. (218)
Monday November 12, 2012, 10:33 am
Ray, just in case you hadn't noticed the UN is controlled by Muslims. Their countries continually breach human rights yet all they do is pass yet another resolution against Israel. The UN is the biggest joke going and you obviously don't get it. Did you know that China has never been sanctioned for Tiananmen Square? The last resolution passed against Muslims? Why have they not been told to leave N Mali? What have they done to Egypt for their ongoing massacre of Christians? And why was Sudan allowed onto the "Human Rights" council despite their attempted genocide of Sudanese Christians? I won't mention Syria. I suppose the answer is in the comment - against Christians, they don't count.

I expect the real answer is anti-Semitism and the ongoing mission of Islam to destroy kaffirs such as yourself and your family.

Try reading the "holy" tests belonging to Islam. Have a buckets, anti-nausea drugs and a very strong stomach, preferably empty, then start. Personally, I dislike and object to their attitude towards women, their paedophilia, slavery, non-Muslims, homosexuals.......
 

Beth S. (332)
Monday November 12, 2012, 2:40 pm
Send a Green Star to Alexandra R.
Sending a Green Star is a simple way to say "Thank you"

You cannot currently send a star to Alexandra because you have done so within the last week.
 

Fred H. (31)
Monday November 12, 2012, 10:21 pm
The Palestinians specifically target schools, buses, religious festivals, and other civilian targets, then laud, reward, and name their streets and parks after their heroes who kill the most babies, and you have the nerve to accuse Israel of being immune to international law?!? This "news" makes Alice in Wonderland look like a documentary.
 

Alexander Werner (53)
Tuesday November 13, 2012, 10:34 am
Who said the West Bank land or Gaza belongs to Arabs in the first place? It belonged to Ottoman empire!

Arabs got already 22 states, with 10,000 times more land than Israel. Arab states gave nothing to Druze and Kurds fighting for their own states.

Arabs got a great choice where to live, and cannot steal Israeli lands in The Land of Israel under one pretext, or another.
 
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