The settlements are illegal. Even the Israelis know that.


By iainlrabbak
January 25, 2010
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Israeli journalist and historian Gershom Gorenberg — whose history of the settlements “The Accidental Empire” is well worth reading — has recounted that in 1967, “the legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron, was asked whether international law allowed settlement in the newly conquered land.”

In a memo marked “Top Secret,” Mr. Meron wrote unequivocally, “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”
In the detailed opinion that accompanied that note, Mr. Meron explained that the Convention — to which Israel was a signatory — forbade an occupying power from moving part of its population to occupied territory. [...]
Mr. Meron took note of Israel’s diplomatic argument that the West Bank was not “normal” occupied territory, because the land’s status was uncertain. The prewar border with Jordan had been a mere armistice line, and Jordan had annexed the West Bank unilaterally.
But he rejected that argument for two reasons. The first was diplomatic: the international community would not accept it and would regard settlement as showing “intent to annex the West Bank to Israel.” The second was legal, he wrote: “In truth, certain Israeli actions are inconsistent with the claim that the West Bank is not occupied territory.” For instance, he noted, a military decree issued on the third day of the war in June said that military courts must apply the Geneva Conventions in the West Bank.

Unfortunately, the Israeli government ignored Meron’s legal advice, and developed a series of shifting legal rationales to justify the annexation and colonisation of the occupied land, which has helped to create the exceedingly difficult and volatile situation we have today.

COMMENTS

richmillett

Mon, 01/25/2010 - 17:36

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They are legal. The Balfour Declaration which called for Jewish settlement in that area and Jordan was incorporated into the League of Nations British Mandate which was superseded by the United Nations. The settlements have every legal right to be there. It is beyond legal argument.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Mon, 01/25/2010 - 19:14

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Thanks for this, Iain. Rich, read the legal argument again, especially the bit where he writes:

The first was diplomatic: the international community would not accept it and would regard settlement as showing “intent to annex the West Bank to Israel.” The second was legal, he wrote: “In truth, certain Israeli actions are inconsistent with the claim that the West Bank is not occupied territory.” For instance, he noted, a military decree issued on the third day of the war in June said that military courts must apply the Geneva Conventions in the West Bank.

It is land acquired by force (and it doesn't matter from whom), and as such it is occupied and as such the colonies are illegal.


richmillett

Mon, 01/25/2010 - 23:07

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I really don't think there is a proper argument here against Israel. It might have been acquired by force but they are entitled to be there. Why does that make settlements illegal? Because it was acquired through war? In that case the Jordanians had no right to be there pre-1967, but no one complained.


richmillett

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 09:48

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It is just another poor attempt to make a case against Israel at every possible opportunity. They blog without giving any thought whatsoever to the legalities of the case. Their case amounts to nothing more than: George Galloway (or whoever)says it, so it must be true.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:01

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Rich -- and the sinat chinam meister Mr Cohen for that matter -- as you acknowledge that the land was occupied by force then under the Geneva Conventions, to which Israel is a signatory, no colonies can be set up on them. Yes, the Jordanians occupied the West Bank before 1967, but they did not colonise it. And is Israel above the law to the extent that it can do what it pleases despite the treaties it has signed?


Yvetta

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:39

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ianlrabbak - in Arabic this means "Curse your god"

moshetzarfati2 - "Moshe is a fatty too"

gordon bennett - a version of Gor blimey

I try to keep an open mind; after all, my name is Yvetta Bagel!
;~]]


Jon_i_Cohen

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:42

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The trouble making Trolls are at it again.

ianlrabbak - in Arabic this means "Curse your god"
moshetzarfati2 - "Moshe is a fatty too"

Who do these idiots think they are kidding?

richmillett is right the settlements are 100% legal.

For those who are reading these posts and want to know the facts, they are spelled out by the distinguished Anglo-Canadian jurist, Professor Gerald Adler, in a painstaking analysis of Jewish claims stretching back to the Balfour Declaration of 1917, the Treaty of Sèvres of 1920 and the Palestine Mandate of 1922.

Professor Adler demonstrates that Jews have a right to "close settlement" on the West Bank, and that this right was in fact specifically preserved, and carried forward on the demise of the League of Nations, through the deliberate wording of article 80 of the founding charter of its successor body, the United Nations organisation.

The documents are available for anyone to read.

The Geneva Convention (1949), which prohibits an occupying power from transferring its own civilian population into occupied territory that our two Trolls above and all the other Galloway loving Guardian reading, Climate Change believing, Open Toed Sandal Wearing Lefties love to quote is irrelevant.

Why is it irrelevant - because no Israeli is compelled to live in Judea or Samaria - people live in these areas out of choice.

For Jews to live in these areas is a right – granted by the League of Nations and guaranteed by the UN at its foundation. No-one, least of all the Left Wing, Self Hating ,Trendy Lefties have the moral or legal authority to interfere.

So, please, why don't you back to posting on the Guardian - it is much more suited to your views.
Your antaganisitic self deluding views are not wanted on the Jewish Chronicle web site.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:48

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Yvetta, I always thought it was Yvett Avigdor Lieberman because of your homophobia and racism.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 10:51

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So Mr Cohen-Sinat Chinam you found one single legal person to back Israel's claims. And I see you have a new cut and paste button for your PC, too. Oh, if you knew any Hebrew, which you plainly don't, you'd know that Tzarfati means "of France" and that Rabbak derives from "your rabbi" ("ravcha") -- although since my family arrived in Dundee, it is probably derived from the Celtic Reebuck (small stone)


Yvetta

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:02

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Homophobia? Racism? Don't be daft.

Yes, Jon's right after all - you really are a troll, or a flamer, not sure of the difference.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:09

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Not homophobic, Yvetta? "Gay Gordons"?


richmillett

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:25

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So no "colonies" can be set up on land acquired by force eventhough Israel has a right to set up "colonies" on that land under the League of Nations and United Nations? Iain - This is an absurd argument.


Yvetta

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:34

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Iain, I fear my allusion to the well-known Scottish reel was too subtle for you; it was meant for Mr Bennett, you alter ago or Moshe's, or both.
I'm afraid you've boobed, bigtime, in dwelling on the latter-day meaning of the adjective; honi soit qui mal y pense.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:44

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Rich, Israel has no right to set up colonies on that land since it was acquired by force When the League of Nations/UN divvied up the land, there were meant to be two states, one Jewish, the other Arab. The dividing line between them was meant to be the 1947 partition lines. Now, of course, it could be argued that actually, Israel should restrict itself to those lines, which as you are aware makes Israel much, much smaller than it was even on 4 June 1967. This would mean that the Negev, Galill, all Jerusalem and Jaffo would be part of a Palestinian state.
If Israel persists in colonising the West Bank and East Jerusalem two things are likely to happen: the Palestinians in the occupied territories will just sit tight and wait until they get enough support for a one-state solution (it's growing) because they are already a majority between the Sea and the Mediterranean. Second, the Arabs of the Negev and the Gallil will ask for, and get, autonomy because they are the majority in these areas. And this is all because Israel neglected these areas to pursue a wasteful colonialist policy in the Occupied Territories.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 11:54

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Indeed honi soit qui mal y pense.


Yvetta

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 12:57

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I guess I'd better not dub you Bonnie Dundee!
;~)


DLeigh-Ellis

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 14:05

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The real problem with the settlements is irrespective of the legality... The settlements have become a symbol of Israeli expansionism, even if this was not the intention. Further expansion hinders the peace process as it makes it seem as if Israel is not serious about it....

In the same manner that the Israelis will not speak to Hamas until the rocket attacks stop, the Palestinians will not consider Israel's efforts for peace sincere whilst they continue to assume control of Palestinian lands.

Also, some people on this website really seem to lack the clarity of mind to discern between morality and legality.


richmillett

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 14:21

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Forget the legals and just go for morality? Maybe the legalities are too hard for some to grasp but the legal aspects are usually fairly important (obviously not when it comes to discussing Israel though). The legals prove there is no "expansionism" if they have a right to be there in the first place!

Iain - the arabs said no to partition, walked away from the deal and commenced a war.


iainlrabbak

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 14:36

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Rich, it wasn't a deal. But I agree that the legalities are hard to grasp. But grasp you must -- Israel is the occupying power on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem and as such it has no right build colonies there. Now from the practical point of view, it also means the end of Israel. Is that what you want?


richmillett

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 14:54

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Once again, Israel can't "occupy" land that they have a legal right to be present in. From a practical point of view if you think that handing over the West Bank and East Jerusalem will end the conflict you are naive. Leaving Gaza brought no peace.


DLeigh-Ellis

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 15:12

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Well, you can't just 'leave' somewhere and hope it will sort itself out. Thats why the British and US cant simply leave Iraq, even tho Hussein is long gone. The time after a military occupation needs to be tempered with aid and the building of infrastructure, otherwise people will not be able to move themselves out of poverty and despair.

Israel may have a legal right according to a mandate almost a century old, but that mandate was formed in a different world, under different circumstances. If the founders of Zionist thought had understood the consequences of their decisions for many millions a century later, it is likely that the humanist foundation that drove the original concept of Zionism would have had to rethink how it operated.

The only people that truly have a right to a land are those who were born there, thus I would not choose to dismantle the settlements - as to many they are a true home. However, the problem is this notion that Jews have more of a right to the land than the Palestinians who have also lived there for many generations. I understand if you want to argue that Palestinian nationalism is a comparatively modern thing however that does not refute the fact that many people have been evicted from ancestral homes simply because the Israeli government deems that they do not have the same rights as Jews.

This is fundamentally and undeniably wrong, a modern Liberal democracy cannot choose to employ collective punishment upon a group of people who have been played like pawns in the game of realpolitik.


richmillett

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 17:00

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I agree that Israel's Gaza withdrawal could have been handled better, but this is all said with the benefit of hindsight.

I never said the Jews have more of a right to the land than the Palestinians. All i have said is that the settlements are not illegal.

Both nations have an equal right to the land and that is why two states is correct, but the only way to achieve this is for the settlements to stay and for there to be a landswap and for Ramallah to be the capital of Palestine. I really don't see why East Jerusalem should be. It is just another arbitrary bar to peace put in place by the Palestinian leadership.

I also don't see where Israel has ethnically cleansed Palestinians as you suggest in your penultimate paragraph. Can you expand?


DLeigh-Ellis

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 17:35

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I never suggested that ethnic cleansing had occured. What I argued in that paragraph was that to any person, home is home, and many people whose families had existed in what is now Israel prior to 1948 were forced by conflict and politics to migrate. It was nothing to do with personal choice. Palestinian demographic dominance eventually found itself in the West Bank and Gaza, whilst Israelis kept the land termed as Israel.

That would be enough of an issue in itself, my point was that as the Settler movement sees it, the Palestinians have no right to be even in the areas they have been confined to. The settlers see it as a duty to exert Jewish dominance over not only Israel but the disputed territories as well. Their ideology is not rational but theocratic and emotional, we may defend their settlements as legal, but they do not see it that way. To many settlers settlement of the disputed areas is not a right but an obligation, and it is this fundamentalist mentality that we need to oppose. To defend fundamentalism in the guise of Zionism is contradictory and absurd.

The only point that I was making was that the settler attitude, irrespective of legality is an obstacle to peace. Unfortunately the settler movement are incapable of realising this, and are therefore unwilling to compromise. Thus the settlements continue to expand, and this understandably p*sses off the Palestinians who see it, combined with the security barrier as a deliberate land grab by Israel.

Whether or not this is an intentional land grab, it will continue to be difficult to engage the Palestinians in peace talks whist the Palestinians do not believe in the sincerity of Israels commitment to Peace. Israel argues the Palestinians are insincere because of the continued rocket attacks, which is also true. If the Israeli's can refuse to engage in Peace talks because of the rocket fire then the Palestinians are certainly justified in refusing whilst land is slowly being eroded from their control.


moshetzarfati2 (not verified)

Tue, 01/26/2010 - 18:52

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Rich, the Palestinians' demand for East Jerusalem as a capital is as much an impediment to peace as Israel's demand that it remain united under Israeli control.
The settlements can stay as long as the colonists who currently inhabit them are happy to live as Palestinian citizens. If not, I'm sure the Israelis will welcome them with open arms and help them be true pioneers in the Negev or Galill. The settlements themselves can serve as perfect housing for the Palestinian refugees.
And if we were being honest, the only land Israel has any right to under the UN is the partition borders of 1947. Is that what you want?


richmillett

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 09:39

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On practical terms it is impossible to evacuate the settlers. There are too many. That is why the whole Oslo process was predicated on land swaps taking place. Now the rules of the game have suddenly changed. Just as you accuse the settlers of being ideological about the settlement areas so are the Palestinians being. They will not lose out in a land swap situation.

Additionally, you can't expect Israel to unilaterally agree to evacuate the settlements anyway. Then what will it have left to negotiate with?

Israel wants peace (that is why they withdrew the settlers from Gaza). Imagine the boost for the whole region in terms of investment and tourism!

The Palestinians want peace but the problem is the Islamist influence.

I am pinning my hopes on the Green Movement in Iran. Once the Khamenei regime has gone we can all get back to the negotiating table.


Yvetta

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 10:46

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Good points, Rich.


iainlrabbak

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 10:53

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Yvetta and Rich, just as the Israelis put the colonies on the West Bank and in East Jerusalem, it can take them out again. All it needs to do is to start building in the Negev and Galil. With new roads and fast rail connections to the centre, Eilat and the north, Israel should also start thinking about building a new airport in the Negev to replace the overcrowded Ben-Gurion in the densely populated Dan Region. Just think of the job and enterprise opportunities that would create.
But I am not sure that either the Israelis or the Palestinians actually want peace, because the status quo is comfortable and it means that serious and difficult decisions about identity and character do not need to be taken and other problems can be swept under the carpet. Also it means that both sides can continue to play the victimhood game, at which they are both adept.


richmillett

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 12:00

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Iain, it is crazy to say neither side wants peace. I accept your addressing of other potential impediments to peace but this is now the ideology of a conspiracy theorist.


DLeigh-Ellis

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 12:28

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I agree Rich, this notion that the 'status quo is comfortable' only applies to the few warlords and politicians whom the current situation serves. Sure, they can manipulate and direct politics in order to keep themselves in power but they must be a minority. The current status quo is by no means 'comfortable' for the majority of Israelis and Palestinians.


iainlrabbak

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 12:48

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The Status Quo is comfortable to the leadership of both peoples. I am sorry you misunderstood that. It is pretty clear that neither leadership wants peace because it means dealing with tough decisions that are better (for the leaderships, at least) left alone and swept under the carpet.
Personally, I think both sides should be left alone. Thomas Friedman had the right idea in the New York Times: when they are good and ready for peace, they should contact the Americans. Until then…


richmillett

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 14:25

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I agree with you (for once) and Thomas Friedman.


raymee_jones

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 17:03

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I believe discussing the legality of settlements is useless (look at Northern Ireland).
Although I do think that certain aspects need to be looked at in helping or hindering progress in having the Palestinians have their land in which to live in peace and govern themselves, and follow their own religion etc.

One of the BIG problems with the settlements is that they are encroaching on Palestinian state lines in the west bank - and many are being granted to American immigrants or religious fundamentalists that follow a 3000 year old passage saying that their G-d told them all the land was theirs - hence they have a license from above to do as they will.


Yvetta

Wed, 01/27/2010 - 17:26

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When two sides claim divine sanction for their respective positions, obtaining compromise is certainly a challenge if not an impossibility.

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