Dov Hikind: international scofflaw

The Jerusalem Post reports Aug. 15 that New York State Assemblyman Dov Hikind is among the many infiltrators to have snuck into the Gaza Strip through the IDF roadblocks. "It was very easy to get in," Hikind told the Post as he stood outside the Neveh Dekalim synagogue, saying that he came to bear witness to the "human tragedy" of the removal of the Jewish settlements. Hikind, who represents a heavily Jewish district in Brooklyn, told Newsday columnist Dennis Dugan by telephone from the Strip Aug. 15, "We shouldn't even be calling these places settlements. They are like small villages of the kind you see in Brooklyn and Queens."

Well, for starters, we generally tend to say "neighborhoods" in Brooklyn and Queens, not "villages"--except maybe the Queens neighborhood of Middle Village. But Dov is obviously eschewing the word "settlements" for a political reason: settlement of occupied territories violates international law, and the "villages" he is defending are illegal. The fastidiously neutral website Israeli-Palestinian Pro-Con, after noting that Israel has its own interpretation of international law on the question, goes on to state:

The international community at large and the Palestine Liberation Organization, on the other hand, hold that Israeli settlements in the OPT [Occupied Palestinian Territories] do violate IHL [International Humanitarian Law], and in particular Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, since Israel's policies of promoting and facilitating the transfer of population have been instrumental in the creation and expansion of Israeli settlements in the OPT. In addition, the Hague Regulations and the Fourth Geneva Convention together prohibit any transfer of the Occupying Power's population, even voluntary transfers, that would alter the demographic composition of the occupied territory..."

The Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) states: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

An Aug. 15 commentary on Electronic Intifada protests that while the settlers are to be compensated for their abandoned Gaza homes, no compensation is planned for Palestinians whose Gaza properties have been demolished or confiscated over the years by the Israeli military and settlers:

The world's attention is focussed on the "plight" of settler-colonists from the Gaza Strip and some in the West Bank, who have to leave their homes. Daily reports from the local and international press produce countless human interest stories of the trauma of displacement of seemingly innocent settlers, forced to leave behind their home and their livelihoods. But without exception settlers knew that they were moving to an area that was conquered in war. In contracts for the sale or rental of land in the occupied territories there was a clause that explicitly stated their temporary nature.

At the same time, there is deafening silence on the fact that the construction of the settlements is a violation of international law, as reaffirmed in the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, and on how the international community has condoned this illegal situation and is paying for the costs of withdrawal. It is seldom reported that settlers are being compensated. How many realise that each settler family is due to receive an average of several hundred thousand dollars as "compensation"?

[...]

The Israeli government and its courts have now approved a programme of compensating settlers, which the USA will mostly pay for. At the same time, the Israeli government has been seeking to pass a law that would deprive Palestinians of the right to claim compensation against Israel for violation of any law committed in the Occupied Territories. It is the most outrageous double standard, which once again displays the inequality of Jews and Palestinians in Israeli government policy.

Nor does the removal of the settlers mean that the Palestinians will have any meaningful sovereignty in Gaza. "The Gaza Strip will still be occupied territory under international law," Renad Qubbaj of the Palestinian NGO Network told IPS July 28. "After implementation of the disengagement plan, the Israeli army will remain in effective control of all border crossings." The disengagement plan specifically states that "Israel will guard and monitor the external land perimeter of the Gaza Strip, will continue to maintain exclusive authority in Gaza airspace, and will continue to exercise security activity in the sea off the coast of the Gaza Strip." The Palestinian NGO network warns under the limited disengagement plan, "Palestinian society will be split into separate political, social and economic entities, and Jerusalem will be turned into an isolated island."

All in continuing violation of UN resolutions and a ruling of the International Court of Justice--a rather ironic position for Hikind to be supporting, given that he is get-tough law-and-order hardliner when it comes to petty street crime.

As we recently pointed out, Dov Hikind is also a freedom-hater. Fortunately, on Aug. 14, a group of Orthodox Jews led by Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss held a press conference on the steps of New York's City Hall to protest Hikind's call for racial profiling in subway searches. (