Israel settlement plans criticized as unlawful

Top UN and EU officials denounced the renewed plans for Israeli settlements announced Oct. 30 by the Israeli Prime Minister's Office and Ministry of the Interior. The plans include building more than 1,500 homes in Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and the West Bank. EU High Representative Catherine Ashton in a statement (PDF) declared them to be illegal under international law. Ashton said the EU deplores the recent announcements and has "called on Israel to end all settlement activity, including natural growth, and to dismantle outposts erected since March 2001."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized and expressed appreciation for Israeli's release of Palestinian pre-Oslo prisoners but described the settlement plans as contrary to international law and an obstacle to peace. UN Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, reiterated that the settlements are unlawful under the Fourth Geneva Convention, and that financial institutions and real estate companies may be held criminally accountable for their involvement.

On Oct. 28 Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that Israel would participate in the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) review of its human rights record, ending an 18-month boycott. This marked another chapter in Israel's tumultuous relationship with the UNHRC. The UNHRC originally planned the review of the country in January, but were forced to postpone because the Israeli government failed to send a representative. Former foreign minister Avigdor Liberman cut ties with the UNHCR in March 2012, after the council commenced an international investigation into Israeli settlements in the West Bank. In 2010, before the boycott, the Israeli ambassador called for an end to the UNHRC investigation into Israeli actions during the 2008-9 Gaza campaign, Operation Cast Lead, which resulted in the deaths of 1,400 Palestinians. Despite this, the UNHRC in September of 2010 adopted a report criticizing Israel's raid of a Gaza-bound flotilla and finding the country committed various violations of human rights and international humanitarian law.

From Jurist, Oct. 31. Used with permission.

  1. Palestinian demands leaked
    The Israeli and international pro-Zionist press are waxing outraged over a list of PA demands that were leaked Israel’s Channel 2 TV, including  a 1.9% land swap; no Israeli military presence in the Jordan Valley and no Israeli presence at all in East Jerusalem; control over water sources and resources; control of border crossings, including along the Dead Sea coast; the right to sign agreements with other states; release of all Palestinian prisoners; and the right of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to choose to live in Israel or the Palestinian territories. (Times of Israel, Oct. 27) Forgotten is that any “land swap” is itself a compromise, and (with the possible exception of the release of some prisoners directly linked to terrorist attacks) these are all demands that the Palestinians are absolutely entitled to under internaitonal law. 

    Similarly overlooked is that these (actually reasonable) demands are probably intended as a high bid, with the full aniticpation that they will be bargained down as the talks advance. Israeli consensus seems to be that for the talks to be legitimate, the Palestinans must start with a low bid—not only sell out, but sell out cheap.

    Outrage is also mounting over disovery of a tunnel running from Gaza 450 meters into Israel, allegedly intended as a springboard for attacks. After it was uncovered by Israeli troops, the military wing of Hamas claimed responsibility for it. “This tunnel was made by the hand of the fighters of [Izzadine] al-Qassam and they will not sleep in their efforts to hit the occupation and kidnap soldiers,” the group’s spokesman Abu Obeida told Hamas’s al-Aqsa Radio. “We are working on the ground and under the ground to release the prisoners” held by Israel, he said. (AFP, Oct. 21)

    Again, while kidnapping is an unhelpful tactic, the demand for the release of prisoners is an inevitable and (in the overwhelming majority of cases) just one. And if the Izzadine al-Qassam Brigade’s tunnels are illegal, so is Israel’s ongoing blockade of the Gaza Strip…

  2. Turkish court orders arrest of Israeli commanders

    A Turkish court on May 26 called for international arrest warrants for four former Israeli military chiefs involved in a deadly 2010 maritime raid. According to a lawyer working on the case, prosecutors are seeking life sentences for the commanders who they claim were responsible for Israeli commandos boarding the Mavi Marmara, part of a flotilla dispatched to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza strip, and killing nine unarmed Turkish activists. The ruling is the latest development in the ongoing trial in absentia of the commanders which began in 2012 when Turkish relief agency IHH and the victims' families brought charges against them.

    From Jurist, May 28. Used with permission.