Israeli Settlements an Obstacle to Peace?
For four centuries the West Bank and east Jerusalem, were provinces of the Turkish Ottoman Empire; after that, from 1922 until 1948, they were ruled by Britain under the Mandate given it by the League of Nations. These areas have never been under any Arab sovereignty. The Palestinians have never had a political state of their own; and when offered the opportunity to create one by the United Nations General Assembly in 1947, refused to create one.
One does not have to be an apologist for Israeli settlements in disputed areas to recognize that the constant criticism that has developed around them is unproductive in reaching a peace settlement between Israel and its Arab neighbors. The settlements may be a problem but they are not a serious one. Altogether, they occupy less than three percent of the area of the West Bank, and have a population of about 300,000 there, another 20,000 in the Golan Heights, and 190,000 in east Jerusalem, Israel's capital. Whether some or many of these settlements will be evacuated by Israel should depend on the nature of the negotiated peace agreement.
In spite of the settlement freeze suggested by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008, and the ten-month moratorium on new construction announced by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2010, the Palestinians still refused, for over nine months, to enter into peace talks.
The immediate problem is the question of who can legitimately claim sovereignty over the disputed areas of east Jerusalem and the "West Bank," a term coined by Jordan when it controlled the area from 1949 until 1967. For over four centuries, these areas were provinces of the Turkish Ottoman Empire; after that, from 1922 until 1948, they were ruled by Britain under the Mandate given it by the League of Nations. The areas have never been under any Arab sovereignty.
Jordan declared it had "annexed" the West Bank after the 1948-49 War. Only two countries, Pakistan and Britain, ever recognized that claim; and Britain only de facto, not by full legal recognition. The Palestinians have never had a political state of their own and, when offered the opportunity by the United Nations General Assembly in November 1947, refused to create one. The Golan Heights, about 400 square miles, was ceded to Syria by a Franco-British agreement.
The boundaries of "Palestine," and the decision about the exercise of sovereign power over it, remain to be determined in an overall peace settlement, as agreed to by all parties concerned in the UN Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967.
As the West Bank and the Gaza Strip were unallocated parts of the British Mandate, the land held by Israel since the 1967 was determined not to be the accepted legal territory of any particular people or country. Moreover, Jewish settlement in the West Bank was never seen as an intrusion into alien territory as a result of war, nor as a violation of international agreements -- either of which would have made settlements illegal.
International law gives no clear answer on the issue of Israeli settlements. The Fourth Geneva Convention does forbid government deportation or "individual or mass forcible transfers" of population into territory it occupies. This Convention was formulated because of the activities during World War II of the Nazi regime, and by inference the Soviet Union, in transferring population into occupied territory for political or racial reasons, or for colonization. As a result of those activities, millions were subjected to forced migration, expulsion, slave labor, and extermination. On this issue two factors are pertinent. One is that Israeli governments have not aimed at any displacement of the population in any of the disputed areas. The other is that neither the Geneva Convention nor any other law prevents the establishment of voluntary settlements on an individual basis, nor on their location, if the underlying purpose is security, public order, or safety, and as long as the settlements do not involve taking private property. It is absurd to suggest that the state of Israel "deported" or "transferred" its own citizens to the territories.
This conclusion was buttressed by a report, in July 2012, of the independent Israeli three-member committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy, which held that the classic laws of "occupation" do not apply to "the unique and sui generis historic and legal circumstances of Israel's presence in Judea and Samaria spanning over decades." The committee held that consequently Israelis have the legal right to settle in Judea and Samaria, and that the establishment of settlements is not illegal.
Israel has made concessions in the hopes of peace, although scant recognition has been given to them. Israel withdrew all forces and settlers in Sinai after the peace treaty with Egypt in 1979. All 21 Israeli settlements, with 9,000 residents, in the Gaza Strip, as well as all Israeli forces there, were withdrawn by a unilateral Israeli decision in 2005, to give the Gaza Strip a chance to become a thriving independent area. This withdrawal did not, however, result in any positive response, and has not stopped Hamas, the ruling group in Gaza, from constant missile bombardment and missile activity against Israeli civilians in nearby cities.
The settlements in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights remain as a source of contention, whether regarded as illegal or merely ill-advised. Certainly there should be legitimate discussion about them and about the actions of the Israeli government in legitimizing unauthorized outposts in the West Bank. The government distinguishes between the settlements that have been officially sanctioned, and outposts, some on hilltops for security reasons, for example, that settlers built without permission. Between 1991 and 2005 about 100 hilltop outposts were built by activists who believed they were creating "facts on the ground," but did so without government permits or planning approval.
Israeli authorities are concerned about abuses regarding settlements. The Israeli Supreme Court in June 2012 ordered the dismantling of an outpost named Migron , that contained 50 families, a settlement that had been built on private Arab land. Legal decisions have made clear that settlements were never intended to displace Arab residents of the disputed territories. The settlements have been established for a combination of economic, historic, and military reasons, not ever for purposes of colonialism, or even colonization. A negotiated peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians can easily decide their fate.
Michael Curtis is author of Should Israel Exist? A Sovereign Nation under Attack by the International Community.
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|Cogent Article [358 words]||Frumious Falafel||Jul 28, 2012 13:29|
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by Burak Bekdil
In Turkey however, the protests were not peaceful. They included smashing a sculpture than was neither Jewish nor Israeli.
It was the usual "We-Muslims-can-kill each other-but-Jews-cannot" hysteria.
If Turkish crowds were protesting against Israel in a political dispute, why Koranic slogans? Why were they protesting in Arabic rather than their native language? Do Turks chant German slogans to protest nuclear energy?
by Burak Bekdil
So in the EU-candidate Turkey, a pianist should be punished for his re-tweets, but a pop-singer should be congratulated for her first-class racist hate-speech. This is contagious.
No reporter present at Mr. Ihsanoglu's campaign launch speech thought about asking him if his commitment to the "Palestinian cause" included any affirmation of the Hamas Charter, in particular a section that says, "…The stones and trees will say, 'O Muslims, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him.'"
Turkey is also the country where a few years earlier, a group of school teachers (yes, school teachers!) gathered in a demonstration to commemorate Hitler.
by Debalina Ghoshal
Despite Chapter VII of the UN Charter and UNSC Resolutions, it seems that North Korea will continue developing its missiles -- and eventually weaponize them with nuclear warheads.
"North Korea's ballistic and nuclear threat is very much a near-term threat. ... Steady progression in their program is not harmless." — Victor Cha, Centre for Strategic and International Studies.
On March 26, 2014, North Korea reportedly test-fired medium-range ballistic Rodong missiles -- capable of reaching Japan and U.S. military bases in the Asia-Pacific region.
Since February, South Korean officials claim that North Korea has confirmed at least 90 test-firings, among which ten were ballistic missiles.
by Khaled Abu Toameh
It is important to note that these cease-fire demands are not part of Hamas's or Islamic Jihad's overall strategy, namely to have Israel wiped off the face of the earth.
Many foreign journalists who came to cover the war in the Gaza trip were under the false impression that it was all about improving living conditions for the Palestinians by opening border crossings and building an airport and seaport. These journalists really believed that once the demands of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad are accepted, this would pave the way for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
To understand the true intention of Hamas and its allies, it is sufficient to follow the statements made by their leaders after the cease-fire announcement this week. To his credit, Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas's leader, has never concealed Hamas's desire to destroy Israel.
Hamas and its allies see the war in the Gaza Strip as part of there strategy to destroy Israel. What Hamas and its allies are actually saying is, "Give us open borders and an airport and seaport so we can use them to prepare for the next war against Israel."
by Burak Bekdil
A front-page headline was particularly revealing: They (Israel) bombed a mosque in Gaza! Including the exclamation mark!
A quick internet search, if you typed "mosque bombing Shiite-Sunni," would give you 782,000 results on July 16.
Why did we not hear one single Turkish voice protest the death of 300,000 Muslims in Darfur?
Hamas's Charter is must-read fun.