Israel has demanded that the 14 nations who voted against the illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank “explain themselves”—for daring to oppose the Jewish ethnostate’s breach of international law.
In reality, the Jewish settlements are illegal in terms of the Geneva Convention and the Hague Regulations, and if undertaken by any other state, would have resulted in international military intervention.
According to “Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War” of the Geneva Convention, an occupier is forbidden from transferring its own civilians into the territory it occupies.
“Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. (12 August 1949. “Deportations, Transfers, Evacuations, Article 49.)
In addition, Article 55 of the Hague Regulations states that an occupying power’s role is to safeguard occupied properties and maintain the status quo:
Art. 55. The occupying State shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct. (Annex To The Convention: Regulations Respecting The Laws And Customs Of War On Land – Section III : Military Authority Over The Territory Of The Hostile State – Regulations: Art. 55.)
The construction of Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank are clear violations of both these international treaties, and for Israel to demand that nations who uphold this law “explain themselves” is merely an indication of the chutzpah and hypocrisy which underpins that state.
These then, are the facts about the occupied West Bank:
The West Bank—including East Jerusalem—and the Gaza Strip together constitute the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), which have been under Israeli military occupation since June 1967.
Prior to Israeli occupation, the West Bank was controlled by Jordan, and the Gaza Strip by Egypt.
Before the State of Israel was established in 1948, the West Bank and Gaza Strip were simply parts of Mandate Palestine; their “borders” are the result of Israeli expansion and armistice lines.
More than 300,000 Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip became refugees during Israel’s conquest in June 1967; the vast majority were unable to return.
In 1967, Israeli forces ethnically cleansed and destroyed a number of Palestinian villages in the OPT, including Imwas, Beit Nuba, and others.
One of the first acts of the Israeli authorities in East Jerusalem was to demolish the Mughrabi Quarter, expelling 600 residents and destroying 135 homes. In place of the 800-year-old Mughrabi Quarter, Israel created the Western Wall Plaza.
The first West Bank settlement was established in September 1967, supported by the then “left-wing Zionist” Labor-led government.
By 1972, there were some 10,000 Israelis living in illegal settlements in the OPT.
In 1974/75, Israel established Ma’ale Adumim, located in the West Bank to the east of Jerusalem. It is now the largest Israeli settlement in terms of area.
There are now 125 government-sanctioned settlements in the OPT, plus another 100 or so unauthorized settler “outposts.”
There are at least 600,000 Jews now living in illegal settlements the Occupied West Bank, including 200,000 in East Jerusalem.
By the mid-1980s, Palestinian cultivated land in the West Bank had dropped by 40 percent.
In 2003, in response to increasing violent resistance from Palestinians over their dispossession of land and homes, Israel began work on the massive concrete wall to supposedly seal off the West Bank.
In reality, 85 percent of the total length of this wall lies inside Palestinian territory, and not on the “border” at all.
The territory enclosed by the wall “coincidentally” includes all but 100,000 of the 600,000 Jews living illegally on settlements on Palestinian territory.
In 2004, the International Court of Justice in The Hague issued an advisory opinion that the construction of the Wall in the OPT is “contrary to international law.”
In 1967, Israel expanded Jerusalem’s municipal boundaries to include newly-occupied territory; this act of annexation has never been recognized by the international community. A third of the annexed territory was expropriated; by 2001, some 47,000 settlement housing units had been built on this expropriated land.
Palestinian homes are routinely demolished by Israeli forces for “lacking the right permit;” yet more than 95 percent of Palestinian permit applications are rejected by Israeli military courts which are enforced in the occupied West Bank.
Sixty percent of the West Bank remains under full Israeli military and civil control. In the rest of the West Bank, the Israeli military conducts raids at will.
It is clear that if any other nation had behaved in such a manner toward any other people, the international community would have intervened militarily by now.
It is only the presence of the Jewish lobby within the governments of many Western nations which has, until now, shielded Israel from criticism such as that which was seen at last week’s historic United Nations Security Council vote.
The power of that lobby has however been severely impacted by the vote, and Israel will now have to rely on the incoming Donald Trump administration in order to be able to continue its ethnic cleansing of the West Bank without further repercussions.