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U.N. Calls On Israel To Clear Settlements, Or Else

Israeli Settlement

Israeli Settlement (Photo credit: The Advocacy Project)

A three-member United Nations human rights investigation panel has warned Israel that the settlements they have built in the West Bank, where they have planted a half-million Israelis, mostly adherents of the Revisionist Zionist movement, is in violation of international law. Unless the settlements are evacuated and all Israelis removed from the West Bank, Israel could be facing criminal charges in the International Criminal Court in The Hague.

According to Article 8 of the ICC statutes, the deportation or transfer of population into an occupied territory is a criminal violation of human rights. It is also in violation of the 4th Geneva Convention covering the actions of a nation in the conduct of a war. When the United Nations gave recognition to the Palestinians of the West Bank, they opened up the possibility of the Palestinians bringing criminal charges against Israel. Knowing this, the Netanyahu government promptly announced thousands of new housing units in the West Bank that would make it virtually impossible to create a Palestinian state.

In a press conference, Christine Chanet, the French judge who led the inquiry, explained that “Israel must cease settlement activities and provide adequate, prompt and effective remedy to the victims of violations of human rights. To transfer its own population into an occupied territory is prohibited because it is an obstacle to the exercise of the right to self-determination.”

The investigators met with more than 50 Palestinians who traveled to Jordan to testify about confiscated land, destroyed homes and shops, the leveling of olive groves that were the economic base of whole villages and violence against Palestinians by Jewish settlers, including the burning of mosques and the ineffective “investigations” of those arsons. The investigation report stated, “The mission believe that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand.”

The Israelis have consistently used the actions of Hamas in the Gaza Strip to justify their actions against the Palestinians in the West Bank, though the incidents of anti-Israeli action from the West Bank has been minimal for years. While there was a horrific episode almost two years ago when two Palestinian men slaughtered an Israeli family in their beds and a father and son who died when some Palestinians threw rocks at their car and the father crashed it, the overwhelming majority of violent attacks in the West Bank have been directed at the Palestinians. The Netanyahu government claims that they cannot negotiate with the West Bank Palestinians as long as a single Islamic entity – Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran – calls for the destruction of Israel.

Israel just complicated the whole situation in a possibly disastrous way.

The recent Israeli election did not leave Benjamin Netanyahu with a guarantee of continuing as the country’s Prime Minister. The Knesset elects the President and the President selects the Prime Minister and the Prime Minister names the cabinet officers. But the Knesset was almost perfectly split between Netanyahu’s right wing/extreme right wing coalition and the moderate/left wing opposition. Netanyahu needed 61 votes to retain power. Two days ago, Netanyahu had only 50 guaranteed votes. While coalition negotiations were going on furiously in Jerusalem and party leaders were meeting with President Shimon Peres, Netanyahu announced that Syria was arming Hezbollah in Lebanon and launched an airstrike against either a convoy allegedly carrying weapons to Lebanon or a Syrian military facility. Take you pick. The news reports are split on what the target was and what was hit, but either way, the attack was against Syrian government forces on Syrian soil. The Lebanese have locked down their border because of Syrian military incursions during the rebellion, and we only have Israel’s report that there were Russian weapons headed across that border to a militant group that is as much a threat to the government of Lebanon as to Israel.

As of today, surprise!, Netanyahu has 82 votes and President Peres will formally appoint him Prime Minister and ask him for form a government on Saturday.

The attack provided credence to Syrian President Bashar al Assad’s claim that the rebellion is an attempt by foreign forces to take over Syria. It may have changed opinions about al Assad within Syria and seriously undercut the legitimacy of the rebellion. It has brought Iran into the conflict, with threats to back Syria in any attack against Israel in retaliation for the unprovoked attack against Syrian forces who had not breached Israeli territory or crossed the border into Lebanon. There is concern at this time that, to cement his power, Benjamin Netanyahu may have started World War III.

Against that background, the Israeli government whining about the bigotry that they claim is behind the decision of the United Nations human rights mission is pretty childish.

 

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