4 May 2009
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) strongly condemns the Israeli Ministry of the Interior’s decision to expand the illegal West Bank settlement of “Ma’ale Adumim” and to confiscate 12,000 donums (12 million square meters) of Palestinian land.
In the context of policies aimed to establishing a Jewish majority in occupied East Jerusalem – thereby consolidating its illegal annexation – the Israeli Minister of Interior, Elli Yishai, decided to adopt the recommendations of a special committee established by his ministry to link “Qedar” settlement with the larger “Ma’ale Adumim” settlement, east of Jerusalem. Under the Israeli Ministry of Interior’s plan, at least 12,000 donums of Palestinian land will be annexed to “Ma’ale Adumim”, linking it with the smaller “Qedar” settlement, which is located nearly 3 kilometers to the east. A few months ago, the Israeli media unveiled another plan to construct 6,000 new housing units in “Qedar” settlement. The implementation of these plans will disrupt geographical contiguity between the north and south West Bank, and will isolate Jerusalem from the West Bank as a whole. These decisions fundamentally undermine the viability of any future Palestinian State.
Israeli occupation authorities have recently started to establish a new settlement neighborhood in the densely Palestinian-populated al-Sawahra area, southeast of Jerusalem. They have also continued to undermine Palestinian construction in the city, in an effort to impose forced migration on the Palestinian population. Dozens of Palestinian families have been ordered to evacuate their homes under various pretexts, related to, inter alia, the lack of construction licenses and the construction of homes on lands allegedly owned by Israeli settlement associations. Recent orders targeted two floors constructed atop the Armenian Church in the Old Town, which was built more than 150 years ago.
International law explicitly prohibits the annexation of land consequent to the use of force (Article 47, Fourth Geneva Convention), a principle confirmed in Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter. International humanitarian law is unambiguous in this regard: occupation does not imply any right whatsoever to dispose of territory. Annexation is straightforwardly illegal.
Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention also explicitly prohibits the transfer and settlement of parts of the Occupying Power’s population in occupied territory. PCHR wish to highlight the underlying purpose of this provision, as noted in the authoritative commentary to the Geneva Conventions: “It is intended to prevent a practice adopted by during the Second World War by certain Powers, which transferred portions of their own population for political or racial reasons or in order … to colonize those territories. Such transfers worsened the economic situation of the native population and endangered their separate existence as a race.”
The United Nations estimate that there are currently between 480,000 and 550,000 illegal settlers living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
PCHR strongly condemns all Israeli policies and measures aimed at consolidating the annexation of occupied East Jerusalem, and:
1) Emphasizes that East Jerusalem is an integral part of Palestinian territories that have been occupied since the 1967 war.
2) Asserts that measures taken by Israeli occupation forces following the occupation of the city, especially the Israeli Knesset’s decisions on 28 June 1967 to annex the city to Israeli territory and on 30 July 1980 declaring that the “complete and united Jerusalem is the capital of Israel”, and the decision to expand the boundaries of Jerusalem, violate international law and United Nations resolutions.
3) Stresses that all decisions, plans and measures implemented by Israeli occupation authorities in the occupied city do not alter the legal status of the city.
In light of the above:
1) PCHR calls upon the High Contracting Parties, individually and collectively, to fulfill their legal and moral obligation under article 1 of the Convention to ensure Israel’s respect for the Convention in the OPT.
2) PCHR believes that international silence serves to encourage Israel to act as a state above the law and to continue violating international human rights law and international humanitarian law.
3) PCHR calls upon the international community to immediately act to force the Israeli government to stop all settlement activities in the OPT, especially in occupied East Jerusalem.
4) PCHR calls upon the European Union and/or its State members to activate article 2 of the Euro-Israeli Association Agreement, which affirm Israel’s respect for human rights as a condition for continue economic cooperation. PCHR calls also upon State members of the European Union to boycott Israeli goods, especially those produced in illegal Israeli settlements established in the OPT.