The annexation of OPT: Israel’s mockery of the...
Since 1967, each Israeli government has invested significant resources in establishing and expanding the settlements in the Occupied Territories, both in terms of the area of land they occupy and in terms of population. According to BTSELEM, the Israeli governments have implemented a consistent and systematic policy intended to encourage Jewish citizens to migrate to the West Bank.
The establishment of settlements on the West Bank violates international humanitarian law, which establishes the principles applying during war and occupation. Moreover, the settlements lead to the infringement of international human rights law. The Fourth Geneva Convention clearly states that occupying powers should not “deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. Yet Israeli authorities have been engaging in a land grab, often claiming the land is for military or security purposes – then allowing residential communities to spring up.
The establishment of the settlements leads to the violation of the rights of the Palestinians as enshrined in international human rights law. Among other violations, the settlements infringe the right to self-determination, equality, property, an adequate standard of living, and freedom of movement.
Israel has used a complex legal and bureaucratic mechanism to take control of more than fifty percent of the land in the West Bank. And according to Human Rights Watch, the Israeli government’s policy of boxing in Palestinian communities extends beyond the West Bank and Gaza to Palestinian towns and villages inside Israel. The policy discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel and in favor of Jewish citizens, sharply restricting Palestinians’ access to land for housing to accommodate natural population growth.
Decades of land confiscations and discriminatory planning policies have confined many Palestinian citizens to densely populated towns and villages that have little room to expand. Meanwhile, the Israeli government nurtures the growth and expansion of neighboring predominantly Jewish communities, many built on the ruins of Palestinian villages destroyed in 1948. Many small Jewish towns also have admissions committees that effectively bar Palestinians from living there. “The Israeli state directly controls 93 percent of the land in the country, including occupied East Jerusalem. Palestinian citizens of Israel constitute 21 percent of the country’s population, but Israeli and Palestinian rights groups estimated in 2017 that less than 3 percent of all land in Israel falls under the jurisdiction of Palestinian municipalities.” Reported Human Rights Watch.
International human rights law prohibits racial and ethnic discrimination, condemns “racial segregation,” and safeguards the right to adequate housing. The International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights (ICESR), which Israel has ratified, requires states to ensure that policies and legislation progressively realize the right to adequate housing for all segments of society. The body tasked with interpreting the covenant has said that “enjoyment of this right must … not be subject to any form of discrimination” and that “increasing access to land by landless or impoverished segments of the society should constitute a central policy.” While the planning law process is designed to provide opportunity for engagement at the regional and local levels, in practice it marginalizes Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Recently, as the world’s attention is turned to fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, the Palestinian people under occupation face an additional crisis — the threat of annexation. In a statement, the General Assembly Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People said: “Even during the unprecedented health emergency, Israel, the occupying Power, has continued to entrench the illegal occupation and openly announced its intention to annex large areas of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, while continuing the blockade of the Gaza Strip.”
The Committee also called on Israel to heed to the Secretary-General’s recent call for a global ceasefire. It also calls on Israel to heed the long-standing demand for a halt to its illegal actions and practices in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, including all measures aimed at entrenching the occupation and annexing territory.
“The insistence that any annexation of occupied Palestinian territory directly violates fundamental norms of international law seems no longer to be taken seriously. Maybe because of this, Israel is poised to annex without even attempting to offer legal justifications for overriding the widely endorsed and rigidly interpreted rule that a sovereign state is not allowed to annex foreign territory acquired by force.” wrote Richard Falk, professor emeritus of International Law at Princeton University.
“As with Israeli critics of annexation, supporters feel no need to explain, or even notice, the disregard of Palestinian grievances and rights. Annexationists do not dare put forward an argument that the Jewish claims are more deserving of recognition than are the competing national claims of Palestinians, undoubtedly because their case is so weak in terms of modern ideas of law and the ethics of entitlement. As has been the case throughout the Zionist narrative, Palestinian grievances, aspirations, and even the existence of a Palestinian people is not part of the Zionist imaginary except as political obstacles and demographic impediments.”
“The formation of an Israeli annexation government means ending the two-state solution and the dismantling of the rights of the people of Palestine.” Palestinian prime minister, Mohammed Shtayyeh warned.
The international community must show its support for Palestinian people and continue to acknowledge these annexations and settlements for what they really are: a crime against an entire nation, who have been driven out of their land and also deprived of the right to be called victims.