A legal victory among shadows


Photo by: Activestills – From: web Yesh Din

After more than twenty years, and subsequent to the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court in 2014, the 42 families of settlers (240 persons more 2000 people that were supporting them) have been evacuated to be resettled in an area close to the current illegal settlement of Amona, being built on private Palestinian land, the “outpost” that not only international law considered illegal, but also the Israeli Government does. Specifically, the article 8 (2) (b) (viii) of the Statute of Rome of the International Criminal Court defines “« the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies» as a crime of war.” Israel signed initially the statute, but after declared his intention of not ratifying it. Also, the International community considered that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories in 1967 are illegal according to International law, however Israel maintains that are compatible, since they do not agree that the Fourth Convention of Geneva applies to the occupied territories after the Six Day offensive in 1967.

In fact, the Israeli government approved the construction of 3,000 new settlements on private Palestinian land last January 31st, to which our Israeli local partner Yesh Din has filed a lawsuit to the Supreme Court. And last Monday 6th of February the Israeli Parliament (the Knesset) has legislated for the first time in its history over the occupied territory of West Bank to legalize retroactively almost 4,000 houses of Israeli settlers in 53 outposts and colonies.

So far, over 400,000 settlers in Israeli colonies, of which 94 are “outspost” who have begun to build in the 1990s reside in the West Bank illegally. These outposts are strategically located in the vicinity of the more than 120 settlements which were approved by Israel, and having as ultimate goal the complete annexation of the entire West Bank, dividing so far this Palestinian territory into 4 areas not connected among themselves, from North to South and from East to West. Because of this, Palestinians suffer limitation of movement, lack of water and other resources, and are not allowed to build structures of all kinds. These restrictions are given in more than 70% of the territory of occupied West Bank (in which the Palestinian Authority has no effective authority) defined during the Oslo Accords (and that would be temporary) as area C, impacting on the rights of this population always at risk of forced displacement.

However, even with international pressure, Netanyahu’s Government in 2011 has introduced what is known as “combined policy” which assumed that structures built on private Palestinian land are demolished, but that these lands are subsequently legalized and with possibility to be buildable. These advances in the construction of settlements in West Bank and the relocation of settlers from outspots to illegal settlements is a serious violation of International law and an obstacle to achieving a real and lasting peace and justice in Palestine.

For more information legal on the causes and consequences of them settlements in West Bank, visit the web of our Israeli partner Yes Din.