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UN Human Rights Council: Settlement issue could end up in the International Criminal Court

Unprecedented report calls for UN Member States “to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norms of international law.”

January 28, 2013: Two caravans form a new Israeli settler outpost on land belonging to the Palestinian West Bank village of Jayyous. The caravans were put there last week and are already connected to the water lines of the nearby settlement of Zufit (photo: Activestills)

The United Nations Human Rights Council has published its fact finding mission’s report on the settlements. The report concludes that Israeli settlements are constructed for the benefits of Jews only through a system of ethnic segregation and military law, and are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory by the occupying force. According to the report:

Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions. It must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT.

Israel is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention but has concluded that it does not apply to the territories occupied from Jordan and Egypt in 1967, since both countries abandoned any claims to this land. Israel considers the territories “disputed” (a position taken recently by the Levi Commission, which called upon Israel to legalized all outposts built on Palestinian land) However, even the Israeli narrative doesn’t explain ethnic segregation in the West Bank, military law and the absence of human or political rights for the non-Jewish civilian population in the West Bank.  

There are two important articles in the HRC report which go beyond the usual condemnations of the settlements that have been issued for decades by the international community. First, the Human Rights Council calls upon other nations, agencies and companies to break ties with the settlement project – a step which might open the door for sanctions against settlement products or for the enforcement of relevant articles in trade agreements with Israel, for example by the European Union.

116. The Mission calls upon all Member States to comply with their obligations under international law and to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norms of international law – specifically not to recogniזe an unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s violations.

117. Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Mission calls upon all Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that business enterprises domiciled in their territory and/or under their jurisdiction, including those owned or controlled by them, that conduct activities in or related to the settlements respect human rights throughout their operations.

The report also explicitly suggests that the Palestinians could sue Israelis in the International Criminal Court could deal with the issue of the settlement. A press release on the Human Rights Council site states:

The report states that Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and under humanitarian law. The report also concludes that the Rome Statute establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the transfer of populations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Israel has refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission. The United States has warned the Palestinians in the past not to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, as part of its tradition of preventing any punitive action in response to human rights violations by Israel in the occupied territories. The United States was the only country that voted against the fact finding mission on the settlements.

Israel has been rapidly increasing settlement activities since the Oslo Accords, especially in the last decade. According to the Jerusalem-based NGO Ir Amim, 2012 has been a record year in settlement construction in East Jerusalem. On the eve of the Oslo Accords, there were approximately 107,00 thousands settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, and 115,000 in East Jerusalem. by 2001 these numbers grew to 200,000 in the West Bank and Gaza and 167,000 in East Jerusalem. In 2011 there were 189,000 settlers in and around East Jerusalem, and 324,000 settlers in the West Bank, bringing the total numbers of Jewish settlers to over half a million. There are 127 settlements in the West Bank alone, as well as dozens of Jewish “outposts.” The UN report calls Israel’s settlement activities “creeping annexation.”

Related:
Panel appointed by Netanyahu concludes: There is no occupation
US Envoy: Congress will punish UN if it recognizes Palestine (UPDATED)
Google Street View to feature West Bank settlements

 

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  • COMMENTS

    1. Eliav L

      Both the title and the paragraph which says that Palestinians can “sue” Israel in the ICC are completely erroneous. The ICC has a prosecutor, states don’t “sue” there; furthermore, states are not indicted in the ICC but rather individuals (we are talking about criminal law). The situation is way more complex than how it is portrayed here

      Reply to Comment
      • Thanks. The headline and the relevant sentence were changed to reflect your correction.

        Reply to Comment
    2. Kolumn9

      I am most impressed by the call the report makes for ethnic cleansing. Clearly a very humanitarian approach.

      Another report meant to gather dust drawn up by biased committee appointed by a biased council.

      Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        I am very impressed by the mental contortions of the Zionist apologists, warping reality and truth.

        Reply to Comment
        • rsgengland

          When the Human Rights Council devotes as much time to the ETHNIC CLEANSING of the million plus Jews expelled/forced to flee the Arab/Muslim lands after 1948, it may be possible to take that organization more sreiously.
          The members of this group tend to use it as a ‘CLUB’ to shield themselves from the investigations that they would otherwise have to undergo.
          The likes of Syria, Iran, Libya, Zimbabwe and countless others undergo cursory investigations, which then tend to be whitewashed by their friends.
          Israel undergoes more severe and sustained investigation there than anyoe else, often overseen by her sworn enemies.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            When millions of Jews are being forced from their homes at the moment, it may be possible to take their situation more seriously.

            As it is, the only way to take statements like this is as an obvious and lame attempt to divert attention from Israel’s current, ongoing crimes. Going on now.

            Reply to Comment
      • Danny

        Please, stop feigning false humanitarianism by calling the eviction of settler squatters “ethnic cleansing”. The fact is that these settlers knew from the very beginning that they were settling on someone else’s land (I would say they went there in the first place BECAUSE it was someone else’s land). Their removal from this land is not “ethnic cleansing”, in the same vain that the forced removal of a burglar who breaks into one’s house is a right of every home owner.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Danny, have you met a lot of ideological settlers who think they are on somebody else’s land?

          This is a call to remove third generation residents from their homes on the basis of their ethnicity. From a ‘humanitarian’ point of view the reason for their presence on that land is pretty much irrelevant. Which one of us is feigning fake humanitarianism?

          Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            How come these “ideological” settlers don’t go to settle the Negev, and instead insist upon settling the West Bank? Could it be because they rightly recognize that the Negev can wait, since it has already been conquered and cleansed of its former inhabitants?
            .
            And those 3rd generation “residents”? They will be amply compensated by their government and will have all the necessary resources to resettle someplace else. I have zero sympathy for 3rd generation thieves, and instead reserve all of my sympathy for 3rd generation refugees.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Danny, really.. For ideological settlers there is not much difference between the West Bank and the Negev but the West Bank contains most of the sites of Jewish significance.

            Those 3rd-generation settlers would be ethnically cleansed. Whether you have sympathy for them or not doesn’t change that.

            Reply to Comment
          • Danny

            “For ideological settlers there is not much difference between the West Bank and the Negev but the West Bank contains most of the sites of Jewish significance.”
            .
            Flimsy argument. If the settlers really cared about settling the land of Israel, why did they go to Gaza, and, before that, Yamit? The settlers care about taking as much land away from as many Arabs as possible. One can only be thankful they didn’t try to settle South Lebanon, when the IOF was there.

            Reply to Comment
          • Samuel

            Danny, your claim is absurd. “Settlers”, which is a ridiculous thing to call them to begin with, live in the area of Judea and Samaria because of the historical and Biblical connection of Jews to that land specifically. “Settlements” are not kicking any Palestinians off of their land or homes. And yes, it is ethnic cleansing to forcibly remove an ethnic or religious group from a territory.

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            “Those 3rd-generation settlers would be ethnically cleansed. Whether you have sympathy for them or not doesn’t change that.”

            http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/hypocrisy

            “1
            : a feigning to be what one is not or to believe what one does not; especially : the false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion”

            You feign a principled objection to ethnic cleansing, but only when Jews are removed from what you consider Jewish land. Removing Palestinians to make the land Jewish flies completely under your radar.

            Palestinians can not live in Modi’in Illit or Maale Adumin, but settler outposts can confiscate land from villages.

            Of course, I’ve lost track of how many have argued Israel, being a sovereign entity, can set its citizenship criteria as it sees fit. So there’s really no principled objection to forced removal, only the expected failure of the Jewish nation to conquer a certain piece of land.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            No, Andrew, I don’t feign a principled objection to ethnic cleansing. The UNHRC does and yet calls for it in one of its reports. The demand on a state to withdraw people from their place of birth on the basis of their ethnicity is a call to ethnic cleansing by a body that in principle is opposed to such action.

            I point out their hypocrisy. My position on the actual issue of ethnic cleansing is irrelevant.

            Reply to Comment
          • wall

            I would like to hear Kolumn9′s solution to the issue of settlements and re-settlement. Are you suggesting a one state solution Kolumn9 or are you arguing a point of order? Are you arguing that the UNHCR is not in a position to draw conclusions on the issues because it is biased and that any conclusion it draws is hypocritical? All this does is detract from the issue. We may all agree that the UN is not as useful as it could be and that it used for special interests of this group or that. It’s not very clever. The issue at hand is not whether or not the UNHCR is an unblemished actor in this farce, it is that the Israelis are standing in the way of peace by appropriating more and more Palestinian land and with your argument about 3rd generation (and I question this because many are Russian and Eastern Europeans who got there in the late 80′s) but anyway … with these two arguments you put forward the only solution is: a) keep Palestinians in little reservations forever dependent upon Israel and forever under guard by a vigilant army receiving foreign funding; b)Remove all Palestinians to other countries or those that remain, to accept a lower existence in servitude to their Israeli masters or c) a one state solution. Being the humanitarian that you are I am suspecting you are advocating for a one state solution where Moslems, Jews and Christians enjoy equal citizenship and equal rights at every level, and for this, Kolumn9 I applaud you, you are indeed an inspiration!

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Ethnicity isn’t the point at all. The settlers are to be removed because their presence is illegal. It’s infiltrator cleansing, not ethnic cleansing.

            So the infiltrators in this case are all Jews? Their illegal settlements are based on the notions of ethnic superiority?

            Then that’s their problem, not the problem of whoever is tasked with enforcing the law.

            Reply to Comment
      • Giora Me'ir

        “{Covering ears) Lalalalala. Can’t hear you. International law is for everyone else, not us. Anyway, it’s not like the UN had anything to do with Israel’s creation.”

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          International law decided on the basis of popularity rather than objectivity is for no one.

          The UN had as much to do with Israel’s creation as it did with making it rain this week. Recognizing facts isn’t creating them.

          Reply to Comment
          • Giora Me'ir

            Didn’t know that the 1949 Geneva Convention was “subjective.”

            I guess they helped it rain this week because without the UN there would be no state of Israel.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The ICC is based on the Rome Statue that was designed explicitly to apply to Israeli settlements.

            The UN was established in 1945. Which institution of the Israeli state did the UN set-up between 1945 and 1947? The UN recognized Israel in 1949 when it already existed.

            Reply to Comment
          • Giora Me'ir

            I guess you never heard of the 1947 partition vote which created the state.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            I guess I didn’t realize that a piece of paper creates a state. Somebody should tell that to the Palestinians who appear to believe they still don’t have one.

            Reply to Comment
          • Israel accepted the UN creation resolution, including its requirement to write a constitution with specific rights therein. Israel’s Decleration of Independence promised exactly that. A Constituent Assembly was dutifully called to write a constituion but converted itself into the first Knesset, thereby usurping the power of the constitutional convention. Israel entered the UN specifically through the promise of its Declaration.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Israel was accepted into the UN as a state. There is no conditionality in the matter. In any case, whether the UN recognizes a state or not doesn’t constitute ‘creation’.

            Reply to Comment
          • Once again, Israel accepted the UN resolution of its own volition. Israel’s Declaration of Independence accepted the rights mandates of that resoultion and promised to craft a written constitution to that end. Instead, the Constituent Assembly converted itself into the Knesset, thereby usruping all constitutional power into itself. The only check on this was the Court’s absorption of prior law, English and other, giving the Court an independent base; but it has backed off this since 2000.

            For some reason, you don’t want to talk about what your Declaration promised and how it did so. This seems–unpatriotic.

            Reply to Comment
      • aristeides

        Let’s see. Suppose I have some valuable property that the Nazis stole from Jews, that my father stole from the Nazis, that I’ve been living with all my life, that I intend to pass on to my heirs.

        Nope, international law says I have to give it back to the original owners. The fact that I’ve been illicitly enjoying the fruits of the original crime isn’t exculpatory, it’s an additional crime in itself.

        But somehow, when it comes to the Jewish settlers who’ve been enjoying the fruits of land theft for 3 generations, that makes it OK?

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          If the UNHRC demanded that land that had been improperly compensated be returned to their owners you might have a case. But what they actually did was issue a demand for a state to ethnically cleanse a population from a territory.

          Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            The demand was not to remove an ethnic group from the territory, but to remove the nationals of the occupying power from the territory.

            The fact that these nationals belong to the same ethnic group is incidental. If any of the Israeli settlers happened to be ethnic Arabs, the same demand would apply to them.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The demand is to remove all residents of a particular area even where the land are living on was acquired by entirely legitimate means and where they were often born on the basis that Jews are not allowed to live in a certain specific area. I don’t see any demand for Israel to forcefully drag out Israeli Arabs that have gone to study at Palestinian Universities or might for whatever other reason reside in the West Bank and it is not unheard of. The demand is to remove Jews on the basis of them being Jews, not Israelis. So, don’t give me your crap about how the ethnicity is incidental because clearly both citizenship and land ownership are not the criteria being used here.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Too bad for K9′s line of crap, but the text of the statement contradicts it. Nothing at all is said about removing “Jews.”

            “112. Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention,
            cease all settlement activities without preconditions. In addition it must immediately
            initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT.”

            That’s “settlers,” not Jews. If there are any Arab settlers in the OPT, they have to go, too. It’s Israel that’s singled out Jews for the privilege of setting the OPT, so if Jews have to be uprooted, it’s Israel to blame.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The entire discussion of ‘settlers’ is in reference to Jews. I don’t see it calling for the removal of all Israeli citizens from the West Bank which would include Israeli Arabs because apparently only Jews can be present in the West Bank ‘illegally’. How can this not then be a call to ethnic cleansing?

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            If you don’t see it, K9, it’s time to get your eyes examined. Or open them to reality.

            Reply to Comment
      • The position articulated by K9 on this thread leads to a One State outcome. His requirements on security produce at best a bantu PA. I view this outcome as inevitable now. The present Israeli polity at present shows no inclination to risk real withdrawal for an autonomous State; I understand why. Some commentators think a majority of the polity could shift quickly if a real Two State solution seemed feasible; I can only hope so.

        As to ethnic cleansing, the settlements have expanded at the cost of Palestinian livelihood, which is itself ethnic cleansing. By empolying “ethnic cleansing” K9 denies the validity of redress for land and life economy lost, placing himself in the One State camp; his wording is designed to nullify any argument against the settlements and their growth. Actually, is wording is designed to annull all opposed to unitlateral Israeli encorachment.

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Why would any sane country risk ‘real withdrawal’ when any toddler can predict that the result will be missiles on your one major metropolitan area within a couple of years?

          The Palestinians can have a state where they can exercise real autonomy but it is not going to be at the expense of Israeli security. Such a state can have every single element that constitutes a sovereign state. The distinctions you try to push have no objective definition.

          Reply to Comment
          • “The Palestinians can have a state where they can exercise real autonomy”–which they cannot do under occupation with bantus. Your Israeli security will keep the IDF on the Jordanian border. So you have set up conditions which insure Bank integration into Israel. Talk of “State” here is just a smoke screen. Which is why I view One State with apartheid and bantus as inevitable.

            Reply to Comment
    3. paul

      “West Bank contains most of the sites of Jewish significance”..so leave the coast around ashkelon that was never ever “israelite”..coherence is a great virtue in life

      “Those 3rd-generation settlers would be ethnically cleansed”…most of the settlers arrived just for the money that the state of israel promised them; so it is Israel that has to solve the problem, perhaps paying them once again

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Danny believes that the settlers think the land they live on is ‘stolen’. He is wrong.

        What is interesting is that when it comes to the Palestinians it is all a matter of individual rights where any political process is irrelevant, but when it comes to Jews it is Israel that must ‘solve the problem’ regardless of any individual rights under humanitarian law.

        Coherence is a great virtue in life indeed. So is logical consistency.

        Reply to Comment
        • aristeides

          What the settlers believe is entirely irrelevant. The land is stolen, whether they believe it or not.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            The land that Kfar Etzion was built in is ‘stolen’ from whom precisely? Last I checked it was legally acquired by its present owners under every single possible definition of legal. The same applies for many other areas on which the settlements are now constructed. So, that argument about this being some kind of demand for withdrawal purely on the basis of property ownership is junk. It isn’t. It is based on the idea that Jews have no right of residence in certain areas. What is incidental here is that these Jews happen to be Israeli citizens.

            Danny argues that the settlers themselves ‘knew’ that the land was ‘stolen’. This is nonsense and you seem to accept it as such since you are now trying to dismiss the argument as irrelevant.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Essentially, you are denying the validity of the 4th Geneva convention that prohibits the occupying power from transfering its population to the occupied territory.

            The principle is that Israeli nationals have no right of residence in occupied territory. No rhetorical twisting and contorting to try to make it about Jews is going to work.

            Now if some individual Jews believe that they have a legal right to certain lands in Palestine, they ought to advocate the establishment of a Palestinian state, where they could file suit. Then the land would no longer be an occupied territory and the convention would no longer apply.

            So, you see, the real fault is with the occupation.

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            So, what you are saying is that the ‘occupation’ in effect denies any right to ownership from Jews on the basis that they were ethnically cleansed from the West Bank in 1948? Now you are demanding that they be ethnically cleansed again by Israel.

            As for the principle of Israeli citizens not having a right to reside in the West Bank. That apparently does not apply to the Israeli Arabs that are present in the West Bank for studies or for residence. No one is apparently concerned about them. So, you are not excluding the residence of ‘Israeli citizens’ from the West Bank. You are excluding the residence of Jews.

            How much twisting am I actually doing here? To me this seems to be a presentation of fact.

            Reply to Comment
          • aristeides

            Bull, K9. The whining Jews-are-victims line has gotten really old.

            The ruling would definitely apply to Israeli Arab settlers – if there are any. But you seem determined to argue against your own imagination, not the actual text of what the actual ruling actually says, which is “settlers.”

            Reply to Comment
    4. The Security Council is not going to direct the ICC prosecutor to examine Israel and the settlements. I do not know what autonomous power the prosecutor may have. I have come to the view that the ICC is the only ideological hope for deaths, maiming, and explusions consequent of Israeli State acts. Even so, the fight is only over the definition of actions and consequences in the Bank. Enforced jurisdiction will be quite attenuated.

      Objectively, there seems little that can be done until the Bank absorpition progresses further, with acute apartheid disparity and social protest–which will not be pleasant.

      Reply to Comment
    5. The Security Council is not going to direct the ICC to examine Israel in any way. I do not know what autonomous capacity the ICC prosecutor has, but I see the only ideological hope right now such independent action, although it will have only a very attenuated effect on the ground. The battle is over defining the ground and possible real jurisdiction, not alleviating the continuing encroachments. It still looks like Israel will have to absorb the Bank further before change becomes possible.

      Reply to Comment
    6. meron

      “What is interesting is that when it comes to the Palestinians it is all a matter of individual rights”… No, it is a matter of the right of an entire people to self-determinate its future. Moreover you make a misleading parallelism. Palestinians that live in Israel were already here and became IDP. Settlers, on the contrary, arrived as cowboys and as cowboys they have to go back to their countries, or to Israel.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        Ah, now it isn’t about individual rights. Nice. So, what you are saying is that in the interest of Palestinian self-determination it is legitimate to demand the ethnic cleansing of Jews from the future territory of the state of Palestine. Would you then agree that it is legitimate in the interests of self-determination for the Jewish people to transfer the Arab population out of the state of Israel? Or are there some kind of humanitarian concepts contingent on the principles of individual rights that make both of these scenarios problematic?

        Reply to Comment
    7. meron

      Kolumn I explained you this – paraphrasing Jubeh – 1000 times. Please pay attention:
      I think that slogans are not useful and do not explain the complexity of things. Any Jew who wants to live in the West Bank, following the rules which this entails, must be free to do so. It’s quite a different story, however, to request that the settlers who arrived in the OPT by force and in defiance of international law can ipso facto be entitled to see their actions justified. In other words, those who want to live in a future Palestinian state must do so under the law and not as colonialists. When Israel was created, the Palestinians were already here, and accounted for the vast majority of the local population. This is why there are now over one million Palestinians in Israel, many of whom are known as ‘internally displaced persons’ [IDPs]. In constrast to this, settlers arrived in the Palestinian territories through violence and incentives received in recent years from Israeli governments. Equating the former to the latter is not only simplistic, but also morally reprehensible.

      Reply to Comment
    8. Michael Mann

      This is nonsense. The Fourth Geneva Convention is relevant only to the fact set of forced transfer of nationals into occupied territory. Israeli citizens on the West Bank are not there under duress. The occupation is lawful and Israel’s actions have been consistent with the security exceptions to the Convention. The author of this blog is a Jew with a death-wish.

      Reply to Comment
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