Sunday, August 29, 2010

About those "occupied territories"

From The American Thinker, Ted Belman writes about which laws Israel is breaking in occupying the West Bank. Or more precisely, not breaking.

Israel is accused of occupying the West Bank and Gaza. In fact, these territories are described as "the occupied Palestinian territories." Not only are they not occupied in a legal sense, but also, they are not "Palestinian" lands in a sovereign sense.

The Forth Geneva Convention (FGC) is a treaty among signatory states that are called High Contracting Parties (HCP). It regulates the obligations of one HCP, who occupies the land of another HCP. It defines the terms "Occupying Power" and "Occupied State." Thus, this convention does not apply to the territories because they were not the land of any HCP. They have never been the land of an HCP. Prior to 1967, Jordan was in occupation of these territories, just as Israel is currently in occupation. Jordanian sovereignty over these lands was never recognized, and ultimately, Jordan relinquished any claims over them. The FGC was never applied when Jordan occupied the land, and it shouldn't be applied now that Israel does.
According to David Matas, an international lawyer of considerable repute.... Matas notes that "the Geneva Conventions on the Laws of War do not recognize the legal possibility of the occupation of a people, only the occupation of the territory of a state." A Protocol to these conventions does recognize such a possibility, but Israel is not a signatory to it and is thus not bound by it.

It must be clearly understood that Israel's occupation is not illegal, and the U.N. has never claimed it to be. In fact, Resolution 242 permits Israel to remain in occupation until they have an agreement on "secure and recognized borders."

The Palestinians have no greater claim to a state than any minority group in any other state that wants a state of its own. The Basques and the Kurds come to mind. No one is demanding that they be given statehood.

The anti-Zionists argue the settlements are illegal and rely solely on the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which provides that the occupying power is prohibited from transferring civilian populations to occupied territories. They say that the prohibition against transfer includes a prohibition against encouragement to settle. The matter has never been put to a court for interpretation or determination. But the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) advises "that this provision was intended to prevent a practice adopted during the Second World War in which certain powers transferred portions of their populations to occupied territories for political and racial reasons or in order, as they claimed to colonize those territories."
The anti-Zionists reject the notion that the proscription is against only forced transfers and argue that the FGC proscribes inducement to move as well. But how can there be a crime of inducement when the person committing the act, the settler, has done nothing wrong? How can you be guilty of a crime by inducing someone to do something which is not a crime? Furthermore, this inducement would be a war crime on an equal footing with genocide. The equation is ludicrous. And if the settlers settle of their own volition and not due to inducements, what then? Also, it is impossible to prosecute an occupying power. So what individuals would be held responsible?
Matas opines, "The interpretation defies the ordinary understanding of criminal responsibility where the person committing the act is the primary wrongdoer and the person inducing the act is only an accessory."

Matas concludes, "There is all the difference in the world between forcible transfer, the offence of the Geneva Convention, and voluntary settlement, even where the settlement is encouraged" (by are merely providing inducements). [...] "Transfer is something that is done to people. Settlement is something people do."

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