Occupied Territories Bill
Wed, Apr 29, 2020, 00:14
Sir, – In 1949, the creators of the Geneva Conventions – the foundation of the protection of civilians caught in conflict – expressly prohibited an occupying power from settling its own civilian population in territory that it occupies.
The purpose was to prevent states from establishing civilian settlements as a means of advancing illegal sovereign claims on occupied lands. Learning the bitter lessons of the second World War, the Geneva Conventions, along with the UN Charter, are meant to prevent acquisitive states from using wars, whether aggressive or defensive, to expand their borders.
Since Israel became the occupying power over East Jerusalem and the West Bank in June 1967, it has built over 240 Israeli settlements, which are home to 650,000 settlers.
These settlements have been repeatedly condemned by the UN Security Council as a “flagrant violation” of international law.
They are the engine of Israel’s occupation, and a major source of human-rights violations.
They are built on confiscated Palestinian property; they rely upon the illegal appropriation of Palestinian natural resources, including water, land and minerals; and they have forced Palestinians into smaller and more constricted space within their own territory.
Most importantly, the incessant expansion of the Israeli settlements robs the Palestinians of hope for a future based on freedom, as is their intent.
Last week, the leaders of Israel’s two largest parties agreed to form a coalition government. At the heart of their agreement is the annexation, as early as July of this year, of all these settlements and the extensive surrounding lands under their control. Annexation is the fulfilment of Israel’s well-signalled intent to establish permanent sovereignty over much of the West Bank.
What would be left is a Palestinian Bantustan, which some liberal Israelis have said would create an apartheid reality for the 21st century.
That Israel is on the cusp of striking such a major blow to the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination is a direct consequence of decades of failure by the international community to employ the tangible and plentiful legal and political tools at its disposal to end this injustice.
This failure is not only moral and political in nature; it also amounts to an abdication by the international community and its member states to uphold their legal duty to take all measures necessary to demand respect by Israel of its solemn obligations under international law.
Among the measures which states must adopt to this end is a ban on trade with Israel’s illegal settlements. I have therefore been greatly encouraged to observe the progression of the Occupied Territories Bill through the Irish parliament, bringing Ireland ever closer towards the fulfilment of its international obligations with regard to the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory. It is my fervent hope that a new Irish government would take the final steps to legislate the Bill into law, and demonstrate the leadership on this issue that the world has been sorely lacking.– Yours, etc,
(United Nations Special
Rapporteur on the Situation
of Human Rights in the
Occupied since 1967),
Faculty of Law,
Source: Occupied Territories Bill
IN RESPONSE TO AN OBJECTING VOICE Raymond Deane writes:
Israel and the UN
Tue, May 5, 2020, 00:08
Sir, – Attacking UN special rapporteur Michael Lynk’s support (Letters, April 29th) for Senator Black’s “Occupied Territories Bill”, Jackie Goodall of the Ireland-Israel Alliance (Letters, May 1st) referred to “the hollow consensus that Israel is an “occupying power”.
She thus dismissed not alone the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly and the UN Security Council, but also the Israeli High Court of Justice which in 2004 reaffirmed that Israel holds the West Bank under “belligerent occupation”.
Ms Goodall referred to “the small Jewish communities who have moved beyond the Green line”, thus apparently ignoring such city-sized settlements as Ma’ale Adumim (population 38,193), Modi’in Illit (population 73,080) or Ariel (population 20,456) – confining ourselves to figures from 2018.
Ms Goodall’s claims have now been capped by the Israeli ambassador Ophir Kariv (Letters, May 4th) who tells us that, “Israel has not transferred a single civilian into those areas [the Occupied Palestinian Territory]. Jewish people who have chosen to live there have done so because of the conviction that they are returning to the land their forefathers were exiled from.”
The reality is that the Israeli state has offered generous financial incentives to those Jews – and Jews only, from any part of the world – who are prepared to make such a “choice”.
As for the supposed exile of these settlers’ “forefathers”, it has long since been exposed as a myth by Israeli scholars like Shlomo Sand and Israel Yuval.
To adduce such a “conviction” as justification for policies that necessarily entail the dispossession of Palestinians is to signal an ongoing determination to flout international law and international humanitarian law.
The international community should no longer stand for this; the “Occupied Territories Bill”, which only Fine Gael opposes, is a modest step towards holding Israel accountable.
It must be passed. – Yours, etc,
Background information on the bill
The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories.
Such settlements are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground. Despite this, Ireland and other EU Member States provide continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.
The legislation has been prepared with the support of Sadaka, Trócaire, Christian-Aid, Amnesty International, the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN), and applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law.
The clearest current example is the Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements in the Palestinian ‘West Bank’, which have been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN, EU, the International Court of Justice and the Irish Government.
A copy of the bill is available here: Occupied Territories Bill 2018
A short explanatory note on the bill’s main provisions is available here: Briefing Note – Occupied Territories Bill 2018
For any questions contact Senator Black’s office at firstname.lastname@example.org