All Israeli settlements violate Article 49, paragraph six, of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. They are, therefore, considered to be war crimes, according to Article 84, paragraph four of the additional first protocol of 1977; an annex to the 1949 Geneva Convention; and Article 8 of the 1998 Rome Statute.
It is thus both important and necessary to hold the Israeli occupation state accountable for all of the war crimes it commits against the Palestinian people. The UN Security Council must, as a matter of duty and urgency take measures to impose international law and rescue the two-state solution. This was stressed by international support at the UN General Assembly in Resolution 67/19 dated 29 November, 2012. Israel, as the occupying authority, must be forced to abandon its policies of settlement, expansion and aggression against the Palestinian people and their land.
All settlement activity — including expansion — land seizures and annexation in the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem, all violate international resolutions, as does the transfer of Israeli citizens to the occupied territory as part of the demographic war that Israel is waging; its settlers are thus all illegal too. This is especially so according to The Hague Agreement of 1907 and the annexed regulations, which all stress the need to protect the interests of people living under occupation, in this case the Palestinians.
Successive Israeli governments since 1967 were not satisfied with breaking international laws and conventions regarding the Palestinian people and their land. They have even taken control of private land in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, which is also protected by international resolutions, including The Hague Agreement of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Both mentioned the complete prohibition of private land seizures.
We need to work on restoring the significance of the Palestinian cause in the international arena and launching a clear strategy to confront Israel’s ongoing settlement activity and occupation in Palestine according to international laws. We must work to reformulate the Palestinian discourse, as it currently requires a ceiling higher than that of the past. It must carry a comprehensive context to end the occupation and dismantle, not freeze, settlements. International resolutions confirm that settlements are a major hindrance to establishing an independent, sovereign state of Palestine with its own natural resources.
Moreover, extra effort must be made to unite the Palestinian discourse politically to challenge the Israeli violations against the Palestinian people. We must take action and work with the international community to guarantee the continuation of support for legitimate Palestinian rights and a viable two-state solution. All of this must include the insistence on one legal standard being applied universally and including Israel, its military occupation and its violation of international law. We must guarantee justice and respect for human rights, as well as taking serious steps to create a new political horizon that guarantees the achievement of a just and permanent peace in the region.
The international community which acknowledges the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital is required to recognise the importance of making the required decisions immediately that would end settlement activity and dismantle the settlements already built on Palestinian land. The implementation of these decisions must be followed up by specialist international organisations. There also must be swift action to demand that decisive and firm positions should be taken towards the Israeli occupation, to stop all forms of settlement activity, to end the longest occupation in the history of the world, and to support the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
This article first appeared in Arabic in Addustour on 8 December 2022
The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.