Friday, March 10, 2006

The illegal settlements in the West Bank

Not since George Bush Sr. has a U.S. president alluded to the illegality of Israel's colonization of the West Bank under easily understood international law. Since then, Clinton and Bush Jr. have either treated the West Bank territory as "contested" (Clnton) or actually attempted to legitimate them (Bush Jr.).

Nothwithstanding presidential rhetorical manuevering, the core fact remains: the settlements fly in the face of the Geneva Convention. As this article notes, this is precisely what Israel's leaders were told by their own lawyers.

Israel's Tragedy Foretold - New York Times: "Leaders deceived not only the country's citizens, but themselves. So begin national tragedies. Here is one critical example. In early September 1967, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol was considering granting the first approval for settlements in the West Bank and Golan Heights, conquered three months earlier in the Six-Day War. An Arab summit meeting in Khartoum had rejected peacemaking. The prime minister believed that the Golan and the strip of land along the Jordan River would make Israel more defensible. He also wanted to re-establish the kibbutz of Kfar Etzion near Bethlehem, which had been lost in Israel's 1948 war of independence. The legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron, was asked whether international law allowed settlement in the newly conquered land. In a memo marked 'Top Secret,' Mr. Meron wrote unequivocally, 'My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.'"

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