Tuesday, March 22, 2005
BADIL - What is the Conflict all About?
BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
Press release, 22 March 2005
Settlement or Colonization ? " What is the Conflict all About?"
Jewish settlements constitute a form of colonization in a world that has outlawed colonialism says the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories. He also suggests that the time has come for the international community to change its use of language and to start using the terms colonies and colonists to describe Jewish settlements and settlers.
The recently announced planned expansion of Ma'ale Adumim in the Jerusalem-area further illustrates Israel's unique form of colonization: exclusive control of the land and exclusion of indigenous Palestinians. Ma'ale Adumim sits on land owned by the Palestinian villages of Abu Dis and al-Azariyya. Israel's separation ('apartheid') Wall around Jerusalem is supposed to encompass this colony. This process of colonization did not start after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war. Before the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948, Jewish colonization was viewed as a means to create the population base and territorial contiguity necessary for the establishment of a Jewish state in former Palestine.
After the 1948 Arab-Israeli war (Nakba) Jewish settlement on the land of Palestinian refugees aimed to prevent their return, retain Jewish control of their lands and to break up the territorial contiguity of Palestinian towns and villages that remained inside the state of Israel. This is the same process that has been taking place in the 1967 occupied Palestinian territories for the last 37 years. The military orders and administrative procedures used to carry out this process of colonization in the occupied territories are only slight adaptations of laws used inside Israel proper. The response to Israel's ongoing expansion of Jewish colonies is a test of the international community's commitment to the rule of law.
At last months' London meeting on supporting the Palestinian Authority the participants agreed that the disengagement plan "should take place without prejudice to final status negotiations, and in accordance with international law". Phase One of the Road Map says that the Government of Israel should freeze all settlement activity, including natural growth of the settlements. The issue of Jewish settlements is supposed to be dealt with during Phase Three and in the context of an International Conference convened by the Quartet, in consultation with the parties. Now is not the time for appeasement says the UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian territories. Settlements constitute an illegality in the removal of which the international community has a legal and moral interest says the UN Special Rapporteur, John Dugard. Ongoing Jewish colonization raises serious questions about whether a policy of constructive engagement alone will be sufficient to gain Israel's compliance with its obligations under international law, the advisory opinion of the ICJ, and the Road Map.
It also raises questions about the nature of the conflict. Since 1967 peacemaking efforts have been based on the assumption that the root cause of the conflict is Israel's illegal military occupation. Is it possible to end the occupation without addressing Israel's very nature as a colonial state?
-- BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights
PO Box 728, Bethlehem, Palestine Telefax: 00972-2-2747346
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