Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
January 21, 2002
Illegal settlements heart of Israeli issue
"As the death toll builds in Palestine and Israel, it has become increasingly clear that the existence of the illegal Israeli settlements is at the heart of the problem," according to the Chicago-based Christian Peacemaker Teams.
Since the 1967 Israeli occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, all settlements in the occupied territories violate international law and infringe on the Palestinians' human rights.
Yet, every Israeli government has defied the UN Security Council and international law by continuing to expropriate Palestinian land.
During the 20-year "peace process" to settle the conflict diplomatically, Palestinian homes were demolished to make room for Jewish settlement expansion.
The 1991 U.S.-Israel Memorandum of Understanding drafted in Madrid explicitly rejected any role for the UN in the Middle East dispute. Consequently the UN was not involved in the 1993 Oslo "Peace Process." Since then, the settler population has doubled to 400,000.
In 1999, over 100 signatories to the Geneva Convention met to assess Israel's compliance with international law, but the meeting lasted only 10 minutes in order to avoid friction with Israel. The failed 2000 Camp David summit ignored the UN altogether and the UN 2001 Durban conference on racism was boycotted by Israel and the U.S.
In October 2000, 14 out of 15 members of the UN Security Council condemned Israel's excessive force against civilians; it was the U.S. alone that abstained. Subsequently, Israel rejected a proposed UN fact-finding mission and the U.S. pandering to influential pressure groups repeatedly blocked effective UN intervention.
Since then, a special session of the UN's High Commission for Human Rights passed a resolution that strongly condemned the "grave and massive violations of the human rights of the Palestinian people by Israel."
Their report, released in February 2001, suggests that it was not so much Sharon's visit to Haram al Sharif that set off the Palestinian uprising, but the "humiliations and inequities of Israeli occupation in general." The report's recommendations were largely ignored.
On March 28, and again more recently, the U.S. vetoed a Security Council resolution that would have established a UN observer mission to provide international protection for the Palestinians and ensure full cessation of further settlement activity. The U.S. sent its own observers instead.
The indigenous population, which formed a 90-per-cent majority in 1947, has been consistently denied the right to self-determination.
A case can be made that U.S. policy has contributed to maintaining the state of military confrontation in the Middle East. Not only are despotic Arab regimes propped up to secure a steady supply of oil, but a quarter of U.S. foreign aid, to the tune of $92 billion since 1967, has been going to Israel, the 17th wealthiest country in the world.
Without sovereignty, the Palestinians are not a people, just a refugee problem to be solved. The defence of their shrinking territories with home made bombs against the most sophisticated army in the region has characterized them as terrorists.
The recently captured shipload of Iranian arms will be used as further proof of Palestinian terrorist intentions in an effort to legitimize Israeli missile attacks, extra judicial executions and the use of bulldozers to expand illegal settlements.
Copyright © 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009 -- Western Catholic Reporter
Our mission: To serve our readers by bringing the Gospel to bear on current issues in the Church and in secular culture through accurate news coverage and reflective commentary.