Israeli Settlement Policies Research Paper

Pages: 12 (3653 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 10  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: History - Israel

Israeli Settlement Policies

There are Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Golan Heights and East Jerusalem. These highly contested Jewish communities range in size from small villages to now recognized cities. To better understand this situation, this paper will overview the background on Israelis settlements. The legality of settlements, in regards to International Law, will also be discussed. UN resolutions regarding the settlements will be reviewed. This will be followed by a discussion of the impact of settlements on Palestinians in the West Bank. The preferential treatment the settlements receive, compared to the original cities, will be presented. Lastly, how settlemenst should be addressed in the future will be overviewed.

Israeli Settlements Background:

Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and West Bank have existed for thousands of years. "In Hebron, the Jewish community existed throughout the centuries of Ottoman rule, until the massacre during the Arab rioting of 1929

." In the West Bank, formerly known as Judea and Samaria, and the Gaza Strip, Jewish communities existed until the Arab armies forced the citizens to flee, during the 1948 War of Independence. Some settlements were established by the British Mandatory Administration. These include Neve Ya'acoy and the Gush Etsion block. The British Mandatory Administration, through the implementation of a League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine, permitted Israelis to form settlements west of the Jordan River.

This mandate established a Jewish state, in the ancient homeland of the Jewish people. Article 6 of the mandate states,

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The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced. Shall facilitate Jewish immigration under

suitable conditions and shall encourage, in cooperation with the Jewish Agency referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands not required for public use

TOPIC: Research Paper on Israeli Settlement Policies Assignment

The British government also used this mandate to establish Jordan, an Arab country. It would be Jordan that would annex the areas formerly known as Judea and Samaria, and renamed it the West Bank. In addition to wanting to reestablish historical and religious ties to this area which they considered the cradle of their faith, Israel saw settlements in this area as strategic for the country's defense against attacks, from Jordan, as well as Syria and Egypt

Palestinians oppose the Jewish settlements surmising that they are an attempt to sabotage Palestinian sovereignty. For years, a peace plan road map has been in the works, with one of the requirements being Israel's agreement that there is a building freeze in current settlements. However, even this roadmap has seen challenges. In 2005, while Israel pulled settlers out of the Gaza Strip, it increased the presence of settlers in other areas. To add to these challenges, under Prime Minister Ariel Sharon the Israeli government had supported the establishment of multiple unauthorized outposts, further adding fuel to the debate

Current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to get Cabinet support for another 90-day moratorium on construction of settlements, in the West Bank. In September of 2010, a 10-month construction moratorium was ended by Israel, which prompted Palestinians to stop peace talks. The United States has intervened not only offering to sell 20 stealth fighter jets to Israel, but also to block any United Nations' anti-Israel resolutions, if they'll agree to the renewed moratorium. However, the ultra-Orthodox Shas party opposes the freeze. To further complicate matters, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is rejecting the moratorium as well, because it only applies to the West Bank and not also to East Jerusalem

As of March 2010, there were 121 Jewish settlements, in addition to 102 Israeli illegally built outposts. Approximately 462,000 Israelis live in these settlements. 191,000 of these settlers live in settlements around the Jerusalem areas. 271,400 are located throughout the West Bank. The rate of growth of the Jewish population has been four to six percent, per year, over the last two decades. This is a significantly higher growth rate than the population of Israel, as a whole, which has grown at a rate of 1.5%, over the last 20 years. Recently, 9,000 additional housing units have been approved in East Jerusalem. In the West Bank, although buildings take up less than three percent of the area, roadways and restriction of Palestinian access expands Israeli Settlement area to 40% of the area

Settlements Legality:

The determination of the legality of the Jewish settlements often depends on which side of the argument is being questioned. In 1917, a letter from Lord Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leading member of the Zionist Federation, conveyed that the British government was in favor of establishing a national home for Jewish people, in Palestine. However, this should not interfere with the religious and civil rights of existing non-Jewish persons in Palestine

According to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), the legal right of Jewish settlements is based on the League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine. In addition, the MFA insists that Jewish settlements in these contested areas have existed for more than a thousand years, with the only administration prohibiting settlement being during the Jordanian occupation, which lasted 19 years. During this time, under Jordanian Law,

the sale of land to Jews (was) a capital offense. The right of Jews to establish homes in these areas, and the legal titles to the land which had been acquired, could not be legally invalidated by the Jordanian or Egyptian occupation which resulted from their armed invasion of Israel in 1948, and such rights and titles remain valid to this day

Despite this challenge, Jewish settlements have remained.

Many opponents of the Jewish settlements cite Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits the forcible transfer of citizens of one state to another state due to the resort of armed forces. Drafted after World War II, with commentary by the International Red Cross, this article was drafted to protect local populations from displacement, as happened with the forced transfer of populations in Poland, Hungary and Czechoslovakia. However, the MFA insists that the Jewish settlements are different

The MFA cites former Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Professor Eugene Rostow, as noting, "the Jewish right of settlement in the area is equivalent in every way to the right of the local population to live there.

" the difference between the situations discussed in the Geneva Convention and those present in Jewish settlements lies in the voluntary nature of the settlements. The Jewish settlements were established by individuals who wanted to return to the area in which their forefathers originally lived and been ousted from. Therefore, the settlements aren't forced locations of people into the area. In addition, Israel argues that that when the settlements were first established, the land was not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state, nor under private ownership. The Supreme Court of Israel performs an exhaustive investigation process, according to the MFA, to ensure no authorized settlements are founded on private Arab land.

This process ensures that there is no displacement of Arabs in the area. For this reason, the MFA surmises that the claims that Jewish settlements are illegal are due to political motivations, and not in accordance with international law. Therefore claims that these settlements are 'grave violations' of the Geneva Convention and are 'war crimes' are baseless and do not justify the violent responses by Palestinians. The MFA sums up the legality of Jewish settlements, as follows: "Israel has valid claims to title in this territory based not only on its historic and religious connection to the land, and its recognized security needs, but also on the fact that the territory was not under the sovereignty of any state and came under Israeli control in a war of self-defense, imposed upon Israel.

UN Resolutions Regarding Settlements:

As the predecessor of the United Nations, the League of Nations passed several mandates that affected, directly and indirectly, Jewish settlements. The first was the French Mandate for Syria. In 1919, at the Paris peace conference, Dr. Weizmann, representing the Zionist interests, and Emir Feisal, representing Arab interests, met and agreed to a plan to support a new Jewish home. However, this support was based on Arab aspirations in Syria. The French Mandate for Syria gave Syria to the French, and Feisal withdrew his support of the Zionist project

The League of Nations' Mandate for Palestine, in 1922, further affected Jewish settlements. This mandate set for the administration of the territory of Palestine conveying it to Great Britain, giving Britain legislative and administrative control. It also concurred with the Balfour Declaration and came out in favor "of the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.

" the mandate further surmises that there is a historical connection between the Jewish people and Palestine and that this is the basis for reconstituting a national home in the area. Specifically, in Article 2, Britain was charged with placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish national… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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