Sunday, 3 February 2013

Settlements Out?

Israel may be right in accusing the UN Human Rights Council of being “systematically one-sided and biased”. That, however, does not mean that the findings in the latest report of the Council, according to which Israel is in violation of the Geneva Convention, are incorrect.

The UNHRC’s panel of judges speaks of Israel’s “gross violations of human rights law and serious violations of international humanitarian law.” Their report states that Israel “must cease all settlement activities without preconditions” and start withdrawing all settlers from the occupied territories.

Curiously, the UNHRC has not called for an international boycott of the Settlements. It should have. 


  1. Interestingly you don't see any interesting, disturbing or other wise mentioning of a relation between Syria the Settlements and UNHRC.
    My father told me one of a Romanian saying that goes some thing like:

    "The house is on fire and the lady is having her hair cut."

    Done you think the 60,000 or so dead human beings should be more of a concern to human rights activists than a few (or even many) buildings here or there.

  2. Dear Elad,

    Should Israel's violations of human rights law be overlooked because of Syrian atrocities?

  3. More musings from the vacuum of the well intentioned.

    Meanwhile, in the real world - in Eygpt, there are more multiple killings in Cairo and Port Said as turmoil threatens the new regime. In Libya, the chaos and killings continue and the country is now ungovernable, witness also the recent murder of the US Ambassador. In Mali, the French have charged in to repel jihadist fighters and many have died. In Algeria, an Islamic warlord attacks a gas production facility and at least 38 foreign civilian workers are massacred.In Syria, the country is deep in civil war and Syrian civilians are dying by the tens of thousands. In Iraq, with the US now gone, the country is in a shambles of sectarian violence, instability and corruption - car bombings occur frequently with terrible consequences for the innocent passers by. In Yemen, control of the country's scud missiles has been siezed by the son of the former ousted President. In Lebanon, Hezbollah continue to arm themselves with Russian and Iranian armaments, so much so that Israel was provoked into destroying a recent attemped shipment. The arm of Iran stretches into Gaza as well, with the tunnels now back open for business also importing weapons and rockets for the sole purpose of attacking Israeli civilians. And in Iran, of course, the rush continues to assemble nuclear energy for purely peaceful purposes.

    Now, the settlements. There's an issue to get really worked up about, to energise the UNHRC - which if memory serves was only a few years ago Chaired by Libya. The inbuilt Arab majority of the UN continues to apply the mind of the world to the horror of the disputed settlements, which clearly in their lop sided view of the world of human rights, outweigh in terror the goings on in the countries around Israel, nearly all of whom have no diplomatic relations with the country they ultimately wish would disappear from the map.

    The land of the West Bank is disputed territory. There never was a sovereign state in that land called Palestine or anything else for that matter. Its present borders are demarked by Armistice lines (post the 1967 War) which will require to be formailsed after and only after proper negotiations with the surrounding countries and Palestinians. Until then, the settlements have largely taken place on land that was uninhabited by anybody. Admittedly, there are some unfortunate and small exceptions - and this need to be rectified. But some sense of proportion please about the evils and suffering in this world.

    The hate and mayhem in its neighbours have pursuaded most Israelis who voted in the recent election (yes, democracy is alive and well somewhere in the Middle East) that there is no realistic prospect of peace. Very few parties in that election even bothered to campaign seriously on the subject of peace with the Arabs, even though the majority of Israeli yearn for peace.

    Oh, but the Settlements; there's another top non-issue now in Israel. And for the same reason. Some proportion PLEASE.

  4. Michael - throwing in a lot of noise about all that is wrong, corrupt, criminal and
    dangerous in the Arab countries does not make Israel's occupation legal or moral.

    I suggest you watch The Gatekeepers, the new film which brings the views of five former heads of the Israeli security service.

    1. I am asking for proportionality. All countries err from the legal and moral straight and narrow, all countries make policy errors which they later regret in whole or in part. We can debate all day whether the settlements are legal or lacking in moral clarity, but on the Richter scale of events in this ever darkening world, the point I am making is that settlements issue is low down the list, very low down.

      The overwhelming majority of "settlors" are in the major towns of Ariel and Maale Adumim and one or two others. They live peacefully, coming and going about their daily work etc with no ill intention to anybody. The occasional lunatic fringe attracts all the publicity and does the damage to the debate.


    2. I have given further thought to your use of the word "noise". The noise levels come from those who keep drumming on to Israel about those settlements, noise in the media, noise from the left, noise in UN, noise dare I say in blogs, noise and more noise. The noise drowns out the cries of the slaughtered in some of the other parts of the world upon which I commented earlier. Very few speak for them. Little, precious little "noise" is heard raising their case in the court of world opinion.

      Where does your "campaign" lead? It leads to the law of unintended consequences. It leads ultimately thus far to the appalling Gerald Scarfe cartoon in a recent(8 days ago)Sunday Times publication. That cartoon reflected and conflated Israeli policy with the Jewish blood libel so beloved of the Third Reich and certain sections of the current Arab media. It leads to an acceptance in contemporary mainstream thinking that there are complete parallels between the Nazis, the blood libel and the current Israeli policy towards the Palestinians. The Sunday Times yesterday published a full and unreserved apology within its main Leader section. So it should have. You may wish to consider where your disproportionate campaign is leading.

  5. Am reading your S-words while the rest of the country watch the Super-bowl. Prefer your S's. Shalom............

  6. David Arnold. London. March4th. My understanding is that most international lawyers agree that " settlements " including towns like Ariel and Maale Adumin are " illegal under The Geneva Convention ( think its article 4 ). However most settlors have been there for a long time and disputes in the end are not going to be settled by lawyers.

    Most concepts of a two state solution imply the evacuation of these towns if the territory on which they stand is included in Palestinian sovereignty. As at least a matter of principle why can't the settlors remain if they wish ? After all there are plenty of Israeli's ( Jew and Non-Jew ) who reside in London , obeying British law, and paying UK tax , and enjoying British civil protection.. Isn't it an outdated ( almost 1930's/40's ) concept that the creation of two states should involve forced population movements/transfers or removal or impostion of citizenship status?