No pre-conditions – myths and facts

The Israelis are ready to start talks without preconditions. The Palestinians are setting a precondition – a settlement freeze.”

  • It is not a precondition to abide by International Law – it is a legal requirement.
  • The Israelis are trying to build a pre-condition in bricks and mortar. They want the starting point for talks to be “facts on the ground” – the existing settlements, built illegally, and the 500,000 Israeli settlers on Palestinian land.
  • The starting point should be the legal status quo – that the whole of the West Bank and East Jerusalem within the 1967 borders is Palestinian land as unanimously agreed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 242.
  • It’s inherent in the idea of negotiations that neither side can change the parameters while negotiations are in progress. It’s not a precondition to say goalposts should not be moved in the middle of a football match.

 Background 

  • Israel settles its own civilian population in what they call “settlements” in the occupied territories. The law that applies to military occupations, the Fourth Geneva Convention, states quite explicitly that “the Occupying Power shall not (…) transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”. [1]
  • Israel then presents these settlements as “facts on the ground” that become the starting point for negotiations, so they have the effect of extending Israeli territory.
  • The Palestine Liberation Organisation’s position has been since Camp David that certain settlements, albeit illegal, may remain in return for land swaps.
  • Palestinians have already made their historic compromise by dropping their claim to 78% of historic Palestine.  They cannot be expected to compromise on compromise.
  •  Only 15% of the wall is built along the 1967 border with Israel and 85%[2] is built inside the West Bank with the same objective of extending Israeli territory by creating “facts on the ground”.
  • The International Court of Justice declared the wall illegal insofar as it is built in Palestinian (1967) territory in an advisory opinion entitled “Legal Consequences of the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.[3]

[1] Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) says an occupying power is not permitted to deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. It is a breach of Article 85(4a) of Additional Protocol I (1977).

[3] http://www.icjcij.org/docket/index.php?pr=71&code=mwp&p1=3&p2=4&p3=6&ca

Contact Details

This briefing has been produced by Martin Linton, Sally Fitzharris and Taris Ahmad. For further questions please contact:

Martin Linton, martin@martinlinton.org

Sally Fitzharris, sally@sallyfitzharris.co.uk

Taris Ahmad, international.law.taris@gmail.com

Further information

Map of West Bank settlement

http://www.ochaopt.org/fsonlinemaps.aspx

Trajectory of the Wall

http://www.ochaopt.org/documents/ocha_opt_west_bank_barrier_route_update_july_2011.pdf

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