Remember 1967. Israel's illegal occupation
by Nour Odeh Palestine Media Centre Thirty-four years ago on June 5, the Palestinian people underwent a "Naksa" (collapse) through which they lost the precious little that remained of their original homeland. Following a vicious Six Day War, Israel occupied the remaining 22 per cent of historical Palestine, comprising the West Bank, including Arab East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip along with Egyptian, Syrian, Lebanese and Jordanian territories. The collapse was far-reaching and all encompassing for it touched the very fibre of Palestinian society. 1967 represents perhaps the most horrid year in the Palestinian people's history. Having lost 78 per cent of their homeland in 1948, the Palestinian people were forced into another mass exile away from their homeland. More than 300,000 Palestinians were forced out of their homeland in 1967, becoming Palestine's newest tragic wave of refugees. They now number approximately one million people, still awaiting, along with over four million Palestinian refugees, forcibly exiled in 1948, a return home. Along with this mass exodus, Palestinians who remained in their homeland were subject to a cruel, oppressive, and humiliating military occupation. Israeli military occupation meant having no political, human, economic, or social life. In fact, Israel continues to deny Palestinians any recognition of their nationality, history, and identity. Israel's oppression was to deny a People's entire existence, forcing them to struggle to prove their identity first, then strive to regain their freedom and homeland. Article 47 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Relevant to the Protection of Civilians in Time of War, stipulates that any annexation of Occupied Territory by the Occupying Power is illegal. Despite being a High Contracting Party to the Convention, on June 27, 1967, Israel illegally annexed Arab East Jerusalem. The international community considered annexing Arab East Jerusalem, a symbol of the Palestinian People's rich history and heritage, illegal and void. In fact, even Israel's staunchest ally, the United States, has yet to transfer its embassy to Jerusalem. On November 22, 1967, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 242. The binding resolution stressed "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war". Further, the resolution demanded that Israel withdraw from the territories it occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. To date, Israel denies the applicability of resolution 242 to the Occupied Palestinian Territory despite it being one of the principles of the peace process. Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states, "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies". However, following the 1967 war, Israel immediately began planning and building Israeli settlements throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory. According to various Palestinian and Israeli Peace groups, there are between 170 and 190 illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory today. Faced with Israel's belligerence, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 446 on 22 March 1979. It determined "that the policy and practices of Israel in establishing settlements in ... territories occupied since 1967 have no legal validity". It also called on Israel "to rescind its previous measures and to desist from taking any action which would result in changing the legal status and geographic composition of the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem"". On July 20, 1979, the Council adopted resolution 452, reiterating the previous resolution's demands. Despite their binding nature, Israel never respected any of the relevant Security Council resolutions. In fact, Israeli occupation authorities increased the illegal settlement activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, especially in Occupied Arab East Jerusalem. On March 1, 1980, the Security Council adopted resolution 465. The resolution, among other things, determined that ">all measures taken by Israel to change the [nature of] territories occupied since 1967... have no legal validity". It also called on Israel to "rescind those measures, to dismantle the existing settlements ... in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem". This was not the last Security Council Resolution on these issues and others relevant to Israel's belligerence. Similarly, Israel superciliously defied this and scores of other binding UN resolutions as well as other international covenants. In 1988, the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) recognised the State of Israel and called for a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on international legality, including Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. In this historic Palestinian compromise, the PLO accepted to form an independent Palestinian State on 22 per cent of historical Palestine for the sake of securing a lasting peace in the region. Despite signing the Oslo Accords with the PLO, which was based on UN Security Council resolution 242 among others, Israel has yet to respect any relevant UN Security Council resolution, let alone recognise their applicability to Palestine. At present, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, nicknamed "the bulldozer" by his fellow right-wingers, considers returning 42 per cent of the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, excluding Jerusalem, as a "painful concession". The irony does not lie in Sharon's historically known anti-Palestinian, pro-occupation position. It lies in the international community's indulgence of the Israeli leadership's illegal actions. In the past eight months, the Palestinian People have buried over 500 of its children, killed in cold blood by an order from the highest of Israeli political ranks. They have also tended to over 24,000 injured and endured eight months of suffocating siege and near-starvation. Instead of doing the morally correct thing, i.e. give Israel no option but to end its illegal occupation of the Palestinian Territory, Israel's unquestioning allies have evasively reduced the Palestinians' historical plight into a "security" problem. The tragedy is that, with the American hegemony over the international community, relevant binding UN resolutions have collected dust and have been drenched in innocent Palestinian blood since 1967. Criminal law holds those who aid in or cover up a murder partly responsible for the crime. Israel has been murdering Palestinian civilians, shattering their dreams, and destroying their lives for over half a century. History may soon judge those who aided this outlaw state with unlimited military and political "assistance" as guilty accomplices of one of the longest continuous crimes against humanity in recent history. Till then, the Palestinian People have no option but to resist every Israeli bulldozer, real or political, that attempts to ruthlessly destroy their lives, present and future.