The Guardian June 13, 2001


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.

Back to index page