Dismantling a legal leviathan: Negotiations start today on scrapping Israel's controls on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza

'LET there be occupation', said Military Proclamation No 1, authorised by Yitzhak Rabin, then Israel's chief of staff, on 7 June 1967. The proclamation declared: 'Israeli military forces have occupied the West Bank and have taken over control in the interests of security and public order.'

The same day, seven further Israeli military proclamations and orders were signed, including an 'order concerning looting'; an order endowing the Israeli area commander with 'all legislative, executive and judicial powers'; an order placing the West Bank under 'quarantine', banning the removal of plants or animals from the area; and an order creating military courts. Similar orders were passed for the Gaza Strip.

By the end of the first day of the occupation, the legal foundations of Israeli rule had been laid down.

Since 7 June 1967 up to 1,400 military orders have been issued, restricting every aspect of Palestinian life, from banning the picking of wild thyme (to protect an Israeli monopoly over the herb's production) to controlling the contents of school textbooks and holding a bank account.

Today, in negotiations in Taba, the Egyptian Red Sea resort, and in Cairo, the first steps will be taken to dismantle this legal leviathan. Mr Rabin, now Prime Minister, has issued a new 'commandment': the Israeli-Palestinian accord, signed on 13 September, giving Palestinians control over their own lives.

On Monday night, Yasser Arafat won approval for his peace accord from the Central Council of the Palestine Liberation Organisation by 63 votes to eight, with 11 votes not cast. Mr Arafat was also appointed head of the National Authority to run the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In Tunis, multilateral talks began yesterday on the plight of millions of Middle East refugees. Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister, Yossi Beilin, said that it would raise from about 1,000 to 5,000 the number of exiled Palestinians who may return to the occupied territories each year.

According to the Israeli-Palestinian accord, by 13 December military withdrawal must begin in the Gaza Strip and in Jericho on the West Bank and must be completed by 13 April. At a slower pace, powers will be transferred to Palestinians in the rest of the West Bank before Palestinian elections in July throughout the occupied territories.

Israel's readiness to hand over real authority to the new Palestinian council and to concede a degree of sovereignty will be tested in its readiness to rescind military laws, says Raja Shehadeh, a leading Palestinian legal authority. As yet it is unclear how far Israel is ready to allow the Palestinians to revoke military orders and pass their own laws, he says. Israel issued most of the military orders on the grounds of 'security' and may argue the need to maintain some, claiming continued security reasons. Furthermore, the outline accord makes no provision for military orders to be annulled retrospectively. Israel has seized 60 per cent of West Bank land by military order since 1967. 'I see no legal means which will enable us to win back that land,' says Mr Shehadeh.

He describes the legal status of Palestinians under military rule as that of 'permanent alien residents' with no rights of citizenship. Israeli military orders built on, or superseded, existing legal systems. In the West Bank the law was largely Jordanian, as the area was under Jordanian control before 1967; in the Gaza Strip, where Egypt had control, the law was Egyptian. Remnants of British Mandate and Ottoman law also survive.

The first military order the Palestinians will seek to revoke is 947, which gives the Israeli military governor power to implement all other military orders, in such areas as the economy, taxes, commerce, electricity, post, land seizures, security and free speech.

WASHINGTON - The House of Representatives voted to suspend laws restricting the activities of the PLO in the US, Reuter reports. The measure now goes back to the Senate for final action to send it to President Bill Clinton.

(Photograph omitted)

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
Arts and Entertainment
The sight of a bucking bronco in the shape of a pink penis was too much for Hollywood actor and gay rights supporter Martin Sheen, prompting him to boycott a scene in the TV series Grace and Frankie
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Terry Sue-Patt as Benny in the BBC children’s soap ‘Grange Hill’
voicesGrace Dent on Grange Hill and Terry Sue-Patt
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvName confirmed for third series
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine