The massacre once again opens up the file on the legality of the Israeli settlements. Legally, the Gaza Strip, West Bank and the Golan Heights are all characterised as occupied territories. Israel's control over that area has never been sanctioned by international law or the international community. Under international law, the occupant exercises authority on a de facto basis and is not a sovereign power. The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements is also a violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which prohibits the occupant from transferring its civilian population into occupied territory. The implantation among hundreds of thousands of Palestinians of settlers munitioned with religious zeal and arms is a recipe for continuous friction.
But one should not be oblivious of Israeli and Jewish human rights campaigners who have painstakingly advocated Palestinians' right to self-determination and statehood. Indeed, regional harmonisation should not rest upon the mercy of extremists on both sides. Being a Muslim Arab does not prohibit me from acknowledging that violations of international law are not exclusive to Israeli governments. The whole region is rife with atrocious human rights abuses. And inasmuch as authoritarian Arab regimes expect Israel to disgorge occupied territories, these very regimes should also ponder their own human rights records.
LU'AYY MINWER AL-RIMAWI
26 FebruaryReuse content