Israel’s Illegal Settlements

In September 1967, after its overwhelming victory in the Six Day War, Israel had occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem and other Arab territories.   Israel’s then prime minister, Levi Eshkol, requested a legal opinion from Theodor Meron, an attorney and judge who was then the legal advisor to the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, on whether Israel could transfer its civilians to settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and other conquered Arab territories.

Judge Meron, a Jew and holocaust survivor, and a renowned international jurist, stated unequivocally in a top secret memo that “…civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention”. Despite the legal opinion, the Israeli government immediately began establishing Jewish settlements in the occupied territories, including Egypt’s Sinai, Syria’s Golan Heights, Gaza, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. In 2007, Judge Meron confirmed his authorship of the legal opinion and stated he would not change his opinion that the settlements are illegal and in violation of international law.

Since 1967, Israel has transferred over 500,000 of its Jewish citizens to hundreds of “settlements” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem or almost 10 percent of its total Jewish Israeli population. This illegal population transfer violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and is considered a war crime under international law. While Israel attempts to characterize these illegal transfers as civilian migrations, in fact they are state sponsored activities. The settlements themselves are built exclusively for and inhabited only by Israeli Jews, and are separately protected by units of the Israeli army. The Israeli government finances the settlements and builds and provides access roads and highways that are limited to use exclusively by Israeli Jews.

The number of Israeli civilians transferred to West Bank and East Jerusalem settlements in the occupied territories is truly astonishing. To draw an analogy, if the US was the occupying power of Canada, and unlawfully transferred 10 percent of its civilian population to settlements in Canada it would amount to about 31 million people, almost equal to the current population of Canada. If each of these settlements was protected by a U.S. Army post, and connected to other settlements and the U.S. by access roads limited to use exclusively by U.S. settlers, it seems reasonable to suspect that even the normally pleasant and placid Canadians would be outraged by this invasion and might even resort to acts of terrorism to resist such an invasion of “settlers” from its supposedly friendly neighbor to the south.


Under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, to which Israel is a signatory, a country which takes over and militarily occupies the land of another during hostilities is restricted in how it can govern the territory it has occupied after hostilities have ceased. Article 47 prohibits such an occupying power from annexing any part of the territory occupied for itself, and Article 49 prohibits the occupying power from transferring parts of its own civilian population into the territory it has occupied.

By the end of World War II, the U.S. had militarily occupied Italy, Germany and Japan. It then took on the enormous tasks of rebuilding and democratizing all three countries. Yet, it took the U.S. only four years to transfer full power back to Italy, five years in the case of Germany, and six years for Japan. The status of an occupying power is transitory and should end either at the end of hostilities or as soon as possible thereafter. The U.S. annexed not one acre of territory from these conquered countries, nor did it transfer any of its civilian population into these countries. While all three countries have U.S. military bases with U.S. troops, these arrangements are by treaty only, and do not represent an annexation or permanent occupation of those countries by the U.S.

By contrast, Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights began when hostilities ended in 1967, yet, 43 years later, Israel still occupies these lands and has either, in the cases of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, unlawfully annexed them into Israel itself, or has conducted a de facto annexation through its unlawful transfer of large numbers of its Jewish civilians into exclusively Jewish “settlements” in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. It is estimated that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem control about 42 percent of the total land available in those two areas. Both Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and its transfer of its civilians into settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights violate the laws of war set forth in Articles 47 and 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.


War crimes are defined under the 1949 Geneva Conventions to which Israel is a signatory power. Only the most serious violations of the conventions qualify as war crimes, which are defined as “grave breaches” of the conventions. The 1977 Protocol to the Fourth Geneva Convention, which protects civilians, defines the transfer of an occupying power of parts of its populations to occupied territory as a grave breach or a war crime. Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, as well as its transfer of over 500,000 of its civilians to exclusively Jewish settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention and are nothing less than war crimes.


Israel claims that the West Bank and East Jerusalem are disputed territories that it has an equal claim to. Israel claims it is not an occupying power because there was no sovereign entity ruling the West Bank and East Jerusalem at the time of the 1967 war. This argument ignores the fact that Jordan had ruled and administered the West Bank and East Jerusalem from 1947 through 1967 when it was defeated and evicted from these lands. It also ignores the express language in the 1947 UNR 181 that specifically set aside the West Bank and East Jerusalem for the creation of the intended Arab State in the 1947 Partition Plan. There is no little irony in the fact that Israel uses UNR 181 in its own declaration of independence as authority for irrevocable creation of the Jewish State as set forth in the UN Partition Plan, yet conveniently fails to recognize the obvious fact that the very same resolution also created irrevocable authority for the creation of an Arab State in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.

Israel also claims that it has an historic right to the West Bank and East Jerusalem based on the supposed eviction of Jews from Palestine by the Romans some 2000 years ago. While this narrative certainly has sentimental and emotional value for Jews, that argument has no legal standing under international law. To draw an analogy, my Irish forebears, faced with imminent starvation, were forced to leave Ireland in the early 1800s due to the potato famine. However, the fact that a natural disaster caused or forced my forebears’ migration does not mean that I now have a legal claim to Irish land or property held by my forebears or to Irish citizenship or even to a right to immigrate to Ireland.

Likewise, my British forebears were forced to leave Britain some time in the 1700s because of religious persecution. Here again, even though my forebears were forced to leave Britain because of religious persecution, as the Jews were forced to leave Palestine by the Romans, this forced migration does not create a legal right for me to now claim property, citizenship or even immigration rights in Britain. Moreover, my claims based on forced migrations go back only about 150 to 250 years. Israel is attempting to make ownership claims to the West Bank and East Jerusalem based on events that are 10 times more attenuated and remote in time, some 1700 or 1800 years earlier than mine. 

If such claims were given legal validity, any country could be forced to resolve and allow dubious claims for immigration, land and property ownership and citizenship from foreign claimants with dubious and attenuated historical claims to prior citizenship by very distant relatives.  Fortunately, there is no basis in international law for such claims, not even Israeli claims to ancient citizenship and property rights in biblical Palestine. 

Israel has no valid legal claim to the West Bank, East Jerusalem, or the Golan Heights. Its annexation of Jerusalem and the Golan Heights violates the Fourth Geneva Convention, as does its transfer of its Jewish civilians to “settlements” in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights. Moreover, Israel knew at the onset that taking these actions would be illegal and in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Israel’s actions constitute intentional “grave breaches” of the Geneva Conventions, and, as such, constitute continuing war crimes against the Palestinians.

7 Responses to Israel’s Illegal Settlements

  1. Barry Meridian says:

    Syria controlled the Golan for only 21 years from 48 to 67, half the period it has been under Israeli rule. Almost half of the Golan had been purchased by Rothschild and later robbed by the Syrian government in 1946.
    All Jews were expelled from the Golan by terrorist Syria in 1946.

    The Golan Heights was part of the British Mandate borders of 1917 that was supposed to go to Israel. The British gave the Golan to France in 1922 and France gave it to Syria in 1946.
    The Golan was never part of Syria before 1946.

    The Golan Has Been Jewish for Centuries. These rotten Arab colonialists have stolen lands from Kurds, Berbers, Copts, Babylonians, Chaldeans and they want to steal Jewish lands as well. The Golan was part of ancient and modern Israel for centuries, while it was under Syrian occupation for a mere 21 years!! The archaeology of the Golan is proof that the Golan is Jewish. I personally helped dig up a Talmudic era synagogue in Katzrin which is now has a visitor centre. The only Arab land is (Saudi) Arabia. The Arabs can go back there!!

    The Golan is where the tribes of Dan and Menashe settled, and Israeli kings ranging from Saul to Herod ruled there. The Golan saw consecutive Jewish settlement for 800 years; 300 Jewish communities from the time of the Mishna and Talmudwere discovered there, along with the remnants of 27 synagogues. Later, 1,000 years of desolation followed, until the Jews returned. The Golan belongs to Israel because it is the estate of their forefathers.

  2. Barry Meridian says:

    The Palestinians have nothing to do with the name Palestine.
    The name Palestine is named after the Philistines, not the Palestinians or any Arab group.

    The name Palestine was applied by the Romans against the Jews to destroy the name Israel.
    It was certainly not directed or bestowed to the Arabs in this area.
    The Philistines were from Crete and came to Israel 3000 years ago and were not Arabs or Muslims.
    Delilah and Goliath were Philistines. (Philistines died out.) Philistine is the name the Romans renamed Israel as a chagrin against the Jews.

    Yassir Arafat was not a Philistine, but an ARAB born in Egypt. Philistine originates from the Hebrew verb Palash, which means to invade. So the Arabs who started to call themselves Palestinians in the late 60′s are invaders and they want to create an Invadia state.

  3. Barry Meridian says:

    Israel existed 1500 years before Muhammad was born. Look at Islamic countries and look at Sharia laws. Its a brutal, violent and an intolerant religion. It produces the most inhumane people on this planet. Besides Saudi Arabia, the entire Middle East and North Africa was never Arab or Muslim. The thieving Arabs stole all the land from the Native peoples in the Middle East and North Africa in the 7th century and forced everyone they colonized to become Muslim. Anyone that didn’t convert, had there heads cut off. The Jews resisted the Mohammad and didn’t convert.

    There is a primary historical fact, that must be established now. There has never been, I repeat NEVER been, a civilization, Entity, or a nation referred to as “Palestine” There was never a Palestinian tribe, and there was never a Palestinian country in the Land of Israel to begin with! Israel is not for sale. It is not a pie to be sliced up and served to a clan of killers and their supporters.
    1: When did Jerusalem serve as a capital to any Arab Country? Never.
    2: When did Jerusalem serve as a Palestinian capitol? Never.
    3: Only Israel have had Jerusalem as there capitol in Ancient and modern times. Jerusalem was never in history an Arab capitol and never will be one.
    4: How many times is Jerusalem mentioned in the Koran? Zero. Was Mohammed to so badly educated, he could not utter the word “J-e-r-u-s-a-l-e-m”

  4. Barry Meridian says:

    IrishMoses is a supporter of the fascist Arab liars.
    PA TV: Western Wall area to be turned into Arab housing neighborhood.
    Palestinian Authority TV:
    Western Wall area to be turned into Arab housing neighborhood -Jewish presence in Jerusalem will be erased from history.
    Aug. 17, 2011
    PA: Jews have no connection to Western Wall
    Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik
    Jan. 15, 2013
    PA: “The Western Wall… no person
    besides Muslims ever used it as a place of worship, throughout all of history”
    The Palestinian Authority Minister of Religious Affairs, Mahmoud Al-Habbash, said recently that all of Jerusalem and the Western Wall are “the sole right of Palestinians.”

  5. Barry Meridian says:

    A must read and see for the liar IrishMoses.
    Israeli on Arab TV: J’lem Was Ours When Moslems Worshipped Idols
    A Bar Ilan Univ. researcher told Al Jazeera, “Jews were in Jerusalem while Muslims were drinking wine; we don’t need your permission to build.”
    Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu

  6. Barry Meridian says:

    Jerusalem has had a Jewish population majority since the late 1850s – that’s 130 years already, before ‘Palestinianism’ was invented:
    Jews were expelled from East-Jerusalem by the Jordanian occupation at 1948. They lived in East-Jerusalem for thousands of years. They returned to their homes after Israel liberated the city in 67.
    Jerusalem was never in history the capitol of any Arab country.
    It has been only the Capitol of Israel and the Jewish people.

    ISRAEL which is defending itself against Pan-Arabism, Arab imperialism and Arabization of the Middle East – that is the “problem you dont like.

    The real problem is global Arab/Moslem insistence to spread hate, violence, wars, terrorism, lies, false accusations against Jews and reducing Jews to subhumans or second class citizens – slaves or servants – without any human rights.

  7. Barry Meridian says:

    War Crimes are Palestinian terrorists murdering Israeli civilians.
    PA TV Glorifies Terrorists Responsible for Maalot Massacre
    PA TV broadcasts a tribute to the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, responsible for the 1974 Maalot massacre.

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