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'Illegal? Who Says They're Illegal?' Says Israeli Commission on West Bank Outposts | The Nation

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Robert Dreyfuss

Bob Dreyfuss

News of America’s misadventures in foreign policy and defense.

'Illegal? Who Says They're Illegal?' Says Israeli Commission on West Bank Outposts

An important piece by NPR’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro reports on Israel’s wrecking-ball, ethnic-cleansing approach to the Palestinian population on the occupied West Bank, taking off from a new UN report called “Demolition Watch”  on the territory and its destruction.

The UN report began:

The Israeli practice of demolishing homes, basic infrastructure and sources of livelihoods continues to devastate Palestinian families and communities in East Jerusalem and the 60 per cent of the West Bank controlled by Israel, known as Area C. 

And it adds:

The impact of home demolitions on children can be particularly devastating. Many children affected by demolitions show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. Their academic achievement often suffers.

As Lourdes’s report notes: “Last year, 1,100 Palestinians—more than half of them children—were displaced, an 80 percent increase from the previous year. And demolitions this year continue at a high rate.”

Never mind that Israel is frantically building illegal settlements all over the West Bank. An Israeli spokesman quoted in  Lourdes’s report says that the reason so many demolitions are happening is because the Palestinians just won’t stop building stuff on their own land:

“There has been an increase [in demolitions] because there has been an increase in illegal building. In any state where there is an urban authority around the world, you can't just build wherever you like, whenever you like. You need a permit. If, at the end of the road, you don't follow the necessary legal procedures, then inevitably there will be demolition.” 

Her report, which can read in full or listened to on NPR’s site, coincidentally comes in the wake of an Israeli commission report that asserts that Israel’s settlements aren’t illegal because, well, the entire area of the West Bank (and for that matter, Israel itself) is on land whose ownership has been disputed since 1948. Israel’s view on this issue—namely, who owns historic Palestine—is: “What’s ours is ours, and what’s yours just might be ours, too.” (That’s precisely the definition of international law that Israel has used since its founding, when Zionist Jews simply decided that they “owned” Palestine.) In an editorial, the New York Times—and, Jewish cabal kooks please note, the Times is part of what right-wing nuts and some less nutty people call the Israel Lobby–run media—slams Israel’s reading on the law:

Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004. The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

Over at ThinkProgress, Matt Duss—whose colleagues have repeatedly been slammed by the pro-Likud American right and neoconservatives for their daring to question Israel ‘s policy in various dimensions—has a useful account of the whole Levy Commission controversy so far, including a citation to an Israel civil rights attorney, Michael Sfard, who calls the new report “bizarre.” Says Sfard:

“International law is based on consensus, and if most of the jurists of international law, all U.N. organs, the International Court of Justice, multiple U.N. Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, the International Committee of the Red Cross, all agree that [the West Bank] is occupied territory, it is highly immodest for this committee to say otherwise, and for the government of Israel to even reflect on adopting this, sorry, but bizarre position.”

Bibi Netanyahu and Co. may or may not endorse the Levy Commission view, but in their heart of hearts—and on Herut’s classic maps, which in the past have shown Israel, the West Bank and even Jordan as part of “Greater Israel”—they agree fervently.

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