The ACLJ’s international affiliate, the European Centre for Law and Justice (ECLJ), was given the opportunity to make a submission in defense of Israel to the United Nations Human Rights Council’s (UNHRC) International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The ECLJ took issue with the fact-finding mission’s basis that Israel is an “occupying” force, noting that the UNHRC has come under considerable criticism, including from two UN Secretaries-General, for its disproportionate singling out of Israel for review and reprimand.
The ECLJ’s submission explains in detail why Israel is not an “occupying” force and that “Israel’s settlements in the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Golan Heights are fully consistent with Israel’s rights in international law.”
The submission reminded the UNHRC that the UN never established the pre-1967 armistice lines as the permanent boundaries of the Israeli state. Further, the UN resolution enacted after the 1967 Arab-Israeli war required “secure … boundaries” for Israel, which was, as the submission notes, “something that did not exist prior to 1967 as evidenced by the persistent attacks mounted against Israel from Arab-controlled territory and would not exist today if the status quo ante were reinstated.”
The submission also shows how the crude death and infant mortality rates declined, life expectancy, education, and literacy improved, and the general standard of living had increased before these social responsibilities were turned over to the Palestinian Authority. In fact, surveys show that many Palestinians in east Jerusalem would actually prefer to be governed by Israel than a Palestinian state.
The ECLJ concluded:
The presumption in the Mission’s mandate that Israel is “occupying” territory that belongs to Arab Palestinians is simply incorrect historically, factually, and legally. The mandate for Palestine, an internationally-adopted and -sanctioned document enshrining the right of Jews to settle throughout Palestine, constituted a sacred trust and continues to exist. Further, security Council Resolution 242 and its progeny clearly envisaged that Israel would have to acquire additional territory to attain defensible borders. As such, Israeli settlements in Mandate territory are lawful under international law. The ultimate territorial solution must come via bilateral negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders. Further, because the Golan heights were acquired through defensive war against serial aggressor Syria, Israel’s retaining such territory is compatible with both the letter and spirit of international law. As such, Israeli communities are also lawful.
The ECLJ urged the UN Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission to find that Israel is not “occupying” territory and that its settlements are in compliance with international law.