Doesn’t the Fourth Geneva Convention make Israeli settlements illegal?
The Fourth Geneva Convention on Rules of War was adopted August 12, 1949 by the international community in response to Nazi atrocities during World War II. It was ratified by Israel in 1951. The international treaty governs the treatment of civilians during wartime, including hostages, diplomats, spies, bystanders and civilians in territory under military occupation. The convention outlaws torture, collective punishment and the resettlement by an occupying power of its own civilians on territory under its military control. In the fifty years since its adoption, the Fourth Geneva Convention has never been used to condemn world atrocities including those in Bosnia, Rwanda, Kosovo, Congo, Tibet, and other afflicted places.
Since 1997 the Arab group at the United Nations has been trying to invoke the Fourth Geneva Convention against Israel, in regard to its settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and in particular at Har Homa in Jerusalem. This is a tactic in theon-going Palestinian Arab attempts to undermine the Oslo "Peace Process". Rather thanparticipate in bi-lateral negotiations as agreed in the Oslo Accords and successive documents, it is more satisfactory to the Palestinian Arabs to appeal for international condemnation of Israel.
Israel rejects applying the Fourth Geneva Convention to Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, stating that those territories were captured in 1967 as a result of a defensive war against Jordan and Egypt, countries which had illegally occupied them since 1948. Furthermore, it is Article 49 that is commonly cited to accuse Israel of violating the Fourth Geneva Convention. But a close reading of Article 49 reveals that it prohibits "individual or mass forcible transfers" which are not happening in the territories under Israeli administration. Further, the Occupying Power is obliged not to "deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population" to territories under its control. The use of "deport" and "transfer" indicate that the Convention prohibits the Occupying Power from the active or forcible transfer of its own civilians. Article 49 does not oblige Israel to prevent voluntary settlement by its civilian population just because Arabs don't like it.
It is also interesting to find in the Fourth Geneva Convention, in Art. 3 and elsewhere,prohibitions of murder, violence to life and person, and other acts that are commonlyemployed by Palestinian Arabs against innocent Israeli civilians. To date no one in the international community has made a formal protest against these Palestinian Arab tactics.