Fourth Geneva Convention

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.


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§ 3 Responses to Fourth Geneva Convention

  • David says:

    The UN allows a right to self defence only in case of an “armed attack” and political and its is obvious that Israel attacked the mentioned countries. It is also not arguable that Jordan’s and Egypt’s occupation of parts of Palestine was “illegal” (although accepted by the inhibitants and therefore not “belligerent”) and Israel’s occupation should not be (although even the Supreme Court of Israel calls it a “belligerent occupation” in some of it’s decisions).

    And it would be quite ridiculous to interpret international humanitarian law in the sense that the colonialization of an occupied territory is not prohibited, if the colonialists come voluntarely. We’re not talking about what Arabs or Jews like or not but about international law, legal expertises of the International Court of Justice, Resolutions of the Security Council and the legal opinion of all member states of the UN except the solitary opinion of the state which commits this flagrant violation.

  • lochalsh1 says:

    The first interpretation of the GC is utterly absurd.Article 49: The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.This is quite clear and unambiguous, with no suggestion that “voluntary” settlement is allowed. Secondly, how does the first writer justify the Israeli settlement of the Golan, occupied Syria? Is that also “illegally held”?

  • jaymie says:

    It was never accepted by the inhabitants. The Oslo peace accords were a sham. Israel says the only way it will approve and implement it is if Palestine gives up the land that was illegaly taken, more land, and most of Palestine natural resources. Now, Israel has built a literal jail around gaza, the west bank, and stolen east jerusalem. Of course Palestine will not approve of this Israeli produced sham. Israel calls it a peace offering, but it is just a legal document saying that Israel can do whatever it wants with new territorial lines written on a piece of paper that it is not ashamed to show to the International public. It will not bring peace. It fuels hostility and inequality. Israel is not a superior race. They must understand that humans are humans and our religious beliefs and the historical experiences of our ancestors do not give one section of humans special status. We are all God’s children. And when a person intentionally kills another they will pay. Is not God’s law that thou shalt not kill, love your neighbor as yourself. These two laws are not being practiced, so why should anything else done in the name of God be sanctioned by God if the people claiming these things are not following all of God’s laws?