Israel's Version Of 'Ethnic Cleansing'
By Arjan El Fassed
Washington Post, Saturday, August 18, 2001; Page A21
JERUSALEM -- This week on The Post's op-ed page, Michael Kelly [Aug. 15] Charles Krauthammer [Aug. 16] and George F. Will [Aug. 17] advocated what amounts to "ethnic cleansing" in the Mideast.
Using such words as "strike and expel" and "destroy, kill, capture and expel," they seemed to be advocating a sort of "final solution" to the Palestinian problem. This kind of thinking embarrasses every Jew who believes in a just peace and universal values and norms.
But columnists such as these simply make explicit what has long been clear to us in this region. They put into plain words Israel's cruel and discriminatory policy, practiced against Palestinians for the past 50 years.
Discrimination against non-Jews is grounded in Israeli laws, regulations and practices, which have created a system similar to apartheid in South Africa -- but different from apartheid in that its goal is not to rule over but to remove or expel the indigenous Palestinian population.
Will's column is particularly offensive. He urges Israel not just "to kill or capture those terrorists" and "destroy the Palestinian Authority's military [sic] infrastructure" but also "to destroy other physical infrastructure."
Perhaps Will should be provided with a copy of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which clearly states that such acts are prohibited. Some of them even amount to war crimes.
Israel's assassination policy constitutes willful killing, a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which stipulates in Article 32: "The High Contracting Parties specifically agree that each of them is prohibited from taking any measure of such a character as to cause the physical suffering or extermination of protected persons in their hands.
"This prohibition applies not only to murder, torture, corporal punishment, mutilation and medical or scientific experiments not necessitated by the medical treatment of a protected person but also to any other measures of brutality whether applied by civilian or by military agents."
Moreover, the U.N. Principles on the Effective Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions emphasize that extrajudicial executions are never allowed, not even in time of war.
Will suggests that "all of Jerusalem" should be within Israel's borders. In fact, East Jerusalem is occupied territory. According to international law, East Jerusalem is part of the Occupied Territories, from which Israel should withdraw. From 1947 through 1996 the U.N. Security Council issued 21 resolutions regarding Jerusalem. The General Assembly has also issued similar resolutions.
These resolutions were issued either because of Israeli policies and measures regarding Jerusalem in particular or Jerusalem in the context of the occupied territories. They emphasize the illegitimacy of Israel's annexation of Jerusalem, based on the illegitimacy of its acquisition of territory by war.
Additionally, these resolutions regard the city as an integral part of the occupied territories and emphasize the applicability of international humanitarian law, especially the Fourth Geneva Convention. There has been a unique degree of international consensus on these resolutions.
That Israel has acquired territorial sovereignty in those areas is not sustainable in international law. Conquest, aggressive or defensive does not confer title. Many of the world's nations have expressly and repeatedly declined to recognize Israel's title to Jerusalem.
International humanitarian law prohibits confiscation of private property and allows the occupying power to take land but with compensation and only to meet its military needs (The Hague Regulations, 1907).
Underlying all such limitations is the idea that the occupying power is not the sovereign in the territory. Consequently, the occupying power may not commit any act that constitutes unilateral annexation of all or part of the occupied territory.
The writer is the international public advocacy officer the Palestinian Society for the Protection of Human Rights.
© 2001 The Washington Post Company
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