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Israel upholds expulsion order against West Bank hamlets:

GS Paper 2:

Topics Covered: Effects of policies of developed nations.

 

Context:

Israel’s Supreme Court has upheld a long-standing expulsion order against eight Palestinian hamlets in the occupied West Bank, potentially leaving at least 1,000 people homeless.

 

Background:

The military declared the area a firing and training zone in the early 1980s. Israeli authorities have argued that the residents only used the area for seasonal agriculture and had no permanent structures there at the time. In November 1999, security forces expelled some 700 villagers and destroyed homes and cisterns. The legal battle began the following year.

 

What do the expelled families say?

  • The families say they have been there for decades, from long before Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 Mideast war.
  • They practice a traditional form of desert agriculture and animal herding, with some living in caves at least part of the year, but say their only homes are in the hardscrabble communities now at risk of demolition.

 

Current Affairs

 

Where is the West Bank?

It is a landlocked territory near the Mediterranean coast of Western Asia, bordered by Jordan to the east and by the Green Line separating it and Israel on the south, west and north. The West Bank also contains a significant section of the western Dead Sea shore.

 

What are the disputed settlements here? Who lives there?

  • The West Bank was captured by Jordan after the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.
  • Israel snatched it back during the Six Day War of 1967, and has occupied it ever since. During this war, the country defeated the combined forces of Egypt, Syria, and Jordan.
  • It has built some 130 formal settlements in the West Bank, and a similar number of smaller, informal settlements have mushroomed over the last 20-25 years.
  • Over 4 lakh Israeli settlers — many of them religious Zionists who claim a Biblical birthright over this land — now live here, along with some 26 lakh Palestinians.
  • The territory is still a point of contention due to a large number of Palestinians who live there and hope to see the land become a part of their future state.
  • When Israel took control of the land in 1967 it allowed Jewish people to move in, but Palestinians consider the West Bank illegally occupied Palestinian land.

 

Are these settlements illegal?

The United Nations General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the International Court of Justice have said that the West Bank settlements are violative of the Fourth Geneva Convention.

  • Under the Fourth Geneva Convention (1949), an occupying power “shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies”.

Under the Rome Statute that set up the International Criminal Court in 1998, such transfers constitute war crimes, as does the “extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly”.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims link:

  1. What is Israel-Palestine issue?
  2. Contested boundaries between the two
  3. West bank settlement issue
  4. Stand taken by UN, Israel, Palestine on this issue
  5. Challenges posed by this issue
  6. India’s stand.

Mains link:

Discuss about the impact of Israel-Palestine issue on the region and its impact on India’s interests.

Sources: the Hindu.