International Conference “Fourth Day”

As a Norwegian I want to express my deepest apologies for my countries shady behavior while working as a mediator in the Oslo process. I hope this is something that will be brought forward in the ICC as an unclean work process, and that the people behind it will be held responsible for their actions!

Monday, 15 December 1997 00:00


Released @ 15 December 1997




The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights held the fourth and final day of its International Conference on “Human Rights and Final Status Issues” on Monday, December 15 at Rashad Shawa Cultural Center in Gaza City.

The first session of the day was on the subject, “Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories.” The session was chaired by Iyad Barghouthi, Professor of Political Sociology at An-Najah National University and Director of Al-Haq – Law for the Service of Man, Ramallah.The first speaker was Geoffrey Aronson, Editor of Report on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Territories and author of Israel, Palestinians, and the Intifada: Creating Facts on the West Bank. His talk was entitled, “Settlement Policy of the Netanyahu Government.” The vast majority of settlers are not “extraordinary people,”

Aronson said. They represent the mainstream in Israeli society. If such were not the case there would not be as strong a coalition as there is in Israel in support of settlement maintenance and expansion.Addressing the question,

“How do settlements affect the status of the Occupied Territories,” Aronson said that international law would conclude that settlements are illegal and temporary manifestations of Israeli occupation.

Oslo marked the first time that someone other than the Israeli government recognized the settlements as anything other than “illegal and temporary manifestations of occupation.”

Aronson asked a second question, “What rights do the previous owners have to land that the Israelis now hold?”

He answered that unfortunately Oslo has addressed the rights of the settlers to “their” land, but made no mention of the previous owners of that land.

Aronson then posed the question of whether land could be returned in the Occupied Territories. The Israeli decision to dismantle settlements in Sinai may be a good guide as to what may happen, he said. Finally he asked whether settlements are an obstacle to peace.It depends, he answered, on the kind of peace one is talking about. Settlements are an impediment to peace, but there are ways that they can be accommodated.

Unfortunately, the Oslo Accords have established Palestinian recognition of settlements as the centerpiece of Israel’s claim to exercise permanent military control of the Territories.

Netanyahu has changed the context in which settlements are viewed.

The Labor party had previously succeeded in the construction of a framework in which peace and settlements were not mutually exclusive. But the more pertinent question is whether a peace which brings Palestinian sovereignty can be achieved with settlements.

Musa Dweik, Professor of International Law, College of Law, Al-Quds University, Jerusalem, explored the legal basis of Palestinian sovereignty and the illegal basis of the settlements in his talk,

“Israeli Settlements and Palestinian Human Rights.” Self-determination, Dweik said, was once a political right, but after the International Declaration of Human Rights was passed, it became a legal right as well. As a legal right, it has an economic aspect, that the Palestinians cannot be deprived of the natural resources in their territory.

These rights, Dweik contended, are legitimate and inalienable.

There is even legal basis for “an armed struggle” to resist any power that denies a people such rights. Also, under international law, settlements are illegal. “The continuation of settlements,” Dweik said, “dissects and divides the Palestinian people.” They interfere with the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. This of course chafes with the Israeli position, which considers the cessation of settlements, in Rabin’s words, “a violation of Israeli human rights.”

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