Earlier this week (November 4 2012) ICAHD Co-Director Itay Epshtain briefed the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, convened in Amman Jordan. ICAHD called for enhanced State responsibility for international wrongful acts, and the criminalization of Israeli officials that perpetrate settlement and related policies and practices.
ICAHD encouraged the International Fact Finding Mission to adopt the following conclusions and recommendations:
- Conclude that Israel’s settlement policy and practices in the OPT, and policy and practices of displacement of Palestinian residents of Area C and East Jerusalem, necessarily results in unlawful transfer by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies; unlawful deportation or transfer of protected persons within or outside this territory; extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly, and as such are a grave breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and may amount to war crimes under Article 8(2)(a)(iv), and Article 8 (2)(a)(vii) of the Statute of the International Criminal Court. Furthermore, Israeli policies and practices in the OPT may constitute crimes against humanity under Article 7(1)(d) Deportation or forcible transfer of population; Article 7(1)(h) Persecution of any identifiable group or collectivity on political, racial, national, ethnic, cultural, religious, gender grounds; and Article 7(1)(j) The crime of apartheid.
- Accordingly reiterate that any person who commits an act which constitutes a crime under international law is responsible and liable to punishment for that act; The fact that a person who committed the aforementioned act did so as a Head of State or responsible government official does not relieve him from responsibility under international law; and therefore name Israeli duty-bearers, past and present, as personally responsible for perpetrating policies and practices that may constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity, including at present, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu; Minister of Defense Ehud Barak; Minister of Justice Yaakov Neeman; Chief of the General Staff Lieutenant-General Binyamin Gantz; GOC Central Command Major-General Nitzan Alon; Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Major-General Eitan Dangot; Head of the Civil Administration Brigadier-General Moti Almoz; Head of the Civil Administration Supervision Unit Marco Ben Shabbat.
- Reiterate the position of the UN Security Council as expressed in Resolution 242 emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force, according to UN Charter Article 2, and conclude that Israeli settlement policies and practices persistently violate the principles contained in the UN Charter, and warrant action as stipulated in Article 6 of the Charter, namely, a Member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the Principles contained in the Charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council.
- Conclude that Israel’s prolonged and indefinite occupation of Palestinian Territory has, in and of itself, morphed into a new type of crime against humanity, and call the Human Rights Council to commission a study on the adequacy of international humanitarian law to cover situations of prolonged occupation, and provide the international community with appropriate recommendations on distinction between temporary and legal occupation, and prolonged and possibly illegal occupation.
- Recall the obligation of third states, High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions, to respect and ensure respect for the Conventions in all circumstances, as stipulated in common Article 1. The International Law Commission’s Articles on the Responsibility of States for Internationally Wrongful Acts Articles 16 and 40 demand that: “A State which aids or assists another State in the commission of an internationally wrongful act by the latter is internationally responsible for doing so […] No State shall recognize as lawful a situation created by a serious breach […] nor render aid or assistance in maintaining that situation.”
- Accordingly, third states should fulfill their obligations under Common Article 1 through: Universal Jurisdiction; the International Court of Justice; Coercive measures, lawful reprisals or acts of retaliation; the legal use of force.