Israel & International Law: Settlements

March 24, 2015 IMEU
Israel & International Law: Settlements

For more on Israel's violations of international law, see our fact sheets on Israel's West Bank Wall and the siege and blockade of Gaza.

Israel’s Settlement Enterprise

  • Since shortly after it began militarily occupying the Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza in the 1967 War, Israel has been colonizing them with Jewish settlers in violation of international law, part of an effort to cement control and prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.

  • Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War states: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." The Hague Convention on the laws of war also forbids occupying powers from making permanent changes in the occupied territory unless it is a military necessity.

  • Successive Israeli governments have argued that settlement building is not illegal, however a formerly classified document dated September 1967 shows that the legal counsel to Israel’s Foreign Ministry at the time, Theodor Meron, advised the government of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol that “civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention."

  • Although Israel withdrew approximately 8000 settlers from Gaza in 2005, it continued to expand its colonies in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

  • Today, there are upwards of 650,000 Israeli settlers living on occupied Palestinian land in contravention of international law in more than 100 colonies. Their presence, and the location of strategically placed settlements, make the creation of a contiguous Palestinian state in the occupied territories all but impossible.

(See here for previously released IMEU fact sheet on settlements)