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The rights of the Palestinians

The State of Israel has a lot to thank the UN for. As a thank you, they should follow international law.

(PS. This article is machine-translated from Norwegian)

Without the UN decision in 1947 on the division of the then mandated territory of Palestine, there would have been no legal basis for Israel proclaimed May 14, 1948. However, rarely has a state shown such immaturity, not to say ungratefulness, in relation to the world organization that the state of Israel has shown. At the heart of this immorality is that Israel has not been willing to accept the rights the Palestinians have under international law and according to a large number of UN decisions. Such a claim may sound unreasonable, especially in a country like Norway, which has been largely a supporter of Israel in the conflict with the Palestinians. But this will only be unreasonable as long as one does not care about the Palestinians' legal requirements and their background. So let's take a look at the most important of these legal requirements.

The right to a state

First, the Palestinians are a people who have the right to form their own state. Any people defined as people have such a right. The Palestinians have this right in particular because the November 1947 United Nations Decree, which formed the basis for the State of Israel, also gave the Palestinians exactly the same right to form a state as the Jewish people got. And not only in the current occupied areas (ie Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem), but in an area that made up about half of the old mandated area. Since Israel referred to this UN resolution in its 1948 State Proclamation, Israel has indirectly acknowledged that the Palestinians have this right. But the fact is that the State of Israel has never accepted the boundaries laid down in this divisional plan. Nor has Israel ever acknowledged that the Palestinians have the right to form a sovereign state. (During the Oslo process, they did not recognize the right of a Palestinian state, only that the PLO was a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.) At best, Israel's line is to advocate for a "state" that will in effect become a puppet state under Israeli American control. It is understandable that the majority of Palestinians would regard it as treason if the Palestinian leaders accept such a solution in the negotiations.

In the wars of 1948, the Palestinians were exposed to what was later called ethnic cleansing and Israel formed a state that made up about 79 percent of the original Palestine. It is the other 21 percent that today are called the occupied territories and which are the subject of the so-called "peace process".

Based on international law and a large number of UN resolutions, the Palestinians have the right to form a state in the territory in which they actually live. Where the border of this state should go is today a matter of negotiation, but it has never been considered reasonable that the Palestinians, who in 1947 accounted for 2/3 of the total population in the mandate area, should be left with some bantustans, cut off from each other, and which will account for less than 20 per cent of this mandate area. The only ones who consider this reasonable must be the Zionists with their utopia of a purely Jewish state. This dangerous utopia is the ideological germ of today's conflict. Let me also point out here: Zionism is a political ideology of an exclusive Jewish state, an ideology that far from all Jews share. It was Jews who both in 1948 and later fought this dangerous idea, because they understood that the expulsion of the Palestinians would open the door to endless and insoluble conflicts. Unfortunately, they have been right. The most sensible solution would have been a state that tolerates different religious communities and where no ethnic or religious group was privileged. But first Zionism and later hatred and terror on both sides have undermined such a possibility.

Refugee right of return

In 1948, the majority of Palestinians were reduced to a stateless mass of refugees scattered across a number of countries. Here we are at the second important Palestinian legal claim. Namely, the right that every Palestinian has to return to his homeland. This is a human right that applies to individuals who become homeless as a result of war, terror, etc. This right applies regardless of which state currently controls the territory and it includes both the refugees and their descendants who currently live in various refugee camps. In 1948, more than 800 Palestinians fled their homes. UN mediator Count Folke Bernadotte was assassinated by Jewish terrorists after trying to pressure the newly created state of Israel to allow the Palestinians to return after the ceasefire in 000. Bernadotte urged the Israeli government not to "treat them (the Palestinians) in the same way as the (Jewish people) has been treated ». This direct comparison between the fate of the Jews during Nazism and the fate of the Palestinians was not unique in the debates that took place in 1948, although it is one of the rarities that a senior UN representative refers to this. He faced a wall of rejection. And summed up by saying that Israel had "shown only harshness and irreconcilability towards these refugees" and had thereby lost a chance to increase "the goodwill of the Jews in the world". Israel refused to return the refugees, allowed Jews to move into their abandoned homes, confiscated their property, and then sold them to Jewish immigrants. Bernadotte also pointed out in a report to the UN the discrepancy between the Palestinians being refused to return at the same time as Israel opened up for massive Jewish immigration:

"It would be a mockery of the principles of elementary justice if these innocent victims of the conflict were denied the right to return to their homes, while Jewish immigrants flow into Palestine and will ultimately pose a threat to the permanent relocation of Arab refugees. who have been settlers in the land for centuries. "

In the autumn of 1948, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 194, which states that refugees have the right to return and that those who do not choose to return shall be compensated for damage and loss of property. It is this decision that basically establishes the Palestinians' right to return and which the UN General Assembly has confirmed in all years.

New waves of refugees arose after the Six-Day War in 6 and after Israel's invasions of Lebanon in 1967 and 1978. From the West Bank alone, more than 1982 Palestinians fled after the Israeli occupation in 1967, many of them fleeing for the second time. Today, there are over 400 million Palestinians, mainly in the Middle East. The vast majority of these are refugees or descendants of refugees. The demand for a right of return is one of the Palestinians' central legal demands precisely because it affects the majority of Palestinians.

The right of return is an independent right – it is found in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948 and in the Convention on Civil and Political Rights from 1966. It is a right that is among the most fundamental, namely the right to live where one lives. It applies in war (for civilians) as in peace. It is, of course, compatible, but not identical with the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination through their own state and does not necessarily need a Palestinian state to be realized.

The occupied territories

The third legal requirement for the Palestinians is that the ongoing occupation of the West Bank and Gaza must cease immediately. This is in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242 adopted after the Six-Day War in 6, ie also with the US vote. Modern international law takes the position that no violent occupation of an area creates any right to the area, ie sovereignty over the area. According to modern international law, therefore, an occupation of an area should be ended as soon as possible and power over the area returned to the real sovereign, which based on modern conditions can only be the population in the area. The occupier should therefore enter into a peace agreement with representatives of the occupied people as soon as possible, in which case the PLO will be the representative of the Palestinians. The occupier cannot endure such a solution of peace or use his superior position of power as a bargaining chip, in the hope of reaching a solution in which the occupiers relinquish their fundamental rights or parts of their territory. The occupier cannot annex the area as Israel has done with East Jerusalem. As long as the occupation lasts, the people in the occupied territories have the right to continue a normal social life and the occupying power, as the supreme authority, is responsible for this. Only safety considerations can justify deviations from this. The occupying power can thus not reshape society, terrorize or expel the population, exploit the economy, etc. with a view to its own advantage. According to § 1967 of the Geneva Convention, an occupying power cannot make an agreement with representatives of the occupied, which is such that the rights of the occupied are reduced in relation to the rights under the 47th Geneva Convention. It can be argued that the Oslo Accords (I and II) between Israel and the PLO contained provisions that accepted aspects of the Israeli occupation that are prohibited under the Geneva Convention. This is especially true of the Jewish settlements. The point of § 4 in 47. The Geneva Convention is precisely to ensure that the weaker party, namely the occupied party, shall not enter into agreements with the stronger party that are in conflict with general provisions of international law.

In recent years, Israel's construction of a wall deep in occupied territory has been condemned by the UN and also by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in July 2004. with the construction wall, understanding of the Palestinians' fear that "Israel has another motive here – a desire to create the ultimate" fact on the ground "by reducing the West Bank to a series of bantustans." Furthermore, the Commission concluded as regards the situation in the occupied territories:

"The fact is that the Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank have no state, neither de jure nor de facto; no citizenship; no rights; "And no one from the world community who takes responsibility for ensuring that an occupied people in this situation is treated as humanely as possible."

Jewish settlements

Immediately after the Six-Day War in 6, the Israeli Labor government allowed Jewish settlers to be allotted land that Israel seized in the occupied territories, in order to build pure Jewish communities there. Since then, Jewish settlements have steadily expanded both in number of individuals and in number of settlements. This expansion continues, except in Gaza. This is despite international condemnation and orders from the UN to stop this activity. The settlements are deeply ideologically rooted in the idea that Palestine belongs to the Jews. The leaders of the settlers believe on a religious basis that it is a Jewish right to expand the land of Israel to the occupied territories. The state of Israel has, as stated, made occupied land available to the settlers and in addition provided them with significant financial support, tax relief, etc. The settlers, even though they live in an area that Israel also considers occupied and which is under military administration, are subject to Israeli law. , they have voting rights in Israel and other rights and are Israeli citizens. There is no doubt that settlement policy is a central part of Israel's line of "creating facts" that will make the incorporation of most of the occupied territories irrevocable. The presence and expansion of the settlers on Palestinian property is a crucial reason for the development of violence we have seen in the occupied territories.

The provisions of international law regarding the possibility of an occupying power to transfer parts of its own population to the occupied territory are crystal clear. Article 4 of the 49th Geneva Convention states: "The occupying power must not transfer parts of its own civilian population to the territory it occupies". Transferring one's own population to occupied territory – this was precisely a key element in the Nazis' plans for Eastern Europe during World War II – obviously means a fundamental change in social conditions in an occupied territory, changes that will surely affect the original population . The Security Council has therefore repeatedly condemned all settlement policies, ie not just demanded a halt to the construction of new settlements. In March 2, the Security Council (and thus the United States) decided that "Israel's policy and practice of establishing settlements in Palestinian and other occupied territories (here referred to the Golan Heights, AO) after 1979 has no legal value and constitutes a serious obstacle to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East. ”(Resolution 1967) The UN General Assembly has also adopted a trade boycott of Israel in relation to goods related to settlement activity. (Resolution ES-446/10, April 2), without such a boycott becoming effective because powerful countries such as the United States opposed it. Significantly, Norway abstained on this occasion.


The Palestinians' legal demands in the four areas discussed here: a sovereign state, the return of refugees, an end to the occupation and the cessation of Jewish settlements in occupied territory, are firmly rooted in international law. Certain fundamental rights cannot be negotiated for the purpose of achieving peace at any cost. Such a peace can mean a peace without justice and will risk being rejected by those negotiated on their behalf, namely the Palestinians. Rights that are internationally recognized must be the basis on which negotiations are conducted – not the subject of negotiations themselves.

Arne Overrein has also written extensively on this topic in the latest issue of Vardøger.


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