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by Moshe Dann


For nearly four decades, many in the international community have insisted that Jews are forbidden to live in Judea, Samaria, Gaza (Yesha), "eastern Jerusalem," and the Golan — areas conquered by Israel in 1967. Leading this fight was and is a private Swiss organization, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).

The ICRC was the first international organization to charge that "the presence of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is contrary to the Geneva Convention," and therefore "unlawful." "Any measure designed to expand or consolidate settlements is also illegal. Confiscation of land to build or expand settlements is similarly prohibited."

And the world listens, because the ICRC isn't just another NGO — it is the official recognized authority on the Fourth Geneva Convention (GC IV). Its decisions, therefore, were and are crucial in determining international law and vilifying Israel. Every judicial condemnation of Israel cites the GC and follows the ICRC's interpretation. This explains why the international community and courts have accepted ICRC's decisions that "Israeli (Jewish) settlements violate international law" without question.

Based on The Hague Convention, GC IV was drawn up after World War Two to protect innocent civilians and restrict brutal occupations. Unilaterally, the ICRC turned it into a weapon to delegitimize and demonize Israel. Meeting secretly in the early 1970s in Geneva, the ICRC determined that Israel was in violation of the GC IV. That's been "the law" ever since.

And there's no appeal, because all decisions and protocols of the ICRC are closed — even the identities of the people involved are secret. Without transparency or due process, ICRC rulings became "international law." Their condemnations of Israel provide the sole basis for accusing Israel of "illegal occupation" of all territory conquered in 1967.

It's a legal fraud.

Article 49 of GC IV says: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies."

According to the ICRC, this forbids Jews from living in Judea, Samaria, Golan and eastern Jerusalem — areas conquered by Israel in 1967 — even though they moved there voluntarily, and prohibits any form of government assistance to them, including roads, utilities, schools and clinics. The ICRC's position contradicts all written agreements which confirm the right of Jews to live in their ancestral homeland — such as the League of Nations and British Mandate, and the Oslo Accords.

Article 49 obviously refers to the territory of another country, or sovereign power; Judea, Samaria, and Gaza don't fit this definition. These areas were illegally occupied by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967. The ICRC of course, differs, but has never satisfactorily answered the question as to which state this territory belongs.

Holding these territories in limbo for a future Palestinian state, which may never come to fruition, whose borders are undefined, and whose intentions are openly hostile, is absurd. SuchICRC antagonism to Israel, however, is pervasive.

During WWII, the ICRC visited concentration camps and gave the Nazis a pass. After the war, they provided false passports to escaping Nazi war criminals.

Their website demonstrates their humanitarian efforts around the world, but when it comes to the Middle East their story is one-sided. During two decades of constant terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, the ICRC said nothing. They have written several stories about the suffering of "Palestinians" in Gaza and Lebanon as a result of Israeli actions, without mentioning the terrorist attacks that prompted a response.

The ICRC condemned IDF actions to stop terrorism in Jenin, Lebanon, and Gaza as "massacres." They have consistently condemned Israel for "violations of Palestinian civil and human rights," and accused Israel of "war crimes." Sometimes, when these lies were exposed, the ICRC has recanted — but not often and never with full disclosure.

Because the ICRC lacks transparency, there's no way to find out how and why they made their decisions, or who made them. If they have nothing to hide, why the secrecy?

The Red Cross should stick to helping people in need, and not waste resources bashing Israel.

EDITOR'S NOTE: For additional information on the (non)applicability of Article 49, see the article by Yoram Shifftan, "The Jewish Right To Live In Western Palestine: The Irrelevancy Of 'Belligerent Occupation' and the 4th Geneva Convention," by clicking here. Shifftan notes that Professor Stone wrote:

"It is clear that in the drafting history, Article 49 as a whole was directed against the heinous practice of the Nazi regime during the Nazi occupation of Europe in World War II, of forcibly transporting populations of which it wished to rid itself, into or out of occupied territories for the purpose of liquidating them with minimum disturbance of its metropolitan territory, or to provide slave labour or for other inhumane purposes. The genocidal objectives, of which Article 49 was concerned to prevent future repetitions against other peoples, were in part conceived by the Nazi authorities as a means of ridding their Nazi occupant's metropolitan territory of Jews - of making it, in Nazi terms, judenrein. Such practices were, of course, prominent among the offences tried by war crimes tribunals after World War II."

"Stone explains that it is an absurd to enlist the concern of Article 49 to prevent an occupier from inflicting inhuman treatment on its own metropolitan population in order to require the Israeli government to prevent its citizens from settling in Judea, Samaria and Gaza."


Stone continues to elaborate the subject in his Discourse 2 and his conclusion is that "a demand that this territory [Yesha] be kept judenrein would be a gross travesty of this legal position, turning international law on its head." Yet this legal travesty too was suggested by the current attorney general and his team. Israel's current Supreme Court also incorrectly invoked the Fourth Geneva convention in relation to the fence. For a discussion see "Is Israel's Legal System Acting Illegally,"

For more information, use the google box at the top of Think-Israel's home page entering "Howard Grief" and "Julius Stone" as key words for expert legal opinions on the Geneva Convention. What may come as a surprise is that Mandatory Palestine is held in perpetual trust for the Jewish people. Over the years, Think-Israel has had articles on that and on the terms of the San Remo Conference, which was a continuation of the negotiations of the Versailles Treaty. The important fact is that by international law that is an irrevocable obligation of the United Nations, Mandatory Palestine belongs to the Jews.

Moshe Dann, a former assistant professor of history, is a writer and journalist living in Jerusalem.

This appeared August 21, 2009 on Pajamas Media the-international-red-cross-war-against-israel/


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