Status of Territories Captured By Israel - Range of Israeli Legal and Political Views

Range of Israeli Legal and Political Views

Soon after the 1967 war, Israel issued a military order stating that the Geneva Conventions applied to the recently occupied territories, but this order was rescinded a few months later. For a number of years, Israel argued on various grounds that the Geneva Conventions do not apply. One is the Missing Reversioner theory which argued that the Geneva Conventions apply only to the sovereign territory of a High Contracting Party, and therefore do not apply since Jordan never exercised sovereignty over the region. However, that interpretation is not shared by the international community. The application of Geneva Convention to Occupied Palestinian Territories was further upheld by International Court of Justice, UN General Assembly, UN Security Council and the Israeli Supreme Court.

In cases before the Israeli High Court of Justice the government itself has agreed that the military commander’s authority is anchored in the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, and that the humanitarian rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention apply. The Israeli MFA says that the Supreme Court of Israel has ruled that the Fourth Geneva Convention and certain parts of Additional Protocol I reflect customary international law that is applicable in the occupied territories. Gershom Gorenberg has written that the Israeli government knew at the outset that it was violating the Geneva Convention by creating civilian settlements in the territories under IDF administration. He explained that as the legal counsel of the Foreign Ministry, Theodor Meron was the Israeli government's expert on international law. On September 16, 1967 Meron wrote a top secret memo to Mr. Adi Yafeh, Political Secretary of the Prime Minister regarding "Settlement in the Administered Territories" which said "My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the Administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention." Moshe Dayan authored a secret memo in 1968 proposing massive settlement in the territories which said “Settling Israelis in administered territory, as is known, contravenes international conventions, but there is nothing essentially new about that.”

The commission of experts headed by the retired Israeli Supreme Court Judge Edmond Levy issued on July 9, 2012 its report on the status of the territories conquered by Israel in 1967. The commission concluded that the Israeli control over those territories is not an occupation in the legal sense, and that the Israeli settlements in those territories do not contravene international law.

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