The Madison-Rafah Sister City Project

Re “Settlers, Israeli public part company”

Kathy Walsh, Madison-Rafah Sister City Project, April 4, 2006

In the article “Settlers, Israeli public part company” (Capital Times, April 3), Rabbi Yoel Bin Nun is quoted as saying “Olmert will at least take something.” Rabbi Bin Nun gets it right. Despite all the fuss about Olmert giving up land to Palestine with his proposed disengagement, what he is giving up is not now and never has been Israel’s. Neither are the parts of the West Bank that he intends to keep for Israel.

Olmert has made it clear that his proposed disengagement from some settlements and consolidation of others serves Israel’s demographic interest. That is to keep as much territory as possible for Israel without losing its Jewish majority.

Article 47 of the Geneva Convention (IV) relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, 12 August 1949 reads:

    “Protected persons who are in occupied territory shall not be deprived, in any case or in any manner whatsoever, of the benefits of the present Convention by any change introduced, as the result of the occupation of a territory, into the institutions or government of the said territory, Nor by any agreement concluded between the authorities of the occupied territories and the occupying power, nor by any annexation by the latter of the whole or part of the occupied territory.”

Under this Fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel signed, all of the Israeli settlements are illegal. In addition, none of the concessions made by the Palestinians since then are valid.

Until Israel is willing to negotiate in good faith from a position of fairness based on international law there is no possibility of a just peace in Palestine. It is time that the international community, including the U.S., insists that Israel be held to this law.