129. Palestinians still under occupation

The widely reported Hebron massacre of February 25 revealed two things.

First, the Declaration of Principles signed last September in Washington is not built on a sound basis. While its final objective is "a permanent settlement based on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338," it keeps the Palestinians under occupation. Establishing a Self-Government Authority "for a transitional period not exceeding five years" is not going to give the Palestinians their freedom. It should be clear by now that coexistence in these conditions is impossible for the simple reason that it is based on a relationship between a foreign occupier who has all the powers and a native occupied who is powerless. For those who still think that the Declaration is valid, it has already been breached. The withdrawal of the Israeli army from Jericho and Gaza should have started on December 13, 1993. It didn't happen. Both sides are responsible. [Clearly, the Declaration is not adequate.]

Second, the settlements are not only an obstacle to peace but also illegal in terms of international law. Those who rely on the Bible to justify their claims should know that the Bible is not a history book and God is not a real estate broker. The Bible is a religious book and carries a religious message that can be summarized in a nutshell as follows: Love God and your neighbor, and act accordingly. [This message is explicit in the New Testament.] When Cyrus Vance was Secretary of State, he asked the Legal Advisor, Herbert Hansell, to prepare a letter for the benefit of the Committee on International Relations of the House concerning the legality of Israeli settlements. In his letter of April 21, 1978, Mr. Hansell didn't rely on the Bible but on international law and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. He refuted the Israeli claims and concluded that "the establishment of civilian settlements in those territories is inconsistent with international law."

March 14, 1994