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STUDY GUIDES: Israeli Law Israeli Military Orders International Law International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Wall

STUDY GUIDE : International Law & Israel

Israeli Violations of International Law - (3) Israel settles Israeli citizens on occupied Palestinian land (laws & principles violated, international response).


Soon after occupying Palestinian territories following the 1967 war, the Israeli government began expropriating land from Palestinian land-owners and building Israeli civilian settlements on those lands.

They then offered financial incentives such as tax breaks to Israeli citizens and Jewish immigrants to Israel to move to those settlements to live. In addition, many Israeli businesses moved to those settlements as well.

The Israeli government then passed all sorts of laws legally linking those settlements to the State of Israel thus creating a de facto annexation of those Palestinian lands to the State of Israel which itself is illegal.

The Israeli government claimed that the settlements were temporary and only built for security purposes, but from the quality of their planning and construction it is obvious these settlements are meant to be permanent. They also appear to serve many other clearly illegal purposes in Israel's plans for the Palestinian occupied territories:

  • (1) Their permanence suggests that they are meant to establish "facts on the ground" making it much harder to contemplate returning those areas to Palestinian control. This is a tactic that the Zionists have been using since the early 1900's in their struggles then against British Mandate efforts to be fair to Arab concerns and thus control Jewish immigration;
  • (2) Their placement in the occupied areas suggests their use to help isolate and then halt the growth of the Palestinian areas;
  • (3) Their placement around Jerusalem suggests their use to help secure the annexation of East Jerusalem;
  • (4) Their placement in the West Bank gives control over the water resources and the most fertile farmlands to Israel;
  • (5) Their placement in the West Bank makes establishment of a viable Palestinian State increasingly undoable.

The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the Palestinian occupied territories is a clear violation of international law, and has been repeatedly condemned by the international community.

In addition, their placement around Palestinian population centers choking them clearly violates Palestinian human rights and inalienable right of self-determination.

The special legal status Israel has given them linking them to Israel and thus creating de facto annexation of those areas of the occupied territories is also illegal.


  • Major Legal Principle Violated -
    • 3. It is Illegal for Occupant to move Significant Numbers of its own Population Onto Occupied Enemy Lands.
  • As Per International Law -
    • Geneva Conventions (1949), article 49(6) (full text) (specific articles - see below).
    • Geneva Conventions (Protocol I) (1977), article 85(4a) (full text) (specific articles - see below) defines the occupying forces importing their own population into the occupied territories as a "grave breach" of international law.
  • International Response -
    • United Nations -
      • UN Resolutions (under construction)
      • International Court of Justice - 2003 ruling on wall reaffirms that Israeli civilian settlements on occupied Palestinian land are illegal according to International Law.
    • International Miscellaneous response -
    • Academic Analysis -


    • Geneva Conventions IV (1949), article 49(6):
      Article 49(6). The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. .
    • Geneva Conventions (Protocol I) (1977), article 85(4a):
      Article 85. Repression of breaches of this Protocol
      • 4. In addition to the grave breaches defined in the preceding paragraphs and in the Conventions, the following shall be regarded as grave breaches of this Protocol, when committed wilfully and in violation of the Conventions or the Protocol:
        • (a) the transfer by the occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory, in violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Convention;

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(C) Israel Law Resource Center, February, 2007.