US President Trump‘s surrender to Israel’s territorial ambitions reveals contempt for international law, in particular the Fourth Geneva Convention. Trump’s announcement contradicts even the most recent Security Council Resolution, UNSCR 2334 of December 2016. Israel’s control of East Jerusalem, including the Old City, is illegal because under international law, an Occupying power does not have sovereignty over foreign territory it militarily occupies.
Israel only allows the native Palestinian population in Jerusalem what it calls ‘permanent residency’ status, whereas Israeli settlers enjoy citizenship. Since the 1967 invasion, Israel has been quietly imposing impossible conditions upon the Palestinians to make it near impossible for them to maintain their residency. While Israel continues to subsidise its illegal settlement population, Palestinians are almost always refused building permits. The purpose is obvious.
How times have changed
In 1967, when laws to annex East Jerusalem were enacted, Israel tried to hide the move from the international community, fearing a negative response. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz describes the duplicity – a day prior to the Knesset debate on the proposals, a telegram was sent to Israeliambassadors guiding them on how to deal with the issue: “In view of the situation in the [UN] assembly, our public diplomacy [hasbara, in the Hebrew original] must stress the law regarding the holy sites and conceal the first two.”
On 9 September 2016, US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau stated, in response to a question that, “The undisputed fact is that already this year, thousands of settlement units have been advanced for Israelis in the West Bank, illegal outposts and unauthorised settlement units have been retroactively legalised, more West Bank land has been seized for exclusive Israeli use, and there has been a dramatic escalation of demolitions resulting in over 700 Palestinian structures destroyed, displacing more than 1,000 Palestinians. As we’ve said many times before, this does raise real questions about Israel’s long-term intentions in the West Bank.”
Today, US President Trump has united with the Zionist Israel Lobby and Christian fundamentalists. No other country in the world recognises Israel’s ownership of Jerusalem, or its attempts to change the geography and demographic character of the city. By his action over Jerusalem, Trump has declared himself an enemy of justice and imperilled us all. At this critical moment, New Zealand must stand by its principles and affirm, unequivocally, its continued support for UN Security Council Resolution 2334.