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Golan Heights Law – Wikipedia

The Golan Heights Law is the Israeli law which applies Israel’s government and laws to the Golan Heights. It was ratified by the Knesset on December 14, 1981. The law was not recognised internationally[1] and determined null and void by United Nations Security Council Resolution 497.[2][3]

The law was passed half a year before Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. Unusually, all three readings took place on the same day. This procedure was heavily criticized by the centre-left opposition. Substantially, the law has mainly been criticized for potentially hindering future negotiations with Syria.

While the Israeli public at large, and especially the law’s critics, viewed it as an annexation, the law avoids the use of the word. Prime Minister Menachem Begin responded to Amnon Rubinstein’s criticism by saying, “You use the word ‘annexation.’ I do not use it,” and noting that similar wording was used in a 1967 law authorizing the government to apply Israeli law to any part of the Land of Israel. The earlier law covered only those areas included in the British Mandate, requiring a separate law for the Golan Heights (these were included in the French Mandate of Syria).

The three broad provisions in the Golan Heights Law are the following:[4]

1. “The Law, jurisdiction and administration of the State will take effect in the Golan Heights, as described in the Schedule.”

2. “This Law will begin taking effect on the day of its acceptance in the Knesset.”

3. “The Minister of the Interior is placed in-charge of the implementation of this Law, and is entitled, in consultation with the Minister of Justice, to enact regulations for its implementation and to formulate regulations on interim provisions regarding the continued application of regulations, directives, administrative directives, and rights and duties that were in effect in the Golan Heights prior to the acceptance of this Law.”

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Golan Heights Law – Wikipedia

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October 17, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights – Wikipedia

The Golan Heights (Arabic: Habatu ‘l-Jawln or Murtafatu l-Jawln, Hebrew: , Ramat HaGolan (audio)(helpinfo)), or simply the Golan or the Syrian Golan,[3] is a region in the Levant. The western two-thirds of the Golan Heights are currently occupied and administrated by Israel,[1][2] whereas the eastern third is controlled by Syria, with the UNDOF maintaining a buffer zone in between, to implement the ceasefire of the Purple Line.

The exact region defined as the Golan Heights is different in different disciplines:

The earliest evidence of human habitation dates to the Upper Paleolithic period.[4] According to the Bible, an Amorite Kingdom in Bashan was conquered by Israelites during the reign of King Og.[5] Throughout the Old Testament period, the Golan was “the focus of a power struggle between the Kings of Israel and the Aramaeans who were based near modern-day Damascus.”[6] The Itureans, an Arab or Aramaic people, settled there in the 2nd century BCE and remained until the end of the Byzantine period.[7][8][9] Organized Jewish settlement in the region came to an end in 636 CE when it was conquered by Arabs under Umar ibn al-Khattb.[10] In the 16th century, the Golan was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and was part of the Vilayet of Damascus until it was transferred to French control in 1918. When the mandate terminated in 1946, it became part of the newly independent Syrian Arab Republic.

Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967.[1] It was captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, establishing the Purple Line.[11]

On 19 June 1967, the Israeli cabinet voted to return the Golan to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement, although this was rejected after the Khartoum Resolution of 1 September 1967.[12][13] In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Syria tried but failed to recapture the Golan, Israel agreed to return about 5% of the territory to Syrian civilian control. This part was incorporated into a demilitarised zone that runs along the ceasefire line and extends eastward. This strip is under the military control of UNDOF.

Construction of Israeli settlements began in the remainder of the territory held by Israel, which was under military administration until Israel passed the Golan Heights Law extending Israeli law and administration throughout the territory in 1981.[14] This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497,[2][15] which said that “the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.” Israel states it has a right to retain the Golan, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, which calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.[16] However, the international community reject Israeli claims to title to the territory and regards it as sovereign Syrian territory.[1][18] That said, the atrocities of the Syrian Civil War and the rise of the so-called Islamic State group, which at times has controlled what was the Syrian-administered Golan have added a new twist to the issue.[19] In 2015, it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Barack Obama to recognize Israeli claims to the territory because of these recent ISIS actions and the fact that modern Syria has likely “disintegrated” beyond the point of reunification.[20][21] The White House dismissed Netenyahu’s suggestion, stating that the president continues to support UN resolutions 242 and 497, and any alterations of this policy could strain American alliances with western-backed Syrian rebel groups.[22]

Historically, Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Ehud Olmert each stated that they were willing to exchange the Golan for peace with Syria. Later, in 2010, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told Syria to abandon its dreams of recovering the Golan Heights.[23] Approximately 10% of Syrian Golan Druze have accepted Israeli citizenship.[24] According to the CIA World Factbook, as of 2010[update], “there are 41 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.”[25]

Arabic names are Jawln[26] and Djolan (Arabic: ).[27] In the Bible, Golan is mentioned as a city of refuge located in Bashan: Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 20:8, 1Chronicles 6:71.[28] Nineteenth-century authors interpreted the word “Golan” (Hebrew: ) as meaning “something surrounded, hence a district”.[29][30] The Greek name for the region is Gaulanitis (Greek: ).[26] In the Mishna the name is Gabln similar to Aramaic language names for the region: Gawlna, Guwlana and Gubln.[26]

Arab cartographers of the Byzantine period referred to the area as jabal (mountain), though the region is a plateau.[31] The Muslims took over in 7th century CE.[26] The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia refers to the region as Gaulonitis.[32] The name Golan Heights was not used before the 19th century.[28]

The Golan Heights borders Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. According to Israel, it has captured 1,150 square kilometres (440sqmi).[33] According to Syria the Golan Heights measures 1,860 square kilometres (718sqmi), of which 1,500km2 (580sqmi) are occupied by Israel.[34] According to the CIA, Israel holds 1,300 square kilometres (500sqmi).[25]

The area is hilly and elevated, overlooking the Jordan Rift Valley which contains the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, and is itself dominated by the 2,743.2 metres (9,000ft) tall Mount Hermon.[35] The plateau has an average altitude of 1,000 metres (3,300ft) and an area totaling 1,800 square kilometres (690sqmi), and straddles the boundary between Syria and Israeli-held territory. Elevations range from 2,814 metres (9,232ft) in the north (if one considers Mount Hermon as part of the Heights), to below sea level along the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk River in the south.[25]

The plateau that Israel controls is part of a larger area of volcanic basalt fields stretching north and east that were created in the series of volcanic eruptions that began recently in geological terms, almost 4 million years ago, and continue to this day. It has distinct geographic boundaries. On the north, the Sa’ar valley (Banias) generally divides the lighter-colored limestone bedrock of the mountains from the dark-colored volcanic rocks of the Golan plateau. The western border of the plateau is truncated structurally by the Jordan Rift Valley, which falls down steeply into the lake. The southern border is lined by the Yarmuk River, which separates the plateau from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Finally, the east end of Golan Heights is carved out by the Raqqad river (Wadi Ruqqad) and areas still controlled by Syria.[36]

The plateau’s north-south length is approximately 65 kilometres (40mi) and its east-west width varies from 12 kilometres (7.5mi) to 25 kilometres (16mi).[37][38]Topographically, the Golan Heights ranges in elevation from 2,814 metres (9,232ft) on Mount Hermon in the north, to about 400 metres (1,300ft) elevation along the Yarmuk River in the south. The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret or Lake Tiberias, at the southwest corner of the plateau is 200 metres (660ft) below sea level. The steeper, more rugged topography is generally limited to the northern half, including the foothills of Mount Hermon; on the south the plateau is more level.[37]

The broader Golan plateau exhibits a more subdued topography, generally ranging between 120 metres (390ft) and 520 metres (1,710ft) in elevation. In Israel, the Golan plateau is divided into three regions: northern (between the Sa’ar and Jilabun valleys), central (between the Jilabun and Daliyot valleys), and southern (between the Daliyot and Yarmouk valleys). The Golan Heights is bordered on the west by a rock escarpment that drops 500 metres (1,600ft) to the Jordan River valley and the Sea of Galilee. In the south, the incised Yarmouk River valley marks the limits of the plateau and, east of the abandoned railroad bridge upstream of Hamat Gader and Al Hammah, it marks the recognised international border between Syria and Jordan.[39]

Geologically, the Golan plateau and the Hauran plain to the east constitute a Holocene volcanic field that also extends northeast almost to Damascus. Much of the area is scattered with dormant volcanos, as well as cinder cones, such as Majdal Shams. The plateau also contains a crater lake, called Birkat Ram (“Ram Pool”), which is fed by both surface runoff and underground springs. These volcanic areas are characterised by basalt bedrock and dark soils derived from its weathering. The basalt flows overlie older, distinctly lighter-colored limestones and marls, exposed along the Yarmouk River in the south.

The rock forming the mountainous area in the northern Golan Heights, descending from Mount Hermon, differs geologically from the volcanic rocks of the plateau and has a different physiography. The mountains are characterised by lighter-colored, Jurassic-age limestone of sedimentary origin. Locally, the limestone is broken by faults and solution channels to form a karst-like topography in which springs are common.

In addition to its strategic military importance, the Golan Heights is an important water resource, especially at the higher elevations, which are snow-covered in the winter and help sustain baseflow for rivers and springs during the dry season. The heights receive significantly more precipitation than the surrounding, lower-elevation areas. The occupied sector of the Golan Heights provides or controls a substantial portion of the water in the Jordan River watershed, which in turn provides a portion of Israel’s water supply. The Golan Heights supply 15% of Israel’s water.[40]

The Venus of Berekhat Ram, a stone figure from the Lower Paleolithic era, found in the Golan Heights, may have been created by Homo erectus between 700,000 and 230,000 BCE.[41]

In the 3rd millennium BC the Amorites inhabited the Golan until it was conquered in the 2nd millennium by the Arameans. The Aramaean city state Aram Damascus reached over most of Golan to the Sea of Galilee.[42]

According to the Bible, the Children of Israel conquered the Golan from the Amorites.[5] The Bible also says that the area, known as Bashan, was inhabited by two Israelite tribes during the time of Joshua, the tribe of Dan[43] and Manasseh. The city of Golan was a city of refuge. King Solomon appointed ministers in the region.[44] After the split of the United Monarchy, the area was contested between the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom from the 9th century BC. King Ahab of Israel (reigned 874852 BC) defeated Ben-Hadad I in Afek of the southern Golan.

In the 8th century BC the Assyrians gained control of the area, followed by the Babylonian and the Persian Empire. In the 5th century BC, the Persian Empire allowed the region to be resettled by returning Jewish exiles from Babylonian Captivity.

The Golan Heights, along with the rest of the region, came under the control of Alexander the Great in 332 BC, following the Battle of Issus. Following Alexander’s death, the Golan came under the domination of the Macedonian noble Seleucus and remained part of the Seleucid Empire for most of the next two centuries. It is during this period that the name Golan, previously that of a city mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy, came to be applied to the entire region (Greek: Gaulanitis).

After the Assyrian period, about four centuries provide limited archaeological finds in the Golan.[45] In the middle of the 2nd century BCE, Itureans started living in the Golan.[9] They lived in over 100 locations in the Mount Hermon and Golan region.[46]

The Maccabean revolt saw much action in the regions around the Golan and it is possible that the Jewish communities of the Golan were among those rescued by Judas Maccabeus during his campaign in the Galilee and Gilead (Transjordan) mentioned in Chapter 5 of 1 Maccabees. The Golan, however, remained in Seleucid hands until the campaign of Alexander Jannaeus from 8380 BC. Jannaeus established the city of Gamla in 81 BC as the Hasmonean capital for the region.

During the Roman and Byzantine periods the area was administered as part of Phoenicia Prima and Syria Palaestina, and finally Golan/Gaulanitis was included together with Peraea[31] in Palaestina Secunda, after 218 AD.[26] Ancient kingdom Bashan was incorporated into the province of Batanea.[47]

Following the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, Augustus Caesar adjudicated that the Golan fell within the Tetrarchy of Herod’s son, Herod Philip I. After Philip’s death in 34 AD, the Romans absorbed the Golan into the province of Syria, but Caligula restored the territory to Herod’s grandson Agrippa in 37. Following Agrippa’s death in 44, the Romans again annexed the Golan to Syria, promptly to return it again when Claudius traded the Golan to Agrippa II, the son of Agrippa I, in 51 as part of a land swap. Although nominally under Agrippa’s control and not part of the province of Judea, the Jewish communities of the Golan joined their coreligionists in the First Jewish-Roman War, only to fall to the Roman armies in its early stages. Gamla was captured in 67; according to Josephus, its inhabitants committed mass suicide, preferring it to crucifixion and slavery. Agrippa II contributed soldiers to the Roman war effort and attempted to negotiate an end to the revolt. In return for his loyalty, Rome allowed him to retain his kingdom, but finally absorbed the Golan for good after his death in 100.

In about 250, the Ghassanids, Arab Christians from Yemen, established a kingdom which encompassed southern Syria and the Transjordan, building their capital at Jabiyah on the Golan. Like the later Herodians, the Ghassanids ruled as clients of Byzantine Rome; unlike the Herodians, the Ghassanids were able to hold on to the Golan until the Sassanid invasion of 614. Following a brief restoration under the Emperor Heraclius, the Golan again fell, this time to the invading Arabs after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636.

After Yarmouk, Muawiyah I, a member of Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraish, was appointed governor of Syria, including the Golan. Following the assassination of his cousin, the Caliph Uthman, Muawiya claimed the Caliphate for himself, initiating the Umayyad dynasty. Over the next few centuries, while remaining in Muslim hands, the Golan passed through many dynastic changes, falling first to the Abbasids, then to the Shi’ite Fatimids, then to the Seljuk Turks, then to the Kurdish Ayyubids. During the Crusades, the Heights represented a formidable obstacle the Crusader armies were not able to conquer, and the area was a part of the Emirate of Damascus during this time.[48][49] The Mongols swept through in 1259, but were driven off by the Mamluk sultan Qutuz at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. Ain Jalut ensured Mamluk dominance of the region for the next 250years. For many centuries nomadic tribes lived together with the sedentary population in the region. At times, the central government attempted to settle the nomads which would result in the establishment of permanent communities. When the power of the governing regime declined, as happened during the early Muslim period, nomadic trends increased and many of the rural and agricultural villages were abandoned due to harassment from the Bedouins. They were not resettled until the second half of the 19th century.[50]

In the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks conquered Syria. During this time, the Golan formed part of the southern district of their empire. Some Druze communities were established in the Golan during the 17th and 18th centuries.[51] In 1868, the region was described as “almost entirely desolate.” According to a travel handbook of the time, only 11 of 127 ancient towns and villages in the Golan were inhabited.[52] As a result of the Russo-Turkish War of 187778, there was a huge influx of refugees from the Caucasus into the empire. The Ottomans encouraged them to settle in southern Syria, particularly the Golan Heights, by granting them land with a 12-year tax exemption.[53][54][55][56]

In 1884 there were still open stretches of uncultivated land between villages in the lower Golan, but by the mid-1890s most was owned and cultivated.[57] Some land had been purchased in the Golan and Hawran by Zionist associations based in Romania, Bulgaria, the USA and England, in the late 19th century and early 20th century.[58] In 1880, Laurence Oliphant published Eretz ha-Gilad (The Land of Gilead), which described a plan for large-scale Jewish settlement in the Golan.[59] In the winter of 1885, members of the Old Yishuv in Safed formed the Beit Yehuda Society and purchased 15,000 dunams of land from the village of Ramthaniye in the central Golan.[60] Due to financial hardships and the long wait for a kushan (Ottoman land deed) the village, Golan be-Bashan, was abandoned after a year. Soon afterwards, the society regrouped and purchased 2,000 dunams of land from the village of Bir e-Shagum on the western slopes of the Golan.[61] The village they established, Bnei Yehuda, existed until 1920.[62][63] The last families left in the wake of the Passover riots of 1920.[60] In 1944 the JNF bought the Bnei Yehuda lands from their Jewish owners, but a later attempt to establish Jewish ownership of the property in Bir e-Shagum through the courts was not successful.[62]

Between 1891 and 1894, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild purchased around 150,000 dunams of land in the Golan and the Hawran for Jewish settlement.[60] Legal and political permits were secured and ownership of the land was registered in late 1894.[60]

The Agudat Ahim society, whose headquarters were in Yekatrinoslav, Russia, acquired 100,000 dunams of land in several locations in the districts of Fiq and Daraa. A plant nursery was established and work began on farm buildings in Djillin.[60] The Jews also built a road stretching from Lake Hula to Muzayrib.[62] A village called Tiferet Binyamin was established on lands purchased from Saham al-Jawlan by the Shavei Zion Association based in New York,[58] but the project was abandoned after a year when the Turks issued an edict in 1896 evicting the 17 non-Turkish families. A later attempt to resettle the site with Syrian Jews who were Ottoman citizens also failed.[64] Between 1904 and 1908, a group of Crimean Jews settled in the Bethsaida Valley, initially as tenants of a Kurdish proprietor with the prospects of purchasing the land, but the arrangement faltered.[65][66] Jewish settlement in the region dwindled over time, due to Arab hostility, Turkish bureaucracy, disease and economic difficulties.[67] In 19211930, during the French Mandate, the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA) obtained the deeds to the Rothschild estate and continued to manage it, collecting rents from the Arab peasants living there.[62]

Great Britain accepted a Mandate for Palestine at the meeting of the Allied Supreme Council at San Remo, but the borders of the territory were not defined at that stage.[68][69] The boundary between the forthcoming British and French mandates was defined in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December 1920.[70] That agreement placed the bulk of the Golan Heights in the French sphere. The treaty also established a joint commission to settle the precise details of the border and mark it on the ground.[70] The commission submitted its final report on 3 February 1922, and it was approved with some caveats by the British and French governments on 7 March 1923, several months before Britain and France assumed their Mandatory responsibilities on 29 September 1923.[71][72] In accordance with the same process, a nearby parcel of land that included the ancient site of Tel Dan and the Dan spring were transferred from Syria to Palestine early in 1924. The Golan Heights, including the spring at Wazzani and the one at Banias, thus became part of the French Mandate of Syria, while the Sea of Galilee was placed entirely within the British Mandate of Palestine. When the French Mandate of Syria ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria and was later incorporated into Quneitra Governorate.

After the 194849 Arab-Israeli War, the Golan Heights were partly demilitarised by the Israel-Syria Armistice Agreement. During the following years, the area along the border witnessed thousands of violent incidents; the armistice agreement was being violated by both sides. The underlying causes of the conflict were a disagreement over the legal status of the demilitarised zone (DMZ), cultivation of land within it and competition over water resources. Syria claimed that neither party had sovereignty over the DMZ. Israel contended that the Armistice Agreement dealt solely with military concerns and that she had political and legal rights over the DMZ. Israel wanted to assert control up till the 1923 boundary in order to reclaim the Hula swamp, gain exclusive rights to Lake Galilee and divert water from the Jordan for its National Water Carrier. During the 1950s, Syria registered two principal territorial accomplishments: it took over Al-Hammah enclosure south of Lake Tiberias and established a de facto presence on and control of eastern shore of the lake.[73][74]

The Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan was sponsored by the United States and agreed by the technical experts of the Arab League and Israel.[75] The U.S.A funded the Israeli and Jordanian water diversion projects, when they pledged to abide by the plan’s allocations.[76] President Nasser too, assured the U.S.A, that the Arabs would not exceed the plan’s water quotas.[77] However, in the early 1960s the Arab League funded a Syrian water diversion project that would have denied Israel use of a major portion of its water allocation.[78] The resulting armed clashes are called the War over Water.[79]

in July 1966,[80]Fatah began raids into Israeli territory in early 1965, with active support from Syria. At first the militants entered via Lebanon or Jordan, but those countries made concerted attempts to stop them and raids directly from Syria increased.[81] Israel’s response was a series of retaliatory raids, of which the largest were an attack on the Jordanian village of Samu in November 1966.[82] In April 1967, after Syria heavily shelled Israeli villages from the Golan Heights, Israel shot down six Syrian MiG fighter planes and warned Syria against future attacks.[81][83]

In the period between the first Arab-Israeli War and the Six-Day War, the Syrians constantly harassed Israeli border communities by firing artillery shells from their dominant positions on the Golan Heights.[84][85] In October 1966 Israel brought the matter up before the United Nations. Five nations sponsored a resolution criticizing Syria for its actions but it failed to pass due to a Soviet veto.[86][87][88]

Former Israeli General Mattityahu Peled said that more than half of the border clashes before the 1967 war “were a result of our security policy of maximum settlement in the demilitarised area.”[89] Israeli incursions into the zone were responded to with Syrians shooting. Israel in turn would retaliate with military force.[73] Sir Alec Douglas-Home, former Prime Minister of the UK, stated that when he was visiting the Galilee a few months before the 1967 war “at regular intervals the Russian-built forts on the Golan Heights used to lob shells into the villages, often claiming civilian casualties.” He said after the 1973 war that any agreement between the two sides “must clearly put a stop the that kind of offensive action.”[90]

In 1976, Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan said that Israel provoked more than 80% of the clashes with Syria, although historians say the remark was part of an informal conversation.[91] The provocation was sending a tractor to plow in the demilitarized areas. The Syrians responded by firing at the tractors and shelling Israeli settlements.[92][93] Jan Mhren, a former UN observer in the area at the time, told a Dutch current affairs programme that Israel “provoked most border incidents as part of its strategy to annex more land”.[94] UN officials blamed both Israel and Syria for destabilizing the borders.[95]

After the Six-Day War broke out in June 1967, Syria’s shelling greatly intensified and the Israeli army captured the Golan Heights on 910 June. The area which came under Israeli control as a result of the war consists of two geologically distinct areas: the Golan Heights proper, with a surface of 1,070 square kilometres (410sqmi) and the slopes of the Mt. Hermon range, with a surface of 100 square kilometres (39sqmi). The new ceasefire line was named the Purple Line. In the battle, Israel lost 115 men, with another 306 wounded. An estimated 2,500 Syrians were killed, with another 5,000 wounded.[96]

During the war, between 80,000[97] and 131,000[98] Syrians fled or were driven from the heights and around 7,000 remained in the Israeli-occupied territory.[98] Israeli sources and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported that much of the local population of 100,000 fled as a result of the war, whereas the Syrian government stated that a large proportion of it was expelled.[99] Israel has not allowed former residents to return, citing security reasons.[100] The remaining villages were Majdal Shams, Shayta (later destroyed), Ein Qiniyye, Mas’ade, Buq’ata and, outside the Golan proper, Ghajar.

Israeli settlement in the Golan began soon after the war. Merom Golan was founded in July 1967 and by 1970 there were 12 settlements.[101]

In the 1970s, Israeli politician Yigal Allon proposed as part of the Allon Plan that a Druze state be established in Syria’s Quneitra Governorate, including the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Allon died in 1980 and his plan never materialised.[102]

During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Syrian forces overran much of the southern Golan, before being pushed back by an Israeli counterattack. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights in Israeli hands. East of the 1974 ceasefire line lies the Syrian controlled part of the Heights, an area that was not captured by Israel (500 square kilometres or 190 sq mi) or withdrawn from (100 square kilometres or 39 sq mi). This area forms 30% of the Golan Heights.[103] Today it contains more than 40 Syrian towns and villages. In 1975, following the 1974 ceasefire agreement, Israel returned a narrow demilitarised zone to Syrian control. Some of the displaced residents began returning to their homes located in this strip and the Syrian government began helping people rebuild their villages, except for Quneitra. In the mid-1980s the Syrian government launched a plan called “The Project for the Reconstruction of the Liberated Villages”.[citation needed] By the end of 2007, the population of the Quneitra Governorate was estimated at 79,000.[104] Mines deployed by the Syrian army remain active. As of 2003, there had been at least 216 landmine casualties in the Syrian-controlled Golan since 1973, of which 108 were fatalities.[105]

The Golan Heights was under Israeli military administration from 1967 to 1981. In 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law,[14] which applied Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” to the Golan Heights. Although the law in effect annexed the territory to Israel, it did not explicitly spell out the formal annexation.[106] The area is administered as part of Israel’s North District. Israel’s action was not recognised internationally[107] and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 which declared the Golan Heights Israeli-occupied territory continues to apply. Israel maintains that it may retain the area as the text of Resolution 242 calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.[16]

During the negotiations regarding the text of United Nations Security Council resolution 242, U.S. Secretary of State Rusk explained that U.S. support for secure permanent frontiers did not mean the US supported territorial changes.[108] The U.N. representative for the United Kingdom who was responsible for negotiating and drafting the Security Council resolution said that the actions of the Israeli Government in establishing settlements and colonizing the Golan are in clear defiance of Resolution 242.[109]

Syria continued to demand a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, including a strip of land on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee that Syria captured during the 194849 Arab-Israeli War and occupied from 194967. Successive Israeli governments have considered an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for normalization of relations with Syria, provided certain security concerns are met. Prior to 2000, Syrian president Hafez al-Assad rejected normalization with Israel.

During United Statesbrokered negotiations in 19992000, Israel and Syria discussed a peace deal that would include Israeli withdrawal in return for a comprehensive peace structure, recognition and full normalization of relations. The disagreement in the final stages of the talks was on access to the Sea of Galilee. Israel offered to withdraw to the pre-1948 border (the 1923 Paulet-Newcombe line), while Syria insisted on the 1967 frontier. The former line has never been recognised by Syria, claiming it was imposed by the colonial powers, while the latter was rejected by Israel as the result of Syrian aggression. The difference between the lines is less than 100m for the most part, but the 1967 line would give Syria access to the Sea of Galilee, and Israel wished to retain control of the Sea of Galilee, its only freshwater lake and a major water resource.[110] Dennis Ross, Clinton’s chief Middle East negotiator, blamed “cold feet” on the part of Barak for the breakdown.[111] Clinton also laid blame on Israel.[112]

In June 2007, it was reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had sent a secret message to Syrian President, Bashar Assad saying that Israel would concede the land in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement and the severing of Syria’s ties with Iran and militant groups in the region.[113] On the same day, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the former Syrian President, Hafez Assad, had promised to let Israel retain Mount Hermon in any future agreement.[114]

In April 2008, Syrian media reported Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan told President Bashar al-Assad that Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace.[115][116] Israeli leaders of communities in the Golan Heights held a special meeting and stated: “all construction and development projects in the Golan are going ahead as planned, propelled by the certainty that any attempt to harm Israeli sovereignty in the Golan will cause severe damage to state security and thus is doomed to fail”.[117] A survey found that 70% of Israelis oppose relinquishing the Golan for peace with Syria.[118] That year, a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution 1611 in favour of a motion on the Golan Heights that reaffirmed Security Council resolution 497 and called on Israel to desist from “changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and, in particular, to desist from the establishment of settlements [and] from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan.” Israel was the only nation to vote against the resolution.[119] Indirect talks broke down after the Gaza War began. Syria broke off the talks to protest Israeli military operations. Israel subsequently appealed to Turkey to resume mediation.[120]

In May 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that returning the Golan Heights would turn it into “Iran’s front lines which will threaten the whole state of Israel.”[121][122] He said: “I remember the Golan Heights without Katzrin, and suddenly we see a thriving city in the Land of Israel, which having been a gem of the Second Temple era has been revived anew.”[123] American diplomat Martin Indyk said that the 19992000 round of negotiations began during Netanyahu’s first term (19961999), and he was not as hardline as he made out.[124]

In March 2009, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed that indirect talks had failed after Israel did not commit to full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. In August 2009, he said that the return of the entire Golan Heights was “non-negotiable,” it would remain “fully Arab,” and would be returned to Syria.[125]

In June 2009, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Syrian President Assad would have to negotiate without preconditions, and that Syria would not win territorial concessions from Israel on a “silver platter” while it maintained ties with Iran and Hezbollah.[126] In response, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem demanded that Israel unconditionally cede the Golan Heights “on a silver platter” without any preconditions, adding that “it is our land,” and blamed Israel for failing to commit to peace. Syrian President Assad claimed that there was “no real partner in Israel.”[127]

In 2010, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “We must make Syria recognise that just as it relinquished its dream of a greater Syria that controls Lebanon … it will have to relinquish its ultimate demand regarding the Golan Heights”[23]

Claims on the territory include the fact that an area in northwestern of the Golan region, delineated by a rough triangle formed by the towns of Banias, Quneitra and the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee, was part of the British Palestine Mandate in which the establishment of a Jewish national home had been promised.[128] In 1923, this triangle in northwestern Golan was ceded to the French Mandate in Syria, but in exchange for this, land areas in Syria and Lebanon was ceded to Palestine, and the whole of the Sea of Galilee which previously had its eastern boundary connected to Syria was placed inside Palestine.[129] Syrians counter that the region was placed in the Vilayet of Damascus as part of Syria under the Ottoman boundaries and that the 1920 British-Franco agreement which had placed part of the Golan under the control of Britain was only temporary and that the final border line drawn up in 1923, which excluded the Golan triangle, had superseded it,[128] although Syria has never recognised the 1923 border as legally binding.

One of the aspects of the dispute involves the existence prior to 1967 of three different lines separating Syria from the area that between 1948 and 1967 was referred to as Mandatory Palestine.

The 1923 boundary between British Mandatory Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria was drawn with water in mind.[130] Accordingly, it was demarcated so that all of the Sea of Galilee, including a 10-meter wide strip of beach along its northeastern shore, would stay inside Mandatory Palestine. From the Sea of Galilee north to Lake Hula the boundary was drawn between 50 and 400 meters east of the upper Jordan River, keeping that stream entirely within Mandatory Palestine. The British also received a sliver of land along the Yarmouk River, out to the present-day Hamat Gader.[131]

During the Arab-Israeli War, Syria captured various areas of the formerly British controlled Mandatory Palestine, including the 10-meter strip of beach, the east bank of the upper Jordan, as well as areas along the Yarmouk.

While negotiating the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Israel called for the removal of all Syrian forces from the former Palestine territory. Syria refused, insisting on an armistice line based not on the 1923 international border but on the military status quo. The result was a compromise. Under the terms of an armistice signed on 20 July 1949, Syrian forces were to withdraw east of the old Palestine-Syria boundary. Israeli forces were to refrain from entering the evacuated areas, which would become a demilitarised zone, “from which the armed forces of both Parties shall be totally excluded, and in which no activities by military or paramilitary forces shall be permitted.”[132] Accordingly, major parts of the armistice lines departed from the 1923 boundary and protruded into Israel. There were three distinct, non-contiguous enclavesin the extreme northeast to the west of Banias, on the west bank of the Jordan River near Lake Hula, and the eastern-southeastern shores of the Sea of Galilee extending out to Hamat Gader, consisting of 66.5 square kilometres (25.7sqmi) of land lying between the 1949 armistice line and the 1923 boundary, forming the demilitarised zone.[130]

Following the armistice, both Israel and Syria sought to take advantage of the territorial ambiguities left in place by the 1949 agreement. This resulted in an evolving tactical situation, one “snapshot” of which was the disposition of forces immediately prior to the Six-Day War, the line of June 4, 1967.[130]

On 7 June 2000, the demarcation Blue Line was established by the UN in order to ensure full Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, according to UN Security Council Resolution 425. After Israeli troops left Lebanese soil, the UN announced the resolution had been respected. However, Lebanon continues to claim a small portion of the area occupied by Israel and administered as part of the Golan Heights. The territory, known as the Shebaa Farms, measures 22 square kilometres (8.5sqmi) and lies on the border between Lebanon and the Golan Heights. Maps used by the UN in demarcating the Blue Line were not able to conclusively show the border between Lebanon and Syria in the area. Syria agrees that the Shebaa Farms are within Lebanese territory; however, Israel considers the area to be inside of Syria’s borders and continues to occupy the territory.[133][134][135]

Al Ghajar village is another complex border issue west of Shebaa farms. Before the 1967 war this Alawite village was in Syria. It is divided by an international boundary, with the northern part of the village on the Lebanese side since 2000. Residents of both parts hold Israeli citizenship, and in the northern part often a Lebanese passport as well. Today the entire village is surrounded by a fence, with no division between the Israeli-occupied and Lebanese sides. There is an Israeli army checkpoint at the entrance to the village from the rest of the Golan Heights.[135]

In 1975, U.S. President Gerald Ford wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stating that the U.S. had not developed a final position on the borders but once it had, it would give great weight to Israel’s position that a peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights.[136]

In 1991, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker told Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir that the United States would honor the position expressed in Ford’s letter. William B. Quandt speculates that Baker told Syrian President Hafez al-Assad that the United States did not recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan and thought that UN Resolution 242 should apply there.[137]

The United States considers the Golan Heights to be Syrian territory held under Israeli occupation subject to negotiation and Israeli withdrawal. The United States considers the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights to be a violation of international law, both the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.[22][138]

UNDOF (the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) was established in 1974 to supervise the implementation of the Agreement on Disengagement and maintain the ceasefire with an area of separation known as the UNDOF Zone. Currently there are more than 1,000 UN peacekeepers there trying to sustain a lasting peace. Details of the UNDOF mission, mandate, map and military positions can be accessed via the following United Nations link.[139] Syria and Israel still contest the ownership of the Heights but have not used overt military force since 1974. The great strategic value of the Heights both militarily and as a source of water means that a deal is uncertain. Members of the UN Disengagement force are usually the only individuals who cross the Israeli-Syrian de facto border (cease fire “Alpha Line”), but since 1988 Israel has allowed Druze pilgrims to cross into Syria to visit the shrine of Abel on Mount Qasioun. Since 1967, Druze brides have been allowed to cross into Syria, although they do so in the knowledge that they may not be able to return.

Though the cease fire in the UNDOF zone has been largely uninterrupted since the seventies, in 2012 there have been repeated violations from the Syrian side, including tanks[140] and live fire,[141] though these incidents are attributed to the ongoing Syrian civil war rather than intentionally directed towards Israel.[142]

The population of the Golan Heights prior to the 1967 Six-Day War has been estimated between 130,000 and 145,000, including 17,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA.[143] Between 80,000[97] and 130,000[98] Syrians fled or were driven from the heights during the Six-Day War and around 7,000 remained in the Israeli-held territory in six villages: Majdal Shams, Mas’ade, Buq’ata, Ein Qiniyye, Ghajar and Shayta.[98]

Israel demolished over one hundred Syrian villages and farms in the Golan Heights.[144][145] After the demolitions, the lands were given to Israeli settlers.[146]

Quneitra was the largest town in the Golan Heights until 1967, with a population of 27,000. It was occupied by Israel on the last day of the Six-Day War and handed back to Syrian civil control per the 1974 Disengagement Agreement. But the Israelis had destroyed Quneitra with dynamite and bulldozers before they withdrew from the city.[147][148] East of the 1973 ceasefire line, in the Syrian controlled part of the Golan Heights, an area of 600 square kilometres (232sqmi), are more than 40 Syrian towns and villages, including Quneitra, Khan Arnabah, al-Hamidiyah, al-Rafid, al-Samdaniyah, al-Mudariyah, Beer Ajam, Bariqa, Ghadir al-Bustan, Hadar Juba, Kodana, Ufaniyah, Ruwayhinah, Nabe al-Sakhar, Trinjah, Umm al-Azam, and Umm Batna. The population of the Quneitra Governorate numbers 79,000.[104]

In the late 1970s, the Israeli government offered all non-Israelis living in the Golan citizenship, but until the early 21st century fewer than 10% of the Druze were Israeli citizens; the remainder held Syrian citizenship.[149] The Golan Alawites in the village of Ghajar accepted Israeli citizenship in 1981.[150] In 2012, due to the situation in Syria, young Druze have applied to Israeli citizenship in much larger numbers than in previous years.[151]

In 2012, there were 20,000 Druze with Syrian citizenship living in the Israeli-occupied portion Golan Heights.[152]

The Druze living in the Golan Heights are permanent residents of Israel. They hold laissez-passers issued by the Israeli government, and enjoy the country’s social welfare benefits.[153] The pro-Israeli Druze were historically ostracized by the pro-Syrian Druze.[154] Reluctance to accept citizenship also reflects fear of ill treatment or displacement by Syrian authorities should the Golan Heights eventually be returned to Syria.[155] According to The Independent, most Druze in the Golan Heights live relatively comfortable lives in a freer society than they would have in Syria under Assad’s government.[156] According to Egypt’s Daily Star, their standard of living vastly surpasses that of their counterparts on the Syrian side of the border. Hence their fear of a return to Syria, though most of them identify themselves as Syrian,[157] but feel alienated from the “autocratic” government in Damascus. According to the Associated Press, “many young Druse have been quietly relieved at the failure of previous Syrian-Israeli peace talks to go forward.”[158] On the other hand, expressing pro-Syrian rhetoric, The Economist found, represents the Golan Druzes’ view that by doing so they may be potentially rewarded by Syria, while simultaneously risking nothing in Israel’s freewheeling society. The Economist likewise reported that “Some optimists see the future Golan as a sort of Hong Kong, continuing to enjoy the perks of Israels dynamic economy and open society, while coming back under the sovereignty of a stricter, less developed Syria.” The Druze are also reportedly well-educated and relatively prosperous, and have made use of Israel’s universities.[159]

Since 1988, Druze clerics have been permitted to make annual religious pilgrimages to Syria. Since 2005, Israel has allowed Druze farmers to export some 11,000 tons of apples to the rest of Syria each year, constituting the first commercial relations between Syria and Israel.[158]

Since the breakout of the Syrian Civil War in 2012, the number of applications for Israeli citizenship is growing, although Syrian loyalty remains strong and those who apply for citizenship are often ostracized by members of the older generation.[160]

Israeli settlement activity began in the 1970s. The area was governed by military administration until 1981 when Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which extended Israeli law and administration throughout the territory.[14] This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497,[2][15] although Israel states it has a right to retain the area, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War, which calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.[16] The continued Israeli control of the Golan Heights remains highly contested and is still regarded as belligerent occupation by most countries. The international community rejects the validity of the Golan Heights Law as an attempted annexation by force, illegal under the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions.[161] Israeli settlements and human rights policy in the occupied territory have also drawn criticism from the UN.[162][163]

The Israeli-occupied territory is administered by the Golan Regional Council, based in Katzrin, which has a population of 6,400. There another 19 moshavim and 10 kibbutzim. In 1989, the settler population was 10,000.[164] By 2010 the Jewish settler population had expanded to 20,000[165] living in 32 settlements.[166][167]

The Golan Heights features numerous archeological sites, mountains, streams and waterfalls. Throughout the region 62 ancient synagogues have been found dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.[168]

Kursi is the ruins of a Byzantine Christian monastery.

Katzrin is the administrative and commercial center of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Katzrin Ancient Village is an archaeological site on the outskirts of Katzrin where the remains of a Talmud-era village and synagogue have been reconstructed.[169]Golan Archaeological Museum hosts archaeological finds uncovered in the Golan Heights from prehistoric times. A special focus concerns Gamla and excavations of synagogues and Byzantine churches.[170]

Golan Heights Winery, a major Israeli winery, and the mineral water plant of Mey Eden, which derives its water from the spring of Salukiya in the Golan. One can tour these factories as well as factories of oil products and fruit products.

Two open air strip malls, one which holds the Kesem ha-Golan (Golan Magic), a three-dimensional movie and model of the geography and history of the Golan Heights.

Gamla Nature Reserve is an open park with the archaeological remains of the ancient Jewish city of Gamla including a tower, wall and synagogue. It is also the site of a large waterfall, an ancient Byzantine church, and a panoramic spot to observe the nearly 100 vultures that dwell in the cliffs. Israeli scientists study the vultures and tourists can watch them fly and nest.[171]

Rujm el-Hiri is a large circular stone monument similar to Stonehenge. Excavations since 1968 have not uncovered material remains common to archaeological sites in the region. Archaeologists believe the site may have been a ritual center linked to a cult of the dead.[172] A 3D model of the site exists in the Museum of Golan Antiquities in Katzrin.

Um el Kanatir is another impressive set of standing ruins of a Jewish village of the Byzantine era. The site includes a very large synagogue and two arches next to a natural spring.[173]

The Nimrod Fortress was built against the Crusaders, served the Ayyubids and Mamluks, and was captured only once, in 1260, by the Mongols. It is now located inside a nature reserve.

A ski resort on the slopes of Mount Hermon features a wide range of ski trails and activities. Several restaurants are located in the area. The Lake Ram crater lake is nearby.

Hamat Gader is site of natural hot mineral springs with temperatures reaching 50C (122F). Hamat Gader was already used for recreation and healing purposes during Roman times. The site includes a Roman theatre, which was built in the 3rd century CE and contained 2,000 seats. A large synagogue was built in the 5th century CE.

Hippos is an ancient Greco-Roman city, known in Jewish Aramaic as Susita. The archaeological site includes excavations of the city’s forum, the small imperial cult temple, a large Hellenistic temple compound, the Roman city gates, and two Byzantine churches.

On a visit to Israel and the Golan Heights in 1972, Cornelius Ough, a professor of viticulture and oenology at the University of California, Davis, pronounced conditions in the Golan very suitable for the cultivation of wine grapes.[174] A consortium of four kibbutzim and four moshavim took up the challenge, clearing 250 burnt-out tanks in the Golan’s Valley of Tears to plant vineyards for what would eventually become the Golan Heights Winery.[175] The first vines were planted in 1976, and the first wine was released by the winery in 1983.[174] The heights are now home to about a dozen wineries.[176]

In the early 1990s, the Israel National Oil Company (INOC) was granted shaft-sinking permits in the Golan Heights. It estimated a recovery potential of two million barrels of oil, equivalent at the time to $24 million. During the Yitzhak Rabin administration (19921995), the permits were suspended as efforts were undertaken to restart peace negotiations between Israel and Syria. In 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu granted preliminary approval to INOC to proceed with oil exploration drilling in the Golan.[177][178][179] INOC began undergoing a process of privatization in 1997, overseen by then-Director of the Government Companies Authority (GCA), Tzipi Livni. During that time, it was decided that INOC’s drilling permits would be returned to the state.[180][181] In 2012, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau approved exploratory drilling for oil and natural gas in the Golan.[182] The following year, the Petroleum Council of Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources secretly awarded a drilling license covering half the area of the Golan Heights to a local subsidiary of New Jersey-based Genie Energy Ltd. headed by Effi Eitam.[183][184]

Human rights groups have said the drilling violates international law as Golan Heights is an occupied territory.[185]

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Israel targets Syrian artillery after projectile lands in …

The IDF said it was the third projectile to have crossed from Syria into the Golan this week, including one Sunday and another Wednesday. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

The Israeli military said it holds the Syrian government “accountable for this blatant breach of Israeli sovereignty. The IDF will continue to act in order to safeguard Israel and its civilians.”

The international community considers the Golan Heights to be occupied territory and Israeli settlement-building there to be illegal. Syria wants the return of the territory that UN peacekeeping forces have monitored for decades.

According to foreign reports, Israel has conducted numerous strikes in Syria and Lebanon, destroying weapons shipments intended for the militant group Hezbollah. But no Israeli leader had every publicly acknowledged that these strikes occurred.

Netanyahu said the presence of ancient synagogues in the Golan Heights showed that the territory, with a population of about 50,000, had been “an integral part of the Land of Israel since ancient times,” and that it remained an integral part of modern Israel.

The Israeli military said its forces targeted the area, describing the inhabitants as “part of the terror cell responsible for the rocket fire at northern Israel ” It did not say how many people were killed in the attack in al Qom in Quneitra.

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Golan Heights – Haaretz

U.S. House won’t vote on gun control at least until September, official says (Reuters)

Death toll of Italian train crash rises to 20, officials say (Reuters)

Austria to seize Hitler’s birthplace to prevent it from becoming Nazi pilgrimage site (Reuters)

UN: Intesified fighting cuts off humanitarian aid passage to rebel-held part of Aleppo, Syria (AP)

Iranian central bank, U.S. Treasury, international banks to meet, U.K. official says (Reuters)

Death toll rises in Italy train crash to at least a dozen, firefighters say (AP)

2 trains collide in southern Italy; at least 4 dead, dozens injured (AP)

At least 36,000 people have fled from South Sudan capital of Juba, UN says (Reuters)

Israeli forces arrest 10 wanted Palestinians in West Bank city of Qalqilya (Haaretz)

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Car bomb kills nine north of Baghdad (Reuters)

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Suspect in Michigan courthouse shooting was an inmate who took gun from officer (Reuters)

Israel passes contentious ‘NGO bill’ into law (Haaretz)

Michigan governor says courthouse secured after shots fired (AP)

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Golan Heights – Free Israel Trip! Birthright Israel: Israel …

Located in the northern region of Israel, the Golan Heights defines itself through greenery, mountains, hikes, waterfalls, and volcanic hills. In the midst of the natural beauty lies a beautiful community full of pride for its land. The high viewpoints and ample water source has resulted in tumultuous war times in the Golan Heights history with its neighboring countries, Lebanon and Syria. However, the history of this area goes all the way back to antiquity even playing an essential role in the Hanukkah story. Today, the Golan Heights has flourished as one of the most popular tourist sites for locals and tourists alike.

Must See Sites:

City of Tiberias: Sitting along Lake Kinneret, Israels main water supply, Tiberias offers the perfect mix between contemporary and history. The central promenade offers an array of restaurants, cafes, ice cream stands, and nightlife spots.

Golan Winery Wine Tasting & Tour: Prepare to experience the world-renowned wines born within Golan Winery. Learn about how wine production from guided tour of the winery, taste the award-winning wines in the proper etiquette, and finish with gifts to take back home!

Chocolate Factory: Its a real-life Willy Wonka Factory! Receive a yummy tour of the manufacturing plant that makes the worlds favorite dessert: chocolate. Learn about the history, see the production in action, and taste these sweet treats along the way.

Hike & Waterfall Options:

Chatsbani Water Trail: Follow the weaving path toward waterfall pools, a rushing river, and local plant life unique to this part of the world.

Banyas Hike: The scenic nature reserve and archeological site offers the fullest experience during the winter season with waterfalls reaching 33 feet. Choose from four marked paths depending on difficulty and see what treasures you spot along the way.

Yehudiya Zavitan: Shaped like a hand, this impressive reserve features flowing streams, cliff-lined valleys, and an impressive waterfall. Its perfect for beginners or experienced hikers with a bit of something for everyone.

Tel Dan Hike: With its shady trees and cool streams, this hike serves as a relaxing break from the summer heat. Be sure to stop at the lookout point to get the full impact of its beauty.

Gamla Nature Reserve: Located in the center of the Golan Heights, this location features the highest waterfall in Israel, the largest griffon vulture colony, and the most diverse collection of wild life.

Olea Essence Olive Oil Press: Taste and try the 100% organic and kosher olive oil products of Olea Essence. Produced in the Golan Heights and shipping across the world, the skin care and olive oil represent the innovation and global impact of Israeli goods.

City of Katzrin: Known as the capital of the Golan Heights, Katzrin sits at the center of the contemporary sites, historical parks, and nature reserves that make up the Golan Heights. A visit to the Talmudic village of Katzrin is a must as it breathes fresh insight into our Jewish history.

Mount Bental: Located 1170 meters (3838.58 ft) above sea level, the former military bunker and overlook point puts borders into perspective. Moments away from Syria, Mt. Bental introduces groups to the intricate relationship between Israel and its neighbors.

Highlights:

Raftingdown the Jordan River: Feel the adrenaline rush as you make your way down the hour long adventure.

Off-Road Jeeping: Driver or Passenger- its your choice! Choose to take the challenge of driving through rough terrain or sit back and enjoy the ride as a passenger. Zoom past mud puddles, take in the fresh mountain views, and try to wrap your mind around this once-in-a-lifetime journey.

Zip-Lining: Named one of the worlds coolest zip lines, Manara Cliff delivers a birds-eye view of the Northern region and the most acute zip line angle in the world!

Boat Ride on Lake Kinneret: Dance the night away on the night-time boat ride on Israels largest freshwater lake, also known as the Sea of Galilee.

#Protip: Bring a pair of water hiking shoes, it will make hikes in the Golan Heights more comfortable and enjoyable!

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Golan Heights – touristisrael.com

The Golan Heights rises up to the east of the Sea of Galileein the far north east of Israel. Home to some of Israels most spectacular landscapes, and funnest adventures, the Golan Heights are a land of beauty, far removed from the cities of the center of the country.Eagles nest at Gamla, deer roam at Odem, whilst man gazes at the spectacular landscape from Mount Bental. In Hamat Gader, natural hot springs have been used by man for thousands of years, whilst man has recently used the snow at Mount Hermon as Israels only ski resort. Explore by driving off-road in an ATV, with a guide in a jeep, by foot on the hiking trails, biking on the tracks, or in a more extreme way, canyoning or rafting. The Golan Heights are truly remarkable!

Grape vines in the Golan by Flickr user Gaspa

The Golan Heights are a green rocky plateau located to the east of the Sea of Galileein the far north of Israel. About 40 miles from north to south, and an average of 12 mils from east to west, it is a relatively small region. Despite its size, the Golan Heights is very important, supplying Israel with over one third of its water, and, historically as the site of many important battles.

View from Mount Bental by Flickr user mockstar

The Golan Heights contains some of Israels most beautiful spots, shaped by the rugged and in places lunar landscape. Its great resource water has created green landscapes, and some beautiful water-features. The Saar Falls are arguably Israels most spectacular waterfalls, competing for the honor with the Banias Waterfall, the most iconic and largest waterfall in Israel set within the Banias Nature Reserve, with a great selection of hikes as well as some important history. Mount Bentaloffers literally breathtaking views across both Israels Galilee and the flat plains of Syria. A cafe here called Koffee Anan is a clever pun it means Coffee in the Clouds in Hebrew, and is the name of the past head of the UN youll see the significance of this if you visit.

Meanwhile, theGamla Nature Reserve,a rocky camel-shaped outcrop, is the site of a Jewish city founded 2000 years ago. Dubbed the Masada of the North by some, the site is one of Israels many gems not so much for its antiquities but for something else. Its stunning views, and observatory attract bird enthusiasts from around the world coming to see the Griffon Vulture (as well as the view of course!).

In the southern part of the Golan Heights, Hamat Gader is home to natural hot springs, used by man for over 2,000 years which draw people from far away due to the beautiful water and stunning surroundings (and, of course, thecrocodile farm the only one in the Middle East.)

Of course, one of the most popular attractions of the Golan Heights is theMount Hermon Ski Resort, Israels only ski resort. With 50 days of skiing a year in the winter months it might not be a world-class resort, it is pretty cool to be able to ski less than three hours away from the desert. The resort is also open in the summer months and is really popular for its diversity of plant life and magnificent views. The lifts are open all year round so if youre there in summer, you can hike andswim in the many streams. In spring the plains are at their most beautiful, carpeted with multi-colored flowers. In autumn the cooler weather attracts hikers to the many wooded trails. Another popular hiking route is the Golan Trail. Nearby, is the spectacular Nimrod Fortress, thebiggest Crusader fortress in Israel, beautifully preserved and mighty impressive.

Eagles from Gamla by Flickr user karen horton

Due to its location, the easiest way to explore the Golan Heights is by car or joining a tour, although our guide about how to get to the Golan could help. Its about a two to two and a half hour drive from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to the southern-part of the Golan Heights, and whilst it is possible to travel around by bus, it can be difficult as schedules can be infrequent. Group tours to the Golan Heights operate every week, whilst a private tour is a great option if you do not have a car.

Once youre in the Golan, the range of activities is awesome. Some of the highlights:

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Israeli-occupied territories – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Israeli-occupied territories is a political concept, referring to the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. Originally, those territories included the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and Jordanian-occupied West Bank. The first use of the term ‘territories occupied’ was in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” to be achieved by “the application of both the following principles: … Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict … Termination of all claims or states of belligerency” and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. From 1967 to 1982, those areas were ruled via the Israeli Military Governorate system (also named as Occupied Arab territories by the UN), which became abolished in 1982 as a consequence of the peace accords with Egypt. Despite the dissolution of the military government in line with Egyptian demands for normalization and partial withdrawal, Israeli-occupied territories concept has remained in use to refer to a part of all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Western Golan Heights; from 1998 to 2012, Palestinian territories, Occupied concept was specifically been applied to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (now State of Palestine) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the “Occupying Power”.[3] UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israels occupation “an affront to international law.”[4] The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under “belligerent occupation”.[5] According to Talia Sasson, the High Court of Justice in Israel, with a variety of different justices sitting, has repeatedly stated for more than four decades that Israels presence in the West Bank is in violation of international law.[6] Israeli governments have preferred the term “disputed territories” in the case of the West Bank.[7][8] Officially Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory.[9]

Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 (see Jerusalem Law) and the Golan Heights in 1981 (see Golan Heights Law) has not been recognized by any other country.[10]United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared the annexation of Jerusalem “null and void” and required that it be rescinded. United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 also declared the annexation of the Golan “null and void”. Following withdrawal by Israel from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, as part of the 1979 IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty, the Sinai ceased to be considered occupied territory. The Palestinian Authority, the EU,[11] the International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the UN Security Council[12] consider East Jerusalem to be part of the West Bank and occupied by Israel; Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital and sovereign territory.[13]

Israel asserts that since the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, it no longer occupies it.[14] However, as it retained certain control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline, as of 2012[update] it continued to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly[15] and some countries and various human rights organizations.[16][17][18][19]

The significance of the designation of these territories as occupied territory is that certain legal obligations fall on the occupying power under international law. Under international law there are certain laws of war governing military occupation, including the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[20] One of those obligations is to maintain the status quo until the signing of a peace treaty, the resolution of specific conditions outlined in a peace treaty, or the formation of a new civilian government.[21]

Israel disputes whether, and if so to what extent, it is an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian territories and as to whether Israeli settlements in these territories are in breach of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power and constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and whether the settlements constitute war crimes.[22][23] In 2015, over 800,000 Israelis resided over the 1949 Armistice Lines, constituting nearly 13% of Israel’s Jewish population.[24]

Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War. It established settlements along the Gulf of Aqaba and in the northeast portion, just below the Gaza Strip. It had plans to expand the settlement of Yamit into a city with a population of 200,000,[28] though the actual population of Yamit did not exceed 3,000.[29] The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in stages beginning in 1979 as part of the IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty. As required by the treaty, Israel evacuated Israeli military installations and civilian settlements prior to the establishment of “normal and friendly relations” between it and Egypt.[30] Israel dismantled eighteen settlements, two air force bases, a naval base, and other installations by 1982, including the only oil resources under Israeli control. The evacuation of the civilian population, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamit. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation.[citation needed]

Since 1982, the Sinai Peninsula has not been regarded as occupied territory.[citation needed]

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. A ceasefire was signed on 11 June 1967 and the Golan Heights came under Israeli military administration.[31] Syria rejected UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which called for the return of Israeli-occupied State territories in exchange for peaceful relations. Israel had accepted Resolution 242 in a speech to the Security Council on 1 May 1968. In March 1972, Syria “conditionally” accepted Resolution 242,[citation needed] and in May 1974, the Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria was signed.

In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria attempted to recapture the Golan Heights militarily, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights under Israeli control, while returning a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control. A United Nations observation force was established in 1974 as a buffer between the sides.[32] By Syrian formal acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 338,[33] which set out the cease-fire at the end of the Yom Kippur War, Syria also accepted Resolution 242.[34]

On 14 December 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli administration and law to the territory. Israel has expressly avoided using the term “annexation” to describe the change of status. However, the UN Security Council has rejected the de facto annexation in UNSC Resolution 497, which declared it as “null and void and without international legal effect”,[35] and consequently continuing to regard the Golan Heights as an Israeli-occupied territory. The measure has also been criticized by other countries, either as illegal or as not being helpful to the Middle East peace process.[citation needed]

Syria wants the return of the Golan Heights, while Israel has maintained a policy of “land for peace” based on Resolution 242. The first high-level public talks aimed at a resolution of the Syria-Israel conflict were held at and after the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991. Throughout the 1990s several Israeli governments negotiated with Syria’s president Hafez Al-Assad. While serious progress was made, they were unsuccessful.

In 2004, there were 34 settlements in the Golan Heights, populated by around 18,000people.[36] Today, an estimated 20,000 Israeli settlers and 20,000 Syrians live in the territory.[32] All inhabitants are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which would entitle them to an Israeli driver’s license and enable them to travel freely in Israel.[citation needed] The non-Jewish residents, who are mostly Druze, have nearly all declined to take Israeli citizenship.[32][37]

In the Golan Heights there is another area occupied by Israel, namely the Shebaa farms. Syria and Lebanon have claimed that the farms belong to Lebanon and in 2007 a UN cartographer came to the conclusion that the Shebaa farms do actually belong to Lebanon (contrary to the belief held by Israel). UN then said that Israel should relinquish the control of this area.[38]

Both of these territories were part of Mandate Palestine, and both have populations consisting primarily of Palestinians Arabs, including significant numbers of refugees who fled or were expelled from Israel and territory Israel controlled[39] after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. Today, Palestinians make up around half of Jordan’s population.

Jordan occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967, annexing it in 1950 and granting Jordanian citizenship to the residents in 1954 (the annexation claims and citizenship grants were rescinded in 1988 when Jordan acknowledged the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people). Egypt administered the Gaza Strip from 19481967 but did not annex it or make Gazans Egyptian citizens.[40]

The West Bank was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but the plan was rejected by the Arabs parties, and West Bank was occupied by Trans-Jordan after the 1948 war. In April 1950, Trans-Jordan annexed the West Bank,[41] but this was recognized only by the United Kingdom and Pakistan. (see 1949 Armistice Agreements, Green Line)

In 1967, the West Bank came under Israeli military administration. Israel retained the mukhtar (mayoral) system of government inherited from Jordan, and subsequent governments began developing infrastructure in Arab villages under its control. (see Palestinians and Israeli law, International legal issues of the conflict, Palestinian economy)

Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, most of the Palestinian population and cities came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has frequently redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration in various parts of the two territories. On July 31, 1988, King Hussein surrendered all Jordanian claims to the West Bank to the PLO.[26]

In 2000, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier, within the West Banks, separating Israel and several of its settlements, as well as a significant number of Palestinians, from the remainder of the West Bank. State of Israel cabinet approved a route to construct separation barrier whose total length will be approximately 760km (472mi) built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or “Green Line” between Israel and Palestinian West Bank.[42] 12% of the West Bank area is on the Israel side of the barrier.[43]

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the barrier violates international law.[44] It claimed that “Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall”.[45] However, Israel government derived its justification for constructing this barrier with Prime Minister Ehud Barak stating that it is “essential to the Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and independence without being dependent on the State of Israel”.[46] The Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, stated that Israel has been holding the areas of Judea and Samaria in belligerent occupation, since 1967. The court also held that the normative provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation are applicable. The Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 were both cited.[5]

About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank along the Israeli West Bank barrier (and a further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem and 50,000 in the former IsraeliJordanian no-man’s land).[citation needed] The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel,[47][47] restricted access to water sources, and economic effects. Regarding the violation of freedom of Palestinians, in a 2005 report, the United Nations stated that:[47] …it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, peoples access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barriers exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences.[48] This has led to considerable anxiety among Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted…The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns.[49]

Gaza Strip was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt after the 1948 war.

Between 1948 and 1967, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration, being officially under the jurisdiction of the All-Palestine Government until in 1959 it was merged into the United Arab Republic, de facto becoming under direct Egyptian military governorship.

Between 1967 and 1993, the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military administration. In March 1979, Egypt renounced all claims to the Gaza Strip in the EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty.

Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, the Gaza Strip came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

A July 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice treated Gaza as part of the occupied territories.[50]

In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005, and was completed on 12 September 2005. Under the plan, all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and four in the West Bank) and the joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez Industrial Zone were dismantled with the removal of all 9,000 Israeli settlers (most of them in the Gush Katif settlement area in the Strip’s southwest) and military bases. Some settlers resisted the order, and were forcibly removed by the IDF. On 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. To avoid allegations that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, which is a narrow strip adjacent to the Strip’s border with Egypt, after Egypt’s agreement to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control to prevent the smuggling of materials (such as ammunition) and people across the border with Egypt. With Egypt agreeing to patrol its side of the border, it was hoped that the objective would be achieved. However, Israel maintained its control over the crossings in and out of Gaza. The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was monitored by the Israeli army through special surveillance cameras. Official documents such as passports, I.D. cards, export and import papers, and many others had to be approved by the Israeli army.[citation needed]

The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied, inasmuch as Israel does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip.[51][52]Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni stated in January, 2008: Israel got out of Gaza. It dismantled its settlements there. No Israeli soldiers were left there after the disengagement.[53] Israel also notes that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state.

Immediately after Israel withdrew in 2005, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated, “the legal status of the areas slated for evacuation has not changed.”[51]Human Rights Watch also contested that this ended the occupation.[54][55] The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs continues to consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza Strip’s airspace, territorial waters and controls the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea.[16][17][18]

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs maintains an office on Occupied Palestinian Territory, which concerns itself with the Gaza Strip.[56] In his statement on the 20082009 IsraelGaza conflict Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories” wrote that international humanitarian law applied to Israel “in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”[57] In a 2009 interview on Democracy Now Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contends that Israel is an occupying power. However, Meagan Buren, Senior Adviser to the Israel Project, a pro-Israel media group contests that characterization.[58]

In 2007, after Hamas defeated Fatah in the Battle of Gaza (2007) and took control over the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli raids, such as Operation Hot Winter continued into 2008. A six month ceasefire was agreed in June 2008, but it was broken several times by both Israel and Hamas. As it reached its expiry, Hamas announced that they were unwilling to renew the ceasefire without improving the terms.[59] At the end of December 2008 Israeli forces began Operation Cast Lead, launching the Gaza War that left an estimated 1,1661,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.[60][61][62]

In January 2012, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General stated that under resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the UN still regards Gaza to be part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.[15]

Jerusalem has created additional issues in relation to the question of whether or not it is occupied territory. The 1947 UN Partition Plan had contemplated that all of Jerusalem would be an international city within an international area that included Bethlehem for at least ten years, after which the residents would be allowed to conduct a referendum and the issue could be re-examined by the Trusteeship Council.

However, after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan captured East Jerusalem and the Old City, and Israel captured and annexed the western part of Jerusalem[citation needed]. Jordan bilaterally annexed East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in 1950 as a temporary trustee [63] at the request of a Palestinian delegation,[64] and although the annexation was recognized by only two countries, it was not condemned by the UNSC. The British did not recognize the territory as sovereign to Jordan.[65] Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. On June 27, Israel extended its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to East Jerusalem and several nearby towns and villages, and incorporated the area into the Jerusalem Municipality. In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which was declared a Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the “complete and united” capital of Israel. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared this action to be “null and void”, and that it “must be rescinded forthwith”. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and considers it occupied territory.[66]

UN Security Council Resolution 478 also called upon countries which held their diplomatic delegations to Israel in Jerusalem, to move them outside the city. Most nations with embassies in Jerusalem complied, and relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities prior to the adoption of Resolution 478. Following the withdrawals of Costa Rica and El Salvador in August 2006, no country maintains its embassy in Jerusalem, although Paraguay and Bolivia have theirs in nearby Mevasseret Zion.[67] The United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, stating that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branchs constitutional authority over foreign policy;[68] they have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests.

The Israeli government maintains that according to international law the West Bank status is that of disputed territories.[69][70]

The question is important given if the status of “occupied territories” has a bearing on the legal duties and rights of Israel toward those.[71] Hence it has been discussed in various forums including the UN.

In two cases decided shortly after independence, in the Shimshon and Stampfer cases, the Supreme Court of Israel held that the fundamental rules of international law accepted as binding by all “civilized” nations were incorporated in the domestic legal system of Israel. The Nuremberg Military Tribunal determined that the articles annexed to the Hague IV Convention of 1907 were customary law that had been recognized by all civilized nations.[72] In the past, the Supreme Court has argued that the Geneva Convention insofar it is not supported by domestic legislation “does not bind this Court, its enforcement being a matter for the states which are parties to the Convention”. They ruled that “Conventional international law does not become part of Israeli law through automatic incorporation, but only if it is adopted or combined with Israeli law by enactment of primary or subsidiary legislation from which it derives its force”. However, in the same decision the Court ruled that the Fourth Hague Convention rules governing belligerent occupation did apply, since those were recognized as customary international law.[73]

The Israeli High Court of Justice determined in the 1979 Elon Moreh case that the area in question was under occupation and that accordingly only the military commander of the area may requisition land according to Article 52 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention. Military necessity had been an after-thought in planning portions of the Elon Moreh settlement. That situation did not fulfill the precise strictures laid down in the articles of the Hague Convention, so the Court ruled the requisition order had been invalid and illegal.[74] In recent decades, the government of Israel has argued before the Supreme Court of Israel that its authority in the territories is based on the international law of “belligerent occupation”, in particular the Hague Conventions. The court has confirmed this interpretation many times, for example in its 2004 and 2005 rulings on the separation fence.[75][76]

In its June 2005 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Gaza disengagement, the Court determined that “Judea and Samaria” [West Bank] and the Gaza area are lands seized during warfare, and are not part of Israel:

The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation (see The Beit Sourik Case, at p. 832). His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been “annexed” to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05 The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset et al. (yet unpublished, paragraph 3 of the opinion of the Court; hereinafter The Gaza Coast Regional Council Case). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter The Hague Regulations). These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (hereinafter the Fourth Geneva Convention).[77][78]

Soon after the 1967 war, Israel issued a military order stating that the Geneva Conventions applied to the recently occupied territories,[79] but this order was rescinded a few months later.[80] For a number of years, Israel argued on various grounds that the Geneva Conventions do not apply. One is the Missing Reversioner theory[81] 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.[73] However, that interpretation is not shared by the international community.[82] 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.[82]

In the cases before the Israeli High Court of Justice the government has agreed that the military commanders 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.[83] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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.[84]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.”[85] 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.[86]

Various Israeli Cabinets have made political statements and many of Israel’s citizens and supporters dispute that the territories are occupied and claim that use of the term “occupied” in relation to Israel’s control of the areas has no basis in international law or history, and that it prejudges the outcome of any future or ongoing negotiations. They argue it is more accurate to refer to the territories as “disputed” rather than “occupied” although they agree to apply the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention pending resolution of the dispute. Yoram Dinstein, has dismissed the position that they are not occupied as being based on dubious legal grounds.[87] Many Israeli government websites do refer to the areas as being “occupied territories”.[88] According to the BBC, “Israel argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place.”[89]

In the Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, usually referred to as Levy Report, published in July 2012, a three member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy which was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comes to the conclusion that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not an occupation in the legal sense,[90] and that the Israeli settlements in those territories do not contravene international law.[91] The report has met with both approval and harsh criticism in Israel and outside. As of July 2013, the report was not brought before the Israeli cabinet or any parliamentary or governmental body which would have the power to approve it.

According to the views of most adherents of Religious Zionism and to certain streams of Orthodox Judaism, there are no, and cannot be, “occupied territories” because all of the Land of Israel (Hebrew: re Yirl, Eretz Yisrael) belongs to the Jews, also known as the Children of Israel, since the times of Biblical antiquity based on various Hebrew Bible passages.[citation needed]

The Jewish religious belief that the area is a God-given inheritance of the Jewish people is based on the Torah, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. A literal reading of the text suggests that the land promise is (or was at one time) one of the Biblical covenants between God and the Israelites, as the following verses show.[citation needed]

The definition of the limits of this territory varies between biblical passages, some of the main ones being:

The boundaries of the Land of Israel are different from the borders of historical Israelite kingdoms. The Bar Kokhba state, the Herodian Kingdom, the Hasmonean Kingdom, and possibly the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah[92] ruled lands with similar but not identical boundaries. The current State of Israel also has similar but not identical boundaries.

A small sect of Haredi Jews, the Neturei Karta opposes Zionism and calls for a peaceful dismantling of the State of Israel, in the belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah.[93][94]

The official term used by the United Nations Security Council to describe Israeli-occupied territories is “the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”, which is used, for example, in Resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980) and 484. A conference of the parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention,[95] and the International Committee of the Red Cross,[96] have also resolved that these territories are occupied and that the Fourth Geneva Convention provisions regarding occupied territories apply.

The international community has formally entrusted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the role of guardian of international humanitarian law. That includes a watchdog function by which it takes direct action to encourage parties to armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law.[97] The head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories stated that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions that constitute war crime.[98]

In 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled that portions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 merely declare existing customary international law.[99] In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted a binding Chapter VII resolution establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The resolution approved a Statute which said that the problem of adherence of some but not all States to the Geneva Conventions does not arise, since beyond any doubt the Convention is declarative of customary international law.[100] The subsequent interpretation of the International Court of Justice does not support Israel’s view on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions.[101]

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice delivered an Advisory Opinion on the ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’. The Court observed that under customary international law as reflected in Article 42 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention, territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army, and the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. Israel raised a number of exceptions and objections,[102] but the Court found them unpersuasive. The Court ruled that territories had been occupied by the Israeli armed forces in 1967, during the conflict between Israel and Jordan, and that subsequent events in those territories, had done nothing to alter the situation.

Al Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Ramallah in the West Bank and an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, has asserted that “As noted in Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, ‘a party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty’. As such, Israeli reliance on local law does not justify its violations of its international legal obligations”.[103] Further, the Palestinian mission to the U.N. has argued that:[104]

it is of no relevance whether a State has a monist or a dualist approach to the incorporation of international law into domestic law. A position dependent upon such considerations contradicts Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 which states that: “a state is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purposes of a treaty when it has undertaken an act expressing its consent thereto.” The Treaty, which is substantially a codification of customary international law, also provides that a State “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty” (Art. 27).

The establishment of Israeli settlements is held to constitute a transfer of Israel’s civilian population into the occupied territories and as such is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.[105][106][107] This is disputed by other legal experts who argue with this interpretation of the law [108]

In 2000, the editors of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Palestine Yearbook of International Law (19981999) said “the “transfer, directly or indirectly, 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” amounts to a war crime. They hold that this is obviously applicable to Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Arab Territories.”[109]

In 2004 the International Court of Justice, in an advisory, non-binding[110] opinion, noted that the Security Council had described Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in the occupied territories as a “flagrant violation” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Court also concluded that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established “in breach of international law” and that all the States parties to the Geneva Convention are under an obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international law as embodied in the Convention.[101]

In May 2012 the 27 ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union published a report strongly denouncing policies of the State of Israel in the West Bank and finding that settlements in the West Bank are illegal: “settlements remain illegal under international law, irrespective of recent decisions by the government of Israel. The EU reiterates that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”[111] The report by all EU foreign ministers also criticized the Israeli government’s failure to dismantle settler outposts illegal even under domestic Israeli law.”[111]

Israel denies that the Israeli settlements are in breach of any international laws.[112] The Israeli Supreme Court has yet to rule decisively on settlement legality under the Geneva Convention.[113]

The United Nations Human Rights Commission decided in March 2012 to establish a panel charged with investigating “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”[114] In reaction the government of Israel ceased cooperating with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and boycotted the UN Human Rights Commission. The U.S. government acceded to the Israeli government demand to attempt to thwart the formation of such a panel.[114]

On January 31, 2012 the United Nations independent “International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” filed a report stating that Israeli settlement led to a multitude of violations of Palestinian human rights and that if Israel did not stop all settlement activity immediately and begin withdrawing all settlers from the West Bank, it potentially might face a case at the International Criminal Court. It said that Israel was in violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention forbidding transferring civilians of the occupying nation into occupied territory. It held that the settlements are leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. After Palestine’s admission to the United Nations as a non-member state in September 2012, it potentially may have its complaint heard by the International Court. Israel’s foreign ministry replied to the report saying that “Counterproductive measures such as the report before us will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel.”[115][116][117]

Following a decision by European Union (EU) foreign ministers in December 2012 stating that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” the European Commission issued guidelines for the 2014 to 2020 financial framework covering all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia but excluding trade on 30 June 2013. According to the directive all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish settlements and Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line including the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[118] EU grants, funding, prizes or scholarships will only be granted if a settlement exclusion clause is included, forcing the Israeli government to concede in writing that settlements in the occupied territories are outside the state of Israel to secure agreements with the EU.[119]

In a statement, the EU said that “the guidelines are … in conformity with the EU’s longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. At the moment Israeli entities enjoy financial support and cooperation with the EU and these guidelines are designed to ensure that this remains the case. At the same time concern has been expressed in Europe that Israeli entities in the occupied territories could benefit from EU support. The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support.”[120]

The guidelines do not apply to any Palestinian body in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, and they do not affect agreements between the EU and the PLO or the Palestinian Authority, nor do they apply to Israeli government ministries or national agencies, to private individuals, to human rights organizations operating in the occupied territories, or to NGOs working toward promoting peace which operate in the occupied territories.[121][122]

The move was described as an “earthquake” by an Israeli official who wished to remain anonymous,[119] and prompted harsh criticism by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who said in a broadcast statement: “As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights and our united capital Jerusalem to be harmed. We will not accept any external diktats about our borders. This matter will only be settled in direct negotiations between the parties.” Israel is also concerned that the same policy could extend to settlement produce and goods exported to European markets, as some EU member states are pressing for an EU-wide policy of labelling produce and goods originating in Jewish settlements to allow consumers to make informed choices.[118] A special ministerial panel led by prime minister Netanyahu, decided to approach the EU and demand several key amendments in the guidelines before entering any new projects with the Europeans. A spokesperson for the EU confirmed that further talks would take place between Israel and the EU, stating: “We stand ready to organise discussions during which such clarifications can be provided and look forward to continued successful EU-Israel cooperation, including in the area of scientific cooperation.”[123]

Palestinians and their supporters hailed the EU directive as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements. Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the guidelines, saying: “The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps, which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace.”[118]

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The Golan Heights – HistoryGuy.com

The Golan Heights is a plateau separating Syria and Israel, and it is currently occupied by Israel as a result of several wars between Israel and Syria. The Golan was recognized as a part of Syria upon Syria’s independence from France in 1923.

In 1948, Syria participated in the first of many Arab-Israeli Wars, and upon the conclusion of that first war with Israel in 1949, the border between Israel and Syria formed at the edge of Syrian Golan. Though that first major war concluded, many instances of border warfare between Israel and Syria continued in the 1950s and 1960s.

In 1967, Syria lost the Six-Day War with Israel, and at the war’s conclusion, Israeli forces were in control of the Golan Heights. The UN-brokered cease-fire line was called “The Purple Line.” Since 1967, various attempts at negotiation and discussion have failed to return the Golan to Syrian control. Israel cites those border conflicts in the 1950s and 1960s when Syrian artillery would fire on Israeli settlements in the lowlands (the higher elevatio of the Golan makes it a very good place from which to target northern Israel), as well as the use of Syrian territory by Palestinian forces to attack Israel, as reasons for Israel to keep the Golan.

In 1973, Syria, along with Egypt, launched a surprise attack on Israel. Syria’s goal was to recapture the Golan Heights. Despite fierce tank battles on the Golan Heights, the Syrians were unable to re-capture the Golan. The war ended with another cease-fire negotiated by the United Nations, and both sides agreed to withdraw their forces back to the Purple Line. As a result of those UN negotiations, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was created in 1974 to supervise the disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria, and to supervise and hold the ceasefire. The area between the Israeli and Syrian forces is known as the” UNDOF Zone.” Approximately more than 1,000 UN peacekeepers are in the UNDOF Zone as a buffer between the two warring neighbors.

Since 1973, the Golan Heights has been fairly quiet. In 1981,the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed the “Golan Heights Law”, under which Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” applied to the occupied Golan Heights. This law created a de facto annexation of the Golan to Israel, the land is still recognized internationally as Syrian territory under Israeli occupation. Syria, of course, does not recognize any Israeli claims of authority in the Golan Heights.

The population of the Golan Heights includes 20,000 Israeli settlers and 17,000 Druze, which is a religious minority found in both Syria and Lebanon. The pre-war Syrian Arab population stood around 148,000, most of whom fled the Golan or were expelled with the Israeli conquest of the Golan Heights.

The Syrian Civil War brought new tensions to the Golan Heights, as combat between Syrian government forces and the rebels often flared within sight of Israeli positions on the Golan. On November 3, 2012, three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone at Beer Ajam near the UNDOF buffer in violation of the cease-fire agreement. On November 11, 2012, a Syrian mortar round landed near Israeli military positions in the Golan. Israel responded with a “warning shot” missile launch and lodged a protest with the United Nations.

IDF fires warning shot into Syria after shell hits Golan –Jerusalem Post, Nov. 11, 2012

Three Syrian tanks enter Golan Heights buffer zone-Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2012

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The Golan Heights – HistoryGuy.com

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Israeli-occupied territories – Wikipedia, the free …

The Israeli-occupied territories is a political concept, referring to the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. Originally, those territories included the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and Jordanian-occupied West Bank. The first use of the term ‘territories occupied’ was in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” to be achieved by “the application of both the following principles: … Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict … Termination of all claims or states of belligerency” and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. From 1967 to 1982, those areas were ruled via the Israeli Military Governorate system (also named as Occupied Arab territories by the UN), which became abolished in 1982 as a consequence of the peace accords with Egypt. Despite the dissolution of the military government in line with Egyptian demands for normalization and partial withdrawal, Israeli-occupied territories concept has remained in use to refer to a part of all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Western Golan Heights; from 1998 to 2012, Palestinian territories, Occupied concept was specifically been applied to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (now State of Palestine) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the “Occupying Power”.[3] UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israels occupation “an affront to international law.”[4] The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under “belligerent occupation”.[5] According to Talia Sasson, the High Court of Justice in Israel, with a variety of different justices sitting, has repeatedly stated for more than four decades that Israels presence in the West Bank is in violation of international law.[6] Israeli governments have preferred the term “disputed territories” in the case of the West Bank.[7][8] Officially Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory.[9]

Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 (see Jerusalem Law) and the Golan Heights in 1981 (see Golan Heights Law) has not been recognized by any other country.[10]United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared the annexation of Jerusalem “null and void” and required that it be rescinded. United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 also declared the annexation of the Golan “null and void”. Following withdrawal by Israel from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, as part of the 1979 IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty, the Sinai ceased to be considered occupied territory. The Palestinian Authority, the EU,[11] the International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the UN Security Council[12] consider East Jerusalem to be part of the West Bank and occupied by Israel; Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital and sovereign territory.[13]

Israel asserts that since the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, it no longer occupies it.[14] However, as it retained certain control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline, as of 2012[update] it continued to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly[15] and some countries and various human rights organizations.[16][17][18][19]

The significance of the designation of these territories as occupied territory is that certain legal obligations fall on the occupying power under international law. Under international law there are certain laws of war governing military occupation, including the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[20] One of those obligations is to maintain the status quo until the signing of a peace treaty, the resolution of specific conditions outlined in a peace treaty, or the formation of a new civilian government.[21]

Israel disputes whether, and if so to what extent, it is an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian territories and as to whether Israeli settlements in these territories are in breach of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power and constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and whether the settlements constitute war crimes.[22][23] In 2015, over 800,000 Israelis resided over the 1949 Armistice Lines, constituting nearly 13% of Israel’s Jewish population.[24]

Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War. It established settlements along the Gulf of Aqaba and in the northeast portion, just below the Gaza Strip. It had plans to expand the settlement of Yamit into a city with a population of 200,000,[28] though the actual population of Yamit did not exceed 3,000.[29] The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in stages beginning in 1979 as part of the IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty. As required by the treaty, Israel evacuated Israeli military installations and civilian settlements prior to the establishment of “normal and friendly relations” between it and Egypt.[30] Israel dismantled eighteen settlements, two air force bases, a naval base, and other installations by 1982, including the only oil resources under Israeli control. The evacuation of the civilian population, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamit. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation.[citation needed]

Since 1982, the Sinai Peninsula has not been regarded as occupied territory.[citation needed]

Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. A ceasefire was signed on 11 June 1967 and the Golan Heights came under Israeli military administration.[31] Syria rejected UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which called for the return of Israeli-occupied State territories in exchange for peaceful relations. Israel had accepted Resolution 242 in a speech to the Security Council on 1 May 1968. In March 1972, Syria “conditionally” accepted Resolution 242,[citation needed] and in May 1974, the Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria was signed.

In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria attempted to recapture the Golan Heights militarily, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights under Israeli control, while returning a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control. A United Nations observation force was established in 1974 as a buffer between the sides.[32] By Syrian formal acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 338,[33] which set out the cease-fire at the end of the Yom Kippur War, Syria also accepted Resolution 242.[34]

On 14 December 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli administration and law to the territory. Israel has expressly avoided using the term “annexation” to describe the change of status. However, the UN Security Council has rejected the de facto annexation in UNSC Resolution 497, which declared it as “null and void and without international legal effect”,[35] and consequently continuing to regard the Golan Heights as an Israeli-occupied territory. The measure has also been criticized by other countries, either as illegal or as not being helpful to the Middle East peace process.[citation needed]

Syria wants the return of the Golan Heights, while Israel has maintained a policy of “land for peace” based on Resolution 242. The first high-level public talks aimed at a resolution of the Syria-Israel conflict were held at and after the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991. Throughout the 1990s several Israeli governments negotiated with Syria’s president Hafez Al-Assad. While serious progress was made, they were unsuccessful.

In 2004, there were 34 settlements in the Golan Heights, populated by around 18,000people.[36] Today, an estimated 20,000 Israeli settlers and 20,000 Syrians live in the territory.[32] All inhabitants are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which would entitle them to an Israeli driver’s license and enable them to travel freely in Israel.[citation needed] The non-Jewish residents, who are mostly Druze, have nearly all declined to take Israeli citizenship.[32][37]

In the Golan Heights there is another area occupied by Israel, namely the Shebaa farms. Syria and Lebanon have claimed that the farms belong to Lebanon and in 2007 a UN cartographer came to the conclusion that the Shebaa farms do actually belong to Lebanon (contrary to the belief held by Israel). UN then said that Israel should relinquish the control of this area.[38]

Both of these territories were part of Mandate Palestine, and both have populations consisting primarily of Palestinians Arabs, including significant numbers of refugees who fled or were expelled from Israel and territory Israel controlled[39] after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. Today, Palestinians make up around half of Jordan’s population.

Jordan occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967, annexing it in 1950 and granting Jordanian citizenship to the residents in 1954 (the annexation claims and citizenship grants were rescinded in 1988 when Jordan acknowledged the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people). Egypt administered the Gaza Strip from 19481967 but did not annex it or make Gazans Egyptian citizens.[40]

The West Bank was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but the West Bank was occupied by Trans-Jordan after the 1948 war. In April 1950, Trans-Jordan annexed the West Bank,[41] but this was recognized only by the United Kingdom and Pakistan. (see 1949 Armistice Agreements, Green Line)

In 1967, the West Bank came under Israeli military administration. Israel retained the mukhtar (mayoral) system of government inherited from Jordan, and subsequent governments began developing infrastructure in Arab villages under its control. (see Palestinians and Israeli law, International legal issues of the conflict, Palestinian economy)

Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, most of the Palestinian population and cities came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has frequently redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration in various parts of the two territories. On July 31, 1988, King Hussein surrendered all Jordanian claims to the West Bank to the PLO.[26]

In 2000, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier, within the West Banks, separating Israel and several of its settlements, as well as a significant number of Palestinians, from the remainder of the West Bank. State of Israel cabinet approved a route to construct separation barrier whose total length will be approximately 760km (472mi) built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or “Green Line” between Israel and Palestinian West Bank.[42] 12% of the West Bank area is on the Israel side of the barrier.[43]

In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the barrier violates international law.[44] It claimed that “Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall”.[45] However, Israel government derived its justification for constructing this barrier with Prime Minister Ehud Barak stating that it is “essential to the Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and independence without being dependent on the State of Israel”.[46] The Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, stated that Israel has been holding the areas of Judea and Samaria in belligerent occupation, since 1967. The court also held that the normative provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation are applicable. The Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 were both cited.[5]

About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank along the Israeli West Bank barrier (and a further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem and 50,000 in the former IsraeliJordanian no-man’s land).[citation needed] The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel,[47][47] restricted access to water sources, and economic effects. Regarding the violation of freedom of Palestinians, in a 2005 report, the United Nations stated that:[47] …it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, peoples access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barriers exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences.[48] This has led to considerable anxiety among Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted…The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns.[49]

Gaza Strip was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt after the 1948 war.

Between 1948 and 1967, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration, being officially under the jurisdiction of the All-Palestine Government until in 1959 it was merged into the United Arab Republic, de facto becoming under direct Egyptian military governorship.

Between 1967 and 1993, the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military administration. In March 1979, Egypt renounced all claims to the Gaza Strip in the EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty.

Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, the Gaza Strip came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority.

A July 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice treated Gaza as part of the occupied territories.[50]

In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005, and was completed on 12 September 2005. Under the plan, all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and four in the West Bank) and the joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez Industrial Zone were dismantled with the removal of all 9,000 Israeli settlers (most of them in the Gush Katif settlement area in the Strip’s southwest) and military bases. Some settlers resisted the order, and were forcibly removed by the IDF. On 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. To avoid allegations that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, which is a narrow strip adjacent to the Strip’s border with Egypt, after Egypt’s agreement to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control to prevent the smuggling of materials (such as ammunition) and people across the border with Egypt. With Egypt agreeing to patrol its side of the border, it was hoped that the objective would be achieved. However, Israel maintained its control over the crossings in and out of Gaza. The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was monitored by the Israeli army through special surveillance cameras. Official documents such as passports, I.D. cards, export and import papers, and many others had to be approved by the Israeli army.[citation needed]

The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied, inasmuch as Israel does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip.[51][52]Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni stated in January, 2008: Israel got out of Gaza. It dismantled its settlements there. No Israeli soldiers were left there after the disengagement.[53] Israel also notes that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state.

Immediately after Israel withdrew in 2005, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated, “the legal status of the areas slated for evacuation has not changed.”[51]Human Rights Watch also contested that this ended the occupation.[54][55] The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs continues to consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza Strip’s airspace, territorial waters and controls the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea.[16][17][18]

The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs maintains an office on Occupied Palestinian Territory, which concerns itself with the Gaza Strip.[56] In his statement on the 20082009 IsraelGaza conflict Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories” wrote that international humanitarian law applied to Israel “in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”[57] In a 2009 interview on Democracy Now Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contends that Israel is an occupying power. However, Meagan Buren, Senior Adviser to the Israel Project, a pro-Israel media group contests that characterization.[58]

In 2007, after Hamas defeated Fatah in the Battle of Gaza (2007) and took control over the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli raids, such as Operation Hot Winter continued into 2008. A six month ceasefire was agreed in June 2008, but it was broken several times by both Israel and Hamas. As it reached its expiry, Hamas announced that they were unwilling to renew the ceasefire without improving the terms.[59] At the end of December 2008 Israeli forces began Operation Cast Lead, launching the Gaza War that left an estimated 1,1661,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.[60][61][62]

In January 2012, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General stated that under resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the UN still regards Gaza to be part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.[15]

Jerusalem has created additional issues in relation to the question of whether or not it is occupied territory. The 1947 UN Partition Plan had contemplated that all of Jerusalem would be an international city within an international area that included Bethlehem for at least ten years, after which the residents would be allowed to conduct a referendum and the issue could be re-examined by the Trusteeship Council.

However, after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan captured East Jerusalem and the Old City, and Israel captured and annexed the western part of Jerusalem[citation needed]. Jordan bilaterally annexed East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in 1950 as a temporary trustee [63] at the request of a Palestinian delegation,[64] and although the annexation was recognized by only two countries, it was not condemned by the UNSC. The British did not recognize the territory as sovereign to Jordan.[65] Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. On June 27, Israel extended its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to East Jerusalem and several nearby towns and villages, and incorporated the area into the Jerusalem Municipality. In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which was declared a Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the “complete and united” capital of Israel. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared this action to be “null and void”, and that it “must be rescinded forthwith”. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and considers it occupied territory.[66]

UN Security Council Resolution 478 also called upon countries which held their diplomatic delegations to Israel in Jerusalem, to move them outside the city. Most nations with embassies in Jerusalem complied, and relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities prior to the adoption of Resolution 478. Following the withdrawals of Costa Rica and El Salvador in August 2006, no country maintains its embassy in Jerusalem, although Paraguay and Bolivia have theirs in nearby Mevasseret Zion.[67] The United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, stating that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branchs constitutional authority over foreign policy;[68] they have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests.

The Israeli government maintains that according to international law the West Bank status is that of disputed territories.[69][70]

The question is important given if the status of “occupied territories” has a bearing on the legal duties and rights of Israel toward those.[71] Hence it has been discussed in various forums including the UN.

In two cases decided shortly after independence, in the Shimshon and Stampfer cases, the Supreme Court of Israel held that the fundamental rules of international law accepted as binding by all “civilized” nations were incorporated in the domestic legal system of Israel. The Nuremberg Military Tribunal determined that the articles annexed to the Hague IV Convention of 1907 were customary law that had been recognized by all civilized nations.[72] In the past, the Supreme Court has argued that the Geneva Convention insofar it is not supported by domestic legislation “does not bind this Court, its enforcement being a matter for the states which are parties to the Convention”. They ruled that “Conventional international law does not become part of Israeli law through automatic incorporation, but only if it is adopted or combined with Israeli law by enactment of primary or subsidiary legislation from which it derives its force”. However, in the same decision the Court ruled that the Fourth Hague Convention rules governing belligerent occupation did apply, since those were recognized as customary international law.[73]

The Israeli High Court of Justice determined in the 1979 Elon Moreh case that the area in question was under occupation and that accordingly only the military commander of the area may requisition land according to Article 52 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention. Military necessity had been an after-thought in planning portions of the Elon Moreh settlement. That situation did not fulfill the precise strictures laid down in the articles of the Hague Convention, so the Court ruled the requisition order had been invalid and illegal.[74] In recent decades, the government of Israel has argued before the Supreme Court of Israel that its authority in the territories is based on the international law of “belligerent occupation”, in particular the Hague Conventions. The court has confirmed this interpretation many times, for example in its 2004 and 2005 rulings on the separation fence.[75][76]

In its June 2005 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Gaza disengagement, the Court determined that “Judea and Samaria” [West Bank] and the Gaza area are lands seized during warfare, and are not part of Israel:

The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation (see The Beit Sourik Case, at p. 832). His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been “annexed” to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05 The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset et al. (yet unpublished, paragraph 3 of the opinion of the Court; hereinafter The Gaza Coast Regional Council Case). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter The Hague Regulations). These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (hereinafter the Fourth Geneva Convention).[77][78]

Soon after the 1967 war, Israel issued a military order stating that the Geneva Conventions applied to the recently occupied territories,[79] but this order was rescinded a few months later.[80] For a number of years, Israel argued on various grounds that the Geneva Conventions do not apply. One is the Missing Reversioner theory[81] 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.[73] However, that interpretation is not shared by the international community.[82] 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.[82]

In the cases before the Israeli High Court of Justice the government has agreed that the military commanders 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.[83] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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.[84]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.”[85] 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.[86]

Various Israeli Cabinets have made political statements and many of Israel’s citizens and supporters dispute that the territories are occupied and claim that use of the term “occupied” in relation to Israel’s control of the areas has no basis in international law or history, and that it prejudges the outcome of any future or ongoing negotiations. They argue it is more accurate to refer to the territories as “disputed” rather than “occupied” although they agree to apply the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention pending resolution of the dispute. Yoram Dinstein, has dismissed the position that they are not occupied as being based on dubious legal grounds.[87] Many Israeli government websites do refer to the areas as being “occupied territories”.[88] According to the BBC, “Israel argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place.”[89]

In the Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, usually referred to as Levy Report, published in July 2012, a three member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy which was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comes to the conclusion that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not an occupation in the legal sense,[90] and that the Israeli settlements in those territories do not contravene international law.[91] The report has met with both approval and harsh criticism in Israel and outside. As of July 2013, the report was not brought before the Israeli cabinet or any parliamentary or governmental body which would have the power to approve it.

According to the views of most adherents of Religious Zionism and to certain streams of Orthodox Judaism, there are no, and cannot be, “occupied territories” because all of the Land of Israel (Hebrew: re Yirl, Eretz Yisrael) belongs to the Jews, also known as the Children of Israel, since the times of Biblical antiquity based on various Hebrew Bible passages.[citation needed]

The Jewish religious belief that the area is a God-given inheritance of the Jewish people is based on the Torah, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. A literal reading of the text suggests that the land promise is (or was at one time) one of the Biblical covenants between God and the Israelites, as the following verses show.[citation needed]

The definition of the limits of this territory varies between biblical passages, some of the main ones being:

The boundaries of the Land of Israel are different from the borders of historical Israelite kingdoms. The Bar Kokhba state, the Herodian Kingdom, the Hasmonean Kingdom, and possibly the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah[92] ruled lands with similar but not identical boundaries. The current State of Israel also has similar but not identical boundaries.

A small sect of Haredi Jews, the Neturei Karta opposes Zionism and calls for a peaceful dismantling of the State of Israel, in the belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah.[93][94]

The official term used by the United Nations Security Council to describe Israeli-occupied territories is “the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”, which is used, for example, in Resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980) and 484. A conference of the parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention,[95] and the International Committee of the Red Cross,[96] have also resolved that these territories are occupied and that the Fourth Geneva Convention provisions regarding occupied territories apply.

The international community has formally entrusted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the role of guardian of international humanitarian law. That includes a watchdog function by which it takes direct action to encourage parties to armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law.[97] The head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories stated that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions that constitute war crime.[98]

In 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled that portions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 merely declare existing customary international law.[99] In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted a binding Chapter VII resolution establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The resolution approved a Statute which said that the problem of adherence of some but not all States to the Geneva Conventions does not arise, since beyond any doubt the Convention is declarative of customary international law.[100] The subsequent interpretation of the International Court of Justice does not support Israel’s view on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions.[101]

In July 2004, the International Court of Justice delivered an Advisory Opinion on the ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’. The Court observed that under customary international law as reflected in Article 42 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention, territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army, and the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. Israel raised a number of exceptions and objections,[102] but the Court found them unpersuasive. The Court ruled that territories had been occupied by the Israeli armed forces in 1967, during the conflict between Israel and Jordan, and that subsequent events in those territories, had done nothing to alter the situation.

Al Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Ramallah in the West Bank and an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, has asserted that “As noted in Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, ‘a party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty’. As such, Israeli reliance on local law does not justify its violations of its international legal obligations”.[103] Further, the Palestinian mission to the U.N. has argued that:[104]

it is of no relevance whether a State has a monist or a dualist approach to the incorporation of international law into domestic law. A position dependent upon such considerations contradicts Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 which states that: “a state is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purposes of a treaty when it has undertaken an act expressing its consent thereto.” The Treaty, which is substantially a codification of customary international law, also provides that a State “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty” (Art. 27).

The establishment of Israeli settlements is held to constitute a transfer of Israel’s civilian population into the occupied territories and as such is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.[105][106][107] This is disputed by other legal experts who argue with this interpretation of the law [108]

In 2000, the editors of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Palestine Yearbook of International Law (19981999) said “the “transfer, directly or indirectly, 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” amounts to a war crime. They hold that this is obviously applicable to Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Arab Territories.”[109]

In 2004 the International Court of Justice, in an advisory, non-binding[110] opinion, noted that the Security Council had described Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in the occupied territories as a “flagrant violation” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Court also concluded that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established “in breach of international law” and that all the States parties to the Geneva Convention are under an obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international law as embodied in the Convention.[101]

In May 2012 the 27 ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union published a report strongly denouncing policies of the State of Israel in the West Bank and finding that settlements in the West Bank are illegal: “settlements remain illegal under international law, irrespective of recent decisions by the government of Israel. The EU reiterates that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”[111] The report by all EU foreign ministers also criticized the Israeli government’s failure to dismantle settler outposts illegal even under domestic Israeli law.”[111]

Israel denies that the Israeli settlements are in breach of any international laws.[112] The Israeli Supreme Court has yet to rule decisively on settlement legality under the Geneva Convention.[113]

The United Nations Human Rights Commission decided in March 2012 to establish a panel charged with investigating “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”[114] In reaction the government of Israel ceased cooperating with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and boycotted the UN Human Rights Commission. The U.S. government acceded to the Israeli government demand to attempt to thwart the formation of such a panel.[114]

On January 31, 2012 the United Nations independent “International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” filed a report stating that Israeli settlement led to a multitude of violations of Palestinian human rights and that if Israel did not stop all settlement activity immediately and begin withdrawing all settlers from the West Bank, it potentially might face a case at the International Criminal Court. It said that Israel was in violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention forbidding transferring civilians of the occupying nation into occupied territory. It held that the settlements are leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. After Palestine’s admission to the United Nations as a non-member state in September 2012, it potentially may have its complaint heard by the International Court. Israel’s foreign ministry replied to the report saying that “Counterproductive measures such as the report before us will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel.”[115][116][117]

Following a decision by European Union (EU) foreign ministers in December 2012 stating that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” the European Commission issued guidelines for the 2014 to 2020 financial framework covering all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia but excluding trade on 30 June 2013. According to the directive all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish settlements and Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line including the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[118] EU grants, funding, prizes or scholarships will only be granted if a settlement exclusion clause is included, forcing the Israeli government to concede in writing that settlements in the occupied territories are outside the state of Israel to secure agreements with the EU.[119]

In a statement, the EU said that “the guidelines are … in conformity with the EU’s longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. At the moment Israeli entities enjoy financial support and cooperation with the EU and these guidelines are designed to ensure that this remains the case. At the same time concern has been expressed in Europe that Israeli entities in the occupied territories could benefit from EU support. The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support.”[120]

The guidelines do not apply to any Palestinian body in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, and they do not affect agreements between the EU and the PLO or the Palestinian Authority, nor do they apply to Israeli government ministries or national agencies, to private individuals, to human rights organizations operating in the occupied territories, or to NGOs working toward promoting peace which operate in the occupied territories.[121][122]

The move was described as an “earthquake” by an Israeli official who wished to remain anonymous,[119] and prompted harsh criticism by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who said in a broadcast statement: “As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights and our united capital Jerusalem to be harmed. We will not accept any external diktats about our borders. This matter will only be settled in direct negotiations between the parties.” Israel is also concerned that the same policy could extend to settlement produce and goods exported to European markets, as some EU member states are pressing for an EU-wide policy of labelling produce and goods originating in Jewish settlements to allow consumers to make informed choices.[118] A special ministerial panel led by prime minister Netanyahu, decided to approach the EU and demand several key amendments in the guidelines before entering any new projects with the Europeans. A spokesperson for the EU confirmed that further talks would take place between Israel and the EU, stating: “We stand ready to organise discussions during which such clarifications can be provided and look forward to continued successful EU-Israel cooperation, including in the area of scientific cooperation.”[123]

Palestinians and their supporters hailed the EU directive as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements. Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the guidelines, saying: “The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps, which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace.”[118]

Continued here:
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April 23, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights Law – Wikipedia

The Golan Heights Law is the Israeli law which applies Israel’s government and laws to the Golan Heights. It was ratified by the Knesset on December 14, 1981. The law was not recognised internationally[1] and determined null and void by United Nations Security Council Resolution 497.[2][3] The law was passed half a year before Israel’s withdrawal from the Sinai Peninsula. Unusually, all three readings took place on the same day. This procedure was heavily criticized by the centre-left opposition. Substantially, the law has mainly been criticized for potentially hindering future negotiations with Syria. While the Israeli public at large, and especially the law’s critics, viewed it as an annexation, the law avoids the use of the word. Prime Minister Menachem Begin responded to Amnon Rubinstein’s criticism by saying, “You use the word ‘annexation.’ I do not use it,” and noting that similar wording was used in a 1967 law authorizing the government to apply Israeli law to any part of the Land of Israel. The earlier law covered only those areas included in the British Mandate, requiring a separate law for the Golan Heights (these were included in the French Mandate of Syria). The three broad provisions in the Golan Heights Law are the following:[4] 1. “The Law, jurisdiction and administration of the State will take effect in the Golan Heights, as described in the Schedule.” 2. “This Law will begin taking effect on the day of its acceptance in the Knesset.” 3. “The Minister of the Interior is placed in-charge of the implementation of this Law, and is entitled, in consultation with the Minister of Justice, to enact regulations for its implementation and to formulate regulations on interim provisions regarding the continued application of regulations, directives, administrative directives, and rights and duties that were in effect in the Golan Heights prior to the acceptance of this Law.” Signed:

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October 17, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights – Wikipedia

The Golan Heights (Arabic: Habatu ‘l-Jawln or Murtafatu l-Jawln, Hebrew: , Ramat HaGolan (audio)(helpinfo)), or simply the Golan or the Syrian Golan,[3] is a region in the Levant. The western two-thirds of the Golan Heights are currently occupied and administrated by Israel,[1][2] whereas the eastern third is controlled by Syria, with the UNDOF maintaining a buffer zone in between, to implement the ceasefire of the Purple Line. The exact region defined as the Golan Heights is different in different disciplines: The earliest evidence of human habitation dates to the Upper Paleolithic period.[4] According to the Bible, an Amorite Kingdom in Bashan was conquered by Israelites during the reign of King Og.[5] Throughout the Old Testament period, the Golan was “the focus of a power struggle between the Kings of Israel and the Aramaeans who were based near modern-day Damascus.”[6] The Itureans, an Arab or Aramaic people, settled there in the 2nd century BCE and remained until the end of the Byzantine period.[7][8][9] Organized Jewish settlement in the region came to an end in 636 CE when it was conquered by Arabs under Umar ibn al-Khattb.[10] In the 16th century, the Golan was conquered by the Ottoman Empire and was part of the Vilayet of Damascus until it was transferred to French control in 1918. When the mandate terminated in 1946, it became part of the newly independent Syrian Arab Republic. Internationally recognized as Syrian territory, the Golan Heights has been occupied and administered by Israel since 1967.[1] It was captured during the 1967 Six-Day War, establishing the Purple Line.[11] On 19 June 1967, the Israeli cabinet voted to return the Golan to Syria in exchange for a peace agreement, although this was rejected after the Khartoum Resolution of 1 September 1967.[12][13] In the aftermath of the 1973 Yom Kippur War, in which Syria tried but failed to recapture the Golan, Israel agreed to return about 5% of the territory to Syrian civilian control. This part was incorporated into a demilitarised zone that runs along the ceasefire line and extends eastward. This strip is under the military control of UNDOF. Construction of Israeli settlements began in the remainder of the territory held by Israel, which was under military administration until Israel passed the Golan Heights Law extending Israeli law and administration throughout the territory in 1981.[14] This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497,[2][15] which said that “the Israeli decision to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.” Israel states it has a right to retain the Golan, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, which calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.[16] However, the international community reject Israeli claims to title to the territory and regards it as sovereign Syrian territory.[1][18] That said, the atrocities of the Syrian Civil War and the rise of the so-called Islamic State group, which at times has controlled what was the Syrian-administered Golan have added a new twist to the issue.[19] In 2015, it was reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked US President Barack Obama to recognize Israeli claims to the territory because of these recent ISIS actions and the fact that modern Syria has likely “disintegrated” beyond the point of reunification.[20][21] The White House dismissed Netenyahu’s suggestion, stating that the president continues to support UN resolutions 242 and 497, and any alterations of this policy could strain American alliances with western-backed Syrian rebel groups.[22] Historically, Israeli Prime Ministers Yitzhak Rabin, Ehud Barak, and Ehud Olmert each stated that they were willing to exchange the Golan for peace with Syria. Later, in 2010, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told Syria to abandon its dreams of recovering the Golan Heights.[23] Approximately 10% of Syrian Golan Druze have accepted Israeli citizenship.[24] According to the CIA World Factbook, as of 2010[update], “there are 41 Israeli settlements and civilian land use sites in the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights.”[25] Arabic names are Jawln[26] and Djolan (Arabic: ).[27] In the Bible, Golan is mentioned as a city of refuge located in Bashan: Deuteronomy 4:43, Joshua 20:8, 1Chronicles 6:71.[28] Nineteenth-century authors interpreted the word “Golan” (Hebrew: ) as meaning “something surrounded, hence a district”.[29][30] The Greek name for the region is Gaulanitis (Greek: ).[26] In the Mishna the name is Gabln similar to Aramaic language names for the region: Gawlna, Guwlana and Gubln.[26] Arab cartographers of the Byzantine period referred to the area as jabal (mountain), though the region is a plateau.[31] The Muslims took over in 7th century CE.[26] The 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia refers to the region as Gaulonitis.[32] The name Golan Heights was not used before the 19th century.[28] The Golan Heights borders Israel, Lebanon, and Jordan. According to Israel, it has captured 1,150 square kilometres (440sqmi).[33] According to Syria the Golan Heights measures 1,860 square kilometres (718sqmi), of which 1,500km2 (580sqmi) are occupied by Israel.[34] According to the CIA, Israel holds 1,300 square kilometres (500sqmi).[25] The area is hilly and elevated, overlooking the Jordan Rift Valley which contains the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River, and is itself dominated by the 2,743.2 metres (9,000ft) tall Mount Hermon.[35] The plateau has an average altitude of 1,000 metres (3,300ft) and an area totaling 1,800 square kilometres (690sqmi), and straddles the boundary between Syria and Israeli-held territory. Elevations range from 2,814 metres (9,232ft) in the north (if one considers Mount Hermon as part of the Heights), to below sea level along the Sea of Galilee and the Yarmuk River in the south.[25] The plateau that Israel controls is part of a larger area of volcanic basalt fields stretching north and east that were created in the series of volcanic eruptions that began recently in geological terms, almost 4 million years ago, and continue to this day. It has distinct geographic boundaries. On the north, the Sa’ar valley (Banias) generally divides the lighter-colored limestone bedrock of the mountains from the dark-colored volcanic rocks of the Golan plateau. The western border of the plateau is truncated structurally by the Jordan Rift Valley, which falls down steeply into the lake. The southern border is lined by the Yarmuk River, which separates the plateau from the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. Finally, the east end of Golan Heights is carved out by the Raqqad river (Wadi Ruqqad) and areas still controlled by Syria.[36] The plateau’s north-south length is approximately 65 kilometres (40mi) and its east-west width varies from 12 kilometres (7.5mi) to 25 kilometres (16mi).[37][38]Topographically, the Golan Heights ranges in elevation from 2,814 metres (9,232ft) on Mount Hermon in the north, to about 400 metres (1,300ft) elevation along the Yarmuk River in the south. The Sea of Galilee, also known as Lake Kinneret or Lake Tiberias, at the southwest corner of the plateau is 200 metres (660ft) below sea level. The steeper, more rugged topography is generally limited to the northern half, including the foothills of Mount Hermon; on the south the plateau is more level.[37] The broader Golan plateau exhibits a more subdued topography, generally ranging between 120 metres (390ft) and 520 metres (1,710ft) in elevation. In Israel, the Golan plateau is divided into three regions: northern (between the Sa’ar and Jilabun valleys), central (between the Jilabun and Daliyot valleys), and southern (between the Daliyot and Yarmouk valleys). The Golan Heights is bordered on the west by a rock escarpment that drops 500 metres (1,600ft) to the Jordan River valley and the Sea of Galilee. In the south, the incised Yarmouk River valley marks the limits of the plateau and, east of the abandoned railroad bridge upstream of Hamat Gader and Al Hammah, it marks the recognised international border between Syria and Jordan.[39] Geologically, the Golan plateau and the Hauran plain to the east constitute a Holocene volcanic field that also extends northeast almost to Damascus. Much of the area is scattered with dormant volcanos, as well as cinder cones, such as Majdal Shams. The plateau also contains a crater lake, called Birkat Ram (“Ram Pool”), which is fed by both surface runoff and underground springs. These volcanic areas are characterised by basalt bedrock and dark soils derived from its weathering. The basalt flows overlie older, distinctly lighter-colored limestones and marls, exposed along the Yarmouk River in the south. The rock forming the mountainous area in the northern Golan Heights, descending from Mount Hermon, differs geologically from the volcanic rocks of the plateau and has a different physiography. The mountains are characterised by lighter-colored, Jurassic-age limestone of sedimentary origin. Locally, the limestone is broken by faults and solution channels to form a karst-like topography in which springs are common. In addition to its strategic military importance, the Golan Heights is an important water resource, especially at the higher elevations, which are snow-covered in the winter and help sustain baseflow for rivers and springs during the dry season. The heights receive significantly more precipitation than the surrounding, lower-elevation areas. The occupied sector of the Golan Heights provides or controls a substantial portion of the water in the Jordan River watershed, which in turn provides a portion of Israel’s water supply. The Golan Heights supply 15% of Israel’s water.[40] The Venus of Berekhat Ram, a stone figure from the Lower Paleolithic era, found in the Golan Heights, may have been created by Homo erectus between 700,000 and 230,000 BCE.[41] In the 3rd millennium BC the Amorites inhabited the Golan until it was conquered in the 2nd millennium by the Arameans. The Aramaean city state Aram Damascus reached over most of Golan to the Sea of Galilee.[42] According to the Bible, the Children of Israel conquered the Golan from the Amorites.[5] The Bible also says that the area, known as Bashan, was inhabited by two Israelite tribes during the time of Joshua, the tribe of Dan[43] and Manasseh. The city of Golan was a city of refuge. King Solomon appointed ministers in the region.[44] After the split of the United Monarchy, the area was contested between the northern Kingdom of Israel and the Aramean kingdom from the 9th century BC. King Ahab of Israel (reigned 874852 BC) defeated Ben-Hadad I in Afek of the southern Golan. In the 8th century BC the Assyrians gained control of the area, followed by the Babylonian and the Persian Empire. In the 5th century BC, the Persian Empire allowed the region to be resettled by returning Jewish exiles from Babylonian Captivity. The Golan Heights, along with the rest of the region, came under the control of Alexander the Great in 332 BC, following the Battle of Issus. Following Alexander’s death, the Golan came under the domination of the Macedonian noble Seleucus and remained part of the Seleucid Empire for most of the next two centuries. It is during this period that the name Golan, previously that of a city mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy, came to be applied to the entire region (Greek: Gaulanitis). After the Assyrian period, about four centuries provide limited archaeological finds in the Golan.[45] In the middle of the 2nd century BCE, Itureans started living in the Golan.[9] They lived in over 100 locations in the Mount Hermon and Golan region.[46] The Maccabean revolt saw much action in the regions around the Golan and it is possible that the Jewish communities of the Golan were among those rescued by Judas Maccabeus during his campaign in the Galilee and Gilead (Transjordan) mentioned in Chapter 5 of 1 Maccabees. The Golan, however, remained in Seleucid hands until the campaign of Alexander Jannaeus from 8380 BC. Jannaeus established the city of Gamla in 81 BC as the Hasmonean capital for the region. During the Roman and Byzantine periods the area was administered as part of Phoenicia Prima and Syria Palaestina, and finally Golan/Gaulanitis was included together with Peraea[31] in Palaestina Secunda, after 218 AD.[26] Ancient kingdom Bashan was incorporated into the province of Batanea.[47] Following the death of Herod the Great in 4 BC, Augustus Caesar adjudicated that the Golan fell within the Tetrarchy of Herod’s son, Herod Philip I. After Philip’s death in 34 AD, the Romans absorbed the Golan into the province of Syria, but Caligula restored the territory to Herod’s grandson Agrippa in 37. Following Agrippa’s death in 44, the Romans again annexed the Golan to Syria, promptly to return it again when Claudius traded the Golan to Agrippa II, the son of Agrippa I, in 51 as part of a land swap. Although nominally under Agrippa’s control and not part of the province of Judea, the Jewish communities of the Golan joined their coreligionists in the First Jewish-Roman War, only to fall to the Roman armies in its early stages. Gamla was captured in 67; according to Josephus, its inhabitants committed mass suicide, preferring it to crucifixion and slavery. Agrippa II contributed soldiers to the Roman war effort and attempted to negotiate an end to the revolt. In return for his loyalty, Rome allowed him to retain his kingdom, but finally absorbed the Golan for good after his death in 100. In about 250, the Ghassanids, Arab Christians from Yemen, established a kingdom which encompassed southern Syria and the Transjordan, building their capital at Jabiyah on the Golan. Like the later Herodians, the Ghassanids ruled as clients of Byzantine Rome; unlike the Herodians, the Ghassanids were able to hold on to the Golan until the Sassanid invasion of 614. Following a brief restoration under the Emperor Heraclius, the Golan again fell, this time to the invading Arabs after the Battle of Yarmouk in 636. After Yarmouk, Muawiyah I, a member of Muhammad’s tribe, the Quraish, was appointed governor of Syria, including the Golan. Following the assassination of his cousin, the Caliph Uthman, Muawiya claimed the Caliphate for himself, initiating the Umayyad dynasty. Over the next few centuries, while remaining in Muslim hands, the Golan passed through many dynastic changes, falling first to the Abbasids, then to the Shi’ite Fatimids, then to the Seljuk Turks, then to the Kurdish Ayyubids. During the Crusades, the Heights represented a formidable obstacle the Crusader armies were not able to conquer, and the area was a part of the Emirate of Damascus during this time.[48][49] The Mongols swept through in 1259, but were driven off by the Mamluk sultan Qutuz at the Battle of Ain Jalut in 1260. Ain Jalut ensured Mamluk dominance of the region for the next 250years. For many centuries nomadic tribes lived together with the sedentary population in the region. At times, the central government attempted to settle the nomads which would result in the establishment of permanent communities. When the power of the governing regime declined, as happened during the early Muslim period, nomadic trends increased and many of the rural and agricultural villages were abandoned due to harassment from the Bedouins. They were not resettled until the second half of the 19th century.[50] In the 16th century, the Ottoman Turks conquered Syria. During this time, the Golan formed part of the southern district of their empire. Some Druze communities were established in the Golan during the 17th and 18th centuries.[51] In 1868, the region was described as “almost entirely desolate.” According to a travel handbook of the time, only 11 of 127 ancient towns and villages in the Golan were inhabited.[52] As a result of the Russo-Turkish War of 187778, there was a huge influx of refugees from the Caucasus into the empire. The Ottomans encouraged them to settle in southern Syria, particularly the Golan Heights, by granting them land with a 12-year tax exemption.[53][54][55][56] In 1884 there were still open stretches of uncultivated land between villages in the lower Golan, but by the mid-1890s most was owned and cultivated.[57] Some land had been purchased in the Golan and Hawran by Zionist associations based in Romania, Bulgaria, the USA and England, in the late 19th century and early 20th century.[58] In 1880, Laurence Oliphant published Eretz ha-Gilad (The Land of Gilead), which described a plan for large-scale Jewish settlement in the Golan.[59] In the winter of 1885, members of the Old Yishuv in Safed formed the Beit Yehuda Society and purchased 15,000 dunams of land from the village of Ramthaniye in the central Golan.[60] Due to financial hardships and the long wait for a kushan (Ottoman land deed) the village, Golan be-Bashan, was abandoned after a year. Soon afterwards, the society regrouped and purchased 2,000 dunams of land from the village of Bir e-Shagum on the western slopes of the Golan.[61] The village they established, Bnei Yehuda, existed until 1920.[62][63] The last families left in the wake of the Passover riots of 1920.[60] In 1944 the JNF bought the Bnei Yehuda lands from their Jewish owners, but a later attempt to establish Jewish ownership of the property in Bir e-Shagum through the courts was not successful.[62] Between 1891 and 1894, Baron Edmond James de Rothschild purchased around 150,000 dunams of land in the Golan and the Hawran for Jewish settlement.[60] Legal and political permits were secured and ownership of the land was registered in late 1894.[60] The Agudat Ahim society, whose headquarters were in Yekatrinoslav, Russia, acquired 100,000 dunams of land in several locations in the districts of Fiq and Daraa. A plant nursery was established and work began on farm buildings in Djillin.[60] The Jews also built a road stretching from Lake Hula to Muzayrib.[62] A village called Tiferet Binyamin was established on lands purchased from Saham al-Jawlan by the Shavei Zion Association based in New York,[58] but the project was abandoned after a year when the Turks issued an edict in 1896 evicting the 17 non-Turkish families. A later attempt to resettle the site with Syrian Jews who were Ottoman citizens also failed.[64] Between 1904 and 1908, a group of Crimean Jews settled in the Bethsaida Valley, initially as tenants of a Kurdish proprietor with the prospects of purchasing the land, but the arrangement faltered.[65][66] Jewish settlement in the region dwindled over time, due to Arab hostility, Turkish bureaucracy, disease and economic difficulties.[67] In 19211930, during the French Mandate, the Palestine Jewish Colonization Association (PICA) obtained the deeds to the Rothschild estate and continued to manage it, collecting rents from the Arab peasants living there.[62] Great Britain accepted a Mandate for Palestine at the meeting of the Allied Supreme Council at San Remo, but the borders of the territory were not defined at that stage.[68][69] The boundary between the forthcoming British and French mandates was defined in broad terms by the Franco-British Boundary Agreement of December 1920.[70] That agreement placed the bulk of the Golan Heights in the French sphere. The treaty also established a joint commission to settle the precise details of the border and mark it on the ground.[70] The commission submitted its final report on 3 February 1922, and it was approved with some caveats by the British and French governments on 7 March 1923, several months before Britain and France assumed their Mandatory responsibilities on 29 September 1923.[71][72] In accordance with the same process, a nearby parcel of land that included the ancient site of Tel Dan and the Dan spring were transferred from Syria to Palestine early in 1924. The Golan Heights, including the spring at Wazzani and the one at Banias, thus became part of the French Mandate of Syria, while the Sea of Galilee was placed entirely within the British Mandate of Palestine. When the French Mandate of Syria ended in 1944, the Golan Heights became part of the newly independent state of Syria and was later incorporated into Quneitra Governorate. After the 194849 Arab-Israeli War, the Golan Heights were partly demilitarised by the Israel-Syria Armistice Agreement. During the following years, the area along the border witnessed thousands of violent incidents; the armistice agreement was being violated by both sides. The underlying causes of the conflict were a disagreement over the legal status of the demilitarised zone (DMZ), cultivation of land within it and competition over water resources. Syria claimed that neither party had sovereignty over the DMZ. Israel contended that the Armistice Agreement dealt solely with military concerns and that she had political and legal rights over the DMZ. Israel wanted to assert control up till the 1923 boundary in order to reclaim the Hula swamp, gain exclusive rights to Lake Galilee and divert water from the Jordan for its National Water Carrier. During the 1950s, Syria registered two principal territorial accomplishments: it took over Al-Hammah enclosure south of Lake Tiberias and established a de facto presence on and control of eastern shore of the lake.[73][74] The Jordan Valley Unified Water Plan was sponsored by the United States and agreed by the technical experts of the Arab League and Israel.[75] The U.S.A funded the Israeli and Jordanian water diversion projects, when they pledged to abide by the plan’s allocations.[76] President Nasser too, assured the U.S.A, that the Arabs would not exceed the plan’s water quotas.[77] However, in the early 1960s the Arab League funded a Syrian water diversion project that would have denied Israel use of a major portion of its water allocation.[78] The resulting armed clashes are called the War over Water.[79] in July 1966,[80]Fatah began raids into Israeli territory in early 1965, with active support from Syria. At first the militants entered via Lebanon or Jordan, but those countries made concerted attempts to stop them and raids directly from Syria increased.[81] Israel’s response was a series of retaliatory raids, of which the largest were an attack on the Jordanian village of Samu in November 1966.[82] In April 1967, after Syria heavily shelled Israeli villages from the Golan Heights, Israel shot down six Syrian MiG fighter planes and warned Syria against future attacks.[81][83] In the period between the first Arab-Israeli War and the Six-Day War, the Syrians constantly harassed Israeli border communities by firing artillery shells from their dominant positions on the Golan Heights.[84][85] In October 1966 Israel brought the matter up before the United Nations. Five nations sponsored a resolution criticizing Syria for its actions but it failed to pass due to a Soviet veto.[86][87][88] Former Israeli General Mattityahu Peled said that more than half of the border clashes before the 1967 war “were a result of our security policy of maximum settlement in the demilitarised area.”[89] Israeli incursions into the zone were responded to with Syrians shooting. Israel in turn would retaliate with military force.[73] Sir Alec Douglas-Home, former Prime Minister of the UK, stated that when he was visiting the Galilee a few months before the 1967 war “at regular intervals the Russian-built forts on the Golan Heights used to lob shells into the villages, often claiming civilian casualties.” He said after the 1973 war that any agreement between the two sides “must clearly put a stop the that kind of offensive action.”[90] In 1976, Israeli defense minister Moshe Dayan said that Israel provoked more than 80% of the clashes with Syria, although historians say the remark was part of an informal conversation.[91] The provocation was sending a tractor to plow in the demilitarized areas. The Syrians responded by firing at the tractors and shelling Israeli settlements.[92][93] Jan Mhren, a former UN observer in the area at the time, told a Dutch current affairs programme that Israel “provoked most border incidents as part of its strategy to annex more land”.[94] UN officials blamed both Israel and Syria for destabilizing the borders.[95] After the Six-Day War broke out in June 1967, Syria’s shelling greatly intensified and the Israeli army captured the Golan Heights on 910 June. The area which came under Israeli control as a result of the war consists of two geologically distinct areas: the Golan Heights proper, with a surface of 1,070 square kilometres (410sqmi) and the slopes of the Mt. Hermon range, with a surface of 100 square kilometres (39sqmi). The new ceasefire line was named the Purple Line. In the battle, Israel lost 115 men, with another 306 wounded. An estimated 2,500 Syrians were killed, with another 5,000 wounded.[96] During the war, between 80,000[97] and 131,000[98] Syrians fled or were driven from the heights and around 7,000 remained in the Israeli-occupied territory.[98] Israeli sources and the U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants reported that much of the local population of 100,000 fled as a result of the war, whereas the Syrian government stated that a large proportion of it was expelled.[99] Israel has not allowed former residents to return, citing security reasons.[100] The remaining villages were Majdal Shams, Shayta (later destroyed), Ein Qiniyye, Mas’ade, Buq’ata and, outside the Golan proper, Ghajar. Israeli settlement in the Golan began soon after the war. Merom Golan was founded in July 1967 and by 1970 there were 12 settlements.[101] In the 1970s, Israeli politician Yigal Allon proposed as part of the Allon Plan that a Druze state be established in Syria’s Quneitra Governorate, including the Israeli-held Golan Heights. Allon died in 1980 and his plan never materialised.[102] During the Yom Kippur War in 1973, Syrian forces overran much of the southern Golan, before being pushed back by an Israeli counterattack. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights in Israeli hands. East of the 1974 ceasefire line lies the Syrian controlled part of the Heights, an area that was not captured by Israel (500 square kilometres or 190 sq mi) or withdrawn from (100 square kilometres or 39 sq mi). This area forms 30% of the Golan Heights.[103] Today it contains more than 40 Syrian towns and villages. In 1975, following the 1974 ceasefire agreement, Israel returned a narrow demilitarised zone to Syrian control. Some of the displaced residents began returning to their homes located in this strip and the Syrian government began helping people rebuild their villages, except for Quneitra. In the mid-1980s the Syrian government launched a plan called “The Project for the Reconstruction of the Liberated Villages”.[citation needed] By the end of 2007, the population of the Quneitra Governorate was estimated at 79,000.[104] Mines deployed by the Syrian army remain active. As of 2003, there had been at least 216 landmine casualties in the Syrian-controlled Golan since 1973, of which 108 were fatalities.[105] The Golan Heights was under Israeli military administration from 1967 to 1981. In 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law,[14] which applied Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” to the Golan Heights. Although the law in effect annexed the territory to Israel, it did not explicitly spell out the formal annexation.[106] The area is administered as part of Israel’s North District. Israel’s action was not recognised internationally[107] and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 which declared the Golan Heights Israeli-occupied territory continues to apply. Israel maintains that it may retain the area as the text of Resolution 242 calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.[16] During the negotiations regarding the text of United Nations Security Council resolution 242, U.S. Secretary of State Rusk explained that U.S. support for secure permanent frontiers did not mean the US supported territorial changes.[108] The U.N. representative for the United Kingdom who was responsible for negotiating and drafting the Security Council resolution said that the actions of the Israeli Government in establishing settlements and colonizing the Golan are in clear defiance of Resolution 242.[109] Syria continued to demand a full Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders, including a strip of land on the east shore of the Sea of Galilee that Syria captured during the 194849 Arab-Israeli War and occupied from 194967. Successive Israeli governments have considered an Israeli withdrawal from the Golan in return for normalization of relations with Syria, provided certain security concerns are met. Prior to 2000, Syrian president Hafez al-Assad rejected normalization with Israel. During United Statesbrokered negotiations in 19992000, Israel and Syria discussed a peace deal that would include Israeli withdrawal in return for a comprehensive peace structure, recognition and full normalization of relations. The disagreement in the final stages of the talks was on access to the Sea of Galilee. Israel offered to withdraw to the pre-1948 border (the 1923 Paulet-Newcombe line), while Syria insisted on the 1967 frontier. The former line has never been recognised by Syria, claiming it was imposed by the colonial powers, while the latter was rejected by Israel as the result of Syrian aggression. The difference between the lines is less than 100m for the most part, but the 1967 line would give Syria access to the Sea of Galilee, and Israel wished to retain control of the Sea of Galilee, its only freshwater lake and a major water resource.[110] Dennis Ross, Clinton’s chief Middle East negotiator, blamed “cold feet” on the part of Barak for the breakdown.[111] Clinton also laid blame on Israel.[112] In June 2007, it was reported that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert had sent a secret message to Syrian President, Bashar Assad saying that Israel would concede the land in exchange for a comprehensive peace agreement and the severing of Syria’s ties with Iran and militant groups in the region.[113] On the same day, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the former Syrian President, Hafez Assad, had promised to let Israel retain Mount Hermon in any future agreement.[114] In April 2008, Syrian media reported Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoan told President Bashar al-Assad that Israel would withdraw from the Golan Heights in return for peace.[115][116] Israeli leaders of communities in the Golan Heights held a special meeting and stated: “all construction and development projects in the Golan are going ahead as planned, propelled by the certainty that any attempt to harm Israeli sovereignty in the Golan will cause severe damage to state security and thus is doomed to fail”.[117] A survey found that 70% of Israelis oppose relinquishing the Golan for peace with Syria.[118] That year, a plenary session of the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution 1611 in favour of a motion on the Golan Heights that reaffirmed Security Council resolution 497 and called on Israel to desist from “changing the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure and legal status of the occupied Syrian Golan and, in particular, to desist from the establishment of settlements [and] from imposing Israeli citizenship and Israeli identity cards on the Syrian citizens in the occupied Syrian Golan and from its repressive measures against the population of the occupied Syrian Golan.” Israel was the only nation to vote against the resolution.[119] Indirect talks broke down after the Gaza War began. Syria broke off the talks to protest Israeli military operations. Israel subsequently appealed to Turkey to resume mediation.[120] In May 2009, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that returning the Golan Heights would turn it into “Iran’s front lines which will threaten the whole state of Israel.”[121][122] He said: “I remember the Golan Heights without Katzrin, and suddenly we see a thriving city in the Land of Israel, which having been a gem of the Second Temple era has been revived anew.”[123] American diplomat Martin Indyk said that the 19992000 round of negotiations began during Netanyahu’s first term (19961999), and he was not as hardline as he made out.[124] In March 2009, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claimed that indirect talks had failed after Israel did not commit to full withdrawal from the Golan Heights. In August 2009, he said that the return of the entire Golan Heights was “non-negotiable,” it would remain “fully Arab,” and would be returned to Syria.[125] In June 2009, Israeli President Shimon Peres said that Syrian President Assad would have to negotiate without preconditions, and that Syria would not win territorial concessions from Israel on a “silver platter” while it maintained ties with Iran and Hezbollah.[126] In response, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid Muallem demanded that Israel unconditionally cede the Golan Heights “on a silver platter” without any preconditions, adding that “it is our land,” and blamed Israel for failing to commit to peace. Syrian President Assad claimed that there was “no real partner in Israel.”[127] In 2010, Israeli foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman said: “We must make Syria recognise that just as it relinquished its dream of a greater Syria that controls Lebanon … it will have to relinquish its ultimate demand regarding the Golan Heights”[23] Claims on the territory include the fact that an area in northwestern of the Golan region, delineated by a rough triangle formed by the towns of Banias, Quneitra and the northern tip of the Sea of Galilee, was part of the British Palestine Mandate in which the establishment of a Jewish national home had been promised.[128] In 1923, this triangle in northwestern Golan was ceded to the French Mandate in Syria, but in exchange for this, land areas in Syria and Lebanon was ceded to Palestine, and the whole of the Sea of Galilee which previously had its eastern boundary connected to Syria was placed inside Palestine.[129] Syrians counter that the region was placed in the Vilayet of Damascus as part of Syria under the Ottoman boundaries and that the 1920 British-Franco agreement which had placed part of the Golan under the control of Britain was only temporary and that the final border line drawn up in 1923, which excluded the Golan triangle, had superseded it,[128] although Syria has never recognised the 1923 border as legally binding. One of the aspects of the dispute involves the existence prior to 1967 of three different lines separating Syria from the area that between 1948 and 1967 was referred to as Mandatory Palestine. The 1923 boundary between British Mandatory Palestine and the French Mandate of Syria was drawn with water in mind.[130] Accordingly, it was demarcated so that all of the Sea of Galilee, including a 10-meter wide strip of beach along its northeastern shore, would stay inside Mandatory Palestine. From the Sea of Galilee north to Lake Hula the boundary was drawn between 50 and 400 meters east of the upper Jordan River, keeping that stream entirely within Mandatory Palestine. The British also received a sliver of land along the Yarmouk River, out to the present-day Hamat Gader.[131] During the Arab-Israeli War, Syria captured various areas of the formerly British controlled Mandatory Palestine, including the 10-meter strip of beach, the east bank of the upper Jordan, as well as areas along the Yarmouk. While negotiating the 1949 Armistice Agreements, Israel called for the removal of all Syrian forces from the former Palestine territory. Syria refused, insisting on an armistice line based not on the 1923 international border but on the military status quo. The result was a compromise. Under the terms of an armistice signed on 20 July 1949, Syrian forces were to withdraw east of the old Palestine-Syria boundary. Israeli forces were to refrain from entering the evacuated areas, which would become a demilitarised zone, “from which the armed forces of both Parties shall be totally excluded, and in which no activities by military or paramilitary forces shall be permitted.”[132] Accordingly, major parts of the armistice lines departed from the 1923 boundary and protruded into Israel. There were three distinct, non-contiguous enclavesin the extreme northeast to the west of Banias, on the west bank of the Jordan River near Lake Hula, and the eastern-southeastern shores of the Sea of Galilee extending out to Hamat Gader, consisting of 66.5 square kilometres (25.7sqmi) of land lying between the 1949 armistice line and the 1923 boundary, forming the demilitarised zone.[130] Following the armistice, both Israel and Syria sought to take advantage of the territorial ambiguities left in place by the 1949 agreement. This resulted in an evolving tactical situation, one “snapshot” of which was the disposition of forces immediately prior to the Six-Day War, the line of June 4, 1967.[130] On 7 June 2000, the demarcation Blue Line was established by the UN in order to ensure full Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, according to UN Security Council Resolution 425. After Israeli troops left Lebanese soil, the UN announced the resolution had been respected. However, Lebanon continues to claim a small portion of the area occupied by Israel and administered as part of the Golan Heights. The territory, known as the Shebaa Farms, measures 22 square kilometres (8.5sqmi) and lies on the border between Lebanon and the Golan Heights. Maps used by the UN in demarcating the Blue Line were not able to conclusively show the border between Lebanon and Syria in the area. Syria agrees that the Shebaa Farms are within Lebanese territory; however, Israel considers the area to be inside of Syria’s borders and continues to occupy the territory.[133][134][135] Al Ghajar village is another complex border issue west of Shebaa farms. Before the 1967 war this Alawite village was in Syria. It is divided by an international boundary, with the northern part of the village on the Lebanese side since 2000. Residents of both parts hold Israeli citizenship, and in the northern part often a Lebanese passport as well. Today the entire village is surrounded by a fence, with no division between the Israeli-occupied and Lebanese sides. There is an Israeli army checkpoint at the entrance to the village from the rest of the Golan Heights.[135] In 1975, U.S. President Gerald Ford wrote a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin stating that the U.S. had not developed a final position on the borders but once it had, it would give great weight to Israel’s position that a peace agreement with Syria must be predicated on Israel remaining on the Golan Heights.[136] In 1991, U.S. Secretary of State James Baker told Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir that the United States would honor the position expressed in Ford’s letter. William B. Quandt speculates that Baker told Syrian President Hafez al-Assad that the United States did not recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan and thought that UN Resolution 242 should apply there.[137] The United States considers the Golan Heights to be Syrian territory held under Israeli occupation subject to negotiation and Israeli withdrawal. The United States considers the application of Israeli law to the Golan Heights to be a violation of international law, both the Fourth Geneva Convention’s prohibition on the acquisition of territory by force and United Nations Security Council Resolution 242.[22][138] UNDOF (the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force) was established in 1974 to supervise the implementation of the Agreement on Disengagement and maintain the ceasefire with an area of separation known as the UNDOF Zone. Currently there are more than 1,000 UN peacekeepers there trying to sustain a lasting peace. Details of the UNDOF mission, mandate, map and military positions can be accessed via the following United Nations link.[139] Syria and Israel still contest the ownership of the Heights but have not used overt military force since 1974. The great strategic value of the Heights both militarily and as a source of water means that a deal is uncertain. Members of the UN Disengagement force are usually the only individuals who cross the Israeli-Syrian de facto border (cease fire “Alpha Line”), but since 1988 Israel has allowed Druze pilgrims to cross into Syria to visit the shrine of Abel on Mount Qasioun. Since 1967, Druze brides have been allowed to cross into Syria, although they do so in the knowledge that they may not be able to return. Though the cease fire in the UNDOF zone has been largely uninterrupted since the seventies, in 2012 there have been repeated violations from the Syrian side, including tanks[140] and live fire,[141] though these incidents are attributed to the ongoing Syrian civil war rather than intentionally directed towards Israel.[142] The population of the Golan Heights prior to the 1967 Six-Day War has been estimated between 130,000 and 145,000, including 17,000 Palestinian refugees registered with UNRWA.[143] Between 80,000[97] and 130,000[98] Syrians fled or were driven from the heights during the Six-Day War and around 7,000 remained in the Israeli-held territory in six villages: Majdal Shams, Mas’ade, Buq’ata, Ein Qiniyye, Ghajar and Shayta.[98] Israel demolished over one hundred Syrian villages and farms in the Golan Heights.[144][145] After the demolitions, the lands were given to Israeli settlers.[146] Quneitra was the largest town in the Golan Heights until 1967, with a population of 27,000. It was occupied by Israel on the last day of the Six-Day War and handed back to Syrian civil control per the 1974 Disengagement Agreement. But the Israelis had destroyed Quneitra with dynamite and bulldozers before they withdrew from the city.[147][148] East of the 1973 ceasefire line, in the Syrian controlled part of the Golan Heights, an area of 600 square kilometres (232sqmi), are more than 40 Syrian towns and villages, including Quneitra, Khan Arnabah, al-Hamidiyah, al-Rafid, al-Samdaniyah, al-Mudariyah, Beer Ajam, Bariqa, Ghadir al-Bustan, Hadar Juba, Kodana, Ufaniyah, Ruwayhinah, Nabe al-Sakhar, Trinjah, Umm al-Azam, and Umm Batna. The population of the Quneitra Governorate numbers 79,000.[104] In the late 1970s, the Israeli government offered all non-Israelis living in the Golan citizenship, but until the early 21st century fewer than 10% of the Druze were Israeli citizens; the remainder held Syrian citizenship.[149] The Golan Alawites in the village of Ghajar accepted Israeli citizenship in 1981.[150] In 2012, due to the situation in Syria, young Druze have applied to Israeli citizenship in much larger numbers than in previous years.[151] In 2012, there were 20,000 Druze with Syrian citizenship living in the Israeli-occupied portion Golan Heights.[152] The Druze living in the Golan Heights are permanent residents of Israel. They hold laissez-passers issued by the Israeli government, and enjoy the country’s social welfare benefits.[153] The pro-Israeli Druze were historically ostracized by the pro-Syrian Druze.[154] Reluctance to accept citizenship also reflects fear of ill treatment or displacement by Syrian authorities should the Golan Heights eventually be returned to Syria.[155] According to The Independent, most Druze in the Golan Heights live relatively comfortable lives in a freer society than they would have in Syria under Assad’s government.[156] According to Egypt’s Daily Star, their standard of living vastly surpasses that of their counterparts on the Syrian side of the border. Hence their fear of a return to Syria, though most of them identify themselves as Syrian,[157] but feel alienated from the “autocratic” government in Damascus. According to the Associated Press, “many young Druse have been quietly relieved at the failure of previous Syrian-Israeli peace talks to go forward.”[158] On the other hand, expressing pro-Syrian rhetoric, The Economist found, represents the Golan Druzes’ view that by doing so they may be potentially rewarded by Syria, while simultaneously risking nothing in Israel’s freewheeling society. The Economist likewise reported that “Some optimists see the future Golan as a sort of Hong Kong, continuing to enjoy the perks of Israels dynamic economy and open society, while coming back under the sovereignty of a stricter, less developed Syria.” The Druze are also reportedly well-educated and relatively prosperous, and have made use of Israel’s universities.[159] Since 1988, Druze clerics have been permitted to make annual religious pilgrimages to Syria. Since 2005, Israel has allowed Druze farmers to export some 11,000 tons of apples to the rest of Syria each year, constituting the first commercial relations between Syria and Israel.[158] Since the breakout of the Syrian Civil War in 2012, the number of applications for Israeli citizenship is growing, although Syrian loyalty remains strong and those who apply for citizenship are often ostracized by members of the older generation.[160] Israeli settlement activity began in the 1970s. The area was governed by military administration until 1981 when Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, which extended Israeli law and administration throughout the territory.[14] This move was condemned by the United Nations Security Council in UN Resolution 497,[2][15] although Israel states it has a right to retain the area, citing the text of UN Resolution 242, adopted after the Six-Day War, which calls for “safe and recognised boundaries free from threats or acts of force”.[16] The continued Israeli control of the Golan Heights remains highly contested and is still regarded as belligerent occupation by most countries. The international community rejects the validity of the Golan Heights Law as an attempted annexation by force, illegal under the UN Charter and the Geneva Conventions.[161] Israeli settlements and human rights policy in the occupied territory have also drawn criticism from the UN.[162][163] The Israeli-occupied territory is administered by the Golan Regional Council, based in Katzrin, which has a population of 6,400. There another 19 moshavim and 10 kibbutzim. In 1989, the settler population was 10,000.[164] By 2010 the Jewish settler population had expanded to 20,000[165] living in 32 settlements.[166][167] The Golan Heights features numerous archeological sites, mountains, streams and waterfalls. Throughout the region 62 ancient synagogues have been found dating back to the Roman and Byzantine periods.[168] Kursi is the ruins of a Byzantine Christian monastery. Katzrin is the administrative and commercial center of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights. Katzrin Ancient Village is an archaeological site on the outskirts of Katzrin where the remains of a Talmud-era village and synagogue have been reconstructed.[169]Golan Archaeological Museum hosts archaeological finds uncovered in the Golan Heights from prehistoric times. A special focus concerns Gamla and excavations of synagogues and Byzantine churches.[170] Golan Heights Winery, a major Israeli winery, and the mineral water plant of Mey Eden, which derives its water from the spring of Salukiya in the Golan. One can tour these factories as well as factories of oil products and fruit products. Two open air strip malls, one which holds the Kesem ha-Golan (Golan Magic), a three-dimensional movie and model of the geography and history of the Golan Heights. Gamla Nature Reserve is an open park with the archaeological remains of the ancient Jewish city of Gamla including a tower, wall and synagogue. It is also the site of a large waterfall, an ancient Byzantine church, and a panoramic spot to observe the nearly 100 vultures that dwell in the cliffs. Israeli scientists study the vultures and tourists can watch them fly and nest.[171] Rujm el-Hiri is a large circular stone monument similar to Stonehenge. Excavations since 1968 have not uncovered material remains common to archaeological sites in the region. Archaeologists believe the site may have been a ritual center linked to a cult of the dead.[172] A 3D model of the site exists in the Museum of Golan Antiquities in Katzrin. Um el Kanatir is another impressive set of standing ruins of a Jewish village of the Byzantine era. The site includes a very large synagogue and two arches next to a natural spring.[173] The Nimrod Fortress was built against the Crusaders, served the Ayyubids and Mamluks, and was captured only once, in 1260, by the Mongols. It is now located inside a nature reserve. A ski resort on the slopes of Mount Hermon features a wide range of ski trails and activities. Several restaurants are located in the area. The Lake Ram crater lake is nearby. Hamat Gader is site of natural hot mineral springs with temperatures reaching 50C (122F). Hamat Gader was already used for recreation and healing purposes during Roman times. The site includes a Roman theatre, which was built in the 3rd century CE and contained 2,000 seats. A large synagogue was built in the 5th century CE. Hippos is an ancient Greco-Roman city, known in Jewish Aramaic as Susita. The archaeological site includes excavations of the city’s forum, the small imperial cult temple, a large Hellenistic temple compound, the Roman city gates, and two Byzantine churches. On a visit to Israel and the Golan Heights in 1972, Cornelius Ough, a professor of viticulture and oenology at the University of California, Davis, pronounced conditions in the Golan very suitable for the cultivation of wine grapes.[174] A consortium of four kibbutzim and four moshavim took up the challenge, clearing 250 burnt-out tanks in the Golan’s Valley of Tears to plant vineyards for what would eventually become the Golan Heights Winery.[175] The first vines were planted in 1976, and the first wine was released by the winery in 1983.[174] The heights are now home to about a dozen wineries.[176] In the early 1990s, the Israel National Oil Company (INOC) was granted shaft-sinking permits in the Golan Heights. It estimated a recovery potential of two million barrels of oil, equivalent at the time to $24 million. During the Yitzhak Rabin administration (19921995), the permits were suspended as efforts were undertaken to restart peace negotiations between Israel and Syria. In 1996, Benjamin Netanyahu granted preliminary approval to INOC to proceed with oil exploration drilling in the Golan.[177][178][179] INOC began undergoing a process of privatization in 1997, overseen by then-Director of the Government Companies Authority (GCA), Tzipi Livni. During that time, it was decided that INOC’s drilling permits would be returned to the state.[180][181] In 2012, National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau approved exploratory drilling for oil and natural gas in the Golan.[182] The following year, the Petroleum Council of Israel’s Ministry of Energy and Water Resources secretly awarded a drilling license covering half the area of the Golan Heights to a local subsidiary of New Jersey-based Genie Energy Ltd. headed by Effi Eitam.[183][184] Human rights groups have said the drilling violates international law as Golan Heights is an occupied territory.[185]

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October 14, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Israel targets Syrian artillery after projectile lands in …

The IDF said it was the third projectile to have crossed from Syria into the Golan this week, including one Sunday and another Wednesday. No injuries were reported in any of the incidents. The Israeli military said it holds the Syrian government “accountable for this blatant breach of Israeli sovereignty. The IDF will continue to act in order to safeguard Israel and its civilians.” The international community considers the Golan Heights to be occupied territory and Israeli settlement-building there to be illegal. Syria wants the return of the territory that UN peacekeeping forces have monitored for decades. According to foreign reports, Israel has conducted numerous strikes in Syria and Lebanon, destroying weapons shipments intended for the militant group Hezbollah. But no Israeli leader had every publicly acknowledged that these strikes occurred. Netanyahu said the presence of ancient synagogues in the Golan Heights showed that the territory, with a population of about 50,000, had been “an integral part of the Land of Israel since ancient times,” and that it remained an integral part of modern Israel. The Israeli military said its forces targeted the area, describing the inhabitants as “part of the terror cell responsible for the rocket fire at northern Israel ” It did not say how many people were killed in the attack in al Qom in Quneitra.

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September 10, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights – Haaretz

U.S. House won’t vote on gun control at least until September, official says (Reuters) Death toll of Italian train crash rises to 20, officials say (Reuters) Austria to seize Hitler’s birthplace to prevent it from becoming Nazi pilgrimage site (Reuters) UN: Intesified fighting cuts off humanitarian aid passage to rebel-held part of Aleppo, Syria (AP) Iranian central bank, U.S. Treasury, international banks to meet, U.K. official says (Reuters) Death toll rises in Italy train crash to at least a dozen, firefighters say (AP) 2 trains collide in southern Italy; at least 4 dead, dozens injured (AP) At least 36,000 people have fled from South Sudan capital of Juba, UN says (Reuters) Israeli forces arrest 10 wanted Palestinians in West Bank city of Qalqilya (Haaretz) Dozens wait at Jerusalem Old City gate to enter Temple Mt with family of slain teenager (Haaretz) Car bomb kills nine north of Baghdad (Reuters) Australian convicted of recruiting 6 men to fight in Syria (AP) Suspect in Michigan courthouse shooting was an inmate who took gun from officer (Reuters) Israel passes contentious ‘NGO bill’ into law (Haaretz) Michigan governor says courthouse secured after shots fired (AP)

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July 6, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights – Free Israel Trip! Birthright Israel: Israel …

Located in the northern region of Israel, the Golan Heights defines itself through greenery, mountains, hikes, waterfalls, and volcanic hills. In the midst of the natural beauty lies a beautiful community full of pride for its land. The high viewpoints and ample water source has resulted in tumultuous war times in the Golan Heights history with its neighboring countries, Lebanon and Syria. However, the history of this area goes all the way back to antiquity even playing an essential role in the Hanukkah story. Today, the Golan Heights has flourished as one of the most popular tourist sites for locals and tourists alike. Must See Sites: City of Tiberias: Sitting along Lake Kinneret, Israels main water supply, Tiberias offers the perfect mix between contemporary and history. The central promenade offers an array of restaurants, cafes, ice cream stands, and nightlife spots. Golan Winery Wine Tasting & Tour: Prepare to experience the world-renowned wines born within Golan Winery. Learn about how wine production from guided tour of the winery, taste the award-winning wines in the proper etiquette, and finish with gifts to take back home! Chocolate Factory: Its a real-life Willy Wonka Factory! Receive a yummy tour of the manufacturing plant that makes the worlds favorite dessert: chocolate. Learn about the history, see the production in action, and taste these sweet treats along the way. Hike & Waterfall Options: Chatsbani Water Trail: Follow the weaving path toward waterfall pools, a rushing river, and local plant life unique to this part of the world. Banyas Hike: The scenic nature reserve and archeological site offers the fullest experience during the winter season with waterfalls reaching 33 feet. Choose from four marked paths depending on difficulty and see what treasures you spot along the way. Yehudiya Zavitan: Shaped like a hand, this impressive reserve features flowing streams, cliff-lined valleys, and an impressive waterfall. Its perfect for beginners or experienced hikers with a bit of something for everyone. Tel Dan Hike: With its shady trees and cool streams, this hike serves as a relaxing break from the summer heat. Be sure to stop at the lookout point to get the full impact of its beauty. Gamla Nature Reserve: Located in the center of the Golan Heights, this location features the highest waterfall in Israel, the largest griffon vulture colony, and the most diverse collection of wild life. Olea Essence Olive Oil Press: Taste and try the 100% organic and kosher olive oil products of Olea Essence. Produced in the Golan Heights and shipping across the world, the skin care and olive oil represent the innovation and global impact of Israeli goods. City of Katzrin: Known as the capital of the Golan Heights, Katzrin sits at the center of the contemporary sites, historical parks, and nature reserves that make up the Golan Heights. A visit to the Talmudic village of Katzrin is a must as it breathes fresh insight into our Jewish history. Mount Bental: Located 1170 meters (3838.58 ft) above sea level, the former military bunker and overlook point puts borders into perspective. Moments away from Syria, Mt. Bental introduces groups to the intricate relationship between Israel and its neighbors. Highlights: Raftingdown the Jordan River: Feel the adrenaline rush as you make your way down the hour long adventure. Off-Road Jeeping: Driver or Passenger- its your choice! Choose to take the challenge of driving through rough terrain or sit back and enjoy the ride as a passenger. Zoom past mud puddles, take in the fresh mountain views, and try to wrap your mind around this once-in-a-lifetime journey. Zip-Lining: Named one of the worlds coolest zip lines, Manara Cliff delivers a birds-eye view of the Northern region and the most acute zip line angle in the world! Boat Ride on Lake Kinneret: Dance the night away on the night-time boat ride on Israels largest freshwater lake, also known as the Sea of Galilee. #Protip: Bring a pair of water hiking shoes, it will make hikes in the Golan Heights more comfortable and enjoyable! JUMP TO:About Israel|Jerusalem|Tel Aviv|Tzfat|The Negev|Masada|Caesarea|Dead Sea|Ein Gedi|Israel Food ListTrip Options|Travel Dates|Travel with Friends|Itinerary Share with your family and friends

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July 5, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Golan Heights – touristisrael.com

The Golan Heights rises up to the east of the Sea of Galileein the far north east of Israel. Home to some of Israels most spectacular landscapes, and funnest adventures, the Golan Heights are a land of beauty, far removed from the cities of the center of the country.Eagles nest at Gamla, deer roam at Odem, whilst man gazes at the spectacular landscape from Mount Bental. In Hamat Gader, natural hot springs have been used by man for thousands of years, whilst man has recently used the snow at Mount Hermon as Israels only ski resort. Explore by driving off-road in an ATV, with a guide in a jeep, by foot on the hiking trails, biking on the tracks, or in a more extreme way, canyoning or rafting. The Golan Heights are truly remarkable! Grape vines in the Golan by Flickr user Gaspa The Golan Heights are a green rocky plateau located to the east of the Sea of Galileein the far north of Israel. About 40 miles from north to south, and an average of 12 mils from east to west, it is a relatively small region. Despite its size, the Golan Heights is very important, supplying Israel with over one third of its water, and, historically as the site of many important battles. View from Mount Bental by Flickr user mockstar The Golan Heights contains some of Israels most beautiful spots, shaped by the rugged and in places lunar landscape. Its great resource water has created green landscapes, and some beautiful water-features. The Saar Falls are arguably Israels most spectacular waterfalls, competing for the honor with the Banias Waterfall, the most iconic and largest waterfall in Israel set within the Banias Nature Reserve, with a great selection of hikes as well as some important history. Mount Bentaloffers literally breathtaking views across both Israels Galilee and the flat plains of Syria. A cafe here called Koffee Anan is a clever pun it means Coffee in the Clouds in Hebrew, and is the name of the past head of the UN youll see the significance of this if you visit. Meanwhile, theGamla Nature Reserve,a rocky camel-shaped outcrop, is the site of a Jewish city founded 2000 years ago. Dubbed the Masada of the North by some, the site is one of Israels many gems not so much for its antiquities but for something else. Its stunning views, and observatory attract bird enthusiasts from around the world coming to see the Griffon Vulture (as well as the view of course!). In the southern part of the Golan Heights, Hamat Gader is home to natural hot springs, used by man for over 2,000 years which draw people from far away due to the beautiful water and stunning surroundings (and, of course, thecrocodile farm the only one in the Middle East.) Of course, one of the most popular attractions of the Golan Heights is theMount Hermon Ski Resort, Israels only ski resort. With 50 days of skiing a year in the winter months it might not be a world-class resort, it is pretty cool to be able to ski less than three hours away from the desert. The resort is also open in the summer months and is really popular for its diversity of plant life and magnificent views. The lifts are open all year round so if youre there in summer, you can hike andswim in the many streams. In spring the plains are at their most beautiful, carpeted with multi-colored flowers. In autumn the cooler weather attracts hikers to the many wooded trails. Another popular hiking route is the Golan Trail. Nearby, is the spectacular Nimrod Fortress, thebiggest Crusader fortress in Israel, beautifully preserved and mighty impressive. Eagles from Gamla by Flickr user karen horton Due to its location, the easiest way to explore the Golan Heights is by car or joining a tour, although our guide about how to get to the Golan could help. Its about a two to two and a half hour drive from Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to the southern-part of the Golan Heights, and whilst it is possible to travel around by bus, it can be difficult as schedules can be infrequent. Group tours to the Golan Heights operate every week, whilst a private tour is a great option if you do not have a car. Once youre in the Golan, the range of activities is awesome. Some of the highlights:

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June 24, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Israeli-occupied territories – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Israeli-occupied territories is a political concept, referring to the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. Originally, those territories included the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and Jordanian-occupied West Bank. The first use of the term ‘territories occupied’ was in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” to be achieved by “the application of both the following principles: … Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict … Termination of all claims or states of belligerency” and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. From 1967 to 1982, those areas were ruled via the Israeli Military Governorate system (also named as Occupied Arab territories by the UN), which became abolished in 1982 as a consequence of the peace accords with Egypt. Despite the dissolution of the military government in line with Egyptian demands for normalization and partial withdrawal, Israeli-occupied territories concept has remained in use to refer to a part of all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Western Golan Heights; from 1998 to 2012, Palestinian territories, Occupied concept was specifically been applied to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (now State of Palestine) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the “Occupying Power”.[3] UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israels occupation “an affront to international law.”[4] The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under “belligerent occupation”.[5] According to Talia Sasson, the High Court of Justice in Israel, with a variety of different justices sitting, has repeatedly stated for more than four decades that Israels presence in the West Bank is in violation of international law.[6] Israeli governments have preferred the term “disputed territories” in the case of the West Bank.[7][8] Officially Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory.[9] Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 (see Jerusalem Law) and the Golan Heights in 1981 (see Golan Heights Law) has not been recognized by any other country.[10]United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared the annexation of Jerusalem “null and void” and required that it be rescinded. United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 also declared the annexation of the Golan “null and void”. Following withdrawal by Israel from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, as part of the 1979 IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty, the Sinai ceased to be considered occupied territory. The Palestinian Authority, the EU,[11] the International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the UN Security Council[12] consider East Jerusalem to be part of the West Bank and occupied by Israel; Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital and sovereign territory.[13] Israel asserts that since the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, it no longer occupies it.[14] However, as it retained certain control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline, as of 2012[update] it continued to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly[15] and some countries and various human rights organizations.[16][17][18][19] The significance of the designation of these territories as occupied territory is that certain legal obligations fall on the occupying power under international law. Under international law there are certain laws of war governing military occupation, including the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[20] One of those obligations is to maintain the status quo until the signing of a peace treaty, the resolution of specific conditions outlined in a peace treaty, or the formation of a new civilian government.[21] Israel disputes whether, and if so to what extent, it is an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian territories and as to whether Israeli settlements in these territories are in breach of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power and constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and whether the settlements constitute war crimes.[22][23] In 2015, over 800,000 Israelis resided over the 1949 Armistice Lines, constituting nearly 13% of Israel’s Jewish population.[24] Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War. It established settlements along the Gulf of Aqaba and in the northeast portion, just below the Gaza Strip. It had plans to expand the settlement of Yamit into a city with a population of 200,000,[28] though the actual population of Yamit did not exceed 3,000.[29] The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in stages beginning in 1979 as part of the IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty. As required by the treaty, Israel evacuated Israeli military installations and civilian settlements prior to the establishment of “normal and friendly relations” between it and Egypt.[30] Israel dismantled eighteen settlements, two air force bases, a naval base, and other installations by 1982, including the only oil resources under Israeli control. The evacuation of the civilian population, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamit. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation.[citation needed] Since 1982, the Sinai Peninsula has not been regarded as occupied territory.[citation needed] Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. A ceasefire was signed on 11 June 1967 and the Golan Heights came under Israeli military administration.[31] Syria rejected UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which called for the return of Israeli-occupied State territories in exchange for peaceful relations. Israel had accepted Resolution 242 in a speech to the Security Council on 1 May 1968. In March 1972, Syria “conditionally” accepted Resolution 242,[citation needed] and in May 1974, the Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria was signed. In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria attempted to recapture the Golan Heights militarily, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights under Israeli control, while returning a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control. A United Nations observation force was established in 1974 as a buffer between the sides.[32] By Syrian formal acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 338,[33] which set out the cease-fire at the end of the Yom Kippur War, Syria also accepted Resolution 242.[34] On 14 December 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli administration and law to the territory. Israel has expressly avoided using the term “annexation” to describe the change of status. However, the UN Security Council has rejected the de facto annexation in UNSC Resolution 497, which declared it as “null and void and without international legal effect”,[35] and consequently continuing to regard the Golan Heights as an Israeli-occupied territory. The measure has also been criticized by other countries, either as illegal or as not being helpful to the Middle East peace process.[citation needed] Syria wants the return of the Golan Heights, while Israel has maintained a policy of “land for peace” based on Resolution 242. The first high-level public talks aimed at a resolution of the Syria-Israel conflict were held at and after the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991. Throughout the 1990s several Israeli governments negotiated with Syria’s president Hafez Al-Assad. While serious progress was made, they were unsuccessful. In 2004, there were 34 settlements in the Golan Heights, populated by around 18,000people.[36] Today, an estimated 20,000 Israeli settlers and 20,000 Syrians live in the territory.[32] All inhabitants are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which would entitle them to an Israeli driver’s license and enable them to travel freely in Israel.[citation needed] The non-Jewish residents, who are mostly Druze, have nearly all declined to take Israeli citizenship.[32][37] In the Golan Heights there is another area occupied by Israel, namely the Shebaa farms. Syria and Lebanon have claimed that the farms belong to Lebanon and in 2007 a UN cartographer came to the conclusion that the Shebaa farms do actually belong to Lebanon (contrary to the belief held by Israel). UN then said that Israel should relinquish the control of this area.[38] Both of these territories were part of Mandate Palestine, and both have populations consisting primarily of Palestinians Arabs, including significant numbers of refugees who fled or were expelled from Israel and territory Israel controlled[39] after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. Today, Palestinians make up around half of Jordan’s population. Jordan occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967, annexing it in 1950 and granting Jordanian citizenship to the residents in 1954 (the annexation claims and citizenship grants were rescinded in 1988 when Jordan acknowledged the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people). Egypt administered the Gaza Strip from 19481967 but did not annex it or make Gazans Egyptian citizens.[40] The West Bank was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but the plan was rejected by the Arabs parties, and West Bank was occupied by Trans-Jordan after the 1948 war. In April 1950, Trans-Jordan annexed the West Bank,[41] but this was recognized only by the United Kingdom and Pakistan. (see 1949 Armistice Agreements, Green Line) In 1967, the West Bank came under Israeli military administration. Israel retained the mukhtar (mayoral) system of government inherited from Jordan, and subsequent governments began developing infrastructure in Arab villages under its control. (see Palestinians and Israeli law, International legal issues of the conflict, Palestinian economy) Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, most of the Palestinian population and cities came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has frequently redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration in various parts of the two territories. On July 31, 1988, King Hussein surrendered all Jordanian claims to the West Bank to the PLO.[26] In 2000, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier, within the West Banks, separating Israel and several of its settlements, as well as a significant number of Palestinians, from the remainder of the West Bank. State of Israel cabinet approved a route to construct separation barrier whose total length will be approximately 760km (472mi) built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or “Green Line” between Israel and Palestinian West Bank.[42] 12% of the West Bank area is on the Israel side of the barrier.[43] In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the barrier violates international law.[44] It claimed that “Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall”.[45] However, Israel government derived its justification for constructing this barrier with Prime Minister Ehud Barak stating that it is “essential to the Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and independence without being dependent on the State of Israel”.[46] The Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, stated that Israel has been holding the areas of Judea and Samaria in belligerent occupation, since 1967. The court also held that the normative provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation are applicable. The Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 were both cited.[5] About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank along the Israeli West Bank barrier (and a further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem and 50,000 in the former IsraeliJordanian no-man’s land).[citation needed] The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel,[47][47] restricted access to water sources, and economic effects. Regarding the violation of freedom of Palestinians, in a 2005 report, the United Nations stated that:[47] …it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, peoples access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barriers exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences.[48] This has led to considerable anxiety among Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted…The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns.[49] Gaza Strip was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt after the 1948 war. Between 1948 and 1967, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration, being officially under the jurisdiction of the All-Palestine Government until in 1959 it was merged into the United Arab Republic, de facto becoming under direct Egyptian military governorship. Between 1967 and 1993, the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military administration. In March 1979, Egypt renounced all claims to the Gaza Strip in the EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty. Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, the Gaza Strip came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. A July 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice treated Gaza as part of the occupied territories.[50] In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005, and was completed on 12 September 2005. Under the plan, all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and four in the West Bank) and the joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez Industrial Zone were dismantled with the removal of all 9,000 Israeli settlers (most of them in the Gush Katif settlement area in the Strip’s southwest) and military bases. Some settlers resisted the order, and were forcibly removed by the IDF. On 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. To avoid allegations that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, which is a narrow strip adjacent to the Strip’s border with Egypt, after Egypt’s agreement to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control to prevent the smuggling of materials (such as ammunition) and people across the border with Egypt. With Egypt agreeing to patrol its side of the border, it was hoped that the objective would be achieved. However, Israel maintained its control over the crossings in and out of Gaza. The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was monitored by the Israeli army through special surveillance cameras. Official documents such as passports, I.D. cards, export and import papers, and many others had to be approved by the Israeli army.[citation needed] The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied, inasmuch as Israel does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip.[51][52]Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni stated in January, 2008: Israel got out of Gaza. It dismantled its settlements there. No Israeli soldiers were left there after the disengagement.[53] Israel also notes that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state. Immediately after Israel withdrew in 2005, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas stated, “the legal status of the areas slated for evacuation has not changed.”[51]Human Rights Watch also contested that this ended the occupation.[54][55] The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs continues to consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza Strip’s airspace, territorial waters and controls the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea.[16][17][18] The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs maintains an office on Occupied Palestinian Territory, which concerns itself with the Gaza Strip.[56] In his statement on the 20082009 IsraelGaza conflict Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories” wrote that international humanitarian law applied to Israel “in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”[57] In a 2009 interview on Democracy Now Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contends that Israel is an occupying power. However, Meagan Buren, Senior Adviser to the Israel Project, a pro-Israel media group contests that characterization.[58] In 2007, after Hamas defeated Fatah in the Battle of Gaza (2007) and took control over the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli raids, such as Operation Hot Winter continued into 2008. A six month ceasefire was agreed in June 2008, but it was broken several times by both Israel and Hamas. As it reached its expiry, Hamas announced that they were unwilling to renew the ceasefire without improving the terms.[59] At the end of December 2008 Israeli forces began Operation Cast Lead, launching the Gaza War that left an estimated 1,1661,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.[60][61][62] In January 2012, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General stated that under resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the UN still regards Gaza to be part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.[15] Jerusalem has created additional issues in relation to the question of whether or not it is occupied territory. The 1947 UN Partition Plan had contemplated that all of Jerusalem would be an international city within an international area that included Bethlehem for at least ten years, after which the residents would be allowed to conduct a referendum and the issue could be re-examined by the Trusteeship Council. However, after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan captured East Jerusalem and the Old City, and Israel captured and annexed the western part of Jerusalem[citation needed]. Jordan bilaterally annexed East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in 1950 as a temporary trustee [63] at the request of a Palestinian delegation,[64] and although the annexation was recognized by only two countries, it was not condemned by the UNSC. The British did not recognize the territory as sovereign to Jordan.[65] Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. On June 27, Israel extended its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to East Jerusalem and several nearby towns and villages, and incorporated the area into the Jerusalem Municipality. In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which was declared a Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the “complete and united” capital of Israel. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared this action to be “null and void”, and that it “must be rescinded forthwith”. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and considers it occupied territory.[66] UN Security Council Resolution 478 also called upon countries which held their diplomatic delegations to Israel in Jerusalem, to move them outside the city. Most nations with embassies in Jerusalem complied, and relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities prior to the adoption of Resolution 478. Following the withdrawals of Costa Rica and El Salvador in August 2006, no country maintains its embassy in Jerusalem, although Paraguay and Bolivia have theirs in nearby Mevasseret Zion.[67] The United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, stating that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branchs constitutional authority over foreign policy;[68] they have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests. The Israeli government maintains that according to international law the West Bank status is that of disputed territories.[69][70] The question is important given if the status of “occupied territories” has a bearing on the legal duties and rights of Israel toward those.[71] Hence it has been discussed in various forums including the UN. In two cases decided shortly after independence, in the Shimshon and Stampfer cases, the Supreme Court of Israel held that the fundamental rules of international law accepted as binding by all “civilized” nations were incorporated in the domestic legal system of Israel. The Nuremberg Military Tribunal determined that the articles annexed to the Hague IV Convention of 1907 were customary law that had been recognized by all civilized nations.[72] In the past, the Supreme Court has argued that the Geneva Convention insofar it is not supported by domestic legislation “does not bind this Court, its enforcement being a matter for the states which are parties to the Convention”. They ruled that “Conventional international law does not become part of Israeli law through automatic incorporation, but only if it is adopted or combined with Israeli law by enactment of primary or subsidiary legislation from which it derives its force”. However, in the same decision the Court ruled that the Fourth Hague Convention rules governing belligerent occupation did apply, since those were recognized as customary international law.[73] The Israeli High Court of Justice determined in the 1979 Elon Moreh case that the area in question was under occupation and that accordingly only the military commander of the area may requisition land according to Article 52 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention. Military necessity had been an after-thought in planning portions of the Elon Moreh settlement. That situation did not fulfill the precise strictures laid down in the articles of the Hague Convention, so the Court ruled the requisition order had been invalid and illegal.[74] In recent decades, the government of Israel has argued before the Supreme Court of Israel that its authority in the territories is based on the international law of “belligerent occupation”, in particular the Hague Conventions. The court has confirmed this interpretation many times, for example in its 2004 and 2005 rulings on the separation fence.[75][76] In its June 2005 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Gaza disengagement, the Court determined that “Judea and Samaria” [West Bank] and the Gaza area are lands seized during warfare, and are not part of Israel: The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation (see The Beit Sourik Case, at p. 832). His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been “annexed” to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05 The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset et al. (yet unpublished, paragraph 3 of the opinion of the Court; hereinafter The Gaza Coast Regional Council Case). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter The Hague Regulations). These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (hereinafter the Fourth Geneva Convention).[77][78] Soon after the 1967 war, Israel issued a military order stating that the Geneva Conventions applied to the recently occupied territories,[79] but this order was rescinded a few months later.[80] For a number of years, Israel argued on various grounds that the Geneva Conventions do not apply. One is the Missing Reversioner theory[81] 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.[73] However, that interpretation is not shared by the international community.[82] 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.[82] In the cases before the Israeli High Court of Justice the government has agreed that the military commanders 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.[83] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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.[84]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.”[85] 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.[86] Various Israeli Cabinets have made political statements and many of Israel’s citizens and supporters dispute that the territories are occupied and claim that use of the term “occupied” in relation to Israel’s control of the areas has no basis in international law or history, and that it prejudges the outcome of any future or ongoing negotiations. They argue it is more accurate to refer to the territories as “disputed” rather than “occupied” although they agree to apply the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention pending resolution of the dispute. Yoram Dinstein, has dismissed the position that they are not occupied as being based on dubious legal grounds.[87] Many Israeli government websites do refer to the areas as being “occupied territories”.[88] According to the BBC, “Israel argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place.”[89] In the Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, usually referred to as Levy Report, published in July 2012, a three member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy which was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comes to the conclusion that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not an occupation in the legal sense,[90] and that the Israeli settlements in those territories do not contravene international law.[91] The report has met with both approval and harsh criticism in Israel and outside. As of July 2013, the report was not brought before the Israeli cabinet or any parliamentary or governmental body which would have the power to approve it. According to the views of most adherents of Religious Zionism and to certain streams of Orthodox Judaism, there are no, and cannot be, “occupied territories” because all of the Land of Israel (Hebrew: re Yirl, Eretz Yisrael) belongs to the Jews, also known as the Children of Israel, since the times of Biblical antiquity based on various Hebrew Bible passages.[citation needed] The Jewish religious belief that the area is a God-given inheritance of the Jewish people is based on the Torah, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. A literal reading of the text suggests that the land promise is (or was at one time) one of the Biblical covenants between God and the Israelites, as the following verses show.[citation needed] The definition of the limits of this territory varies between biblical passages, some of the main ones being: The boundaries of the Land of Israel are different from the borders of historical Israelite kingdoms. The Bar Kokhba state, the Herodian Kingdom, the Hasmonean Kingdom, and possibly the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah[92] ruled lands with similar but not identical boundaries. The current State of Israel also has similar but not identical boundaries. A small sect of Haredi Jews, the Neturei Karta opposes Zionism and calls for a peaceful dismantling of the State of Israel, in the belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah.[93][94] The official term used by the United Nations Security Council to describe Israeli-occupied territories is “the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”, which is used, for example, in Resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980) and 484. A conference of the parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention,[95] and the International Committee of the Red Cross,[96] have also resolved that these territories are occupied and that the Fourth Geneva Convention provisions regarding occupied territories apply. The international community has formally entrusted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the role of guardian of international humanitarian law. That includes a watchdog function by which it takes direct action to encourage parties to armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law.[97] The head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories stated that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions that constitute war crime.[98] In 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled that portions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 merely declare existing customary international law.[99] In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted a binding Chapter VII resolution establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The resolution approved a Statute which said that the problem of adherence of some but not all States to the Geneva Conventions does not arise, since beyond any doubt the Convention is declarative of customary international law.[100] The subsequent interpretation of the International Court of Justice does not support Israel’s view on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions.[101] In July 2004, the International Court of Justice delivered an Advisory Opinion on the ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’. The Court observed that under customary international law as reflected in Article 42 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention, territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army, and the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. Israel raised a number of exceptions and objections,[102] but the Court found them unpersuasive. The Court ruled that territories had been occupied by the Israeli armed forces in 1967, during the conflict between Israel and Jordan, and that subsequent events in those territories, had done nothing to alter the situation. Al Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Ramallah in the West Bank and an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, has asserted that “As noted in Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, ‘a party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty’. As such, Israeli reliance on local law does not justify its violations of its international legal obligations”.[103] Further, the Palestinian mission to the U.N. has argued that:[104] it is of no relevance whether a State has a monist or a dualist approach to the incorporation of international law into domestic law. A position dependent upon such considerations contradicts Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 which states that: “a state is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purposes of a treaty when it has undertaken an act expressing its consent thereto.” The Treaty, which is substantially a codification of customary international law, also provides that a State “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty” (Art. 27). The establishment of Israeli settlements is held to constitute a transfer of Israel’s civilian population into the occupied territories and as such is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.[105][106][107] This is disputed by other legal experts who argue with this interpretation of the law [108] In 2000, the editors of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Palestine Yearbook of International Law (19981999) said “the “transfer, directly or indirectly, 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” amounts to a war crime. They hold that this is obviously applicable to Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Arab Territories.”[109] In 2004 the International Court of Justice, in an advisory, non-binding[110] opinion, noted that the Security Council had described Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in the occupied territories as a “flagrant violation” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Court also concluded that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established “in breach of international law” and that all the States parties to the Geneva Convention are under an obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international law as embodied in the Convention.[101] In May 2012 the 27 ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union published a report strongly denouncing policies of the State of Israel in the West Bank and finding that settlements in the West Bank are illegal: “settlements remain illegal under international law, irrespective of recent decisions by the government of Israel. The EU reiterates that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”[111] The report by all EU foreign ministers also criticized the Israeli government’s failure to dismantle settler outposts illegal even under domestic Israeli law.”[111] Israel denies that the Israeli settlements are in breach of any international laws.[112] The Israeli Supreme Court has yet to rule decisively on settlement legality under the Geneva Convention.[113] The United Nations Human Rights Commission decided in March 2012 to establish a panel charged with investigating “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”[114] In reaction the government of Israel ceased cooperating with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and boycotted the UN Human Rights Commission. The U.S. government acceded to the Israeli government demand to attempt to thwart the formation of such a panel.[114] On January 31, 2012 the United Nations independent “International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” filed a report stating that Israeli settlement led to a multitude of violations of Palestinian human rights and that if Israel did not stop all settlement activity immediately and begin withdrawing all settlers from the West Bank, it potentially might face a case at the International Criminal Court. It said that Israel was in violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention forbidding transferring civilians of the occupying nation into occupied territory. It held that the settlements are leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. After Palestine’s admission to the United Nations as a non-member state in September 2012, it potentially may have its complaint heard by the International Court. Israel’s foreign ministry replied to the report saying that “Counterproductive measures such as the report before us will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel.”[115][116][117] Following a decision by European Union (EU) foreign ministers in December 2012 stating that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” the European Commission issued guidelines for the 2014 to 2020 financial framework covering all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia but excluding trade on 30 June 2013. According to the directive all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish settlements and Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line including the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[118] EU grants, funding, prizes or scholarships will only be granted if a settlement exclusion clause is included, forcing the Israeli government to concede in writing that settlements in the occupied territories are outside the state of Israel to secure agreements with the EU.[119] In a statement, the EU said that “the guidelines are … in conformity with the EU’s longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. At the moment Israeli entities enjoy financial support and cooperation with the EU and these guidelines are designed to ensure that this remains the case. At the same time concern has been expressed in Europe that Israeli entities in the occupied territories could benefit from EU support. The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support.”[120] The guidelines do not apply to any Palestinian body in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, and they do not affect agreements between the EU and the PLO or the Palestinian Authority, nor do they apply to Israeli government ministries or national agencies, to private individuals, to human rights organizations operating in the occupied territories, or to NGOs working toward promoting peace which operate in the occupied territories.[121][122] The move was described as an “earthquake” by an Israeli official who wished to remain anonymous,[119] and prompted harsh criticism by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who said in a broadcast statement: “As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights and our united capital Jerusalem to be harmed. We will not accept any external diktats about our borders. This matter will only be settled in direct negotiations between the parties.” Israel is also concerned that the same policy could extend to settlement produce and goods exported to European markets, as some EU member states are pressing for an EU-wide policy of labelling produce and goods originating in Jewish settlements to allow consumers to make informed choices.[118] A special ministerial panel led by prime minister Netanyahu, decided to approach the EU and demand several key amendments in the guidelines before entering any new projects with the Europeans. A spokesperson for the EU confirmed that further talks would take place between Israel and the EU, stating: “We stand ready to organise discussions during which such clarifications can be provided and look forward to continued successful EU-Israel cooperation, including in the area of scientific cooperation.”[123] Palestinians and their supporters hailed the EU directive as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements. Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the guidelines, saying: “The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps, which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace.”[118]

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May 28, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

The Golan Heights – HistoryGuy.com

The Golan Heights is a plateau separating Syria and Israel, and it is currently occupied by Israel as a result of several wars between Israel and Syria. The Golan was recognized as a part of Syria upon Syria’s independence from France in 1923. In 1948, Syria participated in the first of many Arab-Israeli Wars, and upon the conclusion of that first war with Israel in 1949, the border between Israel and Syria formed at the edge of Syrian Golan. Though that first major war concluded, many instances of border warfare between Israel and Syria continued in the 1950s and 1960s. In 1967, Syria lost the Six-Day War with Israel, and at the war’s conclusion, Israeli forces were in control of the Golan Heights. The UN-brokered cease-fire line was called “The Purple Line.” Since 1967, various attempts at negotiation and discussion have failed to return the Golan to Syrian control. Israel cites those border conflicts in the 1950s and 1960s when Syrian artillery would fire on Israeli settlements in the lowlands (the higher elevatio of the Golan makes it a very good place from which to target northern Israel), as well as the use of Syrian territory by Palestinian forces to attack Israel, as reasons for Israel to keep the Golan. In 1973, Syria, along with Egypt, launched a surprise attack on Israel. Syria’s goal was to recapture the Golan Heights. Despite fierce tank battles on the Golan Heights, the Syrians were unable to re-capture the Golan. The war ended with another cease-fire negotiated by the United Nations, and both sides agreed to withdraw their forces back to the Purple Line. As a result of those UN negotiations, the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) was created in 1974 to supervise the disengagement agreement between Israel and Syria, and to supervise and hold the ceasefire. The area between the Israeli and Syrian forces is known as the” UNDOF Zone.” Approximately more than 1,000 UN peacekeepers are in the UNDOF Zone as a buffer between the two warring neighbors. Since 1973, the Golan Heights has been fairly quiet. In 1981,the Israeli Knesset (parliament) passed the “Golan Heights Law”, under which Israeli “laws, jurisdiction and administration” applied to the occupied Golan Heights. This law created a de facto annexation of the Golan to Israel, the land is still recognized internationally as Syrian territory under Israeli occupation. Syria, of course, does not recognize any Israeli claims of authority in the Golan Heights. The population of the Golan Heights includes 20,000 Israeli settlers and 17,000 Druze, which is a religious minority found in both Syria and Lebanon. The pre-war Syrian Arab population stood around 148,000, most of whom fled the Golan or were expelled with the Israeli conquest of the Golan Heights. The Syrian Civil War brought new tensions to the Golan Heights, as combat between Syrian government forces and the rebels often flared within sight of Israeli positions on the Golan. On November 3, 2012, three Syrian tanks entered the demilitarized zone at Beer Ajam near the UNDOF buffer in violation of the cease-fire agreement. On November 11, 2012, a Syrian mortar round landed near Israeli military positions in the Golan. Israel responded with a “warning shot” missile launch and lodged a protest with the United Nations. IDF fires warning shot into Syria after shell hits Golan –Jerusalem Post, Nov. 11, 2012 Three Syrian tanks enter Golan Heights buffer zone-Jerusalem Post, Nov. 3, 2012

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May 4, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed

Israeli-occupied territories – Wikipedia, the free …

The Israeli-occupied territories is a political concept, referring to the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967. Originally, those territories included the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and Jordanian-occupied West Bank. The first use of the term ‘territories occupied’ was in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for “the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East” to be achieved by “the application of both the following principles: … Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict … Termination of all claims or states of belligerency” and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. From 1967 to 1982, those areas were ruled via the Israeli Military Governorate system (also named as Occupied Arab territories by the UN), which became abolished in 1982 as a consequence of the peace accords with Egypt. Despite the dissolution of the military government in line with Egyptian demands for normalization and partial withdrawal, Israeli-occupied territories concept has remained in use to refer to a part of all of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Western Golan Heights; from 1998 to 2012, Palestinian territories, Occupied concept was specifically been applied to areas controlled by the Palestinian Authority (now State of Palestine) in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. The International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the “Occupying Power”.[3] UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israels occupation “an affront to international law.”[4] The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under “belligerent occupation”.[5] According to Talia Sasson, the High Court of Justice in Israel, with a variety of different justices sitting, has repeatedly stated for more than four decades that Israels presence in the West Bank is in violation of international law.[6] Israeli governments have preferred the term “disputed territories” in the case of the West Bank.[7][8] Officially Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory.[9] Israel’s annexation of East Jerusalem in 1980 (see Jerusalem Law) and the Golan Heights in 1981 (see Golan Heights Law) has not been recognized by any other country.[10]United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared the annexation of Jerusalem “null and void” and required that it be rescinded. United Nations Security Council Resolution 497 also declared the annexation of the Golan “null and void”. Following withdrawal by Israel from the Sinai Peninsula in 1982, as part of the 1979 IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty, the Sinai ceased to be considered occupied territory. The Palestinian Authority, the EU,[11] the International Court of Justice,[1] the UN General Assembly[2] and the UN Security Council[12] consider East Jerusalem to be part of the West Bank and occupied by Israel; Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital and sovereign territory.[13] Israel asserts that since the disengagement from Gaza in 2005, it no longer occupies it.[14] However, as it retained certain control of Gaza’s airspace and coastline, as of 2012[update] it continued to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly[15] and some countries and various human rights organizations.[16][17][18][19] The significance of the designation of these territories as occupied territory is that certain legal obligations fall on the occupying power under international law. Under international law there are certain laws of war governing military occupation, including the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention.[20] One of those obligations is to maintain the status quo until the signing of a peace treaty, the resolution of specific conditions outlined in a peace treaty, or the formation of a new civilian government.[21] Israel disputes whether, and if so to what extent, it is an occupying power in relation to the Palestinian territories and as to whether Israeli settlements in these territories are in breach of Israel’s obligations as an occupying power and constitute a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and whether the settlements constitute war crimes.[22][23] In 2015, over 800,000 Israelis resided over the 1949 Armistice Lines, constituting nearly 13% of Israel’s Jewish population.[24] Israel captured the Sinai Peninsula from Egypt in the 1967 Six-Day War. It established settlements along the Gulf of Aqaba and in the northeast portion, just below the Gaza Strip. It had plans to expand the settlement of Yamit into a city with a population of 200,000,[28] though the actual population of Yamit did not exceed 3,000.[29] The Sinai Peninsula was returned to Egypt in stages beginning in 1979 as part of the IsraelEgypt Peace Treaty. As required by the treaty, Israel evacuated Israeli military installations and civilian settlements prior to the establishment of “normal and friendly relations” between it and Egypt.[30] Israel dismantled eighteen settlements, two air force bases, a naval base, and other installations by 1982, including the only oil resources under Israeli control. The evacuation of the civilian population, which took place in 1982, was done forcefully in some instances, such as the evacuation of Yamit. The settlements were demolished, as it was feared that settlers might try to return to their homes after the evacuation.[citation needed] Since 1982, the Sinai Peninsula has not been regarded as occupied territory.[citation needed] Israel captured the Golan Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War. A ceasefire was signed on 11 June 1967 and the Golan Heights came under Israeli military administration.[31] Syria rejected UNSC Resolution 242 of 22 November 1967, which called for the return of Israeli-occupied State territories in exchange for peaceful relations. Israel had accepted Resolution 242 in a speech to the Security Council on 1 May 1968. In March 1972, Syria “conditionally” accepted Resolution 242,[citation needed] and in May 1974, the Agreement on Disengagement between Israel and Syria was signed. In the Yom Kippur War of 1973, Syria attempted to recapture the Golan Heights militarily, but the attempt was unsuccessful. Israel and Syria signed a ceasefire agreement in 1974 that left almost all the Heights under Israeli control, while returning a narrow demilitarized zone to Syrian control. A United Nations observation force was established in 1974 as a buffer between the sides.[32] By Syrian formal acceptance of UN Security Council Resolution 338,[33] which set out the cease-fire at the end of the Yom Kippur War, Syria also accepted Resolution 242.[34] On 14 December 1981, Israel passed the Golan Heights Law, extending Israeli administration and law to the territory. Israel has expressly avoided using the term “annexation” to describe the change of status. However, the UN Security Council has rejected the de facto annexation in UNSC Resolution 497, which declared it as “null and void and without international legal effect”,[35] and consequently continuing to regard the Golan Heights as an Israeli-occupied territory. The measure has also been criticized by other countries, either as illegal or as not being helpful to the Middle East peace process.[citation needed] Syria wants the return of the Golan Heights, while Israel has maintained a policy of “land for peace” based on Resolution 242. The first high-level public talks aimed at a resolution of the Syria-Israel conflict were held at and after the multilateral Madrid Conference of 1991. Throughout the 1990s several Israeli governments negotiated with Syria’s president Hafez Al-Assad. While serious progress was made, they were unsuccessful. In 2004, there were 34 settlements in the Golan Heights, populated by around 18,000people.[36] Today, an estimated 20,000 Israeli settlers and 20,000 Syrians live in the territory.[32] All inhabitants are entitled to Israeli citizenship, which would entitle them to an Israeli driver’s license and enable them to travel freely in Israel.[citation needed] The non-Jewish residents, who are mostly Druze, have nearly all declined to take Israeli citizenship.[32][37] In the Golan Heights there is another area occupied by Israel, namely the Shebaa farms. Syria and Lebanon have claimed that the farms belong to Lebanon and in 2007 a UN cartographer came to the conclusion that the Shebaa farms do actually belong to Lebanon (contrary to the belief held by Israel). UN then said that Israel should relinquish the control of this area.[38] Both of these territories were part of Mandate Palestine, and both have populations consisting primarily of Palestinians Arabs, including significant numbers of refugees who fled or were expelled from Israel and territory Israel controlled[39] after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. Today, Palestinians make up around half of Jordan’s population. Jordan occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, from 1948 to 1967, annexing it in 1950 and granting Jordanian citizenship to the residents in 1954 (the annexation claims and citizenship grants were rescinded in 1988 when Jordan acknowledged the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the sole representative of the Palestinian people). Egypt administered the Gaza Strip from 19481967 but did not annex it or make Gazans Egyptian citizens.[40] The West Bank was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but the West Bank was occupied by Trans-Jordan after the 1948 war. In April 1950, Trans-Jordan annexed the West Bank,[41] but this was recognized only by the United Kingdom and Pakistan. (see 1949 Armistice Agreements, Green Line) In 1967, the West Bank came under Israeli military administration. Israel retained the mukhtar (mayoral) system of government inherited from Jordan, and subsequent governments began developing infrastructure in Arab villages under its control. (see Palestinians and Israeli law, International legal issues of the conflict, Palestinian economy) Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, most of the Palestinian population and cities came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority, and only partial Israeli military control, although Israel has frequently redeployed its troops and reinstated full military administration in various parts of the two territories. On July 31, 1988, King Hussein surrendered all Jordanian claims to the West Bank to the PLO.[26] In 2000, the Israeli government started to construct the Israeli West Bank barrier, within the West Banks, separating Israel and several of its settlements, as well as a significant number of Palestinians, from the remainder of the West Bank. State of Israel cabinet approved a route to construct separation barrier whose total length will be approximately 760km (472mi) built mainly in the West Bank and partly along the 1949 Armistice line, or “Green Line” between Israel and Palestinian West Bank.[42] 12% of the West Bank area is on the Israel side of the barrier.[43] In 2004, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion stating that the barrier violates international law.[44] It claimed that “Israel cannot rely on a right of self-defence or on a state of necessity in order to preclude the wrongfulness of the construction of the wall”.[45] However, Israel government derived its justification for constructing this barrier with Prime Minister Ehud Barak stating that it is “essential to the Palestinian nation in order to foster its national identity and independence without being dependent on the State of Israel”.[46] The Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, stated that Israel has been holding the areas of Judea and Samaria in belligerent occupation, since 1967. The court also held that the normative provisions of public international law regarding belligerent occupation are applicable. The Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague of 1907 and the Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 were both cited.[5] About 300,000 Israeli settlers live in the West Bank along the Israeli West Bank barrier (and a further 200,000 live in East Jerusalem and 50,000 in the former IsraeliJordanian no-man’s land).[citation needed] The barrier has many effects on Palestinians including reduced freedoms, road closures, loss of land, increased difficulty in accessing medical and educational services in Israel,[47][47] restricted access to water sources, and economic effects. Regarding the violation of freedom of Palestinians, in a 2005 report, the United Nations stated that:[47] …it is difficult to overstate the humanitarian impact of the Barrier. The route inside the West Bank severs communities, peoples access to services, livelihoods and religious and cultural amenities. In addition, plans for the Barriers exact route and crossing points through it are often not fully revealed until days before construction commences.[48] This has led to considerable anxiety among Palestinians about how their future lives will be impacted…The land between the Barrier and the Green Line constitutes some of the most fertile in the West Bank. It is currently the home for 49,400 West Bank Palestinians living in 38 villages and towns.[49] Gaza Strip was allotted to the Arab state under United Nations Partition Plan of 1947, but Gaza Strip was occupied by Egypt after the 1948 war. Between 1948 and 1967, the Gaza Strip was under Egyptian military administration, being officially under the jurisdiction of the All-Palestine Government until in 1959 it was merged into the United Arab Republic, de facto becoming under direct Egyptian military governorship. Between 1967 and 1993, the Gaza Strip was under Israeli military administration. In March 1979, Egypt renounced all claims to the Gaza Strip in the EgyptIsrael Peace Treaty. Since the Israel Palestine Liberation Organization letters of recognition of 1993, the Gaza Strip came under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority. A July 2004 opinion of the International Court of Justice treated Gaza as part of the occupied territories.[50] In February 2005, the Israeli government voted to implement a unilateral disengagement plan from the Gaza Strip. The plan began to be implemented on 15 August 2005, and was completed on 12 September 2005. Under the plan, all Israeli settlements in the Gaza Strip (and four in the West Bank) and the joint Israeli-Palestinian Erez Industrial Zone were dismantled with the removal of all 9,000 Israeli settlers (most of them in the Gush Katif settlement area in the Strip’s southwest) and military bases. Some settlers resisted the order, and were forcibly removed by the IDF. On 12 September 2005 the Israeli cabinet formally declared an end to Israeli military occupation of the Gaza Strip. To avoid allegations that it was still in occupation of any part of the Gaza Strip, Israel also withdrew from the Philadelphi Route, which is a narrow strip adjacent to the Strip’s border with Egypt, after Egypt’s agreement to secure its side of the border. Under the Oslo Accords the Philadelphi Route was to remain under Israeli control to prevent the smuggling of materials (such as ammunition) and people across the border with Egypt. With Egypt agreeing to patrol its side of the border, it was hoped that the objective would be achieved. However, Israel maintained its control over the crossings in and out of Gaza. The Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza was monitored by the Israeli army through special surveillance cameras. Official documents such as passports, I.D. cards, export and import papers, and many others had to be approved by the Israeli army.[citation needed] The Israeli position is that Gaza is no longer occupied, inasmuch as Israel does not exercise effective control or authority over any land or institutions in the Gaza Strip.[51][52]Foreign Affairs Minister of Israel Tzipi Livni stated in January, 2008: Israel got out of Gaza. It dismantled its settlements there. No Israeli soldiers were left there after the disengagement.[53] Israel also notes that Gaza does not belong to any sovereign state. Immediately after Israel withdrew in 2005, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas stated, “the legal status of the areas slated for evacuation has not changed.”[51]Human Rights Watch also contested that this ended the occupation.[54][55] The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and many other international bodies and NGOs continues to consider Israel to be the occupying power of the Gaza Strip as Israel controls Gaza Strip’s airspace, territorial waters and controls the movement of people or goods in or out of Gaza by air or sea.[16][17][18] The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs maintains an office on Occupied Palestinian Territory, which concerns itself with the Gaza Strip.[56] In his statement on the 20082009 IsraelGaza conflict Richard Falk, United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories” wrote that international humanitarian law applied to Israel “in regard to the obligations of an Occupying Power and in the requirements of the laws of war.”[57] In a 2009 interview on Democracy Now Christopher Gunness, spokesperson for the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) contends that Israel is an occupying power. However, Meagan Buren, Senior Adviser to the Israel Project, a pro-Israel media group contests that characterization.[58] In 2007, after Hamas defeated Fatah in the Battle of Gaza (2007) and took control over the Gaza Strip, Israel imposed a blockade on Gaza. Palestinian rocket attacks and Israeli raids, such as Operation Hot Winter continued into 2008. A six month ceasefire was agreed in June 2008, but it was broken several times by both Israel and Hamas. As it reached its expiry, Hamas announced that they were unwilling to renew the ceasefire without improving the terms.[59] At the end of December 2008 Israeli forces began Operation Cast Lead, launching the Gaza War that left an estimated 1,1661,417 Palestinians and 13 Israelis dead.[60][61][62] In January 2012, the spokesperson for the UN Secretary General stated that under resolutions of the Security Council and the General Assembly, the UN still regards Gaza to be part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.[15] Jerusalem has created additional issues in relation to the question of whether or not it is occupied territory. The 1947 UN Partition Plan had contemplated that all of Jerusalem would be an international city within an international area that included Bethlehem for at least ten years, after which the residents would be allowed to conduct a referendum and the issue could be re-examined by the Trusteeship Council. However, after the 1948 ArabIsraeli War, Jordan captured East Jerusalem and the Old City, and Israel captured and annexed the western part of Jerusalem[citation needed]. Jordan bilaterally annexed East Jerusalem along with the rest of the West Bank in 1950 as a temporary trustee [63] at the request of a Palestinian delegation,[64] and although the annexation was recognized by only two countries, it was not condemned by the UNSC. The British did not recognize the territory as sovereign to Jordan.[65] Israel captured East Jerusalem from Jordan in the 1967 Six-Day War. On June 27, Israel extended its laws, jurisdiction, and administration to East Jerusalem and several nearby towns and villages, and incorporated the area into the Jerusalem Municipality. In 1980, the Knesset passed the Jerusalem Law, which was declared a Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem to be the “complete and united” capital of Israel. However, United Nations Security Council Resolution 478 declared this action to be “null and void”, and that it “must be rescinded forthwith”. The international community does not recognize Israeli sovereignty over East Jerusalem and considers it occupied territory.[66] UN Security Council Resolution 478 also called upon countries which held their diplomatic delegations to Israel in Jerusalem, to move them outside the city. Most nations with embassies in Jerusalem complied, and relocated their embassies to Tel Aviv or other Israeli cities prior to the adoption of Resolution 478. Following the withdrawals of Costa Rica and El Salvador in August 2006, no country maintains its embassy in Jerusalem, although Paraguay and Bolivia have theirs in nearby Mevasseret Zion.[67] The United States Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act in 1995, stating that “Jerusalem should be recognized as the capital of the State of Israel; and the United States Embassy in Israel should be established in Jerusalem no later than May 31, 1999.” As a result of the Embassy Act, official U.S. documents and web sites refer to Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Since passage, the law has never been implemented, because of opposition from Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama, who view it as a Congressional infringement on the executive branchs constitutional authority over foreign policy;[68] they have consistently claimed the presidential waiver on national security interests. The Israeli government maintains that according to international law the West Bank status is that of disputed territories.[69][70] The question is important given if the status of “occupied territories” has a bearing on the legal duties and rights of Israel toward those.[71] Hence it has been discussed in various forums including the UN. In two cases decided shortly after independence, in the Shimshon and Stampfer cases, the Supreme Court of Israel held that the fundamental rules of international law accepted as binding by all “civilized” nations were incorporated in the domestic legal system of Israel. The Nuremberg Military Tribunal determined that the articles annexed to the Hague IV Convention of 1907 were customary law that had been recognized by all civilized nations.[72] In the past, the Supreme Court has argued that the Geneva Convention insofar it is not supported by domestic legislation “does not bind this Court, its enforcement being a matter for the states which are parties to the Convention”. They ruled that “Conventional international law does not become part of Israeli law through automatic incorporation, but only if it is adopted or combined with Israeli law by enactment of primary or subsidiary legislation from which it derives its force”. However, in the same decision the Court ruled that the Fourth Hague Convention rules governing belligerent occupation did apply, since those were recognized as customary international law.[73] The Israeli High Court of Justice determined in the 1979 Elon Moreh case that the area in question was under occupation and that accordingly only the military commander of the area may requisition land according to Article 52 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention. Military necessity had been an after-thought in planning portions of the Elon Moreh settlement. That situation did not fulfill the precise strictures laid down in the articles of the Hague Convention, so the Court ruled the requisition order had been invalid and illegal.[74] In recent decades, the government of Israel has argued before the Supreme Court of Israel that its authority in the territories is based on the international law of “belligerent occupation”, in particular the Hague Conventions. The court has confirmed this interpretation many times, for example in its 2004 and 2005 rulings on the separation fence.[75][76] In its June 2005 ruling upholding the constitutionality of the Gaza disengagement, the Court determined that “Judea and Samaria” [West Bank] and the Gaza area are lands seized during warfare, and are not part of Israel: The Judea and Samaria areas are held by the State of Israel in belligerent occupation. The long arm of the state in the area is the military commander. He is not the sovereign in the territory held in belligerent occupation (see The Beit Sourik Case, at p. 832). His power is granted him by public international law regarding belligerent occupation. The legal meaning of this view is twofold: first, Israeli law does not apply in these areas. They have not been “annexed” to Israel. Second, the legal regime which applies in these areas is determined by public international law regarding belligerent occupation (see HCJ 1661/05 The Gaza Coast Regional Council v. The Knesset et al. (yet unpublished, paragraph 3 of the opinion of the Court; hereinafter The Gaza Coast Regional Council Case). In the center of this public international law stand the Regulations Concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land, The Hague, 18 October 1907 (hereinafter The Hague Regulations). These regulations are a reflection of customary international law. The law of belligerent occupation is also laid out in IV Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War 1949 (hereinafter the Fourth Geneva Convention).[77][78] Soon after the 1967 war, Israel issued a military order stating that the Geneva Conventions applied to the recently occupied territories,[79] but this order was rescinded a few months later.[80] For a number of years, Israel argued on various grounds that the Geneva Conventions do not apply. One is the Missing Reversioner theory[81] 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.[73] However, that interpretation is not shared by the international community.[82] 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.[82] In the cases before the Israeli High Court of Justice the government has agreed that the military commanders 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.[83] The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 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.[84]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.”[85] 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.[86] Various Israeli Cabinets have made political statements and many of Israel’s citizens and supporters dispute that the territories are occupied and claim that use of the term “occupied” in relation to Israel’s control of the areas has no basis in international law or history, and that it prejudges the outcome of any future or ongoing negotiations. They argue it is more accurate to refer to the territories as “disputed” rather than “occupied” although they agree to apply the humanitarian provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention pending resolution of the dispute. Yoram Dinstein, has dismissed the position that they are not occupied as being based on dubious legal grounds.[87] Many Israeli government websites do refer to the areas as being “occupied territories”.[88] According to the BBC, “Israel argues that the international conventions relating to occupied land do not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state in the first place.”[89] In the Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria, usually referred to as Levy Report, published in July 2012, a three member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy which was appointed by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comes to the conclusion that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is not an occupation in the legal sense,[90] and that the Israeli settlements in those territories do not contravene international law.[91] The report has met with both approval and harsh criticism in Israel and outside. As of July 2013, the report was not brought before the Israeli cabinet or any parliamentary or governmental body which would have the power to approve it. According to the views of most adherents of Religious Zionism and to certain streams of Orthodox Judaism, there are no, and cannot be, “occupied territories” because all of the Land of Israel (Hebrew: re Yirl, Eretz Yisrael) belongs to the Jews, also known as the Children of Israel, since the times of Biblical antiquity based on various Hebrew Bible passages.[citation needed] The Jewish religious belief that the area is a God-given inheritance of the Jewish people is based on the Torah, especially the books of Genesis and Exodus, as well as the Prophets. According to the Book of Genesis, the land was promised by God to the descendants of Abraham through his son Isaac and to the Israelites, descendants of Jacob, Abraham’s grandson. A literal reading of the text suggests that the land promise is (or was at one time) one of the Biblical covenants between God and the Israelites, as the following verses show.[citation needed] The definition of the limits of this territory varies between biblical passages, some of the main ones being: The boundaries of the Land of Israel are different from the borders of historical Israelite kingdoms. The Bar Kokhba state, the Herodian Kingdom, the Hasmonean Kingdom, and possibly the United Kingdom of Israel and Judah[92] ruled lands with similar but not identical boundaries. The current State of Israel also has similar but not identical boundaries. A small sect of Haredi Jews, the Neturei Karta opposes Zionism and calls for a peaceful dismantling of the State of Israel, in the belief that Jews are forbidden to have their own state until the coming of the Messiah.[93][94] The official term used by the United Nations Security Council to describe Israeli-occupied territories is “the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem”, which is used, for example, in Resolutions 446 (1979), 452 (1979), 465 (1980) and 484. A conference of the parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention,[95] and the International Committee of the Red Cross,[96] have also resolved that these territories are occupied and that the Fourth Geneva Convention provisions regarding occupied territories apply. The international community has formally entrusted the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) with the role of guardian of international humanitarian law. That includes a watchdog function by which it takes direct action to encourage parties to armed conflict to comply with international humanitarian law.[97] The head of the International Red Cross delegation to Israel and the Occupied Territories stated that the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied territories is a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions that constitute war crime.[98] In 1986, the International Court of Justice ruled that portions of the Geneva Conventions of 1949 merely declare existing customary international law.[99] In 1993, the UN Security Council adopted a binding Chapter VII resolution establishing an International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia. The resolution approved a Statute which said that the problem of adherence of some but not all States to the Geneva Conventions does not arise, since beyond any doubt the Convention is declarative of customary international law.[100] The subsequent interpretation of the International Court of Justice does not support Israel’s view on the applicability of the Geneva Conventions.[101] In July 2004, the International Court of Justice delivered an Advisory Opinion on the ‘Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory’. The Court observed that under customary international law as reflected in Article 42 of the Regulations annexed to the Hague IV Convention, territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army, and the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised. Israel raised a number of exceptions and objections,[102] but the Court found them unpersuasive. The Court ruled that territories had been occupied by the Israeli armed forces in 1967, during the conflict between Israel and Jordan, and that subsequent events in those territories, had done nothing to alter the situation. Al Haq, an independent Palestinian human rights organization based in Ramallah in the West Bank and an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists, has asserted that “As noted in Article 27 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, ‘a party may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty’. As such, Israeli reliance on local law does not justify its violations of its international legal obligations”.[103] Further, the Palestinian mission to the U.N. has argued that:[104] it is of no relevance whether a State has a monist or a dualist approach to the incorporation of international law into domestic law. A position dependent upon such considerations contradicts Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties of 1969 which states that: “a state is obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purposes of a treaty when it has undertaken an act expressing its consent thereto.” The Treaty, which is substantially a codification of customary international law, also provides that a State “may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty” (Art. 27). The establishment of Israeli settlements is held to constitute a transfer of Israel’s civilian population into the occupied territories and as such is illegal under the Fourth Geneva Convention.[105][106][107] This is disputed by other legal experts who argue with this interpretation of the law [108] In 2000, the editors of the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Palestine Yearbook of International Law (19981999) said “the “transfer, directly or indirectly, 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” amounts to a war crime. They hold that this is obviously applicable to Israeli settlement activities in the Occupied Arab Territories.”[109] In 2004 the International Court of Justice, in an advisory, non-binding[110] opinion, noted that the Security Council had described Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in the occupied territories as a “flagrant violation” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Court also concluded that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established “in breach of international law” and that all the States parties to the Geneva Convention are under an obligation to ensure compliance by Israel with international law as embodied in the Convention.[101] In May 2012 the 27 ministers of foreign affairs of the European Union published a report strongly denouncing policies of the State of Israel in the West Bank and finding that settlements in the West Bank are illegal: “settlements remain illegal under international law, irrespective of recent decisions by the government of Israel. The EU reiterates that it will not recognize any changes to the pre-1967 borders including with regard to Jerusalem, other than those agreed by the parties.”[111] The report by all EU foreign ministers also criticized the Israeli government’s failure to dismantle settler outposts illegal even under domestic Israeli law.”[111] Israel denies that the Israeli settlements are in breach of any international laws.[112] The Israeli Supreme Court has yet to rule decisively on settlement legality under the Geneva Convention.[113] The United Nations Human Rights Commission decided in March 2012 to establish a panel charged with investigating “the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.”[114] In reaction the government of Israel ceased cooperating with the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights and boycotted the UN Human Rights Commission. The U.S. government acceded to the Israeli government demand to attempt to thwart the formation of such a panel.[114] On January 31, 2012 the United Nations independent “International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory” filed a report stating that Israeli settlement led to a multitude of violations of Palestinian human rights and that if Israel did not stop all settlement activity immediately and begin withdrawing all settlers from the West Bank, it potentially might face a case at the International Criminal Court. It said that Israel was in violation of article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention forbidding transferring civilians of the occupying nation into occupied territory. It held that the settlements are leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. After Palestine’s admission to the United Nations as a non-member state in September 2012, it potentially may have its complaint heard by the International Court. Israel’s foreign ministry replied to the report saying that “Counterproductive measures such as the report before us will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The human rights council has sadly distinguished itself by its systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel.”[115][116][117] Following a decision by European Union (EU) foreign ministers in December 2012 stating that “all agreements between the state of Israel and the EU must unequivocally and explicitly indicate their inapplicability to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967,” the European Commission issued guidelines for the 2014 to 2020 financial framework covering all areas of co-operation between the EU and Israel, including economics, science, culture, sports and academia but excluding trade on 30 June 2013. According to the directive all future agreements between the EU and Israel must explicitly exclude Jewish settlements and Israeli institutions and bodies situated across the pre-1967 Green Line including the Golan Heights, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.[118] EU grants, funding, prizes or scholarships will only be granted if a settlement exclusion clause is included, forcing the Israeli government to concede in writing that settlements in the occupied territories are outside the state of Israel to secure agreements with the EU.[119] In a statement, the EU said that “the guidelines are … in conformity with the EU’s longstanding position that Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and with the non-recognition by the EU of Israel’s sovereignty over the occupied territories, irrespective of their legal status under domestic Israeli law. At the moment Israeli entities enjoy financial support and cooperation with the EU and these guidelines are designed to ensure that this remains the case. At the same time concern has been expressed in Europe that Israeli entities in the occupied territories could benefit from EU support. The purpose of these guidelines is to make a distinction between the State of Israel and the occupied territories when it comes to EU support.”[120] The guidelines do not apply to any Palestinian body in the West Bank or East Jerusalem, and they do not affect agreements between the EU and the PLO or the Palestinian Authority, nor do they apply to Israeli government ministries or national agencies, to private individuals, to human rights organizations operating in the occupied territories, or to NGOs working toward promoting peace which operate in the occupied territories.[121][122] The move was described as an “earthquake” by an Israeli official who wished to remain anonymous,[119] and prompted harsh criticism by prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu who said in a broadcast statement: “As prime minister of Israel, I will not allow the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who live in the West Bank, Golan Heights and our united capital Jerusalem to be harmed. We will not accept any external diktats about our borders. This matter will only be settled in direct negotiations between the parties.” Israel is also concerned that the same policy could extend to settlement produce and goods exported to European markets, as some EU member states are pressing for an EU-wide policy of labelling produce and goods originating in Jewish settlements to allow consumers to make informed choices.[118] A special ministerial panel led by prime minister Netanyahu, decided to approach the EU and demand several key amendments in the guidelines before entering any new projects with the Europeans. A spokesperson for the EU confirmed that further talks would take place between Israel and the EU, stating: “We stand ready to organise discussions during which such clarifications can be provided and look forward to continued successful EU-Israel cooperation, including in the area of scientific cooperation.”[123] Palestinians and their supporters hailed the EU directive as a significant political and economic sanction against settlements. Hanan Ashrawi welcomed the guidelines, saying: “The EU has moved from the level of statements, declarations and denunciations to effective policy decisions and concrete steps, which constitute a qualitative shift that will have a positive impact on the chances of peace.”[118]

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April 23, 2016   Posted in: Golan Heights  Comments Closed


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