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Old January 31st, 2013 (7:31 AM).
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GENEVA -- The United Nations' first report on the broad policy of Israeli settlements concluded Thursday that the government's practice of "creeping annexation" clearly violates the human rights of Palestinians, and called for an immediate halt.

In its report to the 47-nation Human Rights Council, a panel of investigators said Israel is violating international humanitarian law under the Fourth Geneva Convention, one of the treaties that establish the ground rules for what is considered humane during wartime.

The Israeli government has persisted in settling Palestinian-occupied territories, including East Jerusalem and the West Bank, "despite all the pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation," the report said.

The settlements are "a mesh of construction and infrastructure 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," it concludes.

French judge Christine Chanet, who led the panel, said Israel never cooperated with the probe, which the council ordered last March. At a news conference, she called the report "a kind of weapon for the Palestinians" if they want to take up their grievances before The Hague-based International Criminal Court.

In December, after winning de facto U.N. recognition of statehood, the Palestinians accused Israel of planning more "war crimes" by expanding Jewish settlements.

Because it was not authorized to investigate within Israel, Chanet said, the panel had to travel to Jordan to interview more than 50 people who spoke of the impact of the settlements, such as violence by Jewish settlers, confiscated land and damage to their olive trees that help support them.

Another panel member, Pakistani lawyer Asma Janangir, said the settlements "seriously impinge on the self-determination of the Palestinian people," an offense under international humanitarian law.

The panel's report to the U.N.'s top human rights body immediately drew the condemnation of Israel, whose foreign ministry accused the council of taking a systematically one-sided and biased approach towards Israel, with the report being merely "another unfortunate reminder" of that bias.

"The only way to resolve all pending issues between Israel and the Palestinians, including the settlements issue, is through direct negotiations without pre-conditions," the ministry said. "Counterproductive measures – such as the report before us – will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict."

The Geneva-based U.N. council was set up in 2006 to replace a 60-year-old commission that was widely discredited as a forum dominated by nations with poor human rights records.

Earlier this week, Israel became the first nation to skip a review of its human rights record by the council without giving a reason. Diplomats agreed to postpone their review until later this year based on Israel's request for a deferral.

The council, which could have proceeded with the review or canceled it, said its agreement to defer would set precedent for how to deal with any future cases of "non-cooperation." All 193 U.N.-member nations are required to submit to such a review every four years, and council diplomats said they worried that if nation were let off the hook that could undermine the process.
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Let's just go ahead and complicate it some more. Any thoughts?
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Old January 31st, 2013 (8:00 AM).
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    Things have always been "little" troubled there. And this whole thing started after WW2 (when Israel was formed by the U.N) so I guess this situation wont change soon. And I think the report wont help things much. Its a complex matter. Thats all I can say for certain... :/
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    Old January 31st, 2013 (8:00 AM).
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    Israel's going to become the new hot zone in the middle east, I have no doubt about it. Only issue is that the superpowers of the world can't do anything about Israel, thanks to a little thing called the economy. They're going to be able to get away with a lot more then this, the Ethiopian Eugenics case being one of many things that must be going on without the world's knowledge, and I doubt anyone would want to ever start a war with Israel. Even if for once its actually about the rights of humans and not the profit.
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    Old January 31st, 2013 (8:09 AM). Edited January 31st, 2013 by KriegStein.
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      Elendil you made a good observation. They will propably get away with this. But did you mean by the economy thing that superpowers would lose so much money (and materials) that their even now poor economy would be finished? Did I understand you correctly?
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      Old January 31st, 2013 (8:15 AM).
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      Quote:
      Originally Posted by KriegStein View Post
      Elendil you made a good observation. They will propably get away with this. But did you mean by the economy thing that superpowers would lose so much money (and materials) that their even now poor economy would be finished? Did I understand you correctly?
      That and basically America has too much to lose by going against Israel, and Russia is more or less on their side. Its also impossible to even consider a war, considering how any form of diplomacy created in the last decades would be tested or even nulled. Who would even consider siding with America if they went against a Russia backed Israel, or vice versa? Its a nightmare, and I fear its an unavoidable one. To be more specific:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Quartet_on_the_Middle_East
      Here's the wikipedia article on the diplomacy of the current situation. It could break, but the consequences of it breaking, and the sides that would be taken makes this all very messy.
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      Old January 31st, 2013 (8:20 AM). Edited January 31st, 2013 by KriegStein.
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        I would say China has a thing to say what the U.S does. After all the U.S is practically living on loans from China. (this is what I have heard so I cant verify It) and as for Russia...well... I hope they dobt start anything ridiculous again. This goes double for U.S. I dont know the whole country (Israel) is just a big paradox of problems.

        You fear the U.S will fight Russia? That might be possible but I think the fight would go through other countries. (many examples in history.) I mean that they wont propably go head on eachother...
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        Old January 31st, 2013 (8:44 AM).
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        Not really the fighting I fear, just the idea of anything involving war and Israel can lead to a dire situation globally.
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        Old January 31st, 2013 (8:50 AM).
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          oh. Well that seems to be plausible. It could lead to that but I think no one is ready to take the first step. Atleast any nation.
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          Old January 31st, 2013 (9:00 AM).
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          Well, it's kinda true. The Israel settlements aren't helping things in the first place. So yeah, true, it doesn't do much to help the negotiating process by calling them out on it, but should we not say that what's going on is wrong?

          But whatever the case they're going to keep doing it until and unless their own citizens decide they don't want it anymore. It's a kind of sneaky tactic to settle people in an area they shouldn't be in. After a while they start to feel like the area is their home (and if the process starts long enough ago you'll even have children who've only known the place) and then they become this voice in favor of continued occupation. The government can just point to them and say "we can't remove these people from their homes."
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          Old January 31st, 2013 (9:30 AM).
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          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Scarf View Post
          But whatever the case they're going to keep doing it until and unless their own citizens decide they don't want it anymore. It's a kind of sneaky tactic to settle people in an area they shouldn't be in. After a while they start to feel like the area is their home (and if the process starts long enough ago you'll even have children who've only known the place) and then they become this voice in favor of continued occupation. The government can just point to them and say "we can't remove these people from their homes."
          Indeed. There's about half-a-milliion residents in these settlements and a small handful of these areas could really be considered cities. Where would all these people go if you evict them?

          Overall, its just... messy. Does not help the peace process at all. It isn't... new though either. UN has been saying this for ages.

          At the same, unless I'm mistaken, it is land that Israel "won" in the Six-Day War. And other countries have had their borders redrawn through war and battle, not sure why this would be different aside from rising tensions in the area. But the settlements are growing outwards (or "creeping" as the UN put it). That shouldn't happen. That is wrong. If they need to expand, go up, not out.

          Israel's a flawed democracy, but I like them. In an area of the world ripe with social injustice and human rights violations, they have some of the strongest rights for women (they're in parliament at a greater percentage than the rest of the area), tolerance for gays (foreign marriages are recognized), and religious freedom. This is a smudge that doesn't do them any favours.
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          Old January 31st, 2013 (4:53 PM).
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          If it was any other country I'm sure The United States would have taken action by now, but of course not because it's Israel!
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          Old February 1st, 2013 (12:05 PM).
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          Quote:
          Originally Posted by Moogles View Post
          If it was any other country I'm sure The United States would have taken action by now, but of course not because it's Israel!
          Well yeah, Israel is a powerful U.S. ally in the Middle East and uses them as a buffer to the fundamentalist arab regimes in the region. Looking the other way is part of the alliance.
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          Old February 1st, 2013 (1:59 PM).
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          I'm aware of that though (I'm not particularly fond of it) but alas.
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          Old February 1st, 2013 (2:08 PM).
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          well,i began to feel tired of talking about that issue because nobody knows what's the truth or some people do know but they prefer to cover their eyes and say we don't know..Israel plays with the world econmy and banks and this is how it threat the whole world....and people wonder why i hate money...lol

          IMO money isn't power but minds are.
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          Old February 1st, 2013 (10:45 PM).
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          I don't think anyone really thinks Israel are the good guys at this point except maybe the Israelis and a few well-payed US political figures.
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          Old February 3rd, 2013 (6:49 PM).
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            I know that Israel is just as much an aggressive force over there as any middle-eastern country, and I know a lot of people who are clueless about this whole mess. Everyone thinks "Oh, the Jews had a holocaust, so they deserve our undivided protection! And while we're at it, we'll go ahead and steal some land from other countries and give it to them for something we didn't even do."

            Tell me the logic in that, would you?
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            Old February 17th, 2013 (2:56 PM).
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              This proves that Israel is far from perfect.

              I really hate the media's romanticization of Israel. Seriously, Not all Israelis look like Bar Refaeli. There are lots of Hasidim, and they don't exactly look like fashion models or hot athletes. Nor is Israel exactly a liberal paradise. There is a lot of discrimination against the darker Israeli Jews, to say nothing of the Arabs. Some of the more extreme Hasidim serve as counterparts to the Wahhabis and other Islamists - they have a fanatical obsession with preserving "religious morality".

              I know that we should sympathize with the Jews because of what the Holocaust did to them. But not all of the survivors felt the need to go there. Other countries accepted them - the USA and Canada accepted a lot of people. Even Argentina took in plenty of Jews who survived. Some of the survivors who were children, teenagers, or younger adults when they were freed still live on in these places.

              If you think the Palestinian refugees had it easy...they were looking for a place to stay. The Jews kicked out of Arab countries had Israel to go to. But the Palestinians? They are living stateless in the West Bank and Gaza. Sure a lot of Palestinians have found homes in other Arab countries or even the USA and other countries, but it isn't the same. And now a lot of Israelis are settling on their land, taking even more of the Palestinians' land. But try telling that to Israel.

              Both sides are guilty, though, but I wish the Arabs had better leadership. Their leaders are what is making them look ignorant. Some ther Muslim countries are guilty too (look at Iran - the leader cares more about nuking Israel than helping his own people). Ironically, the United States supported a lot of those Arab dictators. We initially supported Saddam Hussein until it was obvious that he was causing problems.
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              Old February 18th, 2013 (10:21 PM).
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              But they are illegal! At least from this perspective:

              The settlements are officially military occupations - Israel has not annexed them, but clearly there is not a palestinian sovereign governing the region. And it is also clear that the Israelis have to be the occupiers. I am not sure if there is any other possible designation to be given to the situation, but I find its official designation by the UN to be quite agreeable.

              I think the Israeli perspective is that the territories were acquired under an aggressive war by the Arab countries, but they still haven't /acquired/ them. So the Palestinians are not covered by Israeli government services, Israeli rights, so on. They aren't citizens, they're nobodies really - no state to look after them.

              Anyways, it is illegal for the Occupying power to "deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies", by the Fourth Geneva Convention. We can debate the point of Art. 49, but it sure sounds like a prevention of colonization - a sort of a cheap shot in which you gradually make a territory your own, but don't have to provide all of the goodies that you give to the rest of your citizens. Actually I think population transfers would screw up negotiations as well, because being occupied territories, they technically belong to someone else - except after the settlements, they don't really have a say as the territories are now increasingly populated with the Occupying power's own people. Considering what is going on in the West Bank and other territories, I feel it is very difficult to argue against the spirit of article 49, even if you debate technicalities like interpreting that the Israeli government isn't physically placing people into settlements.

              Other international law documents have similar articles, except they may or may not be ratified by Israel meaning that they aren't bound by them. On the subject of binding, a lot of these UN rulings are nonbinding, and so they don't translate into real-world action. So while the settlements may look justified because nobody's doing anything against them, nobody is bound to do anything against them and nobody wants to mess with Israel, whether as a friend or enemy.

              I think Israel is past the whole Holocaust issue. While that may have been the main force in its founding, I interpret the national identity of Israel to be more "Israeli" than "Jewish". Which to me means more self-identification of being Middle-eastern, being in opposition to Arabs, versus the shining beacon of Judaism in and of itself - one good example is how they're not treating Ethiopians as their own, even though a lot of Ethiopians have been pretty darn Jewish for hundreds if not over a thousand years.

              As an aside, it is very interesting to read these opinions as a Canadian (I'm assuming most of you are Americans ). Israeli news isn't really a mainstream thing over here, neither in the media nor public discourse, so you have to do a lot of the searching yourself - meaning going from CNN to Haaretz to international law documents to al Jazeera XD
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