Al Mezan Center for Human Rights welcomes the adoption by the United Nations Security Council of Resolution 2334, which condemns Israel's illegal colonial settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) and calls for partial dismantling of settlements. The Resolution condemns the continued violations of international law, notably international humanitarian law (IHL), committed against Palestinian civilians and civilian property by Israel, the occupying Power. The Resolution is a long awaited step by the international community, taken after decades of Israel’s continued implementation of unlawful policies—inter alia settlement activities, appropriation of land, and transfer of the Occupying Power’s population—that represent grave breaches of IHL and amount to war crimes.
Such policies have resulted in the forcible transfer of Palestinian civilians, the demolition of homes and other civilian structures, the construction of the illegal Separation Wall inside the occupied West Bank, and the forcible separation between Palestinian communities, serving as the framework for Israel’s settlement enterprise. Critically, the policies must be viewed as preparation for the annexation of occupied territories. Al Mezan expresses our hope that this Resolution will be a first step toward toward reversing this reality by ensuring due respect for the rules of international law, which has been consistently violated by Israel and largely overlooked by the international community, including during the period subsequent to the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993.
On Friday 23 December 2016, the Security Council passed Resolution 2334 with a 14-0 vote, which reflects international consensus concerning the illegality of Israel's settlement activities in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem. The Resolution declares that settlements have no legal validity and are an obstacle to the peace efforts aimed at achieving a two-state solution and securing a comprehensive and just resolution to the conflict. The Resolution calls for the immediate cessation of settlement activities in the oPt and states that the Security Council will not recognize any changes to the 4 June 1967 borders without an agreement.
Since its occupation of the oPt in 1967, Israel has transferred hundreds of thousands of its Jewish citizens to settlements built on Palestinian land and has forcibly transferred Palestinian civilians—with a focus on Palestinians in Jerusalem and the area designated as Area C under the Oslo Accords. The practice impacts all Palestinians in the oPt as access to Jerusalem is hampered in favor of Israeli settlements, bypass roads and checkpoints as well as the construction of the Separation Wall. A comprehensive infrastructure has been built to serve the settler communities and enable them to pillage Palestinian natural resources to the benefit of the Israeli State and its citizens. In order for Israel to enable the enterprise, its occupation forces and authorities have erected hundreds of roadblocks placed among Palestinian communities, arbitrarily arrested hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, employed torture and ill-treatment, and deployed rules of engagement that permit the targeted killing and injury of Palestinian civilians during protests. Israel has also deployed a policy of full impunity, which systematically allows perpetrators of serious violations of human rights and IHL not to be held to account.
In the face of this reality, Al Mezan has joined Palestinian, regional, and international human rights organizations in calling on the international community to make effective interventions to ensure due protection for Palestinian civilians and civilian property in accordance with international law, and stressing the dire need for accountability and access to effective justice as a crucial requirement in bringing violations—including settlement activities—to an end.
Al Mezan views this Resolution as a significant step toward securing respect for human rights and ensuring justice and the realization of the Palestinian people's inalienable right to self-determination. In the past decades, the international community's failure to act has permitted Israel’s serious violations to be committed and go unaccounted for. This Resolution provides a spark of hope that an almost five-decade long occupation will come to an end and the violations it has been producing will be challenged. Al Mezan hopes that this historic Resolution will be followed by steps for its implementation.