by David Singer
Plans by the Israeli Government to forcibly remove Jews from their
homes in the West Bank and Gaza breach the International Covenant on
Civil and Political Rights 1966 [Covenant] as well as the United
Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 [Convention], to
both of which Israel is a signatory.
Article 17 of the Covenant provides that:
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference
with his privacy, family, home or correspondence nor to unlawful
attacks on his honour and reputation.
Article 16 of the Convention expressly protects children and is a
mirror image of Article 17.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such
interference or attacks.
The International Court of Justice determined last year that both the
Covenant and the Convention are applicable in the West Bank and Gaza,
which Israel had disputed.
UN Secretary General Kofi Annan however also advised the International
Court that Israel recognises that the Convention is intended to
protect its citizens from their own Government in times of peace.
Israel's High Court of Justice acknowledged in its recent judgement on
the disengagement law, that the forced evacuation of Israelis would
undermine their human dignity.
The High Court nevertheless asserted that the disengagement law passed
all constitutional tests because it "corresponds with the Zionist
values of the State and is intended for a worthy purpose the
political, national and security purposes on which the disengagement
is based are designed to realize a vital and substantial need."
This viewpoint could not be successfully raised to negate article 17
since Article 4.1 of the Covenant states:
"In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and
the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the
present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations
under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies
of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their
other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination
solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social
Israel's forced removal of Jewish residents of Gaza and the West Bank
obviously involves discrimination solely on the ground of race and/or
religion and so could not be relied on by Israel to escape its
international obligations under the Covenant or the Convention.
Jews living in the West Bank and Gaza are legally entitled to reside
there pursuant to the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine and
article 80 of the United Nations Charter in order to reconstitute the
Jewish National Home in those areas as specifically stated in the
Many returned there after 1967 to reclaim land from which other Jews
had been driven out in 1948 by six invading Arab armies.
Any attempt now to forcibly uproot Jews from their homes against their
expressed will is therefore in breach of the inalienable rights
conferred on them by the Covenant, the Convention, the Mandate and the
United Nations Charter.
Choosing to stay will not be palatable to all 8000 Jews affected by
the withdrawal of Israel's army and they will have the option of
accepting the compensation packages that are being offered by the
Israeli Government to those who voluntarily leave.
But one thing is certain the forced removal of Jews from the West
Bank and Gaza is not permitted or authorised under international law
and is in breach of international agreements in force since 1920
authorising Jews to live in those areas.
President Bush, President Putin, the European Union and the United
Nations have publicly welcomed the forced uprooting, whilst Human
Rights organisations are deafening in their silence toward such
Would they all act differently if the Arabs residing in the West Bank
and Gaza were subjected to such proposed action against their will?
Ariel Sharon needs to revise his thinking on this aspect of his
He should urgently seek the opinion of the High Court of Justice on
this issue before embarking on a course of action that has the
capacity to lead to the outbreak of civil insubordination and
threatens to seriously undermine the ability of Israel to resist those
who seek its' total annihilation.
David Singer is an Australian Lawyer and Convenor of: Jordan is
Palestine International an organisation calling for sovereignty
of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and
Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine.
Our special thanks to the author for submitting this article. A. G. S.