The US can’t rewrite international law, Australia must commit to fair position on settlements

Nov 19, 2019

The Trump administration’s announcement – that they do not regard settlements as inconsistent with international law – disregards the entire international legal framework for a just solution for Israel and Palestine. This is another attempt by Trump to rewrite the rule-book.

Israel’s settlement building has the explicit aim of undermining the establishment of a Palestinian State, and the world has been united in condemning this since the 1960s. Settlements are a clear breach of the Fourth Geneva Conventions which prohibit transferring a population into an Occupied area. This legal situation has been confirmed by the International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly, and the International Committee of the Red Cross. In 2016 the UN Security Council stated settlements are a “flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the vision of two States living side-by-side in peace and security, within internationally recognized borders”.

This is the third time the Trump administration has sought to demolish the UN framework for a just solution – their move of the US Embassy from Tel Aviv disregards international consensus that Jerusalem is a final status issue, recognising legitimate claims from both Israel and Palestine for the city to be their national capital; and their announcement about the Golan Heights ignores it is Occupied Syrian Territory. The US is giving Israel a green light to continue to be an expansionist state.

Given the Prime Minister has acknowledged that “settlements undermine peace – and contribute to the stalemate we now see” (ref), we call on the Government to reconfirm Australia’s opposition to the Israel’s settlements.

Australia must be clear and principled in our commitment to international law. Israel cannot continue to seize Palestinian land. Israel cannot keep pushing Palestinians into smaller enclaves. Israel cannot continue a military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza in perpetuity. And the Trump administration can’t unilaterally rewrite international law.