Today in 1967: Israeli legal opinion deems settlements illegal
14 September 2017
After the Six-Day War, Prime Minister Levi Eshkol requested that Theodor Meron, who served as a legal advisor to Israel’s Foreign Ministry, provide a legal opinion about the legality of settling the territories occupied in the war. In a secret memo written on this day and only made public in 2006, Meron wrote that any military outposts in the territory can only be temporary and that moving civilians in clearly violates international law, as stipulated by the Fourth Geneva Convention: “If it is decided to go ahead with Jewish settlement in the administered territories, it seems to me vital, therefore, that settlement is carried out by military and not civilian entities. It is also important, in my view, that such settlement is in the framework of camps and is, on the face of it, of a temporary rather than permanent nature. Even if we settle an army and not civilians, we must, from the point of view of international law, have regard to the question of ownership of the land that we are settling.” Despite the legal opinion, Israel’s cabinet approved Kfar Etzion – the first official settlement in the West Bank – just 10 days later.
Almost 40 years later, the Sasson Report was published. It is an official Israeli government report that concluded that Israeli state bodies had been discreetly diverting millions of shekels to build West Bank settlements and outposts that were illegal under Israeli law. The report was commissioned by the Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, and was headed by the former head of the State Prosecution Criminal Department Talia Sasson. Talia Sasson later ran for the Israeli elections as part of the Meretz party and currently serves as Board Chair for the New Israel Fund.
Learn the history of the occupation so that we can overcome it, because #50isEnough.
The occupation has gone on for 50 years. It’s a problem that must be addressed for Israel’s sake and for the Palestinians. Over 5 decades and in every month of the year, Israelis, Palestinians, Americans and others have made their mark on reality. Telling these stories is part of how our movement grows stronger. This series marks the watershed moments we all need to know about.