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Introduction

In the course of the armed conflict that erupted in the Middle East in June 1967, the Israeli military occupied the remainder of Mandated Palestine: the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which was under Jordanian control, and the Gaza Strip, which was under Egyptian administration. The lines of these areas were defined as such by the 1949 Armistice Agreements that were concluded between Israel and Jordan and Egypt respectively. The Israeli military also occupied the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and the Syrian Golan. Israel, thus, became a belligerent occupant of those territories since 1967. The occupation of the Palestinian Territory in 1967, including East Jerusalem, by Israel is the longest military occupation in modern history, inflicting untold misery and suffering for over 40 years.

Following the war, the UN Security Council adopted resolution 242 (1967) of 22 November 1967, which emphasized the international law principle of "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war" and which affirmed that peace in the Middle East should be based on the "withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict" and the "termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force."

This resolution, along with the principle of returning the land in exchange for peace (land for peace) which was embodied in it, became the basis for the Middle East peace process.

Based on the fundamental principles of the Charter of the United Nations, international law and relevant UN resolutions, the entire international community considers the Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, along with the other Arab territories occupied by Israel in 1967, to be "occupied territories" subject to the 4th Geneva Convention of 12 August 1949 relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Times of War. Combined, these provisions of international law constitute the fundamental basis for accurate examination of the human rights situation of the Palestinian people.

The United Nations, in a multitude of resolutions, has affirmed the applicability of the 4th Geneva Convention to the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, including East Jerusalem and has called for an end to the occupation. The UN has also repeatedly affirmed the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and the need for the realization of those rights.

Since the start of the occupation, Israel, the occupying Power, immediately began imposing scores of repressive measures against the Palestinian civilian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. These measures, entailing grave violations of human rights, have inflicted enormous suffering and harm on the Palestinian civilian population. At the same time, the occupying Power attempted to change the status of the occupied territory or parts of it and to change the demographic composition of the territory through the illegal transfer of Israeli civilians including, inter alia, altering the municipal boundaries of occupied East Jerusalem to include the illegal settler illegal communities. The occupying Power attempted to justify many of these measures by citing its security considerations or military needs. In reality, however, the occupying Power has been driven by an expansionist vision or ideology and, in the course of implementing such a vision, has used its enormous military capabilities and a complex system of economic, legal and administrative policies and practices. Another fundamental aim of the occupying Power has been to prevent the realization of Palestinian national rights. The result of these measures has been a gradual change in the situation in the Palestinian territory from that under foreign occupation to that under active colonization.

Israel, the occupying Power, has continued with its policies and practices of occupation for more than 41 years. These policies and practices represent grave breaches of international humanitarian law and serious violations of all the principles and laws of human rights. Israel has also carried out these policies in total disregard for the position of the international community and in total violation of the Charter of the U.N. and of relevant Security Council and General Assembly resolutions, as well as resolutions of other U.N. organs, including the 9 July 2004 International Court of Justice’s Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem.

Under this occupation, we have seen the continuing and large-scale destruction of the economic and social structures of the occupied territories and the substitution of the occupying Power's laws for those previously in force. We have seen deportations, displacement and the arbitrary detention of civilians; the confiscation of land and destruction of property; ill treatment of and violence against the civilian population; as well as numerous measures of collective punishment. On top of all that, we have seen the transfer by the occupying Power of a part of its own population to the occupied Palestinian territory, in grave breach of article 49 of the Convention. This article was drafted specifically to prevent colonization, annexation and any changes in the character of any occupied territory. There now exist more than 5000,000 Israeli settlers in 175 settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory, 185,000 of whom live within the illegally extended municipal boundaries of occupied East Jerusalem.

What does all this mean? It means a unique situation which has been catastrophic for the entire civilian Palestinian population a situation which started more than 60 years ago and continues to the present day. The situation is no less catastrophic for the Palestinian civilian population living under Israeli occupation, which has been subject to continuous oppression and is now subject to the only colonization campaign-taking place at the end of the twenty-first century.

The previous page is an outline of the policies and practices of Israel, the occupying Power, in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.