Israeli Violations in Jerusalem Intensify

Palestinian Complaints Submitted to U.N. Security Council

Israeli violations of international law, the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and United Nations Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have continued and intensified in Occupied East Jerusalem. The Israeli authorities have been pursuing various illegal activities in blatant contravention of international law and numerous resolutions in this regard. Further, these actions have been carried forth in total disrespect of the agreements reached between the parties and of repeated calls by the cosponsors of the peace process, as well as other concerned parties, for a freeze in settlement activities by Israel, pending negotiations on the final status between the two parties in the peace process. The recent hostile and illegal actions threaten the fragile peace process, which has been mired in deadlock, and the already precarious and tense situation on the ground.

Over the past two weeks, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations conveyed identical letters to the President of the Security Council, the Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly of the United Nations regarding the most recent violations and incidents. (Letters were sent on 29 May 1998 and on 8 and 9 June 1998.)

The first of those letters concerned yet another illegal and provocative act committed by the Israeli Government on 24 May 1998 in occupied Jerusalem, in flagrant violation of international law and relevant United Nations resolutions and in blatant defiance of the international community. On that day, Israel, the occupying Power, staged a military parade in Jerusalem to mark the 31st anniversary of the occupation of Arab East Jerusalem.

This illegal action was undertaken despite the fact that the Security Council has, in twenty-four resolutions, affirmed the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention to all the territories occupied by Israel in 1967, including Jerusalem, a fact on which the international community is in firm agreement. The Council has also repeatedly declared that all measures and arrangements taken by Israel, including the legislative and administrative ones, that are aimed at changing the legal status, demographic composition and character of the city are null and void and without any legal validity whatsoever. Further, in two prior resolutions, resolutions 162 (1961) of 11 April 1961 and 250 (1968) of 27 April 1968, the Security Council specifically called upon Israel to refrain from holding military parades in Jerusalem. The Council unanimously deplored such an action in resolution 251 (1968) of 2 May 1968. Nevertheless, Israel continues to violate international law and ignore resolutions of the Council, frequently repeating past violations and ingressions.

On 8 June 1998, Israel began "archeological excavations" in the area of Burj al-Laqlaq inside the walls of the Old City of Occupied East Jerusalem. These excavations by the Israeli Antiquities Authority are being carried out as part of preliminary activities for the building of a new illegal Jewish settlement in the heart of Occupied Arab East Jerusalem in the vicinity of the destroyed structure of the Burj al-Laqlaq Society, a charitable Palestinian organization, near the Bab Hatta quarter, which was demolished by Israeli forces on 27 August 1996. (In 1996, following the destruction of the Burj al-Laqlaq building, a press statement was issued by the President of the Security Council, calling upon Israel to refrain from actions that would threaten the peace process.)

The state-sponsored excavation work is being undertaken following a failed attempt by the extremist Jewish settler group of Ateret Cohanim, on 25 May 1998, to establish a nucleus for the new settlement in that area. At a later stage, the Israeli Government decided to allow for the excavations as a preliminary step towards the building of the settlement. In tandem with the excavations, on 8 June 1998, the illegal Israeli municipality of Jerusalem began deliberations on a construction plan for that proposed settlement. Also on 8 June 1998, another extremist Jewish settler group, Elad, took over four housing units, as well as a plot of land, in the Silwan neighborhood of Arab East Jerusalem. Clashes ensued with Palestinians in which one Palestinian official was injured.

Not to be surpassed by the feverish pursuit of illegal Israeli settlement activities over recent weeks by settler groups, the Israeli Government also announced plans for the building of more illegal settlements. On 9 June 1998, the Interior Ministry of Israel officially approved the construction of 58 housing units for Jewish settlers in the area of the Mount of Olives in Occupied East Jerusalem. This decision is yet another example of the intensification of Israel’s provocative and deliberate expansionist policy and its designs for the colonization and judaization of Arab Jerusalem, with the vociferous support of lunatic settler groups and the illegal municipality of Jerusalem.

Such illegal and hostile actions demonstrate clearly the intransigence and intentions of the Government of Israel as it consistently defies the will of the international community and violates international law. The above-mentioned acts and decisions follow the actions taken by the Israeli authorities with regard to the construction of an illegal settlement at Jabal Abu Ghneim to the south of Occupied East Jerusalem, where the Israeli authorities have already completed the infrastructure stage of building. That action, begun more than a year ago, derailed the peace process and led to the convening of the Tenth Emergency Special Session of the General Assembly, the first emergency special session at the U.N. in fifteen years.

Unfortunately, the Jabal Abu Ghneim settlement represents only one of the areas of Israeli violations and illegal settlement activity in and around the vicinity of Occupied East Jerusalem. For example, although plans to build a settlement at Bab al-Amud in the Old City were halted, settlers were permitted to occupy and guard a few houses in the area. Further, as noted, the illegal intentions with regard to the former site of the Burj al-Laqlaq building are ongoing, with the Israeli authorities using the archaeological excavations as a pretense for its construction plans. The actions of the extremist settler groups in Silwan also remain unresolved and continue to aggravate the tense and precarious situation in the area. The same can be said about the recent illegal decision by the Israeli Government to build on the Mount of Olives.

As the situation continues to unravel at a perilous speed, it is imperative that the international community take a clear and firm position, based upon international law and in accordance with U.N. resolutions, in opposition to all such Israeli violations and illegal practices. Israel’s continuing intransigence and its defiance of the will of the international community on the sensitive and complex issue of Jerusalem must be seriously addressed. In the three letters submitted to the Security Council, the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine emphasized that Israel’s illegal policies and actions must be confronted and measures must be taken in order to ensure respect for international law and to prevent further escalation of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including Jerusalem, as well as the region as a whole. Accordingly, it is clear that the Security Council, as the body responsible for the maintenance of international peace and security, should formally consider the situation with a view of taking the necessary actions in this regard.