Both UN and EU deem Israeli settlements at the West Bank as illegal as did the original U.S policy under President Jimmy Carter in 1978 who determined these settlements were illegal and therefore under the ambit of international law. Ronald Reagan had downplayed the status calling this illegitimate but not illegal (1981). Barack Obama refused to veto a U.N resolution that called for an end to these illegal settlements. ‘Pompeo said the administration of President Donald Trump will no longer abide by a 1978 State Department legal opinion that the settlements were “inconsistent with international law”.(Al Jazeera November 18th 2019)
For the record, Israel took over the East Jerusalem, Gaza as well as the West Bank in 1967 after a war between Arabs and Israel that lasted for six days.
Trump’s decision has not come out of the blue. Trump Administration recognized Jerusalem in as Israel’s capital in 2017. A year later U.S opened an Embassy there. This change of policy on Israeli settlements may be seen as a continuation of the American Policy under Trump.
Over three million Palestinians live in West Bank and East Jerusalem as opposed to roughly 600,000 Israelis. These settlements have been a hurdle in achieving peace between both. Since Trump came to office a sustained effort reportedly has been made by the Israelis for a ‘settlement push’.
Trump has destroyed the role U.S played in the region of mediator. Under his watch the rise of Israeli settlements has been phenomenal. ‘Israel’s government went on a spending binge in its West Bank settlements following the election of President Donald Trump, according to official data obtained by The Associated Press.’ (May 14th 2019) The rise is estimated at a 39% spent on the infrastructure at West Bank. Trump cut back the funds allocated to U.N Agency helping Palestinian refugees upon taking over office. Not only this, he recognized Israel’s sovereignty of the Golan Heights. In spite of these lollipops for Netanyahu – he failed to garner enough votes in elections. The mandate to form government was handed over to Benny Gantz, who too, failed in collecting enough numbers. There is likelihood of elections the third time. Netanyahu’s last election promise was to annex parts of West Bank-of course a point that cannot endear him to the Palestinian population.
The decision of U.S to reverse its policy will lead to greater division, greater hate and pushing away the chances of any semblance of peace altogether. It can also lead to civil war in the worst possible scenario. One cannot take a decision of violating UN and EU decision regarding settlements and force it upon people and then expect them to abide by a unilateral decision. It also throws in the bin the solution of a two-nation state.
“The EU calls on Israel to end all settlement activity, in line with its obligations as an occupying power,” EU foreign policy Chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement following the US move. (Al Jazeera)
An interesting parallel emerges between ‘de-illegalizing’ the Israeli settlements and Modi’s step to forcibly and unilaterally abrogate the Article 370 for Indian Occupied Kashmir. Like Netanyahu, Modi too in his election promise had made a like election promise for the abrogation. In wake of coming 15th August, Day of Independence for India, 10000 troops were moved to OIK followed with another deployment of 25000.
Article 35A is to be read with Article 370. The former allows J&K legislature the decision making powers on number of subjects dealing with the fundamental rights of the people of the state including the right to define permanent residence and acquisition of immovable property within the regional boundaries. ‘According to the provisions in the Article 35A, the citizens are defined “permanent” as someone who was a state subject on May 14, 1954, or who has been a resident of the state for 10 years and has lawfully acquired immovable property. The article also outlaws from owning property or having any gainful employment in the region. This greatly hinders private sector investments and ‘development’ in the region.’ (Eurasian Times)
The reason for maintaining the sub-nationality for Jammu and Kashmir was self-evident; the fear of being ruled by Hindu majority India whereas Jammu and Kashmir was and is pre-dominantly Muslim
This abrogation will take away the exclusive citizen rights to the citizens and allow influx of Indians and takeover of properties (il)legally and/or by coercion violating Article 370 as well as unbalance the proportion of ‘citizens’ making the original inhabitants a minority in their home state.
It is important to grasp what Article 370 is and its implications. Maharaja Hari Singh when acceded to India on 26 October 1947 “did not commit himself to accept any future constitution of India. However, he reserved the right to enter into agreements with the government of India under any future constitution of India. The instrument of accession did not affect the continuance of the sovereignty of the ruler in and over the state or the validity of any law in force in the state, save as provided by or under the instrument of accession”, (KASHMIR ARTICLE 370 by Mohan KrishenTeng). The said piece of legislation can only be revoked by the constituent assembly of Jammu and Kashmir so recommends.
The reason for maintaining the sub-nationality for Jammu and Kashmir was self-evident; the fear of being ruled by Hindu majority India whereas Jammu and Kashmir was and is pre-dominantly Muslim.
The constitutional provisions envisaged by Article 370 of the constitution of India and the subsequent constitution (application to Jammu and Kashmir) orders, promulgated by the president of India, provide for a partial application of the constitution of India to the Jammu and Kashmir state. In their application to Jammu and Kashmir, the provisions of the constitution of India fall into three categories:
1. Provisions which are not applicable to the Jammu and Kashmir State;
2. Provisions which are applicable to the Jammu and Kashmir State; and
3. Provisions which are applicable to the State with exceptions and reservations,
(KASHMIR ARTICLE 370 by Mohan KrishenTeng)
Such steps that are being taken by Israel and India can only lead to greater unrest and victimization against whom taken. Unfortunately, the world makes noises but supports greater regional and global interests/alliances.
They need to wake up and smell the coffee!