US President Bill Clinton and many Jewish organizations have asked Israel to restrain “settlement activity” as a gesture to advance the peace process.
This leads to a question – What is the definition of “settlement activity” ?
Let us examine three widely accepted definitions of Israeli “settlement activity”:
1. The “Geneva Convention” definition: Areas that Israel has taken by force”
Most recently, a coalition of international human rights organizations took out ads in all of the major Israeli newspapers, in which these groups quoted the Geneva Conventions that forbid any nation from settling their citizens in areas that were taken by force of military action.
That would mean that the areas that the Israel Defence Forces conquered in the 1948 war of liberation beyond what the UN in 1947 had allocated for the new Jewish state would be considered to be illegal “settlement activity”. That would mean that Israel conducts illegal settlement activity in Ramle, BeerSheva, Nahariya, Tzfat and Lod, let alone Jerusalem, which the UN declared an international city.
In other words, the Geneva Conventions would view any plane that takes off or lands at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod in “settlement activity”.
2. The US State Department/Canadian foreign ministry definition: “All areas taken by Israel in 1967”
The The United States State Department and all major foreign ministries around the globe, along with Israel’s Arab political parties, define Israeli “settlement activity” as all areas taken by Israel as a result of the 1967 six day war, especially Jerusalem, which Israel annexed immediately following the war.
Israel has thus far settled 185,000 Jews in nine Jerusalem neighborhoods, after the 1949-1967 Jordanian restriction that forbid any Jewish residency or Jewish tourism in these areas, including the Old City of Jerusalem.
There are now more Jews than Arabs in the areas of Jerusalem that had been under Jordanian control.
No major country in the world recognizes Israel’s sovereignty in Jerusalem. That includes the United States.
Perhaps that is why new US legislation that recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital carefully deletes any reference to Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem.
In addition, Israel has settled 145,000 Jews in the west bank districts of Judea and Samaria along with Katif near Gaza and another 14,000 of its citizens in the Golan Heights, that was conquered from Syria in 1967 and formally annexed in 1981.
3. The Israeli “Peace Now” definition
The Israeli “Peace Now” movement, nominally affiliated with the Israeli political parties of Meretz and Labor, distributes a map of settlements that it opposes, carefully excluding Jerusalem. However, “Peace Now”, opposes further Jewish housing development that is contiguous to Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem.
Having finally defined the term, is there any question as to whether Israel will stop “settlement activity”?