reading time 6 minutes
Israel has a duty to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination.
I have been disappointed to read the news that Unilever has sold Ben & Jerry’s in Israel to current licensee Avi Zinger to enable the US brand to be sold in the Palestinian Occupied Territories. The ice cream will in future be sold in Israel and the West Bank under the Hebrew and Arabic names, but the brand will retain the same look and feel and it will remain the same ice cream. Unilever spoke of a “complex and sensitive issue” in a statement, saying it believes this is the best outcome for Ben & Jerry’s in Israel. This shows how hypocritical the company is to discriminate against Palestinians when it could read the headlines in March: “Consumer goods giant Unilever wants to suspend its Russian imports, exports.†
In its advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice wrote that all states have three legal obligations: 1. NOT to assist Israel in annexing occupied territory. 2. To ensure that Israel respects humanitarian law. 3. To help Palestinians fulfill their right to self-determination:
“Given the nature and importance of the rights and obligations involved, the Court is of the opinion that all states are obliged not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian including in and around East Jerusalem.They are also obliged not to provide support or assistance to maintain the situation created by such construction.It is also up to all states while respecting the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure that any obstacle resulting from the construction of the wall to the exercise of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination is brought to an end, in addition, all states that are parties to the Geneva Convention on Civil Protection wartime persons of 12 August 1949, obliged, in compliance with the United Nations Charter and international law, to ensure that Israel complies with international humanitarian law. one of this Convention. “ICJ, Legal consequences of the construction of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, Advisory opinion of 9 July 2004, para. 159.
The Dutch “International Crimes Act” regards settlements in occupied territory as a serious war crime. If Mark Rutte were to occupy the West Bank and build settlements there, he could risk life in prison. More than a hundred countries have such laws, including those that are always in the top 10 for the rule of law (such as Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Germany, New Zealand and Ireland).
And if the Netherlands did not try Rutte, the International Criminal Court (ICC) would do so. For the court, war crimes are considered to be “the direct or indirect expulsion by the occupying power of parts of its own civilian population to the occupied territory or the deportation or expulsion of all or part of the population of the occupied territory within or outside that territory.” Therefore, Israel did not want to join the ICC.
This is not a joke. Fatou Bensouda, the former prosecutor of the ICC, asked the judges for permission to investigate the war crimes in the occupied Palestinian territories. Among other war crimes, the plaintiff claimed that she had reasonable grounds to believe that the ICC could try the settlements as war crimes. And the judges gave her the green light to start lawsuits.
Before this legal fiat mentioned above, Simon Mckenzie wrote a wonderful book about it, published by the leading legal publisher Routledge: Disputed territories and international criminal law: Israeli settlements and the International Criminal Court† He wrote:
†There is little doubt that Israel is violating fundamental international legal obligations by continuing its settlement program in the West Bank. Due to the dire impact that a population transfer program and the illegal acquisition of property have on the civilian population in occupied territory, both practices have been banned by international humanitarian law. The consequence for the civilian population in occupied territory is also the reason why both practices are classified as war crimes punishable by the ICC; makes it clear that they are classified as some of the “most serious crimes of concern by the international community”†
Or take this quote from Hannes Jöbstl in Israel Law Review:
†In its 1991 draft law on crimes against humanity’s peace and security, the International Law Commission listed “the establishment of settlers in an occupied territory and changes in the demographic composition of an occupied territory” as an “unusually serious” war crime. The commentary on the draft code added that such actions “could involve the covert intention of annexing the occupied territory” and that “changes in the demographic composition of an occupied territory seemed to the Commission to be such a serious act that it could repeat the seriousness or genocide†
Also take a basic book from the Red Cross. This book is used e.g. by professors of international law at the University of Leiden in a Coursera course on humanitarian law (IHL). The Red Cross (one of the most respected experts in martial law) does not doubt for a second that the West Bank is occupied:
†Prohibition of colonization
The IHR also prohibits the absolute deportation or transfer of parts of the occupying forces’ own civilian population to the occupied territory. This ban is intended to prevent the colonization of occupied territories by the citizens of the occupying power and the gradual establishment of “facts on the ground”, which could ultimately result in a de facto annexation of that territory. A well-known example is the long-standing Israeli policy of establishing settlements for sections of its own population within the Occupied Palestinian Territory. The ICRC has consistently taken the position that this policy is in clear violation of the IHR and has had serious humanitarian consequences for decades.†
The AIV (Advisory Council on International Affairs) reported: “There may be slight differences of opinion on the most important legal issues related to the conflict. Israel has a duty to respect the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination. Establishment of Israeli settlements on the West Bank and restriction of Palestinian freedom of movement in the Occupied Territories [schenden volkenrecht]† The same goes for the partition. ”
Thirteen prominent professors of international law also wrote in a letter to the government that “It is indisputable that Israeli settlement policy constitutes a continuous violation of international law, which also applies to the Netherlands, as determined by the UN Security Council. The settlements violate the Palestinians’ right to self-determination. , a right which, as confirmed by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in 2004, entails binding obligations for all countries.The Dutch government is obliged under international law to contribute to the realization of the Palestinian right to self-determination and not to Facilitate Israeli Settlement Policy … Facilitating and supporting illegal settlements under international law may lead to “liability under international law.”
These professors and the AIV recommend measures such as sanctions and bans or labeling of Israeli products from occupied territories.
So it is clear that the settlements are illegal and at the same time a serious war crime. However, Palestinians cannot sue Israel in an international court and force it to end the occupation or stop the construction of settlements. This means that without the cooperation of other countries and large corporations, such as Unilever, which is richer and more powerful than many states, Israel will continually annex more of its territory and shrink their numbers in every possible way.