The legal foundations of Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories

Raja Shehadeh writes: Earlier this month, I finally watched “The Law in These Parts,” a documentary by the Israeli film director Ra’anan Alexandrowicz, at the 7th International Conference for Popular Resistance. The film describes the legal system that Israel has applied in the Palestinian Occupied Territories since 1967, and it does so exclusively through interviews with members of the Israeli military legal corps who wrote and implemented the system.

I saw the film in the Palestinian village of Bilin, just west of Ramallah. This was a fitting setting for the occasion. In 2007, a local councilor secured a rare judgment from Israel’s highest court that ordered the army to reroute the separation wall and return to the villagers hectares of land that had been taken away from them. The wall was moved only last year, and the residents of Bilin continue their struggle to reclaim more land they say is theirs and was allocated to the Jewish settlement of Modiin Illit, on the other side of the rerouted wall. Alexandrowicz’s film was screened in an open area of Bilin only recently returned.

According to the film, one of the first decisions Israel made in the aftermath of 1967 was to declare the territories under its control to be ones it “held” or “administered” rather than “occupied.” This allowed it to claim that it was not bound by the Fourth Geneva Convention — a determination with far-reaching implications. [Continue reading…]

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