Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
*This written statement is issued, unedited, in the language(s) received from the submitting non-governmental organization(s).
BADIL Resource Center, on behalf of 15 Palestinian and international human rights organisations, would like to address the pressing issue of ongoing forced displacement and dispossession of the Palestinian people.
Israel defines itself as a Jewish state and conditions its existence upon the maintenance of a Jewish majority. Indeed, the Zionist movement that established Israel in 1948 combined Jewish nationalism with the colonial practice of transplanting people, mostly from Europe, into Palestine with the support of European colonial powers. For the past 66 years, Israel has continued its practice of settler implantation and the removal of indigenous Palestinians in a policy that amounts to forced population transfer.
Forced population transfer has been defined as the “systematic, coercive and deliberate … movement of population into or out of an area … with the effect or purpose of altering the demographic composition of a territory, particularly when that ideology or policy asserts the dominance of a certain group over another.”1
Not limited to the occupied Palestinian territory, the Israeli system also targets Palestinians residing on the Israeli side of the 1949 Armistice Line (known as the Green Line) and millions of Palestinian refugees living in forced exile while promoting Jewish-Israeli settlement implantation to the expropriated land. As such, the Palestinians, wherever they reside, are collectively exposed to one system composed of institutionalized discrimination, prolonged military occupation, and colonization.
That structure discriminates against Palestinians in areas such as nationality, citizenship, denial of reparation (return, restitution and compensation), residency rights, and land ownership. This system originated in 1948 in order to dominate and dispossess all forcibly displaced Palestinians along with the 150,000 Palestinians who were able to remain within the “Green Line” and who became citizens of Israel. The occupation of the remaining part of Palestine by Israeli forces in 1967 subjected the Palestinians living within that territory to the same discriminatory system.2
The creation of a Jewish nation state in a land with a small Jewish minority could only be achieved by forcibly displacing the indigenous population and implanting Jewish settlers from abroad. Accordingly, the manifestation of Israel’s ideology is forced population transfer. Forced population transfer has been defined as a practice or policy that has the purpose or effect of moving persons into or out of an area—either within or across an international border and it might be carried out en masse, or as “low-intensity transfers” affecting a population gradually or incrementally.
Forced population transfer is illegal and has constituted an international crime since the Allied Resolution on German War Crimes, adopted in 1942. The strongest and most recent codification of the crime is in the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, which clearly defines the forced transfer of population and implantation of settlers as war crimes.
Already, 66% of seven million Palestinians worldwide have been displaced by Israel’s ongoing forced displacement policy.3 Today, this population transfer is carried out by Israel in the form of its overall policy of “silent” transfer—not by mass deportations like in 1948 or 1967. This displacement is silent in the sense that Israel carries it out while trying to avoid international attention by displacing small numbers of people on a weekly basis.4
Palestinians struggle to acquire and retain their rights undermined by Israel’s policy of forced transfer. Any attempts at resolving the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians requires addressing the imbalance of power and resulting rights-refusal with special attention to the most egregious and unaccounted practices: namely, the Israeli policy of forced transfer. Thus, a rights-based approach responds to the root causes of the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians while a humanitarian emergency aid approach addresses the outcomes of illegal Israeli practices rather than their implementation. In pursuit of a sustainable and just peace, a rights-based approach draws on international law and the principle of justice and equality for all. A human rights-based approach requires: