Fear of War Crimes Indictment Could Spur Demolition, But Settlers Urge PM to Hang Tough (JEWISH PRESS) By: Yori Yanover 05/14/12)
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Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein warned Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu that any expropriation of Palestinian owned land to be
developed by Jews in Judea and Samaria could lead to the transfer of
the entire settlements matter to the International Court in The Hague.
According to Ha’aretz, Weinstein told Netanyahu the Court in the
Hague was liable to indict senior Israeli government officials for
Apparently, Weinstein’s warning was the reason behind Netanyahu’s
approval for Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s request to evacuate the
Machpelah Building in Hebron, about a hundred yards from the Cave of
the Patriarchs, on the eve of Passover last month, despite heavy
pressure exerted by many Likud ministers.
Security forces evacuated Machpelah House, which had been purchased
and settled legally by several Jewish families a week earlier.
According to Ha’aretz, on the morning of the evacuation there was a
three-way meeting between Weinstein, Barak and Netanyahu, during
which the AG told the PM that failure to keep the law zealously would
get Israel in trouble in the international arena and could lead to
the indictment of senior Israeli officials on war crimes. This is why
Netanyahu finally approved the evacuation.
Weinstein has repeated his warnings regarding the pending legislation
which is intended to prevent the demolition of the Ulapana Hill
neighborhood, according to Ha’aretz. The proposed new bill states
that if the government had mistakenly built a Jewish settlement on
privately owned Palestinian land, the owners would be compensated
with money or with land of comparable value.
The new bill also introduces a statute of limitation that sets a time
period after which the Jewish tenants would be protected from
Israel’s Justice Ministry is concerned that seniorl officials could
be prosecuted in the criminal courts in The Hague, which have been in
operation since 2002. Israel initially supported the establishment of
the court, but later withdrew its support. One of the major reasons
for that change in policy has been the issue of the settlements, or,
rather, the court’s questionable interpretation of the Fourth Geneva
Convention which defines as a war crime the transferring of an
occupying population into an occupied territory.
In 2004 the International Court of Justice declared the Jewish
settlements in Judea and Samaria were illegal because they constitute
an occupying population moving into an occupied territory.
But several legal experts over the years have pointed to the lack of
international recognition of Jordan’s 1949 occupation of those same
areas, which, essentially, meant that when those territories fell
into Israeli hands in 1967, they had not been taken from their
legitimate owner and therefore should not be considered occupied.
Harel Koren, a representative of the residents of the Ulpana Hill
neighborhood, who is also a spokesman for National Union MK Yaakov
Katz (Ketzaleh), told the Jewish Press he didn’t think Netanyahu and
his ministers should fear the international court, saying that “the
Jewish nation has been plagued by fears for 1900 years. In 1948 the
nation has begun to be liberated from those fears.”
On the other hand, Koren continued, “the demolition of 9000 populated
housing units is, itself, a crime against Humanity—even if
they’re ‘merely’ homes belonging to Jews—which is why the prime
minister declared this is a decree that the public cannot sustain,
and it will not come to be.”
Koren, who has been assisting MK Katz during the time the latter was
working for Ariel Sharon when Sharon was Housing and Development
Minister—a period of enormous growth of the Jewish settlements—
disagreed with Ha’aretz’ assertion that Netanyahu had capitulated to
the AG’s argument regarding the threat of a war crimes indictment.
“If he (Netanyahu) had given in, he would have handed Machpelah House
back to the Arabs,” Koren said. “I’m not defending his move to
evacuate the Jewish residents, but as the case stands, once their
ownership of the house is clarified in a court of law, the Jews will
be permitted to resettle there.” (© 2012 JewishPress. 05/14/12)
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