New Al-Haq Position Paper Examines Legality of Territorial Exchange
Al-Haq is pleased to announce the publication of “Exploring the Illegality of ‘Land Swap’ Agreements under Occupation.” The new position paper examines the legal implications of ‘land swap’ agreements concluded between Israel and the Palestinian representatives whilst the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip is ongoing. Given the recent calls of the international community for a kick-start to the peace process between Israel and Palestine based on the 1967 borders with ‘mutually agreed land swaps,’ Al-Haq would like to emphasise that agreements involving land swaps are not compatible with the law of occupation.
In light of the recent Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) proposal, which suggests a 1.9 per cent ‘land swap’ of West Bank territory with Israel, Al-Haq would like to highlight the consequences of any agreement involving territorial exchange under belligerent occupation. The proposal is one of several propositions to exchange territory presented by the PLO and Israel in recent years, all of which revolve around Israel’s retention of the major settlement blocs in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in exchange for sparsely-populated farmland adjacent to the Gaza Strip, the Sinai Desert and part of the West Bank, as well as territory in the Negev Desert.
Commenting on the proposal for ‘land swaps,’ Shawan Jabarin, General Director of Al-Haq, said that “the Fourth Geneva Convention protects the interests of the occupied population and clearly states that any agreements that undermine their rights are prohibited as they are borne of a clear imbalance of power between the two parties involved. Rather than facilitate the exercise of self-determination and Palestinian sovereignty over their natural resources, ‘land swap’ agreements concluded under occupation will result in further fragmentation of Palestinian society and will effectively constitute official sanctioning of the dispossession of Palestinian land.”
While Al-Haq welcomes the international community’s interest and efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to terminate the prolonged Israeli occupation of the OPT, it reiterates that any peace negotiation must strictly adhere to international law.
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Neill Ó Ćiorain