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Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15Palestinians marking the 64 anniversary of al-Nakba (catastrophe) with protests, while Israeli security reacted with conducted arrests campaigns on May 15

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Legal status

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Legal status of the conflict

The applicable legal system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories consists of Ottoman law, British mandate law, Israeli military law and Israeli law. Moreover international humanitarian law and human rights law are applicable since Israel is a party to the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 and the International Covenants on Human Rights. Palestinians suffer from the arbitrary de facto application of the Fourth Geneva Convention as Israel considers the 1967 Occupied Palestinian Territories not as occupied. As the sovereignty of Jordan over the West Bank was questionable and Egypt never asserted sovereignty over Gaza, the Government of Israel took the view that there was no sovereign Power at whose expense it occupied these territories. After the Oslo Accords, Israel argues that it can no longer be viewed as an occupying Power in respect of the A areas, accommodating the majority of the Palestinian population because effective control in these areas has been handed over to the Palestinian Authority. Legally, the Geneva Convention does not imply any affirmation or rejection of claims to sovereignty as the purpose of this Convention is to protect civilians in occupied territories regardless of sovereignty. For that reason the UN General Assembly and the Security Council have taken the position from 1967 onwards that Israel should de jure abide by its legal obligations and responsibilities under the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.

Since the beginning of the Intifada on 29 September 2000, Israel argues that there is now an armed conflict between Israel and the Palestinian people led by the Palestinian Authority. This argument seeks to justify the use of force resorted to by the Israeli army in the present conflict and its resort to military rather than police measures. However, this view can be seriously questioned. According to the Palestinian view the present Intifada is to be categorized as an uprising of large elements of a civilian population against an occupying powers unlawful abuses of its control over that population and its environment and that these groups are loosely organized, including the armed groups and that these groups are not coordinated or organized by the Palestinian Authority. Even is the conflict is categorized as an armed conflict, entitling to the Israeli army to greater latitude in the exercise of its powers, it is certainly not freed from all restraints under international humanitarian law and human rights law, including the Fourth Geneva Convention.

The right to self-determination, as mentioned in international law and international human rights instruments, has repeatedly been recognized for the Palestinian people by the UN General Assembly. Also the goal of the Oslo process was to establish an independent Palestinian State. This makes that the Palestinian question is seen by many as a colonial issue and the recognition of Palestinian statehood as the last step in the decolonization process initiated by the General Assembly in its resolution 1514 (XV).

Source: Commission on Human Rights (March 2001) Questions of the violations of human rights in the Occupied Arab Territories, including Palestine

Legal status of Jerusalem

Israeli law

Israel unilaterally annexed East Jerusalem in June 1967 with the adoption by the Knesset of Amendment no. 11 to the Administration Ordinance Law, Amendment no. 6 of the Municipalities Ordinance Law, and the Protection of the Holy Places Law. It extended Israeli law, jurisdiction, and administration to this part of the city. On July 30 1980, the Knesset passed the Basic Law, which declared Jerusalem, including the eastern part of the city, the Capital of Israel.

Under Israeli law, the legal status of East Jerusalem is different from that of the rest of the territories occupied in 1967, which are under military occupation. As Israeli residents, Jerusalem Palestinians enjoy certain benefits denied to Palestinians from the rest of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They are not subjected to the same restrictions on movement as imposed on other Palestinians. They are also entitled to health insurance and other social welfare benefits as all other Israeli residents. However, they are subject to discriminatory laws and policies intended to reduce the Palestinian population in Jerusalem.

The Israeli system is based on Basic Laws, which form the constitution of the state. The government has to act in accordance with these laws. Although this legal system seems democratic and not discriminatory on the surface, some aspects violate democratic principles and in fact do discriminate. An example is the Israeli Law of Return, which grants exclusive citizenship rights to members of the Jewish faith regardless of where they are born. This right is not granted to Palestinians indigenous to the region.

There are two ways in which the government can interfere in the law making process, namely by making sub-legislation, and by emergency regulations. This regulation defines emergency as a situation in which the country expects danger as a result of threats to its existence. Since the creation of the state these emergency regulations have been in force. In accordance, the Israeli law authorises the government to enact or regulate laws in sub-regulations or sub-legislation. These sub-regulations and sub-legislation allow the Israeli government to make temporarily regulations that can contradict Basic Laws. It provides, for example, the minister of security the authority to decide to enforce full closures on any city or village without further consultation or democratic vote in parliament. These regulations also deprive the court from reviewing and examining these decisions and therefore violate democratic principles.

The Palestinians in Jerusalem experience the complex legal system increasingly as an instrument of oppression. Examples are cases of land confiscation, house demolition, arrests and reparation for injuries. In respect of cases submitted to the Israeli courts, these courts are inclined to interpret and apply the relevant laws narrowly in the advantage of the Israeli State.

International law

According to international law, East Jerusalem is occupied territory, which means the Fourth Geneva Convention is applicable. This means that, according to article 47 of this Convention, residents are to be afforded the rights of the Convention regardless of the changes imposed by the occupying power, this includes annexation of the territory.

Israels annexation, its attempts to change the legal status of the city and its current policies and practices violate not only the Fourth Geneva Convention, but also International Covenants and Conventions like for example the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Right and the Convention for the Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination. They have led to general international condemnation. Between 1947 and 1996, the UN Security Council issued 21 resolutions on Jerusalem. The General Assembly has also issued similar resolutions (54 resolutions between 1947 and 1992). These resolutions were issued either because of Israeli policies and measures in Jerusalem in particular, or they referred to Jerusalem in the context of the Occupied Territories. These resolutions emphasise the illegitimacy of Jerusalems annexation. Additionally, these resolutions regard the city as an integral part of the Occupied Territories and emphasise the applicability of international humanitarian law, namely the Fourth Geneva Convention.