These settlements make sure that the state of fragmentation and insecurity of the Palestinians continues and thereby hinders the economic, social and political development of the Palestinians. The total number of such settlements in the West bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza strip are 205, with the vast majority of them in West bank and Jerusalem. "These settlements have led to the more than 403,249 settlers in the West bank and Jerusalem itself." (Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territories) Israel continues to expand the number of these settlements from time to time as well as the bypass roads connecting them. These new bypass roads as well as the expansions to the existing bypass roads add to the disruption of the Palestine economy, autonomy and society.
The Israeli settlements also have a negative impact on the access of the Palestinians to natural resources like water and arable land. This problem is likely to escalate as the estimation is that the Palestinian population is likely to grow to five million in the West Bank and Gaza strip. These Israeli settlements in the West bank, Jerusalem and Gaza Strip are in violation of International Law. "Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention clearly stipulates that an occupying power cannot transfer or deport part of its own civilian population into the occupied area." (Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territories) Article 46 of the Hague convention in addition does not permit the confiscation of private property by the occupying power in the occupied territories. In addition Article 55 of the Hague Convention makes the occupying power only the administrative authority in the occupied territories with on ownership rights. It also places the responsibility of safeguarding the capital including the natural resources on the occupying power and prohibits the diversion of these to the citizens of the occupying power. Article 55 of the Hague Convention states that: "The occupying state shall be regarded only as administrator and usufructuary of public buildings, real estate, forests, and agricultural estates belonging to the hostile State, and situated in the occupied country. It must safeguard the capital of these properties, and administer them in accordance with the rules of usufruct." (Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territories) These settlements also violate the United Nations Security Council resolutions 242 and 465. (Israeli Settlements on Occupied Palestinian Territories)
The Background of the Right of Return in Practice and law
The status of the Palestinians has had a fraught history since they were exiled from their lands in 1948. Depending of their place of residence in the region their lives have significant differences. "The initial response of the host Arab nations towards the incoming Palestinian exiles was to give them refuge as they believed that this was only temporary till the lost lands were recovered from the Israelis." (Treatment and Rights in Arab Host States) as the fact that this problem would not go away soon sank into the host Arab nations, their policies to these refugees became altered. Their initial sympathies were now coupled with their insistence that the ultimate onus of the refugees fell on Israel. This caused most of the Arab nations to vehemently oppose resettlement and naturalization of the refugees in their lands. The preferred to adopt policies that were aimed at retaining the Palestinian identity of the individuals and their status remained as refugees. In September 1965 the League of Arab States acknowledged the Palestinians refugees and provided them certain rights in the signing of the Protocol for the Treatment of Palestinians in Arab States, which came to be known as the Casablanca Protocol. (Treatment and Rights in Arab Host States)
As per this Protocol "the member states were to take the necessary measures to ensure that Palestinians received full residential rights, freedom to move within and among Arab nations and the right for employment on par with the citizens of the respective Arab countries." (Treatment and Rights in Arab Host States) These good intentions became of bone of contention with the developments that took place subsequently. The growth of the Palestinian nationalist movement led to clashes between the movement and governments of most Arab nations. As this developed a diminishing in the legal status was the result. This has led to the fact that very few Palestinians residing in the Arab world have the secure right to remain in their country of residence. This can be seen clearly in the effect that the growth of the Palestine liberation movement had on the security and quality of lives of the Palestinians in the Arab nations. "The growth of this movement led to political and sovereignty tensions within the host Arab nations." (Treatment and Rights in Arab Host States)
In addition were the attacks that the movement launched against Israel and its civilian population. The host Arab nations were the ones who face the brunt of the immediate Israeli reprisals and these led to injuries and deaths of civilians of the host Arab nations. In Jordan the clashes between the Palestinian fighters and the Jordanian became so frequent that the fighters were expelled in 1971. Their embroilment in a civil war in Lebanon and the attacks launched by them on Israel resulted in the Israel invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and resulted in the expulsion of the Palestinian fighters from Lebanon. The Palestinians thus do not find a secure place to live with basic human rights even in the Arab nations that were sympathetic to their cause. This gives them the right to return to Palestine, their original homeland, just as the Israelis claimed the same right for the creation of Israel in the lands of the Palestinians. (Treatment and Rights in Arab Host States)
United Nations Resolutions in Palestinian Right of Return
The United nations General Assembly Resolution 194 of December 11, 1948 stipulated that "any refugee opting to return home and live in peace with their neighbors must be allowed to act in the like manner at the earliest date that was practical." (UN Resolutions) it also stipulated that compensation should be given to those Palestinians opting not to return and also for any loss or damage to property, which going by the principles of international law or equity required that this be done by the Government or authorities that were responsible for it. "The United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of November 22, 1967 made the occupation of Palestine by Israel illegal. This resolution stipulated the Israeli forces should withdraw from those territories occupied by it in the war of 1967." (UN Resolutions) it also required the acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of all the states in that area and their inalienable right to live in peace within safe, secure and recognized borders free from any actions of threat by force.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution 446 of March 22, 1979 made the Israeli settlements in Palestine illegal. This resolution stipulated that the Israeli policy and practices to establish settlements on the Palestinian and other Arab lands, which they had occupied since 1967 possessed no legal validity and instead were a significant hurdle to the achieving of a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East region. The United Nations General Assembly Resolution 3236 of November 22, 1974 gave the right of self-determination to the Palestinians. The resolution affirms "Affirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine...to self-determination without external interference" and "to national independence and sovereignty" (UN Resolutions) "The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1397 of March 12, 2002 reaffirmed the vision of a Palestinian State." (UN Resolutions) This resolution stipulated that it saw the creation of a region in which the two states of Israel and Palestine lived side by side with secure and recognized borders. (UN Resolutions)
The Individual Right of Return for Palestinians in International Law
For over five decades Israel has refused to allow Palestinian refugees to exercise their right to return to their homeland on the basis of number of crucial arguments. These arguments are insufficient physical space, the wish to maintain the Jewish majority, state security and finally international law. The issue of international law is addressed here. The right to return was stipulated in the United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 and it is this international law that Israel tries to repudiate. "Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbors should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible" (Palestinian Refugees and the Right of Return: An International Law Analysis)
The argument is that the right to return is not mandatory and does not include mass groups and is only meant for the nationals of Israel. These arguments really have no meaning as far as…