UN Geneva Conference Adjourned

(July 16, 1999)


A United Nations conference held in Geneva to determine whether Israeli settlements in the occupied territories violate international law adjourned after less than an hour.

The July 15, 1999, conference was called after the UN General Assembly voted 115-2 in February to convene regarding the applicability of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prohibits population transfers in occupied territories, to settlements in Israel.

Both Israel and the United States boycotted the session, calling it harmful to the peace process. The 103 countries attending the Swiss-chaired conference unanimously published a statement saying that the Geneva Convention on the conduct of war is applicable to "the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem." But, due to the "improved atmosphere in the Middle East," the conference was adjourned quickly on condition that it will reconvene if necessary. The statement never mentioned Israel by name.

Israeli officials were happy with the way the meeting turned out, saying it turned into a "non-event on a non-issue," as Foreign Ministry official Yitzhak Lior called it.

The The Palestinian Authority (PA), which claims that settlements violate the Geneva Convention, was also generally satisfied. Planning Minister Nabil Shaath commented that it sent a message to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak that, "settlements and peace do not coincide," while at the same time giving the Prime Minister the benefit of the doubt that he will revive the peace process. Some PA leaders did not support the conference, which was planned while Benjamin Netanyahu was Israeli Prime Minister, saying it would be best to wait and see what Barak’s intentions are. Others thought the meeting should have taken a stronger approach and discussed enforcement of the Geneva Convention.


Source: Jerusalem Post