The Israeli military commander's powers under the law of occupation in relation to quarrying activity in area C
by Iain Scobbie and Alon Margalit
[London] : SOAS University of London, July 2012
11 p. ; 30 cm
Under the law of occupation, every occupation is temporary and the Occupant does not have sovereignty over the occupied territory. The Military Commander, holding only administration powers of the territory, is required to preserve the state of affairs existing in the eve of occupation and to refrain from introducing changes in the occupied territory. This notion prevents the Occupant from colonising the territory for its own market and from depriving the indigenous population of their right to enjoy local natural resources. During a prolonged occupation, such as the Israeli occupation of the oPt, there is some legal uncertainty in relation to the exact scope of the Occupant's authority to introduce new policies in the occupied territory. But even a more flexible interpretation of this authority determines that changes that are not compelled by security needs must serve the benefit of the local population. Contrary to the view taken by the Israeli High Court in its 2011 Judgment, the interest of the local population - which must guide the Military Commander - does not include the interest of Israeli settlers as they are not entitled to the status of protected persons, and since the establishment of settlements in the oPt is in violation of international law. Further, taking into account settlers' interests may frustrate the minimum protections granted to Palestinians under the law of occupation. Given the long-term effects of quarrying which depletes the stone deposits in Area C, the burden imposed on the Israeli Military Commander to show that such activity is consistent with the interest of the local population is substantial. In the present case, the Israeli High Court implemented legal norms in a distorted manner, legitimising practices in the West Bank that seem to be exploitative. The Court thus allowed quarrying activity that benefits primarily the Israeli market and Israeli nationals rather than the Palestinian population.