Occupation Law at 50: How it Failed to Regulate Israel’s Occupation but Enabled it to Take the Land without the People

*This event will ONLY be livestreamed, and NOT uploaded to Youtube or our website.

with Professor Noura Erakat
Human Rights Attorney and Assistant Professor, George Mason University

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*A light lunch is served at 12:30 p.m. Talk begins promptly at 1:00 p.m.

This lecture will explore how Israel deployed occupation law and Security Council Resolution 242 to fulfill its territorial ambitions in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. Following the June 1967 War, it developed a legal argument that the Palestinian territories constituted a sovereign void and therefore could not be occupied as a matter of law. However, Israel did not want to annex the territories, as it did Jerusalem in July 1967, because it would have had to absorb the territories’ Palestinian population thereby disrupting its Jewish demographic majority. To get around this, it applied the humanitarian provisions of occupation law on an ad-hoc basis to incrementally take the land under the veneer of military exigencies even as it defiantly established permanent Israeli civilian settlements. Israel then used another legal argument to retroactively legitimate its takings. It emphasized the absence of a definitive article before the words “territories occupied” in the Resolution 242 to claim that while the UN Security Council mandated the exchange of Arab territories for peace with Israel’s Arab neighbors, it did not specify the exact scope of those territories leaving it to the discretion of the negotiating parties. Fifty years later, in 2017, viable negotiations remain elusive and Israel’s current government has proposed annexing sixty-two percent of the West Bank where it has entrenched its settlement enterprise.

Noura Erakat  is a human rights attorney, activist, and an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She is a Co-Founding Editor of Jadaliyya, an ezine on the Middle East, an Editorial Committee member of the Journal of Palestine Studies, as well as a Co-Founding Board Member of the DC Palestinian Film and Arts Festival. Upon graduating from Berkeley Law School, she helped seed BDS campaigns throughout the country as the National Organizer with the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation. She also served as the Legal Advocacy Officer for the BADIL Resource Center for Refugee and Residency Rights, and as the Legal Counsel to a Congressional Subcommittee in the House of Representatives.  Erakat’s media appearances include CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, PBS NewsHour, BBC World Service, NPR, Democracy Now, and Al Jazeera. In addition to her scholarly publications, she has published in The Nation, The New York Times, USA Today, The Los Angeles Review of Books, Huffington Post, Al Shabaka, The Hill, and Foreign Policy, among others. Erakat is the co-editor with Mouin Rabbani of Aborted State? The UN Initiative and New Palestinian Junctures, an anthology related to the 2011 and 2012 Palestine bids for statehood. Most recently, she released a pedagogical project on the Gaza Strip and Palestine, the centerpiece of which is a short multimedia documentary, Gaza In Context, that restores Israel’s wars on Gaza within a settler-colonial framework. She is also the producer of the short video, Black Palestinian Solidarity. Erakat is currently working on a book project tentatively titled, Law as Politics in the Palestinian-Israel Conflict

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