UN: We still consider Gaza “occupied” by Israel

Earlier this month, on Jan. 6, the UN chief’s spokesman promised to respond to UN Watch’s question as to why the UN still considers Gaza “occupied” even though Hamas admits it’s not, given that Israel hasn’t been there since 2005.

The UN has now answered:

Spokesperson:  Under resolutions adopted by both the Security Council and the General Assembly on the Middle East peace process, the Gaza Strip continues to be regarded as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.  The United Nations will accordingly continue to refer to the Gaza Strip as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory until such time as either the General Assembly or the Security Council take a different view.
Question:  Can I follow up on that?  It is the legal definition of occupation and why is Gaza considered occupied?
Spokesperson:  Well, as I have just said, there are Security Council and General Assembly resolutions that cover this.  For example, there was a Security Council resolution adopted on 8 January 2009 — 1860 — and that stressed that the Gaza Strip constitutes an integral part of the territory occupied in 1967.  And as you know, Security Council resolutions do have force in international law.
Furthermore, there is a resolution from the General Assembly from 20 December 2010, and while it noted the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and parts of the northern West Bank, it also stressed, in quotes, “the need for respect and preservation of the territorial unity, contiguity and integrity of all of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem”.  So just to repeat that the United Nations will continue to refer to the Gaza Strip as part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory until either the General Assembly or the Security Council take a different view on the matter.

5 Responses to “UN: We still consider Gaza “occupied” by Israel”


  • That seems convoluted. After all, negotiations could result in some of that territory passing to full Israeli sovereignty, so why should it be “occupied” rather than simply “disputed” as Israeli forces are not present? But since the UN, as far as I know, never referred to Jordan as the “occupying power” in Judea and Samaria between 1949-1967 (nor Egypt in Gaza for that matter), why should the UN insist, at least in the case of Gaza, of referring to the territory as “occupied”?

  • Dear Sirs/Madams,
    Are you really serious in your beliefs regarding Israel. And do you not, in your hearts not know that the arabs in the land known as Palestine, are the true aggressors? If you do not, then you are fools and if you do, then you are truly evil.

  • There is a good analysis by “Elder of Ziyyon” of this latest UN attempt at obfuscation and distortion of international law regarding the Palestinian question and against Israel, at http://elderofziyon.blogspot.com/2012/01/uns-sleight-of-hand-in-considering-gaza.html

    Elder of Ziyyon points out that the UN answer presumes that if any part of a territory is “occupied” by foreign forces, then the whole of that territory is “Occupied Territory.” Thus, if Israel can be said to “occupy” Area C of the West Bank, then it “occupies” Area A of the West Bank and Gaza, too, since the UN defines all these areas as “Palestinian territory.” Similarly, it would follow, if the US occupies its military installations in Taiwan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Panama, etc., then it “occupies” all of the countries named, as such (and becomes answerable for their internal affairs, educational systems, legal decisions, military actions,etc.). If Britain occupied certain districts of Shanghai in the 1930s, that meant that Britain “occupied” the whole of China then. And so on. The assertion is not only nonsense on the face of it, but flies against international law itself, as Elder of Ziyyon shows by citing the definition of “occupation” in the 1907 Hague Regulations.

    Elder of Ziyyon concludes that the UN explanation is mere fiddling with words, and cannot have any legal import even in terms of peace talks. The official UN terminology for the West Bank and Gaza is “Occupied Palestinian Territory,” even though none of it has been defined by treaty or legal instrument even as a specific nation of Palestine, and its status as “occupied” is a simple declaration without content, and without regard to legal precedents or reality itself.

  • “And as you know, Security Council resolutions do have force in international law.”

    Reality and reason, alas, do not.

  • Elder of Zyon’s assumptions about the UN’s view is nonsense.

    Israel occupied the WHOLE territory behind the green line FIRST and then released parts of it into autonomy or removed permanent occupation forces from parts of it. This measures don’t end an occupation, they modify it. (See Vichy-France which was part of occupied France.) If an occupier for whatever reasons relinquishes PARTS of an occupied territory, the whole territory is still considered as an occupied territory including the relinquished parts.

    If Israel was occupied and the occupier decided to empty Haifa of occupation troops and deploy them on the city’s periphery Haifa still would be considered as part of an occupied territory, even if autonomous or under control of Israeli resistance fighters. Elder of Zyon here would argue equally wrong that the UN only views Israel as occupied, because it claims that Haifa is.

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