WASHINGTON, DC — This Op-Ed article appeared in The National Herald on August 20, 2005, The Hellenic Voice on August 24, 2005, and it will appear in The Hellenic News of America on September 1, 2005.


By Gene Rossides

The Geneva Convention of 1949, section III, article 49, prohibits colonization by an occupying power. Section III of the Geneva Convention deals with Occupied Territories. Article 49 states in its last paragraph:

“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territories it occupies.”

Today there are estimates of 8,500 Jewish settlers in occupied Gaza and 1.3 million Palestinians in Gaza. There are an estimated 250,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

In Cyprus, there are estimates of 120,000 Turkish settlers in occupied Cyprus.

All the Jewish and Turkish settlers/colonists are illegal under the Geneva Convention of 1949 and should be removed.

Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon last year proposed the unilateral withdrawal of Jewish settlements from Gaza and a few from the West Bank. The Israeli Cabinet and Knesset (Parliament) approved the plan.

Under the Sharon plan, on August 15, 2005 it was illegal for the estimated 8,500 Israelis in the Gaza Strip to remain. On August 17, the Israeli army and police started to remove the settlers who have not left Gaza, using force if necessary. They will then destroy the homes.

Israel hopes to complete the operations by September 4, but no later than September 15. Gaza was captured 38 years ago by Israel. It has been stated that Sharon believes that quitting Gaza will “make it easier for Israel to hold on to the major West Bank settlement blocs” where most of the Jewish settlers live.

Successive U.S. administrations have long opposed the Jewish settlements in occupied territory as not in the best interests of the U.S. and Israel. President Bush has endorsed the withdrawal stating: “ The disengagement is, I think, a part of making Israel more secure and peaceful.”

Unfortunately, successive U.S. administrations, including the Bush administration, have not been forthright regarding the illegal Turkish settlers/colonists in Cyprus. They have not stated publicly that they are illegal and must be removed.

The Bush administration’s position has been and is worse than previous administrations in that it supported the flawed Annan Plan, primarily instigated by Britain, which would have allowed most of the 120,000 illegal Turkish settlers to remain in Cyprus and to keep the Greek Cypriot homes and properties they were illegally given by Turkey.

On April 1, 2005, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice addressed the 99th annual meeting of the American Society of International Law and stated:

“ One of history's clearest lessons is that America is safer and the world is more secure whenever and wherever freedom prevails. I've said that the time for diplomacy is now. One of the pillars of that diplomacy is our strong belief that international law is vital and a powerful force in the search for freedom. The United States has been and will continue to be the world's strongest voice for the development and defense of international legal norms….

America is a country of laws. When we observe our treaty and other international commitments, our country—other countries are more willing too to cooperate with us and we have a better chance of persuading them to live up to their own commitments. And so when we respect our international legal obligations and support an international system based on the rule of law, we do the work of making the world a better place, but also a safer and more secure place for America.“

When is the U.S., in its own self-interest, going to apply the rule of law to Turkey?

When is the U.S., in its own self-interest, going to stop the double standard on the application of the rule of law to Turkey?

When is the U.S., in its own self-interest, going to stop the appeasement of Turkey’s aggression against Cyprus and occupation of 37.3 percent of Cyprus.

A good start would be for Secretary Rice to publicly call for the removal of the illegal Turkish settlers from Cyprus.

The illegal Jewish settlers should be removed from Gaza and the West Bank and the illegal Turkish settlers should be removed from Cyprus.

Gene Rossides, is President of the American Hellenic Institute and former Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

For more information about the American Hellenic Institute in Washington, D.C., contact Georgia Economou, Director of Public Relations for AHI, at (202) 785-8430 or at georgia@ahiworld.org, or visit the groups' website at http://www.ahiworld.org. AHI was founded in 1974 following Turkey's illegal invasion and occupation of 37.3% of Cyprus. It is a membership-based organization with members throughout the nation. AHI's core mission is to promote American values and the rule of law in U.S. foreign policy and to strengthen relations between the U.S. and Greece and Cyprus as being in the best interests of the United States. It conducts an active program with Congress in espousing and supporting legislation designed to promote American interests in Southeast Europe and the Eastern Mediterranean and is registered with the Congress under the Lobbying Act. The AHI Foundation is the first think-tank devoted exclusively to the study of the issues confronting the Greek American community. This organization sponsors conferences, seminars and publishes books and other materials on the issues.

HCS maintains an extensive archives for AHI articles and press releases which visitors may browse under the American Hellenic Institute Releases section of the archives at http://www.helleniccomserve.com/contents.html.

2000 © Hellenic Communication Service, L.L.C. All Rights Reserved.