David Kretzmer

David Kretzmer (Hebrew: דוד קרצמר‎; born 4 November 1943 in Johannesburg, South Africa) is an Israeli expert in international and constitutional law. He is professor emeritus of international law of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and professor of law at the Transitional Justice Institute at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland. He has been a member of international and Israeli Human Rights organizations, including the UN Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, serving as its vice-chairperson in 2001 and 2002. He established the Centre for Human Rights at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and was a founding member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel, the Minerva Centre for Human Rights, a joint centre of the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv Universityץ He is also a founding member of B'Tselem.

Life and career

Kretzmer was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and emigrated to Israel in 1963.[1] He received his Bachelor of Laws from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in 1967, and his Master of Laws in 1972. He worked as a law clerk to Justice Zvi Berinson at the Supreme Court of Israel from 1966 to 1967, and with the firm of Yigal Arnon in Jerusalem until 1968, when he was admitted to the Israeli Bar. He was teaching assistant to Aharon Barak and became part-time teacher at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University in 1969 and worked as an advocate with D.M. Schlosberg, Advocates in Tel-Aviv until 1972, when he entered Osgoode Hall Law School at York University in Toronto, Canada,[2] where he obtained a Doctor of Laws in 1975 with a dissertation about Aims and functions of the tort system of loss allocation.[3] He became lecturer in law at the Hebrew University in 1975, being appointed to the Louis Marshall Chair of Environmental Law in 1976 and to senior lecturer in 1978. From 1981 till 1984 he was vice-dean for students’ affairs at the Faculty of Law of the Hebrew University and became associate professor in 1984 and full professor in 1991,[2] when he was appointed both professor of the Faculty of Social Sciencies' School of Public Policy and the Faculty of Law, where he held the Bruce W. Wayne Chair of International Law until 2006.[4]

He was Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Southern California, Tulane University, Bar-Ilan University, Columbia University,[5] and Visiting Fellow at the MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts,[2] the Institute for Advanced Legal Studies of the University of London,[5] and the Max Planck Institute for Comparative and Foreign Law in Heidelberg. In 2006 he joined the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) at the University of Ulster.[6]

His fields of interest are constitutional law, judicial decision-making, human rights and international humanitarian law. He has taught torts, contract, constitutional law, administrative law, international human rights and international humanitarian law.[6]

Kretzmer was a founding member of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel in 1972 and served as chairperson on its executive board.[2] In 1993 he established the Centre for Human Rights at the Hebrew University, and from 1997 till 2000 he served as first academic director of the Minerva Centre for Human Rights, a joint centre of the Hebrew University and Tel Aviv University.[7] He was a member of the UN Human Rights Committee under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights from 1995 to 2002, and vice-chairperson in 2001 and 2002.[6] He was on the founding council of the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories B'Tselem, and is a member of its executive board, and served on the first executive committee of HaMoked, the Center for Defence of the Individual in Israel. He was elected a commissioner of the International Commission of Jurists in 2003 and re-elected in 2008.[7]

In 2010, the Minerva Center for Human Rights established a research fellowship for research in Human Rights Law in honor of Kretzmer and his late wife Marcia.[8]


Books and Book chapters
  • — (1981). תקיפה וכליאת שוא (Tekifah u-kheliʼat shav; Assault and false imprisonment) (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Hebrew University. OCLC 233330765.
  • — (1984). Israel and the West Bank: Legal issues. Jerusalem: West Bank Data Base Project. OCLC 15137082.
  • — (1985) [First published 1979/80]. מיטרדים (Mitradim; Nuisances) (in Hebrew). Jerusalem: Hebrew University. OCLC 318020188.
  • — (1990) [First published 1987]. The Legal Status of the Arabs in Israel. Westview Press. ISBN 978-08133-7762-9.
  • — (2000). "Basic Laws as a Surrogate Bill of Rights: The Case of Israel". In Philip Alston. Promoting Human Rights through Bills of Rights. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-019825822-3.
  • Co-edited with Francine Kershman Hazan (2000). Freedom of speech and incitement against democracy. The Hague: Kluwer Law International. ISBN 90-411-1341-X.
  • — (2002). The Occupation of Justice: The Supreme Court of Israel and the Occupied Territories. State University of New York. ISBN 0-7914-5338-3.
  • Co-edited with Eckart Klein (2002). The Concept of Human Dignity in International Human Rights Discourse. The Hague: Kluwer Law International. ISBN 90-411-1783-0.
  • — (2007). "Civilian Immunity in War: Legal Aspects". In Igor Primoratz. Civilian Immunity in War. Oxford University Press. pp. 84–112. ISBN 978-0-19-929074-1.
  • Co-editor (Summer 2007). Parallel applicability of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Jerusalem: Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Law. Israel law review, Special issue. Volume 40, No 2.
Recent articles


  1. ^ "David Kretzmer, Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Visiting Scholar". Fares Center for Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Tufts University. July 2005. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d "International covenant on civil and political rights. Meeting of States Parties for the purpose of electing nine members of the Human Rights Committee. Fourteenth meeting New York, 8 September 1994" (PDF). United Nations. 29 June 1994. pp. 37–39. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  3. ^ Kretzmer, David (1975). "Aims and functions of the tort system of loss allocation". Thesis (D. Jur.) York University: Canadian theses on microfiche, no. 26642.
  4. ^ "David Kretzmer Bruce W. Wayne Professor Emeritus of International Law". The Federman School of Public Policy and Government, Hebrew University. Archived from the original on 18 December 2012. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  5. ^ a b "Prof. David Kretzmer". The Hebrew University. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "David Kretzmer". Transitional Justice Institute. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  7. ^ a b "David Kretzmer". International Commission of Jurists. Archived from the original on 10 August 2011. Retrieved 12 July 2012.
  8. ^ "Kretzmer Fellowship for Research in Human Rights Law". Minerva Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, The Hebrew University.

B'Tselem (Hebrew: בצלם‎, IPA: [beˈtselem], "in the image of [God]") is a Jerusalem-based non-profit organization whose stated goals are to document human rights violations in the Israeli-occupied territories, combat denial of the existence of such violations, and help to create a human rights culture in Israel. Its executive director is Hagai El-Ad. B'Tselem also maintains a presence in Washington, D.C., known as B'Tselem USA. B'Tselem has provoked sharp reactions within Israel, ranging from harsh criticism to strong praise.

Belfast Guidelines on Amnesty and Accountability

The Belfast Guidelines is a project led by Professor Louise Mallinder and Prof Tom Hadden of the Transitional Justice Institute. The Guidelines examine the principles concerning the legality and legitimacy of amnesties in states transitioning from conflict or authoritarian regimes. They were drafted by an expert group that included Prof David Kretzmer and Prof William Schabas. They have been widely translated into Arabic, Chinese, Malay, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Thai.

Diergaardt v. Namibia

J.G.A. Diergaardt (late Captain of the Rehoboth Baster Community) et al. v. Namibia (No. 760/1997) (2000) was a case decided by the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Hebrew: הַאוּנִיבֶרְסִיטָה הַעִבְרִית בְּיְרוּשָׁלַיִם, Ha-Universita ha-Ivrit bi-Yerushalayim; Arabic: الجامعة العبرية في القدس‎, Al-Jami'ah al-Ibriyyah fi al-Quds; abbreviated HUJI) is Israel's second oldest university, established in 1918, 30 years before the establishment of the State of Israel. The Hebrew University has three campuses in Jerusalem and one in Rehovot. The world's largest Jewish studies library is located on its Edmond J. Safra Givat Ram campus.

The university has 5 affiliated teaching hospitals including the Hadassah Medical Center, 7 faculties, more than 100 research centers, and 315 academic departments. As of 2018, a third of all the doctoral candidates in Israel were studying at the Hebrew University.

The first Board of Governors included Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Martin Buber, and Chaim Weizmann. Four of Israel's prime ministers are alumni of the Hebrew University. As of 2018, 15 Nobel Prize winners, 2 Fields Medalists, and 3 Turing Award winners have been affiliated with the University.

House demolition

House demolition is primarily a military tactic which has been used in many conflicts for a variety of purposes. It has been employed as a scorched earth tactic to deprive the advancing enemy of food and shelter, or to wreck the enemy's economy and infrastructure. It has also been used for purposes of counter-insurgency and ethnic cleansing. Systematic house demolition has been a notable factor in a number of recent or ongoing conflicts including the Israeli–Palestinian conflict, the Darfur conflict in Sudan, the Iraq War, the Vietnam War, the Yugoslav wars and the Caucasian conflicts of the 1990s.

The tactic has often been extremely controversial. Its use in warfare is governed by the Fourth Geneva Convention and other instruments of international law, and international war crimes courts have prosecuted the misuse of house demolition on a number of occasions as a violation of the laws of war. Historically, it has also been widely used by a variety of states and peoples as a civil punishment for criminal offences ranging from treason to drunkenness.

International law and Israeli settlements

The international community considers the establishment of Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories illegal under international law, because of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 which states: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." Israel maintains that it is not in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention since, in its view, Israeli citizens were neither deported nor transferred to the territories, and they cannot be considered to have become "occupied territory" since there had been no internationally recognized legal sovereign prior. The United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention have all affirmed that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply.Numerous UN resolutions and prevailing international opinion hold that Israeli settlements in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are a violation of international law, including UN Security Council resolutions in 1979, 1980, and 2016. UN Security Council Resolution 446 refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention as the applicable international legal instrument, and calls upon Israel to desist from transferring its own population into the territories or changing their demographic makeup. 126 Representatives at the reconvened Conference of the High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions in 2014 declared the settlements illegal as has the primary judicial organ of the UN, the International Court of Justice and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

The position of successive Israeli governments is that all authorized settlements are entirely legal and consistent with international law. In practice, Israel does not accept that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies de jure, but has stated that on humanitarian issues it will govern these areas de facto by its provisions, without specifying which these are. The majority of legal scholars hold the settlements to violate international law, while others have offered dissenting views supporting the Israeli position. The Israeli Supreme Court itself has never addressed the issue of the settlements' legality.

Israeli-occupied territories

The Israeli-occupied territories refers to the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War of 1967 and sometimes also to areas of Southern Lebanon, where Israeli military was notably present to support local Lebanese militias during the civil war and after it. Originally, those territories included the Syrian Golan Heights, the Egyptian Sinai Peninsula and Egyptian-occupied Gaza Strip and Jordanian-annexed West Bank. The first use of the term 'territories occupied' was in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 following the Six-Day War in 1967, which called for "the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East" to be achieved by "the application of both the following principles: ... Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict ... Termination of all claims or states of belligerency" and respect for the right of every state in the area to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries. In addition to the territories occupied following the Six-Day War, Israel also occupied portions of Southern Lebanon following the 1982 Lebanon War, and maintained a military presence there until withdrawing in 2000.

From 1967 to 1981, the four areas were governed under the Israeli Military Governorate, referred to by the UN as occupied Arab territories. The IMG was dissolved in 1981, after the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. In the process, Israel handed the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt, the Golan Heights was incorporated into the Northern District by the Golan Heights Law, and West Bank continued to be administrated via the Israeli Civil Administration, which the UN continued to refer to as the occupied Arab territories. Despite dissolving the military government, in line with Egyptian demands, the term Occupied Arab territories had remained in use, referring to the West Bank including East Jerusalem, the Gaza Strip and Western Golan Heights. From 1999 to early 2013, the term Palestinian territories, Occupied became utilized to refer to territories controlled by the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

The International Court of Justice, the UN General Assembly and the United Nations Security Council regards Israel as the "Occupying Power". UN Special Rapporteur Richard Falk called Israel's occupation "an affront to international law." The Israeli High Court of Justice has ruled that Israel holds the West Bank under "belligerent occupation". According to Talia Sasson, the High Court of Justice in Israel, with a variety of different justices sitting, has repeatedly stated for more than four decades that international law applies to Israel's presence in the West Bank. Israeli governments have preferred the term "disputed territories" in the case of the West Bank. Officially Israel maintains that the West Bank is disputed territory.Israel asserts that since the disengagement of Israel from Gaza in 2005, Israel no longer occupies the Gaza Strip. However, as it retained certain control of Gaza's airspace and coastline, as of 2012 it continued to be designated as an occupying power in the Gaza Strip by the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly and some countries and various human rights organizations.

Jewish National Fund

Jewish National Fund (Hebrew: קֶרֶן קַיֶּימֶת לְיִשְׂרָאֵל, Keren Kayemet LeYisrael, previously הפונד הלאומי, Ha Fund HaLeumi) was founded in 1901 to buy and develop land in Ottoman Palestine (later the British Mandate for Palestine, and subsequently Israel and the Palestinian territories) for Jewish settlement. The JNF is a non-profit organization. By 2007, it owned 13% of the total land in Israel. Since its inception, the JNF says it has planted over 240 million trees in Israel. It has also built 180 dams and reservoirs, developed 250,000 acres (1,000 km2) of land and established more than 1,000 parks.In 2002, the JNF was awarded the Israel Prize for lifetime achievement and special contribution to society and the State of Israel.

Levy Report

The Levy Report (Hebrew: דו״ח לוי‎), officially called Report on the Legal Status of Building in Judea and Samaria (Hebrew: דו״ח על מעמד הבניה באזור יהודה ושומרון‎), is an 89-page report on West Bank settlements published on 9 July 2012, authored by a three-member committee headed by former Israeli Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy. The committee, dubbed the "outpost committee", was appointed by Israel's prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu in late January 2012 to investigate the legal status of unauthorized West Bank Jewish settlements, but also examined whether the Israeli presence in the West Bank is to be considered an occupation or not.The report concludes that Israel's presence in the West Bank is not an occupation, and that the Israeli settlements are legal under international law. It recommends the legalization of unauthorized Jewish settlement outposts by the state, and provides proposals for new guidelines for settlement construction.In May 2014, it was reported by Haaretz that the government was covertly carrying out the recommendations of the Report.

Military occupation

Military or belligerent occupation (hereon after referred to as simply occupation) is effective provisional control by a certain ruling power over a territory, which is not under the formal sovereignty of that entity, without the violation of the actual sovereign. The territory is then known as the occupied territory and the ruling power the occupant. Occupation is distinguished from annexation by its intended temporary nature (i.e. no claim for permanent sovereignty), by its military nature, and by citizenship rights of the controlling power not being conferred upon the subjugated population.While an occupant may setup a formal military government in the occupied territory to facilitate its administration, it is not a necessary precondition for occupation.The rules of occupation are delineated in various international agreements, primarily the Hague Convention of 1907, the Geneva Conventions of 1949, as well as established state practice. The relevant international conventions, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) Commentaries, and other treaties by military scholars provide guidelines on such topics as rights and duties of the occupying power, protection of civilians, treatment of prisoners of war, coordination of relief efforts, issuance of travel documents, property rights of the populace, handling of cultural and art objects, management of refugees, and other concerns which are very important both before and after the cessation of hostilities. A country that establishes an occupation and violates internationally agreed upon norms runs the risk of censure, criticism, or condemnation. In the current era, the practices of occupations have largely become a part of customary international law, and form a part of the laws of war.

Online hate speech

Online hate speech is a type of speech that takes place online (e.g. the Internet, social media platforms) with the purpose to attack a person or a group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.

Hate speech online is situated at the intersection of multiple tensions: it is the expression of conflicts between different groups within and across societies; it is a vivid example of how technologies with a transformative potential such as the Internet bring with them both opportunities and challenges; and it implies complex balancing between fundamental rights and principles, including freedom of expression and the defense of human dignity.Hate speech is a broad and contested term. Multilateral treaties such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) have sought to define its contours. Multi-stakeholders processes (e.g. the Rabat Plan of Action) have been initiated to bring greater clarity and suggest mechanisms to identify hateful messages. And yet, hate speech continues largely to be used in everyday discourse as a generic term, mixing concrete threats to individuals' and groups' security with cases in which people may be simply venting their anger against authority. Internet intermediaries—organizations that mediate online communication such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google—have advanced their own definitions of hate speech that bind users to a set of rules and allow companies to limit certain forms of expression. National and regional bodies have sought to promote understandings of the term that are more rooted in local traditions.The Internet's speed and reach makes it difficult for governments to enforce national legislation in the virtual world. Issues around hate speech online bring into clear relief the emergence of private spaces for expression that serve a public function (e.g. Facebook, Twitter), and the challenges that these spaces pose for regulators. Some of the companies owning these spaces have become more responsive towards tackling the problem of hate speech online.The character of hate speech online and its relation to offline speech and action are widely talked about—by politicians, activists and academics—but the debates tend to be removed from systematic empirical evidence. The character of perceived hate speech and its possible consequences has led to placing much emphasis on the solutions to the problem and on how they should be grounded in international human rights norms. Yet this very focus has also limited deeper attempts to understand the causes underlying the phenomenon and the dynamics through which certain types of content emerge, diffuse and lead—or not—to actual discrimination, hostility or violence.

Palestinian freedom of movement

The restriction of the movement of Palestinians in the Israeli-occupied territories by the Israeli government is an issue in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. According to B'Tselem, following the 1967 war, the Occupied Territories were proclaimed closed military zones. In 1972, general exit orders were issued allowing residents of those territories to move freely between the West Bank, Israel and Gaza. Following the first Intifada by 1991, these general exit orders were revoked, and personal exit permits were required. According to B'Tselem, a measure of overall closure of the Occupied Territories was enacted for the first time in 1993, and would result in total closures following rises in Palestinian political violence.In the mid-1990s, with the implementation of the Oslo Accords and the division of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip into three separate administrative divisions, there was little change to these restrictions. Comprehensive closures following the outbreak of Second Intifada resulted in a few months of almost complete prohibitions on Palestinian movement into Israel and between the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Israel then allowed limited travel by Palestinians into Israel for medical treatment, trade, and other needs, and a limited number of workers were allowed to work in Israel. This situation was still in place as of 2010. Israel occasionally still places comprehensive closures and cancels permits following acts of violence by Palestinians and during Israeli holidays. Israel says that the regime of restrictions is necessary to protect Israelis living in Israel and the Israeli settlements.Israel enforces restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians in the West Bank by employing a system of permanent, temporary and random manned checkpoints, the West Bank Barrier and by forbidding the usage of roads by Palestinians. A 2007 World Bank report concluded that the West Bank "is experiencing severe and expanding restrictions on movement and access, high levels of unpredictability and a struggling economy." Unmanned physical obstructions to block roads and paths might include dirt piles, concrete blocks, large stones, barriers, ditches, and metal gates. The physical obstructions might be altered often, on the basis of political and security circumstances.

According to Israeli authorities, during 2008–09, a significant number of checkpoints were removed. As of July 2009, Israeli authorities reported that 27 checkpoints and 140 roadblocks had been removed in order to ease security restrictions in the West Bank. An additional 140 roadblocks were said to have been opened to traffic in 2008. As of 2009, there were 504 dirt roadblocks and 14 checkpoints in the West Bank.

Status of territories occupied by Israel in 1967

The status of territories captured by Israel refers to the status of the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, the Western Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula, captured by Israel on the course of the 1967 Six-Day War.

The Sinai peninsula status was returned to full sovereignty of Egypt in 1982 as a result of the Egypt–Israel Peace Treaty. The United Nations Security Council and the International Court of Justice both describe the West Bank and Western Golan Heights as "occupied territory" under international law, and the Supreme Court of Israel describes it as held "in belligerent occupation", however Israel's government calls all of them "disputed" rather than "occupied". Israel's government also argues that since the Gaza disengagement of 2005, it does not militarily occupy the Gaza strip, a statement rejected by the United Nations Human Rights Council and Human Rights Watch because Israel continues to maintain control of its airspace, waters, and borders.

Transitional Justice Institute

The Ulster University's Transitional Justice Institute (TJI), is a law-led multidisciplinary research institute of Ulster University which is physically located at the Jordanstown, and Magee campuses. It was created in 2003, making it the first and longest-established university research centre on this theme. In the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF) Law at Ulster University was ranked 4th overall in the UK. Ulster was ranked first for impact in law with 100% of impact rated as world-leading, the only University to achieve this in law.

Within the Institute, there are over 15 researchers based on the Jordanstown and Magee campuses of the university. In addition, the TJI has approximately 15 doctoral students researching and studying towards their chosen topics. Visiting scholars and visiting professors are often closely involved in research.

The institute is internationally recognised, receiving recognition from the American Society of International Law in 2006 with TJI scholars being awarded top book and article prize for creative and outstanding contributions to international legal scholarship. Staff have been awarded the 2009 Hart SLSA Early Career Award and jointly awarded the 2009 British Society of Criminology Book Prize as well as the 2010 Basil Chubb Prize for the best PhD produced in any field of politics in an Irish university. The Institute is associated with the Association of Human Rights Institutes (AHRI).In line with the University's rebranding in October 2014 the institute updated its logo; the old logo can be found here.

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