Released @ 10.00 hours GMT 2nd June 1997

American hotel chain allows franchise to open in Jewish settlement in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights has uncovered that the American hotel group DAYS INN has allowed one of its franchises to be opened in the Gush Katif Settlement, in the Gaza Strip.

Settlements violate international law. They violate the individual and collective rights of the Palestinian people and are one of the roots of instability in the region. Investment in settlements by foreign companies supports their existence, and is not consistent with the international obligations of States, who must take steps to prevent such activities.

Article 49 of the 1949 IV Geneva Convention (to which Israel is a Party), prohibits the transfer of the Occupying Power’s own civilian population into occupied territory. In violation of this prohibition, Israel places settlements of a Jewish population amongst the Palestinian population in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), in heavily fortified areas, protected by Israeli armed forces. The building of settlement entails the confiscation of thousands of dunams of land from Palestinian families, since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in 1993, over 80,000 dunams have been confiscated.

It appears that DAYS INN America INC., sells franchises to hoteliers in the US and in other countries, including Canada, China, Colombia, India, Mexico, the Netherlands, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Israel. There are currently six DAYS INNs in Israel and the OPTs. It appears that there are plans to open another DAYS INN hotel in occupied East Jerusalem.

The DAYS INN franchise was opened on the Palm Beach Hotel site in Gush Katif within the past 6 months. Field investigations by staff of the Palestinian Centre suggest that all the DAYS INN hotel franchises in Israel are managed and possibly owned by the same Israeli person. DAYS INN palm Beach is situated in the middle of the Gush Katif Settlement complex by the sea. The DAYS INN brochures misrepresent the map of the region, although the Gaza Strip is internationally recognised as occupied territory, it is not even indicated; that the site is contentious only becomes evident upon visiting the location which is well-guarded with watch-towers and Israeli military forces [see Appendices]; everywhere is displayed the DAYS INN name and symbol.

The IV Geneva Convention prohibits the building of settlements and provides the baseline for the most fundamental human rights of the Palestinian people. The international community has a responsibility, and High Contracting Parties to the Convention have an obligation “to respect and to ensure respect for the present Convention in all circumstances”. to this end, States must not allow companies or private entities incorporated within their jurisdiction to invest in settlements, thereby supporting their existence and exacerbating the violation of the human rights of the Palestinian people.

Despite settlements being one of the more politically sensitive issues yet to be resolved in the Oslo process, and a continuing source of instability, Israel has maintained a contemptuous settlement policy, extending existing settlements and building new ones on occupied Palestinian land. They are strategically placed to prevent the expansion of Palestinian town, and aim to judaise as much of the OPTs as possible in advance of a final political agreement. Most recent was the Har Homa development on Jabal Abu Ghneim, which resulted in an impasse in relations between the PLO and Israel, and provoked condemnation from the international community, as reflected in two UN General Assembly Resolutions on 13th March and 25th April of this year. Given their political sensitivity, States interested in the achievement of peace between the Palestinian people and Israel should refrain and deter investment by companies incorporated in their jurisdictions.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights calls on the international community to do the following:

    I. The IV Geneva Convention is the highest body of law and prevails over and above any political agreement. States must uphold these legal norms and those who are party to the convention must fulfil their obligation to ensure compliance with the prohibition against settlements.

    ii. Individual States must ensure that companies and private entities incorporated in their jurisdiction do not engage in activities which support the existence of the Jewish settlements on occupied Palestinian land.

    iii. The US must address this matter seriously, and must take steps to prevent any further such activities by companies and private institutions incorporated in its jurisdiction. US official policy on settlements Has always been that they are illegal. It must not play a duplicitous game.

Appendices attached:

    I. DAYS INN Palm Beach Hotel brochure. showing DAYS INN location and amenities.

    II. Photograph taken during field investigation of Israeli occupation forces jeep on patrol at DAYS INN Palm Beach Hotel in Gush Katif.

    III. Map of the Gaza Strip showing location of Gush Katif Settlement on occupied Palestinian land (also showing other Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip. including Kfar Darom. Netzarim and the Dugit and Netsaneit settlements in the north of Gaza).