University of Vermont
Students for Justice in Palestine

Our primary goal is to raise awareness on campus and in the community about the Palestinian plight under military occupation and, more generally, about the Israel-Palestine conflict. Additionally, SJP has endorsed and is actively supporting the international boycott, divestment and sanctions movement (BDS) against Israel that is currently taking place around the world.

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Here's the problem:

The West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem have been militarily occupied by Israel since 1967. Even though Israeli troops and settlers withdrew from Gaza in 2005, it is still considered occupied by the international community, because Israel retains effective control over its borders and most aspects of life. Gaza is also under a crippling state of siege, and large swaths of land have been declared military zones inaccessible to Palestinians. Gaza's fisherman, in violation of international law and the Oslo Accords, are prohibited by the Israeli navy from plying their trade more than 3 nautical miles off the coast.

The West Bank and East Jerusalem are being steadily colonized by Israeli Jewish settlements. This is a violation of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, to which Israel is a signatory. Approximately 500,000 Jews are living illegally, on stolen Palestinian land, in heavily fortified, racially exclusive colonies. Israel's colonization of the West Bank and East Jerusalem is being facilitated by the construction of a massive "Separation Wall" complex, built chiefly on occupied Arab land. Israel argues that the Wall is for "security reasons," but its route is clearly designed to ensure Israel's permanent retention of its large settlement blocks, to control the West Bank's aquifers, and to render impossible the creation of a viable, contiguous Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capitol. The Wall cuts off Palestinians from their neighbors, families and land, and from employment, markets, holy sites and medical care. The International Court of Justice ruled in 2004 that the Wall should be torn down or moved to the 1967 border, and affected people compensated, but its construction continues.

Even in Israel "proper," Palestinian Arab citizens are denied equal rights under law and treated as 2nd class citizens. This discrimination, together with the situation in the Occupied Territories, has led many to describe Israel as an apartheid state.

So UVM Students for Justice in Palestine has endorsed the international call for a campaign of Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against the state of Israel and its occupation. We are calling on UVM to divest from companies that are complicit in - and profiting from - Israel's illegal occupation and colonization project in the Palestinian territories. Go to our "UVM Occupation Investments" and "Divestment" links to learn more about this effort.
Link to disappearing Palestine map:

The partitioning of Palestine in 1947-48 produced an increase in violent confrontation and a massive refugee problem. The 1948 Arab-Israeli War (Palestinian Nakba) resulted in an armistice line (the "Green Line") that represents the border of Israeli territory. After the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel militarily occupied the West Bank, Gaza, Sinai Peninsula (Egypt), Golan Heights (Syria), and Sheeba Farms (Lebanon). The military occupation of much of this territory continues (counter to UN Resolutions). Furthermore Israeli settlements have been illegally established on large areas of these lands. The military occupation, together with severe limitations on mobility of non-Israeli citizens in this territory (by border restrictions, internal checkpoints, and the Separation Wall) have placed unacceptable burdens on the non-Israeli population, widely denounced by organizations such as Amnesty International. Large numbers of people have been killed and wounded by military actions and by non-military violence, and thousands are held in prisons under Israeli military jurisdiction. There have been numerous calls for boycotts and divestments with the objective of accelerating a peaceful resolution of this situation.

Illegality of prolonged military occupation, and settlements (colonization)

The Geneva Conventions permit temporary military occupation of territory, subject to clear limitations. Notably, such occupation should be temporary. Construction, use of resources, etc. by the occupying military power should occur solely to permit authorized occupation. Relocation of citizens into or out of the occupied territory is not permitted. The occupation of Palestine since 1967 is therefore illegal under international laws and agreements, since there are violations of three basic principles:
1. The Occupation is unacceptably prolonged. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 [3] (passed unanimously, 22nd November 1967) calls for (among other actions) "Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict". This has been reiterated in subsequent UN resolutions [4].
2. Settlements built by Israel, and relocation of Israeli citizens to those settlements, are illegal. The 4th Geneva Conventions clearly forbid these actions [5]. The Convention adopted in 1949 takes account of the experiences of World War II. Its provisions protect people who do not take part in the fighting (civilians, medics, aid workers) and those who can no longer fight (wounded, sick and shipwrecked troops, prisoners of war).
3. The conditions imposed by the Occupation on the Palestinian population are contrary to international norms. Demolition of homes and businesses and destruction of agricultural resources, imprisonment of people resisting the Occupation, limitations on freedom of association, an extensive system of checkpoints limiting mobility and access to e.g. hospitals have been extensively documented, notably in a report of the Middle East Project of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC, South Africa). This report found that conditions "on the ground" represent illegal occupation, colonialism and apartheid [6]. Probably the most visible manifestation is the separation wall running deep into Palestinian territory. The International Court of Justice ruled this illegal: "The Court finds that the construction by Israel of a wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and its associated regime are contrary to international law" and called for its removal and payment for losses and damages [7]. The Israeli military maintains a land, sea, and air blockade of Gaza; the 2008/2009 invasion and bombardment included numerous war crimes committed primarily by Israel [8].


[3] United Nations Security Council Resolution 242
[4] List of other United Nations resolutions concerning Israel and Palestine: e
[5] Geneva Conventions
[6] Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC, South Africa). Middle East Project. "Occupation, Colonialism, Apartheid? A re-assessment of Israel's practices in the occupied Palestinian territories under international law." The Middle East Project, Democracy and Governance Programme of the South African Human Sciences Research Council. May 2009. Cape Town, South Africa.
[7] International Court of Justice: 9 July 2004 General List Case No. 131: "Legal Consequences Of The Construction Of A Wall In The Occupied Palestinian Territory" 1&k=5a
[8] United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict ('Goldstone' report) m

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Students for Justice in Palestine was recognized as a UVM organization by the Senate of the Student Government Association on 3rd May 2011.