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Mitzpe Shalem (Hebrew: מִצְפֵּה שָׁלֵם, lit. Shalem Lookout) is an Israeli settlement and kibbutz located about 1 km from the western shores of the Dead Sea in the eastern West Bank. It is the southernmost community in the Megilot Regional Council and is located near Highway 90 about 21 kilometres (13 mi) north of Ein Gedi and 10 kilometres (6.2 mi) north of the Green Line.
Israeli communities in the West Bank are considered by many in the international community, including the BBC, to be a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the transfer of a civilian population into occupied territory.
The community was founded in 1970 as a Nahal settlement on land in the West Bank that Israel occupied in the 1967 Six-Day War. It was inhabited as a kibbutz in the Ihud HaKvutzot VeHaKibbutzim in 1976.
Today it is a "renewed kibbutz" having undergone privatization and is considered a cooperative community, thus no longer belonging to the Kibbutz Movement. It was named after Natan Shalem who investigated the Judean Desert, where the kibbutz is located. As of 2007, the population is about 200 people, of which 59 are official members. Approximately 90 percent of the population, aging from infancy to 50, speaks English.
Status under international law
Like all Israeli settlements in the Israeli-occupied territories, Mitzpe Shalem is considered illegal under international law, though Israeli disputes this. The international community considers Israeli settlements to violate the Fourth Geneva Convention's prohibition on the transfer of an occupying power's civilian population into occupied territory. Israeli government counters this by contending that the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply to the Palestinian territories because they were not under the legitimate sovereignty of any state. This view has been rejected on the basis of an interpretation of rulings by the International Court of Justice and the International Committee of the Red Cross.
The economy of the kibbutz depends on agriculture, tourism and industry. In agriculture, the kibbutz has an orchard of palm trees with an area of about 400 dunams and a coop for raising turkeys. Tourism includes the Mineral Beach of the Dead Sea, with its sulfur-enhanced baths, and an organized swimming beach, and a motel named for the nearby Deragot Cliffs. Industry is derived from the manufacture of Ahava Skin Care products in the local company's laboratories.
Ahava manufactures cosmetics based on minerals from the Dead Sea. A factory for refining these chemicals is located in the kibbutz. In 2009 a boycott campaign targeted the company for its activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Protests were held in cosmetics stores in Israel and the United States. The Israeli human rights group B'tselem has said that exploitation of resources of occupied territory is prohibited by international law and has called on the Israeli government to end such practices.
- "The Geneva Convention". BBC News. 10 December 2009. Retrieved 27 November 2010.
- Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory International Court of Justice, 9 July 2004. pp. 44-45
- Shalev, Anat (2009-07-30). "Code Pink protest calls for Ahava boycott". Ynet. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
- "Dispossession and Exploitation: Israel's Policy in the Jordan Valley and Northern Dead Sea". B'Tselem. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
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