March 22, 2011
Time and time again blogs on this site contain a variation of the following statement. “…the settlements are (deemed) illegal under international law…”
Well they are not. There are volumes and tomes written which disprove this calumny, and so, to assist readers who do not have the time or patience to find them I am summarizing the essence of the matter.
Governments famously have “interests”, in this case those being the markets and oil of 1.2 billion Muslims, as opposed to the influence of just 13 million Jews world-wide, and so it is unsurprising that their interpretation of international law is somewhat elastic.
International law is crystal clear as to the status of the disputed territories, which actually do belong to Israel, and the reasons can be neatly summarised as follows:–
1) The “Mandate for Palestine” document, ratified unanimously by all 51 members of the League of Nations in 1922, designated all land west of the Jordan river, Gaza, the Golan (23% of historic Palestine) to the future Jewish state, and called for “its close settlement by Jews” there. (This was after Churchill gave away the other 77% originally intended for the Jews, to the Saudi Hashemite family to create Trans Jordan, as a reward for its allegiance to Great Britain in defeating the Turks in WWI.)
This was incorporated into Article 80 of the UN Charter, and in the absence of any agreement since then, remains the legal status to the present day.
Israel is the only country to have its legitimacy confirmed by both the League of Nations, and the UN.
2) In 1970 Judge Stephen Schwebel, who headed the International Court of Justice in the Hague, ruled that Israel had the better title to the West Bank than had Jordan, which had illegally annexed it in 1950, and then lost it in an aggressive war it waged against Israel.
Jordans’s illegal occupation of the West Bank was only recognised by Great Britain and Pakistan, but MINUS its occupation of Jerusalem.
3) Many of the “settlements” are on land legally owned by Jews from whence they were driven in Arab riots or during the invasion in 1947/8, such as Hebron, the Gush Etzion block and the Jewish Quarter in the Old city of Jerusalem. They were reclaimed by their rightful owners.
In any event, all the other settlements are on “state land” not privately owned land, in accordance with Ottoman, Mandate and Israeli law, determined by legal process.
This point is important, and directly challenges the common unfounded assertion of illegality. No government of whatever stripe allowed the construction of any settlement without the say so of Plia Albeck, the distinguished lawyer. She was a lawyer (with pro-Palestinian sympathies), who was an expert on what constituted “state land”, based on Mandate law, Ottoman law and Israeli law. In any event, the notion of “Palestinian land” is a nonsense, because there never has been a sovereign Palestinian entity there, ever.
The only people to have had dominion in the land are the Jews.
4) Where did the claim that the settlements are illegal first raise its ugly head. It would appear that sometime in 1971 at a meeting of the International Red Cross (IRC) the minutes of which to this day have not been published the IRC arbitrarily extended the forcible transfer regulations which had been promulgated under the 4th Geneva Convention to prevent the inhumane forcible transfer of populations as perpetrated by the Nazis in World War II to the legal settlement by Jews of land which had been liberated during a defensive war and to which they in any event had a legal entitlement to settle. Ambassador Morris Abram, a member of the U.S. staff at the Nuremburg Tribunal and later involved in the drafting of the Fourth Geneva Convention, is on record as stating that the convention: "was not designed to cover situations like Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, but rather the forcible transfer, deportation or resettlement of large numbers of people."
Further during the negotiations on the 1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, Arab states initiated an addition to the text of the Convention in order to render it applicable to Israel's settlement policy. This was indicative of the international community's acknowledgment that the original 1949 Geneva Convention language was simply not relevant to Israel's settlements.
These are the inconvenient truths which a number of bloggers on this site fail to acknowledge preferring to claim the Jews stole the land from the Arabs. The settlement issue it is claimed in many quarters is the central and only problem obstructing the peaceful solution of the Middle East conflict, to the total exclusion of all other issues, including Arab terror, anti-Israel/anti-Jewish incitement, Jerusalem, refugees, the Iranian threat, and the like.