As U.S. pressure on Israel intensifies in the American capital, including a demand to freeze building in Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, several prominent individuals and organizations lobbyied the Israeli leader in the opposite direction before his address to AIPAC on Tuesday.
The Legal Grounds Coalition, which is leading a campaign to promote Israel’s rights in Judea and Samaria, initiated the writing of an open letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on the eve of his address Tuesday to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., urging him to reiterate Israel’s status in that region, Israel National News (INN) reports.
“We believe that the Prime Minister’s address to AIPAC, coming at a time of unprecedented attacks on Israel’s legitimacy, is a perfect time to make that position clear,” Legal Grounds co-chairs Arlene Kushner and Jeff Daube told INN. The letter – signed by 23 prominent individuals and organizations, including former ambassadors Yoram Ettinger and Zvi Marzel – affirms: “While the position of successive Israeli governments has long been that the communities in Judea and Samaria are legal under international law, Israel’s political leaders have been reticent about consistently and openly expressing that position, which is backed by many prominent legal experts.”
(In brief, Israel’s rightful claim to Judea and Samaria is based not only on ancient and modern history, but also on international law, as solidified by the San Remo Conference of 1920 and the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine of 1922. No UN resolution since San Remo has stated that Israel must give away territory that it conquered in a war of defense in 1967. Before the establishment of the Jewish state, the Land of Israel was part of British-mandated territory and, before WWI, under the Turkish Ottoman Empire.)
“Over the years, Palestinian Authority officials and their supporters have repeated the same message: Israeli settlements in the areas beyond the 1967 lines are illegal according to international law. This mantra has been repeated with great consistency,” the letter states.
‘ISRAELI PRESENCE IN JUDEA AND SAMARIA IS NOT ILLEGAL’
“Because Israel has not countered with a consistent and solid refutation of this position, it has become accepted by most of the world’s governments, as well as by international media and a host of international organizations and academic institutions. This provides the rationale for an economic, academic and cultural boycott on the part of nations and organizations in many places in the world. It becomes a weapon that serves the goal of weakening Israel. It is, as well, a tool for putting pressure on the Government of Israel in the midst of negotiations, so that it is difficult for Israel to come to the table from a position of strength.”
“There is an exceedingly credible body of legal opinion, as offered by highly respected jurists, international lawyers and academics, refuting the notion that the Israeli presence beyond the 1967 line is illegal,” the letter continues.
“The world must begin to hear this message: Israel is not an occupier, Israeli presence in Judea and Samaria is not illegal. International law does not support the position that Israel is illegal past the 1967 line.”
Speaking to United with Israel, Daube, who is also director of the Zionist Organization of America in Israel, summarized the current situation:
“To negotiate is a political decision. The Prime Minister has the right to decide whether to enter negotiations, and should do so if that is in Israel’s best interest. But if he chooses to negotiate, it must be done on the basis of irrefutable legal principles. Which means, forthrightly stating that Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria does not constitute a belligerent occupation, and that Israel has the superior claim to live and build in these areas. Failing to negotiate based on Israel’s rights reinforces the lie of Israeli interlopers who, like thieves in the night, stole all of post-’67 and large tracts of 1948 Israel and therefore must return those lands now. Prime Minister Netanyahu should be mindful of this as he meets with President Obama in Washington this week.”
Author: Atara Beck, Staff Writer, United with Israel Date: Mar. 3, 2014