Despite condemnation from Europe and the UN, Israeli “settlements” are not in violation of international law.
By Tsivya Fox-Dobuler
Following Israel’s statement last month that it has approved construction of about 2,300 new homes in Judea and Samaria, the European Union (EU) condemned the announcement.
“The European Union’s position on Israeli settlement policy in the occupied Palestinian territory is clear and remains unchanged: all settlement activity is illegal under international law and it erodes the viability of the two-state solution and the prospects for a lasting peace,” the EU said in a statement last week.
Britain and France were quick to join the condemnation. Both said that Israeli building in Judea and Samaria are “illegal under international law” and an “impediment” to a two-state solution, which the EU claims is “the only realistic and viable way to fulfill the legitimate aspirations of both parties.”
Are These Statements True?
Building projects in Judea and Samaria can take several years to begin following Israeli authority approval. However, since Donald Trump became president of the US, Israel has faced a more lax attitude by its greatest ally. This is due, in part, to Trump’s recognition that some settlements are essential to Israel’s security.
Though the United Nations Security Council, the United Nations General Assembly, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Court of Justice and the High Contracting Parties to the Convention all claim that Jews living in Judea and Samaria are “illegal settlers,” based on violation of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, nothing could be further from the truth.
On April 25, 1920, for example, as explained in recent years by the late Salomon Benzimra, co-founder of Canadians for Israel’s Legal Rights, “the Supreme Council of the Allied Powers (Britain, France, Italy, Japan and the US as an observer) gathered in San Remo, Italy, and ruled on the disposition of the Middle East territories previously held by the defeated Ottoman Empire…
“The San Remo Conference was a momentous event in that it drafted the map of the Middle East as we know it today: Over 97% of the land was adjudicated to the Arabs, which resulted in the creation of the new, exclusively Arab states of Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and, later, Jordan. The geographic region known as Palestine,” including Judea and Samaria, “was designated as the Jewish National Home, to be reconstituted there in consideration of the historical connection of the Jewish people to the land.”
Ironically, late Palestinian Authority leader and arch-terrorist Yasser Arafat signed the Oslo Accords, recognized by the international community as a binding agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Part of the agreement gives Israel full control over a designated 60 percent of Judea and Samaria.
Israel ‘Rejects the EU Commentary’
“This region has been under the authority of Israel for the past 52 years,” Samarian Councilman David Ha’Ivri told United with Israel. “Clearly the government of Israel rejects the EU commentary, which questions the legality of building homes here. In the meantime, the Europeans can keep on commenting and the Israelis will continue building and setting down facts on the grown. The end result will be Israeli sovereignty in all parts of the Land of Israel.”
According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) website, “Jewish settlement in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) is often presented as merely a modern phenomenon. In fact, Jewish presence in this territory has existed for thousands of years and was recognized as legitimate in the Mandate for Palestine, adopted by the League of Nations in 1922, which provided for the establishment of a Jewish state in the Jewish people’s ancient homeland.”
Jewish settlement in areas like Hebron are not only specifically noted in the Bible, but also “existed throughout the centuries of Ottoman rule, while settlements such as Neve Ya’acov, north of Jerusalem, the Gush Etzion bloc in southern Judea, and the communities north of the Dead Sea, were established under British Mandatory administration prior to the establishment of the State of Israel, and in accordance with the League of Nations Mandate,” according to the MFA.
Many of the areas being settled by Jews today are actually re-settlement of Jewish communities following forceful removal from their homes “by Arab armies or militia, or slaughtered, as was the case with the ancient Jewish community of Hebron in 1929,” the MFA adds.
“In short, the attempt to portray Jewish communities in the West Bank as a new form of ‘colonial’ settlement in the land of a foreign sovereign is as disingenuous as it is politically motivated,” the MFA states. “At no point in history were Jerusalem and the West Bank subject to Palestinian Arab sovereignty. At issue is the right of Jews to reside in their ancient homeland, alongside Palestinian Arab communities, in an expression of the connection of both peoples to this land.”
About 700,000 Israelis now live in Judea and Samaria while there are an estimated 2.6 million Palestinians in the region.
Following the EU’s expected condemnation of Israel, Chaim Silberstein, founder and president of Keep Jerusalem and the father of a woman who was wounded and lost her newborn in a terror attack last year, told United with Israel, “The EU’s statement, once again, reflects a worrying willful bias against Israel based on anti-Semitism and an automatic support of the Palestinians irrespective of any moral or legal basis, and despite the fact that the Palestinians continue to engage in terrorism and pay terrorists who murder Israelis. Israel’s right to the whole of the Land of Israel is irrefutable and, as such, we can build as much and wherever we wish.”
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