Yonatan Gher, in “Nobody should buy this occupation” (The Fifth Column, February 9), makes several points. One is that “Israeli settlements in the occupied territories are illegal according to international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 prohibits countries from moving populations into territories occupied in a war.”
Gher is wrong on several levels pursuant to international law.
First, the applicable sections of the 4th Geneva Convention are Part IV, Sections 47-78, which do not apply to Judea and Samaria. A review of these articles, as well as a review by the then-director-general for General Affairs of the International Committee of the Red Cross conclusively show that “occupied territories” refers only to situations where these territories constituted a prior legitimate power and not an amorphous entity for which there was no clear title. This clearly was not the case with Judea and Samaria. Rather, it was clearly contested after the cessation of the British Mandate.
Second, Prof. Yehuda Z. Blum, in his seminal 1968 Israel Law Review article “The Missing Reversioner: Reflections on the Status of Judea and Samaria,” states that “upon the abrogation of the Mandate responsibility by Great Britain, sovereignty was not created by the inhabitants of that territory .... The Kingdom of Jordan never acquired the status of a legitimate sovereign over Judea and Samaria .... After Israel secured the territories after the Jordanian aggression, the legal standing of Israel in the territories is that of a state which is lawfully in control of territory in respect of which no other state can show better title .... Since no state can make out a legal claim that is equal to that of Israel, this relative superiority of Israel may be sufficient under international law to make Israeli possession of Judea and Samaria indistinguishable from absolute title.”
One can reasonably posit that Gher has “struck out” on several legal levels in presenting a picture of his Amnesty trappings. The allegation that Judea and Samaria are occupied territories is a canard that cannot be accepted on legal considerations. I. GENDELMAN Jerusalem