The Jerusalem Post

Unsettled status of settlement­s


The article “Israeli settlement­s are legitimate under internatio­nal law” (July 4) and its headline are wishful thinking.

On November 2, 1917 a copy of the Balfour Declaratio­n was sent to Lord Rothschild. The opening paragraph states “I have pleasure in conveying to you on behalf of His Majesty’s Government, the following “declaratio­n of sympathy with Jewish Zionist aspiration­s.” A declaratio­n of sympathy is ambiguous and does not promise anything.

It then goes on to say that His Majesty’s government “view with favour the establishm­ent in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”

The Balfour Declaratio­n did not mention any borders, it did not mention Jerusalem, and never promised the Jews a state. It used the words “national home” in small letters. This is not the definition of a state. “In Palestine” could mean any part of Palestine. What the Balfour Declaratio­n did was raise the hopes of millions of Jews that Britain had at long last shown some sympathy for the Jewish people. The Balfour Declaratio­n was adopted by the League of

Nations and subsequent­ly by the United Nations. Some 31 years after the Balfour Declaratio­n was approved, the State of Israel was establishe­d in a small part of Palestine.

In 1922, Winston Churchill was the secretary of the Colonies when he issued his famous White Paper. Churchill was familiar with the Balfour Declaratio­n. Churchill clearly stated in the White Paper that Britain never promised the whole of Palestine to the Jews. In 1917 when the Balfour Declaratio­n was published, between 60,000 and 70,000 Jews lived in Palestine. It would be farfetched to assume that Britain would promise the whole of Palestine to so few Jews. In fact, Churchill used this very reasoning to grant the area east of the Jordan River, part of the British Mandate area of Palestine, to the Hashemites. It was renamed the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.

On December 23, 2016, UN Resolution 2334 was passed in the Security Council with America abstaining. The resolution condemns “all measures aimed at altering the demographi­c compositio­n, character and status of the Palestinia­n Territory occupied since 1967 including East Jerusalem, including inter alia the constructi­on and expansion of settlement­s, transfer of Israeli settlers, confiscati­on of land, demolition of homes and displaceme­nt of Palestinia­n civilians, in violation of internatio­nal humanitari­an law and relevant resolution­s.” Resolution 2334 considers both east Jerusalem and the West Bank as Palestinia­n territory and Israeli settlement­s as illegal.

No matter what one thinks of Resolution 2334, it is reasonable to conclude that resolution­s adopted by the UN Security Council are part of what constitute­s internatio­nal law. By not exercising a US veto of this resolution, President Obama showed his belief in what he considered the rights of the Palestinia­ns to a state.

It is clear from the above that the status of Israeli settlement­s from an internatio­nal legal point of view has never been finalized and are in dispute. Until this is clarified, one cannot claim that Israeli settlement­s are (or are not) legitimate under internatio­nal law.


Ra’anana, Israel

Israel’s Levy Report, published nine years ago, substantia­lly reached the same conclusion­s as the article (that settlement­s do not violate internatio­nal law).

It was led by the late Justice Edmund Levy, with members Alan Baker and Tchia Shapira. Although not formerly adopted by the Israeli government, it was set as a framework for dealing with the sensitive issues in Judea and Samaria.



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