Monday, February 3, 2014

Are Israel's Settlements Illegal?

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                  

Settlements refer to towns and cities built in Judea and Samaria since 1967 by Israelis.  They are a far cry from the settlement built in North America by the Puritans, Pilgrims, or Pioneers which the word implies.

International law is on Israel's side.  These places were part of the Palestine Mandate, which granted Jews the right to settle anywhere west of the Jordan River and to establish a national home there.  Britain was given the mandate which it did not follow correctly.  Going against the vote and ruling, they allowed King Abdullah to take 80% of the land promised to become the Jewish Homeland.  That did not change the law, but broke the law.

In ancient times, after King Solomon died, the kingdom of Judah was formed out of Israel and the first king was Rehoboam, his son,  who ruled from 933 to 917 BCE.  "The core of the Jewish state was the hill country of Judah,  Samaria and Galilee.   Judah was renamed Judea by the Romans.  It had become a vassal kingdom and then later, just a province which came under their rule in 63 BCE before they had destroyed Jerusalem.  Judea was then renamed as Palaestina in 135 CE.  The name, Judea, is also applied to the southern part of the country in distinction from Samaria in the center and Galilee in the north.

 Samaria was the capital of Israel founded in 880 BCE by King Omri of Israel on a hill he had bought from Shemer.  It was 7 miles NW of Shechem, today's Nablus and was on an isolated elevation dominating a wide countryside.  It sat on 25 acres.  It had withstood the siege of the Syrians but fell in 721 BCE to Sargon II of Assyria who resettled it with Cutheans who intermingled withe the remnants or the former population.  They became the ancestors of the Samaritans.  Samaria was in the area of Israel in the north and Judea was made out of the southern part of Israel.  (from Benny Morris, Israeli historian).  Judah did not fall until Jerusalem, its capital, was overtaken by the Romans in 70 CE, 1,003 years later.  So Jewish history in the Middle East started with Israel and Judah starting with Moses leading them out of Egypt and Joshua entering Canaan in c1271 BCE.

The Judean Hills is the mountainous region of central Israel today.  They were neglected and suffered severely from soil erosion through the centuries under all sorts of rule, with the last 400 years under the Ottomans.  Modern resettlement of the area began in 1894 with the foundation of the village of Motza, which is now part of Jerusalem, but from 1948 to 1967, only a small area of the Judean Hills, what is referred to as the Jerusalem Corridor, and some of the foothills, was incorporated in Israel.  The rest had had been illegally taken by TransJordan, later called Jordan.  Since 1967 when Israel won against the attack of all the surrounding Muslim neighbors, the entire area has been under Israeli rule.  Now the Arabs who called themselves "Palestinians" covet it for a state for themselves which will be Judenrein in their planning.  That means they will not allow one single Jew to remain in their homes that they have had, even though there are 1.7 million Arabs living as citizens in Israel.  Until 1967, the Arabs had made no issue about wanting their own state.  They had been offered land for one and continually refused it, preferring to hold off and take all of Israel.  That goal has never died.  It remains in the Hamas charter.  As for Fatah, they teeter back and forth with Hamas, joining them and breaking away.  Hamas continues to harass southern Israel with rockets, mortars and missiles.

Today hundreds of thousands of Israelis are accused of living in "illegal settlements."   Back when Begin was Prime Minister, the government realized that because of 1967's success at protecting themselves from all the neighbors who attacked them, that they had won back their original land of Judea and Samaria.  They had lost 80% of their promised Jewish Homeland to Jordan through Britain's broken promises and found themselves on 20% of the promised land, and 8,000 square miles is not a lot, especially when they had refugees coming from many countries.  They built on land they had won back.  The law established did not become obsolete when it was terminated in 1947.

International lawyer, Eugene Rostow, a Dean of Yale Law School, said, "A trust never terminates when a trustee dies, resigns, embezzles the trust property, or is dismissed.  The authority responsible for the trust appoints a new trustee, or otherwise arranges for the fulfillment of its purpose."  This meant that even though the Jordanians had taken the land, its rules apply still to Judea and Samaria (West Bank) and the Gaza Strip, which have not been allocated either to Israel or to Jordan or become an independent state.

The Palestine Mandate was signed by all 51 members of the League of Nations and codified in international law.  It is recognized as legally valid by the UN in article 80 of the UN Charter.  The International Court of Justice has reaffirmed this  3 different times.

Israel made this decision to build there.  Their position is sound.  A country is entitled to make reasonable decisions on legal issues without being de-legitimized, hounded or criminalized such as what is going on today against Israel.

Israel stopped building for 10 months waiting for the Palestinians to come to a decision, and they did not, so they started building again.  It was just used by the Palestinians as a ruse, a stall so as not to negotiate.  It has been 47 years since 1967.  This is land belonging to Israel and there is no good reason why they can't build on their own land.
Mosaic unearthed in Shiloh with Star of David.  Shiloh, first center for Judaism, 25 miles N of Jerusalem in the mountains of Ephraim.  The Ark and the Tabernacle were kept there during the period of the Judges.  It was the national shrine and object of pilgrimage.  The town and the Tabernacle were destroyed by the Philistines after the battle of Aphek in 1050 BCE when the Ark was captured.  The tribe of Ephraim (one of the 12 tribes of Jacob) lived in these mountains.  Ephraim was the younger son of Joseph.  It also meant the more northern of the 2 Israelite kingdoms.

Kerry and Obama should know that according to international law, the Armistice Lines of 1949, which are part of the Judea-Samaria boundary, were nothing but the position of the contending armies when the final cease-fire occurred in the War of Independence 1948.  These Armistice Agreements provide that the demarcation lines can be changed by agreement when the parties move from armistice to peace.  This means that international law does not consider the 1967 borders as the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel., except in the matter of Lebanon.

Both the Ottoman Turks and the British Mandate renounced their claims to the Land of Israel years ago, including Judea and Samaria.  Jordan's annexation of Judea and Samaria following   the May 14, 1948 declaration of Independence was never internationally recognized, since it amounted to an act of aggression.  The UN and its security council and the UN General Assembly declared at that time that Israel was a peace-loving state in the 1948 war.  It was only moments after the announcement of their statehood that they were attacked in force.

Another international lawyer, Professor Schwebel, stated that "Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully (Transjordan, Jordan) , the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense  (Israel) has, against that prior holder (Jordan) , better title.  Israel was always on the defensive between 1948 to 1967.  Israel had the better title in the territory of what was called Palestine, including all of Jerusalem, than do either Jordan or Egypt.

Rallies have been going on in Jerusalem to stop the peace talks with the Palestinians and Kerry as moderator.  Legality is on the side of Israel, and it isn't hard to find.  They have a right to live in Judea and Samaria and are not about to allow the Palestinians to take over and kick them out.  The Palestinians must show good faith is wanting to be a peaceful neighbor, and the first step is in recognizing Israel as the one and only Jewish state in the world.  The world is just embarrassing themselves in the light of history for their boycotting Israel because Israel is just standing up for their rights. 

Resource:  בלוג עכשיו בפייסבוק Israeli Deputy foreign Minister in 2011 eplains legality-6 minutes Report
The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia  from Rachel Avraham, staff writer for United With Israel

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