Nov. 20, 2019
Israel’s Rights in the West Bank under International Law – Amb. Alan Baker
Israel’s rights in the West Bank did not originate with the 1967 Six-Day War. The Balfour Declaration issued by the British government in 1917 acknowledged the indigenous presence and historic aspirations of the Jewish people to reestablish their historic national home in Palestine. The Balfour Declaration received international legal acknowledgment and validity in a series of instruments, commencing with the 1920 San Remo Conference, and was subsequently approved by the Council of the League of Nations on July 24, 1922.
Following the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel attained control of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) from Jordan. However, Jordan was not considered by the international community as having attained legitimate sovereign rights there following its 1950 unrecognized annexation of the areas. From the legal point of view, since there existed no legitimate sovereign power, the classic laws of occupation were not legally applicable.
The Oslo Accords created a legal regime that overrides any other previously applicable legal framework. The parties agreed that this arrangement would remain valid pending the outcome of negotiations between them. Despite attempts by the international community, through nonbinding political statements and resolutions in the UN, to prejudge the outcome of the negotiations by claiming that the territories are “occupied Palestinian territories,” there exists no such legally accepted determination.
The writer, former legal adviser and deputy director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, participated in the negotiation and drafting of the Oslo Accords with the Palestinians, as well as agreements and peace treaties with Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon. (Tablet)
(Click on the article’s title to see the whole Tablet Magazine article…Ed.)