John Kerry Is Mistaken about Israel’s Settlements – Alan Baker (Israel Hayom)
- Dear Secretary of State Kerry:
After listening to you declare repeatedly over the past weeks that “Israel’s settlements are illegitimate,” I respectfully wish to state, unequivocally, that you are mistaken and ill-advised, both in law and in fact.
- Pursuant to the Oslo Accords, the “issue of settlements” is one of subjects to be negotiated in the permanent-status negotiations. Your statements serve to not only to prejudge this negotiating issue, but also to undermine the integrity of that agreement. By your repeating that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate, you are in fact buying into, and even fueling, the Palestinian propaganda narrative and exerting unfair pressure on Israel.
- Moreover, your determination that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate cannot be legally substantiated. The oft-quoted prohibition on transferring population into occupied territory (Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) was, according to the International Committee of the Red Cross’ own official commentary of that convention, drafted to prevent a repeat of the forced, mass transfer of populations carried out by the Nazis in World War II. It was never intended to apply to Israel’s settlement activity.
- Attempts by the international community to attribute this article to Israel emanate from clear partisan motives, with which you and the U.S. are now identifying.
- There is no requirement in any of the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians that Israel cease or freeze settlement activity. The opposite is in fact the case. The 1995 interim agreement enables each party to plan, zone and build in the areas under its respective control.
- Israel’s settlement policy neither prejudices the outcome of the negotiations nor does it involve displacement of local Palestinian residents from their private property.The writer is a former legal counsel to the Israel Foreign Ministry and a former Israeli ambassador to Canada.