Nov. 19, 2019
- The U.S. has corrected its Middle East policy in an important way. The past legal determination that Israelis deciding to reside in the West Bank are doing so in violation of international law has always been deeply flawed.
- It failed to recognize that the case of Israeli settlement construction was unique and was not what the drafters of international law had in mind when they first addressed this question. The original basis for judging the question of Israeli settlements was the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention.
- Morris Abram, who was the U.S. ambassador to the UN in Geneva, had been one of the drafters of the Fourth Geneva Convention. He wrote that its authors had in mind heinous crimes committed by Nazi Germany that included forcible evictions of Jewish populations for purposes of mass extermination in death camps in places like Poland. This plainly was not the case of Israeli settlements and it is utterly vile to even suggest that Israeli settlements should be thought of in this context.
- It must be recalled that the last sovereign over the territory of the West Bank was the Ottoman Empire. After the First World War, the League of Nations in 1922 explicitly supported the “close settlement” of Jews in the territory of the British Mandate. Those historical rights of the Jewish people were preserved by Article 80 of the UN Charter.
- Jordan seized the West Bank in 1949, yet even the Arab states refused to recognize its sovereignty there. In other words, there was no recognized sovereign over the West Bank prior to Israel’s entry into the area.
- Finally, when Israel captured the West Bank in 1967, it acted in the framework of a war of self-defense.
Ambassador Dore Gold is President of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as Director-General of the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs and as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations.