THE "ILLEGALITY" OF SETTLEMENTS

Author Hillel Halkin, writing in the June issue of Commentary, has this to

say about the legality of the Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria:

"That the settlements are illegal, the conventional wisdom says, is

obvious. But it is far from obvious… The case for [their] illegality rests

largely on a single source: article 49(6) in the fourth Geneva Convention

of 1949. This article states that an occupying military power "shall not

deport or transfer part of its own civilian population into the territory

it occupies." Yet, as several international jurists have pointed out, not

only has Israel "deported" or "transferred" no one to the settlements,

whose inhabitants are there of their own free will, it is by no means clear

that Israel was ever, legally, in the position of being an occupying power.

"This is because, in 1967, Israel had as good a claim as anyone to the

West Bank, which in effect belonged to no government. The Jordanian

annexation of the area, while acquiesced in by the same Palestinian

leadership that had rejected the 1947 U.N. partition resolution, was

unrecognized by most of the world, and Jordan itself had refused to make

peace with Israel or to consider their joint border more than a temporary

cease-fire line…

"The conventional wisdom is also wrong in asserting--a frequently made

claim--that continued settlement activity on the part of Israel is a

violation of the 1993 Oslo accords. The plain fact of the matter is that

nowhere in that agreement was there any reference to the settlements, apart

from a single paragraph stating that… their fate was to be settled in

final-status negotiations. This was hardly an oversight. The Palestinians

wanted a settlement freeze and fought for one at Oslo; if they did not get

it, this is only because in the end they accepted the Israeli refusal to

agree to one. In repeatedly demanding one anyway over the ensuing years, it

is they, not the Israelis, who have gone back on the document they signed."

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