by Ze'ev Jabotinsky
This week, a government-appointed committee, headed by former Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, issued its findings on the legal status of outposts in Judea and Samaria. The report explicitly concluded that the establishment of settlements does not constitute a violation of international law.
Committee member Dr. Alan Baker, a world-renowned expert on international law, said in an interview: "In terms of international law, it is not illegal to settle in Judea and Samaria, and that is the central, important conclusion that has been absent until now."
Later in the interview, he clarified that the settlements do not qualify as occupied territories because no one ever had any recognized sovereignty over Judea and Samaria. Even if there had been official sovereignty (meaning Jordan's claim of sovereignty, recognized only by Pakistan and Britain), Jordan voluntarily relinquished it (by signing the peace agreement with Israel), he explained.
The astonished Left quickly embarked on a mission to undermine the legitimacy of the committee's findings. But that is a difficult task because the findings rest on the following facts: Turkey's defeat in World War I was the jumping-off point for the international law pertaining to sovereignty over the State of Israel, west of the Jordan River. In his book "Principles of International Law," international law expert Ian Brownlie wrote that after the defeat of the central powers, the victorious states assumed the power of disposition over colonial territories of the defeated states.
Within the framework of the 1919 Paris Peace Conference, the victor states mediated a dialogue between Jews and Arabs on the issue of the future of the territory of Palestine: Would it be a Jewish state or an Arab state? On Feb. 6, 1919, King Faisal bin Hussein bin Ali al-Hashemi appeared at the conference and argued in favor of Arab sovereignty over Palestine (on both sides of the Jordan River). On Feb. 27, 1919, Haim Weizmann addressed the conference and argued for the Jews' right to sovereignty over the same land. The victor states deliberated and decided that the Jews' right overpowered the Arabs' right to the land, especially since the rest of the Middle East – Syria, Lebanon and Iraq – was designated for the Arabs. The League of Nations composed a contract-like document called the Mandate of Palestine in the spirit of that decision.
This document was unique in that it protected the civil and religious rights of all the residents of the land, while granting the right to self-determination, future sovereignty and governance only to the Jews, upon the expiration of the mandate. The key clause can be found in the third paragraph of the introduction: "Whereas recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country."
This document was ratified by the San Remo Conference (an international meeting of the post-World War I Allied Supreme Council) in April 1920, and it was unanimously approved by the League of Nations in July 1922. That was the moment the Jews' sole sovereignty over the Land of Israel was recognized, and this recognition became part of international law, which hasn't changed since then.
These historical facts are precisely the basis for the committee's findings.
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