Israel Jerusalem Palestinians

The tortured logic of East Jerusalem’s Jewish settlers

The Web is buzzing with stories about Netanyahu’s rejection of U.S. calls to stop planned construction of housing for Jews in East Jerusalem. The NY Times’ Ethan Bronner notes that “Mr. Netanyahu issued the statement because State Department officials had raised concerns over the project with Israel’s new ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, during discussions last week on a range of issues. The American officials suggested that going ahead with the development now would cause problems in negotiations toward a two-state solution.”

The project in question is a proposed 20-unit apartment complex in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, on the site of the Shepherd Hotel. The property is owned by Irving Moskowitz, an abominable American Jew who has been building Jewish housing in hostile Palestinian neighborhoods for years. Some say he is unconcerned about the impact of his housing developments on peace negotiations. That is not true. He is very concerned and wants to torpedo those negotiations. As long as we are on the subject of wanting to torpedo negotiations, it’s important to note that Moscowitz has tried and failed to get permission to build there for years. But the Israeli government granted permission a few months ago.

Meanwhile, Joseph Dana, over at Ibn Ezra, offers a compelling report of Palestinians and Israelis who demonstrated today to protest the eviction orders facing the Hanoun family, “one of 27 [Palestinian] families in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood that are facing home eviction as part of a plan to establish a new Jewish settlement in the area.”

Ah, but the most fascinating and disturbing report on the Sheikh Jarrah controversy comes from Arutz Sheva, the pro-settler media outlet. It often offers news and always offers opinions that one can’t find anywhere else. It is worth following by anyone who wants to understand the settlement movement’s tortured logic (which is not quite the same as the “logic of torture,” although very close). The story gives us a quote from Israeli Science Minister Rabbi Prof. Daniel Hershkovitz, head of the Jewish Home party:

“`The American demand proves that whoever demands a freeze in Judea and Samaria will end up demanding a halt to Jewish building in a neighborhood that houses government offices. I invite American officials to visit my office in Sheikh Jarrah so that they will see Israel’s sovereignty in united Jerusalem.’”

I invite American officials to accept his invitation, and to tell him, “Your office doesn’t belong here either.”

32 thoughts on “The tortured logic of East Jerusalem’s Jewish settlers

  1. Its hard to read exactly, because privately Netanyahu might have agreed to the cessation of settlement construction, but is trying to save face.

    More likely though, is that he himself wants to firm up the annexation of Jerusalem, that Israel announced a few years ago, but no state accepted (except the Bush white house).

    And, he wants to continue the settlement construction.

    Its not an immovable force relative to an unstoppable object. Someone will give in. The next steps for Obama are to inform Israel that its relationship with the US will gradually weaken if it insists on pursuing objectives that are contrary to a peace in some short term future. The next example of a tangible step will be if the US abstains from a veto of a general assembly resolution.

    It is unlikely that the US will withhold promised funds, or actively engage in a boycott type action, and more than unlikely that the US will renounce its opposition to Iran’s nukes.

    For Obama’s strategy to work, he MUST assure entirely confidently, that he will not allow Israeli civilians to be placed in any fundamental danger, that he is committed to Israel’s defense, but NOT its expansion.

  2. Richard,
    I have always felt uncomfortable with the calls to cut of U.S. aid. But given this latest assault on hope by Bibi and the nuts he depends upon to keep his coalition intact, it is hard to come up with reasons to disapprove of at least a targeted reduction of aid

  3. The aid is a basis of inter-dependance.

    It is important to Israel in itself, and in the bi-lateral training, strategic and intelligence relationships that accompany the aid.

    The degree and tone of intelligence exchange has already been reduced, which is one of the primary bases of fear in Israel currently, likely much moreso than the issue of the settlements.

    I personally find it ironic that Netanyahu is that reluctant to give on the settlements and greater Jerusalem, when it may threaten Israel’s ACTUAL security and strategic relationship.

    It reveals that there is a constant push-pull in the relationship as to which dog wags which tail.

    Netanyahu faces the political quandry of a fragile government, held together only by a disjointed coalition, with fanatics holding the political tipping votes.

    If politics in Israel shifted even slightly to the left, the coalition in power would be Kadima/Labor and accompanying minor parties, rather than likud/labor. A vote of no confidence could remove Netanyahu from power.

    And, a visit to Israel by Obama could shift that political balance. But, Obama could be assassinated in Israel. It is frankly MORE LIKELY than a Palestinian terror incident anywhere in Israel currently.

    Hopefully, Israelis will take stock of that in itself, as a BAD development, that supercedes strategic dangers.

    Netanyahu can be point person for a Bush-like comprehensive national meltdown, in which all efforts, and all relationships begin to tear. All in 100 days.

    There is a way for an Israeli government to take advantage of the current US government’s policies to ENHANCE its security. For example, Netanyahu could likely get an even larger military commitment to Israel, IF tangible steps are taken by Israel to realize a just and coherent peace.

    The US is asking a lot from Israel, and from others, and will have to offer carrots as well as sticks to make changes easier. As much as “greasing palms” (in the form of more funds or even more shared intelligence) is counter to an attitude of fair play, it IS the norm whenever a fundamental political compromise is requested.

    Netanyahu is in a community of people that doesn’t observe internal stresses in Israel, that considers stresses to be almost entirely external. Its dangerous, as dangerous as Hamas or Hezbollah or Iran regarding their own behaviors as inconsequential to their internal state and external relations.

  4. Dan:
    I like going to the western wall when I’m in Jerusalem. You obviously feel that it should be under Palestinian ownership. Why?

  5. And why is Irving Moskowitz a bad guy. He doesn’t cheer the deaths of Jews like Phil ( I think we went into WW2 on the wrong side Weiss) or Richard ( I love guys that bust open the heads of jewish girls) Silverstein.

  6. Splitting a city between 2 sovereign (and mutually hostile) states seems insane to me.

    Does anybody expect that to work?

  7. Suzanne,
    It will certainly be unique as the capital of both states. In the past the PLO offered two precedents for a joint capital: two states in India that share a single capital and Rome where the Vatican is a sovereign city-state. An Indian told me that in India the states are less sovereign than in America. And Vatican City doesn’t seem much of a precedent unless the Palestinians are planning on giving up all their territory beyond the Jerusalem city limits. The Vatican is a precedent for giving the Palestinians control over the Old City and nothing else.

    But Berlin was a divided city split between two sovereign and mutually hostile states. The main difference was that from 1954 to 1990 West Germany claimed Bonn as its capital rather than West Berlin.

    The real question is: Does anyone expect a peace agreement to work without dividing Jerusalem?

  8. Let’s try this again since nobody dares to take my challenge to continue somewhere less restrictive…

    I find the illogic that the land belongs to the Arabs before final status negotiations to be twisted logic and all the phony allegory that builds on this base to be flawed to a ridicule deserving fault.

    Further, what is truly abominable is American Jews waving their faith (in name only) around as if it is a certificate of legitimacy that should be heeded when they side with the unholy demands of a people that aspire to national self determination by strapping bombs to their backs and blowing up innocent school children and unsuspecting shoppers in crowded places.

  9. Michael,
    Your comments are illogical.

    The only land that Jews can claim title to is land that they held title to before the 1948 war (and land that they were physically dispossessed from in Hebron and Sfat in 1929). But, that land belongs to the original owners. There are two relatively small settlement bloc areas for which title was held by the Jewish Agency.

    Those lands should be Jewish owned on the basis of continuity of title.

    ALL other lands is either owned by Palestinian individuals or collectives, not owned by anyone as unoccupied, or state land.

    The land that was Palestinian villages prior, is unequivocally NOT Jewish owned, unless purchased in a non-coerced third party exchange for compensation.

    The land that was unoccupied must be presumed to be held in trust for the subsequent sovereign to determine. It CANNOT be annexed according to the Geneva convention fourth protocol, that Israel is a signatory. That protocol states that lands that are temporarily occupied following periods of war must be policed, provided with social services, and color-blind courts established to enforce the law with due process, and also to retain prior status of title.

    If Israel wishes to formally renounce its signing of the Geneva protocols, then it can, but the consequences of that would be that they then could not expect its protections.

    That is the significance of law, a willing compromise to one’s otherwise sovereignty.

    Simplistic rationalizations for personal or collective gain, just don’t surpass that consented law.

  10. My comments are only illogical to someone who does not understand international law and land tenure. This forum will not allow space to explain it either. Look up the Ottoman Land Laws. Very little land was held privately (milk) and what little milk land there was in the territory mislabeled Palestine was mostly, according to Abraham Granott in his book, The Land System in Palestine, “plots of land which had at the time of distribution [by Muslim conquerors] been assigned to unbelievers….”. The majority of titled land was found in the cities and owned by non-Muslims. The vast majority of land “used” by Arabs was “owned” by the Ottoman Sultan.

    So where does this leave us today? The common big lie is that all of the non-titled land that Jews did not own defaults to the Arabs. You want to hold it for the final sovereign, but you only have a problem with Jews utilizing it until then, what about the hundreds of Arab communities? Aern’t they an illegal use of the land until it is determined who will own it?

    Land is either owned or it is governed. All of the major Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were established with individual property rights and proximity to existing Arab population centers in mind. To focus on them as an impediment to peace both ignores the real root cause of the conflict and prejudges the jurisdictional borders of the state of Israel.

  11. Also, the Geneva Convention applies to international conflicts between “high contracting parties”, since Jordan (a semi-legal state) withdrew all claims to land west of the Jordan and there has never been a state called Palestine outside the figments of the collective Arab and liberal imaginations who is the high contracting party to apply this treaty to? If you claim the document applies to the Arabs calling themselves Palestinians what sort of precedent do you feel elevating a terrorist organization to the level of state will have on other violent movements around the globe?

    Further, there is a treaty called the Mandate for Palestine that has not been nullified with a later treaty that allows Jews to immigrate and settle on state owned lands anywhere they wish in the borders of Mandatory Palestine. Under the tested doctrine of acquisition of rights this right can not be arbitrarily taken away without another treaty or proclamation that stands the test of a court. There is absolutely no law that can be sited that bars Jews from living in Judea and Samaria on untitled lands. I have fought this very point out with hundreds of laymen and lawyers alike for the last five years.

  12. Actually, your description of Turkish ownership is incomplete.

    There was a status of lend tenureship that was similar to the modern Israeli leasehold status, whether compensated or merely accepted by the title owner. It was analagous to a contract.

    If I hold a lease to property, even if an owner wants to use it for some favored purpose of hisher own, he/she MUST honor the lease, or violate the law.

    The nature of Arab relative tenure by occupancy, confirms a leasehold relationship.

    You are right that subsequent title claims by individual Arabs, rather than determination of rules of law by subsequent sovereigns is also the responsibility of an occupying power.

    The question was whether Jews have the right to declare that it is Jewish, and part of Israel. That is a false assertion.

    The UNHOLY element of the establishment of settlements and the assertion that Jews can occupy otherwise unoccupied land, is the corrupt relationship of a heart-valve process in which land becomes “Israeli”, by virtue of state military annexation by force, and only permitted to be occupied by the exclusively Jewish population.

    We have the confusion of multiple meanings of the word “occupied”. To occupy, means:

    1. To reside (private)
    2. To expropriate as an oppressive annexation (state)
    3. To temporarily administer (also state)

    Property law is the perfection of title, from contested to consented.

    You might find a logic that you can use to rationalize a technicality. But, the substance of title is to realize consent by a reasonable man test.

    Do you feel that there is substantial basis of consent for Israeli settlement title claims, to justify a status of consent? Or is the reality that the status is contested?

    I view it as contested, imperfect.

  13. And, while some claim that because I am a Zionist that I am by definition and “unreasonable man”, I think the oppossite is true. Not perfect or entirely fully informed by any stretch.

  14. Tom–Berlin is exactly what I had in mind when I consider this proposal of a city divided and run by two sovereign states.

    In the scheme of things…that arrangement didn’t last very long, did it?

    You raise a great point about the improbability of peace without resolving Jerusalem.

    I’m just not feeling hopeful these days that it can be resolved through reason or good will.

  15. The Berlin wall resulted in two cities.

    Like Buda and Pest have now separated.

    Its liveable.

    El Paso/Juarez is a better example of what happens with divided cities.

    The Mexicans got the short end of the deal.

  16. Richard-
    Unlike what you wrote in that rather uncharacteristic (for you) diatribe above, Netanyahu is in a very strong position now. He represents a national consensus, the strongest that has existed in the last 30 years. It is NOT a “fragile coalition” held together by “fanatics”. The Labor Party is a member of the coalition. The Israeli people overwhelmingly view Obama as hostile and also ineffective. His foreign policy as a whole is a disaster (North Korea, Iran, etc) so he thinks he can make up for it by scoring points with his Muslim friends/cousins/brothers by bashing us.
    The Israeli people OVERWHELINGLY oppose dividing Jerusalem, because everybody (including the Jerusalem Arabs) know that DIVIDING the city equals DESTROYING the city.

    Here is a good piece by Barry Rubin (who is NOT a “right-winger” regarding the new Israeli consensus.

  17. Suzanne,
    The division of Berlin lasted for 45 years–from 1945 to 1990. There were no wars in Germany during that time. Israel has ruled all of Jerusalem for 42 years. During that time there has been two Intifadas. Belfast was divided for over a century and had two major episodes of war–1921-22, and 1969-1994. Split sovereignty is more peaceful than forced unity under a single power.

    Admittedly, Berlin is a strange solution because there wasn’t an ethnic division but a national one where one of the governments was the satellite of a foreign power.

  18. Mr. LeFavour,
    The Palestine Mandate expired in May 1948. Even while it was in existence Jewish immigration was subject to the approval of the British mandatory authority–effectively the colonial office and the League of Nations that oversaw the administration of the mandate. The League of Nations no longer exists and the UN inherited its legal authority.

    After the armistice agreement of 1949 Jordan became responsible for administering the West Bank in legal terms.

  19. hmmmm…now Juarez/El Paso is an example that makes sense in this context.

    Not sure that Southwesterners would agree…but our (U.S.) border headaches are better than what the Israelis have right now.

    Sometimes it seems to me (like today) that progress would be made if a bunch of Israeli and Palestinian entrepreneurs formed joint business ventures and told everybody else to sod off. 🙂

  20. A divided Jerusalem is not an unnatural phenomena. It is essentially two cities currently, or was, before the annexation declared when Sharon was still in Likud.

    The expansion IS the tipping issue.

    It is what communicates Israel’s intent to the rest of the world, and most importantly to its immediate neighbors.

    Further, it is right to not engage in swindles to rationalize that title is perfected.

    The only rationales that expansion is legal is in the context of neo-religious land-lust, and in the related neo-fascist secular originated greater Israel vision.

    We’ve past that point. Enough is enough, positively.

    You are wrong about the fragility of Israel’s coalition. A two vote swing to the left, results in a kadima led government.

    THAT is fragile.

  21. Suzanne,
    Juazez-El Paso is not remotely similar to Jerusalem. Mexico and the U.S. are both large countries with their respective capitals located hundreds if not thousands of miles from their common border. Even the state capitals of Texas and the Mexican states across the border are located away from the border. Juarez-El Paso is more like a divided Arab village along the old Green Line.

  22. Mr Whitty, of course my description of Ottoman land law was incomplete, hence the caveat for anyone interested in following along to look it up for themselves due to forum restrictions, which I made quite clear restrict free speech last time I was here.

    The land status that you are referring to was “miri”, it was held by usufruct, it could not be bought or sold without the consent of the state. The Western notion of land lease you are attempting to attribute to the Ottoman land code did not apply. Usage of the land was “at will” of the state and these lands were a small percentage of Palestine pre-Israel besides. The majority of land was called “mawat”, which was unoccupied hilly, scrub, wasteland. This made up about 50 to 60% of the land in 1921 and this unoccupied land is where the majority of those hated settlements are built today (around 90%).

    Again, you site the Geneva Convention, but fail to name the high contracting party. The treaty does not apply to this situation, Jordan (East Palestine) has delineated the border as the center of the Jordan river, end of discussion.

    As to declaring whether Jews have a right to immigrate, they do under the Mandate for Palestine and immigration is not a form of stealing. You can only steal land if it is OWNED. Barring Jews from living on untitled land is prejudging the border of Israel’s final status.

  23. Tom–that’s a valid point. I was thinking more along the lines of warring parties and disputed territory. But yeah…there’s more to it than that.

  24. Mr Mitchell,

    Article 80 of the UN states in part…nothing in this Chapter shall be construed in or of itself to alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.

    Once the Jews were given the right to immigrate, the expiration of the treaty did not remove that right. Only another binding treaty can remove a right once granted. Further, you highlight something important, the British were criminally negligent in their duty to abide by the treaty. They failed to honor the treaty by illegally limiting Jewish immigration contrary to the terms.

  25. Back to calling me Mr Whitty, Please bother to get the spelling right.

    Juarez/El Paso is similar to Jerusalem/E Jerusalem, in that it is thought of as a singular city historically, but was divided by a border.

    It is difficult, but it also is relevant TO have a border.

    Under Turkish jurisdiction, the relationship was between the title holder and the individual resident. The original assertion of title by residence was confirmed by acceptance of their presence, constructing a form of a contract, an agreement. Even someone that had not made actual contact with the original title holders still had rights to reside, even over their objection.

    You interpret the renunciation of sovereignty over the land by Jordan as if the transfer of Jordanian state land (its status for the unoccupied land) was a transfer to Israeli. That is FALSE. The conditions of the transfer by Jordan included that the land be ultimately transferred to Palestinian sovereignty.

    The land in question REMAINS occupied land, subject to the articles of the Geneva convention that requires that an occupying power retain the prior legal title.

    If the prior legal title was unoccupied, then until sovereignty is resolved, the status of title remains. It is NOT legal to appropriate land by a long series of transfers to private citizens or even to exclusively Jewish leasehold status.

    In any case, it requires court action to clarify, but the status of the courts must be consented. If they remain contested, then their decisions do not become authoritative to perfect title.

    The expropriation of land prior to designation of final borders is an affront to peace, and will put Israel outside the range of civilized societies, in its treatment of dispossessed non-citizens.

  26. Richard-
    I don’t know what you are talking about regarding a “fragile coalition” and “2 vote swing” to bring it down. The anti-Oslo “Right” won IIRC 65 seats, the “pro-Oslo camp-including Kadima won 55. I think 10 of those belong to Arab parties. Labor is in the coaltion with 13, but there is a majority even without them, and Netanyahu left the 4-seat “Right-wing” National Union out of the coalition, and he has a majority even without them. Kadima, and more specifically, Tzippi Livni are largely discredited and are not making much an impression in the opposition.
    But even if the government could be replaced by one headed by Tzippi, it wouldn’t make any difference because they oppose a settlement freeze as Olmert pointed out in the Washington Post last week, and they would not carry out the policies that Obama wants either. So you “progressives” are stuck with the current situation.

  27. That is a great tragedy for all concerned.

    Maybe the swing is 4 votes to shift the coalition. Who knows?

    So long as Israel pursues the “want more” approach, it will be a law-breaker.

    It will change at some point.

    Bad policies and behaviors either change or fall apart.

  28. Mr Witty, Mr Whitty, wtf difference? I don’t waste space when people call me Leflavor, Lafavor, LeFavor, or LeFleuer, who gives a rats behind? If you take insult, too bad, peevish rant over.

    Under Ottoman and later Jordanian jurisdiction the title holder to miri land was the state and residency was at will of the state. Miri land is what you are arguing over. It could be bought and sold, but only with permission from the state. Before 1913 it was not allowed to build houses on miri land because it was for the purpose of producing taxes, yet these lands only made up about 4% of the total, so I don’t understand the fixation on them? You are still asserting that the land was held by private citizens by title. This is not true. Tenants on milk and miri land were liable for eviction. Another category of land mudawara was previously private property given to the Sultan, but tenants there could not be evicted at will of the state. It is far to complicated to explain on this restrictive forum, but little of what you have posted leads me to believe that you understand the basics of the land code so I am confused on how to get past your ignorance and the forum restriction simultaneously.

    The land never belonged to Hashemite Occupied Palestine (Jordan). That is a straw man and you put words in my mouth. The treaty that established the borders says nothing about transferring land to the Arabs left behind I challenge you to read the treaty in it’s entirety and point to the unambiguous wording that supports your assertion, which is painfully obvious that you have failed to do before speaking your mind.

    It seems to me that you are doing too much guessing. I asked you to label the high contracting party and you are waffling all over the place instead of answering. Most of what you just stated is fantasy.

  29. I wanted to add that rights do not expire upon the termination of treaties that grant them. A right once granted must be removed by a legal mechanism that stands the test of a court. Nothing has removed the right of Jews to immigrate to lands mislabeled as Palestine which were granted in the Mandate for Palestine. Jews have every legal right to reside in Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza, and what the world mislabels Israel proper until such a time as the final status of the borders are negotiated. It is a component of anti-Semitism to single Jews out for standards of conduct not expected of others. If a Jew building a house on disputed land is doing something illegal or a an impediment to peace then explain in unambiguous terms why an Arab building a house on disputed land gets a pass for the same actions. It would be one thing if Mr Fleshler and yourself held the view that all construction was illegal, but you single Jews out for political purposes only, while Mr Fleshler prances around the country using his Jewish identity to cater to anti-Semites and well intentioned dupes, which makes you both biased or worse. All of the guessing and waffling over how land tenure actually works over there instead of admitting you are mistaken speaks to an inflated ego and an overactive indulgence in self esteem preservation at the cost of accuracy.

  30. Michael,
    Your assault on Richard in the last sentence was an ad hominem attack, and that violates the admittedly unwritten rules of this blog. Sometimes passions run hot and I understand the temptation to accuse people of character flaws, but I respectfully request that you refrain from purely personal insults (e.g., phrases like “inflated ego”) in the future.

    I have MUCH less interest than you and Richard in the confusing and ultimately insoluble problem of what constitutes a “property right” in territory that has changed hands so many times. I wonder, though, what you make of the fact that the Israeli Supreme Court has ruled that settlement outposts and other Israeli construction projects are illegal. Is their legal authority trumped by all of the assertions you have made about Ottoman law and other matters?

    Regardless, this whole conversation reminds me of the lawyerly obfuscations in Bleak House. Even if what you say is true and Jews have a legal right to live anywhere they want on the West Bank, that begs the question. Usually it is better to be smart than right. I continue to believe that the only possible way to wake up from this nightmare is to divide the land between two peoples, two national movements. That is a deeply flawed idea but, like democracy, it is better than than any alternative. It was true when the Peel Commission recommended it more than 60 years ago and it is true today. You can argue about the merits of the idea, but it is a bedrock principle to me. It is also a principle endorsed, albeit too late, by Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, but if you want to believe they are also catering to anti-Semites and dupes by articulating it, be my guest.

    Right now, constructing apartment buildings for Jews on land that should be part of a Palestinian state is perceived as a provocation by a people who want and need their own state. All the rest is Dickensian commentary.

  31. The question is of land that is taken by military annexation, then quasi-civilian settlement builds surrounding them on Israeli military reservation, then those civilian settlements are transferred to civilian title in the hands of the Jewish National Fund, and leased exclusively to Jews.

    It is an incremental transfer DESIGN, intended to be grey turning into darker grey continually.

    As a one-way heart valve.

    It is a truth that the mandate did define the 1948 borders as defining two states, one primarily for the Jewish community with the expectation of full civil rights for minorities, and one primarily for the Arab community (not yet described as Palestinian specifically).

    That is the obligation of Israel as an occupying power, to maintain the status of land and title for the original intent of the only binding international law determination – the partition.

    The rationalization that “anything goes” as far as Israeli settlement on occupied land, is not conclusive.

    The status of law is NOT the prior Turkish, which from what I’ve read, you are misrepresenting. Its true that I am not sufficiently versed to state authoritatively. My understanding was that the state itself was NOT an intermediary in all usufruct relations, but that the private title holders had the rights and responsibilities to collect rents or other compensations and establish degree of legal relations.

  32. Lets not muddy the waters over Jordan and it’s entirely settled and legal annexation of the West Bank and Jerusalem on the creation of Israel.

    The Jordanian annexation of East Jerusalem was proposed by the Zionists in 1937 and was negotiated with King Abdullah in 1948 (by Ben-Gurion, Sharrett, Golda Meir and others). Annexation of East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Jordan was requested by at least some Palestinians (as is required by law) and supported by the US. The annexation (under “trusteeship”) was legalised by the neighbouring states in May 1950 – as you can see in the Jewish Virtual Library at Nobody ever, ever protested this arrangement and it’s beyond strange that Zionists should try to deny it now.

    Now compare the entirely legal and consensual pre-1967 position of Jerusalem and the West Bank with the claimed Israeli “annexation” of the same land.

    Israel’s claim to have annexed that land has been condemned by every nation in the world – see United Nations Security Council Resolution 252 of 21 May 1968, UNSC 267 of 3 July 1969, UNSC 271 of 15 Sept 1969, UNSC 298 of 25 Sept 1971, UNSC 465 of 1 Mar 1980 and UNSC 476 of 30 Jun 1980. And by many lesser General Assembly resolutions. Israel’s advance over the Green Line was condemned again in 2004 by the World Court (a body that Israel signed up to join because it wanted disputes settled according to law and not by force).

    Of course, by 1967, Israel already had a terrible reputation for making claims that couldn’t be recognised, it had been in defiance of everyone and it’s own promises/declarations since its inception. The only borders that Israel ever claimed (and were accepted) are those of the (unratified) GA Resolution 181 – so it never even had a valid claim to the other territory inside the Green Line. The 181 line is the border that was claimed by by Israel in its Declaration of Independence. For the first year of its existence, Israel continued to deny that it wanted the Green Line – eg 15th Jun 1949 “within frontiers approved by the General Assembly of the United Nations in its Resolution of November 29, 1947”. Look them up. True, Israel was granted the Green line borders by the UN, SC Resolution 242, but it has ignored that resolution and simply insists on much, much more.

    Still more interesting is that Israel also agreed to the return of the refugees at the Lausanne Conference of 1949. Israel was only finally accepted into the UN (after 3 attempts) on the 11th May 1949 and on that date it agreed again to be bound by Resolutions of the UN, with particular reference to Resolution 194, the right of return of the refugees. Israel actually promised the UN to sort out the borders, the holy sites, Jerusalem and the killing of Bernadotte – mysteriously failing on all those points too. Israel joined the UN in order to have access to the dispute-resolution processes spelled out in the UN Charter – so why has it never attempted to use the World Court?

    All that has to happen for there to be peace in the Middle East is for Israel to comply with the Resolutions it said it would honour, accept the arbitration it said it wanted, comply with what it said it wanted to sign up to do and comply with the promises it has made. (I’ve not mentioned International Law – what do you suppose that says on return of refugees and the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by force?).

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