Just when one might have thought America was finally focusing on the bloodbath in Syria, Samantha Power, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, used the platform offered by the Haaretz conference in New York to talk again about Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria.
“Continued settlement growth raises questions about Israel’s long-term objectives,” she pronounced. Power, like many others, seems bugged by the “1967 lines,” which as all Israelis should know are nothing more than the 1949 armistice lines concluded with Jordan. These lines delineated the areas occupied by the British-led-and-equipped Arab Legion that attacked Israel on May 15, 1948.
Thus Jordan remained in control of Judea and Samaria. Not only did its army conquer the area, but it was annexed to Jordan. The Jordanians destroyed all Jewish settlements in the area, killed or expelled their inhabitants, blew up the synagogues in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem and denied Jews access to the Western Wall.
Why anyone would want to attach great importance to these lines and insist that Israel, which defended itself against renewed Jordanian aggression in 1967 in violation of the 1949 armistice agreement, is the “conqueror” in the area and that Jews shouldn’t be allowed to settle there was not explained by Power at the Haaretz conference.
Those who oppose Israeli settlements in Judea and Samaria should be honest and admit they’re really saying that the Palestinian state they’d like to see established in Judea and Samaria should be free of Jews, and that Jews who are settled there will need to be cleared out.
That kind of ethnic-cleansing policy would be hard for a representative of the United States to support. So Power prefers not to be explicit on the subject. Some Israeli opponents of Israeli settlements in the area are willing to call a spade a spade – they want the Jews out of there. Their hero is Ariel Sharon, who forcibly removed from their homes the Jewish families in the Gaza Strip.
An argument of the opponents of the settlements is to claim that the settlements are illegal, that they should not have been there in the first place and should be removed. These critics should be required to reread Article 6 of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine, which states: “the Administration of Palestine ... shall encourage close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.” The “Palestine” referred to here is the entire area west of the Jordan river, including Judea and Samaria.
Those who prefer to believe that this provision has lost relevance since the establishment of the United Nations and the termination of the League of Nations Palestine Mandate should refer to Article 80 of Chapter XII of the UN Charter. It states that the rights shall not be altered “of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties.” The United States chose not to join the League of Nations, but the U.S. Senate ratified the Palestine Mandate in 1925.
As for Israel’s long-term objectives, they are obviously the maintenance of the security of the State of Israel and the people of Israel. It is not clear at the moment that the existence of a Palestinian state in the area of Judea and Samaria would be consistent with that objective.
The establishment of such a state at some future date is a possibility, but at this time far from a certainty. One should not expect that in the meantime the Israeli government would prevent Israeli citizens who wish to settle in Judea and Samaria from doing so.
In any case, if and when a Palestinian state is established in the area, the presence of a Jewish minority should not present a hindrance. It might even be an asset to the Palestinian state.
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