13 September '16..
The Left, which loves to brandish the "international law" argument while pointing to the obvious legal "consensus" over the settlement enterprise, which it opposes, believes the demand to evict Jews from Judea and Samaria within the framework of a peace deal is justified, rather than ethnic cleansing. But does this consensus really exist?
Even in the early 1970s, Judge Stephen Schwebel, who would later serve as president of the International Court of Justice at The Hague, argued that Israel was within its rights to hold onto the territory it had seized during the Six-Day War in 1967. His argument was based on the assessment that the war was a matter of self-defense for Israel. Schwebel said that because the original danger had not dissipated, from Israel's perspective, holding (even if not fully annexing) the land was justified, valid and that any change was dependent on resolving the conflict through peaceful avenues. Moreover, Schwebel argued that in cases where the previous sovereign (Jordan) seized the territory unlawfully (the world did not recognize Jordanian sovereignty in Judea and Samaria), then the rights of the new country -- which took control of the land through the legal action of self-defense (Israel) -- supersede the rights of the previous country. Professor Eli Lauterpacht from Cambridge, Professor Eugene Rostow from Yale and other esteemed jurists also concurred. A "consensus," you say?
Last week, Northwestern University School of Law published a comprehensive research paper entitled "Unsettled: A Global Study of Settlements in Occupied Territory." Professor Eugene Kontorovich, an international law expert, examined all the cases throughout modern history of settling in conquered territories and how those conflicts were resolved. Evidently, in no instance after World War II and the signing of the Geneva Conventions in 1949 did the international community accept the demand to vacate people who had already settled in an area as a condition for peace or independence. When East Timor requested independence from Indonesian occupation, its representatives did not condition their desired independence on the eviction of Indonesian settlers. In the negotiations between Cyprus and Turkey, the peace accord wasn't conditioned on making every Turkish settler leave the island. When Vietnam conquered Cambodia, a million settlers followed. In the Paris talks in 1990, the mediating countries rejected outright the demand to evict the Vietnamese settlers. During World War II, millions of Russians followed in the wake of the Soviet Union's occupation of Baltic countries. In the early 1990s, with the collapse of the Soviet Union, those countries did not condition their independence on evicting Russian settlers. Other cases are currently being thoroughly debated (Western Sahara and Morocco, Armenia and Nagorno-Karabakh, Syria and Lebanon, Russia and Georgia, and Russia and Crimea).
In each case, when the international community asked the occupying force to withdraw, it referred only to the army, not the population that settled in the area. The only exception has been Israel. And we still haven't mentioned the Jewish people's justified claim -- historically, legally and religiously -- to these lands, the cradle of our nationhood and religion, here thousands of years before Islam and Christianity came into this world and certainly before anyone ever heard of a Palestinian nation. The Palestinian demand is unprecedented in the history of the modern world and proves it has nothing to do with peace.
International law is not a public opinion poll. In 1975, a vast majority of countries decided that the very idea of a Jewish state is racist and unacceptable. So what? By its very definition, the law is a set of rules applied objectively and consistently to similar situations. If the law is applied selectively -- as is the case only in regard to Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria -- then it is not a law but rather the expression of an opinion under the guise of legal pretexts, which opposes the Jewish people's return to Zion.
Nations that want to be independent will take their independence, even if a minority from the other side remains in their midst (as we did in the War of Independence with the Arab minority). Anyone who has taken a cold, hard look at what the Arabs in the area have claimed over the past 100 years, and the manner in which they have distorted history, understands that the conflict with us is not based on territory -- rather ethnicity, nationality and religion.
This is why Arab recognition of the Jewish people's right to any part of this land has never been forthcoming. To argue that the Palestinian demand for a Judenrein state -- clean of every Jew living in Judea and Samaria -- stems from a fight over territory, is both wrong and irresponsible. When this claim comes from highly regarded Israelis, it also provides our enemies a sword with which to justify their war against us. Ethnic cleansing? You be the judge.
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