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International Law Recognizes Jewish Claims in Judea and Samaria

Despite dubious claims to the contrary, Israel has international law on its side.
IDF soldiers looking at the newly liberated East Jerusalem, June, 1967.

IDF soldiers looking at the newly liberated East Jerusalem, June, 1967.

Contrary to claims made by Palestinian leadership and others in the international community, international law fully recognizes Jewish claims in Judea and Samaria. These areas were part of the Palestine Mandate, which granted Jews the right to settle anywhere west of the Jordan River and to establish a national home there.

History reminds us that the Palestine Mandate, supported by all 51 members of the League of Nations at the time, and codified in international law, is recognized as legally valid by the United Nations in Article 80 of the UN Charter. In addition, the International Court of Justice has reaffirmed this on three different occasions.

While some people argue that the Palestine Mandate became obsolete following its termination in 1947, international legal scholars claim otherwise. According to Eugene Rostow, a Dean of Yale Law School, “A trust never terminates when a trustee dies, resigns, embezzles the trust property, or is dismissed. The authority responsible for the trust appoints a new trustee, or otherwise arranges for the fulfillment of its purpose.” While the Palestine Mandate ceased to exist in Israel and Jordan when Israel and the Hashemite Kingdom obtained independence, Rostow maintains that “its rules apply still to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, which have not yet been allocated either to Israel or to Jordan or become an independent state.”

This international law expert adds that the Armistice Lines of 1949, which are part of the West Bank boundary, “represent nothing but the position of the contending armies when the final cease-fire was achieved in the War of Independence. The Armistice Agreements specifically provide, except in the case of Lebanon, that the demarcation lines can be changed by agreement when the parties move from armistice to peace.” Simply put, international law does not consider the 1967 borders the internationally recognized borders of the State of Israel.

Israeli legal claims to Judea and Samaria are strengthened by the fact that no other sovereign nation state claims this territory as her own. Both the Ottoman Turks and the British Mandate renounced their claims to the Land of Israel decades ago, including Judea and Samaria. Furthermore, Jordan’s annexation of Judea and Samaria following Israel’s declaration of independence was never internationally recognized, since it amounted to an act of aggression. Both the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly declared at that time that Israel was a peace-loving state in the 1948 war.

Professor and Judge Stephen M. Schwebel, who served as President of the International Court of Justice, explains that the principle of “acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible” must be read together with other principles, “namely, that no legal right shall spring from a wrong, and the Charter principle that the Members of the United Nations shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State.” In other words, territories acquired through wars of aggression don’t hold validity, which effectively repudiates Jordanian claims to Judea and Samaria. Observers argue too that the fact that Jordan has officially renounced her claims to Judea and Samaria and signed a peace agreement with Israel without gaining back these territories seals the water-tight case for Israel’s jurisdiction there.

The situation, however, is different when a country reclaims lands that originally belonged to her as part of a war of self-defense, as Israel did in 1967. “Where the prior holder of territory had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense has, against that prior holder, better title,” adds Professor Schwebel.  ”Between Israel acting defensively in 1948 and 1967 on the one hand, and her Arab neighbors acting aggressively in 1948 and 1967 on the other, Israel has the better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt.”

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About the Author: Rachel Avraham is a news editor and political analyst for Jerusalem Online News, the English language internet edition of Israel's Channel 2 News. She completed her masters degree in Middle Eastern Studies at Ben-Gurion University. The subject of her MA thesis was: "Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media."


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4 Responses to “International Law Recognizes Jewish Claims in Judea and Samaria”

  1. I have read this again and again and again. Please tell me why Israel doesn't use this – take over the West Bank – and dictate the terms favourable to Israel, under which the remaining Nomads, Arabs or whatever can stay there. Jewish brains can surely come up with a solution. Erekat, Abbas and friends can go to a very warm area.

  2. Yechiel Baum says:

    In the above picture is my Uncle Moshe who gave his life several months later. Why would his life be given in vain at the age of 33 years. All his young life, all he knew was war. Upon redeeming Jerusalem as the city of peace, who are you to give up any part of it as you are alive at his expense?

  3. This invasion from Jordan to Jerusalem Samaria and Judea and spelled out the jews was with help the unresponsibility UK, that is why the Palestinian has to go. out

  4. The only sound stance Israel should take is that of full legal right to Judea and Samaria. The PA should be nullified, and the Arabs could leave the land or swear citizenship to Israel. Anything else – other than minor exchanges – is out of the question.
    Of course, such an attitude is difficult to present to the world today. That attitude should have been a natural claim already after the defeat of the Arab armies in 1967. But the time was another. Times are-a-changin’. Today, the whole Arab civilization, proves its fatigue, and that no good can exhale from their mist.

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