The UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has proposed yet another investigation of Israel’s ‘crimes’, this one in respect to settlements. It passed by a vote of 36 in favor, one opposed (the US), and 10 abstentions. Israel has announced that it won’t cooperate, and is considering withdrawing its ambassador to the UN office in Geneva.
I am not particularly interested in writing another post excoriating the UNHRC or the UN itself, which is a vile institution, far less than worthless. Rather, I want to summarize some important issues about ‘West Bank settlements’ — that is, Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria — and why I support them. Here are a few reasons:
International law — and justice
The League of Nations Mandate called for ‘close settlement’ (see also here) of the land by Jews. UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338 call for secure and recognized boundaries for all states in the region, including Israel, to be established by direct negotiations between the parties. Neither the Jews nor the Arab states accepted the 1949 armistice lines as borders, and the ethnic cleansing of Jews in 1948 followed by the illegal Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria until 1967 did not make them so. Jews lived in the territories before 1948, and have as much right to live there today as then.
The argument that the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits the transfer of Jews into ”occupied territories” fails for several reasons, including the status of the Jewish presence there and the original intent of the Geneva Convention.
The Palestinian Arabs wish to establish a state in the territories where Jews will not be permitted to live (statements to the contrary are disingenuous), indeed from which they will be expelled. This is racist.
The Palestinian leadership — Hamas and the PLO — do not hide the fact that they are committed to the replacement of Israel by an Arab state. Further, Hamas’ founding principles include genocide against the Jews, arguably everywhere, not just in Palestine. The withdrawal from Gaza provides a lesson about the consequences of Palestinian sovereignty close to Israel’s population centers. The topography of the area (which contains hills overlooking Israel’s coastal plain and the Jordan valley) makes it strategically essential for the defense of the Jewish state (so is the Golan, incidentally).
There is no doubt that a Palestinian state in the territories will become a base for both terrorist and diplomatic attacks on the remaining state of Israel. The Palestinians have said so more than once. The only way to insure that they will remain in Jewish hands is to populate them with Jews.
Judea and Samaria (and of course Jerusalem) are of paramount importance in history of the Jewish people. Although the Jewish state was founded in part to provide a place for Jews to live normal lives free of antisemitism, it was founded here and not in Africa or Siberia for a reason: to remind Jews of their history and peoplehood. This isn’t limited to religiously observant Jews, although today, unfortunately, they tend to be almost the only ones who take Jewish peoplehood seriously. But you can ask — and the Palestinians do — what would happen to Zionism and Israel without the connection to Jewish history and holy sites.
But…what about all those Arabs?
The overriding reason given by Zionist opponents to Jewish communities across the Green Line is that if Israel were to annex the territories, there would be even more Arab citizens of Israel, ultimately a majority. Israel would then be faced with the choice of maintaining its democracy, or remaining Jewish by denying Arabs the vote.
There are reasons to doubt this: the Palestinian authority lies about how many Arabs live there (what else is new), the Arab birthrate is not as high as they say and is trending lower, and the Jewish birthrate is relatively high there. But there is a much more important reason that this is not a critical issue:
There is no necessity for Israel to annex all of Judea and Samaria. The great majority of Arabs (97% or so) live in areas (designated A and B) that are under the administration of the Palestinian Authority (PA). They already have a (poorly, but that’s their problem) functioning government. There are very few Arabs in the areas where the Jewish communities are located. Israel could simply make “area C” a part of Israel, and offer citizenship to any Arabs living there.