Latest update: May 24th, 2013
Just 15 miles to the north of Jerusalem, the Jewish effort to return to the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria (Yesha) suffered a severe blow this week – or did it?
The neighborhood of Givat HaUlpena in Beit El was emptied of 33 Jewish families – the result of government fear of international opinion, Peace Now hatred of Jewish settlement in Yesha, and animosity on the part of the Israeli legal apparatus. The homes, built on or near the same hilltop on which the Patriarch Jacob dreamed of angels ascending to the heavens, are likely to be dismantled, while the land will remain desolate and unused. Clearly a step backward in the Jewish people’s return home to Eretz Yisrael.
Or is it? Prime Minister Netanyahu, anxious not to see the type of injurious violence against young Land of Israel lovers that typified the destruction of homes in Amona six years ago, offered the residents a deal: I’m planning to destroy the homes no matter what, with thousands of policemen and soldiers and whatever else it takes. However, if you leave peacefully, without threatening violence, I’m willing to also build 300 homes in Beit El, unfreeze another 551 in other areas of Judea and Samaria, establish a ministerial committee that will greatly neutralize Ehud Barak’s authority, and so on. What do you say?
After over a week of negotiations in which the government concretized the construction plans, including maps and dates, the town of Beit El agreed: No violence.
The 300 units in Beit El have already received government approval.
Considering that the settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria has suffered many, many blows in its nearly 40 years, and considering that in 1983 there were 23,000 Jews in Yesha, 114,000 in 1993, 220,000 in 2002, and 346,000 today (not including Jerusalem) – the Land of Israel faithful seem to be skipping from one HaUlpena-type “defeat” to the next, all the way to final victory.
Legal Expert: Jerusalem is Jewish
International law expert Dr. Jacques P. Gauthier of Canada – a non-Jew – has devoted most of his adult life to researching and disseminating his categorical conclusion that “Jerusalem is Jewish under international law.”
His doctoral thesis on the topic is one of the heaviest books most people have ever seen: 1,300 pages, with 3,200 footnotes. It details how the world community of nations granted the Jewish people irrevocable legal rights to Yerushalayim in an unbroken series of treaties and resolutions: The Balfour Declaration, the San Remo Conference of 1920, and affirmations by other world bodies such as the UN.
Dr. Gauthier delivered his most recent presentation at a conference this month sponsored by the AIJJ (Alliance for International Justice in Jerusalem) in the King David Hotel in Jerusalem. Among the speakers was Keep Jerusalem/Im Eshkachech President Chaim Silberstein, who spoke compellingly about the negative practical implications of a divided Jerusalem.
Dr. Gauthier explained that San Remo, where the four main European victors of World War I convened to draw up the Middle East’s new borders, is truly the cornerstone of Jewish rights to Jerusalem. Clearly very personally connected with his work, he explained how he received rare photos of the event and painstakingly figured out who participated and where precisely each one sat. He was even able to obtain detailed minutes of the proceedings, apparently no easy feat.
What precisely was resolved at San Remo? Among other things, that a Jewish state should be established in western Palestine – i.e., the area west of the Jordan River. The text indicates that while the Jews were to receive a state, the Arabs were to have only their “civil and religious rights” safeguarded – clearly indicating no political or national rights there.
As such, all claims that the Arabs deserve a state in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are groundless. For, as Dr. Gauthier repeats at every opportunity, the legal principle of “la chose jugée” (judged issue) means that once the issue was decided, as it was in San Remo, the Supreme Council, the League of Nations, and the UN, the decision becomes irreversible and forever binding in a “sacred trust.”
Discerning readers might notice that the Balfour Declaration and San Remo do not specifically mention Jerusalem. But they also do not mention Tel Aviv, Haifa or any other Israeli city – for it is clearly understood that sovereignty in a given area includes the cities and towns thereof. Only in 1947 did an official UN call emanate for Jerusalem’s internationalization; but as stated above, the UN had no mandate to do this in contravention of the previously-passed resolutions.
As Israeli constitutional legal expert Howard Grief has summed up, there is a “near-universal but completely false belief that it was the UN Partition Resolution of November 1947 that brought the State of Israel into existence. In fact [however], the UN resolution was an illegal abrogation of Jewish legal rights and title of sovereignty to the whole of Palestine and the Land of Israel, rather than an affirmation of such rights or progenitor of them…. The General Assembly exceeded its authority [when passing the Partition resolution]. It did not have the power to divide the country” that had already been given to the Jews.
KeepJerusalem’s Chaim Silberstein emphasized that the fight for a Jewish Jerusalem must be waged on all fronts – even vis-à-vis the current patriotic municipal government. “Mayor Barkat was here earlier,” Silberstein said, “and he proudly told us of the numerous cranes that can be seen on the horizon, showing the continuous growth the city is undergoing. I had to restrain myself from jumping up and blurting out, ‘Mr. Mayor, can you point out to me which of the ten Jewish neighborhoods in eastern, liberated Jerusalem – comprising 250,000 Jews, 45 percent of the Jewish population in the city – have public initiated building projects with cranes operating at this time? Why is it that the Arabs continue to build at a rapid pace, without permits and unabated, yet not one crane graces the skyline of eastern Jerusalem in a Jewish project, so crucial to solving the housing crisis in the city?”
Silberstein referred to the incessant illegal Arab construction as a “creeping concrete conquest.” Arab efforts to “create a building continuum from Ramallah in the north to Bethlehem in the south” are largely successful, he warned, and “while the Ulpena neighborhood is being razed because of a claim that has not even been proven in court, the city government and police barely relate to the illegal Arab construction.”
Dr. Gauthier lamented some of Israel’s concessions over the years. “Yes, Israel agreed to UN Resolution 242, which requires Israel to withdraw from ‘territories’ – but not from ‘the territories.’ Israel’s consent to refer to some territories of Judea and Samaria as occupied does not abrogate the Jewish legal claims and rights, but it does weaken them.”
“I am appalled,” he told the King David Hotel audience,”as a lawyer and a legal rights advocate, at the lack of justice done to the Jewish people…. How dare they [the Palestinian Authority] demand that all Jews leave Old Jerusalem and the rest of Judea and Samaria? The Jews have more rights there than anyone else!”
What does all of the above have to do with the situation on the ground today, several people at the AIJJ Conference asked. More than one speaker answered that those who wish to fight for a Jewish Jerusalem cannot do so effectively without knowing the facts and disseminating them. To take part in bus tours of critical parts of Jerusalem, or to receive updates on the battle to keep Yerushalayim, send an e-mail to email@example.com or visit the Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech website at www.keepjerusalem.org.
Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel’s minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.Hillel Fendel and Chaim Silberstein / KeepJerusalem.org
About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now reside in Beit El.
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