The decision by a commission of legal scholars, led by retired Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, that Israeli settlement in Judea and Samaria is legal, created a storm of protest from the usual quarters.
Today I’m going to dissect one paragraph that epitomizes the misconceptions surrounding Israel’s legal rights in Judea and Samaria. It happens to appear in a New York Times editorial, but that’s really not important (unless you are still awed by the ignorance or malice of the editors of that newspaper).
Here is the paragraph:
“Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004. The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
Most of the world
This can’t mean most of the world’s 6.9 billion people, most of whom don’t give a rat’s posterior about Israel. It probably refers to most of the members of the UN General Assembly, where there has been an automatic majority against Israel on every imaginable subject since the 1970s. Is this supposed to add authority to their argument?
view the West Bank
“West Bank” is a term applied to what had previously been called by its biblical names, Judea and Samaria, by Jordan in 1950. Using this expression obscures the historical Jewish connection and suggests that Jordanian control of the area, which lasted only 19 years, was somehow ‘normal.’
which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war
This continues the theme that the normal situation was usurped by Israel in 1967. But when Jordanian troops marched into the area in 1948, killing and driving out the Jewish population, they violated the provision of the Mandate that set aside the area of ‘Palestine’ for “close Jewish settlement,” and the one that called for the civil rights of all existing residents — Jewish or Arab — to be respected. It also violated the UN charter which forbids the acquisition of territory by force. Only Pakistan and the UK recognized the annexation of the area (even the Arab League opposed it).
The Jordanian invasion and annexation of Judea and Samaria was, in fact, illegal under international law. Israel’s conquest in 1967, on the other hand, can be seen as a realization of the terms of the Mandate.
as occupied territory
As I wrote yesterday, the concept of a ‘belligerent occupation’ does not apply here. What country owned the territory that Israel ‘occupied’? Not Jordan, which was there illegally, nor Britain, whose Mandate had ended, nor the Ottoman Empire, which no longer existed. The nation with the best claim was Israel, the nation-state of the Jewish people, who were the intended beneficiaries of the Mandate. Judea and Samaria are disputed, not occupied, and the Jewish people have a prima facie claim based on the Mandate.
and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law. The world court ruled this way in 2004.
This refers to the advisory opinion against the security fence issued by the International Court of Justice. The opinion refers to Israel as an “occupying power” and says that the fence is built on “occupied Palestinian land,” despite the fact that there is no legally delimited border between Israeli and ‘Palestinian’ land.
The Fourth Geneva Convention bars occupying powers from settling their own populations in occupied lands. And United Nations Security Council resolution 242, a core of Middle East policy, calls for the “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
Since the land is not ‘occupied’, the Fourth Geneva Convention does not apply. And even if it were occupied, legal scholars (including the Levy commission) have made excellent arguments that the Convention was not intended to apply to voluntary ‘transfers’ of population like settlements, but to forced deportations like the Nazi transfer of German Jews into occupied Poland.Vic Rosenthal
The legal tsunami gathering strength in Israel will soon engulf the world. A report is soon to be released that says, the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) does not apply to Judea and Samaria aka West Bank and that Israel has every right to build settlements there.
In January of this year, PM Netanyahu set up the Levy Committee to investigate the legal status of unauthorized West Bank Jewish building. The Committee was headed by Supreme Court Justice (ret) Edmund Levy. It included Tel Aviv District Court Judge (Ret.) Tehiya Shapira and Dr. Alan Baker an international law expert, who was part of the team that devised the Oslo Accords.
The Committee reviewed legal briefs from right of center groups but also from far left groups such as Peace Now, Yesh Din and Btselem. Its 89 page Report was submitted to PM Netanyahu a few weeks ago and is now under review by his Ministerial Committee on Settlements. Though the Report has yet to be formerly published, the contents are already well known.
It found that the settlements are not illegal. To reach this conclusion it first found that the Fourth Geneva Convention which applies “to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party” does not apply to Judea and Samaria because “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” … as “no other legal entity has ever had its sovereignty over the area cemented under international law.”
Furthermore it found that there was no provision in international law which prohibited Jews settling in the area.
The UN and the EU have for decades repeated the mantra that the land is occupied and the settlements are illegal, both pursuant to the FGC but there has never been a binding legal decision on which they based their assertions. The US has been more cautious and considers the settlements “an obstacle to peace” or “illegitimate.” Nevertheless, it leads the chorus in demanding an end to Israel’s settlement construction.
In 2010, Nicholas Rostow wrote in the American Interest regarding the legality of the settlements:
- “On February 2, 1981, President Reagan stated that the settlements were “not illegal,” although he criticized them as “ill-advised” and “unnecessarily provocative.” Throughout the Reagan Administration the U.S. government did not question the legality of the settlements; rather, it criticized the settlements on policy grounds as an obstacle to the peace process. In the United Nations, the United States voted against resolutions describing Israeli settlements as illegal.”
President George Bush followed suit and so did President Obama.
The Levy Report confirms the opinions of a large list of experts who have long claimed the same, including:
- Stephen M. Schwebel, Professor of International Law at the School of Advanced International Studies of The Johns Hopkins University (Washington), former Deputy Legal Advisor of the U.S. State Department and President of the International Court of Justice from 1997 to 2000:“Where the prior holder of territory [Jordan] had seized that territory unlawfully, the state which subsequently takes that territory in the lawful exercise of self-defense [Israel] has, against that prior holder, better title.”
- Eugene W. Rostow, Former U.S. Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs and Distinguished Fellow at the U.S. Institute for Peace:“The Jewish right of settlement in the West Bank is conferred by the same provisions of the Mandate under which Jews settled in Haifa, Tel Aviv, and Jerusalem before the State of Israel was created… The Jewish right of settlement in Palestine west of the Jordan River, that is, in Israel, the West Bank, Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip, was made unassailable. That right has never been terminated…”
- Julius Stone, one of the 20th century leading authorities on the Law of Nations, Doctor of Juridical Science from Harvard and Professor of Jurisprudence and International Law at universities in Australia and California:“The terms of Article 49(6) [of the Fourth Geneva Convention] however they are interpreted, are submitted to be totally irrelevant. To render them relevant, we would have to say that the effect of Article 49(6) is to impose an obligation on the state of Israel to ensure (by force if necessary) that these areas, despite their millennial association with Jewish life, shall be forever ‘judenrein’.”
- David Matas, world-renowned human rights lawyer and honorary counsel to B’nai Brith Canada:“For there to be an occupation at international law, there has to be an occupying and occupied power both of which are members of the community of nations. The only conceivable occupied power for the West Bank is Jordan. Yet Jordan has renounced all claims over the West Bank.”
- David M. Phillips, Professor at Northeastern University School of Law:Indeed, the analysis underlying the conclusion that the settlements violate international law depends entirely on an acceptance of the Palestinian narrative that the West Bank is “Arab” land. Followed to its logical conclusion – as some have done – this narrative precludes the legitimacy of Israel itself…The ultimate end of the illicit effort to use international law to delegitimize the settlements is clear – it is the same argument used by Israel’s enemies to delegitimize the Jewish state entirely.”
- Jeffrey S. Helmreich, author and writer for the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs:“The settlements are not located in ‘occupied territory.’ The last binding international legal instrument which divided the territory in the region of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza was the League of Nations Mandate, which explicitly recognized the right of Jewish settlement in all territory allocated to the Jewish national home in the context of the British Mandate. These rights under the British Mandate were preserved by the successor organization to the League of Nations, the United Nations, under Article 80 of the UN Charter.”
The question of the applicability of the FGC was considered by the International Court of Justice (IJC), an arm of the UN, in its advisory opinion on the legality of the fence.
The IJC held that “the Convention applies, in particular, in any territory occupied in the course of the conflict by one of the contracting parties.” In other words it ignored that the lands occupied must be the lands of “another High Contracting Party.” This is not considered sound law and in any event, is not a binding decision.
The Supreme Court of Israel in its decision approving the fence as legal, said that “the question of the application of the Fourth Geneva Convention is not before us now since the parties agree that the humanitarian rules of the Fourth Geneva Convention apply to the issue under review.” Thus it didn’t decide on the applicability.
The Left in Israel are screaming blue murder and referring to the Report as “born in sin” and a “political manifesto.”
On Monday, while speaking to reporters, State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell said:
- “The US position on settlements is clear. Obviously, we’ve seen the reports that an Israeli government appointed panel has recommended legalizing dozens of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, but we do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity, and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts.”
What is interesting about this statement is that Ventrell did not comment on the finding that the FGC did not apply or that the settlements were not illegal. He merely reiterated the US government position without substantiating it. Furthermore, the settlement outposts that the State Department doesn’t want “legalized” are legal, save for having not received their final approval from the Government of Israel. If they were really illegal by international law, Israel wouldn’t be able to “legalize” them. Put another way, the US position is that Israel shouldn’t exercise her rights because such exercise would be an obstacle to peace. It prefers to recognize the non-existing Arab rights rather than the real rights of the Jews/Israel.
Accordingly, the legal conclusions of the Report are sound. What will the fallout be?
Well for starters, the UN may ask for another advisory opinion from the ICJ on the validity of this report but why bother, it already has one on the applicability of the FGC. It probably will choose to ignore it as just another opinion. Meanwhile the existence of the report will take the wind out of the sails of the US and the EU as they try to damn the settlements and Israeli actions. The US will have to acknowledge that since President Reagan, it has considered the settlements to be “not illegal” but only, ”ill-advised.”
PM Netanyahu will have to decide whether he will embrace the Report and act accordingly or whether he will wait for the issue to be adjudicated by Israel’s High Court. It is highly unlikely that this Court will fly in the face of the named experts, the US Government and the Levy Report. The Court has previously held that the settlements were legal.
From a political point of view, he cannot ignore the Report. A political storm is raging. Likud MK Tzippi Hotovely is preparing a Bill that will “endorse the principles of the Levy Report and will require the establishment of a judicial tribunal in Judea and Samaria which will be given the responsibility of discussing matters related to land ownership, the establishment of an Israeli land registry in Judea and Samaria and applying Israeli building and planning laws on Judea and Samaria.”
Where does that leave the international community? The foundation of their attacks on Israel will have been destroyed. It will be hard to ignore the Report and harder still to ignore a confirming decision by Israel’s High Court. It will no longer be able to claim with a straight face that the lands are “occupied Palestinian lands” or that the settlements are illegal.
Congress will no doubt strongly endorse the Report with or without a decision of the Supreme Court of Israel.
The upshot of all this will be that Israel will end the de facto building freeze and start construction of settlements in earnest. It will also signal the end of the pursuit by Israel of the two-state solution. The Israeli center will no longer believe that Israel is an occupier and instead will believe that the land is theirs, which it is.
Presently there is a significant movement in Israel advocating Israeli sovereignty over all of Judea and Samaria, even if that means making citizenship available to qualifying Arabs.
Israel must decide between two risky alternatives; either accept the two-state solution based on ’67 lines with swaps or annex the land and contend with an extra 1.5 million Arabs within its borders. With the latter alternative, the Jews would be left with a stable 2:1 majority. Israelis are already trending to the latter and this Report will accelerate that trend.
The Arabs in Judea and Samaria will not accept such a two state solution because it will preclude the “right of return” and will require them to recognize Israel as the Jewish State. Furthermore it will require them to sign an end-of-conflict agreement which they will never do. If Israel chooses to claim sovereignty, the Arabs will have to decide whether to push for citizenship or to accept autonomy.
This tsunami will change the political landscape for the better and forever.Ted Belman
Israeli President Shimon Peres called Judea and Samaria settlements a threat to Israel.
The remarks were made on Tuesday at the annual ceremony in memory of Zionism founder Theodor Herzl, and addressed a report released Sunday that said “Israel does not meet the criteria of ‘military occupation’ as defined under international law” in the West Bank, and that therefore settlements and West Bank outposts are legal.
“It is doubtful that a Jewish state without a Jewish majority can remain Jewish,” Peres said, inferring that settlements would lead to the inextricable inclusion of the Palestinians living on the West Bank.
The Obama administration criticized the findings of the Levy Committee report.
“We do not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlement activity and we oppose any effort to legalize settlement outposts,” State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell told reporters Monday evening in answer to a question about the Levy Committee report. Ventrell added that the State Department is “concerned about it, obviously.”
U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns could bring up the report during meetings this week in Israel. Burns will be there with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during her visit to the region.
The Levy Committee, which was formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and headed by former Israeli Supreme Court Justice Edmond Levy, called in its 89-page report for the legalization of all outposts and allowing people who built homes on Palestinian-owned land to pay compensation to the alleged owners, recommends changing the legal regulations concerning Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria in the areas of zoning, demolitions and building.
Leftist Jewish groups in the United States criticized the report.
Americans for Peace Now in a statement called on the government of Israel “to repudiate the findings of the commission it appointed to address the problem of illegal outposts in the West Bank.” APN added that Israel “would cause terrible damage to its international standing, to its relationship with the United States, and to prospects for peace with the Palestinians and the Arab world” if the government adopted the report.
J Street called on the Israelis “to reject the committee’s recommendations and to choose instead a path that leads to two states, thereby securing both Israel’s Jewish and democratic future.”
The findings of the committee are subject to the review and approval of Israeli Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
Netanyahu established the committee in January after settler leaders called for a response to the 2005 Sasson Report on illegal outposts, which concluded that more than 100 West Bank settlements and outposts constructed from the 1990s and forward were illegal.JTA
The brownstone housing the Chabad Lubavitch of the Loop, Gold Coast and Lincoln Park was to have gone on the auction block Wednesday, but the bankruptcy filing this week gave Chabad additional time to repay a bank loan, the Chicago Tribune reported.
The group has found a way to pay its debts but needed more time, Rabbi Meir Chai Benhiyoun said, according to the Tribune.
Seven years ago, Chabad sought to build a new center at Chestnut and Clark streets, on Chicago’s so-called “Gold Coast,” and used its building on North Dearborn as collateral to the bank on the $4.9 million loan.
Following the economic downturn, donations for Chabad took a hit, the bank changed its rules and the organization was unable to finance its loan on the new property.
The Chabad House has served as a residence, classroom and a place to stop for Jewish travelers on visits to Chicago.JTA
Can you imagine the following story ever happening to you?
An elderly lady came into my office a while back and told me that she was a novice investor who was very lucky. “Lucky?” I asked. She explained that she was lucky enough to meet a nice, kind person who had sold her a unique investment of raw land that was destined to be converted into a major city one day. When I asked her more questions, she had no idea, claiming that she didn’t understand investments, but was just so lucky that one day she would be rich.
“So what’s the problem?” I asked.
“I need more monthly income,” she admitted.
Here’s what really happened to her: The client was approached by a salesman who said that if she bought into his raw land deal, she would quintuple her money. Since the deal was raw land, there were no renters, and therefore no income from the deal. Thinking that there was a great future to this proposition, the client bought one unit of the deal. Then, when she realized how rich she could become, and since she desperately needed more money, she went to the bank and borrowed some money to buy another unit. Now she owned two units of raw, non-producing real estate, and had to make monthly payments to her bank to pay off mortgage she had taken out to purchase it.
When the client realized that she had used up all of her money for a high-risk investment and, as a result had negative cash flow, she came to me. I called the salesman and asked how she could get out of the deal. He said that the units were not sellable until the whole project was complete. The deal never worked out and now, years later, this poor lady is still suffering.
I don’t know if the raw land will ever be converted into a city. It seems unlikely to me, but I’m not an expert in real estate or city planning. However, I do know that even if the investment itself isn’t dumb, it was a poor idea for the salesman to sell it to this lady. It certainly wasn’t appropriate for her.
When you read these stories, you may think that “it could never happen to me.” However, anyone can make a mistake in judgment when it comes to investing, just like anything else in life. Therefore, when it comes to your own financial dealings, don’t just examine the potential return of an investment. Rather, consider whether the investment program itself is right for someone in your situation. If you have stories like this to share, please send an email directly to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact me through my website.
Doug Goldstein, CFP®
A new fraudster has just turned himself into the police for defrauding investors out of millions of dollars (or shekels, actually, as this guy was in Israel). But the story is the same as when Mr. Ponzi himself was inventing the Ponzi scheme.
Want to blame the government or the regulators? As they say, all that blame and five bucks will get you a cup of coffee. I would not want to blame the victim, but let’s look at some of the facts in the case. In fact, these points are the same in almost all of the fraud cases I have read about in my two decades on Wall Street:
The clients gave money directly to the investment advisor.
The clients did not get statements from a bank or brokerage account.
The clients believed the investment advisor who said he could make totally unrealistic gains … guaranteed!
The clients believed there was little or no risk.
If these clients were children or severely mentally incompetent, I would agree with the argument that we need stronger regulations and better government oversight. But in the most recent case in Israel, and if we look at the biggest scandal ever – Madoff – we see that the clients were often very sophisticated professionals who were very experienced in all aspects of business.
Rather than going into the behavioral finance explanations for why even top-tier investors let greed trump caution, let’s get practical. (If you do want to learn about the psychological aspects of what makes people do the wrong thing, you can listen to my interview with Nobel Prize Laureate Daniel Kahneman on my radio show. You can see that interview on YouTube.)
In this blog post, I want to make only one basic point, and if you finish reading this article with this one take-away, you can feel pretty confident that you won’t get suckered into a fraudulent investment scheme. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. This idea came from my mother (also a Wall Street veteran, and author of a book for children about how the stock market works).
If Ponzi scam victims considered this core concept before getting involved, this is what they might have thought: “You’re promising me 1.5% profit every month. What do you think I am? Stupid? Not even Warren Buffet can do that.”
They would have continued to think: “You are guaranteeing my principal? Who do you think you are? A government guaranteeing its bonds? Germany guaranteeing the Greeks? You couldn’t possibly have enough money.”
Finally, they would have considered who custodies the money: “You are saving me the trouble of opening my own bank account and putting my money into your own account? And then you will just print up statements on your own laser printer? Come on, buddy, I wasn’t born yesterday.”
Which investment scammer has you in his sights? Who knows? But one thing is for sure – if you start by asking the most basic questions and not believing the unbelievable, you’re well on your way to protecting yourself. The scammer will just move on to his next victim.Doug Goldstein, CFP®
Several Arabic news reports appeared on Tuesday, May 22, exposing the new hijab policy of the Jordanian Dubai Islamic Bank. Under new ownership, bank management recently decreed that all females must wear the hijab, the Islamic veil, or be terminated. According to Najem News —which says the bank’s policy “contradicts Jordan’s laws and constitutions”—the bank “fired all female employees who refused to wear the hijab, after warning them that it is mandatory, despite the fact that some of the employees are Christians.” There are also suspicions that, along with Islamizing the bank’s atmosphere, this new policy was further set to target and terminate the Christian employees, since it is they who are most likely to reject the hijab.
One female Christian employee who had worked at the bank for 27 years is among those just fired. Though not available for comment, an associate of hers said in response to the new hijab rule: “Is this to be the new approach in Jordan during the Arab Spring revolutions—suppression of freedoms, intolerance for others, the exercise of intellectual terrorism, the quantization of minds, and the imposition of obligations in the name of religion?”
Some may be tempted to draw parallels between this and similar precedents in the West. For instance, some Western banks refuse to serve Muslim women in full hijab. However, this is done for security measures — proven by the fact that the hijab is not singled out, but also hats, hoods and sunglasses—whereas the Jordanian Dubai Islam Bank is basing its policy entirely on religious discrimination.
Originally published by Gatestone Institute http://www.gatestoneinstitute.orgRaymond Ibrahim