by Eric Rozenman
Critics may assail them on other grounds, but no one can deny that they are legal. In fact, the 1922 Mandate for
President Obama asserts, seconded by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, that "
Netanyahu now calls for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to resume negotiations or take the blame for lack of progress when the "one-time-only" freeze expires. Abbas' precondition -- adopted after
Too bad international diplomacy doesn't have a replay button. If it did, the parties could look back at history, which would show that Israeli settlements not only are legitimate under international law but positively encouraged.
The basic relevant provision, the League of Nations' 1922 British Mandate for
As for Resolution 242's call for "secure and recognized boundaries," according to Rostow in 1991 in another piece, a careful look at the wrangling over the resolution in 1967 makes it clear that it did not mandate Israeli withdrawal from all of the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai peninsula to the post-1948 armistice lines.
Many who allege that Jewish communities in the
Stone, Stephen Schwebel, a former judge on the International Court of Justice, and others have distinguished between territory acquired in an "aggressive conquest" (such as Nazi Germany's seizures during World War II) and territory taken in self-defense (such as Israeli conquests in 1967).
The distinction is especially sharp when the territory acquired had been held illegally, as
Further, Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention was intended to outlaw the Nazi practice of forcibly transporting populations into or out of occupied territories to labor or death camps. Israelis were not forcibly transferred to the
One can argue, as Reagan did and Obama does, that Israel's establishing towns in the disputed territories after 1967 obstructs diplomacy, or, as some Israeli critics do, that building Jewish communities near Palestinian Arab population centers disperses the country's Jewish majority too widely. But one cannot accurately declare the settlements illegal.
Eric Rozenman is
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