After last week’s events in Israel, which included Israel sending an Apache helicopter into Jenin to rescue stranded and wounded IDF forces who had been struck by an IED, AND a terrorist attack at a gas station in Samaria which left three Israeli civilians dead, Israel announced the approval of 1,000 new homes to be built in Eli, Samaria. This is in addition to the 5,000 new homes that were also approved to be built throughout Judea and Samaria, which makes 2023 a record-breaking year for new construction approved for Israel’s biblical heartland.
As expected, Israel received harsh criticism from the international community, including the US State Department, who iterated again that they publicly oppose the expansion of settlements in Judea and Samaria and believe that their construction directly hinders the advancement of a two-state solution.
Whilst polls repeatedly indicate that support for the two-state solution is decreasing amongst conservative Israelis AND Palestinian civilians, left-wing pundits continue to fight to keep this dying idea alive. They have no regard for whether or not a Palestinian state would be good for Israel OR the Palestinians (a thought which must be explored further in a different article).
To do this, they continually claim that Israel’s settlements are illegal under international law.
To put to rest the decades-old claim that Israel is in violation of international law, we will briefly examine the argument, and why new homes being constructed in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria are NOT in violation of any law, national or international, in any way, shape, or form.
Is Israel in Violation of International Law?
A popular argument for Jew-hating, anti-Israel activists is to quote international law in regards to Israel’s actions. If you’re speaking to someone who is informed on the issue, they will say that it is widely considered to be illegal under international law for Israel to build or expand the settlements in the “West Bank.” Someone who may not know much about the issue will ignorantly claim that Israel’s settlements are completely illegal under international law.
It is time to separate fact from falsehood. While it IS true that some scholars and so-called experts may consider Israel’s actions in developing Judea and Samaria to be illegal under international law, this doesn’t make it true. To prove it, one simply needs to check into which laws they are referring to.
The 4th Geneva Convention
Many like to quote Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which states:
“The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
A quick history lesson. The United Nations inherited a mandate from the League of Nations, which is held up under the UN Charter, to establish a Jewish state in the area which was then known as Palestine. Following the UN’s partition plan, Israel accepted and declared statehood on May 14th, 1948. They then fought a war of self-defense against six Arab nations who immediately attempted to eradicate them. For the next nineteen years, Jordan occupied the area that we now know as East Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria, Egypt occupied the Sinai Peninsula, and Syria occupied the Golan Heights.
In 1967, while fighting another war of self-defense, Israel recaptured all of the above territory. Since no one could legally lay claim to these areas, at most they should be considered disputed.
A short time after the war of 1967, Israel began allowing limited settlement in Judea and Samaria. Organizations and individuals began building communities, and pioneers began to farm and settle the land. At no point did Israel transfer or deport portions of their civilian population into any part of these areas.
Those who claim Israel is in violation of international law will also quote UN resolutions, their strongest being UN Resolution 242, which called for the following:
- “Withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”
- “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force.”
Two notes about Resolution 242:
- Even though this was a UN Security Council resolution, it was specifically a non-binding recommendation under Chapter VI of the UN charter (as opposed to a binding resolution under chapter VII).
- To date, Israel has withdrawn from the Sinai Peninsula, which it gave to Egypt in exchange for a peace agreement, and from the Gaza Strip, which was eventually taken over by Hamas, a recognized terrorist organization. This accounts for 94% of the territory which Israel captured in the War of 1967.
Even though Israel was not required to withdraw from the territory they liberated in a war of self defense, they have generously done so in an attempt to bring peace to the region. Unfortunately, Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza only resulted in tens of thousands of rockets being shot into their southern region in conflict after conflict.
Another interesting note is that directly after the War of 1967, Israel offered to give the Palestinians all of the territory that they captured in exchange for a peace agreement. The result was what came to be known as the Khartoum Resolution, which famously included the “3 No’s.”
- No peace with Israel
- No recognition of Israel
- No negotiations with Israel
The next time someone claims that Israel is somehow in violation of international law, or that the growth or building of settlements in Judea and Samaria are a war crime or illegal, ask them which law they are referring to. If they refer to the Fourth Geneva Convention, UN Resolution 242, or any other UN resolution, you’ll have the tools you need to easily debunk their false claims.
Not only are the 800,000 Israeli Jews who live in Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria NOT in violation of international law, but they bring peace and stability to a region that otherwise would most certainly be ruled over by an oppressive, dictatorship, terrorist entity. Israel’s withdrawal from the biblical heartland would be a repeat of what happened in Gaza – except one hundred times worse. Not only would it mean suicide for Israel with a terrorist state overlooking their coastal plain from the mountains, but it would mean oppression for the Palestinian Arabs themselves to be ruled by an oppressive government.
At the end of the day, Israel’s sovereignty in the entire land of Israel means peace for this region and peace for the world.