Monday, December 19, 2011

A Quick Overview Of How The US Position On Israeli Settlements Has Changed

Just recently, Wolf Blitzer, former Al HaMishmar correspondent, pressed Rick Perry in a CNN interview, asking him: "Since ’67, every U.S. president, Democrat and Republican, has called Israeli settlement activity in the occupied territories, in the West Bank, illegal under international law."
Yisrael Medad, Settlements – a US election issue

Wolf Blitzer is mistaken.

Yisrael Medad, a resident of Shiloh and spokesman on the Yesha Council has an op-ed in today's Israel HaYom, on the history of the changing US position on Israeli settlements

On the issue of the official US position on Yehuda and Shomron, Medad notes that:
The roots to this dispute lie with former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who claims that, on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242, “Prime Minister [Menachem] Begin ultimately acknowledged its applicability in all its parts,” as Carter wrote, for example, in the Washington Post on Nov. 22, 2000, where he linked this to the issue of building Jewish communities "in occupied territory."

In fact, it was the Carter administration that initiated the "illegality" terminology. He had Herbert Hansell, the State Department legal adviser, declare that the communities "violated international law," marking a reversal of the approach taken by all previous administrations. Following Carter, however, President Ronald Reagan reinstated the traditional approach, declaring on Feb. 2, 1981, that the communities were "not illegal." He did criticize them on policy grounds as being "ill-advised." Even Carter's Secretary of State, Cyrus Vance, stated on July 29, 1977, that "it is an open question as to who has legal right to the West Bank."
More to the point, Medad goes on to quote Menachem Begin's position on Israel's legal right and sovereignty over the West Bank:
The resolution [242] needed to make clear that Judea and Samaria, as well as Gaza, were part of the territory to which Jews had the right of "close settlement," as the League of Nations decided by international law. The British Mandate gave recognition "to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine." That history, including recent history, cannot be separated from Judea, Samaria and Gaza. It was only in 1929 that a campaign of violent ethnic cleansing by Arabs forced Jews out of their homes in Hebron, Nablus and Gaza, to be followed, similarly, in the 1948 expulsions of Jews from Jerusalem, Gush Etzion, Kibbutz Beit Haarava, Neve Yaakov and Atatrot.

Despite not being a member of the League of Nations, the U.S. accepted the mandate's terms and its territorial applicability in a joint resolution of both Houses of Congress on June 30, 1922. The resolution was signed on Sept. 21, 1922, by then President Warren G. Harding, and was further supported by the Anglo-American Convention, a treaty signed by the U.S. and British governments in 1924, stipulating that the U.S. fully accepted the mandate for Palestine.

Perry, Santorum and others [who support Israel's right to the West Bank] are not making any new statements but repeating traditional American diplomatic policy: Jews have a legal right to reside in Judea and Samaria and build their homes there. [emaphasis added]
More information on the legality of the Israeli settlements in Yehuda and Shomron in accordance with international law is available here.

Just as Newt Gingrich did us a favor by opening the issue of the invention of the Palestinian Arab, the upcoming election may be doing us a service by opening up the issue of Yehuda and Shomron and the right of Israeli sovereignty over them.

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