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West Bank: should Australia be concerned?

By David Singer - posted Wednesday, 25 July 2012


The canard - supported by countless United Nations General Assembly Resolutions - that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal in international law - has been dealt a crushing blow with the the recent release of the Levy Committee Report in Israel rebutting that claim.

The Committee comprised a retired Supreme Court Judge - Edmund Levy - a Tel Aviv District Court Judge - Tchia Shapira - and a former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker. They were appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2012 to consider among other matters the legality of Jewish settlements established in the West Bank.

The San Remo Conference held in Italy in April 1920 was the Committee’s starting point.

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That Conference had laid the grounds for the eventual creation of the Mandate for Palestine as part of a Mandate system involving the disposition of vast tracts of territory held by the Ottoman Empire for 400 years - but lost by it following its defeat in World War I .

Whilst Arab self-determination was to occur in 99.99% of the captured territory - the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home was limited to the remaining 0.01%. of that territory.

The Levy Report elaborates:

In August 1922 the League of Nations approved the Mandate which was given to Britain, and thus the Jewish people's right to settle in the Land of Israel, their historic homeland, and to establish their state there, was recognized in international law.

To complete the picture, we'll add that with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, the principle of recognizing the validity of existing rights of states acquired under various mandates, including of course the rights of Jews to settle in the Land of Israel by virtue of the above documents, was determined in article 80 of its charter

The International Court of Justice had failed to consider the Mandate and article 80 when it delivered its non-binding advisory opinion on 9 July 2004 that Israel had no legal right to erect part of Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank.

That decision has since been used by the United Nations and detractors of Israel to repeatedly discredit and delegitimise Israel’s right to maintain its claim to sovereignty in any part of the West Bank and for Jews to live there.

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Surprisingly it was Egyptian appointee to the International Court - Judge El-Araby - who in fact had cautioned the other 14 Justices against ignoring an examination of the legal effect of the Mandate:

The international legal status of the Palestinian Territory (paras. 70-71 of the Advisory Opinion), in my view, merits more comprehensive treatment. A historical survey is relevant to the question posed by the General Assembly, for it serves as the background to understanding the legal status of the Palestinian Territory on the one hand and underlines the special and continuing responsibility of the General Assembly on the other. This may appear as academic, without relevance to the present events. The present is however determined by the accumulation of past events and no reasonable and fair concern for the future can possibly disregard a firm grasp of past events. In particular, when on more than one occasion, the rule of law was consistently side-stepped. The point of departure, or one can say in legal jargon, the critical date, is the League of Nations Mandate which was entrusted to Great Britain.

Regrettably Judge El-Araby’s sage advice was ignored - as the Levy Report now makes very clear.

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About the Author

David Singer is an Australian Lawyer, a Foundation Member of the International Analyst Network and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International - an organisation calling for sovereignty of the West Bank and Gaza to be allocated between Israel and Jordan as the two successor States to the Mandate for Palestine. Previous articles written by him can be found at www.jordanispalestine.blogspot.com.

Other articles by this Author

All articles by David Singer

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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