Consternation in Israel over the EU’s malicious decision to boycott individuals or institutions situated over the ‘Green Line’ between Israel and the disputed territories. This would presumably include boycotting, for example, the Hebrew University which is just over that line or, even more grotesquely, Jewish residents in Jerusalem’s Old City – where ancient Jewish settlement far predated the arrival of a single Arab, dating as it does since King David who built it as the capital of the kingdom of the Jewish people.
The EU says Israeli settlements beyond the Green Line are illegal under international law. Nothing new there – so do the UN and associated bodies say so. But they are simply wrong.
International law in general is known to be highly contentious and far from authoritative, since it is anchored in no single jurisdiction and arguably therefore constitutes nothing other than international politics by another name.
In any event, the charge that Jewish residence over the Green Line is illegal first rests on the application to this situation of the wrong treaty; and second, totally ignores the treaties which gave the Jews the right to settle anywhere in these territories.
To take the second point first. The San Remo Treaty of 1920, in which the victors of the First World War parcelled out the remnants of the defeated Ottoman Empire, created a geographical area called Palestine along both sides of the Jordan River.
Article 6 of the Palestine Mandate signed by the League of Nations in 1922 stipulated ‘close Jewish settlement’ on the land west of the Jordan River. The river served as the boundary because that year the UK created a new Arab country, today known as Jordan, by unilaterally bestowing the land east of the river onto the Hashemite dynasty and thus giving some three quarters of Palestine away.
That Mandate treaty obligation to settle the Jews in Palestine from the river to the sea has never been abrogated and endures today. The 1945 UN Charter, Chapter XII, Article 80 explicitly says than nothing within it shall ‘alter in any manner the rights whatsoever of any states or any peoples or the terms of existing international instruments to which Members of the United Nations may respectively be parties’.
Now to the main argument mounted by the ‘illegalisers’. This rests on their claim that the Israeli settlements breach Article 49 of the Geneva Convention. But this article does not apply to the settlements. Written in the shadow of the deportation of European Jews to their deaths in Nazi Europe, it prohibits
‘individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or that of any other country, occupied or not…The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’