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illegality of settlements

Reader comment on item: Obama Turns on Israel
in response to reader comment: President Has Not Turned On Israel

Submitted by sigmund derman (United States), Nov 11, 2013 at 15:23

In addition to my comment on the wisdom of the so-called "freeze", let me also say that most statements about their illegality of the settlements are mainly soundbite statements made in order to pander to the Islamists. Most legal experts who have analyzed the situation believe that the settlements are legal. These areas presently are part of no nation state, nor were they for centuries. The best answer to the question "to whom do they belong" is "to no one." They could not belong to a Palestinian state because a Palestinian state has never existed in all of history. They could not have belong to Palestinians in ancient times because there were no Palestinians in ancient times. In the late 19th Century and the first half of the 20th, the term Palestinian was generally used to refer to the indigenous Jews living in that region. It could also have been applied to various separate Arab groups living there.

In the second half of the 20th century, and particularly after 1967, Arab nations reversed their original correct opinion that a Palestinian people did not exist and began to use the term for the Arabs living in that area as a tactic for destroying Israel. In any case, there is no historical Palestinian people who ever did or ever could have owned that land. Various nation states have owned or controlled this region including Rome, the Ottoman Empire, and Britain. Also, Egypt controlled the Gaza strip and Jordan the West Bank until Israel wrested it from them in its defensive war. None of these incorporated it into their nation. But they would probably the best choices as the "owners" of these areas. Britain was regarded as essentially owning it, however, and they gave portions of their Middle East lands to the Jewish people in order to re-establish the nation state of Israel on a portion of it. That portion actually included virtually all of the now disputed areas. Israel is now regarded as controlling it because Israel won it in defensive battles. But it has not been annexed to Israel. Nonetheless, there is nothing illegal about allowing Jews, Arabs, or—actually—anyone from living there as long as the controlling power allows it. If you and your family asked to build a house there, it was quite possible that you would be allowed to do so with the caveat that the final status negotiations may turn out to your detriment. Also, it would be quite dangerous.It is quite possible a group of Mormons, Hindus, Buddhists or Quakers could establish colonies there if they wished. To my knowledge this has never been tested. But these would not be illegal unless they were forced to move there.

Israel actually could annex all of these areas or any part of them. If, any only if, they did so would they need to give the residents the right to vote in their elections. For this very reason most people feel it would be unwise to annex more than a very tiny part of it such as the 3 or 4% that was proposed in prior negotiations. Israel has actually been trying to give the area(s) to one or more nation states for decades. The plan that really makes the most sense for the good of most of the people living there would be to give the West Bank to Jordan and the Gaza area to Egypt. The folks who lived there would be part of an actual country whose religion and traditions were similar to theirs. But this has not been acceptable to the Arab nations.

I fully realize that you will not agree with what I have written. It is hardly ever possible to convince anyone on forums such as this. But think that statements about the illegality of the settlements need to be challenged whenever they occur.

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