Deconstructing the Israeli ‘Settlement’ Myth
By Daniel Greenfield
In 1948, armies from Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Yemen and Lebanon invaded Israel, along with the Holy War Army, commanded by the nephew of Hitler’s Mufti, and the Arab Liberation Army, under Fawzi al-Qawuqji, freshly released by the Soviet Union after being captured with his Nazi allies in Berlin. Along with them came thousands of terrorists and thugs from the Muslim Brotherhood.
Driven by hate, they swarmed into Israel to destroy it. They seized half of Jerusalem, expelling its Jewish population, blowing up its synagogues and using tombstones from its cemeteries to pave their roads.
Villages such as Kfar Darom in Gaza were besieged, first by the Muslim Brotherhood, and then by the Egyptian Army. The village of 400 men, women and children had managed to throw back the forces of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had shelled the village and failed to break through its fence with tanks, and briefly held out against the Egyptian Army, before it was evacuated, captured and destroyed. Other villages, such as Kfar Etzion, which were not evacuated in time, witnessed massacres after their capture.
When after 1967, the Jordanian and Egyptian invaders had been expelled, and East Jerusalem, Kfar Darom and Kfar Etzion were rebuilt and resettled, the international community declared those Jews living there to be “settlers” and their towns and villages, even their homes in Jerusalem, one of the oldest cities in the world, to be “settlements.”
What is the mark of a “settlement”? It isn’t the age of the buildings or the number of inhabitants. Jerusalem is ancient and Maaleh Adumim is about the size of Atlantic City. It is race that marks a settler as a target for persecution and ethnic cleansing.
An Arab Muslim with Israeli citizenship who buys a house in Jerusalem is not condemned by Vice President Biden, the United Nations and the media. But when a Jew demolishes the former home of Hitler’s Mufti, after legally purchasing it in order to build an apartment building on the spot, then Hillary Clinton issues a specific statement denouncing the construction of a 20-person apartment building, for no other reason than because Jews will likely live there.
Now the false narrative of settlement and occupation has been challenged by the Levy Report which restates many of the obvious points of law; most significantly that Israel is not an occupying power and did not seize any land from another state. Indeed much of the land that Israel is accused of occupying is actually land that was seized from it by invading Arab armies during its 1948 War of Independence.
The only difference between West Jerusalem and East Jerusalem, between a village that is recognized by the international community and a “settlement” that is condemned by the international community, is that the so-called “settlements” are on territory that the invading Muslim armies captured and held for 17 years.
The only legal basis for denouncing the Jews who returned in 1967 to the homes that they had been expelled from in 1948 as “settlers” is by recognizing the Arab Muslim conquests of those territories. But those conquests were never recognized or accepted. Not even by the international community.
The rebuttals to the Levy Report invariably rely on emotional rhetoric and confused legal reasoning. Most of them lean on the 2004 International Court of Justice ruling, which Israel did not participate in, declaring that the Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the 1967 territories because they “lay to the east of the 1949 Armistice demarcation line.”
But as the Levy Report points out, the Armistice agreement that ended the war specifically disavowed the cease-fire lines as having any political or territorial significance, “being dictated exclusively by military considerations.”
Designating territory that Israel held and where its citizens resided until that territory was seized during an invasion by foreign states before then being liberated by Israel as “occupied territory” needs better legal reasoning than the simple fact of Arab military occupation. Otherwise the ICC has only chosen to recognize one military occupation and then use it to denounce military occupation.
Under Article 2 of the Fourth Geneva Convention its provisions are only binding on signatory states. To apply the Convention to the 1967 borders, the ICC had to treat the territory as Jordanian for that purpose, even while contradictorily accusing Israel of depriving Palestinian Arabs of political representation. Either the Arabs in the territories are Jordanian nationals, who are covered by the Convention, or they are Palestinian nationals and aren’t.
Article 4 of the Convention states: “Nationals of a State which is not bound by the Convention are not protected by it.” Unless the ICC can show that Fatah and Hamas are bound by the Convention, they are not protected by it. The only way that the Fourth Geneva Convention can apply to the territories is if the Arab Muslims living there are recognized as Jordanian nationals. But that would also invalidate any further claims to a Palestinian State.
The strategy of Israel’s Muslim neighbors was to wage a terrorist war using groups that would not be bound by the Convention. It is far too late to claim that the terrorists were retroactively protected by the Fourth Geneva Convention—even though they were never bound by it. It is also far too late to claim that the territorial demands that they would only begin making in the 1970s retroactively invalidated Israel’s prior claims to the area, or its towns and villages rebuilt at a time when Palestinian Nationalists were still claiming that Israel was actually part of Syria.
Finally, Al‑Khasawneh, one of the ICC judges, in a blatant conflict of interest, was an advisor to the King of Jordan and later became the Prime Minister of Jordan. The media outlets attacking the political allegiances of the Levy Report members might want to explain Al‑Khasawneh’s presence on a case involving the territorial interests of his monarchy.
The legal basis for the entire settlements myth relies on treating the borders of a cease-fire agreement as a territorial delineation, rather than a temporary cessation of conflict. This has no legal basis. Either all of Israel is occupied or none of it is. Either all Israelis are settlers or none of them are. The Muslim position is at least consistent in this regard, while the positions of the United Nations, Western nations and the Israeli left are completely inconsistent.
The repeated attacks on Israel’s territorial integrity are not only dishonest; they carry the implicit and explicit threat of ethnic cleansing. After the Holocaust, the idea of ethnically cleansing between a third of a million and half a million Jews should have been considered unacceptable. Instead it has become the mandate of a system of international law which was created to prevent history from repeating itself, and which is nevertheless repeating it.
No international diplomat, journalist or judge has ever complained about Arab-Israelis living in Jerusalem. Their complaints have targeted only one people– by race. The Muslim occupiers purged the Jews by religion and race, and now the international community insists on trying to finish the job that the Egyptian and Jordanian armies, and the Muslim Brotherhood, began in Jerusalem, Kfar Darom and Kfar Etzion.
The Levy Report has put the specious legal reasoning used as a cover for this bigotry to bed. It is time that the rest of the world did the same.
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