Earlier this week a non-partisan judicial committee in Israel, headed up by retired Supreme Court justice Edmund Levy, released it’s report on the legal status of Judea and Samaria. The main finding of the report was the legality of the Israeli settlement in the disputed territory. Various international bodies, including the UN, have called the continued building of these settlements illegal on the basis of the land being “occupied”. The Levy committee concluded that, according to international law, the area in question does not meet the criteria of “occupied” land and therefore Israel may permit its citizens to move to and build communities on the land.
Cue the world political elites and the left wing media losing their ever-loving minds. First, the Obama administration rejected the findings out of hand. This could mean they didn’t read the report since the administration has a history of chiming in on controversial matters without having read the relevant source material.
Then there is the New York Times. The Grey Lady doesn’t have the most stellar reputation for being unbiased when it comes to reporting and opining about Israel. Well, they’re up to their old tricks again. In a July 11th op-ed they lay out a bald faced lie:
“Most of the world views the West Bank, which was taken by Israel from Jordan in the 1967 war, as occupied territory and all Israeli construction there as a violation of international law (emphasis mine)."
This, of course, is the crux of the matter. Clearly the layers of fact checkers at the Times skipped this line. Allow me to give them a brief history lesson, though considering the number of times we have to go over the same material, either they’re stupid or mendacious in their total disregard of the facts, or perhaps both.
The land that is referred to as the West Bank (being the west bank of the Jordan River) was originally slated, by the League of Nations (and therefore the UN) to be part of the nascent Jewish state at the San Remo Conference of 1920. Great Britain was given the Mandate over the land, which included both present-day Israel and Jordan until such a time that the Jewish people would be able to take control of the region. Britain then gave the land East of the Jordan to the Hashemite tribe for services rendered which became the Kingdom of Jordan. The rest of the land to the West of the Jordan would be the Jewish state. In 1947 when the Jewish inhabitants were ready to declare a state the UN, wanting to avoid a war threatened by the surrounding Arab countries, offered a plan to partition the land remaining in Mandatory Palestine.
We all know what happened from there, Israel agreed, the Arabs declined, nullifying the partition plan. Israel declared statehood in ’48 and the combined Arab nations attacked. Israel managed to hold on to much of land promised them by League of Nations/United Nations but lost control of part of Jerusalem as well as Judea and Samaria which was over run by Jordanian troops. Jordan therefore, by all legal definitions, was occupying land that had previously belonged to another nation, Israel.
When Israel was attacked in 1967, it was well within its rights to retake that area. At worst, the land had no prior sovereign status (this did not change with the Jordanian conquest) and therefore Israel cannot be defined as an “occupying force” by the Geneva Convention, sited by the Times. There is place to claim that it was Jordan who was in clear violation of those self same laws when it settled various groups in the land.
None of these historic facts are in dispute. Nor is there a dispute that there was never an Arab Palestinian nation prior to the mid-1960s, even with the ongoing attempt of some people to claim that various Jews living in Judea at the start of the Common Era were actually Palestinian Arabs. It is not possible for Israel to be occupying “Palestinian” land, from a legal perspective.
All of this doesn’t matter to the New York Times editorial board, of course. They have their stylebook. It reads, Israel Bad, Palestinians Good. Everything else falls on deaf ears.