Global, Israel

Sometimes You Just Gotta Keep Saying It

Somehow, some years ago I was subscribed to the mailing list of the Jewish settlement in Hebron. As a result, two or three times a week I get a missive from Hebron’s propaganda minister, David Wilder. This morning, minister Wilder informs me that the illegal Jewish settlement in Hebron was visited by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon of the Yisrael Beitenu party. Ayalon’s grasp of international law is apparently equal to Wilder’s and therefore brought cheer to the occupation. As a result I feel it is necessary to remind everybody that in September 1967, three months after the Six Day War, Theodor Meron, legal counsel of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, was asked by the Prime Minister’s Office for his opinion on the legality of civilian settlement in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

In a cover note to his opinion, he summarized his conclusion: “…civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Gershom Gorenberg over at South Jerusalem has been doing everybody an amazing service by creating an archive of occupation at the site. It’s worth a visit every now and again. Now would be a good time. Again later would also be good.
The Meron document is here.

7 thoughts on “Sometimes You Just Gotta Keep Saying It

  1. I’m nobody to be defending the current Jews of Hebron, but what about the historical Jews of Hebron?
    Few places in the West Bank had as large or as permanent a Jewish community as Hebron had up to the middle of the 20th Century, when the Jews were driven out by the Palestinians. Isn’t there a theoretical difference between settlement of occupied lands and repatriation of an expelled population?
    It’s hard for me to imagine that just because the Palestinians and Jordanians were able to run the Jews out of town one year means that Jewish settlement there becomes illegal forever after.

  2. It may be hard for you to believe, but it is true. International law is not based on vague sentiments or desires, it is based on the concept of sovereignty, and a rather complicated set of relationships to sovereignty. In fact, it is the very centrality of sovereignty to the international order that leads many Jews to claim a need for Zionism. We can discuss whether state sovereignty should be the starting place of international law, but that would lead us to an even more radical critique of Israel and Zionism, so for now lets put that aside.
    The occupied territories are not sovereign Israeli territory (that is one of the things that makes them “occupied”). As an occupying army Israel cannot build, פשות. If Israel chose to make the west bank sovereign territory, it would then have to explain how it was denying the vote to Palestinians (or alternatively give up the “Jewish character” of the state). Wanting to have its cake and eat it too Israel has created “facts on the ground” to create a scenario that would allow them to eventually annex certain sectors of the west bank (those that now have Jewish populations), while cutting out the rest. It is to avoid precisely this kind of land grab that international law forbids building on occupied lands.
    Zionist like to talk about sovereignty when it suits them, but when it doesn’t they begin to talk talk in hazy terms about “historical presence” or better yet the biblical patrimony. Sorry kids, but nostalgia and myth cannot serve as the basis of a secular global political order.

  3. not to mention that I’d LOVE to see the historical evidence of a concurrent, continuous, “permanent” Jewish presence in Hebron. Just because we were taught in Hebrew school or Young Judaea or Camp Ramah or wherever that the Jews who were murdered in 1929 are part of a direct 3000 year permanent Jewish presence from Avraham Avinu to contemporary Kiryat Arba and all its illegal expansion. It’s simply not true. But this conversation has already been had elsewhere on this site.
    not to mention, there’s repatriation done right (Marcus Garvey’s pre-thievery theoretical ideals, as a potential example) and then there’s repatriation done wrong (Robert Mugabe’s farm seizures in Zimbabwe, as an example). But, well, when repatriation traverses into displacement and appropriation and eventual occupation and all which that entails, well, ultimately history will judge how Zionist repatriation went, but as it looks now, well, my views aren’t secret.

  4. So, without the condescension, CoA, what you’re saying is that international law only precludes settlement by Israelis in Hebron if the West Bank is militarily occupied, but would allow it if the WB was annexed and all residents equally enfranchised?

  5. chillul Who?: Your scenario would merely raise more legal hurdles, specifically the prohibition on acquisition of territory by force. For example, large parts of Jerusalem were annexed formally and the vote extended to the residents, but most countries don’t recognize the validity of the annexation or of Israel’s building there. (The Golan Heights is slightly different, with Israeli law having been extended to this territory, but with no formal annexation.)

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