Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Misplaced authority

In a story appearing on the Reuters website yesterday, Jeffrey Heller repeats the "Arab East Jerusalem" canard we commented on in our previous post and then avers:

"The World Court calls the settlements illegal and Palestinians say the enclaves could deny them a viable state".

Heller's mention of the World Court is actually a reference to the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice in 2004 that the Israeli security barrier -- which has saved countless lives from the ravages of Palestinian terrorism -- be removed.

As the Palestinian Authority does not represent a state, the matter was submitted to the court by the UN General Assembly and the court's decision is non-binding. Still, the opinion is often cited by Palestinian advocates as evidence that Jewish settlement-building in the disputed territories is "illegal". Heller clearly falls into this group.

While the World Court does not have authority to decide in binding fashion on the matter of the legality of Jewish settlements, there is a body which does: the United Nations Security Council. And it has spoken definitively. Article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine adopted by the League of Nations and grandfathered across as a United Nations resolution, stipulates:

The Administration of Palestine, while ensuring that the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced, shall facilitate Jewish immigration under suitable conditions and shall encourage, in co-operation with the Jewish agency, referred to in Article 4, close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes.

The Mandate for Palestine -- granting Jews the right to settle anywhere in historic Palestine -- is the last governing document on the matter, has never been successfully challenged or revoked, and is still in effect.

Notwithstanding Jeffrey Heller's facile appeal to authority, it is the UNSC, not the World Court, which has the authoritative and binding say on Jewish settlements.

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