French court ruling: Israeli presence in the 'West Bank' is legal

An unpublicized earthshaking ruling made by a French court in 2013 turns the entire Judea and Samaria issue on its head.

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Ezequiel Doiny,

Ezequiel Doiny
Ezequiel Doiny
Flash 90

On January 13, 2017  JEAN-PATRICK GRUMBERG wrote in dreuz.info "In a historic trial carefully forgotten by the media, the 3rd Chamber of the Court of Appeal of Versailles declared that Israel is the legal occupant of the 'West Bank'." 

When I first learned that the Court of Appeal of Versailles had ruled that the building of Jewish communities and the governing of the region of Judea and Samaria by Israel is unequivocally legal under international law, in a suit brought by the Palestinian Authority against French companies Alstom and Veolia for building Jerusalem's light rail system - and that received no media coverage - I decided to put my years of Law Studies in France to work, and I meticulously analyzed the Court ruling.

To my astonishment, pro-Israeli media did not cover it either. The few who mentioned the case did not have any legal background in French law to understand the mega-importance of the ruling.  Several left leaning English-speaking Israeli websites reported it, calling it a decision strictly pertinent to the Jerusalem light rail. It’s not.

To make sure I did not overestimate my legal abilities, I submitted my analysis and the Court papers to one of France's most prominent lawyers, Gilles-William Goldnadel, President of Lawyers without Borders, to receive his legal opinion. He validated my findings. Then I decided to translate the papers into English, and they will soon be submitted to Benjamin Netanyahu through a mutual friend.

First and foremost, the Versailles Court of Appeals had to determine the legal rights of Palestinian Arabs and Israelis in the 'West Bank.' Their conclusion: Palestinian Arabs have no rights – in the international legal sense – to the region, unlike Israel, which is legitimately entitled to occupy all land beyond the 1967 line.

The context :

In 1990, Israel accepted bids for the construction of the Jerusalem light rail. The tender was won by French companies Veolia and Alstom. The light rail was completed in 2011, and it crossed Jerusalem all the way to the eastern part of the city and the so-called 'occupied territories' (more about this term later).

Following this, the PLO filed a complaint with the High Court (Tribunal de Grande Instance) of Versailles France, against Alstom and Veolia, because according to the PLO, "the construction of the tram is illegal since the UN, the EU, many NGOs and governments consider that Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territories."

The quest for the International Legislation to establish the rights of each party.

To be able to rule on whether the light rail construction was legal or not, the court had to seek appropriate texts of international law and examine international treaties, in order to establish the respective rights of the Palestinian Arabs and the Israelis.

And to my knowledge, this is the first time that a non-Israeli court has been led to rule on the status of the 'West Bank.'

Why is this an historical ruling, asks Grumberg? It is the first international case since the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948.

It is the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 that an independent, non-Israeli court has been called upon to examine the legal status of 'West Bank' territories under international law, beyond the political claims of the parties.

Keep in mind that the Court’s findings have no effect on international law. What they do, and that is of the utmost importance, is use international law to clarify the legal reality.

The Versailles Court of Appeal conclusions are as resounding as the silence in which they were received in the media: Israel has real rights in Judea and Samaria (aka 'the territories' or 'West Bank'), its decision to build a light rail or anything else in the area is legal, and the judges rejected all the arguments presented by the Palestinians.

The Palestinian arguments in 2013:

The PLO denounces the deportation of the Palestinian population, and the destruction of properties in violation of international regulations. Relying on the Geneva and Hague Conventions and the UN resolutions, it considers that the State of Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territory and is pursuing illegal Jewish colonization. Thus, construction of the light rail is itself illegal (1).

The PLO adds that the light rail construction has resulted in the destruction of Palestinian buildings and houses, the almost total destruction of Highway 60, which is vital for Palestinians and their goods, and has conducted many illegal dispossessions. Therefore, several clauses from the annexed Regulations to the October 18, 1907 Fourth Hague Convention were violated (2).

Finally, the PLO alleges that Israel violates the provisions relating to the "protection of cultural property" provided for in Article 4 of the Hague Convention of May 14, 1954, Article 27 of the Hague Regulations of 1907, Article 5 of the Hague Convention IX of 1907, and Article 53 of Additional Protocol No. 1 to the Geneva Conventions.

The Court's response:

The Court of Appeals does not deny the fact of Israel's occupation, but it destroys all the Palestinian arguments one after another.

1. Referring to the texts on which the PLO claim is based, the Court of Appeals considers that Israel is entitled to ensure order and public life in the 'West Bank', therefore Israel has the right to build a light rail, infrastructure and dwellings.

Article 43 of the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 stipulates that "The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety."

2.Israeli occupation does not violate any international law: "The Palestinian Authority misread the documents, they do not apply to the occupation" because: 

First of all, all the international instruments put forward by the PLO are acts signed between States, and the obligations or prohibitions contained therein are relevant to States. Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO are States, therefore, none of these legal documents apply.  "The International Court of Justice has indicated that [the Conventions] only contain obligations for the States, and that individual have no rights to claim the benefit of those obligation for themselves."

Secondly, said the Court, these international conventions are binding only on those who signed them, namely the "contracting parties." But neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority have ever signed these texts. 

Propaganda is not international law

The Court, quite irritated by the presented arguments, boldly asserted that the law "cannot be based solely on the PLO’s assessment of a political or social situation."

Humanitarian law was not violated in any case:

The PLO invokes the violation of humanitarian law contained in the Geneva and Hague Conventions. The Court says that the PLO mistakenly refers to the wrong legal document because the Hague Convention applies in case of bombing. And … "Jerusalem is not bombed."

The PLO and the Palestinians were dismissed.

In summation, the PLO cannot invoke any of these international conventions, said the Court. "These international norms and treaties" do not give the "Palestinian people that the PLO says it represents, the right to invoke them before a court."

The Court of Appeals therefore sentenced the PLO (and Association France Palestine Solidarité AFPS who was co-appellant) to pay 30,000 euros ($32,000) to Alstom, 30,000 euros to Alstom Transport and 30,000 euros to Veolia Transport.

Neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority nor the AFPS appealed to the Supreme Court, therefore the judgment has become final.

This is the first time that a Court has legally destroyed all aspects of the Palestinian Arab legal claim that Israel’s occupation is illegal.

Reprint or redistribution of this copyrighted material is permitted with the following attribution and link: © Jean-Patrick Grumberg for www.Dreuz.info

Footnotes:
(1) The PLO relies on article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949, which states that « the occupant power may not deport or transfer part of its own civilian population in the Territory he occupies », and article 53, which states that « the occupant Power is prohibited from destroying movable or immovable properties belonging individually or collectively to private people, to the State or to public authorities or social or cooperative organizations, except in cases where such destruction is rendered absolutely necessary for military operations ».
(2) The PLO refers to the Fourth Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949:
Article 23 (g), which prohibits « the destruction or seizure of enemy properties except in cases where such destruction or seizure are imperatively ordered for the necessities of war. »
Article 27 according to which « in the sieges and bombardments, all necessary measures must be taken to spare as much as possible the buildings devoted to worship, the arts, sciences, charitable institutions, historical monuments, and hospitals … »
Article 46 which states that « private property can not be confiscated »."

A copy of the court ruling can be seen here.

Reactions:

On January 15, 2017 Brian of London wrote in Israellycool.com: "The legacy media completely ignored this ruling or downplayed it because it didn’t fit their lethal narrative: Jews are illegal settlers in what was once their own land. Nobody in the hostile legacy media has referred to it since (try to google for it).

Jean-Patrick Grumberg (the original reporter I linked to, back in 2013, on the story) has now re-published a more detailed account of the technicalities of the case which related to the building, in Jerusalem, of the light rail system which connects both predominantly Arab and Jewish neighbourhoods to the centre of Jerusalem. His entire blog post is definitely worth reading and is extensively quoted above.

Why did the UN Security Council rule otherwise?

If the French Court ruled against Palestinian claims that Israel's occupation is illegal why did the UNSC rule otherwise?

There are clear double standards in the way Israel is treated while other territorial disputes around the world are treated differently. The UN Watch reported that in 2013 the UN passed 25 resolutions; 21 were against Israel, zero were against China, which illegally occupies Tibet.

There are 57 Muslim Countries in the UN that gang up against the only small Jewish State (smaller than New Jersey). The Muslim Countries that attack Israel in the UN don't do it because of violations of human rights as they claim, else they would condemn China as well. They use the UN for Jihad.

What about the Oslo Accords?

Obama claimed that the anti-Israel UNSC resolution is about settlements but in reality it is much more than that, it is about replacing the Oslo Accords which did not consider settlements illegal and did not demand that Israel give up all the land beyond the 1949 Armistice Lines with a UNSC resolution that demands that Israel give up all the land, including the Jewish Quarter in the Old City of Jerusalem, the Temple Mount and the Western Wall.

The Knesset would not have approved Oslo if they had known a future US President would betray the accords and approve a UNSC resolution violating them.

In 1995 when Rabin was campaigning for the Knesset to approve the Oslo Accords he gave a speech  in the Knesset in which he promised that

“…The borders of the State of Israel, during the permanent solution, will be beyond the lines which existed before the Six Day War. We will not return to the 4 June 1967 lines.

And these are the main changes, not all of them, which we envision and want in the permanent solution:

A. First and foremost, united Jerusalem, which will include both Ma’ale Adumim and Givat Ze’ev — as the capital of Israel, under Israeli sovereignty, while preserving the rights of the members of the other faiths, Christianity and Islam, to freedom of access and freedom of worship in their holy places, according to the customs of their faiths.

B. The security border of the State of Israel will be located in the Jordan Valley, in the broadest meaning of that term.

C. Changes which will include the addition of Gush Etzion, Efrat, Beitar and other communities, most of which are in the area east of what was the “Green Line,” prior to the Six Day War.

D. The establishment of blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria, like the one in Gush Katif.
...Neither side shall initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent solution negotiations."

I want to remind you: we committed ourselves, that is, we came to an agreement, and committed ourselves before the Knesset, not to uproot a single settlement in the framework of the interim agreement, and not to hinder building for natural growth.

...The responsibility for external security along the borders with Egypt and Jordan, as well as control over the airspace above all of the territories and Gaza Strip maritime zone, remains in our hands...

Mr. Speaker Members of Knesset,

The agreement, with all its articles lies before you. There are no secret appendices or letters. This is the agreement that dozens, perhaps hundreds, of civil servants, and IDF officers led by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres worked on, and to all of them I say -- thank you from the bottom of my heart..."


The French court's ruling proves that Obama's shameful anti-Israel UNSC resolution is not based on law, it is based on anti-Semitism. 

Under the Oslo accords and according to French law, Israeli presence in Judea, Samaria and East Jerusalem is not illegal.