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      EU Ambassador: Israel 'Occupying' Hevron

      The European Union continues to maintain Israel is occupying Judea and Samaria; denies that Judaism and Israel are inherently connected.
      By Gabe Kahn
      First Publish: 4/17/2012, 7:12 PM

      The European Union continues to regard Israel's presence in the Jewish people's ancestral homeland as "occupation."

      Arutz Sheva asked EU ambassador to Israel Andrew Standley about Europe's position on the recent expulsion of 15 Jewish families from Beit Hamachpela in Hevron.

      "They [Judea and Samaria] are indeed occupied territory under international law, where Israel is the occupying power," Standley said.

      "So it's not a question of whether the person is Jewish, it's the question of, these are Israeli nationals, of the citizenship of the occupying power.

      "Under international humanitarian law, the Geneva Conventions, the occupying power has certain obligations and certain prohibitions, including having its population settle the occupied territory.

      "And this is why, under international law, including the interpretation of the European Union, it has,... there should not be settlement by Israel or by Israelis in the occupied territory," Standley argued.

      While many nations and international bodies, including the United Nations, regard Judea and Samaria as 'occupied territories' the matter has never been adjudicated by an empowered international court.

      Israel maintains Judea and Samaria are 'disputed territories' under international law, which does not prohibit it from developing and settling its ancestral homeland.

      Originally, all of Judea and Samaria were slated for the future Jewish state under the British Mandate, which had inherited the region from the Ottoman Empire at the close of World War I.

      However, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan that invaded and occupied the territory when Israel declared its independence in 1948.

      Israel actually  liberated Judea and Samaria from Jordanian occupation during the 1967 Six Day War.

      Arutz Sheva also asked Standley about the death sentence handed down by the Palestinian Authority for Muhammad Abu Saleh, the Arab who brokered the sale of Beit Hamachpela to the Jewish families.

      "With regard to death sentence, in general, as I explained before, the European Union has a general position of being opposed to the imposition of the death penalty in any case, in any situation in the world," Standley said.

      "So that's a basic, universal position that the European Union has. With regard to discrimination on the basis of religion, which may be the question I think you answered [sic], also this is something that would be of concern to the European Union," Standley said.

      "We do not think that there should be any instances where people are discriminated against on the basis of their religion," he added.

      During the interview, Standley did not acknowledge that Judaism is the religion of the Jewish people who have now returned to their national homeland.

      Nor did he explain how the European Union policy distinction between Jews as both practicing a religion and possessing a nationality – when the State of Israel and the vast majority of its citizens are Jewish – did not deny Israel its inherently Jewish identity.