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Knesset Told: Settlements are Legal

Dr. Harel Arnon explains Judea and Samaria is not 'occupied territory' in the legal sense.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 2/23/2014, 10:45 PM

Israel flag in Judea
Israel flag in Judea
Reuters

The Legal Grounds group, which campaigns for Israel’s rights to Judea and Samaria, presented its case at the Knesset Sunday. The session was held to explore ways for Israel to respond to international delegitimization and boycotts.

Dr. Harel Arnon, world-renowned lawyer and co-author of Land Laws and International Law in Judea and Samaria, spoke on behalf of the Legal Grounds Coalition, which is comprised of prominent Zionist organizations and leaders in Israel, the U.S. and Canada.

"If you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth,” said Arnon. “One of the biggest lies, which is feeding the wild incitement campaign that Israel has been dealing with over the last few years, is that Israel is unlawfully occupying Judea and Samaria, and that the presence of the settlements and of Israelis in Judea and Samaria is a violation of international law. I want to confront and refute the accusation that Israel is unlawfully occupying Judea and Samaria."

Arnon went on to discuss the common misconception that in 1967, when Israel took control of Judea and Samaria, the Kingdom of Jordan had legal jurisdiction over the territory. This misconception led to the public perception the Jordanian territory later became, de facto, ‘Palestinian territory.’ In fact, he asserted, it was Jordan that contravened international law, when it had annexed the area. In any case, Israel took the land during a defensive war, which makes its own actions legal.

Arnon concluded with a statement that the settlements are not illegal, and all the injunctions and restrictions normally placed on an occupying nation are not relevant to Israel’s connection to Judea and Samaria.

The session to discuss the delegitimization of Israel and the IDF was chaired by MK Robert Ilatov, and attended by Members of Knesset Danny Danon, Ze'ev Elkin and Shimon Ohayon of Likud-Beytenu, Pnina Tamano-Shata of Yesh Atid, Hilik Bar of Labor and Yoni Chetboun of Jewish Home.

Edwin Black, bestselling author of IBM and the Holocaust, also participated in the meeting to talk about his new book, Financing the Flames. “At the very least,” he said following Dr. Arnon's presentation, “we must say the truth every time they lie about the settlements being illegal. In order for the BDS movement to exist, they need to misrepresent international law. The way to fight it is to continue telling the truth.”

Legal Grounds co-chairs Arlene Kushner and Jeff Daube, director of ZOA Israel, both observed "there is a palpable change in the Knesset's approach to Israel’s ‘legal grounds’ in Judea and Samaria. Today's session is proof positive this conversation is picking up momentum." Daube and Kushner continued, "We are encouraged by assurances from several MKs that there will be future Knesset opportunities to amplify on the points made today."