To the Editor:
Tony Judt (“Fictions on the Ground,” Op-Ed, June 22) substitutes repetition for substantiation in charging no less than six times that all Israeli settlements are a blatant violation of international law. Of course, he is no international lawyer, and his analysis demonstrates that fact.
He cites Article 2(4) of the United Nations Charter, but this has nothing to do — implicitly or explicitly — with settlements. It is about the avoidance of the threat or use of force in international relations.
Similarly, Article 47 of the 1949 Geneva Convention merely deals with the need to preserve the status quo ante of existing “institutions or government,” and to not annex occupied territory. Israel has not annexed the West Bank in part or in whole, with the exception of East Jerusalem, which for various historical and legal reasons has been treated as a special situation.
Of course, the presumption behind Article 47 was that the ousted power here, the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, would be ready to come to the negotiating table and that preservation of its institutions — whether democratic or not — would be a spur to a negotiated resolution.
In fact, in the aftermath of the 1967 war, for more than two decades, the governing pan-Arab policy was one of no recognition, no peace and no negotiations. Probably more than anything else, that climate created the incubus in which settlements could take root.
The legality of the settlement issue is much more muddled than Mr. Judt portends. And for that reason, United States administrations have repeatedly taken the position that the issue is not one of lawfulness, where there is room for different strands of opinion, but rather one of political sense.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
One More On Judt the Jerk
Alan Gerson is an international lawyer and was counsel to the United States delegation to the United Nations from 1981 to 1985 and is the author of “Israel, the West Bank and International Law.” He responds in a letter-to-the-editor in the New York Times to the claim of illegality: