I am amazed that Anton Camen would display either so much chutzpah or too much ignorance in his defense of the International Red Cross position that Jewish residency locations in Judea and Samaria, and previously in Gaza, are somehow illegal ('Why the law prohibits settlement activities', May 26).
His article does not deal with the League of Nations recognition, as enshrined in Article 6 of its 1922 decision, that "the Administration of Palestine...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 very term of "settlement" is there viewed as an obligation of international bodies to fulfill on behalf of the Jews over and above the local population as long as "the rights and position of other sections of the population are not prejudiced". If there is any "prejudice", it is the Arab campaign, supported by Camen, to deny Jews our rights.
Camen further ignores the previous campaign of expulsion and ethnic cleansing of Jews from those areas during the Mandate period. That campaign was accompanied by extreme and brutal violence directed by Arabs solely at civilians and in addition to murder, mutilation of the dead and the dying and pillage, there were rapings. Those Jews have rights, no less than any Arab and perhaps, more, to return to live there and construct homes in Judea and Samaria. All this preceded the 1949 Geneva Convention. It would seem to behoove the IRC to argue that Jews have a right of return and its protection rather than disjunctively, in a sterile fashion, attempting to deny that right.
I would also suggest that since the IRC did not act significantly, if at all, against the illegal Jordanian occupation of the area during 1949-1967, its hypocrisy invalidates any of its current interpretations of law and denies it any standing in the matter.
And I should add these three points:
a. the original League of Nations decision on the matter, with no less authority than the United Nations, was based foremost on "the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country" (incidentally, the term "Arabs" never appears in the document). That Article 6 --- to "encourage...close settlement by Jews, on the land, including State lands and waste lands not required for public purposes", enshrines "settlement" is an activity the Jews are supposed to enjoy by right and we need recall that the territory of the Mandate in 1922 included Judea and Samaria (the "West Bank" only came into the semantics of the dispute in 1950);b. what happened in 1950? the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, having illegally occupied the area by launching a war og aggression in violation of the UN's recommendations and decisions, annexed it officially in April 1950, an act not recognized except by England. but then, no one was excited or actively campaigned against this "illegal occupation". I noted the hypocrisy but I can add it should count for negative points for those who now are anti-Israel.c. since the local Arab population ever since 1920 had been engaged in ethnic cleansing of Jews from areas in that territory in which they lived for centuries, and currently demand that no Jews live in their area and had/have a law on their books (as does Jordan) that no Jew may own property in their territory, this people/regime has no moral authority to deny Jews our rights.
And asked a lawyer friend who responded:
Poorly written, even contradicts itself on several points, and makes huge leaps of faith in legal interpretations. Not even worth wasting the time in a response, the writer clearly has his own political agenda, and he won't let the facts or legal arguments confuse him!!