Eminent Israeli Law Professor on Settlements

Amnon Rubenstein, an eminent Israeli professor, has denounced the Israeli settlement enterprise as undemocratic, discriminatory, and against international law, in an article published in today’s Jerusalem Post.

Professor Rubenstein wrote: “Settling Jews outside of Israel proper is – it is submitted – illegal in international law and is defective morally. The fourth Geneva Convention, which Israel has signed and ratified, prohibits such settlements. True, the Knesset has not translated these provisions into Israeli legislation, but in the opinion of this writer such an act of domestic reception is unnecessary as the convention by its very definition relates to occupied territories which lie outside the limits of Israeli law and jurisdiction. At any rate, Israel accepts the humanitarian provisions of this convention, and the Supreme Court has acted upon these provisions. The government has declared, in sworn affidavits, that settlements in occupied territories are there for a limited duration and are justified by military considerations.

These declarations are, to put it mildly, not accurate.

THESE SETTLEMENTS, established at great cost to provide housing for tens of thousands of Jews, are seen as permanent communities; the uprooting of settlements from the Gaza Strip was a heartrending experience even for those who advocated this decision at the time.
For successive Israeli governments to state the opposite and for the courts to accept this blatant untruth, has been an exercise in unmitigated insincerity.

But the issue is not merely one of international law. By establishing purely Jewish communities in the West Bank and by applying an Israeli legal system to their residents, Israel has created a dual system within the same territory – one applicable to Jews, and one to Arabs. This duality has had a negative impact on Israeli public life, has rightly antagonized many of our friends and is responsible for the radicalization of the Israeli Left.

It also nullifies the equation often made between these settlements and the ones established by the yishuv under the British mandate. The socialist settlers of the past saw themselves as precursors of a Jewish state in which Jews and Arabs shared the same equality by law and never dreamt of any separation between Arabs and Jews. Add to this the flouting of Israel’s undertaking to stop establishing and expanding these settlements, and you will begin to understand the folly of the Givat Ze’ev decision.

In short, Israel, according to its basic laws, aspires to be both Jewish and democratic. Its outposts in the West Bank are Jewish, but not democratic“.   This piece is published in the JPost here .

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