Legal analysis of the status of the land shows that Israel has the right under international law to apply its civilian law to Judea and Samaria.
Israel announced earlier this year that it intends to apply Israeli civilian law to areas of Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu saying that would take place on or after July 1, 2020.
Opponents of this Israeli policy claim it “violates international law.” Experts in international law, however, disagree.
Maurice Hirsch is the Director of Legal Strategies and Palestine Media Watch, an NGO that specializes in exposing the Arabic communications of the Palestinian Authority and its official media outlets. Hirsch is an expert in international law expert who spent a career in the IDF Military Advocate General Corps – Israel’s equivalent to JAG. His military legal career specialized in the application of international law in Judea and Samaria.
Hirsch says the legal basis for Israel’s declaration of sovereignty dates back to the League of Nations in 1922 allocating all of Israel, including Judea and Samaria, for the purpose of establishing the Jewish national home. That was based on the San Remo Resolution from 1920, an internationally recognized agreement that called for “the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people.”
“The Arab countries and most of the Arabs resident in British Mandate-controlled Palestine, rejected the 1947 United Nations partition plan,” which attempted to override the San Remo Resolution by creating a Jewish state and an Arab state.
Because the Arabs rejected UN partition plan “it has no relevance today under international law,” Hirsch explains, noting that there is no other country that has a legal claim to the territory. Furthermore, in the course of history, no state border has ever separated Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley from the rest of Israel.
Hirsch notes that the term “annexation” is incorrect, because under international law “annexation” is the acquisition of territory by one state “at the expense of another state.” Jordan’s control of Judea and Samaria between 1948 and 1967 was never recognized internationally, and the Jordanians absolved themselves of any claim to the territory when they signed the 1994 peace treaty with Israel.
Critics will point to UN resolution 242, which calls for Israeli military withdrawal from “territories,” but Sir Hugh Foot, Britain’s ambassador to the UN and author of 242, said that he specifically wrote “territories” and not “the territories” in order to not force Israel to withdraw to the old armistice lines.
“It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967 because those positions were undesirable and artificial,”
Foot, also known by his title Lord Caradon, said in 1974. “They were just armistice lines. That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to.”
Another major factor missing from Resolution 242? The words “Palestinians” or “Palestine” are not mentioned even once. The resolution only talks about existing states and calls for a just settlement of “the refugee problem.”
Accordingly, said Hirsch, Israel has the right under international law to Israel apply its civilian law to these areas, where half a million Jewish Israelis already live.