The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has strongly criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for falsely stating that Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem are “illegitimate” –– a statement unsupported by international law; blaming Israel for the difficulty of Israeli/Palestinian peace-making; and even preemptively blaming Israel for any Palestinian violence and terrorism that might follow if Israel does not ignore Palestinian incitement and glorification of terrorists and agree to further talks.
In an interview with Udi Segal of Israel’s Channel 2 and Maher Shalabi of the Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation, Secretary Kerry explicitly adopted the legally baseless Palestinian position opposing Jewish residence and construction in the these territories, saying, “They disagree with it … We, the United States, say the same thing. We do not believe the settlements are legitimate. We think they’re illegitimate. And we believe that the entire peace process would, in fact, be easier if these settlements were not taking place … How – if you say you’re working for peace and you want peace and a Palestine that is a whole Palestinian that belongs to the people who live there, how can you say we’re planning to build in the place that will eventually be Palestine? So it sends a message that somehow perhaps you’re not really serious.”
Shockingly, later in the interview, when asked by Udi Segal, “How do you think a picture of Mahmoud Abbas, the President of the Palestinian Authority, hugging murderers that killed children 20 or 30 years ago and say that they’re heroes of the Palestinian people – what kind of message do you think this is sent about peace process or peace atmosphere to the Israeli people?”, Kerry failed to condemn Abbas or Palestinian incitement to hatred and murder and glorification of terrorists in Abbas’ PA, only replying that the situation was “difficult” but that it should not be seen as an impediment to talks because “The alternative to getting back to the talks is the potential of chaos. I mean, does Israel want a third intifada?” (‘Transcript of the interview Kerry’s Antagonism Unmasked: Interview With Udi Segal of Israeli Channel 2 and Maher Shalabi of Palestinian Broadcasting Corporation,’ Independent Media Review Analysis, November 7, 2013).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We are appalled at Secretary Kerry’s words and strongly criticize him for them.
“To assert that Jewish communities in Judea/Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem is a false, flat-earth statement based on a willful distortion of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. As Israel Foreign Ministry’s former legal adviser, Ambassador Professor Alan Baker, has written, Secretary Kerry is ‘unequivocally … mistaken and ill advised, both in law and in fact.’
“Article 49 prohibits ‘Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not … The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.’
“As Palestinians are being neither deported nor forcibly transferred from the West Bank and Israelis are neither being deported or forcibly transferred to the West Bank, Article 49 has no bearing on the situation.
“The territory of the West Bank was earmarked for Jewish settlement in 1920 at the San Remo Conference that drafted the League of Nations Charter. This decision, enshrined in the British Mandate for Palestine that shortly followed, has never been superseded by an internationally binding agreement. To the contrary, it was reaffirmed by Article 80 of the UN Charter.
“The Oslo agreements do not prohibit Israeli residence and construction in these territories; to the contrary, they provide for Israeli and Palestinian building in zones under their respective control. They also list this as a final status issue, to be negotiated by the parties. Secretary Kerry has no right, and does the cause of peace enormous damage, by asserting falsely that these Jewish communities are illegitimate and an obstacle to peace. Israel is entitled to assert its right for its citizens to live and build in these territories.
“We are also appalled that Secretary Kerry did not take the opportunity to condemn the Palestinian glorification of terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder more generally, in Abbas’ PA, when directly questioned on the subject. This failure compounds a record of disgraceful neglect by the Obama Administration as well as its predecessors.
“President Obama has said that ‘we will hold the Palestinians accountable for their actions and for their rhetoric’ but he never has, even though it should be obvious that, under current conditions, a Palestinian state would simply be a Fatah/Hamas terrorist entity. Now, Secretary Kerry not only follows in that ignoble position, but he adds insult to injury by saying that talks should proceed despite this and suggesting Israel will be to blame for Palestinian violence –– ‘a third intifada’ –– if it makes enough of an issue of the subject hold up the talks.
“This statement is scandalous. It is not only wrong but helps legitimize Palestinian violence and terrorism. Secretary Kerry should be publicly telling Palestinians not to resort to violence and not to expect any dividends from it if they do in the event that negotiations go nowhere –– not implying Israel is to blame if Palestinians resort to violence because talks do not resume on their terms.
“This is not the way a friend and ally behaves. And, brushing Palestinian extremism and incitement under the rug and suggesting that Palestinians have right to armed attacks if talks don’t resume is not the way one behaves if one is genuinely interested in bringing about an eventual peace.”