Zionist Organization of America President Morton A. Klein and Elizabeth Berney, Esq., ZOA Director of Special Projects released the following statement:
The ZOA welcomes the Knesset’s passage of the long-overdue, lawful, humane, and rational “Regulation Law,” which protects Jewish families living in homes in Judea and Samaria built with government backing, on barren vacant property that had no absentee land claims at the time these Jewish communities were built. In recent years, leftwing organizations such as Peace Now and Yesh Din (which are funded by hostile-to-Israel European government entities) searched for potential Arab “claimants” and made questionable claims that these Jewish communities were built on “Palestinian-Arab land.” These claims were generally based on supposed land grants given by Jordan to absentee persons when Jordan invaded and illegally occupied Judea/Samaria from 1948-1967. Jordan, which was an illegal occupier, had no right to make such land grants. Judea/Samaria is in fact land designated for Jewish settlement under international law, including the British Mandate, San Remo, and UN Charter Article 80.
Moreover, the purported Arab “owners” abandoned, never lived on and did not pay taxes on the supposed properties granted to them, which is supposed to have extinguished any rights they had under applicable law. (See, e.g., “Arab Land Claims; Are They Valid? Disputed Lands Which Arabs Have Recently Claimed In Places Like Ofra/ Amona, Migron And Ulpana Were Deemed Abandoned And Ownerless,” by Dr. Moshe Dann, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 10, 2014; and “Is Amona Built on “Private Palestinian Land”?,” by Dr. Moshe Dann, Israel Nat’l News, Jan. 11, 2016.)
Under the Knesset’s new “Regulation Law,” Palestinian-Arab land claims that can be proven will receive compensation of 125% of the land’s value, or alternate parcels of land. The Regulation Law will thus generously compensate any proven claims by Palestinian-Arabs while ending the horrible trauma to Jewish families of being evicted and uprooted from their homes and communities in the lawful Jewish homeland.
Painfully, some American Jewish organizations have opposed or criticized the Knesset’s passage of the “Regulation Law” and praised the eviction of Jewish families and children from Amona. The organizations that publicly proclaimed these leftwing positions that harm Israel and real Jewish families and children include: the Anti-Defamation League (ADL); the American Jewish Committee (AJC); the Reform Judaism movement’s Association of Reform Zionists (ARZA); and the Union of Reform Judaism (URJ).” ZOA strongly urges these organizations to reassess their harmful and inappropriate positions condemning Israel and hurting some Jews in the Israeli heartland of Judea and Samaria.
URJ’s leader, Reform Rabbi Rick Jacobs also falsely wrote that the Regulation Law is “illegal under the 4th Geneva Convention.” (Jacobs is a former “ritual dancer” who participated in Palestinian-Arab anti-Israel demonstrations at Sheikh Jarrah, Jerusalem, and is on the Rabbinical Board of the anti-Israel J Street. Several of the other leftwing groups also referenced an “international law” violation without specifying what law they were supposedly speaking about.
As ZOA and leading international law experts such as Professor Eugene Kontorovich have repeatedly explained, for numerous reasons, the 4th Geneva Convention does not make it illegal for Jews to live in Judea/Samaria. (See, e.g., “Leading Int’l Legal Scholar Kontorovich Emphasizes at ZOA Event: US Embassy Should Move to Jerusalem; Israel Has Sovereign Right to Jerusalem and Judea/Samaria,” Jan. 23, 2017.)
To sum this up once again: First, the Fourth Geneva Convention is a specialized treaty among “high contracting parties,” which applies to the “occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party.” A high contracting is another state that was a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention. There is no other “high contracting party” here. There was never a Palestinian-Arab state in Judea/Samaria, and no such non-existent state is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Palestinian Authority is also not a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention. Jordan moreover disclaimed any rights to Judea/Samaria in 1988.
Second, Israel is not an “Occupying Power” under the Fourth Geneva Convention because Israel has the sovereign right to Judea/Samaria. Judea/Samaria is land designated for “close Jewish settlement” under international law, including San Remo, the Mandate and UN Charter Article 80. Judea/Samaria is not the territory of another sovereign country that signed the treaty.
Third, even if Israel was deemed to be an “occupying power,” and even if Judea/Samaria was deemed to be territory of another high contracting party, the Fourth Geneva Convention has never been interpreted to impose upon any other occupying power an obligation to prevent its citizens from moving into its occupied territories.
ZOA further notes that, hypocritically, the ADL, AJC, ARZA and URJ are silent about Palestinian-Arabs building thousands of unlawful structures in Jewish areas, including Jerusalem and “Area C” in Judea/Samaria, which is designated for Jewish administration under the Oslo accords. Nor are they complaining about the hypocrisy of the EU, which is complaining about Jews living in Judea/Samaria while assisting this unlawful Palestinian-Arab building. (See “EU Illegal Building in Jerusalem and its Surrounds: New Report Shows European Union Is Actively Building Illegal Palestinian Settlements In Contradiction With The Oslo Accords,” Regavim.org.)
It is painful and heartbreaking that while Israel and Jews throughout the world are under the most vicious anti-Semitic attacks since the 1930’s-most egregiously by the murderous actions of Palestinians of the Palestinian Authority, groups such as ADL, AJC, ARZA and URJ are attacking the laws of Israel’s democratically-elected parliament and the rights of Jews to live in the 3,000-year-old, lawful Jewish homeland.