The office of the European Union’s president, along with several member states, have made clear that they will consider taking punitive actions against Jerusalem should it go through with plans to extend its sovereignty over parts of the West Bank. In the assessment of EU diplomats, Israel has no legitimate claims to land outside the 1949 armistice lines—the so-called “1967 lines”—and any attempt to act as if it does violates the Fourth Geneva Convention. But, to David Wurmser, this entire argument is based on a poor reading of the law:
Right off the bat, it is hard to take Europe’s insistence on the 1967 lines as sacrosanct too seriously. EU members collectively still refuse to move their embassies to the western parts of Jerusalem, which have been part of Israel since 1948, but in some fantasy scenario might someday be part of a Palestinian state. It is a very strange formulation when land on the western side of the 1967 line—that is, land indisputably belonging to Israel for 72 years—is considered negotiable, but every inch on the other side is off the table. Are the 1967 lines sacrosanct or not? The double standard, applied to Jews but not to Palestinians, only raises questions about intent.
Some inconsistency can be dismissed, but undermining the rule of law should not be. . . . The preamble to the [1922 British] Mandate “recognizes” that the Jewish people have an inherent right to the territory defined by the Mandate, a sole claim to the deed in terms of property law, as opposed to being “granted” or awarded that right by the international body. It essentially says that the right is already that of the Jewish people, and the international community cannot therefore grant to a people that which is already theirs.
Sometimes events provide clarifying moments. The European Union’s response to the prospect of Israel’s annexation of parts of the Jordan Valley, in which several almost entirely Jewish settlement blocs are located, is such a moment. By dressing up cynical political calculations as “the rule of law,” Europe in fact risks undermining Jewish rights and violating the very body of international law EU leaders claim to defend.