The Flimsy Legal Case That Jews Don’t Belong in the West Bank

Conventional wisdom holds that Israeli settlements in the West Bank—that is, any case of a Jew residing in territory that was under Jordanian control at the end of the 1948 war—are in violation of international law. In its most cogent articulation, this wisdom rests on Article 49(6) of the fourth Geneva convention, which regulates military occupations of territory in wartime. But, argues Eugene Kontorovich, this law is not necessarily applicable to the West Bank:

[T]he territory was not in fact occupied in the legal sense by Israel, making Article 49(6) irrelevant. The arguments for lack of occupation focus on the lack of Jordanian sovereignty over the territory. The Cession of Vessels and Tugs for Navigation on the Danube case held that territory that was not under the sovereignty of any state could not become occupied. That means that the West Bank, which was not under Jordanian sovereignty, could not be deemed occupied. Danube Navigation was decided before 1967 and would thus reflect the law as it was when Israel took control of the territories.

When we look for the alleged rule applied elsewhere, we find—nothing. The United Nations has referred to Article 49(6) hundreds of times in relation to Israel, but no UN body has ever accused any other country of violating it. This is not because of a shortage of cases in which one might think it would apply. From Morocco in Western Sahara to Indonesia in East Timor, from Turkish-occupied northern Iraq to formerly Vietnamese-occupied Cambodia, prolonged occupations of territory have almost always seen migration from the territory of the occupying power.

None of this is to say the conduct of other countries justifies illegalities by Israel: rather, it is to demonstrate that this conduct, when analyzed without knowledge of people involved, has never been regarded as illegal.

Read more at Tablet

More about: International Law, Settlements, West Bank

Hamas Wants a Renewed Ceasefire, but Doesn’t Understand Israel’s Changed Attitude

Yohanan Tzoreff, writing yesterday, believes that Hamas still wishes to return to the truce that it ended Friday morning with renewed rocket attacks on Israel, but hopes it can do so on better terms—raising the price, so to speak, of each hostage released. Examining recent statements from the terrorist group’s leaders, he tries to make sense of what it is thinking:

These [Hamas] senior officials do not reflect any awareness of the changed attitude in Israel toward Hamas following the October 7 massacre carried out by the organization in the western Negev communities. They continue to estimate that as before, Israel will be willing to pay high prices for its people and that time is working in their favor. In their opinion, Israel’s interest in the release of its people, the pressure of the hostages’ families, and the public’s broad support for these families will ultimately be decisive in favor of a deal that will meet the new conditions set by Hamas.

In other words, the culture of summud (steadfastness), still guides Hamas. Its [rhetoric] does not show at all that it has internalized or recognized the change in the attitude of the Israeli public toward it—which makes it clear that Israel still has a lot of work to do.

Read more at Institute for National Security Studies

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security