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March 05, 2014

Mitnick, the U.S., and 'Illegal' Settlements

Maale Adumim illegal.jpg

American policy on the legality of the settlements has been consistent for decades. And Joshua Mitnick's coverage of that policy has also been consistent. Consistently wrong, that is. Back in 2006, Mitnick wrote in the Christian Science Monitor:

The US and most countries consider Maaleh Adumim and dozens of other Israeli settlements illegal under international law because they were established on territory under military occupation.

The United States does not consider West Bank and eastern Jerusalem settlements illegal. At the time, the Monitor failed to correct the error. Had it done so, Mitnick may not have written the other day in the Wall Street Journal:

Most of the international community considers Israeli building in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to be illegal, including the U.S. . . .

U.S. policy has not changed since Mitnick's 2006 article. In fact, there has been no change in U.S. policy on the question of the legality of settlements since President Carter's departure from the White House. Although the Carter administration did consider the settlements illegal, subsequent administrations did not. President Reagan had explained: "As to the West Bank, I believe the settlements there - I disagreed when the previous Administration referred to them as illegal, they're not illegal" (New York Times, Feb. 3, 1981). Other presidents, including Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, also did not term settlements "illegal."

In February 2011, the United States vetoed a United Nations Security Council resolution which labeled the settlements "illegal." In the Feb. 20, 2011 "Meet the Press" broadcast, then US Ambassador Susan Rice indicated that the appearance of the word "illegal" was one of the reasons why the US rejected the resolution.

Last August, The New York Times was the most recent media outlet to correct this very same error:

nyt correction us policy settlements.jpg

Will The Wall Street Journal follow the commendable lead of The Times and set the record straight?

Posted by TS at March 5, 2014 05:22 AM


By what law can anyone define the settlements as legal or illegal, legitimate or illegitimate? Anywhere in the world, when territory changes hands as a result of war, the people living in that territory have a choice: accept the new government, or move out. Anywhere, that is, except in Israel.
Let's hope we get an administration in the U.S. that will at last recognize that Judea and Samaria are part of Israel.

Posted by: Baruch Cohon at March 6, 2014 11:29 AM

Judea/Samaria were part of ancient Israel and were supposed to be part of Israel again, under the Balfour Declaration and subsequent documents. Jordan conquered the land in '48, and for 19 years, Jordan occupied it. Israel got it back in '67, thus regaining land originally promised to it. Jordan no longer claims it. Why was it not considered illegal for Jordan to occupy it, but it is illegal when Israel does? Is it because Israel is Jewish? Would there be such a clamor if Israel were Muslim? We all know the answer! Besides, it is one thing if a "settlement" threw an Arab out of his house. But if a settlement was built on a vacant patch of desert or a hill, who's to say it is "Palestinian land?" Seems rather arbitrary to me.

Posted by: Gary Katz at March 6, 2014 06:45 PM

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