The Arab world and the international media have today convinced most people that Israeli towns and villages located in Judea and Samaria - more commonly referred to as "settlements" - are illegal and the primary obstacle to peace in the Middle East.
But in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week, the Office for Israeli Constitutional Law, a non-governmental legal action group, explained why that view is flawed and perhaps even illegal, especially as far as the US is concerned.
OFICL direct Mark Kaplan told The Jerusalem Post that there is a little-known treaty called the Anglo-American Convention that was signed between Britain and the US in 1924. The treaty more or less made the US a partner with Britain in upholding and maintaining the British Mandate for Palestine - which included all of what is today Israel and the "West Bank."
Kaplan noted that even though the UN's 1947 partition plan and subsequent recognition of Israel lopped off the West Bank as an Arab territory, that decision was non-binding since the UN General Assembly does not have the authority to change borders or create nations. By contrast, the Anglo-American Convention remains in force, as there is no statute of limitations on treaties.
Furthermore, the Anglo-American Convention and the British Mandate for Palestine were based on the 1920 League of Nation's decision in San Remo, where the precursor to the UN determined that the entire area encompassed by the British Mandate was to become a Jewish state and fully open to Jewish settlement.
Also unlike the 1947 partition plan, the San Remo declaration was and remains legally binding.
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