Australian FM: What Law do Israeli Settlements Break?

Friday, January 17, 2014 |  Israel Today Staff

Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop this week continued to demonstrate what is, on the international diplomatic stage, rare support not only for Israel, but for its historic right to this land.

In a must-read interview with The Times of Israel, Bishop said it was wrong for most in the international community to speak of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria as "illegal."

"I would like to see which international law has declared them illegal," said Bishop.

Most, including Israel's allies, interpret the Fourth Geneva Convention to mean that Israeli Jews cannot legitimately dwell in the so-called "West Bank."

The relevant article of the convention states that an occupying power is not permitted to settle any of its citizens in occupied territory.

However, numerous legal experts have in the past noted that it is dubious to apply the article to Israel, for several reasons. First, the West Bank was not the recognized sovereign territory of any other nation at the time Israel seized control of it. Second, there is overwhelming historical and archaeological evidence that the area is part, and even the central part of the Jews' ancestral homeland.

But even barring those arguments, Bishop pointed out that the original intent of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process was to not prejudge a negotiated outcome, even in regards to the settlements.

For the world to already condemn the Jewish settlements as "illegal" is a gross violation of that principle.

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