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Letter to Editor of Haaretz from Richard Sherman on important facts of Israeli history

Dear Editor:

Bethan McKernan, Quique Kierszenbaum and "the international community" needs to study mideast history. ("The Land Beyond the road is forbidden: Israeli settler shephards replaces Palestinians").

They would learn that no "occupation of the Palestinian territories began in 1967" because in recorded history there has never been a country called Palestine.

In fact, extensive international law -- the San Remo Agreement (1920), the League of Nations(1922) and Article 80 of the United Nations Charter(1946) -- declare all of Israel including Judea and Samaria to be the reconstituted homeland of the Jewish people, recognizing the Jewish people's 4000 year indigenous presence on the land, and thereby declaring all of the land as sovereign Jewish territory.

From 1948-1967 Jordan illegally occupied Judea and Samaria in violation of the above mentioned international agreements. The Jewish people lived in Judea and Samaria for 4000 years until Jordan's illegal occupation. After the Jewish people recaptured Judea and Samaria in 1967, Jews returned to homes that they had resided in prior to 1948.

Kierszenbaum and McKierszen should study the words of Eugene Rostow, Dean of Yale Law School (1955-1965) and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs(1965-1969) in a Democratic Administration as expressed in a famous Op Ed in The New York Times in 1983. Secretary Rostow said Israel's claim to the settlements -- based on Article 80 of the UN Charter as well as prior international law -- was "unassailable"

"Israel has an unassailable legal right to establish settlements in the West Bank. The West Bank is part of the British Mandate in Palestine which included Israel and Jordan as well as certain other territories not yet generally recognized as belonging to either country. While Jewish settlement east of the Jordan River was suspended in 1922, such settlements remained legal in the West Bank.

"All rights vesting under mandates were preserved by Article 80 of the United Nations Charter. And they survived the end of British administration in Palestine as a ''sacred trust'' - exactly the legal posture for Namibia after South Africa ceased to be the mandatory power. Recognizing the legal force of these facts, those who are seeking to sabotage the President's position fall back on a provision of the Geneva Convention of 1949 forbidding occupying powers to transfer their own populations to occupied territories. This article of the Convention was a reaction to Nazi policy in Czechoslovakia after the invasion of 1938. But Israel is not in the West Bank only as an occupying power, because the West Bank has never been widely recognized as Jordanian. Israel's claims to the territory are at least as good as those of Jordan, since Jordan held the territory for 19 years after a war of aggression, whereas Israel took the area in the course of a war of self-defense, so far as Jordan was concerned. As a matter of convenience, Israel applies the Geneva Convention generally in its administration of the West Bank, but does not admit it is legally obliged to do so. Jordan is not the reversioner in the West Bank and therefore the protective provisions of the Geneva Convention do not apply. Whether Israel's right to settle the West Bank should be exercised at a particular time is thus a matter of prudence, not of law. It is conventional wisdom that such settlements are an obstacle to peace. But the absence of such settlements between 1948 and 1967 did not encourage Jordan to make peace. The thesis, often mechanically repeated by our Government spokesmen, does not do justice to the principles of the Arab position: that the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate, and all that flowed from them were beyond the powers of the victorious Allies of 1914-18, the League, and the United Nations, and that the existence of Israel is itself an aggression against the Arab nation. Perhaps the realization that their continuing refusal to make peace with Israel is bound to have territorial consequences will help to persuade the Arabs that 35 years of intransigence is enough. EUGENE V. ROSTOW, New Haven, Conn., Sept. 2, 1983".

Richard Sherman, Margate, Florida


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