ZOA Critical of Sec. Kerry’s Describing Jewish Communities in Judea/Samaria & E. J’lem As “Illegitimate”

August 16, NEW YORK — The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has criticized Secretary of State John Kerry for stating that this week that “The United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate.” (‘US State Department displeased with new 1,000 settlement units’ bid, while Netanyahu meets with German FM, claims EU’s settlement ban “hardens Palestinian positions,”‘ Yediot Ahronot, August 13, 2013). 

Secretary Kerry said this following the announcement by Israel of a program of construction of 1,000 new apartments in Jewish neighborhoods in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. Deputy State Department Spokeswoman Marie Harf said that “we do not accept the legitimacy of continued settlement activity” (‘Marie Harf, Deputy Spokesperson, Daily Press Briefing, Washington, DC, August 13, 2013′).

Many governments untruthfully claim that Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal on the false basis that they contravene Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In fact, Article 49 prohibits “Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not … The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Accordingly, Article 49 has no bearing on a situation in which Palestinians are not being deported or forcibly transferred from the West Bank to another territory and in which Jews are not being deported or transferred from Israel to the West Bank; but rather moving there freely of their own will. Moreover, the Fourth Geneva Convention deals only with territories belonging to a sovereign power. In contrast, the West Bank, illegally seized by Jordan in 1948 and captured by Israel following Jordanian attack in 1967, remains unallocated territory under international law.

ZOA National Chairman of the Board Dr. Michael Goldblatt said, “The U.S. in the past has not described Jewish communities in the territories as “illegal” but, under President Obama, it began labeling them “illegitimate” – an imprecise word implying illegality without actually saying so.

“In fact, in February 2011, President Obama sought to condemn Israel in the UN Security Council for the “illegitimacy” of Jewish communities in the territories. Only when the Arab states refused to oblige and demanded that they be condemned as “illegal” – as we have shown, a legally baseless assertion – was he compelled to veto.

“Denouncing construction of homes in Judea/Samaria and eastern Jerusalem for Jews — and only Jews, because they are Jews — is not only discriminatory, but legally baseless, morally bankrupt and not the act of a professedly close ally.

“We call upon President Obama to rescind this position. In addition to being legally and morally wrong, the Obama Administration’s position incentivizes Palestinian intransigence and prolongs the Arab war on Israel by enabling Palestinians to proceed without fulfilling their Oslo commitments to end terrorism, arrest terrorists and end the incitement to hatred and murder which permeates Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah/Palestinian Authority.

“If the Obama Administration wants to bring peace, it should be applying pressure where it belongs — on the PA to fulfill its agreements and accept Israel as Jewish state, not on Israel over its legitimate plans for providing housing for Jews in Jerusalem.”

About the ZOA
The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) is the oldest and one of the largest pro-Israel organizations in the United States. With offices around the country and in Israel, the ZOA educates the public, elected officials, the media, and college/high school students about the truth of the ongoing Arab war against Israel. The ZOA works to strengthen U.S.-Israel relations through educational activities, public affairs programs and our work on Capitol Hill, and to combat anti-Semitism and anti-Israel bias in the media, in textbooks, in schools and on college campuses. Under the leadership of such presidents as Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis, Rabbis Abba Hillel Silver and Stephen Wise, and current President Morton A. Klein, the ZOA has been – and continues to be – on the front lines of Jewish activism. www.zoa.org.

Contact: David Drimer, ddrimer@zoa.org

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