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June 5, 2015 2:40 pm

Law Expert Takes on French Ambassador Over Legality of Doing Business With Jewish Settlements

avatar by Eliezer Sherman

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A picture posted to Twitter by Northwestern law professor Eugene Kontorovich purportedly showing a French Michelin store in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. Photo:  Twitter Screenshot.

A picture posted to Twitter by Northwestern law professor Eugene Kontorovich purportedly showing a French Michelin store in Turkish-occupied northern Cyprus. Photo: Twitter Screenshot.

A law professor at Northwestern University called out the French ambassador to the United States over a comment he made about it being illegal to do business with Israel because of the Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

Expert in international law Eugene Kontorovich took to Twitter, where French Ambassador to the U.S. Gerard Araud’s message was posted, and engaged in a back and forth before being blocked by Araud.

The issue erupted following incendiary remarks made by the CEO of French mobile giant Orange claiming his company was looking for a quick end to its contract with an Israeli partner operating domestically under the Orange brand. CEO Stephan Richard’s comment, which seemed to indicate that Orange’s lucrative contracts in the Arab world were at risk over its business in Israel, triggered a backlash among many Jews and Israelis who are increasingly alarmed by an apparently growing anti-Israel boycott movement.

Following Richard’s announcement, the French ambassador, himself a prolific Twitter user, posted the following message: “4th Geneva convention : settlement policy in occupied territories is illegal. It is illegal to contribute to it in any way.”

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The Northwestern law professor, who also sits on the Jewish National Fund’s speakers list and blogs for the Washington Post, sharply rebuffed Araud’s message, saying no such legal precedent existed, either in France or in the international community.

Kontorovich mentioned the case of French multinational company Alstom, which a French court ruled did not violate international law by building in parts of the West Bank.

He mentioned Total, a French oil company with operations in the Western Sahara, to which the French ambassador replied, “There is oil in Western Sahara?”

The Northwestern law professor also posted a picture of a French tire-manufacturer Michelin, apparently from disputed territories in Northern Cyprus.

Eventually Kontorovich wrote in a piece for The Washington Post that the French ambassador blocked the law professor.

On Friday, Araud posted that “France condemns all boycott [sic] of Israel.”

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  • Robert Davis

    What is illegal is to spread crap and rubbish as the french do since…60 years on this conflict, since general dégueule(meaning vomit) created that 5th stinking republic! Professor KANTOROVITCH is absolutely right this is a case to go to court to stop it, blame the french governments, delegitimize them and show them they cannot keep taking on Israel with no damage to themselves. This is the best reaction.

  • Sven

    It is shocking that an ambassador is so ignorant of international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention bans forcibly transferring parts of one’s population into an occupied territory, such as when the Nazis transferred Jews from various countries to concentration and extermination camps in Poland. Israel’s settlements do not involve forcible transfer of anyone and are thus not even addressed by the Convention.

    Israel’s settlements are basically a real estate situation and since international law seeks to enable normal business to continue even when warfare is present, are entirely legal under international law.

    Essentially all advocates who claim the settlements are illegal understand that they are the only mechanism that could force the Palestinians to seek a resolution of their conflict earlier rather than later. It is only because they have so many advocates around the world opposing the settlements that the Palestinians can afford to continue their effort to destroy Israel rather than having to deal with reality.

    • Robert Davis

      On top of these reasons Palestine was given to jews by an international Treaty in San Remo, 1920 so that there is no illegal ocupation except on the part of arabs not jews. arabsd accepted it since San Remo also gave 21 States to arabs and by accepting them arabs accepted Palestine being Jewish. Every word the french say is a LIE, nazi propaganda as they are trying to do the same trick they did in the 30s when the french used thenazis to kill the jews. Now they are doing the same trick using arabs. France is Israel’s greates enemy.Likewise for jews who would b extermiated if they lose Israel and this is exactly what France wants again.

  • aaa

    lol, typical Israel-hater goon. when faced with facts he just ignore/block/shut his eyes not to get confused.
    Indeed, the mentality of the Israel haters is “stop confusing us with facts and let us hate in peace!”. pathetic.

    I mostly loved how Araud ended up being a little pussy. just like that dog from orange.

    • Robert Davis

      aaa : France must be made responsible for every and each problem Israel has got. And retaliation should be considered including mass terror.

  • Torben Michael Kaae

    There is Customary International Law –
    There is Conventional International Law – and . . .

    as something new: Imaginary International Law, which is when ‘you’ are using the term International but have only one single state in mind, not all the other more or less similar states, but only ISRAEL – then when you are constantly picking on Israel, but not on Westen Sahara or Northern Cyprus, and nothing else matters, then you are: Antisemitic – anti Zionist and anti Israel.

    Then it´s on time ‘YOU’ change YOUR attitude and lift it to a higher moral ground !

  • Mickey Oberman

    Araud, a typical French man, not really interested in the West bank or anything else but pate de foie gras, frogs legs and vin ordinaire.

    • Robert Davis

      And kill the jews to look great and strong and important! These ridiculous tricks consisteing in fomenting war war between Israel and the rest ,of the world is all french stupid frogs found to make jews think France has some…clout! France has NO clout at all and this is the reason they use such VILE,USELESS and low grade tactics against Israel and jews. They show their powerlessness and they put a fatal mortgage on their nation’survival.

  • Alexy Flemming

    THE LAWS OF NORTHERN CYPRUS ARE ACCEPTED IN EUROPE:
    (Northern Cyprus :=: Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus)

    Not only the “TRNC Immovable Property Commission (and its related laws)” but also “ALL THE LAWS OF TURKISH REPUBLIC OF NORTHERN CYPRUS” WAS ACCEPTED ON BEHALF OF EUROPE (European Court of Human Rights; ECtHR).
    ECtHR Decision 02.07.2013, App. nos. 9130/09 and 9143/09; Pavlides v. Turkey; Georgakis v. Turkey
    http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/Pages/search.aspx#{“fulltext”:[“Pavlides”],”documentcollectionid2″:[“CASELAW”],”itemid”:[“001-122907”]}

    ECtHR: “…notwithstanding the lack of international recognition of the regime in the northern area, a de facto recognition of its acts may be rendered necessary for practical purposes. Thus, THE ADOPTION BY THE AUTHORITIES OF THE “TRNC” OF CIVIL, ADMINISTRATIVE OR CRIMINAL LAW MEASURES, AND THEIR APPLICATION OR ENFORCEMENT WITHIN THAT TERRITORY, may be regarded as having a legal basis in domestic law for the purposes of the Convention”.

    Note: In the related ECtHR’s decision above, the case application of the Greek Cypriot was IMMEDIATELY REJECTED; i.e., his application was found INADMISSABLE.
    That is to say, he was expelled by ECtHR just at the beginning; therefore, his case was not handled (no sessions were held) by ECtHR at all.

    ECtHR’s 02.June.2015 Decision:
    http://hudoc.echr.coe.int/sites/eng/Pages/search.aspx#{“fulltext”:[“Tsiakkourmas”],”documentcollectionid2″:[“CASELAW”],”itemid”:[“001-155000”]}

    “..the court system in the “TRNC”, including both civil and criminal courts, reflected the judicial and common-law tradition of Cyprus in its functioning and procedures, and that the “TRNC” courts were thus to be considered as “established by law” with reference to the “constitutional and legal basis” on which they operated..
    ..the Court has already found that the court system set up in the “TRNC” was to be considered to have been “established by law” with reference to the “constitutional and legal basis” on which it operated, and it has NOT accepted the allegation that the “TRNC” courts as a whole lacked independence and/or impartiality..
    ..when an act of the “TRNC” authorities was in compliance with laws in force within the territory of northern Cyprus, those acts should in principle be regarded as having a legal basis in domestic law for the purposes of the Convention..”

    Note: Here, what ECtHR means by “laws in force within the territory of northern Cyprus” is the laws that TRNC published and put into implementation, as can be understood from ECtHR’s above 02.July.2013 decision.

    • Robert Davis

      eu shakes all over in front or turkey not Israel. But as usual they have it all wrong and probably it is not turkey which will be a factor in eu or europe’s end but …Israel!

  • yuval Brandstetter MD

    The main point is that the West Bank is not occupiued by Israel it is administered by Israel since the occupying power Britain then Jordan ceded all claims to that area. maybe the BDS crisis will finally force the Stae of israel to ackenowledge that the West bank is part and parcel of Israel, and that the Palestinians are foreign citizens whose citizenship is with the Palestinian authority in Gaza

    • Robert Davis

      Yuval : to make that fool Netanyahu understand this it takes a big big stick and knocks on his stupid head!

  • There are many international companies who have a presence on the West Bank. The situation on the West Bank is not at all clear from a legal point of view but from a military point of view, would you prefer having soldiers there or people peacefully cultivating the land and setting up businesses that employ the local population? None of the “settlements” on the West Bank are on land that was previously settled by Arabs, except Hebron and the Jewish residents of Hebron have every right to be there, since they were kicked out by Arab riots in 1929 directed – not against the Zionist pioneers but against a much softer target, Jewish scholars who had lived in this city holy to Jews since time immemorial. Much of the West bank land was originally purchased legally by Jews before the State of Israel was even established – Gush Etzion for example, where some of my family lived prior to 1948 (they were interned by the Jordanians as prisoners-of-war; the Jordanian Legion had British officers so it was effectively by the British who were fighting on the Arab side).

  • art

    Remember it was Obama who declared that the settlements were illegal and everyone took his lead.

    • Robert Davis

      No it was France since 60 years! general de gaulle’s stinkig 5th republic. Before that sdtupid general franc was a friend of Israel since this antisemite general came to power France became Israel’s worse enemy!

  • Anthony dayton

    A note of thanks to Professor Kontorovich for his knowledge, ability and courage.

    • Robert Davis

      He should be hired by the State of Israel to defend its rights but the PM does not want to defend Israel’s rights.

  • steven L

    The Quaie d’ Orsay, a factory of antisemites and disappointed orientalists.

    • Robert Davis

      Le quai des brumes is not important they receive their orders from the president and since de gaulle they are all antisemites and cowards.

  • Elaina Electrah

    Way to go

  • Gregory

    Professor Kantorovich is absolutely correct in his paper.

  • Louis Fried

    The arguments of the French Ambassador dissolve when placed under scrutiny.

  • I’ve enjoyed many visits and weeks in France over the years. I was going to plan a trip one final trip to France before law in France is governed by Sharia Law. Good luck France, you’re going to need it.

  • duPont

    It is so sad to see the French continue to exhibit their well known idiotic ideas. They are well known as the most xenophobic and anti- Semitic people in Europe. Generally speaking, they always appear to be populating the left side of the Bell curve with IQs between 60 and 80. They would do well to stop talking because as soon as they open their mouths, their lack of intelligence is demonstrated. Ferme la bouche maintenant Araud.

  • dante

    Kontorovich is great; he’s really awesome, no exaggeration. he’s one of a group of very intelligent, well-informed, decent and committed law professors that wage the war to vindicate history and right.

    one thinks, also, of the wonderful lawyers at Israel Law Center and Maitre Gauthier and some professors at Bar Illan (one, also, at San Diego), and, mirabile dictu, even some great teachers at Hebrew University.

    • Linda Golden

      No, according to a poll, Spain is the most anti-Semitic in all of Europe…surprise, surprise, they must be connected at the hip with Poland. Two countries without Jews that still hate…can you imagine what they could have achieved if they didn’t MURDER, or exile the Jews in their populations? A real brain drain and they are the poorer for it in every way.

  • Stephen Bryen

    The French ambassador has exceeded his mandate and discredited his government.

  • brenrod

    don’t like the frogs

  • Fran Endee

    More Jew news? American Jews are an amazing group
    2% of US population
    88% of history channel stories.
    60% of US TV/Movie comedians/actors/producers
    45% of US bankers
    33% of US Supreme Court Justices
    25% of US homosexuals
    15% of Israel Defense Forces
    0% of US military forces, haven’t been any Jews in US military since 1949

    “Today, the Jewish state has a greater number of Jewish Americans serving than in any other military including their own (USA) military; with roughly 3,000 Americans who did not grow up in Israel serving”, said Israeli Defense Force (IDF) spokeswoman Lt. Libby Weiss.

    The U.S. government doesn’t discourage those wanting to join, but some may question why those willing to put themselves in harm’s way would choose the IDF as opposed to the American military.
    “As much I’m a proud American,” said David Meyers of Belmont, California, “there’s an incredibly deep and long connection that I have to Israel.”
    Their loyalty is to Israel not USA.

    • Robert Davis

      And you think these are intelligent things to say? I do not think these data are correct but anyway they should not be aired unless you want to get jews in trouble!

  • 10

    ISRAEL WAS A COUNTRY WENT IN ALL DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS TOO MANY CONTROLLED WITH HOSTILE PEOPLE. THE SIZE OF ISRAEL HAD TO GIVE AWAY LAND TO BE LEFT ALONE OVER AND OVER AGAIN WHILE THE JEWS LAND THEY KEPT WAS ASKED FOR MANY TIMES TO TAKE AWAY. EMPTY LAND MADE BY THE OTHERS WHILE BUILDINGS WERE NOT MAINTAINED ALWAYS A QUESTION IN ITS STANDING. THEY LEFT ISRAEL A SHAMBLES WHILE THE JEWS ARE HAPPY TO PICK UP THE PEICES. EYES ARE USED TO SEE BUT ARE TOLD WHERE TO SEE. YOU WOULD THINK THE EXAMPLES OF GOVERNMENTS IN THE MIDDLE EAST THAT THEY DO NOT KNOW HOW TO CARE FOR THEIR PEOPLE AND THEIR GOVERNMENTS WHILE LOOKING FOR OTHER COUNTRIES TO DO SO. ISRAEL ESTABLISHED AND THE MIDDLE EAST WILL FOLLOW. WE ALREADY SEEN WHAT THE PA GOVERNMENT HAS DONE THE RESULTS THE MIDDLE EAST STAYS AS THE PASSED. GOD POWERS ARE IN ISRAEL THEN THE MIDDLE EAST WILL BENEFIT TO BECOME THE SAME WAY OF LIVING.

  • If you look at the thousands of crosses on that hill at Normandy when all those young boys probably off the farm or a cotton mill didn’t even know what part of the world they were in. They were let out to far with all their equipment and many drowned and were sitting ducks for the Germans you should appreciate America which is Israel’s friend although you wouldn’t know it with Obama and Kerry in office. Tommy.

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