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January 19, 2017 6:18 pm

Following Paris Peace Summit, Largely Forgotten 2013 French Court Ruling That Israeli Settlements Are Legal Receives Renewed Attention

avatar by Barney Breen-Portnoy

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A Jerusalem light rail train. Photo: Leinad via Wikimedia Commons.

A Jerusalem light rail train. Photo: Leinad via Wikimedia Commons.

A largely forgotten landmark 2013 French court ruling has received renewed attention this week following the international diplomatic summit held in Paris last Sunday at which Israeli settlements were portrayed as illegal.

In an editorial published on Wednesday, the Wall Street Journal wrote, “The conference was a failure, but the conferees could have helped themselves by first checking what French courts have to say about those settlements before scoring Israel again…In 2013 the French Court of Appeals in Versailles ruled that, contrary to Palestinian arguments, Jewish settlements don’t violate the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition against an occupying power transferring ‘its civilian population into the territory it occupies.’ The law, the court held, bars government efforts to transfer populations. But it doesn’t bar private individuals settling in the disputed territories.”

The Wall Street Journal was referring to the ruling on a lawsuit — detailed here — that was filed by the Palestinian Authority against two French companies that took part in the construction of the light rail line in Jerusalem — which traverses areas the Palestinians hope will be part of the capital city of their potential future state.

That ruling, the Wall Street Journal said, “matters because the Paris conference adopted the premise that settlements are illegal as a matter of settled law and the primary obstacle to peace. The French court makes a nonsense of that judgment simply by looking at what the Geneva Conventions say, rather than basing its judgment on a legally meaningless ‘international consensus.’”

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