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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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  • Ian Caulfield

    Yes – whenever the claims of ‘illegal occupation under international law ‘ are made the proponents rarely if ever put up a decent detailed legal argument and this French appeals court decision demonstrates how difficult it is to do so convincingly.

  • CNKIV

    At the risk of sounding repetitive, I would like to remind readers that there has never been a State of palestine. Palestine is a term used to interpret a geographical area. What the residents of this area know, and, are using to pull the wool over everyones eyes is that this called region has either been part of Jordan, Trans-Jordan, or the Ottoman Empire for all of modern history. No one had even broached the possibility of palestinian state until after the formation of modern Israel at the end of WWII.

    Israel actually has a more valid argument for all of the so called palestinian lands in a historical sense in that they ruled the land in the time before Christ.

    As far as the pre 1967 borders go, that issue from a strictly military stance is completely impossible for the Israeli’s and a non-starter forever. Sine the so called palestinian people refuse to recognize Israels right to exist, talks would seem an exercise in futility.

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