Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories (the West bank and the Gaza Strip) since 1967 is the subject of frequent debate in your newspaper, but much of that input is driven by emotion rather than detailed, factual knowledge. May I, therefore, be permitted to explain the status of the territory issue under international law.
Israel’s borders are defined in a number of international treaties, the most relevant of which are the League of Nations Treaty of July 24, 1922 (includes the San Remo Resolution April 25th, 1920), and the Treaty of Sevres, Section VI1, Article 95, which was inserted into the Mandate for Palestine and further ratified and endorsed by the Treaty of Lausanne, on July 24, 1923. The USA, not being a member nation of the League of Nations at the time, codified all this into US law in the Anglo American Convention of December 3, 1924.
The United Nations, in its Charter (specifically Article 80), was legally obligated to continue where the League of Nations finished and, indeed, the international, legally binding principles of estoppel and acquired rights further endorse these obligations. Acquired rights cannot take away from a nation what has been given and estoppel cannot allow any giving nation to take away what has been given, under international law.
According to the League of Nations resolution for the establishment of the Mandate for Palestine, the areas of Judea and Shomron — that is, the West Bank — were recognised as “cestui sue trust” for the Jewish homeland (that is, the state of Israel).
The defined legal borders of the state of Israel include the geographical areas currently called the West Bank (and Gaza, too). These territories were illegally conquered, and occupied, by Trans Jordan from 1948 to 1967 (during which time no offer to establish an independent state of Palestine was made to the residents). The territory had been unlawfully annexed and the former Jewish residents had been ethnically cleansed.
Article 42 of the fourth Hague Convention of October 18, 1907, respecting the laws and customs of war on land annexed, states that “..territory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army and the occupation extends only to the territory where such authority has been established and can be exercised”.
The paradox is that the current Israeli settlers are the legal occupants and the Palestinians the illegal settlers, as a direct consequence of Trans Jordan’s occupation. Breaking the Geneva Convention does not apply to the government of Israel, but to Trans Jordan and also the other five Arab countries that, simultaneously, ethnically cleansed their Jewish civilians.
This will be somewhat unpalatable for some of your correspondents, who attempt to make a legal case for Palestinian claims to territory, as, under international law, no such claims exist. These are the legal facts.