Monday 13 October 2014


The claimants may have national dreams and aspirations to territory, but law is law and cannot be summarily dismissed and ignored to favor the demands of one of the claimants over the other.

It is correct that privately owned land in Judea & Samaria, as anywhere in the world, must remain in such owners’ possessions and must be requisitioned by the state. This however, does not give that owner, or a group of owners, the right to claim sovereignty over their individual or collective lands.
Therefore, because people own land or have bought properties does not give them the right or legality to call such territories the national territories of Palestine.

To claim that a territorial area belongs to a particular nation required this territory as having belonged to that people as a collective sovereignty. In the case of Judea & Samaria, or the West Bank as some people choose to call it, the criteria have been met, historically and legitimately, by the Jewish people, and not by Palestinians.  Because it was once called Palestine does not give them the legal right to claim they had a national or sovereign existence on that land, or that they were deprived of it by having any existing national or sovereign legal rights summarily taken from them.

The Jewish people were given national rights in these territories not just by proven history and past sovereignty over this territory, but also by residual legal rights contained in the League of Nations Mandate which was unanimously sanctioned and have neither been cancelled or superseded, and are preserved by the United Nations Article 80, that was drafted to guarantee continuity in respect to Jewish rights enshrined in the Mandate resolution of 1922. These rights have the same legal resonance as do the rights of other states created by mandates emanating from the same League of Nations. None of these nations, which include Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, even Austria and Hungary, have had their sovereignty questioned.

It is fair to say that the rights of the national home of the Jewish people, specified in the mandate for Palestine, is greater than all the others because this was the only mandate that explicitly named the ethnic group to which the mandate was granted, namely the Jews. All other mandates failed to designate any ethnic identity.  It should be noted that the Mandate resolution called for close Jewish settlement” in the said territories thereby falsifying the claim that Jewish settlement is “Illegal.”
Since the destruction of Jewish sovereignty over this territory and the expulsion of most, but not all, of its indigenous people, the Jews, two thousand years ago, it remained as a desolate spot occupied by past empires, the final one being the Ottoman Empire which looked on Judea & Samaria as a dusty district of a greater Syria.

Under the Ottoman Land Code of 1858, land was apportioned into one of three main categories known as Mulk, Miri, and Mawat.

Mulk was the only privately owned land in the common sense of private ownership. This was a minimal part of the whole territory and much of it was owned Jews who were given the right to own land under Ottoman reforms.

Miri was land owned by the sovereign, in this case the Ottomans. Individuals could buy a deed to cultivate certain land. They would pay a tithe or tax to the government for this privilege. Ownership to this deed could be transferred to another only with the approval of the governing state. These Miri rights (really a rental, not an ownership) could be transferred to heirs, and the land could be sub-let to tenants. In other words, an arrangement where tenants are allowed to sub-let, but not own, the property, or land.

Mawat was state or unclaimed land, not owned by private individuals. These areas made up almost two-thirds of all the territory.

This is important in understanding the legal status of the territory that constitutes Judea & Samaria (West Bank).

The area declared “State land” by the Israeli government, a process that has undergone painstaking and methodical investigation for many years, is Mawat land. In other words, it has no private status and is not privately owned.   It needs to be stated that many claims arose during the course of the investigation, but all were proven to be unfounded on the basis of land laws.

It should be clearly understood by those who call Judea & Samaria “occupied territory” that, according to international law, the occupying power must use the pre-existing land laws as a basis for claims, exactly as Israel has done in this case, even though Israel’s official position is that it does not see itself de jure as an occupying power in the legal sense of the term.

Many people are astonished that there is an Israeli side to a narrative, having been convinced that Israel has no rights save for biblical references.

Beyond the information given in this report, I would refer people to The Levy Report that details Israel’s legal claims to sovereignty over Judea & Samaria according to international law.

For your further consideration please view this presentation by Dr. Jacques Gauthier.
“Who has international legal rights to Jerusalem?”

Written by Barry Shaw with acknowledgement to Oded Revivi, the mayor of Efrat, for valuable information he provided in a September 7 Jerusalem Post article.

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