New Foreign Ministry document: ‘Settlements’ are legal

The Foreign Ministry plans to distribute an official document which, for the first time, will present a legally-backed statement that Israeli communities beyond the Green Line are perfectly legal, and are not contradictory to international law, Arutz Sheva learned on Thursday.

The document, which is a legal opinion which will be distributed to all Israeli embassies around the world and be handed over to world leaders, states among other things that “attempts to present Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) as illegal and colonial ignore the complexity of the issue, the history of the country and the unique legal circumstances of the case.”

It says further that Israel has “valid property claims to Judea and Samaria”, due to the fact that the area “does not belong to any lawful sovereignty” and the fact that the area was never under the legitimate sovereignty of any state and was conquered as part of a “defensive war.” The document also claims that the allegations of colonialism are invalid due to “the Jewish connection of thousands of years to the area.”

The legal opinion also states that “the bilateral agreements between Israel and the Palestinians specifically state that settlements fall under exclusive Israeli authority until the materialization of peace negotiations into results, and do not prohibit settlement activity.”

The document further says that the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria were legally established, under all the legal rules, and it also refers to the uprooting of Gush Katif, saying the “Disengagement” was the result of a political decision, not an international legal obligation.

A similar position was expressed in the 2012 Levy Report, which proved Israel’s presence in the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria is completely legal according to international law. Despite being commissioned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, the government has yet to adopt the report.

The latest paper is a position paper on the subject, which is being revised for the first time since 2001. Sources close to the prime minister did not confirm the document’s existence, but officials in the Foreign Ministry claimed that Netanyahu knows about the legal opinion and supports it.

The document comes following a recent decision by the European Union (EU) to label Israeli products from Judea, Samaria and the Golan Heights as “settlement products”.

Earlier this week Netanyahu instructed the Foreign Ministry to reassess its involvement with EU institutions regarding the political process with the Palestinians, in the wake of the labeling decision.

Until the assessment is completed, Netanyahu ordered the suspension of all political contact with EU institutions and representatives on the issue. The Foreign Ministry clarified that Israel is still dealing with individual nations within Europe, including Germany, the UK and France, but not with EU institutions.

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