TEL AVIV – Israel’s plan to apply sovereignty to parts of the West Bank puts an end to the “morally repugnant” notion — endorsed by all U.S. administrations except Trump’s – that Jews need to be ethnically cleansed from the territory, preeminent legal expert Eugene Kontorovich told Breitbart News in an exclusive interview.
“The Obama administration took the position that peace with the Palestinians requires Israel to pre-ethnically cleanse the territory,” Kontorovich said.
The Trump administration had the “moral clarity” to recognize that the “removal of the Jewish people [from West Bank settlements] as an Israeli obligation in a peace accord is morally reprehensible,” Kontorovich noted.
President Donald Trump’s so-called Vision for Peace sees Israel annexing 30 percent of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. It also delineates a demilitarized Palestinian state established on most of the West Bank with parts of eastern Jerusalem that are outside the Israeli security fence as its capital.
If Israel goes ahead with the plans, the Palestinian leadership warned that it would unilaterally declare a state based on the pre-1967 lines.
According to Kontorovich, a law professor who serves as the director of the Center for the Middle East and International Law at George Mason University Scalia Law School, all peace proposals – except Trump’s – that have been put forward over the years since Israel liberated the West Bank from Jordanian occupation in the 1967 defensive war have been based on the erroneous idea that Jewish presence there is illegal and needs to be reversed.
Those proposals called on Israel to “maintain the area from which Jordan ethnically cleansed Jews in 1948 as a perpetual judenrein zone,” he said, using Nazi terminology for the exclusion of Jews.
While no Israeli government has ever proposed evacuating Palestinians from the area, he said, “expelling Jews is the minimum demand for any Palestinian negotiations.”
It is incumbent upon Israel to apply Israeli law over the area, as indeed should have been done 53 years ago after the Six Day War, the law professor told Breitbart.
The belief in Israel at the time was that it was only a temporary situation and the Jewish state would imminently come to a peace agreement with the Palestinians, he explained. But the Palestinians rejected all Israeli offers so instead, close to half a million settlers have had to live for decades under Kafkaesque bureaucracy relating to obscure Ottoman laws ruling the area.
When asked if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is being prudent about pushing for sovereignty in spite of European and Arab rejection — and even hesitancy on the part of the U.S. — Kontorovich is resolute.
Watch: Belgian Protesters at Anti-Annexation Rally Call for ‘War Against Jews’ https://t.co/NSHn6R3War
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“I think of no more gentle and cautious way to go about it than to not do it for 53 years while offering the Palestinians statehood on innumerable occasions. That’s a long cooling off period,” he said.
Kontorovich also takes issue with the term “annexation,” explaining that in international law annexation is defined as one state taking land from another sovereign state. Since, in this case, the West Bank has no sovereign, the term “annexation” is a misnomer. That being the case, comparisons with modern-day annexations, such as Russia’s conquering of Crimea or Morocco’s annexation of the Western Sahara, are incorrect. Furthermore, neither of those countries waited before incorporating the annexed land.
“A true aggressor does not wait 53 years to apply their law to their territory,” he said.
Yet still, the international community’s double standards means Israel will always be deemed an aggressor, he said.
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“The Europeans have even acknowledged that the rules in the way which they treat Israel is not the same way they treat any roughly comparable situation,” he said, “and they’re increasingly open about that fact.”
In international law, “Israel is not allowed to do anything.”
“That’s because there’s a separate system of international law for Israel,” he said, and went on to say the Jewish state was “an international legal ghetto consisting of rules that were created and designed and applied just for it.”
“But of course, that’s not really law.”
Kontorovich, who is also the director of the Kohelet Policy Forum, was instrumental in drafting anti-BDS laws in several states. He was also the architect behind the reversal of Airbnb’s anti-Israel policy banning Jewish listings in the West Bank.