Nov. 25, 2019

Letter to the Editor

The Washington Post

1 Franklin Square, N.W.

Washington, D.C. 20071

Dear Editor:

Daniel Kurtzer and Aaron David Miller write (“The U.S. never really tried to stop Israel’s West Bank Settlements,” November 24) “by most accounts, the Trump administration’s decision to treat Israel’s settlement enterprise as a legal endeavor is a retreat by the United States from an almost universally accepted norm of international law.”  

Surely these former senior diplomats know that primary international law regarding the disputed territories is the League of Nations Palestine Mandate, Article 6 (1922). It encourages “close settlement by Jews on the land” west of the Jordan River. The U.N. Charter (1945), Chapter 12, Article 80 (“the Palestine article”) upholds the Mandate’s position. The San Remo Treaty (1920) and the Anglo-American Convention (1924) either recognized or assumed the legality of Jewish settlement.  

Kurtzer and Miller assert that post-1967 Six-Day War Jewish communities in the West Bank mean “Palestinians cannot trade land for peace if they don’t possess the land.” This reverses U.N. Security Resolution 242, adopted shortly after Israel took the territories in the ’67 war. The measure assumed “peace-for-land” negotiations; first the Arab side would commit to peace with Israel, then Israelis would withdraw from some of the land.

The authors note that the U.S. decision “means little for the peace process … because it wasn’t going anywhere anyway.” But they don’t say why—Palestinian rejection in 2000, 2001 and 2008 of “two-state solutions” which offered a West Bank and Gaza Strip state, with eastern Jerusalem as its capital, in exchange for peace with Israel.


Eric Rozenman

Communications Consultant

Jewish Policy Center

50 F. Street, N.W.

Suite 100

Washington, D.C. 20001

202 638-2411

Copy: Jamie Riley Kolsky, Letters and Local Opinion Editor