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You report (19 December) that the Foreign Office is to warn against the purchase of property in the "occupied territories". The government has no legal basis for its oft-repeated assertion that the settlements are "illegal under international law". The Geneva convention cannot apply to most of the "occupied territories" because they have never been recognised as sovereign territory. As part of Mandatory Palestine, Judea and Samaria never belonged to any sovereign state, but were occupied and administered illegally by Jordan and Egypt between 1948 and 1967, after the Arab war of aggression against Israel in 1948. And East Jerusalem was captured by Jordan in the war of 1948.
Moreover, the Geneva convention was designed to prohibit the forcible transfer of population into occupied territories, such as was practised by the Nazis and USSR before and during the second world war. But the Israeli settlers in the West Bank made a free choice to move there. And as a country that was attacked, Israel is entirely within its legal rights to retain territory that continues to be used as a base for attacks against it.
By raising unrealistic expectations, much of the current rhetoric from the UK government risks encouraging extremists. Israel has proved that it wants peace - by negotiating peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan - and is prepared to give up land, by withdrawing from Gaza. In the midst of the Annapolis peace process, the government must support the voices of moderation and not those of extremism.
Vice-chairman, Zionist Federation