Yes, they sure are.
Here are the facts:
Israeli settlements in the West Bank are legal both under international law and the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians. Claims to the contrary are mere attempts to distort the law for political purposes.
The various agreements reached between Israel and the Palestinians since 1993 contain no prohibitions on the building or expansion of settlements. As the Israeli claim to these territories is legally valid, it is just as legitimate for Israelis to build their communities as it is for the Palestinians to build theirs.
The Palestinians are demanding that every Jew leave the West Bank, a form of ethnic cleansing. By contrast, within Israel, Arabs and Jews live side-by-side; indeed, Israeli Arabs, who account for approximately 20% of Israel’s population, are citizens of Israel with equal rights.
The settlements are not intended to displace Arab inhabitants, nor do they do so in practice. According to independent surveys, the built-up areas of the settlements take up about 3% of the total territory of the West Bank.
The right of Jews to settle in all parts of the Land of Israel was first recognized by the international community in the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. The purpose of the Mandate was to facilitate the establishment of a Jewish national home in the Jewish people’s ancient homeland. Indeed, Article 6 of the Mandate provided for “close settlement by Jews on the land, including state lands not required for public use.”
Many present-day Israeli settlements have been established on sites that were home to Jewish communities in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) in previous generations, in an expression of the Jewish people’s deep historic and religious connection with the land. Many of the most ancient and holy Jewish sites, including the Cave of the Patriarchs (the burial site of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) and Rachel’s Tomb, are located in these areas. Jewish communities, such as in Hebron (where Jews lived until they were massacred in 1929), existed throughout the centuries. Other communities, such as the Gush Etzion bloc in Judea, were founded before 1948 under the internationally endorsed British Mandate.
- The Misrepresentation of Jewish Communities & Settlements in Judea, Samaria, Gaza and the Golan Heights
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- Israel’s Legal Rights and Title to Judah, Shomron and Azza
- More Muslim Identity Politics at the United Nations
Originally published: https://web.archive.org/web/20101129163727/http://smoothstoneblog.com/2008/01/are-israeli-settlements-legal.htm