The premise of the recent Paris conference to advance peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians was undermined by a 2013 French court ruling on the legality of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the editors of The Wall Street Journal argued  Thursday.
While the Paris conference convened to “once more depict Israeli settlements as a grave violation of international law,” the editors asserted that this position was contradicted by the finding of the French Court of Appeals in Versailles in 2013. According to that ruling, “contrary to Palestinian arguments, Jewish settlements don’t violate the Geneva Conventions’ prohibition against an occupying power transferring ‘its civilian population into the territory it occupies.’ The law, the court held, bars government efforts to transfer populations. But it doesn’t bar private individuals settling in the disputed territories.”
A lower court had ruled against Palestinian activists who sued a French company for its role in building Jerusalem’s light-rail system, which extends through both eastern and western parts of the city. The Versailles court upheld the lower court’s ruling and the case went no further.
“That matters because the Paris conference adopted the premise that settlements are illegal as a matter of settled law and the primary obstacle to peace,” the editors observed. “The French court makes a nonsense of that judgment simply by looking at what the Geneva Conventions say, rather than basing its judgment on a legally meaningless ‘international consensus.'”
The Paris conference took place following the passage of United Nations Security Council resolution 2334  last month, which declared that Israeli presence in territories captured in 1967, including the Old City of Jerusalem, is in “flagrant violation of international law.”
Subsequent to the passage of the resolution, Fox News reported  that the Security Council was preparing a database of businesses with commercial activities in eastern Jerusalem and the West Bank, which could be used to create a blacklist. Israeli defense officials also noticed a sharp increase  in violent Palestinian attacks, especially rock throwing.
Efforts to single out Israel for boycotts may also put the Security Council in violation of a ruling by the Paris-based Court of Cassation, France’s highest court, which ruled  in November 2015 that efforts to target Israelis for discriminatory treatment are an illegal form of hate speech.
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