Historical decision: under French law, the “West Bank” belongs to Israel
The Palestinians have made a fatal error, as the decision by the 3ᵉ chamber of the Versailles Court of Appeal rules against all the Palestinian Authority’s claims, and moreover, the court declares the state of Israel to be the legal occupier of the West Bank*, so named by Jordan for 17 years, but its real name Judea Samaria. This decision by the Versailles Court of Appeal is likely to set a worldwide precedent.
The origins of this legal battle date back to the early 2000s, when the State of Israel issued a call for tenders for the construction of the Jerusalem Tramway. Veolia and Alstom are highly reputed in this field, and the French won the tender. As a result, the tramway went into service in 2011.
Certain of its right to be more political than legal. The PLO filed a complaint against Alstom and Véolia with the Versailles High Court, claiming that the tramway’s construction was illegal, since the UN, the EU, numerous NGOs and governments consider Israel to be illegally occupying Palestinian territory.
It has to be said that the Versailles court was obliged to audit the rights of Palestinians and Israelis over the “West Bank”. Their conclusion is clear: the Palestinians have no rights under French or international law to Judea and Samaria, which is the original name, and Israel has a legitimate right to occupy all of Judea and Samaria. The term “West Bank” was coined by the Jordanians after they lost the war in 1967.
This is an incredible victory for the State of Israel, as the “Quai d’Orsay” is usually rather “pro-Palestinian” – it’s a masterly slap in the face for the PLO.
What’s surprising is that the newspapers say little or nothing about it, because it’s a taboo subject. The Palestinians are playing a political game by asking for help from the UN, Europe and the Arab countries.
And that’s not all: the Versailles Court of Appeal is not stopping there, and their conclusions are incredible, such as pointing out that Israel has the right to build a tramway in the “West Bank”. All the Palestinians’ demands have been rejected.
The Palestinians were judged irrelevant because they considered that political law was a legal jurisdiction in France, they repeated the same litanies poured out in the world for 60 years declaring that there had been deportations of the Palestinian population and of course the destruction of real estate in violation of international regulations.
The PLO lawyers drew on the texts of the Geneva and Hague Conventions, and on UN resolutions which, for their part, consider that the State of Israel is illegally occupying Palestinian territory and carrying out illegal Jewish colonization.
They presented the articles of the Regulations annexed to the IVᵉ Hague Convention of October 18, 1907 have been violated (2). Finally, the PLO asserted that Israel was violating the provisions relating to the “protection of cultural property” set out in Article 4 of the Hague Convention of May 14, 1954, Article 27 of the 1907 Hague Regulations, Article 5 of the 1907 Hague Convention IX, and Article 53 of Additional Protocol No. 1 to the Geneva Conventions.
Article 43 of the 4ᵉ Hague Convention of 1907, the Court points out, stipulates that “the authority of the legal power having passed de facto into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all measures depending on him with a view to re-establishing and ensuring, as far as possible, public order and life, respecting, unless absolutely prevented, the laws in force in the country”.
The Versailles Court of Appeal went further, explaining that the Palestinian Authority had misinterpreted the texts and that they did not apply to the occupation:
In the first place, all the international texts put forward by the PLO are acts signed between States, and the obligations or prohibitions they contain are addressed to States. As neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO are States, none of these texts apply.
Secondly, the Court of Appeal points out that these texts apply exclusively to those who have signed them, i.e. the “contracting parties”. But neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority has ever signed these texts.
The Court of Appeal goes further, stating that the law “cannot be based solely on [the PLO’s] assessment of a political or social situation.”
Riyad Mansour, the UN ambassador to the UN, speaks Jan. 5 during an emergency Security Council meeting on the escalation in the occupied West Bank. Photo: Timothy Clary/AFP via Getty Images
The Court of Appeal, therefore, ordered the AFPS (Association France Palestine Solidarité) and the PLO to pay 30,000 euros to Alstom, 30,000 euros to Alstom Transport, and 30,000 euros to Veolia Transport. Neither the PLO, the Palestinian Authority nor the AFPS appealed, and the judgment became final.
The question is, what are the French authorities going to do about it, because it’s a stone in the shoes of the Quai d’Orsay, and above all, is the State of Israel going to take advantage of this extraordinary event to proclaim loud and clear that Judea and Samaria belong to Israel, and that Jerusalem too. It’s clear that the word “Judea” does not contain the root word “Palestine”, but rather the term “Jew”, and that Jerusalem was the site of the Temple of Jerusalem, built by King Solomon, who according to all historians was a “Jewish” rather than a “Palestinian” king. Especially since Palestine didn’t exist at the time.
It would be interesting to know Jean-Luc Mélenchon’s opinion of the Versailles Court of Appeal’s decision, as well as that of all the leftist parties around the world, especially in Israel.