Why Israeli settlements are not 'illegal'

Remember: Almost every piece of territory held in sovereignty by any single state was gained through military conquest

Who really determines the legality of war?
(Image credit: REUTERS/Baz Ratner)

Syria, Iraq, and Yemen are burning up. An ascendant Iran is reconfiguring the geopolitics of the Middle East. With every passing day, Turkey is inching away from the Western orbit as Vladimir Putin's Russia has emerged as a key power-broker in the region. The Sunni monarchies' grip on their discontented populaces is looking tenuous as oil continues its slide. All of this is happening, and what are we talking about? Israel's presence in the West Bank, of course!

For this, blame Barack Obama's long-running feud with Benjamin Netanyahu, who had the bad humor of not seeing eye to eye with the president of the United States. Breaking with longstanding tradition, the U.S. recently allowed a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli "settlements" in the West Bank to pass, and followed it up with a petulant, Israel-bashing speech by Secretary of State John Kerry. Now, the issue refuses to die. On the right, Ted Cruz has introduced legislation to defund the U.N. until the resolution is rescinded; on the left, lobbying groups such as J Street are running a full-court press for the outgoing administration.

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Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry

Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry is a writer and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center. His writing has appeared at Forbes, The Atlantic, First Things, Commentary Magazine, The Daily Beast, The Federalist, Quartz, and other places. He lives in Paris with his beloved wife and daughter.