Israeli NGO blasts country’s diplomats for failing to defend legality of settlements

After UN official calls for a boycott if Israel keeps its sovereignty promise, Mattot Arim slams years-long weak response to “illegality rhetoric.”

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

An Israeli NGO reacted Tuesday to a UN special rapporteur’s call to boycott Israel if it annexes any territory by blaming the diplomatic corps for not sufficiently defending the lawfulness of Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria.

On Friday, Michael Lynk of the Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) attacked Israeli plans to declare sovereignty over areas liberated in 1967’s Six Day War. Lynk said such annexation “would be the demise of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination,” and is “a flagrant violation of international law.”

World Israel News spoke to Susie Dym of NGO Mattot Arim, which has been lauded by former Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely for combating the illegality rhetoric surrounding Judea and Samaria. Dym warned that Israel’s diplomatic corps was still not effective enough in fending off such charges.

“We have, on the Mattot Arim website, taped examples of Israeli diplomats avoiding repeated media questions on whether settlements are legal or not,” she said.

“We have seen email exchanges where Israel Foreign Ministry websites were sent a simple question: Are settlements legal or not, and they responded that they ‘have no information.’ Some Israeli diplomats do not know that the UN’s own charter, which is an instrument of international law, preserves the Jewish people’s right of close settlement throughout the Land of Israel.”

Dym slammed Lynk’s connection to the BDS (Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions) movement. “Settlement products should not enter the international marketplace,” he said. “Agreements, existing and proposed, with Israel should be reviewed.”

“BDS always tries to ‘legitimize’ itself by calling settlements illegal,” Dym responded. “But this rhetoric is nonsense, and brave people need to be willing to say so, loudly and often – that’s crucial.”

“There are so many distinguished legal scholars who back Israel’s position,” she continued, specifically pointing to Alan Dershowitz, a prominent American lawyer who defends the Jewish state regularly in the media. “Israel needs to train its diplomats to refute illegality rhetoric, and we can demonstrate that this hasn’t happened yet, or at least, not enough.”

The Foreign Ministry did not respond by press time to WIN’s request to clarify whether Israeli diplomats are trained to refute accusations that settlements are illegal.