Op-Ed: The UN Violates International Law, Claims to Uphold It
Ted BelmanThe author is a retired attorney and the editor of Israpundit. In 2009 he made aliya and is now living in Jerusalem.
The United Nations’ Human Rights Council has resorted to official enquiries as a precursor to damning Israel — the most recent of which was the Goldstone Enquiry on Cast Lead, Israel’s attack on Hamas in Gaza. And we know how that turned out. Israel was accused of all manner of war crimes, though none were proven to have been committed.
Last week, the UNHRC passed a resolution to “dispatch an independent international fact-finding mission, to be appointed by the president of the Human Rights Council, to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.” The resolution was based, inter alia, on a written statement produced by Badil Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights, a Palestinian NGO financed by a number of European countries.
This statement, under the heading “Concentration and Containment,” accused Israel of applying various land laws and planning laws which aimed at “the ‘confiscation and colonization’ of the vast majority of Palestinian owned land; and the ‘concentration and containment’ of the Palestinian population within small pockets of land, which are dispersed and fragmented across the OPT and within Israel.” A number of allegations are set out in support.
Given the liberal proclivities of the Israel High Court, there should be no worry that anyone’s rights are being trampled on in Judea and Samaria, or in Jerusalem, for that matter. Alan Dershowitz praised the Court with these words:
“Many also seem to be unaware of the fact that Israel’s record on human rights and freedoms is among the best in the world, and certainly the best in the region. Israel has a completely free press, which is generally highly critical of the Israeli government. No Arab country has a free press, nor does the Palestinian Authority. Israel has a completely independent judiciary, the only one in the entire area. Its Supreme Court, one of the best in the world, is the only court in which an Arab in the Middle East can expect to get justice in lawsuits brought against any government.”
So why resort to the UNHRC? Simple. The report will be a basis to delegitimize and demonize Israel and to force her to change her legal course.
The acronym “OPT” stands for “Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The Arabs no longer refer to Judea and Samaria as the “West Bank,” which was Jordanian nomenclature during its period of occupation from 1948 to 1967; they now prefer to brand it as Palestinian land which is occupied.
Not only is the land not “occupied,” but it is also not “Palestinian.” It never was “Palestinian” — i.e., subject to Palestinian sovereignty. Sovereignty of Judea and Samaria has never been allocated, nor has sovereignty been claimed. Israel refers to the region’s status as “disputed,” but I personally reject such a description because the Palestinians have no legal claim to this territory. Israel alone has the right to claim sovereignty over these lands.
During the first half of the last century until the State of Israel was declared in 1948, the Jews living under the Palestine Mandate were referred toas Palestinians and thought of themselves as such. The Arabs living there were generally considered Syrians or Jordanians or just plain Arabs. It was not until the sixties and seventies that they began calling themselves Palestinians so as to claim all of Mandated Palestine for themselves.
Howard Grief, the author of The Legal Foundation and Borders of Israel under International Law and the leading expert on the subject, co-copied me with three powerful letters in defense of Israel’s rights, in which he writes:
The country of Palestine was created in April 1920 at the San Remo Peace Conference for one purpose only – to be the Jewish National Home, and the term “Occupied Palestinian Territory” is thus an oxymoron since Palestine was never intended to be an Arab land under international law[.]” …
Upon the re-birth of the Jewish State on May 15, 1948, Jewish legal rights to Palestine were devolved upon the State of Israel. Whatever you may think, those rights never lapsed, were never annulled or voided and never validly or legally transferred to an Arab people known as “Palestinians”, as you so wrongly assume. Moreover, subsequent events – such as the 1947 Partition Resolution, Security Council Resolution 242, the Israel-PLO Agreements or the Road Map Peace Plan – have not superseded or curtailed the rights of the Jewish People to former Mandated Palestine[.]
Israel’s Deputy FM Ayalon explained The Truth about the West Bank in a now famous video.
The charters of both Fatah and Hamas and the Arabs in general consider the San Remo Resolution and the Mandate to be passed in violation of Arab rights and therefore illegal. They want these laws reversed and Israel destroyed. They have no respect for international law, but they bash Israel in the name of international law, though Israel is not in violation of it.
The international community accepts these legal determinations but applies the terms of the Fourth Geneva Convention (FGC) to classify Judea and Samaria as occupied territory. Opponents of Israel cite in support the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the apparently questionable legality of the security fence built by Israel. Israel chose not to participate in its hearing. The ICJ determined that the FGC applied and that the construction fence was illegal. With all due respect to them, I suggest that this determination was wrong.
In addition to the provisions which shall be implemented in peacetime, the present Convention shall apply to all cases of declared war or of any other armed conflict which may arise between two or more of the High Contracting Parties, even if the state of war is not recognized by one of them.
The Convention shall also apply to all cases of partial or total occupation of the territory of a High Contracting Party.
Previous to the ’67 War, Jordon was in possession of the lands, but Jordan’s sovereignty over them was recognized only by Britain and Pakistan. Thus, the lands in question were not “the territory of a High Contracting Party.”
The IJC finessed this precondition by holding that“the Convention applies, in particular, in any territory occupied in the course of the conflict by one of the contracting parties.”
Be that as it may, the Palestinians, as set out in the statement submitted by BADILS, are not really complaining about violations of the FGC so much as they are complaining about the terms of the Oslo Accords, which divide the land into Areas A, B, and C. The Palestinians are not satisfied with building in Areas A and B, where they are fully in control; instead, they want to build in Area C, where they have no rights and where Israel is in control.
Accordingly, they ask of the HRC, inter alia, to:
Condemn Israel’s policy of land and resources grab in area c and in east Jerusalem in order to build and/or expand colonies while the Palestinian communities in these areas are prohibited from acquiring permits to build houses on their own land. To call upon Israel to immediately revoke all orders concerning the demolition of houses and eviction of Palestinians in the OPT.
Condemn Israel’s practice of prohibiting Palestinians living in Area C and in East Jerusalem of receiving building permits and therewith hindering the natural growth of those communities.
They also ask that the HRC to:
Register Israel’s system of institutionalized discrimination that distinguishes between Jewish nationals and citizens and Palestinian Arabs and extends from Israel Proper to the OPT.
Register Israel’s continuing practices of house demolitions, land confiscations, and its adoption of policies resulting in inadequate housing and living conditions.
Israel is treating all residents living in Judea and Samaria, whether Arab or Jew, pursuant to Occupation Law and is treating all residents of Israel, whether Jew or Arab, according to Israeli law. Any house demolitions or land confiscation in either place takes place according to the law of the land.
Essentially, the Palestinians, with the aid of the international community, keep rewriting the rules of the game to favor their cause.
Israel accepted Res. 242 in ’67, which allowed her to stay in occupation until she had an agreement for secured and recognized borders. The resolution also permitted Israel to keep some of the land. It was not until ’83 that Yasser Arafat accepted the resolution, which he was required to do as a precondition to entering the Oslo Accords. In reality, he and the PA rejected the resolution, and they still do, as they demand 100% of the land in any settlement. And the PA violates said resolution by inciting and perpetrating violence every day.
The Oslo Accords were silent on the question of settlement construction, yet the PA demands the cessation of same as a precondition to negotiations. And now they are demanding that the Accords be amended to allow them to build in Area C.
Unfortunately, the U.N., the EU, and even the U.S. support them in their endeavors.
The sooner Israel abrogates the Oslo Accords for cause, the better. But that won’t stop the delegitimizing and demonizing. It will just change the playing field.
Pursuant to her legal rights as defined above by Howard Grief, Israel should claim sovereignty over Area C and settle it as she sees fit. It is her right.