[Published 22 April 2011]
The recent attempt by the Marrickville Council in Sydney to impose a boycott on its purchase of Israeli goods and products spectacularly collapsed after the Council was advised by its Chief Officer that enforcing the boycott would cost its ratepayers four million dollars.
When people have to put their money where their mouth is - an idea that seems attractive in the first place suddenly becomes very much less desirable. So it proved to be with Marrickville Council.
What is of more concern however is that a boycott should never have been entertained by the Council in the first place - given the nature of the campaign as articulated by its originators.
In July 2005 “Palestinian civil society” called for a “global citizens response” under the following manifesto:
“The call urges various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law by:
1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;
2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”
The following inaccuracies and misrepresentations are immediately apparent in this manifesto:
1. Those calling for the boycott have themselves been breaching their obligations under international law for the last 90 years by declaring in Article 20 of the PLO Covenant:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void.”
2. “Everything that has been based on” the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine” includes:
(i) The Versailles Peace Conference 1919
(ii) The San Remo Conference 1920
(iii) The Treaty of Sevres 1920
(iv) The exclusion from 1923 of 77% of the Mandate area in which the Jewish National Home was to be reconstituted and its subsequent creation as the Arab State of Transjordan in 1946
(v) Article 80 of the United Nations Charter
(vi) The creation of the State of Israel in 1948
(vii) The Armistice Lines established by the UN in 1949
(viii)The joint decision of West Bank and Jordanian Arabs to unify the West Bank and Jordan in 1950
(ix) UN Security Council Resolution 242
Surely those being asked to boycott Israel should be first demanding Palestinian excision of Article 20 from their Charter and observance by Palestinians of the above body of international law as the price for supporting any boycott.
Supporting law-breakers who continue to willfully ignore the law should certainly not be countenanced.
3. With the exception of the Golan Heights - none of the land occupied by Israel in the 1967 War can be designated as “Arab lands” - since sovereignty in such lands remains undetermined.
Jordan’s attempt to annex the West Bank and East Jerusalem in 1950 was only recognized by Great Britain and Pakistan. Jordan relinquished whatever claims it had in 1988.
These lands are presently “no man’s land” over which both Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) are making sovereign claims that can only be resolved in direct face to face negotiations - which have now stalled because the PA refuses to resume such negotiations with Israel.
Supporting the boycott encourages the continuation of this negotiating gridlock and is contrary to what the international community is demanding.
4. Calling for Jews to stop settling in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - (termed “colonization” under the manifesto) contravenes article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
Seeking to exclude anyone but Palestinians from living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is racist, discriminatory and constitutes apartheid - and brands those who support a boycott on this ground as supporters of such an outrageous and offensive policy.
5. Israel has already made it clear that the Wall - where built on “no-man’s land” - will be dismantled when secure and recognized borders between Israel and a Palestinian State are established in accordance with UN Security Council Resolution 242.
Boycotting Israel for not demolishing the wall whilst these legal requirements remain unresolved - yet again indicates support for those who have scant regard for international law.
6. Full equality for Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel already exists.
Those being asked to boycott Israel should seek clarification as to what fundamental rights are being denied to Arabs in Israel that are enjoyed by Arab residents in the West Bank and Gaza.
7. UN General Assembly Resolution 194 has never been binding on Israel.
Professor Julius Stone states in his book “Israel and Palestine - Assault on the Law of Nations"
“General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) of December 11,1948 … did not even purport to be in in mandatory terms, but was merely parts of the terms of reference of the Palestinian Conciliation Commission. A recital in Resolution 273 (III) of May 11, 1949, admitting Israel to the United Nations “recalled” that Resolution 194 (III) provided an option for refugees to return to their homes, and compensation if they opted not to return, but it immediately in the same recital “noted” the declarations and explanations made by Israel before the ad hoc committee in respect of the implementation of that resolution. Since Israel’s declarations and explanations did not unquailifiedly accept the resolution, this can in no way be regarded as creating a legal obligation.” (p.68)
Then of course there is the hypocrisy inherent in seeking to selectively decide what to boycott - such as cosmetics, foodstuffs, sweets, supermarket shelves and other soft targets - but not life-saving cures, medical breakthroughs, high-tech components used in IT systems, water technologies and electric cars.
The boycott was initiated in 2005 on the basis of a manifesto that was both false and misleading.
Those silly enough to be drawn into its net without fully understanding that law-breaking and racism permeate its manifesto - only have themselves to blame for being duped and labelled naïve and foolish.
Had Marrickville Council taken the time to properly understand what the Council was being exposed to - the fiasco that followed their initial decision would not have occurred. Others being similarly minded to embark on such a mindless and irrelevant journey hopefully won’t now fall into the same trap.
This is a boycott full of holes that is slowly sinking to the bottom of the sea of deception that created it.