Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922

Mandate for Palestine - July 24, 1922
Jordan is 77% of former Palestine - Israel, the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) and Gaza comprise 23%.

Monday, June 29, 2015

Palestine - Where To From Here?

[Published 24 August 2012]

Israel’s Foreign Minister - Avigdor Liberman - has written to Her Excellency Baroness Ashton - High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security:
“to demonstrate Israel’s goodwill, desire to build trust and sincere desire to create a positive atmosphere vis a vis the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the goal of bringing our neighbors back to the table of direct negotiations.“

The PA has refused to resume direct negotiations until Israel agrees to impose a construction freeze in the West Bank for the duration of such resumed negotiations - which Israel refuses to do.

Mr Liberman has listed the following “significant gestures” made by Israel to attract the PA to drop its demand for a freeze and return to the negotiating table - which he claims are “not properly represented or reflected in the policy of the European Union or the Quartet on this subject.”

1. Israeli Finance Minister Yuval Shteinitz and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad concluded (July 31) arrangements with respect to the transfer of goods between Israel and the PA and related tax procedures as recommended by the International Monetary Fund.
2. In light of the PA‘s budget crisis, Israel transferred at the beginning of the month of Ramadan (July 27) an advance of NIS 180 million (approximately USD 45 million) of August tax remittances. The money was intended to help the PA pay salaries in time to celebrate the holiday.
3. An agreement was concluded (July 14) to employ an additional 5,000 Palestinian construction workers in Israel;
4. The number of roadblocks was reduced to 10, most of which are normally open;
5. The remains of Palestinian terrorists were returned (May 31).
6. Israel agreed to develop the gas field off the Gaza shoreline.
7. Israel is promoting infrastructure projects in Area C, including completion of a master plan. In 2011, 119 infrastructure projects were approved, 58 of them with international financing. Fifteen projects relating to the construction and renovation of infrastructures for schools and clinics have received “fast-track” approval.

Mr Liberman complains that there has been no willingness or positive attitude on the part of the PA to reciprocate these moves - and has pointed to the following actions undertaken in the diplomatic and legal arenas against Israel:

1. Attempts to accelerate illegal construction in Area C of the West Bank where sole responsibility is vested in Israel (including dragging the EU into this problematic activity)
2. Encouraging an economic boycott on the Israeli economy in the West Bank
3. Generating repeated negative statements against Israel.
4. Blaming Israel for the murder of Yassir Arafat
5. Ongoing institutionalized incitement in the Palestinian media, attacking Israel and the legitimacy of the State’s existence.

Mr Liberman has also made a stinging attack on PA President Mahmoud Abbas claiming:

1. Mr. Abbas is apparently uninterested or unable—due to his standing in the domestic Palestinian scene vis a vis Hamas, and in light of the regional geopolitical situation—to reach an agreement which would bring an end to the conflict, including addressing all the core issues.
2. Mr Abbas is creating a culture of blaming Israel for delaying the process, while attempting to achieve advantages without negotiation via blackmailing and ongoing attempts to internationalize the conflict - which he says can be confirmed by the Jordanians.
3. In a calculated manner, Mr. Abbas is focusing his dialogue with the international community on the subject of settlements.

Unfortunately - Mr Liberman further claims - the international community tends to accept this discourse lock, stock and barrel, without criticism or a nuanced approach. This is a damaging attitude, which according to Mr Liberman does not reflect the reality on the ground.

Mr Liberman is at pains to further point out that:

1. The entire area of the settlements constitutes approximately one percent of the area of the West Bank.
2. The last settlement which Israel constructed was in 1991.
3. In the framework of the peace accord with Egypt (1979), Israel evacuated all the settlements and military bases in Sinai.
4. In 2005 - Israel evacuated all of its settlements from the Gaza Strip, as well as four settlements in the northern West Bank - and since such withdrawal 14,000 rockets and missiles have been indiscriminately shot at towns and villages in southern Israel from Gaza.

Mr Liberman makes the following further points in relation to the vexed issue of settlements:

1. Facts and history, as opposed to the simplistic stereotypes and political bias, contradict the idea that somehow the settlement enterprise is the main obstacle to renewing the negotiations. This premise simply does not stand up to the test of reality or the historic precedent of the peace process between Israel and its neighbors. Both peace accords, with Egypt and Jordan, were signed when settlements existed;
2. The claim that settlements are the obstacle to peace is unfounded

Mr Liberman’s prescription for restarting the stalled negotiations calls for fresh general elections for the PA to enable a new, legitimate, hopefully realistic Palestinian leadership to be elected. Such elections were due to be held in 2010 and have since been postponed several times. No new date has been set for such elections.

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak have since made it very clear that such a proposal does not represent Israel‘s official position. Clearly the European Union could not in such circumstances be expected to endorse Mr Liberman’s proposal as a possible circuit breaker to get negotiations started again.

However - the European Union cannot keep walking the diplomatic tightrope and simply ignore Mr Liberman‘s letter.

Surely the way forward now requires the European Union to indicate whether it considers that the PA should resume negotiations without preconditions in the light of the “significant gestures“ made by Israel.

If the answer is in the affirmative - then the European Union should indicate whether the PA’s refusal to do so would result in the PA being isolated from total or partial diplomatic and financial support from the European Union until the PA resumes such negotiations.

If the answer is in the negative - then the European Union should spell out what it considers needs to be further done by Israel to get the parties around the negotiating table - and whether Israel’s refusal to do so would result in Israel being isolated from total or partial diplomatic and financial support from the European Union until Israel meets the European Union’s requirements

A one line throwaway response from the European Union will not suffice. Baroness Ashton needs to pen a detailed reply to Mr Liberman without delay.

Mr Liberman has put Israel’s cards on the table. Now it is time for the European Union to do likewise.

Palestine - Burying The Past, Faking The Future

[Published 16 August 2012]

Richard Falk - United Nations Special Rapporteur on “the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967” - provides compelling proof of how successful the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) has been in its attempt to bury historical fact and international law regarding the former territory of Palestine.

Mr Falk is not on his own among the United Nations coterie of organizations and officials who seem ready to try and wrest the title deeds granted to the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine pursuant to the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter - following the decisions of the San Remo Conference and the signing of the Treaty of Sevres.

Former Secretary General Kofi Annan amazingly failed to include any mention of the Mandate and article 80 in his brief delivered to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in 2003 when seeking its advisory opinion on the legality of part of Israel’s security fence being erected in the West Bank.

The ICJ’s subsequent failure to consider the effect of the Mandate and article 80 still needs to be explained - especially as one of the Presiding Judges warned that such an examination was necessary.

UNESCO maintains that Palestine is a State - when it clearly fails to comply with the requirements of the Montevideo Convention 1933.

Now Mr Falk - writing recently on his blog page - adds further fuel to the fire:
“I regard the Balfour Declaration and the mandatory system as classic colonial moves that have lost whatever legitimacy that they possessed at the time of their utterance, and prefer to view the competing claims to land and rights on the basis either of the 1948 partition proposal or the 1967 boundaries, although if there was diplomatic parity, I would respect whatever accommodation the parties reached, but without such parity, it seems necessary to invoke the allocation of rights as per settled international law.”

Mr Falk was parroting what had first appeared in Article 18 of the PLO Charter in 1964:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate system and all that has been based on them are considered fraud.”

But even the PLO was forced to change that viewpoint just four years later - when it recognized that if the Mandate system was a fraud, then the Mandates for Syria and Lebanon and Mesopotamia - which had delivered self determination to the Arabs in 99.90% of the captured Ottoman territory - could also be subject to challenge.

With some crafty draughtsmanship - Article 18 was replaced in 1968 with the following Article 20 in the redrafted Charter:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based on them is null and void”

In response to Mr Falk’s remarks - I asked him:
“The mandatory system delivered self determination to the Arabs as well as the Jews. When did the League of Nations mandate lose its legitimacy as settled international law?
Are both Jordan and Israel illegitimate?
Is article 80 of the UN Charter not settled international law?
The partition proposal was in 1947 — not 1948. It spoke of a Jewish state and an Arab state—not a Palestinian state. There were no 1967 boundaries. Do you agree? “

Mr Falk’s reply was very troubling:
“Churchill was a notorious advocate of colonialism and possessed a colonial mentality, persisting after World War II. I think it is not in Israel’s current interest to argue the historical case for its original claim of statehood.
A more compelling ground would be to work toward peace and reconciliation premised on the 1967 realities. To keep moving the goal posts, ‘fact on the ground’ after 1967, is equally doomed if a sustainable peace is our shared goal.”

Suddenly everything was to now be forgotten in Mr Falk’s opinion before “the 1967 realities”.

The penny dropped as I commented :
“I now am beginning to understand why you don’t want to have anything to do with the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter or what happened between 1920-1948.. The inconvenient truth of the Jewish people’s struggle to assert its legal claim to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Palestine during those 28 years totally undercuts and dismisses those who would deny the Jews any legal or moral rights in their ancient and biblical homeland.

Now you even go further in wanting to forget 1948-1967 as well—when you state:
“I think it is not in Israel’s current interest to argue the historical case for its original claim of statehood. A more compelling ground would be to work toward peace and reconciliation premised on the 1967 realities.”

Israel’s case is not only historical—it is legal—sanctioned by the League of Nations and the United Nations. Why do you continually seek to deny the existence of these vested Jewish legal rights?"

Mr Falk then proceeded to change tack yet again in stating:
“Your reliance on the Balfour Declaration, UN partition proposals, etc., is one, but only one, construction of international law. There are competing constructions that do not regard as any longer valid all acts based on colonialist authority. My own view because of these contradictory lines of historical authority is to start from the present reality to sort out the respective claims of both peoples according to the logic of self-determination, an approach that will never satisfy extremists on either side, but has the best chance of achieving a sustainable peace.”

Suddenly the ”realities of 1967” mentioned as a starting point just a few days earlier had disappeared into the blue yonder to be replaced by “the present reality” as the new starting point.
Both puzzled and bemused I was motivated to ask Mr Falk:
“Which of the “contradictory lines of historical authority” do you personally accept?
1. the PLO position that regards the Balfour Declaration, the Mandate and everything that resulted from it to be null and void.
2. The Zionist position that accepts the Mandate to have been a proper exercise of the League of Nations sovereign power to confer on Great Britain

With respect this is the third time you have changed your starting date:
1. You originally said 1948 or 1967

2. You then said 1967

3. You now state — “the present reality”

Won’t any of these starting points still involve sorting out the respective claims of both parties to self determination based on what happened between at least 1917-2012 and what happened to the territory once called Palestine during that period?”

I am still waiting for an answer from Mr Falk.

Turning historical facts and established international law on its head in favour of a fake and forged PLO narrative can only exacerbate - not help resolve - the 130 years old conflict between Arabs and Jews.

Palestine - Don't Repeat The Syrian Fiasco

[Published 9 August 2012]

Australia’s Foreign Minister - Senator Bob Carr - has been visiting Israel and in the time honoured tradition of all such visiting dignitaries - has met with Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The usual motherhood statement that normally follows such meetings was issued:
“In discussions with Prime Minister Netanyahu, Senator Carr underscored the importance of reaching a negotiated two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and emphasised the urgent need for resumption of negotiations.”

Australia - like most countries around the world - has put its credibility, money and prestige on the line in wanting to see this outcome - even though 19 years of fruitless negotiations have failed to get the proposal to first base.

The key to such a solution is that it must be “negotiated” and for that to happen there is an “urgent need for resumption of negotiations”.

The problem is that Israel is ready to resume such negotiations without preconditions - but the Palestinian Authority will not resume those negotiations unless Israel imposes a building freeze in the West Bank for the duration of the resumed negotiations.

A 10 month moratorium imposed by Israel in November 2009 on new residential building in the West Bank proved to be a complete waste of time - as the Palestinian Authority only returned to the negotiating table one month prior to the moratorium’s expiry - and then tried to get an extension - which was rejected and has been refused ever since.

Australia and other like-minded nations must now actively and urgently engage in trying to break this impasse by getting Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table as soon as possible - if the two-state solution so earnestly desired is ever to be achieved.

There is no prospect of such a solution whilst Australia and many other countries of influence become more frustrated crossing their arms and furrowing their brows in making similar ineffectual statements.

At the same time these same countries are also wringing their hands at the murder and mayhem that has been going on before their very eyes in Syria for the last 18 months. Any action by them to halt the slaughter there - short of military intervention - is apparently beyond contemplation.

These countries can now only sit helplessly by and pray that there will be sufficient defections from the Assad regime to make his continuing grip on power untenable.

Iran, Russia and China - and the Alawite ruling minority - however have different ideas. The end of bloodbath is nowhere in sight.

Faced with this humanitarian tragedy in Syria - Australia and those other countries seeking the resumption of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority need to seriously reflect on the responsibility they will ultimately have to bear should violence shatter the present relative calm and lead to a strong military response by Israel in the West Bank or Gaza.

They should give serious consideration to implementing some of the following measures to try and get Israel and the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table immediately:
1. America could offer to pardon Israeli-American spy Jonathan Pollard after being imprisoned for the last 27 years - in return for Israel agreeing to a limited moratorium on building in the West Bank.

Pollard has renounced his United States citizenship and is now an Israeli citizen. He would be deported to Israel if he were released from prison.

President Obama has been opposed to such a move - but the deteriorating situation in Syria and the continuing stalemate between Israel and the Palestinian Authority could be the catalysts for the President changing his mind - not to mention the boost that such a decision would give to his chances of re-election in November.

An offer to release Pollard would prove virtually impossible for Israel to refuse.

2. Australia and the European Union Member States could withhold any further funding to Israeli based non-government organisations financially assisting the 5% of the Palestinian Arabs who presently live in Area C - some 60% of the West Bank.

Much of this money has gone to fund illegal Arab building activity in Area C. Israel is acting through the Courts to end such illegal building and there is growing confrontation between the civil administration and the Arab residents,

Keeping the money flowing at least for humanitarian - if not building - purposes could be an incentive to the Palestinian Authority to return to the negotiating table.

3. Some EU member states have formed an interest group to advocate a change in Israeli policy in Area C including Germany, the UK, Belgium, Denmark, France, Sweden and the EU Commission. These countries could indicate they will not pursue their agenda whilst the Palestinian Authority remains absent from the negotiating table.

4. Withdrawing all diplomatic and financial support should the Palestinian Authority continue to pursue its quest to be recognized as a non-member observer state at the United Nations in September in breach of its agreement to not take such unilateral action.

5. Cutting funding to the Palestinian Authority for use in Areas A and B where the remaining 95% of the West Bank Arab population reside.

6. Those 87 countries that did not vote to admit Palestine as a member State of UNESCO could begin a diplomatic campaign to terminate Palestine’s membership of UNESCO by securing a resolution requiring UNESCO to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice as to the legality and constitutionality of the decision to admit Palestine as a member state of UNESCO.

Whether any of these suggestions will have the desired effect of convincing Israel and the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations can only be determined once they have been put in motion.

The real question is - can the world afford to sit by and do nothing but utter platitudes such as those expressed by Australia’s Foreign Minister?

If that is all they continue to do - then the prospect of negotiations resuming again is bleak indeed.

The consequences and repercussions that could follow will bring home to the international community the folly of their inaction and the threat to human life their indecision helped incubate.

Another potential Syria with the world sitting by on the sidelines as the Israeli/Arab conflict spirals out of control - unable to do anything but call for a ceasefire that the international community is unable to enforce - is a horrible scenario.

It hopefully can be avoided - if the international community acts now

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Palestine - UN Special Rapporteur Fostering Jew-hatred Again

[Published 3 August 2012]

Richard Falk - UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights on Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 - appears to have landed himself in hot water once again - as his web site “Citizen Pilgrimage” - has hosted a series of posts that contain comments that are highly offensive and insulting of Jews.

He apparently has not learned any lesson after having been rapped over the knuckles by UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay following his posting of an anti-Semitic cartoon on the same website last June - which drew the following admonition from Ms Pillay in a letter to UN Watch:
“Notwithstanding the fact that Mr. Falk is neither a representative nor an employee of my Office, thank you for drawing my attention to the anti-Semitic image that was posted on his personal website. I utterly deplore and condemn anti-Semitism, as I do any form of incitement to hatred and racial discrimination.

I also note Mr. Falk’s series of public apologies, in which he explained his inadvertent mistake and clearly acknowledged the anti-Semitic and objectionable nature of the cartoon. I welcome the fact that he swiftly removed the image from his website, and expressed his regrets at his own “carelessness” in not examining it more carefully before posting it in the first place.”

One of Mr Falk’s apologies contained the following statement::
“My intention has never been to demean in any way Jews as a people despite my strong criticisms of Israeli policies,and some versions of “Zionist support". To be clear, I oppose any denigration of a people based on ethnicity, race, religion, stage of development, and believe in the human dignity of all people in their individual and collective identity.”

Yet one year later Mr Falk has allowed the following views (and many more) to be openly espoused on his web site in a series of separate posts:
“If Israel and the Jews hope to avoid the next shoah, they had better start learning a little empathy, because, while you are laughing now, things can change very rapidly, as we have seen in the last century (and the one before that, and the one before that….). Do you really want to be on the side that takes down our fragile civilization?”

“We can’t afford any more wars, especially ones to rescue Jews who have acted recklessly again and gotten themselves in trouble again with their big mouths and by flaunting their wealth in an unseemly manner.”

“The truth is that Jews have a terrible track record, and they seem to be obsessed with the (false) notion that people hate them for no reason. There are very good reasons for hating jews today, and that makes me sad. How can jews be acting this way so soon after the last catastrophe?"

I have been witness to these vicious posts as I endeavoured to get some responses from Mr Falk to objections I had taken to an article he had written in which he maintained that the moral and legal premises of Jewish claims in the West Bank were “without substance”.

Mr Falk’s assertion - at the time of his cartoon apology - that he opposed the denigration of people based on ethnicity - could not be possibly squared with what he was allowing to be published on his web site just twelve months later.

Mr Falk supposedly realised the seriousness of his publishing similar comments by stating:
“Recently my blog posts have attracted some venomous comments. I have somewhat reluctantly ‘approved’ of most such comments unless blatantly anti-Arab, anti-Palestinian, anti-Semitic, racist, or personally defamatory, and even with such offending comments I have leaned toward inclusion. Recently, however, I have received several critical messages (one of which I assume was from me - author) suggesting that allowing such comments demeans the quality of the dialogue generated by the blog. These messages have prompted me to reconsider my way of filtering comments,and lead me to become somewhat more of a gatekeeper.”

In a further sign of his intent to forbid posts such as those set out above - Mr Falk stated:
“ I welcome dissent, I will exclude ‘Jew haters,’ but include all who seek discussion and debate carried on in a civil tone, without bashing those whose views they disagree with.”

However, Mr Falk actually published these remarks the day before the publication of the above offensive statements. It would appear that his protestations at ending the publication of Jew-hatred posts lasted less than 24 hours.

Mr Falk might show how serious his intentions are this third time around by immediately removing the above offensive statements and many more posts in similar vein still able to be read on his site.

Will it be a case of “three strikes and you’re out” as Special Rapporteur if he doesn‘t?

These inflammatory statements have no place on the web site of a Special Rapporteur.

Perhaps he also needs to rethink his stated opinion that the Jewish People have no legal right to reconstitute the Jewish National Home anywhere in former Palestine as expressed by him in the following post:
“I regard the Balfour Declaration and the mandatory system as classic colonial moves that have lost whatever legitimacy that they possessed at the time of their utterance, and prefer to view the competing claims to land and rights on the basis either of the 1948 partition proposal or the 1967 boundaries, although if there was diplomatic parity, I would respect whatever accommodation the parties reached, but without such parity, it seems necessary to invoke the allocation of rights as per settled international law.”

Of course the partition proposal was in 1947 - not 1948 and there were no 1967 boundaries - only armistice lines.

Denying the Jews have any legal rights under the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1922 Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter perhaps helps explain why so many vile comments were received on Mr Falk’s website such as this one:
“And give me a break with the nonsense about how there are 59 islamic countries but no jewish ones. Grow up, would you? Jews aren’t rich and powerful enough?“

The sooner Mr Falk acknowledges that his position requires him to uphold international law - not denigrate or demean it - the sooner he might be able to bring the prestige and influence of his office to bear in helping to end the 130 years old conflict between Jews and Arabs.

Has the leopard changed his spots or merely tried to camouflage his tracks?

I reserve my judgment.

Palestine - Jews And Arabs, The Mandate And The Law

[Published 26 July 2012]

The Levy Commission’s resurrection of the Mandate for Palestine as the legal title deed establishing Israel’s entitlement to claim sovereignty in the West Bank has come 48 years after the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) first tried to bury it.

A member of the Levy Commission - Alan Baker - stated this week that the three Commissioners were:
“legal experts examining a legal situation and making legally oriented recommendations.”

Two short statements made by the PLO in 1964 and 1968 had attempted to negate the unanimous decision of the League of Nations in 1922 to grant the Mandate for Palestine to Great Britain to enable the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in any part of former Palestine.

Those statements also became the opening shots in an ongoing and concerted Arab campaign of misinformation and disinformation to denigrate and vilify the Jewish People’s entitlement to its own state in its ancient and biblical homeland. They provide potent evidence to explain why the conflict between Arabs and Jews still remains unresolved in 2012.

The first statement - in 1964 - appeared in Article 18 of the Palestinian National Covenant :
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate system and all that have been based upon them are considered fraud”

The second - in 1968 - followed the loss of the West Bank by Jordan to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Article 18 was replaced by Article 20 in a revamped document - the Palestinian National Charter - to declare:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine and everything that has been based on them are deemed null and void.”

The change - from the “Mandate system” being “fraud” - to the “Mandate for Palestine” being “null and void” - was deliberate.

The “Mandate system “- in the form of the Mandates for Syria and Lebanon and for Mesopotamia (Iraq) - had delivered self-determination for the Arabs and the creation of three sovereign Arab states. To continue to declare the Mandate system a “fraud” would undermine the sovereign integrity of those Arab states.

The Mandate for Palestine was solely targeted. It was no longer a “fraud” - it was “null and void”.

In one fell swoop the Arabs had dismissed as “null and void” not only the Balfour Declaration and the Mandate for Palestine - but also the resolutions of the San Remo Conference and the Treaty of Sevres in 1920, article 80 of the United Nations Charter in 1945 and Security Council resolution 242 in 1967.

Such double standards and hypocrisy seem to have escaped the international community or to have been deliberately overlooked by it.

The Arabs were perfectly entitled to ignore this body of international law if they wished - but they should have been forced to pay a high price for doing so in the form of suspension from membership of the United Nations and its other organs - until they acknowledged and agreed to accept the rule of law in the conduct of international relations between member states of the UN.

Instead - the international community pandered to the whim of these serial law-deniers for a variety of reasons - mainly oil, terrorism and geopolitical jockeying for influence in the Arab world.

Ignoring Israel’s legal rights under the Mandate at the United Nations has proved disastrous for the cause of peace in the Middle East - has led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Jews and Arabs - and has wreaked untold suffering and trauma on millions of others.

The International Court of Justice (ICJ) in its 2004 decision on the legality of Israel‘s security barrier - gave an air of legal respectability to the irrelevance of the Mandate - referring to it only once in the following statement.
“Palestine was part of the Ottoman Empire. At the end of the First World War, a class A. Mandate for Palestine was entrusted to Great Britain by the League of Nations,pursuant to paragraph 4 of Article 22 of the Covenant, which provided that:
“Certain communities, formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire have reached a stage of development where their existence as independent nations can be provisionally recognized subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a Mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone.’”

That this statement was demonstrably wrong was made clear by the following statement in the Palestine Royal Commission Report of 1937 - following its exhaustive consideration of the Mandate for Palestine:
“The Mandate is of a different type from the Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon and the draft Mandate for ‘Iraq. These latter, which were called for convenience “ A ” Mandates, accorded with the fourth paragraph of Article 22. Thus the Syrian Mandate provided that the government should be based on an organic law which should take into account the rights,interests and wishes of all the inhabitants,and that measures should be enacted ”to facilitate the progressive development of Syria and the Lebanon as independent States“. The corresponding sentences of the draft Mandate for ‘Iraq’ were the same. In compliance with them National Legislatures were established in due course on an elective basis.
Article I of the Palestine Mandate, on the other hand, vests “full powers of legislation and of administration“, within the limits of the Mandate, in the Mandatory.”

The Commission further asserted:
“Jews were admitted to be in Palestine by right. The little Jewish minority was to be helped to grow by immigration. To facilitate the establishment of the Jewish National Home was a binding international obligation on the Mandatory.“

It also made clear:
“The Mandate also imposed specific obligations towards the Arabs.Their civil and religious rights and their position as affected by immigration and land-settlement were not to be prejudiced.”

Notably absent in the Mandate was there any mention of the Arabs in Palestine having any political rights.

For the ICJ to summarily dismiss the Mandate and make the fundamental error it did in just one sentence - shows how successful the campaign begun by the Arabs 40 years earlier had become.

The ICJ decision has since been used as a whipping post at the United Nations to deny that Israel has any rights in international law to be and remain in the West Bank.

The Levy Committee has reversed that downward spiral and identified the Mandate for Palestine as the legal basis for any decisions taken by Israel aimed at resolving the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank between Jews and Arabs.

Hopefully the nations of the world will now sit up and take notice

Monday, June 22, 2015

Palestine - United Nations Perfidy Exposed

[Published 20 July 2012]

The canard - supported by countless United Nations General Assembly Resolutions - that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal in international law - has been dealt a crushing blow with the the recent release of the Levy Committee Report in Israel rebutting that claim.

The Committee comprised a retired Supreme Court Judge - Edmund Levy - a Tel Aviv District Court Judge - Tchia Shapira - and a former Foreign Ministry legal adviser Alan Baker. They were appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2012 to consider among other matters the legality of Jewish settlements established in the West Bank.

The San Remo Conference held in Italy in April 1920 was the Committee’s starting point.

That Conference had laid the grounds for the eventual creation of the Mandate for Palestine as part of a Mandate system involving the disposition of vast tracts of territory held by the Ottoman Empire for 400 years - but lost by it following its defeat in World War I.

Whilst Arab self-determination was to occur in 99.99% of the captured territory - the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home was limited to the remaining 0.01%. of that territory.

The Levy Report elaborates:
“In August 1922 the League of Nations approved the Mandate which was given to Britain, and thus the Jewish people’s right to settle in the Land of Israel, their historic homeland, and to establish their state there, was recognized in international law.

To complete the picture, we’ll add that with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, the principle of recognizing the validity of existing rights of states acquired under various mandates, including of course the rights of Jews to settle in the Land of Israel by virtue of the above documents, was determined in article 80 of its charter”

The International Court of Justice had failed to consider the Mandate and article 80 when it delivered its non-binding advisory opinion on 9 July 2004 that Israel had no legal right to erect part of Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank.

That decision has since been used by the United Nations and detractors of Israel to repeatedly discredit and delegitimise Israel’s right to maintain its claim to sovereignty in any part of the West Bank and for Jews to live there.

Surprisingly it was Egyptian appointee to the International Court - Judge El-Araby - who in fact had cautioned the other 14 Justices against ignoring an examination of the legal effect of the Mandate:
“The international legal status of the Palestinian Territory (paras. 70-71 of the Advisory Opinion), in my view, merits more comprehensive treatment. A historical survey is relevant to the question posed by the General Assembly, for it serves as the background to understanding the legal status of the Palestinian Territory on the one hand and underlines the special and continuing responsibility of the General Assembly on the other. This may appear as academic, without relevance to the present events. The present is however determined by the accumulation of past events and no reasonable and fair concern for the future can possibly disregard a firm grasp of past events. In particular, when on more than one occasion, the rule of law was consistently side-stepped. The point of departure, or one can say in legal jargon, the critical date, is the League of Nations Mandate which was entrusted to Great Britain.”

Regrettably Judge El-Araby’s sage advice was ignored - as the Levy Report now makes very clear.

In one respect the International Court could be excused for failing to consider the Mandate and Article 80 - since the then Secretary General of the United Nations - Kofi Annan - had failed to include these vital documents in the dossier of 88 documents he was required to submit to the Court that were likely to throw light upon the question” - as he was legally required to do under Article 65 of the Court‘s statute.

The International Court’s decision was fatally flawed as a result.

If you only submit half the relevant documents - you are sure to get only half an answer.

Those persons who prepared the dossier of documents and Mr Annan himself now need explain how documents - deemed so relevant by the Levy Committee - were omitted from the dossier submitted to the International Court.

The Levy Committee - after having considered the Mandate and Article 80 - concluded:
“.. we have no doubt that from the perspective of international law, the establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is legal”

The Levy Committee dismissed the opinion of the International Court that the legal status of this tiny sliver of land between Jordan and Israel - the size of Delaware - was solely governed by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 - when stating:.
“We do not believe that one can draw an analogy between this legal provision and those who sought to settle in Judea and Samaria not as a result of them being “deported” or “transferred” but because of their world view - to settle the Land of Israel.

We did not ignore the view of those who think that one should interpret the Fourth Geneva Convention as also prohibiting the occupying state to encourage or support the transfer of parts of its population to the occupied territory, even if it did not initiate it

But even if this interpretation is correct, we would not change our conclusion that no analogy should be drawn between Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, in light of the status of the territory under international law”

It would surely be the height of folly for the United Nations and Israel’s denigrators to continue to categorically spruik that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is illegal following the release of the Levy Report.

The United Nations needs to come clean and investigate why highly relevant documents to support the legal claim of Jews to settle in the West Bank were withheld from the International Court.

Will the egg splattered all over the United Nations following the release of the reasoned and considered Levy Report deter it from conducting such an investigation?

The continuing use of the International Court decision and the Fourth Geneva Convention to assert that Israel has no legal right to remain in even one square meter of the West Bank must now be seriously questioned.

Ironically Judge El-Araby is now the Secretary General of the Arab League and meets with Mr Annan frequently in Mr Annan’s new job with the United Nations trying to stop the slaughter in Syria.

Maybe Mr Annan can explain the cover up to Judge El-Araby over a cup of Turkish coffee.

Don’t hold your breath waiting

Palestine - Foreign Political Interference Dressed Up As Humanitarian Aid

[Published 12 July 2012]

Attempts by foreign Governments and international aid agencies to politically influence the outcome of negotiations begun under the Oslo Accords in 1993 - now seriously threaten the total abandonment of those Accords.

The battleground for such foreign interference is Susiya village - located in Area C which comprises about 60% of the West Bank - but where only 5% of the current West Bank Arab population live.

Area C has remained under the total administrative and security control of Israel for the last 45 years.

All the Jewish towns and villages in the West Bank have been established in Area C.

Allocation of sovereignty in Area C was to be determined in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap of 2002.

Those negotiations have hit a brick wall with the continuing refusal of the Palestinian Authority to resume such negotiations unless Israel places a total ban on further building in the West Bank for the duration of those negotiations.

The Governor of Hebron - Kamel Hamid - has highlighted Susiya’s problems in an open letter - stating
“I would like to draw your attention to the intention of the Israeli authorities to demolish Khirbet Susiya, located south of the town of Yatta in Hebron Governorate. The so-called Israeli “Civil Administration” has distributed final demolition orders on June 12, 2012, to 51 structures in the Khirbet while giving the population only 3 days to object to the decision. The demolition will devastate the lives of at least 160 Palestinians including 60 children. The lawyers of the Palestinian residents of the Khirbet, Rabbis for Human Rights, managed to get a freeze on the demolition for a period of 14 days from the Civil Administration only to find the decision reversed on June 17, 2012.”

Susiya has been the subject of many court cases before Israel’s High Court of Justice.

A brief - but incomplete - summary was presented to the Senate of the Australian Parliament by Senator Lee Rhiannon on 26 June 2012:
“ Since 1990 there have been a series of demolitions in Susiya and the Israeli authorities have never approved a master plan for Susiya, leaving residents unable to obtain permits for construction. In 2001 all structures were demolished and the residents were forcibly evicted. The residents’ appeal to the High Court of Justice against the action of the Israeli authorities was successful, allowing them to return to their land. In 2011 Susiya had four waves of demolition and, in 2012, the Israeli administration issued a new round of demolition orders.”

Surprisingly both the Hebron Governor and Senator Rhiannon fail to mention the current proceedings before the High Court of Justice relating to Susiya and the Court’s decision on 7 June 2012 in relation to the future conduct of those proceedings.

Foreign Governments and aid donors have been pouring millions of dollars into Susiya - despite its long running legal battles and the continuing uncertainty of tenure for its inhabitants.

Senator Lee Rhiannon told the Australian Senate:
“Right now many projects financed by overseas aid programs in Susiya in the West Bank are under threat from demolition orders issued by the Israeli civil administration. This includes an AusAID funded health clinic constructed through ActionAid’s local partners. Other projects at risk include a dairy production facility supported by the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the construction of four residential shelters funded with assistance from GVC, an Italian NGO; three animal shelters built in partnership with Save the Children UK and the Union of Agricultural Work Committees; and two water cisterns funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid Organisation and Action Against Hunger. Other aid projects which could be demolished include a community centre and a structure used to store sheep’s milk prior to sale, as well as granaries and shelters for sheep and chickens.”

Why would these foreign donors risk spending so much money in an area where they could possibly see the small population living there be declared as squatters and ordered by the Courts to move? Why commit internationally solicited aid funds to projects where no building approvals have been granted?

Would this money not be better employed in projects throughout the remaining 40% of the West Bank where 95% of the Arab population live under the administrative control of the Palestinian Authority or even in Area C where master plans for Arab villages have been approved by Israel?

The answer can be found in the following statement by the Rabbis For Human Rights:
“At first blush, it may seem that this is “only” about the threat to demolish the entire village of Susya, the homes of these simple cave dwellers of the South Hebron Hills. However, the truth is that the results will affect the fate of hundreds of Palestinian homes throughout the Occupied Territories, perhaps thousands. The outcome may well have an effect on our major appeal to return planning authority for Palestinian communities in Area C to Palestinian hands.”

The erection of illegal Arab structures has gathered pace in Area C as the Palestinian Authority pursues a policy of encouraging illegal land grabs, settlement and building on state lands in Area C.

Such land theft has consequences - and the Courts are increasingly being approached to have such activity declared illegal.

Illegal settlement - by either Arabs or Jews - should be regarded with equal severity.

Such conduct can be sought to be justified in the court of public opinion by organized demonstrations in front of demolished shelters using disputed facts - all dutifully recorded on television news and in sensational headlines around the world - or resolved by the Israeli courts.

Access to the Israeli Court system by Arab residents of the West Bank has always been available using the services of well funded and well resourced organizations such as Rabbis For Human Rights - whose donors include:.
1. Caritas Belgium
2. Church of Scotland
3. Church of Sweden
4. European Commission
5. Evangelical Church– Starkenburg West
6. Ford Foundation
7. New Israel Fund
8. Norwegian Church
9. Swedish Church
Rabbis For Human Rights are quite blunt and unapologetic as to the outcomes they are seeking in taking up the cudgels in Susiya to try and extend Palestinian Authority influence and control in Area C. They - and foreign Governments and aid donors - should let the Court rule on the disputes in Susiya and indicate their readiness to abide by the Court’s decisions.

Playing politics by building illegal structures that could face demolition is a reckless mismanagement of aid funds.

Foreign Governments and aid donors should not try to pretend that their interest in Susiya is purely humanitarian. It clearly is not

Palestine, Peoplehood And Presbyterians

[Published 8 July 2012]

The attempt by the Palestinian Arabs to create a second state - in addition to Jordan - reached the hallowed halls of the two million members of the Presbyterian Church in America this week.

By a razor thin margin of 333-331 with two abstentions, the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), being held in Pittsburgh, rejected a motion to divest from Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard and Motorola Solutions.

The General Assembly is the highest decision-making body for the church.

A 2011 church report found that Caterpillar supplies bulldozers for the demolition of Palestinian homes, Motorola provides cell phone technology to West Bank settlements and Hewlett-Packard manages information technology for the Israeli Navy. The decision to vote on divestment came after the companies allegedly refused the church’s entreaties to change their policies in regard to providing services to Israel.

The ongoing fascination the Presbyterian Church apparently has for the cause of the Palestinian Arabs does not appear to be matched by any concern for other peoples around the world struggling for recognition of their right to self-determination.

Steven Carol has highlighted the plight of many such groups in these eloquent terms:
“Must all national and ethnic groups that want their own states and have struggled for them - get them, in the name of self-determination?
If so, why haven’t the Imazighen (Berbers), who predate their Arab conquerors by millennia and who have had their own language and culture, have their own state?

Why is there no independent Euskadi state for Basques? Elsewhere in Europe, why is there no state for the Bretons of Brittany, the Flemings of Flanders, the Catalans of Catalonia in north-eastern Spain, the Frisans in the Netherlands, and the Sami people in northern Norway, Sweden, Finland and on the Kola Peninsula of Russia?

Why is there no state of Tibet, Jola state of Casamance (southern Senegal), Lunda state of Katanga, Luba state of South Kasai, Ibo state of Biafra, Tuareg state of Azawad, stretching across the Sahara from Mali to Niger, Tamil state in north-eastern Sri Lanka, a state of Cabinda, and a state of Kurdistan?

Of all the peoples on earth who have not yet been granted the sovereignty they have fought for–the Chechens of Russia, the Uighurs of China, the Karens of Myanmar, the Mizos and Nagas of northeast India, the Saharawis of Morocco, and the Acehans of Indonesia, to name but a few–why must the Palestinian Arabs be given a second Palestinian Arab state?

They already make up some 80 percent of the population of Jordan, a nation created by the British in 1921 from 77.5 percent of the original British Mandate of Palestine which was to be the Jewish National homeland.

There never was a separate Palestinian Arab people, distinct from other Arabs during the 1,192 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Seljuk, Ayyubid, Mameluke, and Ottoman rule.

Should the Palestinian Arabs alone be acknowledged by many, of deserving not one, but two states?

One important benchmark of nationhood must be the degree of difference from its neighbors, and the need for a state to protect that uniqueness. The Tibetans, for example, have their own special culture, language, and religion, which they will lose if they continue to be ruled by the Chinese; the Kurds have a culture and language unlike that of the Arabs; the Karens, a language and religion different from that of the Burmese.

There never was a separate Palestinian Arab people, distinct from other Arabs during the 1,192 years of Muslim hegemony in Palestine under Arab, Umayyad, Abbasid, Fatimid, Seljuk, Ayyubid, Mameluke, and Ottoman rule.

All through the period of the British military occupation and the subsequent British Mandate of Palestine, countless official British Mandate documents speak of the Jews and the Arabs of Palestine—not Jews and Palestinians.”

Unlike these various groups around the world - the Palestinian Arabs were offered their own state by the Peel Commission in 1937 and by the United Nations in 1947 - and rejected both opportunities.

Between 1948-1967 the Palestinian Arabs could have created an independent state in the West Bank and East Jerusalem - but chose to unify the West Bank with Jordan and become Jordanian citizens.

In 2000 and 2008 Israel made generous offers to the Palestinian Authority to divide sovereignty between them - which offers were again rejected.

The daily lives of 95% of the West Bank Arab population are now under the direct control and administration of the Palestinian Authority.

The state of Palestine has been admitted as a member state of UNESCO, competes in FIFA Soccer international competitons and will march under its flag at the Olympic Games in three weeks time. Palestine has more diplomatic missions in countries around the World than Israel.

Why has the Presbyterian Church therefore thought it necessary to continue to concentrate its efforts in support of the Palestinian Arabs to the exclusion of other peoples engaged in the same struggle around the world - especially as the Palestinian Arabs have been offered so many opportunities in the past to obtain what they seek now - but have rejected those offers on each occasion?

The same question could equally be asked of the following groups:
1. Pension funds in Norway and Sweden - that have divested themselves of holdings in some firms involved in building in settlements or helping to erect Israel’s contentious West Bank separation barrier.
2. European activists - who picket stores that sell goods produced by Israelis, interrupt concert performances by Israeli artists in theatres around the world and object to Israeli academics lecturing in overseas universities.
3. The United Nations and the United Nations Human Rights Council - that both focus almost entirely on the plight of the Palestinian Arabs and virtually none of those other peoples around the world denied any international recognition or support of their Peoplehood.

The Presbyterian Church and these other groups must believe that their actions can influence the resolution of the conflict between Arabs and Jews in relation to the allocation of sovereignty in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Otherwise why engage in this kind of conduct?

Why then do they not take similar action against China, Russia, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Iraq and Indonesia to support many of these other groups striving for recognition of their own Peoplehood?

Are the Jewish people being singled out once again - whilst other national, religious and ethnic groups slip under the radar?

Double standards - clearly evident in the support of one group to the exclusion of other groups similarly seeking self-determination - requires to be explained.

Palestine - Israel ReadiesTo Extend Its Sovereignty Into West Bank

[Published 28 June 2012]

A confluence of events is increasingly pointing to Israel taking action in the very near future to extend its sovereignty over a substantial part - if not all - of the 61% of the West Bank it has totally controlled since 1967 - unless Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas ends his posturing and submits to considerable loss of face by announcing he is now prepared to resume negotiations with Israel without preconditions of any kind.

Abbas himself only last week declared the negotiating processes begun under the Oslo Accords in 1993 and the Bush Roadmap in 2003 to be “clinically dead” (whatever that means). If he is not prepared to at least try to breathe life into those stalled processes by unconditionally returning to the negotiating table - he will be presiding over the irreversible end of those negotiations. Israel is not going to continue to mark time waiting for Abbas to end his political filibuster.

Abbas’s attempts to procure international pressure to be brought to bear on Israel to freeze building activities in the West Bank as a condition of resuming such negotiations have failed. He has literally been left to hang out to dry.

His meeting with Russian President Putin - during Putin’s visit to Israel, the West Bank and Jordan this week - clearly indicated his desperation and frustration - as revealed in the following press release:
“We assured the president that the way to peace is through negotiations with Israel, and we continue to call for him to hold an international peace conference in Moscow, as we previously agreed. We asked our friends to help us to release our prisoners who were arrested prior to 1994, who it was agreed with Israel would be released, but have not yet been freed, If it (Israel) frees these prisoners, there could be a meeting with Mr Netanyahu for a session of dialogue but that doesn’t mean negotiations,”

Only one person - President Obama - can possibly resuscitate the negotiations by inducing Israel to impose a building freeze for a limited time in the West Bank or release more prisoners than the thousands it has already done so.

This would require Obama to grant a pardon to Jonathan Pollard who has been rotting away in American prisons for the last 26 years for spying for Israel. Since Israeli President - Shimon Peres - tried and failed to secure Pollard’s release in the past two weeks - Abbas would need a miracle for Obama to change his mind and save Abbas from the hole which he has dug for himself.

Another indicator of Israel’s readiness to end the logjam in the West Bank for the last 19 years came with Israel’s response to the suggestion this week by the United Nations Human Rights Council President - Laura Dupuy Lasserre - that a fact-finding mission on West Bank settlements might be despatched as early as July. This news was met with a curt response from Eviatar Manor, deputy director-general for international organizations at Israel’s Foreign Ministry - who stated:
“It is important for us to remind everyone that we are not going to cooperate with this fact-finding mission. They will not be allowed to enter the country or go to the West Bank,”

Any decision to extend Israeli sovereignty into the West Bank will not be harmed by the finalisation of a Report this week by The Committee to Examine the State of Construction in the West Bank.

Chaired by Retired Supreme Court Justice Edmund Levy and including District Court Judge Techiya Shapira and former Ambassador and Foreign Ministry Legal Advisor Allan Baker - this Committee has reportedly found that the West Bank is not under occupation rule,

The Committee is reported to have :
“analyzed the historic and legal background of Judea and Samaria and concludes that the belligerent occupation approach must be discarded as reflecting Israel’s status in those areas. According to the committee’s approach, Judea and Samaria were in a judicial vacuum before the Six Day War. The reason was that the Kingdom of Jordan, which held those territories, did so against the rule of international law, and its sovereignty over them was recognized solely by Great Britain. Since Jordan was not the legal sovereign, the report argues, the territories cannot be defined as occupied in the legal sense of the word.

In addition, the committee offers a string of arguments showing that Israel itself has a legal connection to those territories, which is another reason why it is not an occupier.”

The Report will be a smack in the eye to the international community and many Non Governmental Organizations in Israel which have long held the view that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal in international law. It will however bolster the resolve of one of the strongest National Unity Government’s in Israel’s history to act to end this game of diplomatic ping pong that has raged over the West Bank for the last 45 years by confirming the right of the Jewish people to live in and reconstitute the Jewish National Home in its biblical and ancient homeland as promulgated in the Mandate for Palestine and the United Nations Charter - and acknowledged in Security Council Resolution 242.

Add to this mix the deteriorating political situation and civil unrest in Israel’s immediate neighbours -Syria, Egypt and Jordan - then the strategic position of the West Bank takes on an increasing significance for Israel’s security and national interests ensuring that the generous offers made by Israel to the Palestinian Authority in 2000 and 2008 to cede Israel’s claim to sovereignty in more than 90% of the West Bank are not going to be repeated.

The inability of the international community to do anything to end the slaughter in Syria that has so far reportedly claimed 16000 lives in the last 15 months indicates that any protests at Israel extending its sovereignty into a large part of the West Bank where very few Arabs presently live - would be rhetoric at best and nothing more.

The racist demand - still repeated mantra fashion by the Palestinian Authority and its spokesmen - that 350000 Jews living in the West Bank be dispossessed and removed from their homes - supported by the silence of - and in some cases the active support of - a majority of a morally corrupt international community - could never and can never be acceded to by Israel.

The decision by UNESCO last October to recognize and admit Palestine as its 195th member State effectively ended the claim that the Palestinian Arabs are homeless and stateless. Whilst this decision was both illegal and unconstitutional - the failure by anyone in the international community to urge UNESCO to have its decision confirmed by the International Court of Justice amounts to de facto acceptance by all member states of the UNESCO decision.

Putting all these ingredients together - the issue of resolving sovereignty in a substantial part of the West Bank could be set to undergo a dramatic change in a very short time.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Palestine - Semantic Skullduggery Sinks Solutions

[Published 21 June 2012]

The Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Information has now issued a book instructing Palestinian Arabs on the words they should use to replace ”the Israeli and American dissemination of poisoned terms”.

Palestinian Arabs are encouraged to use terms that indicate that Israel is the result of “a racist, colonialist endeavor,” and the book instructs Palestinians never to use the name “Israel” alone but instead to use the term “Israeli colonialism” To use “Israel” by itself is damaging, according to the PA, because to do so “describes Israel as a natural state.”

Whilst most of the misleading and deceptive terms to be employed are not new - the book highlights official PA approval and acceptance of the use of such terms in the semantic war that has been ongoing for the last 130 years - alongside the actual conflict that has been played out between Jews and Arabs during that period.

For example - the use of the term “West Bank” was introduced by Jordan in 1950 to replace the biblical names “Judea and Samaria” - names that had been used throughout the centuries and were still being used by the British Mandate authorities in 1948. This change of name has been an effective propaganda tool in trying to erase any Jewish connection with and entitlement to these areas after they were occupied by Jordan in the 1948 War of Independence and subsequently lost by Jordan to Israel in the 1967 Six Day War.

Similarly the use of the term “freedom fighter” instead of the term “terrorist” has had an impact on the way the Jewish-Arab conflict has been perceived.

Describing the conflict as the “Arab-Israeli conflict” or the “Israeli-Palestinian conflict” also suggests that the conflict only begun in 1948 and completely ignores the important legal and historical milestones that had taken place in the previous 30 years.

Encouraging the use of the words “racist and apartheid” in the same breath as the word “Israel” or the words “land theft” where “State lands or waste lands” are involved - conjure up poor and negative images of Israel that every day confounds the world with its scientific, agricultural, medical and intellectual discoveries.

These carefully chosen and continuously used terms have had remarkable success in aligning countries around the world to lend their support to the creation of a new exclusively Arab state between Israel and Jordan for the first time ever in recorded history. That is no mean feat.

Yet this kind of semantic war has been one of the major obstacles to resolving the conflict.

Whilst both sides are using different terms in talking about the conflict - any attempt to come to meaningful decisions in resolving the conflict is bound to fail - until both sides start talking about the conflict using the same language.

It is fair to say that in this kind of semantic tug of war - the People of the Book have been linguistically outsmarted by the successors to the authors of the One Thousand and One Nights.

But this brand of semantic war pales into insignificance when one considers the semantic war being waged when the parties are using the same terms - but applying different meanings to those terms.

Both sides have been engaging for the last 19 years in a dialogue under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap that has not been based on terms that have first been defined and agreed upon between them

The deliberate ambiguities and vague generalisations in the Oslo Accords and the Roadmap have led to innumerable differences and disagreements.

Any lawyer worth his salt will insist on terms being fully defined in agreements so that the parties will be in no doubt as to what the use of that term in the agreement means.

The simplest and most basic of these misunderstandings relates to the meaning of the term “Palestine“.

Does Palestine only include Israel, the West Bank and Gaza? Or does it also include Jordan - 78% of the territory called Palestine covered by the Mandate for Palestine conferred on Great Britain by the League of Nations in 1922 following the San Remo Conference and the signing of the Treaty of Sevres in 1920?

According to Article 2 of the the Palestine Liberation Organization Charter - Jordan is included:
“Palestine,with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate, is an indivisible territorial unit.”

So why is the PLO only demanding territorial concessions including land swaps by Israel - and not Jordan - in its push for statehood and independence?

Why should Jordan - the Arab country that invaded and occupied the West Bank for 19 years between 1948-1967 when an independent Palestinian Arab State could have been created in a Jew-free West Bank - be quarantined from being part of the solution - now that 350,000 Jews live there?

When the Hashemite rulers in Jordan proclaim that “Jordan is Jordan and Palestine is Palestine” - what do they mean? When these same rulers pronounce that “Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan” - what are they trying to convey?

Any territorial grant of land by Jordan to a putative Palestinan Arab state equal to the amount of territory retained by Israel in the West Bank would have no effect on Jordan’s security or territorial integrity. Yet it could have a real impact in bringing about a resolution to the long running conflict.

Jordan helped create the current problems in the West Bank. Why shouldn’t Jordan be part of the solution to ending those problems arising from its former occupation of the West Bank and the fact that it sits on 78% of “Palestine”?

All of these questions must now take on a new meaning following the declaration by PLO chairman - and Palestinian president - Mahmoud Abbas - that the negotiations between Israel and the PLO under the Oslo Accords and the Bush Roadmap are “clinically dead”

Here again is another new term introduced into the political lexicon - which now needs to be defined so that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are in agreement as to its meaning as it inevitably becomes part of the international dialogue.

Anyone care to speculate that Israel and the Palestinian Authority will ever agree on what the terms “Palestine” and “clinically dead” mean?

Palestine - Rabbis For Human Rights Become Political Power Brokers

[Published 14 June 2012]

Rabbis for Human Rights (RHR) - a leading non-government human rights organization (NGO) in Israel - has made an unprecedented attack on the integrity of Israel’s High Court - whilst simultaneously attempting to undermine what little is left of the stalled Peace Process between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

The Rabbis have opened themselves up to such criticism as a result of their involvement in a case before Israel’s High Court alleging illegal building activity in Susya – an Arab village located in Area C of the West Bank which is presently under Israel’s total administrative and security control.

RHR’s web site mandates the Organization
“advocating for the rights of marginalized members of society, in defending the rights of minorities in Israel and of Palestinians in the Occupied Territories”

RHR has, however, chosen to go beyond this human rights agenda by engaging in partisan political activity on behalf of the Palestinian Authority - using the Susya case as the catalyst and its residents as political footballs in the process.

RHR made this political objective very clear when warning:
“At first blush, it may seem that this is “only” about the threat to demolish the entire village of Susya, the homes of these simple cave dwellers of the South Hebron Hills. However, the truth is that the results will affect the fate of hundreds of Palestinian homes throughout the Occupied Territories, perhaps thousands. The outcome may well have an effect on our major appeal to return planning authority for Palestinian communities in Area C to Palestinian hands

Since more than 95% of the Palestinian Arabs already live in Areas A and B where – under the Oslo Accords - the Palestinian Authority – not Israel - has full administrative control over what is built and not built in those areas – this claim was both alarmist and unsustainable.

Stating that the Court decision could affect the fate of hundreds – if not perhaps thousands of houses - “throughout the Occupied Territories” - was worthy of the best propaganda efforts of Israel’s most vehement denigrators and detractors.

RHR’s understandable concern for the residents of Susya was being used as a battering ram to pursue a wider political agenda to force Israel to relinquish administrative control of Area C– wholly or partially – to the Palestinian Authority - where very few Palestinian Arabs presently live.

In pursuing this political objective RHR took deliberate aim at the High Court - urging it to adopt the position taken by RHR in the Susya case when arguing:
“We will do our best to insure that neither justice nor judges are mislead or subverted.”

RHR’s vote of no confidence in the ability of the High Court judges to avoid being mislead or subverted without the help of RHR to guide and protect them - was indeed a surprising display of hubris.

RHR was even more strident in the warning it sent to the Court and other state instrumentalities :
“It is extremely important that the High Court judges, the representatives of the army and the government internalize that we are not talking about a small matter that nobody cares about, and can therefore live and devour its prey in the darkness.”

To suggest the High Court judges or those others also mentioned could even be contemplating acting in such a manner could arguably justify a finding of contempt by the Court.

The use of such wild, emotive and unsubstantiated language by Rabbis is surely not to be expected or be part of any civilized discourse between them and a Court charged with hearing a case in which the Rabbis have a deep concern.

The Rabbis – of course - are perfectly entitled to engage in any activity they choose and say what they like – but must be prepared to face any criticism that is subsequently leveled at their conduct.

When such conduct also involves the possible use of funds donated to RHR to pursue human rights objectives – not political objectives – the actions of RHR are thrown more sharply under the public spotlight.

RHR is well-funded and received substantial donations in excess of $5000 each during 2011 from many external donors world wide including:
Caritas Belgium
Church of Scotland
Church of Sweden
European Commission
Evangelical Church– Starkenburg West
Ford Foundation
New Israel Fund
Norwegian Church
Swedish Church

Using those funds to undermine the impartiality of the legal system in Israel and the political processes laid down as a result of the Oslo Accords - seriously damages the credibility of RHR and compromises the humanitarian work it undertakes.

To be fair – RHR is not the only NGO in Israel undertaking a mix of political and humanitarian activities under the description of being a human rights organization.

If the Rabbis – or those other organizations - want to also be power brokers - then they should add this new job description to those listed on their websites – so that donors will be left in no doubt as to where their money is being spent.

Palestine - Ulpana Decision Answers Israel's Detractors

[Published 6 June 2012]

Israel has effectively answered its detractors in its measured response to a ruling by Israel’s High Court ordering the demolition of five stone structures in the West Bank settlement of Ulpana - erected on what the Court deemed to be private Palestinian land.

Firstly - in agreeing to remove these structures and relocate the 30 families affected to the nearby neighbourhood of Beit El - Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamim Netanyahu announced:
“Even though for some people the High Court decision over Ulpana is hard, we have to respect it,”

Israel’s respect for the rule of law stands in stark contrast to the defiance of the rule of law by the Palestinian Arabs - - as evidenced in Article 20 of the PLO Charter which states:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void.”

The silence of the international community in demanding acceptance of this body of settled international law by the Palestinian Arabs has been one of the principal stumbling blocks to ending the 130 years old conflict between Arabs and Jews.

Israel’s stance also effectively exposes the failure of large parts of the international community itself to respect the law when admitting Palestine as a member state of UNESCO last October - contrary to the well established principles of customary international law as laid down in the Montevideo Convention 1933.

Many of those UNESCO member states cynically continue to claim that Israel’s settlements are illegal in international law. Such claim is no more than an opinion that has never been properly tested in any Court.

Such claim is countered by the claim that the settlements are legal in international law under article 6 of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter. These two documents - read together - continue to this day to give the legal imprimatur to the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in the West Bank and Gaza on State land and waste land not required for public purposes.

Indeed Prime Minister Netanyahu has now indicated - following the Ulpana decision - that the pace of building activity will be increased in existing settlements built on state lands and waste lands in the West Bank.

The failure of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to consider the legal force of the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter in its non-binding advisory opinion on the legality of Israel’s security barrier being erected in parts of the West Bank - has exacerbated rather than defused the settlements issue.

Regrettably the ICJ decision was reached on the basis of a brief submitted to the Court for judicial advice by then Secretary General of the United Nations - Kofi Annan. Such brief failed to include any reference to the Mandate for Palestine or article 80 of the UN Charter.

The ICJ ignored the warning made by one of the 14 judges in the case - Justice Elaraby - who wrote in his judgement:
“The international legal status of the Palestinian Territory (paras. 70-71 of the Advisory Opinion), in my view, merits more comprehensive treatment. A historical survey is relevant to the question posed by the General Assembly, for it serves as the background to understanding the legal status of the Palestinian Territory on the one hand and underlines the special and continuing responsibility of the General Assembly on the other. This may appear as academic, without relevance to the present events. The present is however determined by the accumulation of past events and no reasonable and fair concern for the future can possibly disregard a firm grasp of past events. In particular, when on more than one occasion, the rule of law was consistently side-stepped. The point of departure, or one can say in legal jargon, the critical date, is the League of Nations Mandate which was entrusted to Great Britain.

Secondly - Israel has rejected the temptation following the Ulpana verdict to resort to retrospective legislation to legalize the construction of the Ulpana houses.

Retrospective legislation is a course of action seldom undertaken in democratic countries. Israel’s refusal to break with that principle in the Ulpana case is to be commended.

A bill to legitimize the Ulpana houses was roundly defeated in Israel’s Knesset by a vote of 69-22 - when the principle of Cabinet solidarity - another feature of flourishing democracies - was successfully imposed by Prime Minister Netanyahu.

One cannot however rule out a change of heart in the future if exceptional circumstances arise - particularly if the number of successful cases of illegal building activity are found by the Court to have occurred. Compensation - rather than demolition and resettlement of the residents affected - may become the only practical option.

Thirdly - the frequently heard claims of Palestinian victimhood and denial of legal and human rights were again effectively answered with the Ulpana decision. Israel’s legal system has always been available to Palestinian Arab litigants and has found in their favour in many cases. The Ulpana decision affirms that Israel’s legal system will continue to protect their rights when supported by the facts and the law.

The case itself was funded and run by one of the many non-government organizations (NGO) in Israel- B’tselem - that act to protect the rights of the minority Palestinian Arab population. These NGO are financed by donations from foreign supporters such as the European Union and the Ford Foundation. Lack of finance to run cases for Palestinian Arabs residing in the West Bank is not a problem. They can - and do - hire top lawyers to present their cases.

Fourthly - the case highlighted the resilience of Israel’s democracy - as the press in Israel enjoyed free rein to criticise the Government’s policy in regard to Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

One of the leaders of the pack baying for the Government’s blood following the Ulpana decision was the daily paper Ha’aretz which propounded the following in one of its editorials:
“Promising to build new homes in the heart of the occupied territories, far beyond the 1967 lines, blatantly contradicts the commitment Israel made in the road map to freeze settlement construction and evacuate all the outposts built in the past decade.”

In fact no such commitments were ever made.

The Roadmap proposed by President Bush had expressly stated:
GOI (Government of Israel) immediately dismantles settlement outposts erected since March 2001.
Consistent with the Mitchell Report, GOI freezes all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)."

Israel however - made 14 reservations to the Roadmap - one of which provided:
“There will be no involvement with issues pertaining to the final settlement. Among issues not to be discussed: settlement in Judea, Samaria and Gaza (excluding a settlement freeze and illegal outposts); the status of the Palestinian Authority and its institutions in Jerusalem; and all other matters whose substance relates to the final settlement.”

An agreement to discuss a settlement freeze or illegal outposts is a far cry from a commitment to freeze settlement construction or illegal outposts.

The Ulpana decision once again established that there is no Government control of the media in Israel that prevents any claims or criticisms of Government policy - right or wrong - being made - that would threaten their newspaper offices being raided or closed down.

Fifthly - the unique role that Israel’s High Court plays in standing between the Government and its citizens and even non-citizens is bound to ensure that it will not be intimidated in dealing with future cases of illegal building - by either Jews or Arabs - on private lands,State lands or waste lands not required for public purposes.

Prime Minister Netanyahu confidently asserted:
“I have unequivocal legal opinions that say that the (Ulpana) verdict did not set any precedent and will not affect other cases.”

He may well find that the High Court will not agree with those opinions.

Israel’s Declaration of Independence proclaims:
”[The State of Israel] will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex;"

The High Court will be vigilant in ensuring this provision is scrupulously enforced.

The Ulpana decision has opened up a can of worms that will force it to review further claims of illegal building activities - not only by Jews but by Arabs as well.

It needs to act with fairness and impartiality to correct any infringements of the law - no matter who it is that is infringing.

As the international community grapples with its response to the slaughter and mayhem in Syria against every principle of international law - Israel stands tall in its respect for the law in contrast to those nations who only pay lip service to that principle - whilst ignoring it in practice..

It is about time those other nations followed Israel’s example.

Palestine - Racist And Apartheid Policies Plague Peace Proposals

[Published 31 May 2012]

Mahmoud Abbas - President of Palestine and the Palestinian Authority - Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Movement (PLO) and Fatah - the PLO’s largest faction - has doomed to the garbage bin any possible peace proposals that might be offered by Israel’s new National Unity Government - following his latest outburst in the Lebanese newspaper An-Nahhar:
“We won’t agree to recognize something called the Jewish state. Why wasn’t this issue raised when Israel negotiated with Jordan and Egypt?”

Abbas’s highly inflammatory remark is just one of many similar statements that have been made in the past.

Abbas has clearly indicated that he has no intention of mitigating his view that there is no place for a Jewish State in its biblical and historical homeland - nor in the Palestinian Arab state that he now heads that was internationally recognized on 31 October 2011 with Palestine’s admission to UNESCO as its 195th member state.

His comment only shows that nothing has really changed in the racist policies adopted by the Palestinian Arabs since their rejection of the 1947 United Nations Partition Plan proposing the creation of a Jewish state and an Arab state in what was then left of Mandatory Palestine following the creation in 1946 of the Hashemite Kingdom of Transjordan - now called Jordan - on 78% of the territory initially slated for reconstitution of the Jewish National Home.

What is even worse and very worrying is the deafening silence from the international community to Abbas continuing along this racist and apartheid path.

Abbas apparently seems perplexed that the issue of a Jewish state was never raised in negotiations when peace treaties were negotiated between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan.

The answer is very simple.

Neither Egypt nor Jordan had enshrined in their constitutions or their policies any provision remotely approaching clause 20 of the PLO Charter:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void. Claims of historical or religious ties of Jews with Palestine are incompatible with the facts of history and the true conception of what constitutes statehood. Judaism, being a religion, is not an independent nationality. Nor do Jews constitute a single nation with an identity of its own; they are citizens of the states to which they belong.”

Neither did Egypt or Jordan expressly embrace the policy of Hamas - the Islamic Resistance Movement - as espoused in Article 11 of its Charter:
“The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day.”

Yet Hamas is a movement that Abbas is desperately seeking to bring into a future unity Government under his control.

Until the PLO and Hamas unequivocally revoke and abandon these racist policies Israel has no other course but to insist that recognition of Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people is a non-negotiable demand that is not to be compromised under any circumstances in any future negotiations with Abbas.

The campaign of Boycott Divestement and Sanctions (BDS) - promoted and actively supported by Abbas and the Palestinian Authority has been properly described as:
“a negative and one-sided campaign aimed at demonising Israeli Jews irrespective of their political views on the Palestinian question.”

Penalizing individual Jews financially and economically by boycotting the purchase of their goods and the provision of their services is racist and discriminatory. Yet many in the international community continue to warm to such policies - rather than expressing a total loathing and revulsion at such attempts to deny the right of Jews to be treated equally with their Moslem and Christian counterparts in the lawful pursuit of their right to freedom of trade and commerce.

Last played on the Palestinian Authority’s air waves on 12 May - and at least 24 times before then - is a song which contains the following lyrics:
“We commit and promise to stand behind you, oh Mahmoud Abbas, until Judgment Day.
I am returning to you, the purest land, oh land of the free. No matter how long the nights of exile,
I am returning to you, oh land. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra (northern Israel) our coast, and Beit Shean (Israeli city).
Above your soil, oh my land, is a picture of Garden of Eden. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra our coast, and Beit Shean.
Above your soil, oh my land, is a picture of Garden of Eden. From Rafah to Rosh Hanikra, north and south, are the picture’s borders.
From Haifa (Israeli city) and Tantura to the [Jordan] valley (i.e., all of Israel). I am returning to you, the purest land, oh land of the free.”

Abbas has also made it abundantly clear that he will tolerate any Jews living in any Palestinian Arab State.

The dissemination of such sentiments may be justified as part of the individual’s right to freedom of expression.

However, when such views are promoted and actively supported by the President of a State - the bona fides of the President and that State to sue for peace must be seriously questioned.

Given these recent expressions of open racism and official Government support of on-going efforts to isolate and denigrate Jews - one can confidently predict that nothing Israel offers will ever be acceptable to the Palestinian Arabs.

Palestine presently has a tenuous hold on Gaza and about 40% of the West Bank.

Statements and policies like those identified above ensure that these present areas of Palestinian statehood are not likely to be expanded any further.

Abbas needs to shape up - or ship out.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Palestine - UNWRA And UNESCO Promote A State Of Confusion

[Published 23 May 2012]

A crisis of diplomatic confusion seems to have arisen between two affiliate organizations of the United Nations following the announcement by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees (UNWRA) of its intention to upgrade the dilapidated conditions in some of the refugee camps under its control - rather than taking progressive steps to close them down following recognition of the State of Palestine by UNESCO on 31 October 2011.

The upgrades will take place with the help of German Government funding in improving health clinics, sanitation and advanced education in coordination with local committees in five camps in the West Bank and two in Jordan.

Certainly any improvements to the daily lives of refugees and the abject conditions under which they have lived for the last six decades should be regarded as a welcome initiative.

However, the recognition of the State of Palestine by UNESCO - and with it an end to Palestinian homelessness - should have also signalled the beginning of the dismantlement of the refugee camps and a structured program to achieve this humanitarian goal.

The vast resources available to UNWRA should surely now be better employed to assist the permanent resettlement of Palestinian refugees in their newly recognized state. Yet UNWRA has remained silent on implementing any such plans.

One of the camps slated for an upgrade is the Dheishe refugee camp - at present home to 13000 refugees. This camp is situated on the outskirts of Bethlehem in Area A of the West Bank - an area completely under the administrative and military control of the Palestinian Authority.

If there are any areas that can be readily identified as forming part of the newly-recognized state of Palestine - it is those areas that comprise Area A under the Oslo Accords - which currently cover 18% of the West Bank and include 55% of the total Arab population of the West Bank. Not one Jew lives in Area A.

On December 21, 1995, Israeli troops withdrew from Bethlehem and three days later the city came under the complete administration and military control of the Palestinian National Authority in conformance with the Interim Agreement on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in 1995.

One could indeed ask why Dheishe refugee camp has not been shut down at any time during the last 17 years of its existence - given that responsibility for the lives of its inhabitants was always under the complete authority and control of the Palestinian Authority.

The reasons proffered till now have been the lack of a Palestinian state to end Palestinian homelessness and a belief that one day the residents would be entitled to return to live in what is now Israel. This latter reason has never been - and will never be - an option that can ever be realised unless the State of Israel itself is dismantled.

The UNESCO decision to recognize the existence of an independent State of Palestine has brought with it an end to claims of Palestinian homelessness. .

Yet Habis al-Aisa - a Dheishe resident - still believes nothing has changed as he laments:
“We’re refugees, and the U.N. should be totally responsible for our needs and our situation, because our status is an international political issue.”

Another resident - Othman Abu Omar comments:
“We hope one day to be done with dependence. Everybody should depend on himself,”

Sandi Hilal - the director of UNRWA’s “camp improvement program” in the West Bank - also seems to be under the same misapprehension as to the change in status of those under his charge when adding:
“Improving the daily life of refugees doesn’t jeopardize their right to return back home”.

Can the Dheishe occupants still claim the status of “refugees” - now that they have their own State - a goal that has been pursued with international support and diplomacy for the last 19 years?

Does UNWRA’s stated position on the “right to return home” mean “to the UNESCO recognized State of Palestine” - or does it mean “to Israel”?

It would appear that UNWRA is having problems comprehending the enormity of the UNESCO decision and the changes that have occurred to the status of those whom it has looked after for 64 years.

The United Nations has recognized as Palestinian refugees those Palestinian Arabs - and their descendants - who registered with UNRWA after fleeing their homes from what is now Israel. They are covered by the U.N. resolutions and eligible to receive the agency’s services even if not resident in the camps, but not if they attain citizenship or asylum in another country.

The Palestinian refugees have enjoyed a special status not accorded to any other refugee groups world wide during the past 64 years. That status is - and has always been - privileged and discriminatory and needs to be ended without delay - especially now that a Palestinian state has been internationally recognized and accepted by the 194 member states of UNESCO.

UNWRA now needs to rise to the challenges and the opportunities the UNESCO decision has presented - and implement a program for the closing of the refugee camps.

UNWRA and UNESCO should be meeting to jointly plan such a humanitarian program to bring the long running and festering issue of the Palestinian refugees to an end.

Whilst UNESCO recognizes the existence of a a Palestinian State and UNWRA apparently does not - one can only conclude that the State of Palestine is rapidly acquiring a reputation for being known as“the State of Confusion”.

The sooner the refugee camps start being dismantled - the better the prospects for a resolution of the long running Jewish-Arab conflict in former Palestine.