[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.