[Published 14 July 2016]
International support for the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) - despite its rejection of the 1922 League of Nations Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter – could be exploited by China to blunt international action following an unfavourable ruling by the Permanent Court of Arbitration against China in The Hague.
Having boycotted those proceedings - Chinese President Xi Jinping then immediately dismissed the decision – which denied China had any legal basis to claim historic rights to the bulk of the South China Sea:
"China will never accept any claim or action based on those awards”
His rejection was as peremptory as that of the PLO – which declared in Article 18 of its original 1964 Charter:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate system and all that has been based upon them are considered fraud.”
This position was revised when the Charter was redrafted in 1968 – article 20 declaring:
“The Balfour Declaration, the Mandate for Palestine, and everything that has been based upon them, are deemed null and void.”
These provisions have been a major contributing factor in preventing a resolution of the Jewish-Arab conflict for the last 52 years.
The international community has not punished the PLO for its unilateral demolition of these international-law building blocks but to the contrary has granted the PLO diplomatic recognition whilst also welcoming the PLO into the United Nations.
Should China be demonised because it also chooses to ignore a determination in international law that it regards as inimical to its national interest?
Does size matter? Can one forgive small players who wilfully shred international law but demand big players conform to legal decisions not to their liking?
The international community has some serious soul-searching to do.
Vietnam may now be ruing its welcoming embrace of the PLO by:
•Establishing ties with the PLO in 1968Clearly concerned by China’s response to The Hague decision – Vietnam’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Le Hai Binh has declared:
•Allowing the PLO to open its resident Representative Office in Vietnam in 1976
•Elevating the PLO's resident Representative Office to the status of Embassy in 1982
"Vietnam strongly supports the resolution of the disputes ... by peaceful means, including diplomatic and legal processes and refraining from the use or threats to use force, in accordance with international law,"
That response is what one would normally expect – but when you have not demanded the same of the PLO for the last 48 years then such statement amounts to an indefensible double standard.
Other countries vitally affected by the South China Sea ruling include the Philippines – the plaintiff in The Hague proceedings - Japan, Malaysia and Indonesia. They may find their long-standing ties with the PLO similarly embarrassing as they confront an angry China.
China on the other hand can argue that rejecting the South China Sea judgement is consistent with China’s recognition of the law-trashing PLO in 1988 – since International law means nothing to China and the PLO.
The Hague ruling is regarded as legally binding – but there is apparently no mechanism to enforce it.
Boycott Divestment and Sanctions programs against China will have little effect.
Rejecting China’s claim to any historic rights in the South China Sea stands in stark contrast to the acceptance of Jewish historic rights to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) – recognised by the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter – but erroneously claimed by the UN Security Council to be in violation of international law.
Double standards in the international community have a horrible way of coming back to bite those indulging in such dangerous games.