Thursday, November 21, 2019

Israel’s Rights in Judea-Samaria Under International Law - by Amb. Alan Baker

Understanding law and justice in the world’s most disputed territories

Amb. Alan Baker..
Tablet Magazine..
18 November '19..

The issue of Israel’s rights in the West Bank under international law, as simple as it sounds, conceals a complex and extensive web of historic, legal, military and political issues that, for many years, have engaged and continue to engage the parties to the conflict, as well as the international community as a whole.

This article will briefly analyze the three major elements defining Israel’s rights in the West Bank.

Firstly, and underscoring all other considerations, are the international legal rights emanating from the indigenous and historic claims of the Jewish people in the area as a whole, virtually from time immemorial. These rights were acknowledged in 1917 by the Balfour Declaration’s promise of a national home for the Jews in Palestine, and subsequently recognized internationally and encapsulated into international law through a series of international instruments.

Secondly, Israel’s legal rights following the 1967 Six-Day War, as the power administering the West Bank areas of Judea and Samaria (so described in the U.N. 1947 Partition Resolution 181), and the concomitant, unique sui genesis status of the area.

Thirdly, Israel’s rights under international law following the 1993-1995 Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO, and especially the 1995 Interim Agreement, (commonly known as Oslo 2) which established a unique territorial arrangement as a form of lex specialis, that divided the control and governance of the West Bank areas between a Palestinian Authority established for that purpose, and Israel.


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Alan Baker currently directs the international law program at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. He served as the legal counsel of Israel’s foreign ministry and Israel’s ambassador to Canada. He was involved in all the negotiations on the various agreements between Israel and its neighbors.

Wednesday, November 20, 2019

The mistaken partisanship of seeing Israel in the context of American politics, not Middle Eastern reality - by Jonathan S. Tobin

Reaction to Trump’s latest decision once again proves that liberal Jewish groups see Israel in the context of American politics, not Middle Eastern reality.

Jonathan S. Tobin..
19 November '19..

When Secretary of State Mike Pompeo announced this week that the United States no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to be in violation of international law, most Israelis were clearly pleased. But a good portion of American Jews weren’t. This tells us more about American Jewish priorities and indifference to what Israelis think than it does about what’s good for the Jewish state or arguments about international law.

As was the case with the Trump administration’s moves on Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, the Iran nuclear deal and accountability for the Palestinian Authority’s support of terrorism, all the major Israeli political parties greeted the announcement with support. Both Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his leading rival, Blue and White Party leader Benny Gantz, agreed that America was right to scrap its old insistence that Jews had no right to live outside the 1949 armistice lines.

That latter point is crucial to understanding a basic fact about Israeli political reality. Gantz, who remains locked in a standoff with Netanyahu and his allies over the composition of the next Israeli government, actually received a heads up about Pompeo’s impending statement before it was issued.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman called Gantz and informed him of the decision. Had Gantz expressed opposition or had he asked that the Americans delay their announcement, a State Department source told the press that the administration would have complied with the request. To the contrary, after Pompeo spoke, Gantz approved of his move, saying explicitly that the fate of the “settlements and the residents of Judea and Samaria should be determined by agreements that meet security requirements and that can promote a peace that will serve both sides while reflecting the reality on the ground.”

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Tuesday, November 19, 2019

US Secretary of State Pompeo’s statement on Israeli settlements is truly a diplomatic turning point - by Caroline Glick

President Trump's extraordinary gesture of support for Israel and the rights of the Jewish people was evident in the historic statement. The US has rightly concluded that falsely calling settlements illegal is not helpful for peace.

Caroline Glick..
Israel Hayom..
18 November '19..

Monday will long be remembered as a turning point in Middle East history. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s statement Monday that Israeli settlements are not illegal per se is the most significant shift in US Middle East policy in the past generation. Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital has been a matter of US law since 1996.

There was little interest in Washington in recent years in pressuring Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights. But the issue of the legality of Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), has been the defining issue of much of the international discourse on Israel for a generation.

In the vast majority of cases, the discourse has revolved around the widely held allegation – with no basis in actual law – that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal.

This allegation has served as the justification for a continuous barrage of condemnations of Israel in the international arena and for anti-Israel legal verdicts in international courts including the International Court of Justice at the Hague in 2004 and the European Court of Justice last week.

The unsupported allegation that Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria are illegal was also the basis for UN Security Council Resolution 2334 from 2016 and is a basis of the International Criminal Court’s ongoing probes of Israelis.

Pompeo made two revolutionary assertions in his statement. First, he said that “after carefully studying all sides of the legal debate,” like the Reagan administration before it, the Trump administration has concluded, “The establishment of Israeli civilian settlements in the West Bank is not per se inconsistent with international law.”

Second, Pompeo noted, the near ubiquitousness of the false assertion that settlements are illegal has not advanced the prospects for peace. To the contrary, it has harmed the chances of getting to peace.

In his words, “calling the establishment of civilian settlements inconsistent with international law has not advanced the cause of peace.”

And of course, it hasn’t. Placing a lie in the center of the discourse on the Palestinian conflict with Israel is no way to promote understanding and coexistence.

In the interest of promoting peace, Pompeo instead told the truth. Not only are Israeli settlements not illegal. Pompeo noted that they are arguably more justified than civilian settlements built in other disputed territories.

In his words, the administration’s determination “is based on the unique facts, history, and circumstances presented by the establishment of civilian settlements in the West Bank.” That is, it is based on the historic ties of the Jewish people to Judea and Samaria. These ties lay at the heart of Jewish history and religion.

Monday, November 18, 2019

Let's be clear about the anti-Israel organizations in Europe that support the BDS movement - by Itai Reuveni

We must ask, are assisting and funding boycott campaigns against Israel, harming Palestinian employment, discriminating on the basis of nationality and seeking to return the Golan Heights to terrorist groups in control of what was once Syria – also technical matters and part of the EU's consumer culture?

Itai Reuveni..
Israel Hayom..
17 November '19..

The European Union's supreme court, which now requires all 28 member states to label Israeli products manufactured in Judea and Samaria, yet again bared its peculiar list of priorities in the areas of human rights and international law for all the world to see.

The Europeans and the organizations they fund have never labeled products from any of the world's other disputed areas, such as northern Cyprus, Western Sahara and dozens others, while EU member states even transfer money to and invest in these places. Every inquiry into other conflicts, unlike the Arab-Israeli conflict, has ended in the rejection of the idea to mark certain products.

This is because the European Court of Justice has direct links to the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel. This is more than a "classification" – all boycotts begin by singling out those designated to be ostracized. Proof of this can be found in the series of measures that have been implemented by EU-funded organizations, which have always argued that marking goods is merely the start of an evolving boycott campaign – with clear and intended ramifications for the Israeli economy inside the Green Line.

A study conducted by Israeli group NGO monitor points to a broad coalition of rights groups working to carry out an ideology of boycotting through product labeling. As early as 2012, for example, the Interchurch Organization for Development Cooperation asked for EU funding to "precisely mark settlement products as a first step," and suggested intensifying the sanctions until "the complete prohibition of settlement imports… and the prohibition of money transfers to settlements and related activities." The code-speak "related activities," incidentally, also includes Israeli and international business initiatives that have nothing to do with the settlements.