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Canadian Ministerial Visit to Jerusalem: A Geneva Convention Lesson

Rather than ask why Minister Baird met with Minister Livny in the eastern Jerusalem office, why not ask why Minister Livny agreed to meet there with Minister Baird?

Keeping-Jerusalem

Oh, the irony! Canada’s foreign minister, John Baird, has been lambasted for meeting with an Israeli government official in eastern Jerusalem – but barely anything has been said about the minister with whom he met: None other than Justice Minister Tzipi Livny, possibly best known for her willingness to divide Jerusalem in a final settlement with the Palestinian Authority.

As noted here in the past, Livni basically lost her chance to be prime minister because of her stance on Jerusalem. In late 2008, after she rose to the helm of the Kadima Party, Kadima won the national election and Livni was handed the chance to form the government. However, in part because of her willingness to grant Arab control to parts of Yerushalayim, she was unable to sway the Shas Party to join her coalition and Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister instead.

Earlier that year, then-Foreign Minister Livni led negotiations with the PA – and promised PA chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would cede the entire Atarot airport complex in northern Yerushalayim. She has repeatedly stated that though she knows the entire Land of Israel is ours, she believes there will be peace only if Israel agrees to split Yerushalayim.

Others believe, of course, that statements of that type actually keep peace from arriving, for they encourage the Arab parties to maintain their intransigence.

Rather than ask why Minister Baird met with Minister Livny in the eastern Jerusalem office, why not ask why Minister Livny agreed to meet there with Minister Baird? She certainly knew the fallout that would result, placing her in the same corner as the Land of Israel loyalists with whom she started her career (her father was an Etzel officer in 1948, along with Menachem Begin, and she herself was a longtime Likud member and MK). She has not commented on the matter on her Facebook page or in any other public forum; she would likely prefer that the matter be forgotten.

In any event, John Baird has once again been shown to be true-blue with Israel. He also toured an IDF outpost in the Golan Heights on his recent trip, and in the past has visited the Old City of Jerusalem with an Israeli escort. Both the Golan and eastern Jerusalem are considered hot spots that many Western political officials make sure not to visit so as not to be viewed as recognizing Israeli control there.

Minister Baird deflected all criticism of these visits, however, and especially the most recent one in the Justice Ministry. He said they are “irrelevant” to the larger discussion of Middle East peace.

“I’m just not interested in getting into the semantic argument about whether [if] you have a meeting with one person on one side of the street it’s OK, and [if] you have a meeting on the other side of street it’s not,” Baird said.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor also defended the meeting. “There should be nothing unusual about meeting Israel’s justice minister in [eastern] Jerusalem,” he said. “What is strange is that this is the exception.”

Though Canada’s embassy in Israel is not in Jerusalem but rather in Tel Aviv, and though Minister Baird emphasized that he supports the PLO’s bid for statehood, Canada is a very strong friend of Israel – possibly its best in the world.

“The great struggle of our generation is the struggle against terrorism,” Baird told an Israeli TV station last week, “and far too often, the Jewish people, Israel, has been on the front lines of that struggle. We want to work with Israel to see a lasting peace in this region.” He also related that he had urged Abbas to agree to resume talks with Israel without preconditions, but to no avail.

Canada and Israel have strong, multidimensional bilateral relations that have only intensified in recent years. The relationship has been marked by increased cooperation in public security, defense, trade and investment, with increasing numbers of ministerial visits.

“Israel appreciates Canada’s moral stand on a range of issues,” said Prime Minister’s Office spokesman Mark Regev, “and we appreciate Canada’s friendship.”

The PA did not let Canada or Minister Baird off lightly for his visit in eastern Jerusalem. Chief PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat sent him a sharp official letter of complaint, alleging that he had violated international law by “knowingly aiding another state in the perpetration of a crime.” The referred-to “crime,” based on the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention, is that of attempting to annex what Erekat called “our capital,” and of transferring civilian population to occupied areas.

However, many legal scholars agree that Israel’s policy in Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem in no way violates the Geneva Convention.

Eli E. Hertz – a member of our International Keep Jerusalem Council and president of Myths and Facts, Inc., which researches and publishes important topical matters regarding global U.S. interests – has written on this topic extensively. He explains that when the Convention refers to “occupied territory,” it has the Nazi occupation of Europe in mind, and that there is no legal basis for using the term in connection with the Israeli-Arab conflict.

Hertz quotes Professor Julius Stone, a leading authority on the Law of Nations, as categorically rejecting use of the term “occupied territory” to describe Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. This, for the following reasons:

● The relevant clause, relating to the invasion of sovereign states, is inapplicable, because Judea and Samaria (Yesha) did not belong to any other state. Israel did not capture Yesha from its legal sovereign, but rather from Jordan, whose rule there was recognized by only two countries: Great Britain and Pakistan. Even the Arab League did not approve of Jordan’s “annexation” of these areas.

● The relevant article in the Convention was formulated in light of the Holocaust, seeking to prevent genocide – which is not a fear in the present situation.

● Settlement of Jews in Judea and Samaria is voluntary, does not displace local inhabitants, and is associated with a dramatic improvement in the economic situation of the [local Arab] inhabitants since 1967.

As such, Israel is not in violation of international law, and Minister Baird took the proper moral stance in recognizing that Israel, and not any Arab entity, has the most valid claim – if not the only one – to the Holy City, Yerushalayim.

To help spread the message that Jerusalem is Jewish, KeepJerusalem.org invites you to participate in our eastern and northern Jerusalem bus tours. For information, e-mail tours@keepjerusalem.org or visit our website at www.keepjerusalem.org.

About the Author: Chaim Silberstein is president of Keep Jerusalem-Im Eshkachech and the Jerusalem Capital Development Fund. He was formerly a senior adviser to Israel's minister of tourism. Hillel Fendel, past senior editor at Israel National News/Arutz-7, is a veteran writer on Jerusalem affairs. Both have lived in Jerusalem and now live in Beit El.


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3 Responses to “Canadian Ministerial Visit to Jerusalem: A Geneva Convention Lesson”

  1. The Geneva Convention explicitly states that one must be a "High Contracting Party" to claim occupation. According to the Geneva Convention to be a "High Contracting Party" they must be a government with a sovereign claim to land and have signed the Geneva Convention.

    In 1967 when Israel liberated Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria – the Arabs were not a "High Contracting Party", nor in 2013 are they yet a "High Contracting Party". They haven't signed and they do not any sovereign claim to any land in the entire world west of the Jordan River.

    Every claim about the Geneva Convention is valid only for Israel – the Arabs have no such legal claim.

  2. Yechiel Baum says:

    what is Tzipi doing in Jerusalem altogether?

  3. Ken Kelso says:

    How Fatah terrorizes anyone who doesn't surrender to Palestinian lies.

    http://movies.yahoo.com/news/palestinian-activists-seek-derail-major-jerusalem-film-172441620.html
    Palestinian activists seek to derail major Jerusalem film.
    Crispian Balmer
    April 19, 2013.

    JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Palestinian activists tried to derail an ambitious European documentary shot in Jerusalem this week, complaining that the film would reinforce an image of Israeli sovereignty over the deeply divided city.

    Producers of the Franco-German "24h Jerusalem", which sets out to depict a day-in-the-life of the troubled city, said on Friday that their plans had been badly disrupted by a last minute campaign of "intimidation and harassment".

    "We very much regret what has happened, but we are still here and we will carry on shooting," said producer Thomas Kufus, hoping to recapture the success of his ground-breaking 2008 project – the day-long "24h Berlin" film.

    One of the co-producers, Germany's Bayerischer Rundfunk, said their staff had faced an "onslaught of menacing calls" and threats to "inflict bodily harm", accusing Palestinian activists of trying to prevent Arabs from telling their stories.

    With some 70 camera crews working across the city from 6.00 a.m. on Thursday to 6.00 a.m. on Friday, the project is one of the most ambitious documentaries ever shot in Jerusalem and had the blessing of the local Israeli authorities.

    However, some Palestinian politicians and militants accused the filmmakers of failing to coordinate properly with their own authorities and said the film would present a united Jerusalem under full Israeli control.

    Israelis seized East Jerusalem in the 1967 war, later annexing the land and pronouncing the city as their undivided capital in a move that has never been internationally endorsed.
    Palestinians want to establish a capital of their own in East Jerusalem, including the Old City and its holy shrines.
    WITHDRAWAL

    "This is not one city, it is two cities," said Dimitri Diliani, spokesman in East Jerusalem for the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who holds sway in Palestinian self-rule areas of the nearby West Bank.

    "The whole idea of accepting the occupiers' claims that this is one city is totally wrong. This has political ramifications," he told Reuters. He denied accusations that opponents of the film had threatened any of those involved.

    The producers said a handful of Palestinian cameramen and technicians had dropped out just before shooting started. More damagingly, some of the Palestinian locals they had hoped to feature in the film had withdrawn at the last minute.

    "We have very strong material from the Israeli and European teams… The Palestinians are still shooting, so we are very much working on having an equal standard in this project," said Kufus, conceding that this meant the documentary would not be filmed over a single 24-hour period as originally hoped.

    The spat over the documentary, which is part-funded by the Arte television channel, has highlighted fierce opposition within some Palestinian quarters to anything that might smack of a "normalization" of Israeli control.

    Cultural events, such as a U.N.-backed concert last July, have had to be abandoned in the face of pressure from activists who say any efforts to build bridges between communities should be resisted until the Israeli occupation ends.

    Kufus said the problems he had faced with his film showed the ever-present tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.

    "They just cannot work together. It is impossible," he said, adding: "Everything that happens here is connected to the conflict, especially on the Palestinian side."

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