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Abbas Rejects Arafat’s Statehood Strategy


Judge Selya found that the PA did not have a “defined territory.” After an exhaustive historical analysis, he ruled that “the net result is that, at all times, other states had control over the defined territory.” The Ottoman Empire, England, Egypt, Jordan and Israel have all controlled Palestine over the last century and locals have never exercised independent control.

Similarly, he rejected as specious the PA’s claim that it exercised control of a “permanent population from time immemorial.”

Lastly, Judge Selya ruled that the Oslo accords (the constituent documents of the PA, in which Israel and the PLO entered an agreement to create a “Palestinian Authority” out of whole cloth) “expressly denie[s] the PA the right to conduct foreign relations.”

Similar rulings followed in numerous other terror victims’ suits against the PA.  Also, the Supreme Court rejected Clark’s attempt to seek review of the denial of its sovereignty claims. Thus wall-to-wall authority conclusively demonstrates that simply asserting sovereignty (or even obtaining international support for statehood) does not make a non-state into a state under international law. As Judge Selya stated, “The fact remains, however, that neither political recognition of the PLO nor United Nations support for self-governance is sufficient to signify that the Restatement’s conditions for statehood have been met.”

These legal rulings should be kept in mind when considering Abbas’s new tactic which attempts an end run around international law while deviating and undermining Arafat’s approach, which is still the PA’s position in court. As judges have repeatedly ruled, merely obtaining UN approval does not countenance a violation of international law. And as Arafat and Clark acknowledged for two decades, any purported “State of Palestine” must comply with international law in order to be legitimate, no mater how many anti-Israel UN members pile on in either a General Assembly or Security Council vote.  

David J. Strachman, a Providence lawyer, represented dozen of victims in numerous lawsuits over the past decade against the Palestinian AuthorityHe is an adjunct professor at UMASS Law School and Roger Williams University School of Law and author of “Civil Terrorism Law” (Lawyers & Judges Publishing, 2008).

About the Author: David J. Strachman, a Providence lawyer, represented dozen of victims in numerous lawsuits over the past decade against the Palestinian Authority. He is an adjunct professor at UMASS Law School and Roger Williams University School of Law and author of “Civil Terrorism Law” (Lawyers & Judges Publishing, 2008).


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One Response to “Abbas Rejects Arafat’s Statehood Strategy”

  1. naomi Vilko MD says:

    I was at an AJC meeting in Princeton where an AJC employee and attorney,  Mr. Stern made comments that showed him to have the same double standard described in this excellent article. Certain comments made by Mr. Stern require clarification as they sound dangerously close to the arguments used in the campaign to delegitimize Israel.  Mr. Stern says that “Israeli officials will tell you they are revising their doctrines in order to possibly minimize the harm to civilians.”  In fact, the Israeli military has an extraordinary record of protecting civilians.  As Richard Kemp, former Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan said on BBC, “I don’t think that there has ever been a time in the history of warfare when any army has made more efforts to reduce civilian casualties and deaths of innocent people than the IDF is doing today in Gaza.”  Second, the West Bank is not “occupied territory” according to the Geneva Convention.   In 1948, Jordan occupied the West Bank through “aggressive conquest” and two years later, unilaterally annexed the area in an act that was recognized by only two members of the international community – Britain and Pakistan.  Israel’s 1967 capture of the West Bank was defensive and lawful.  No one called for a Palestinian state until 1967 when Israel re-united Jerusalem and Jews were again allowed to worship, live, and work in the “old city”. Third, when you call Jewish people living outside the Green Line set out by the 1949 Armistice Agreements “settlers”, the implication is that Jews should be restricted to the same kind of small ghettos as they have been throughout history.  Arabs have been allowed to live on both sides of the Green Line, why not Jews?  In 2005, Israel unilaterally withdrew from Gaza, dismantling all of the settlements.  This did not lead to peace.  On the contrary, it has led to civilian casualties on both sides.  No one wants peace more than the Israeli people.  We should not be giving comfort to Israel’s enemies by accepting their semantics. For more on the importance of language, please see Dr. Frank Luntz’s book, Words That Work:  It’s Not What You Say, It’s What People Hear.  We recommend that readers “Step Up for Israel” at http://www.jerusalemonlineu.com to learn to advocate for Israel.

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Over the past several weeks the media have been enamored by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s push to obtain United Nations recognition of a Palestinian state. The media coverage has exclusively focused on the political aspects of Abbas’s effort and its relationship to the so called peace process involving the Israel and PA.

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