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December 29, 2014 / 7 Tevet, 5775
 
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Posts Tagged ‘alan baker’

Canada Says One Thing And Publishes Another on Israel, Lawyers Say

Wednesday, January 15th, 2014

Former Israeli ambassador to Canada Alan Baker and prominent Toronto lawyers have condemned an apparent discrepancy between Ottawa’s fervid public support for Israel and official policy.

Baker, who served as Israel’s ambassador to Canada from 2004 to 2008, and six Toronto lawyers, have written to Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird demanding the Foreign Affairs Department website be changed “to align it with statements and policies publicly expressed by the Prime Minister, yourself and other government representatives,” the National Post newspaper reported.

The complaint comes on the eve of a high-profile visit by Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper next week.

The attorneys are particularly upset that the website refers to Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights as “occupied territories” and declares the construction of Jewish communities and parts of the separation barrier inside those areas as illegal.

“Parts of this policy statement appear to run counter to the Canadian expressions of support for Israel and its positions,” the group wrote, “as well as against specific statements repeatedly made by Prime Minister Harper and Foreign Minister Baird.”

Information on the Foreign Affairs website reflects long-standing Canadian policy, which comports with the widely accepted international view that the West Bank, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights are occupied territory because they were restored to Israel in the Six-Day War in 1967.

In response, Baird’s spokesman, Rick Roth, said Harper and his Conservative government “have articulated Canada’s policy on Israel and the Middle East at great length since 2006.

“Israel has no greater friend in the world than Canada,” Roth told the Post, “and it is through our actions, not just words, that this rings true.”

Kerry Scorched by Legal Expert for False ‘Settlements’ Narrative (UPDATED)

Monday, November 11th, 2013

UPDATE The text of the letter is reproduced at the bottom of this article

Former Israeli Ambassador and legal counsel to Israel’s Foreign Ministry Alan Baker sent a blistering letter to U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday.

Baker did not mince words.

After listening to you declare repeatedly over the past weeks that ‘Israel’s settlements are illegitimate,’ I respectfully wish to state, unequivocally, that you are mistaken and ill advised, both in law and in fact.

Israel too can take off the gloves when shoved so far against the wall it becomes clear there is no one at her back but that wall.

Baker lays out the facts which anyone involved in Middle East diplomacy should know better than they know the back of their hands.  The so-called “settlements,” i.e. places where Jews live in previously non-sovereign territory won in a defensive war are certainly not de facto or de jure “Palestinian land” or promised for any potential future state of “Palestine.”

Baker states the what-should-be-obvious fact that ownership of that land remains an issue to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations, as agreed to in the Oslo Accords as well as in the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, as witnessed and signed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton, as well as representatives of the EU, Russia, Egypt, Jordan and Norway.

Baker continued,

Your statements serve to not only to prejudge this negotiating issue, but also to undermine the integrity of that agreement, as well as the very negotiations that you so enthusiastically advocate.

Baker also gives short shrift to the square pegging of Israel into the round hole of the 49th Article of the Geneva Convention. He points out the obvious, but ubiquitously-ignored fact that the relevant article applied to the Nazis forced mass transfer of populations. Such a situation has no relevance to the expansion of a population into open areas with no gun to their heads.  The notion of any parallel between Israelis moving into open areas and the Nazis forcing those they conquered into land controlled by others is repugnant, yet repeated incessantly by those who are either ignorant of history or merely haters of Israel, take your pick.

After several more paragraphs of clear explanation as to why the position taken by the U.S., and so much of the world, is factually and legally wrong, Baker concludes with this closing salvo:

By your repeating this ill-advised determination that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate, and by your threatening Israel with a “third Palestinian intifada” and international isolation and delegitimization, you are in fact buying into, and even fueling the Palestinian propaganda narrative, and exerting unfair pressure on Israel. This is equally the case with your insistence on a false and unrealistic time limit to the negotiation.

As such you are taking sides, thereby prejudicing your own personal credibility, as well as that of the US.

With a view to restoring your own and the US’s credibility, and to come with clean hands to the negotiation, you are respectfully requested to publicly and formally retract your determination as to the illegitimate nature of Israel’s settlements and to cease your pressure on Israel.

There has been no response, as yet, from Secretary Kerry or anyone at the State Department.

Whether there is any response from Washington or not, the points made clearly and succinctly by Amb. Baker are a welcome and too long absent dimension to the general discussions about the “settlements.”  That discussion has been dominated by a narrative devoid of legal, factual and historical accuracy.

False narratives repeated endlessly by ever-increasing numbers of people, nations and diplomats do not make those narratives any more true. Majority does not rule when it comes to facts or to law.

***

Here is the text of the letter from Amb. Alan Baker to Secretary of State John Kerry, dated Nov. 8, 2013

Alan Baker, Attorney, Ambassador (ret’)
P.O.B. 182, Har Adar, Israel 90836
Tel: +972-54-3322643
E-mail: ambassador.alan@gmail.com

The Hon. James Kerry, U.S. Secretary of State,
The State Department,
Washington D.C.

November 8, 2013

Dear Secretary Kerry,

After listening to you declare repeatedly over the past weeks that “Israel’s settlements are illegitimate”, I respectfully wish to state, unequivocally, that you are mistaken and ill advised, both in law and in fact.

Pursuant to the “Oslo Accords”, and specifically the Israel-Palestinian Interim Agreement (1995), the “issue of settlements” is one of subjects to be negotiated in the permanent status negotiations. President Bill Clinton on behalf of the US, is signatory as witness to that agreement, together with the leaders of the EU, Russia, Egypt, Jordan and Norway.

Your statements serve to not only to prejudge this negotiating issue, but also to undermine the integrity of that agreement, as well as the very negotiations that you so enthusiastically advocate.

Your determination that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate cannot be legally substantiated. The oft-quoted prohibition on transferring population into occupied territory (Art. 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention) was, according to the International Committee Red Cross’s own official commentary of that convention, drafted in 1949 to prevent the forced, mass transfer of populations carried out by the Nazis in the Second World War. It was never intended to apply to Israel’s settlement activity. Attempts by the international community to attribute this article to Israel emanate from clear partisan motives, with which you, and the US are now identifying.

The formal applicability of that convention to the disputed territories cannot be claimed since they were not occupied from a prior, legitimate sovereign power.

The territories cannot be defined as “Palestinian territories” or, as you yourself frequently state, as “Palestine”. No such entity exists, and the whole purpose of the permanent status negotiation is to determine, by agreement, the status of the territory, to which Israel has a legitimate claim, backed by international legal and historic rights. How can you presume to undermine this negotiation?

There is no requirement in any of the signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians that Israel cease, or freeze settlement activity. The opposite is in fact the case. The above-noted 1995 interim agreement enables each party to plan, zone and build in the areas under its respective control.

Israel’s settlement policy neither prejudices the outcome of the negotiations nor does it involve displacement of local Palestinian residents from their private property.  Israel is indeed duly committed to negotiate the issue of settlements, and thus there is no room for any predetermination by you intended to prejudge the outcome of that negotiation.

By your repeating this ill-advised determination that Israel’s settlements are illegitimate, and by your threatening Israel with a “third Palestinian intifada” and international isolation and delegitimization, you are in fact buying into, and even fueling the Palestinian propaganda narrative, and exerting unfair pressure on Israel. This is equally the case with your insistence on a false and unrealistic time limit to the negotiation.

As such you are taking sides, thereby prejudicing your own personal credibility, as well as that of the US.

With a view to restoring your own and the US’s credibility, and to come with clean hands to the negotiation, you are respectfully requested to publicly and formally retract your determination as to the illegitimate nature of Israel’s settlements and to cease your pressure on Israel.

Respectfully,

Alan Baker, Attorney, Ambassador (ret’),
Former legal counsel of Israel’s Ministry for Foreign Affairs,
Former ambassador of Israel to Canada,
Director, Institute for Contemporary Affairs, Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs,
Director, International Action Division, The Legal Forum for Israel

Copy:
H.E. Daniel B. Shapiro, US Ambassador to Israel,
71 Hayarkon Street, Tel Aviv, Israel 63903

Would PA Allow Jews in Jerusalem?

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

With Tzipi Livni a possibility to head Israel’s negotiating team in talks with the Palestinian Authority, it is important to review her stance on the future status of Jerusalem – and to investigate what really is holding up all chances of a successful peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

In late 2008, Livni was elected to replace Ehud Olmert as head of the Kadima Party. She then proceeded to fail in her attempt to form a new government under her leadership – and the reason for this was her consent to grant Arab control to parts of holy city. This, together with the economic decrees against the “disadvantaged population,” led the Shas Party to refuse to join her government.

As foreign minister in 2008, Livni promised P.A. chief Mahmoud Abbas that Israel would cede it the entire Atarot airport complex in northern Yerushalayim in the framework of a peace agreement. She repeatedly stated that though she believes strongly in historic Jewish rights to the entire Land of Israel, she also believes in the “right of our children to live in peace” – to which end she was willing to make far-reaching territorial concessions even in Yerushalayim.

Is there any chance of reaching an agreement with the PLO that does not include some form of dividing Jerusalem with Muslims? The answer appears to be negative. Former Israeli ambassador to Canada Alan Baker, of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, has written an important and thorough historic study of the issue, concluding that the current P.A. mindset “clearly render[s] hopeless any possibility of peacefully governing Jerusalem.”

Specifically, Baker writes, standing in the way of an agreement is the Moslems’ refusal to recognize the Jewish people’s religious and historic rights to Yerushalayim, even without accepting these as absolute and exclusively binding.

Just a few months ago, Abbas referred to “the alleged [Jewish] Temple” in Jerusalem, and vowed that “there will be no peace, security, or stability unless [all Israelis are] evacuated from our holy city and the eternal capital of our state.”

“This statement,” Baker wrote, “basically denying any Jewish linkage or right to Jerusalem, uttered by the head of the Palestinian Authority who is considered in the international community to be moderate and reasonable, serves as an example of the tremendous political, historical, psychological, legal, and religious challenge that the issue of Jerusalem poses to the Middle East negotiating process.”

Any agreement regarding Jerusalem, he continued, must be “predicated on absolute acknowledgement of, respect for, and acceptance by each side of the historic and religious rights of the other in Jerusalem. Continued mistrust, attempts to dislodge, undermine or destabilize the other side vis-à-vis its own constituency or the international community, and attempts to delegitimize the integrity or historical rights of the other side would clearly render hopeless any possibility of peacefully governing Jerusalem.”

It is not only Abbas who negates Jewish rights in Jerusalem. A P.A. survey in 2011 found that nearly three-quarters of the respondents – 72 percent – support the denial of thousands of years of Jewish history in Jerusalem.

We must remember, too, that Abbas has said no Jews would be allowed to live anywhere in a Palestinian state.

From Israel’s side, 77 percent told Dahaf public opinion pollsters in December that “Israel could not rely on the Palestinians to ensure freedom of worship” even in the framework of a peace agreement. Interestingly, it is not well-known that non-Muslims are prohibited from entering both Mecca and the center of Medina. Undoubtedly, if this fact were to be exposed more widely, it would dramatically increase the number of Israelis who realize the division of Jerusalem means the end of their visits to the Western Wall – for there is no reason to believe that if Jews may not visit Mecca or Medina, they would be able to visit the Temple Mount or anywhere else in the Old City under Muslim rule.

Ambassador Baker notes in his article that even when Israel supported various internationalization schemes in Jerusalem, this was basically to ensure universal freedom of worship in all holy places, not to give up sovereignty. The Arab sides did not accept even this.

Regarding the Arab refusal to accept the 1947 Partition resolution, historian Shlomo Avineri has written that unlike in the Jewish community, there was no debate within the Arab community: There, “an absolutist position – ‘we have all the rights, the Jews don’t have any right’ – continued to be the foundation of their response…”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/keeping-jerusalem/would-pa-allow-jews-in-jerusalem/2013/03/06/

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