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October 20, 2014 / 26 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘international’

Palestinian Statehood, Terror, And The U.S. Presidential Election (First of Two Parts)

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

President Obama and Governor Romney strongly disagree on many issues but the daylight between them is especially great in the imminent matter of Palestinian statehood. For his part, the president still believes in a two-state solution, and in a corollary willingness of the Palestinian side to negotiate fairly. His opponent is unambiguous in a fully contrary insistence that the Palestinians are not interested in peace.

One thing is certain. Jurisprudentially and strategically, Romney’s position here is substantially more compelling. After all, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas are clear in their continuing commitment to use force for “self-determination” and “national liberation.” For these two contending factions, this belligerent commitment would make sense even after a formal granting of Palestinian sovereignty. This is because, in their view, and on their maps, all of Israel proper would still remain “Occupied Palestine.”

What would be the legal status of any such post-independence expressions of Palestinian violence against Israeli citizens (noncombatants)? In broad terms, these expressions would be determinably criminal. More narrowly, they would constitute terrorism.

Under binding international law, a fully constituted or at least a UN-birthed state of Palestine would be unable to justify any linguistic transformations of an impermissible insurgency into permissible “self-defense.”

Terrorism, as I have pointed out in the past, is a codified and customary crime under international law. Its explicit criminalization can be discovered in all of the authoritative sources of international law listed at Article 38 of the Statute of the International Court of Justice. Now, though unacknowledged by President Obama, whenever Palestinian “militants” claim the right to use “any means necessary” against an alleged Israeli “occupation,” their arguments are legally unsupportable and crudely contrived.

Both Obama and Romney should always be prepared to look behind the news. Even if Palestinian claims for “national self-determination” should soon be supported at the UN, most likely, it seems, as a non-member state, there will still remain ascertainable and firm limits on the allowable targets of insurgent violence, and on the permissible levels of such violence. This is the case even though any post-independence Palestinian resorts to force would now be more or less state-supported.

Both candidates should understand: Palestine’s most probable future is written in its well-documented and bloody past. The strictly limited rights of insurgency under international law can never include the use of nail-filled bombs directed at children and other innocent noncombatants. (Sometimes these projectiles have first been dipped painstakingly in rat poison.)

Under even their most generous definition in jurisprudence, these particular and restricted rights to the use of force can never supplant the settled or peremptory rules of humanitarian international law. More popularly, these rules are known as the law of war, or the law of armed conflict.

At its heart, of course, international law intends to “make sense.” Nowhere is it written that certain political goals are so flagrantly worthy of implementation that their satisfaction can ever allow the deliberate incineration of infants in their cribs, or of children in school or at play. One doesn’t need to be a professor of international law to understand such an elementary expectation of human decency. Further, under international law, it won’t matter at all if such conspicuously murderous strategies are launched by a now recognized sovereign state.

From the beginning, supporters of Palestinian terror against Israelis have argued, disingenuously, that the desired end of their “sacred” insurgency (Palestinian independence) automatically justifies their adopted means (willful and indiscriminate attacks on Jewish civilians). Leaving aside the everyday and ordinary ethical standards by which any such argument must be manifestly unacceptable, the ends can never justify the means under conventional or customary international law. Never.

For more than two thousand years, the binding principles of world law have stipulated that intentional forms of violence that are directed against the innocent are always repugnant. Hence, prima facie, these forms are always prohibited.

One person’s terrorist can never be another person’s freedom fighter. Though it’s fashionable to insist at university or embassy cocktail parties that one person’s terrorist can indeed be another person’s freedom fighter, this popular expression is utterly facile, a thoroughly empty witticism devoid of any meaningful legal content.

While it is true that certain insurgencies can be judged per se lawful (after all, the idea of “just cause” can be found, inter alia, in the Declaration of Independence of the United States), these residually permissible resorts to force must nonetheless conform to the longstanding laws of war.

…To Be Continued Next Week

Israeli Buildings Pink-Lit to Fight Breast Cancer

Wednesday, October 17th, 2012

The tall buildings of Haifa University and the Naveh Nof residential Tower in Bat Yam were lit up in pink Tuesday night in solidarity with an international breast cancer awareness campaign.

The effort is sponsored by the Israel Cancer Association and cosmetics maker Estee Lauder, and seeks to encourage Israeli women to get regular mammograms and breast exams to prevent breast cancer.

A recent report by Israel’s Health Ministry showed that the risk of breast cancer is rising among Jewish women in Israel, with 1 in 7.5 at risk of developing it.  Rates among Arabs are dropping.

Over 200 buildings around the world are taking part in this year’s campaign, including the Empire State building, Buckingham Palace, and the Sydney Opera House.

In 2010 the walls surrounding the Old City in Jerusalem were lit up in pink for that year’s breast awareness campaign.

Palestinians Caught in the Act (Video)

Monday, October 15th, 2012

Every year the Palestinians blame the Settlers for cutting down their olive trees.

In fact, the JPost reported today:

A PLO official called on Sunday for international observers to protect Palestinian olive farmers and their groves, after more than 450 trees were vandalized last week as the harvest began.

“We urge every country with a diplomatic mission to Palestine to dispatch observer teams to Palestinian olive groves in order to discourage attacks by settlers and to document any abuse that occurs,” PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi said.

“Given Israel’s support for the settlers and its refusal to allow the Palestinian Authority to provide protection through the occupied territory, the Palestinian people require international intervention to ensure their security,” Ashrawi wrote.

Everything the PLO says needs to be taken with a few grains of salt…especially, when this video was provided today by the Shomron Settlement Council, taken today – of Palestinians and a Leftwing activist actively cutting down a Palestinian Olive Grove near Alon Moreh (what better way to demand international observers).

Too bad for them we caught it all on video.  Not that Ashrawi cares, as long as she can blame the evil Zionist Joos.

See for yourselves:

The Way It Really Was: George W. Bush Pushed For A Palestinian State

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Today, conventional wisdom maintains that the George W. Bush administration had been a good friend to Israel and, unlike the Obama administration, had fought mightily against the creation of a Palestinian state. With this “wisdom” in mind, I ask readers to consider the following column of mine that originally appeared in The Jewish Press in August 2007.

The more things change, the more they remain the same. In Washington, the president and his secretary of state [George W. Bush and Condoleezza Rice] have recently reinvigorated their incomprehensible “Road Map/Quartet” call for a Palestinian state. Such a polarized political entity would be manifestly unstable and viscerally anti-American, but our leaders persist in fashioning a Middle East foreign policy that indefatigably patronizes itself.

Don’t these leaders realize that this 23rd Arab state would unhesitatingly allow its territory to become a base of operations for al Qaeda and kindred jihadist groups? Aren’t they at all apprehensive that unconventional weapons fabricated in “Palestine” would eventually find their way not only to Tel Aviv, but also to Washington, Los Angeles and New York? Even a cursory glance at the official maps of the Palestinian National Authority would reveal the futility of any proposed “two state solution.”

On these maps, a cartographic rendering of the 1974 “Phased Plan” codified in Cairo, Israel simply does not exist. Is anyone looking?

President Bush and Secretary Rice would be well advised to consider the valuable insights of Zalman Shoval. Already back on February 14, 2006, in an opinion column for The Jerusalem Post (“Put Palestinian Statehood on Hold”), Israel’s former two-term ambassador to the United States argued unassailably that a Palestinian state remains contrary to “Israel’s supreme interest.” Because of the then-recent Hamas victory in the Palestinian elections, he pointed out, Israel had a timely and unique opportunity to make this clear and compelling. After all, said Ambassador Shoval, “Hamas’s very raison d’etre is the destruction of Israel, replacing it with an Islamic state reaching from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, and beyond.”

Then, as now, the Palestinian authorities, busily engaged in internecine slaughter whenever they were not firing rockets at Israeli civilians, could make no authentic claims for peace. We still should not reasonably expect Israel to be complicit in its own Palestinian-planned annihilation.

Both legally and factually, the distinguished Israeli diplomat was (and still is) on the mark. In the best of all possible worlds, Shoval’s wisdom would already have been heeded. In the best of all possible worlds, the so-called Quartet – not just the United States – would already have taken seriously its own unambiguous and codified conditions for Palestinian statehood.

But national leaders, lest we forget, are generally politicians, not logicians, and even the reign of Hamas seems to have had little effect on the global momentum for a two-state solution. Lest anyone think that joint U.S.-Israeli support for Fatah against Hamas now represents a more prudent path to a stable and productive Palestinian state, a path that circumvents Hamas terrorism, incontestable facts would suggest otherwise. In essence, Fatah and Hamas are two sides of the same coin. Before anything more positive could emerge from a Fatah-led “Palestine,” a gravedigger would have to wield the forceps.

There are substantial ironies to the present situation. Assorted governments of Israel are hardly blameless. For the most part, from the Oslo Agreements to the present policy expressions of a Middle East “peace process,” the plausibility and legitimacy of a Palestinian state have often been encouraged, more or less, by Jerusalem. From Rabin to Olmert, self-delusion about Palestinian “moderation” has played a large part in sustaining Washington’s foolish mantra about statehood.

For Bush, Rice and Olmert to change course now, however imperative, will be problematic. First, Israel’s narrowly technical legal objections will have absolutely no effect on Palestinian intentions, or even on worldwide sympathies for a Palestinian state. Second, and somewhat less obviously, Israel’s formal legal objections will be countered easily at the technical jurisprudential level.

The first problem with Israel’s perfectly valid denial of the Palestinian “right” to declare a state needs little discussion. As was the case before Hamas’s electoral victory and before the slide of Fatah and Hamas into open warfare, the entire Palestinian side is firmly and irreversibly committed to sovereignty and independence. In this commitment it will not be influenced by anything Israel might offer in the way of objections.

Rabbi Smuggles Sukkot Supplies to Iran, Syria

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

He smuggled goods to Syria in the midst of its civil war and to Iran in the face of international sanctions, but Rabbi A.H. is no arms dealer or James Bond. He’s just a guy selling lulavs.

A.H., a community rabbi in Europe who insists on anonymity, told Ynet that he managed to get 150 etrogs and five lulav kits to Jewish communities in Iran and Syria through a network of secret messengers and collaborators — and by handing out plenty of bribes.

Last year, the rabbi told Ynet, he tried to send etrogs to Iran through official channels, but they arrived at the Jewish community there full of holes. “These operations are so heroic and complex that they are just like Mossad activities,” he said. “If the details were revealed, people would faint.”

Incoming Fire on the Northern Border

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

It’s the eve of Yom Kippur and though the mood here in Jerusalem is calm (thankfully) and the weather glorious (of course), the reverberations of the war that broke out on that day in 1973 are in the air (inevitably).

In the past hour, mortar fire erupted on Israel’s northern border, causing explosions in what appear, for now, to be open fields. No injuries, but some property damage that’s not yet detailed in the news here. It’s reported that the fire is a kind of spillover from the barbarism unfolding over the past year inside Syria: the source is believed to be forces of the Syrian army “engaged” – as the journalists like to put it – with rebel forces near Syria’s border with Israel. AFP says the mortars crashed into Israel “by accident”. They were intended to hit civilian villages inside Syria.

That ongoing engagement has caused thousands of deaths since it broke out in March 2011. Wikipedia says various sources, including the UN, place the rising death toll at between 26,000 [source] and 39,120 [source] people killed, about half of them civilians. Where is the outrage?

This is not the time to go into the vast difference in response by the international community to the massacre of Arabs by Arabs compared with the constant condemnation of Israel in international forums. But if we’re discussing it, where are the effective steps taken until now by the UN Security Council relating to the Syrian barbarism and calculated to prevent even more people from being killed? Ban Ki-Moon knows and has expressed himself [here for instance]. The torrent of blood continues.

This morning, representatives of Israel’s government filed a complaint with the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force (UNDOF) operating in the area [report] since 1974. But that’s almost certainly done as a formality rather than out of any expectation that something will result. There are 1,036 UNDOF troops (from Austria, Canada, Croatia, India, Japan and Philippines) in the area as of today, plus 41 non military international staff and 102 local civilian staff members. Multiplied by 38 years, and that amounts to a massive financial outlay. The embattled Syrian villagers who are bombarded daily by the tanks and air force of their own armed forces must be wondering if there wasn’t a better place for that money to be spent all these years.

Note: people outside the area hear the name “Golan Heights” and the bitter demands of the Syrians who want the area back under their control… and think that the Golan is an elevated vantage point that looms over Syria and gives Israel some sort of strategic advantage. The opposite is true. They’re called “Heights” because the ridge looms over northern Israel. But on the Syrian side, they’re not heights at all.

Between 1948, when Israel won back its independence, and 1967 when the Six Day War was fought, the Syrian military was arrayed all along 8 to 12 mile long Golan Heights ridge overlooking Israel and used it as a base for attacks on Israeli farmers and fisherman. Israeli towns below the Golan were routinely bombed from above, and sniper fire was a constant. During those 19 years, some 140 Israelis were killed and many more were injured. Today, many Israelis know the Golan Heights best because of the outstanding world-class wines that are now produced there.

Originally published on September 25, at This Ongoing War.

Israel, ‘Palestine,’ and the Law Of War (First of two parts)

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

For the moment, at least, a state of Palestine does not exist. Historically, of course, such a country has never existed. Nonetheless, current supporters of Palestinian statehood (sometimes Jews as well as Arabs) have discovered substantial practical benefit in persistently referring to Israel and “Palestine” as if there were some existing legal equivalence between them. Indeed, repeated again and again, ritualistically, as if it were an incantation, such propagandistic usage is already transforming “Palestine” into a jurisprudential fait accompli.

At some point, perhaps sooner than later, Hamas and the Palestinian Authority will be able to agree on the basic boundaries and parameters of an independent Palestine. Though Prime Minister Netanyahu has insisted that any such twenty-third Arab state must immediately be demilitarized, Palestinian leaders will be under no actual legal obligation to comply. This is the case even if they should initially agree to demilitarization in their pre-independence compacts with Jerusalem.

What will happen next? Once it is formally established, a new state of Palestine will quickly become a staging area for incrementally expanding terror and war against Israel. More than likely, this transformation will take place while Hizbullah escalates its own rocket operations against Israel from Lebanon. Depending on the still uncertain outcomes in Syria, and also in Iran, the ferocity of such aggressions could compel Israel to launch renewed forms of self-defense in several theatres of conflict, and at the same time.

Israel’s indispensable efforts to defend its citizens from mounting threats will be met with a sanctimonious barrage of assorted international criticisms. Though international law naturally allows any similarly imperiled state to use necessary force preemptively, Israel’s expected efforts to stave off existential harms will assuredly be singled out for special condemnation. Ironically, the condemners could include the United States, even as Washington would continue to accelerate its daily drone attacks that kill and wound noncombatants in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen.

Humanitarian international law, or the law of war, requires that every use of force by an army or by an insurgent group meet the test of “proportionality.” Drawn from the core legal principle that “the means that can be used to injure an enemy are not unlimited,” proportionality stipulates, among other things, that every resort to armed force be limited to what is necessary for meeting appropriate military objectives.

This important principle of both codified and customary international law applies to all judgments of military advantage, and also to all planned reprisals.

Proportionality does not mean that the defending state, here Israel, must limit its use of force to the “amount” being used by the other side. Also, proper determinations of proportionality need not be made in a geopolitical vacuum. Instead, these legal decisions may always take into consideration the extent to which an adversary has committed prior or ongoing violations of the law of war.

In the frequently interrelated examples of Hamas/Islamic Jihad/Fatah terrorists in Gaza, and the Hizbullah terrorists in Lebanon, there is ample evidence that all of these belligerents have repeatedly been guilty of perfidy.

In law, deception can be acceptable in armed conflict, but the Hague Regulations expressly disallow the placement of military assets or military personnel in any heavily populated civilian areas. Further prohibition of perfidy can be found at Protocol I of 1977, additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. These rules are also binding on the basis of an equally authoritative customary international law.

Perfidy represents a very serious violation of the law of war, one that is even identified as a “grave breach” at Article 147 of Geneva Convention IV. The legal effect of perfidy committed by Palestinian or Hizbullah terrorists, especially their recurrent resort to “human shields,” has been to immunize Israel from legal responsibility for any inadvertent counter-terrorist harms done to Arab civilians. But even if Hamas and Islamic Jihad and Fatah and Hizbullah have not always engaged in deliberate violations, that is, even if there was no consistent mens rea, or criminal intent, any terrorist-created links between civilians and insurgent warfare bestowed upon Israel an unambiguous legal justification for military self-defense.

This is not to suggest that Israel should be given jurisprudential carte blanche in its defensive applications of armed force, but only that the reasonableness of these applications must always be appraised in the specific context of identifiable enemy perfidy. Israel should be treated as any other state under the law of war, no better but also no worse.

(Continued Next Week)

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/columns/louis-bene-beres/israel-palestine-and-the-law-of-war-first-of-two-parts/2012/09/25/

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