By Ted Belman
Last week I attended a seminar on the legal status of the territories hosted by Media Central for reporters and correspondents.
Professor Ruth Lapidot, renowned scholar on international law, and a young female Arab lawyer, Nada Kiswanson representing al Haq presented. al Haq, funded by the EU, prepares legal analysis from the Arab point of view.
Lapidot started out by giving a balanced presentation of the law with respect to the Geneva Convention, occupation law, settlements and the like. She was entirely devoid of passion.
Kiswanson spoke fluently and passionately and argued the case from the Palestinian perspective and mentioned the word “occupation” in every sentence. Everything she said needed to be challenged because she was stretching the law beyond recognition. And of course she buttressed her opinion by claiming world opinion and the General Assembly of the UN agreed with her. Obviously both are irrelevant in a court of law.
Her presentation reminded me of the lawyer’s tactic of drowning the opponent in paper most of which was irrelevant but still required some attention. Similarly when the Palestinians present facts or law, they throw so many inaccuracies at you that your efforts are consumed with dismissing all the lies rather than focusing on the truth.
Unfortunately, when she said the Palestinians were a people, Lapidot agreed with her. I wanted to ask what made them a “people” believing that there are a list of criteria to define a people, none of which the “Palestinian people” share. Even if they are to be now considered a “people”, that doesn’t give them an automatic right to a state. Look at the Kurds who certainly meet the criteria but are denied a state.
Essentially she was demanding that Israel withdraw from all territories which is not what Res 242 provides. She was relying on the French translation of the resolution rather than the English rendition which is the official one.
She talked about the “occupied Palestinian territories” but did agree with me when I said the occupation was legal. She stressed that the occupation was to be temporary and I pointed out, to the contrary, that the Security Council resolution, agreed to by the PA, said that the occupation was to continue until there was an agreement on “secure and recognized borders”. The PA keeps alleging that it is temporary to avoid negotiating such borders in order to end the occupation..
Another correspondent acknowledged that there was an occupation but asked what made the land “Palestinian”. She answered that the Palestinians were always there and in a majority before the state was declared. A follow up question suggested that following that logic, all of Israel was Palestinian land. She declined to go there.
Of course she ignores that prior to Israel coming into existence in 1948, the Jews were referred to as Palestinians and the Arabs that were there were just that…Arabs. She also ignores that but for the British violating the Mandate by restricting Jewish immigration while permitting Arab immigration, the Jews would have been in a majority.
Prior to the Mandate the lands were part of the Ottoman Empire until they came under the control of Britain and France who defeated them in WWI. International law recognizes the right of the victors to redraw borders. Pursuant to this right, the Palestine Mandate was created with a view to such lands becoming the Jewish homeland. Jews were given the right of “close settlement.” This right has never been abrogated. Thus the Jews have every right to settle in Judea and Samaria. Thus the settlements are legal. Somebody should tell Obama.
It was clear that she wanted all the territories to be given to the Palestinians based on her legal reasoning and world opinion. Lapidot pointed out that the Roadmap required all parties to negotiate all issues in order to come to an agreement. Resolution 242 does likewise. Negotiations imply that there be give and take to reach agreement.
Israel, began this process because she believed that there would be no resolution without her agreement. Never did she think, prior to the Obama administration, that she would be denied negotiations and would have a solution imposed on her.
A year ago, President Obama promised King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia that he would impose the Saudi Plan on Israel without requiring the Arab countries to sign a peace agreement.
The PA does not want negotiations which imply that they must give and not just take. They are relying on Obama and world opinion to force Israel to do the giving without any taking.