Sunday, June 28, 2009

Who Is In Breach Of International Law: Israel--Or The US?

Caroline Glick makes a compelling case that not only is Israel not in breach of signed agreements--or international law--on the issue of settlements, the US is breach of both international and domestic law.

On the issue of Israeli settlements and international law, Glick makes a number of points:
  • Israel has never signed an agreement whereby a Jewish community can be characterized as "illegal," and therefore has no legal obligation to forbid their expansion

  • Both former prime minister Ariel Sharon's chief of staff Dov Weisglass and former president George W. Bush's deputy national security adviser for the Middle East Elliott Abrams have gone on record that when Sharon agreed to limit the building of Jewish communities in the West Bank--not including Jerusalem--in accordance with the Road Map, he did so based on explicit understandings with the Bush administration.

  • The approval of the Road Map was a cabinet decision--not an international agreement. Therefore, the Israeli government has no legal obligation to advance it, and can legally abrogate Israel's acceptance of the Road Map by calling for another vote.

  • The Road Map does not have the force of international law: Glick writes "Although it was adopted by the Security Council, it was not adopted as an internationally binding document under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. Consequently, Israel has no international legal obligation to end Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria or Jerusalem."

  • As a signatory to the 1976 International Convention for Civil and Political Rights, which prohibits all forms of discrimination against people on the basis of religion and nationality, Israel cannot discriminate specifically against Jews who wish to build homes on legally controlled lands in Judea and Samaria. The convention is a binding treaty, which trumps the Road Map, which is non-binding.

  • In response to the claim that Jewish communities located beyond the 1949 armistice lines are illegal because of the Fourth Geneva Convention from 1949, which prohibits an occupying power from transferring parts of its population to the occupied territory--there has long been a dispute among legal authorities if this applies to the West Bank. Even assuming that it is applicable, Prof. Avi Bell from Bar-Ilan University Law School explains that "The Fourth Geneva Convention does not purport to limit in any way what individual Jews may or may not do on their legally held property or where they may or may not choose to live."
On the other hand, Caroline Glick demonstrates how the policy of the Obama administration towards the Palestinian Arabs is itself in violation of both international and domestic US law.

The key is the UN Security Council binding Resolution 1373, passed by authority of Chapter VII. It commits all UN member states:
  • to "refrain from providing any form of support, active or passive, to entities or persons involved in terrorist acts."

  • to "deny safe haven to those who finance, plan, support, or commit terrorist acts or provide safe haven" to those that do.
In light of the stipulations of UN Resolution 1373, a number of actions of the Obama administration become questionable according to international law:
  • In 1995, the US State Department put Hamas on its list of terrorist groups--and the actions taken by the Obama administration thus put the US in breach of both international and US law. Since the US has or is in the process of transferring $300 million to Gaza through USAID, which based on past experience has ended up in the hands of Hamas--the transfer of these funds constitute indirect assistance to Hamas and are prohibited by Resolution 1373 and US law.

  • The US pressure on Israel to open passages between it and Gaza and limit travel restrictions--putting Israel at risk of facilitating the movement of Hamas terrorists and thereby supporting them is also a breach of Resolution 1373, which states that all states must "prevent the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups by effective border controls."

  • The US is pressuring Israel to allow cement to be imported into Gaza to rebuild the Hamas infrastructure and transfer money into Hamas-controlled banks while the Obama administration has pledged $900 million to rebuild Gaza. In addition, Dan Diker reported in a study published by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, PA Prime Minister Salaam Fayad has admitted that the US-financed PA continues to pay the salaries of Hamas terrorists. All of this is in violation of Resolution 1373 which requires all states to "ensure that any person who participates in the financing, planning, preparation or perpetuation of terrorist acts or in supporting terrorist acts is brought to justice."

  • Obama's apparent attempt to facilitate the establishment of a Palestinian government including Hamas legitimizes that terrorist group and would both aid a designated terrorist organization and help provide it with a safe haven, in violation of Resolution 1373

  • By meeting with representatives of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is suspected of providing material support to Hizbullah--a designated terrorist organization, Obama was arguably illegally providing indirect assistance to Hizbullah, which is in breach of Resolution 1373 and US law.

  • US military assistance to the Lebanese military, which has been shown to be influenced by Hizbullah is also possibly in breach of Resolution 1373 and US law.

  • Itamar Marcus and Barbara Crook wrote in The Jerusalem Post last month that the US is financing the construction of a Palestinian computer center--which is named for Fatah terrorist Dalal Mughrabi, who led the 1978 bus bombing on Israel's coastal highway in which 37 civilians, including 12 children and US citizen Gail Rubin, were murdered--yet the 2008 US Foreign Operations Bill bars US assistance to the Palestinians from being used "for the purpose of recognizing or otherwise honoring individuals who commit or have committed acts of terrorism."
Glick concludes:
Obama, the former law professor, never tires of invoking international law. And yet, when one considers his policies toward Israel on the one hand, and his policies toward illegal terrorist organizations on the other, it is clear that Obama's respect for international law is mere rhetoric. True champions of law in both Israel and the US should demand an end to his administration's contempt for the US's actual - rather than imaginary - legal obligations.
It is time to hold Obama accountable for his claims about international law.

Crossposted on Soccer Dad

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