Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mideast Media Sampler 8/13/13: Why Isn't Kerry Concerned About A Terrorist Palestinian State?

by David Gerstman, contributing blogger at Legal Insurrection

Terrorism is Diplomacy by Other Means

Yesterday I wondered Does John Kerry worry about a Palestine that reveres such monsters as the murderer of Nissim Toledano? The impetus for my curiosity was Secretary of State John Kerry's remarks last week in front of a number Jewish American leaders as reported by the Times of Israel:
An optimistic-sounding Kerry asked the Jewish leaders for their help in supporting the newly restarted talks, The Times of Israel learned, saying that he feared for Israel’s future if a peace deal is not reached.
If he worried about Israel's future, did he worry about a state that was based of violence and terror?
Two weeks ago the New York Times reported:
With the Palestinians poised to take their claim for statehood to the International Criminal Court and United Nations bodies, American officials say the two sides were facing a downward spiral in which the Israelis would respond by cutting off financing to the Palestinian territories and European nations might curtail their investment in Israel, further isolating the Israelis.
Kerry and Abbas
Kerry and Abbas. Kerry is all smiles with Abbas, who incites hatred against Israel.
Credit: Wiki Commons

The peace process, which began twenty years ago, was based on two premises on the Palestinian side. One was is that they would renounce violence; something that at least Hamas has never done. (It's something that Fatah did, but didn't mean.) The other, is that it would negotiate directly with Israel. So Kerry worried about Israel's future if peace was not achieved; but not enough that he would object to the Palestinians seeking to focus international pressure on Israel and violating a fundamental commitment of its leadership two decades ago. Rather he threw up his hands and worried about how the Palestinian perfidy would affect Israel. It gets worse. I wondered how would Secretary Kerry react to the celebrations the Palestinians have planned to greet the murderers Israel was freeing in order to restart the peace talks he so desperately wanted? Could a society that - not just tolerated, but - celebrated such barbarity really live in peace with its neighbor? In other words, would Kerry acknowledge the premise underlying his frenetic diplomacy was hopelessly flawed? Could he? I think we have an answer. Yesterday Ha'aretz reported that the PA's foreign ministry is circulating letters claiming that Israeli ministers are the terrorists, not the prisoners (h/t Oren Kessler):
One of the letters relayed by Palestinian ambassadors around the world was obtained by Haaretz. The letter, which was distributed by the Palestinian Embassy in Santiago, Chile, a day after the cabinet's decision on the prisoner release, claimed that Israel is the one terrorizing the Palestinians, and not vice-versa. "A terrorist is someone who forcefully occupies the other's land, expels him and comes to live in his place," the letter read, "…not the Palestinian political prisoner, the freedom fighter."
This is beyond the pale. This goes beyond the disgraceful spectacle of Israel's "peace partner" referring to an unrepentant, deceased terrorist as a "pure soul." This is telling the rest of the world, "ignore the decades of terror we perpetrated against Israel because it was all justified. The only violation of international law in the Middle East, is the Israeli occupation." Maybe diplomats in Europe and John Kerry will not state things so directly, but they believe it. If John Kerry were a competent diplomat he would have immediately called the Palestinian Authority and Mahmoud Abbas out and said that terrorism is never justified. What did Kerry say today?
As you know, or as the world I hope knows, the United States of America views all of the settlements as illegitimate.
That's unqualified. He didn't make exceptions for "settlements" in areas that Israel is expected to hold in any final peace deal. He didn't say "unhelpful" but "illegitimate." But the Palestinian effort to whitewash hacking an elderly man to death with an ax as "justified" didn't merit a response. It is not like Kerry is ignorant of the incitement of the PA. In a letter PM Netanyahu sent to Kerry a few days ago, he wrote:
“Rather than educate the next generation of Palestinians to live in peace with Israel, this hate education lays the ground for continued violence, terror and conflict,” Netanyahu’s letter to Kerry stated, according to Israel Hayom.
The Palestinian effort to get the world to ignore the terror that brought their cause to the world's attention and which they engage in to this day likely has been the most successful diplomatic initiative of all time. "Occupation" is the root of all evil (at least in Israel's case, anywhere else it's ignored); terrorism is of no import. But that wasn't how it was supposed to be. Israel's Foreign Ministry compiled the views of world leaders, diplomats and legal experts in the aftermath of the 6 Day War and the drafting of the resolution 242, which was to be the basis of the peace process. For example, here's what Eugene Rostow, one of the drafters of 242, argued:
Eugene V. Rostow, Professor of Law and Public Affairs, Yale University, who, in 1967, was US Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs: "... Paragraph 1 (i) of the Resolution calls for the withdrawal of Israeli armed forces 'from territories occupied in the recent conflict', and not 'from the territories occupied in the recent conflict'. Repeated attempts to amend this sentence by inserting the word 'the' failed in the Security Council. It is, therefore, not legally possible to assert that the provision requires Israeli withdrawal from all the territories now occupied under the cease-fire resolutions to the Armistice Demarcation lines." (American Journal of International Law, Volume 64, September 1970, p. 69)
Notice a few things. The original intent of 242 was that Israel not be required to withdraw from all territories captured in 1967. Furthermore it was the consensus at the time that the 1967 boundaries were not secure for Israel. Also if you pay attention to what was said at the time, any peace was supposed to be achieved through negotiation. This is all forgotten now. The thousands of Israelis who have been killed are forgotten. The word "terror" is forgotten. The main issue is "occupation." This is the great diplomatic victory of the Palestinians. Maybe it's the greatest one in history. How did the Palestinians achieve this victory? In 1999, the UN General Assembly decided that the Fourth Geneva Convention applied to the "occupied territories."
International efforts led by the United States were successful in scaling down the July 15th special UN meeting in Geneva. The closed-door meeting lasted a mere 45 minutes. However, a resolution was unanimously passed stating that the Fourth Geneva Convention does apply to Israeli settlements in the "occupied territories."
This was likely when the Palestinian emphasis on "occupation" started to gain traction. To be sure, there was always a sentiment among the elites that "we understand the Palestinians' grievance, but terror is no way to achieve their goals." But even with that caution, the understanding implicitly extended to the terror too. Now was the first formal declaration that put "occupation" on the same level as terrorism. The problem is once again, a misreading of the original intent of international law. Legal expert, Alan Baker recalls:
Similarly, international lawyer Prof. Julius Stone, in referring to the absurdity of considering Israeli settlements as a violation of Article 49(6), stated: Irony would…be pushed to the absurdity of claiming that Article 49(6), designed to prevent repetition of Nazi-type genocidal policies of rendering Nazi metropolitan territories judenrein, has now come to mean that…the West Bank…must be made judenrein and must be so maintained, if necessary by the use of force by the government of Israel against its own inhabitants. Common sense as well as correct historical and functional context excludes so tyrannical a reading of Article 49(6.)10
(Judenrein? Where did I hear that recently?) What's happened is that premise of the peace process has changed from Resolution 242 to a willful misinterpretation of the fourth Geneva Convention. Rejecting terror and direct negotiations are out. International pressure is in. I observed earlier that John Kerry has clearly rejected a twenty year old assumption of the peace process. His recent actions show that he's rejecting a lot more. In the article reporting on Kerry's concern for Israel's future, it was also reported that Kerry plans to push American Jewish leaders in the run up to the High Holidays to build support for his peace plan among American Jews. I hope that if he calls this group back (or any other group) someone will ask him how they can sell his plan when he is unconcerned with the murderous ideology of the Palestinian Authority. Why does the Secretary of State believe that giving sovereignty to those who revere terrorism will bring peace or stability to the region? Kerry's failure to condemn the Palestinian Authority is the latest example of their great diplomatic success.

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