Israel’s illegal occupation: When ‘de-escalate’ means ‘ramp up’ – and ‘good faith, mutual trust’ mean ‘knife in the back’
Here’s a classic example of the false and self-deluding nonsense that passes for peace efforts in the Holy Land. On 26 February Jordan hosted a meeting at Aqaba between Israel and the Palestinian National Authority (PNA). The meeting was called to de-escalate the sharp increase in violence in the occupied Palestinian territories.
Afterwards the Jordanian foreign ministry published an Aqaba Joint Communique in which Israel and the PNA “confirmed their joint readiness and commitment to immediately work to end unilateral measures for a period of three to six months”. This included an Israeli commitment to cease any new settlement units for four months and to stop authorising any other outposts for six months.
They also agreed “to pursue confidence-building measures and strengthen mutual trust in order to address outstanding issues through direct dialogue”. And they would work in good faith to assume responsibilities and to enhance mutual trust through this arrangement.
Good faith, mutual trust – sounds just fine, but is it?
The very next day Israel’s prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, was reported saying that the building of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank will continue to go ahead. He tweeted that there “will not be any freeze” on settlement construction and that building and authorisation will continue according to the original planning and building schedule, with no change.
And Israeli National Security Adviser Tzachi Hanegbi said that Israel will authorise nine settlement outposts in the coming months and approve 9,500 settlement units in the occupied West Bank. “Contrary to reports and tweets about the meeting in Jordan, there is no change in Israeli policy.”
How’s that for barefaced duplicity? But those paying attention know that it’s quite normal in any agreement with Israel and its ‘bitch’ America – the dirty-dealing duo. The wonder is that the PNA falls for it every time. Is it naturally thick or just paid to be thick?
Law is such a huge inconvenience, let’s ignore it
The Jordanian, Egyptian, Israeli, Palestinian and US senior officials who met at Aqaba claim to have had “comprehensive and frank discussions”, yet none of them seemed acquainted with the international and other laws relating to the 70-plus years’ illegal occupation. Didn’t their frank discussion even touch on such vital considerations? If it had, they’d realise that it’s not a question of freezing or delaying work on so-called settlements. They must cease creating them altogether and dismantle those that already exist.
As has been pointed out many times, plonking settlers (i.e. squatters) down on Palestinian territory is a violation of international law and a war crime on the part of the individuals involved. And it’s a violation of Israel’s legal obligation to respect the sovereignty of another state and a violation of Israel’s legal obligation to respect the right of self-determination of the Palestinian people; also a violation of Israel’s obligations under the international law on the use of force. Ending these violations involves immediate removal of the squatters from occupied land and an immediate end to Israel’s exercise of control, including its use of military force. That’s the basis for peace.
The only legal grounds for Israel or any other state controlling territory that isn’t its own and which is either the territory of another state or a non-state self-determination unit (as here), is if it has the latter’s permission, or the UN Security Council has given its authority under Chapter 7, or it is a legally-valid exercise of self-defence in accordance with the international law on the use of force. None of these apply to Israel’s action.
As for the squatters, using force to protect them is legally invalid, bearing in mind the extra-territorial nature of the squats. Israel has no legal right to use force to protect its nationals outside its own territory.
Go back to Aqaba, gentlemen, and sort things out in accordance with legal principles – as you should have done decades ago – otherwise there’ll be no justice and no peace. Oh I forgot: peace simply isn’t on the agenda for Israel and America. For them, international law is a huge inconvenience and best ignored.
But the simple fact is that 700,000 Israeli squatters live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The law and the international community consider Israel’s so-called settlements illegal and obstacles to peace. If international law is to mean anything, why isn’t it enforced? We all know the answer. It’s because apartheid Israel’s handful of adoring spivs and pimps in Washington and Westminster want the injustice and human misery to continue, and no-one has the guts to call them out as accessories to those crimes.