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The Term “Occupied Palestinian Territories” Perverts International Law

Sept. 12 2017

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the main arbiter of the Geneva Convention’s regulations, frequently describes the West Bank and even the Gaza Strip as “Occupied Palestinian Territories.” Yet, Alan Baker writes, this phrase—also used by the UN—wildly misapplies the laws the ICRC is tasked with protecting:

The classical rules of occupation are set out in the international law of armed conflict and specifically in the 1907 Hague Regulations and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention. . . . [T]he Hague Regulations define a territory as occupied when it comes “under the control of a hostile army.” The Fourth Geneva convention goes further and requires that the territory of a “High Contracting Party [i.e., a signatory of the Convention] comes under partial or total occupation.” . . .

[But] the sovereign status [of the West Bank and Gaza] is legally unclear or non-existent and as such cannot be seen as “territory of a High Contracting Party” as defined by the Fourth Geneva Convention. The legal questionability of Jordan’s pre-1967 sovereignty in the West Bank, as well as Egypt’s self-admitted non-sovereign military administration of the Gaza Strip, [cast doubt on] whether the classic and simplistic concept of belligerent occupation could be legally relevant and applicable to Israel’s unique situation in the territories.

It is well known that prior to 1967, Jordan’s annexation of, and claim to sovereignty in, the West Bank were not accepted in the international community, except for the UK and Pakistan. Jordan’s claim to east Jerusalem was not accepted even by the UK. . . .

Meanwhile, by contrast, the ICRC and the UN almost never use “occupation” or related terms to refer to the numerous textbook cases of military occupation across the globe. Baker concludes:

Thus, the use by the international community of the terms “belligerent occupation” and “occupied territory” almost exclusively to refer to Israel’s status in the territories has taken on a distinct politicized connotation that ignores the legal, historical, and political situation on the ground. The terms extend far beyond the simplistic rubrics foreseen in the definitions. . . .

This runs counter to the ICRC’s very basic fundamental principles of “impartiality, neutrality, and independence” as required and defined in the Preamble to the Statutes of the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement. The cumulative effect of such legally flawed assumptions in effect prejudges the central negotiating issue between Israel and the PLO—namely, the permanent status of the territories. That issue constitutes an agreed-upon negotiating issue pursuant to the 1993 Oslo Accords in which the Palestinians themselves agreed to negotiate the permanent status of the territory.

Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Geneva Convention, International Law, Israel & Zionism, Red Cross, United Nations, West Bank

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC