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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

The Movement to Return Jewish Worship to the Temple Mount Has Gone Mainstream

Sept. 25 2017

During the eruption of violence against Israelis in Jerusalem this summer, and the subsequent struggle over metal detectors, the Islamic authorities briefly boycotted the Temple Mount. As a result, Jewish visitors, normally prohibited from praying there, immediately began to do so. Meir Soloveichik puts the episode in context and describes its meaning:

The Temple Mount is fast becoming a pilgrimage site for religious Jews. In the past, most abstained from visiting out of concern that they might enter a sacred area in a state of ritual impurity, but many now believe that, with a knowledge of the layout, history, and religious laws pertaining to the location, it is permissible to visit certain parts of the Temple Mount plaza. They thus visit the site under religious guidance—immersing first in a ritual bath, or mikveh—and tread only in specific areas. What was once a trickle of pilgrims has become a stream, and this year they numbered in the many thousands. . . .

[Indeed, a] sea change has taken place in the past fifteen years: . . . the segment of Jews visiting the Temple Mount is becoming more and more mainstream, supported by rabbis noted for their liberalism in social or religious affairs. . . .

Visiting Jews were, for a brief and brilliant moment [this summer], able to utter several words of prayer without interference. The Israeli media published photos of a diverse group of Jews standing on the Temple Mount reciting the kaddish, so close to where their ancestors, on Yom Kippur, had once stood listening to the high priest pronounce the Name of God. Soon after this kaddish, the [status quo ante] returned; Jews again were no longer free to pray at the site toward which all Jewish prayer has been directed for thousands of years. But images of that one unimpeded kaddish remain; to study them is to look back on the miraculous and heartbreaking past half-century in Jerusalem, to celebrate what has been achieved, and to mourn what might have been.

Read more at Commentary

More about: Judaism, Palestinian terror, Religion & Holidays, Temple Mount