The Palestinian Authority’s Contradictory Claims about Jerusalem

Dec. 20 2018

Since 2011, the Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas has been pursuing a status of “internationalization,” in which the PA seeks to join various international bodies as the “state of Palestine” and then file lawsuits against Israel. Currently, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)—which, for technical reasons, is the body doing the suing—has one complaint before the International Criminal Court (ICC) and another before the International Court of Justice (ICJ). Avi Bell notes that the claims it makes in the two courts regarding the status of Jerusalem contradict each other:

In the ICJ, the PLO claims that Jerusalem is an internationalized area called a “corpus separatum” [or “separate body”], over which no state can legally claim sovereignty. In the ICC, the PLO claims that just over half of Jerusalem (the part it calls “East Jerusalem”) is sovereign territory of what it calls the state of Palestine. Neither claim is meritorious. And more importantly, it’s impossible for both claims to be true simultaneously.

The PLO’s claim in the ICJ emerged in a lawsuit against the United States, in which the PLO claims that the U.S. violated the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations by locating its embassy within Israel’s capital. [It] claims (incorrectly) that any state can invoke the court’s jurisdiction when an embassy is located in the wrong place. The PLO then claims (also incorrectly) that the Vienna Convention only permits embassies to be located within the territory of the “receiving state,” and (incorrectly) that none of Jerusalem is territory of the “receiving state” because all of Jerusalem is a “corpus separatum”—an internationalized territory to which no state can claim sovereignty. The grounds on which the PLO claims this unique status for Jerusalem are unclear but appear to be a mistaken belief that the failed UN General Assembly [partition] proposals of 1947 and 1949 altered the law of territorial sovereignty.

It is an unfortunate commentary on the politicization of both courts that meritless PLO claims have gone as far as they have in the ICJ and ICC. . . . But it is far more damning that international legal observers have remained silent about the irreconcilable contradiction between the PLO’s arguments to the two courts.

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More about: ICC, International Law, Israel & Zionism, Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority

At the UN, Nikki Haley Told the Truth about Israel—and the World Didn’t Burn Down

April 22 2019

Although Nikki Haley had never been to Israel when she took the position of American ambassador to the UN, and had no prior foreign-policy experience, she distinguished herself as one of the most capable and vigorous defenders of the Jewish state ever to hold the position. Jon Lerner, who served as Haley’s deputy during her ambassadorship, sees the key to her success—regarding both Israel and many other matters—in her refusal to abide by the polite fictions that the institution holds sacred:

Myths are sometimes assets in international relations. The fiction that Taiwan is not an independent country, for example, allows [the U.S.] to sustain [its] relationship with China. In other cases, however, myths can create serious problems. On Israel–Palestinian issues, the Trump administration was determined to test some mythical propositions that many had come to take for granted, and, in some cases, to refute them. Haley’s prominence at the UN arose in large part from a conscious choice to reject myths that had pervaded diplomacy on Israel–Palestinian issues for decades. . . .

[For instance], U.S. presidents were intimidated by the argument that recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would trigger violent explosions throughout the Muslim world. President Trump and key colleagues doubted this, and they turned out to be right. Violent reaction in the Palestinian territories was limited, and there was virtually none elsewhere in Arab and Islamic countries. . . .

It turns out that the United States can support Israel strongly and still work closely with Arab states to promote common interests like opposing Iranian threats. The Arab street is not narrowly Israel-minded and is not as volatile as long believed. The sky won’t fall if the U.S. stops funding UN sacred cows like the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine (UNRWA). Even if future U.S. administrations revert to the policies of the past, these old assumptions will remain disproved. That is a valuable accomplishment that will last long after Nikki Haley’s UN tenure.

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More about: Donald Trump, Nikki Haley, United Nations, US-Israel relations