Monthly Archives: November 2019

The Legality of Israeli Settlements in Judea and Samaria – reclaiming the narrative

Reams have already been written about the “brazen flouting of international law” in the aftermath of Secretary of State Pompeo’s declaration that the United States no longer considered Israeli presence in Area C illegal.

There were expected comments from breathless opinion pieces in Ha’aretz about “…desperation in Ramallah…” to ever-reliable hyperbole from PA spokesman that the new US position is “void, unacceptable and condemned”, to the more nuanced but nevertheless predictably anti-Israel Amnesty International’s Phillippe Nassif’s statement that the USA and Israel deemed themselves to be above the law.

After letting the dust settle, a rational and reasoned look at the facts revealed the actual legal position in international law which finally prompted a correction by the US Secretary of State which also took into account the interminable reiteration about “Israeli occupied Palestinian land”.

In 1948, there was no “Palestinian land”. There was an illegal annexation of Gaza by Egypt and Judea by Jordan.

In 1966, there was no “Palestinian land” when Egypt occupied Gaza and Jordan occupied Jewish Judea.

In 1967, there was “Palestinian land” when three massive Arab armies lost yet another full scale war against a tiny sovereign Jewish state and where in that same year, a furious Arab League meeting in Khartoum, Egypt voted for “no peace,” “no negotiations” and “no recognition” of Israel.

Also in 1967, Israel took back Gaza and Judea AND the Golan Heights after inflicting a crushing defeat on Egypt, Jordan and Syria whose illegal attacks ignored all prior legal conventions of the Hague and the Geneva conventions to again visit violence on the Jews.

In 1968, the world was introduced to the genus of ancient Palestinians after a discovery of this hitherto undiscovered and indigenous nation in the Levant was first mooted in in an Arab League summit in Egypt in 1964 by PLO leader Arafat in his new attempts to delegitimise the existence of the State of Israel.

In 1970, the world saw the first of the Arab PLO plane terrorjackings in the name of the ancient Palestinian people.

1973 saw the first Arab OPEC economic terror unleashed on America and the West in the name of the disenfranchised Palestinians longing for their ancient lands now occupied by Jews. The OPEC economic terror was aimed as retribution for, and a warning of more to come to, all those European countries supporting Israel.

Europe got the message.

In 1970, for example, after a spate of PLO attacks against Swiss interests including planejackings,, the Swiss government made a secret deal with Arafat for tacit recognition/support of the Palestine issue in its campaign through both terror and, later, lawfare, to rid the land of the ancient Palestinians from illegal occupation by Jews. To this end, the historical record will show that after 1970, PLO terror continued in Europe, but not in Switzerland.

In 1977, after intense political pressure by Arab States, Additional Protocols to the Geneva Conventions were attached. These Protocols now codified a hitherto non-existent notion that Israeli presence in Judea after a defensive war which it was forced to undertake, constituted a “grave breach” or a “war crime” and was illegal.

Continual condemnation of illegal Israeli occupation by the EU followed the self-serving paradigm pioneered by the Swiss, until today, in response to a generational propaganda campaign to brand Israeli presence in Judea as illegal for European demographic, economic and political reasons, the lie has become the truth of the willing and/or the critically under-read.

In the words of Isa Blagden, “If a lie is only printed often enough it becomes a quasi-truth and if such a truth is repeated often enough, it becomes an article, of belief, a dogma and men will die for it.”

The allegation of the illegality of Israel in Judea is that lie, for there exist only advisories or self-interested interpretations on articles of international law pertaining to occupation, but not a single article of international law showing any illegality in the presence of Israel in Judea, an area retaken by Israel in a defensive war where the occupiers of that territory previously were not a High Contracting Party (HCP).

In other words, Jordan was not considered by the international community as having attained legitimate sovereign rights over the areas of Judea and Samaria, following its 1950 unrecognized annexation of the areas. As such, from the legal point of view, since there existed no legitimate sovereign power, a unique situation existed in which the classic laws of occupation per the 4th Geneva Convention were not legally applicable.

And it is because there was no legal HCP in a territory illegally occupied by an invading Jordanian army, that the self-interested deceit of Western governments who erroneously repeat a mantra of a “belligerent occupation”, Israeli “illegality” in Area C, is exposed.

Specifically, the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement on the so-called “West Bank” (Oslo II) endorsed by the U.N. agreed that, pending negotiation to determine the permanent status of the area, effective control of Area C where legal Israeli settlements are built, would be under Israeli civil AND military administration. This legal agreement and administration was termed a special legal ruling that overrode any other previously applicable legal framework that may have been applicable, including the Geneva Convention.

It should be stressed that under Article XXXI of Oslo II, signed by the sole representative of the Palestinian people, Yasser Arafat, permanent status negotiations were to include Jerusalem, Settlements and Borders. In other words it expressly acknowledged that existing Settlements were not to be illegal during the interim period, and that ultimate borders would be subject to negotiation. This only reinforces the description of Judea and Samaria as disputed territory which in turn highlights the fact that they are certainly not also “occupied illegally” in any sense.

In 1998, Jordan relinquished any and all claims to this territory and even placed this territory entirely within Israel’s borders in Jordan’s 1994 peace treaty with Israel.

Organisations like ICRC which charge Israel with “belligerent occupation” in Judea choose to ignore the legal history of the territory, choosing not to see history before 1967, or “…lasting legal connections that took place between 1920-1949.”

Pompeo’s statement did not change international law. It merely used those relevant articles of law to accurately state what had been obvious, but unsaid publicly, for 52 years: Israeli settlements are indeed not illegal and the narrative of deceit needed to be rectified.

The declared policy of the Trump administration not to refer to Israeli settlements in the so called “West Bank” (of Jordan, no less….) as illegal merely reflects a reading of international law by luminary experts in this field pre and post the Carter administration, and is a public step by a major influencer to redirect a skewed and false narrative towards its actual legal frame of reference and its basic moral underpinnings.

It is this correcting of a 52 year wrong that is behind the US declaration on the inadmissibility of terming Israeli settlements on “Palestinian land” illegal.

Today, because increasing numbers of Arab countries have tired of the tried-but-failed myth of “Palestinian land” and the tired fiction of Palestinianism, leading Arab thinkers are already calling for an end of boycotts and for even more Arab countries to engage with Israel.

In and of itself, that call is a sufficient (and particularly telling) indictment of the infamous Khartoum declaration 52 years ago and spotlights the always-defunct nature of the decision of the Arab League and their supplicant Western supporters using a mythical Palestinianism for differing self-interested reasons, merely as another strategy in the continuing 71 year Arab Israeli conflict.

The controversy about the legality of Jewish settlements in the “West Bank” is not, and has never been, therefore, about legal rights, but about Arab political will to override those rights.

As Ostroff (2011) put it, when all is said and done, the question of whether Israeli presence in Judea as an illegal occupier really needs to be clarified within the framework of the wilful propaganda misdirection that the territory Israel occupies was taken from the “Palestinians” in the first place; a view that prejudges territorial negotiations envisioned in 242 and Oslo II (as alluded to above) and which also provides the emotional excuse of “resisting occupation” through ongoing strategies like terrorism, boycotts, and anti-Israel lawfare.

In the end, the fact remains that Israeli settlements, while they may not be considered desirable by some, are certainly not in breach of any international law.

 

What crossing ‘red lines’ really mean

 

al Ata

Unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of the assassination of PIJ terror mastermind Bahaa Abu al Ata and his wife in an Israeli airstrike, PIJ in Gaza has stated that Israel has crossed a red line and is now at war with Israel.

Spokesman Fawzi Barhoum made no mention that, between 1987 and 2006, the PIJ claimed responsibility for more than 30 suicide bombings. Since that time, the majority of its attacks have consisted of indiscriminate rocket and mortar fire into southern Israel from Gaza seeking to maximize casualties.

Barhoum also omitted to mention that the PIJ is viewed as a terrorist organisation by the governments of Canada, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States in addition to being listed by the European Union for the purposes of its anti-terrorism financing measures.

Thus, the PIJ statement that Israel has declared open war on them because it has crossed a “red line’ is meaningless given their history. Taken together with their stated objectives per their “political document”, it is clear that any crossing of any lines was long ago objectified and crossed by PIJ and not Israel.

The Australian Parliament’s Statement of Reasons regarding the PIJ is satisfied that

“PIJ’s goal is the establishment of a sovereign Islamic state within the geographic borders of the pre-1948 British mandated Palestine. It promotes the military destruction of Israel as the only viable means to attain this goal. Accordingly, PIJ refuses to participate in the political process and rejects the possibility of a negotiated settlement to the Israel/Palestine problem.”

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad was founded in 1979 in Gaza by two members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood (the same Muslim Brotherhood allegedly supported by Democrat Hillary Clinton’s staffer in the White House, Huma Abedin) who,  believing the Muslim Brotherhood to be too moderate, created PIJ as a radical militant alternative focused on the liberation of Palestine.

In case the full import of what precisely liberating Palestine and winning the peace involves per the PIJ formula, Bassam Tawil, a contributor to the Gatestone Institute explains:

“This “real peace,” according to the jihadi group, can be achieved by eliminating Israel after “liberating Palestine, from the river to the sea, and after the original owners of the land return to their homes.”

This genocidal “peace” plan appears to be shared by other Palestinian terror groups, such as Hamas, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and even certain parts of Mahmoud Abbas’s ruling Fatah faction.”

And, right on cue, Abbas and the PA put out the following statement of solidarity with the PIJ: “…The presidency (sic) holds the occupation government fully responsible for the repercussions and the deterioration of the situation in the Gaza Strip…”

PIJ’s current claim that Israel has crossed a red line and that the PJ is “now at war” with Israel remains meaningless because, the historical record will show that it has been the PIJ which has, since 1987, crossed several extremely bloody and crimson-red red lines in its genocidally driven war against Israel as this detailed chronology illustrates:

August 1987: The commander of Israel’s military police is shot to death by PIJ in the Gaza Strip.

February 1990: PIJ terrorists attack an Israeli tour bus in Egypt, killing 11 people, including nine Israelis, and injuring 17.

December 1993: A PIJ shooting kills Israeli army reservist David Mashrati aboard a bus.

April 6, 1994: PIJ militants explode a car bomb next to a public bus in Afula, Israel, killing nine and injuring 50.

September 4, 1994: A PIJ drive-by shooting in Gaza kills one and injures several others.

November 11, 1994: A Palestinian riding a bicycle detonates explosives strapped to his body at an Israeli army checkpoint at Netzarim junction in the Gaza Strip, killing three Israeli soldiers and wounding six Israeli soldiers.

January 22, 1995: Two consecutive bombs exploded at the Beit Lid junction near Netanya, Israel, killing 18 Israeli soldiers and one civilian. PIJ claimed responsibility.

April 9, 1995: A PIJ suicide bomber blew up his vehicle next to an Israeli bus in the Gaza Strip, killing seven Israeli soldiers and 20-year-old American college student Alisa Flatow.

March 4, 1996: A PIJ suicide bomber killed 13 and injures 75 at a Tel Aviv shopping mall.

November 6, 1998: Two PIJ suicide bombers blew themselves up in the crowded Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem, wounding 20 people.

October 26, 2000: PIJ claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in the Kisufim settlement, which wounds one soldier. The attack marked the first suicide bombing of the second intifada.

November 2, 2000: Two people are killed in a car bomb explosion near the Mahane Yehuda market in Jerusalem. PIJ claimed responsibility.

March 27, 2001: A car bomb exploded in the Talpiot industrial/commercial zone in Jerusalem, wounding three people. PIJ claimed responsibility.

November 29, 2001: A suicide bomber blew himself up on board a bus on a main highway in northern Israel, killing three passengers. PIJ and Fatah claimed responsibility.

June 5, 2002: A PIJ suicide attack at Israel’s Megiddo Junction killed 18 and injured 50.

October 4, 2003: A PIJ suicide bomber blew himself up at Maxim restaurant in Haifa, killing 22 and injuring 60.

October 26, 2005: A bombing at a market in Hadera, Israel killed five people. PIJ claimed responsibility.

April 17, 2006: PIJ and the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing that killed 11 people at a sandwich stand near Tel Aviv’s old central bus station.

January 2007: A suicide attack at an Eilat bakery killed three. PIJ and the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade claimed responsibility.

March 2008: PIJ and Hamas jointly claimed responsibility for an explosion that killed two IDF soldiers patrolling the security fence in the central Gaza Strip.

April 2008: PIJ fired 216 rockets and mortar shells at various Israeli towns.

June 2008: PIJ claimed responsibility for firing a Grad rocket (from Iran) that hit a shopping mall in Ashkelon, Israel, wounding 15.

January 8, 2011: PIJ fired two mortars into southern Israel, killing two Thai nationals.

August 20, 2011: PIJ fired a volley of rockets into southern Israel, killing one civilian and wounding seven.

October 29, 2011: PIJ fired a number of rockets into southern Israel, killing one civilian and wounding two.

March 2012: PIJ fired almost 200 missiles into Israel from Gaza.

November 2012: Hamas and PIJ are credited for bombing a Tel Aviv bus that wounded 30 people.

November 2012: PIJ took credit for a rocket fired from Gaza at Tel Aviv. The rocket exploded in an open field, causing no casualties.

June 24, 2013: Six rockets fired from Gaza exploded in southern Israel. No casualties were reported. Israeli intelligence believed PIJ fired the rockets as an act of defiance against the Hamas authorities in Gaza.

December 22, 2013: An Israeli police sapper was injured when a bomb he was trying to defuse on a Bat Yam bus explodes. Four PIJ members were arrested a month later for coordinating the attack.

March 2014: PIJ fired a round of mortars from Gaza into Israel, prompting an Israeli strike. In retaliation, PIJ launched at least 130 locally made rockets into Israel. The operation was reportedly in coordination with Hamas.

July 8, 2014: Israel launched Operation Protective Edge, aimed at striking Hamas and ending rocket fire from Hamas and PIJ in Gaza. PIJ took credit for firing a further 60 rockets into Israel.

July 28, 2014: Seven Palestinian children died after a rocket struck a playground in Gaza’s al-Shati refugee camp, while another rocket hit al-Shifa Hospital. The strikes were the result of misfired rockets by PIJ.

  August 8, 2014: After a three-day ceasefire between Israel and Hamas expires, PIJ fired three Grad rockets at Ashkelon and promised to continue firing until Israel acceded to all of Hamas’s demands.

August 20, 2014: According to Iran’s state-run network Press TV, PIJ fired 3,000 rockets at Israel during the 2014 Israel-Gaza war.

September 4, 2014: After the 2014 Israel-Gaza war ends, Al Jazeera broadcast a video of PIJ’s tunnel systems. In the video, a PIJ militant declared that the group was preparing for its next war with Israel and that the tunnels would be used to launch attacks and fire mortars on Israel.

October 29, 2014: Moataz Hejazi shoots and critically wounds prominent right-wing Israeli activist Yehuda Glick in Jerusalem, Israel. After the shooting, police track and killed Hejazi. The following day, PIJ published an obituary for Hijazi on its website, saying that he had been a member of the organization.

October 3, 2015: PIJ claimed responsibility after 19-year-old Mohannad Halabi stabbed two Israeli men to death in Jerusalem’s Old City.

December 1, 2015: Palestinian Authority police arrest a six-member PIJ cell transporting grenades, firearms, and other explosives in the West Bank. The cell reportedly planned to use the weaponry to attack the IDF.

October 30, 2017: Israel destroyed a tunnel beneath the Gaza-Israel border, killing 14 militants, including the head of PIJ’s armed wing in central Gaza. PIJ admitted that the tunnel was meant for “kidnapping soldiers in order to free prisoners [from Israeli prisons].”

November 30, 2017: PIJ fired 12 mortar shells from northern Gaza at an Israeli army post northeast of Gaza, causing minimal damage and no casualties.

December 12, 2017: Two PIJ operatives were killed “while carrying out a jihadist mission,” according to a PIJ statement.

December 29, 2017: PIJ fired three mortar shells into southern Israel. Two of the mortars were intercepted while the third struck the Israeli community of Sha’ar Hanegev,

May 28, 2018: PIJ fired 28 mortars at Israel from Gaza.

October 26-27, 2018: PIJ fired dozens of rockets into Israel. Israel responds by bombing multiple targets in Gaza.

November 12-14, 2018: PIJ and Hamas fird more than 450 rockets into Israel, killing one and wounding dozens. The groups agreed to a ceasefire on November 13. PIJ claimed victory after then Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman resigned on November 14 in protest of the ceasefire.

May 3-5, 2019: On May 3, PIJ snipers wounded two Israeli soldiers along the Gaza border during weekly protests. Israeli forces retaliated with a strike on a Hamas post near the border. PIJ and Hamas launched almost 700 rockets into Israel over the course of three days, killing four Israeli civilians and wounding dozens more. At least 50 rockets reportedly hit Israeli population centres.

November 12, 2019: PIJ fired 200 rockets into Israel.

With their current claim that Israel had declared “open war” on the PIJ in Gaza and that Israel displays “…a continuation of the aggression and crimes against our people…”, the PIJ, together with Hamas and Fatah, continue to hold true to the Middle East Arab adherence to the Doctrine of Limited Liability.

The Doctrine of Limited Liability theorises that an aggressor may reject a compromise settlement and gamble on war to win everything in the comfortable knowledge that, even if he fails, he may insist on reinstating the status quo ante.

The PIJ has been at war with Israel since 1987.

With regard to PIJ’s claim that it was Israel which had crossed a ‘red-line, and with reference to the chronology of PIJ attacks against Israel since 1987 as marked out above, I offer Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu recent appraisal of Bahaa Abu al-Ata that he was a “ticking bomb.”

It is entirely appropriate, and timely, that this man’s clock stopped ticking.