Palestine – Lawyers, Hot Air and no Clothes

December 30, 2010 by David Singer
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John V Whitbeck – described as “an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team” – has recently written an article published in Al Jazeera pointing out that 106 members of the United Nations have now recognized the State of Palestine, whose independence  was proclaimed on 15 November 1988.

Whitbeck also tells us that such recognition covers between 80-90% of the world’s population.

Behind these apparently impressive statistics and the conclusion that Whitbeck draws from them – the story is strikingly different. Whitbeck’s claim of international recognition is pure window dressing bereft of any clothes. It amounts to hot air and nothing more.

What Whitbeck claims as fact is fiction, a state that exists in the mind rather than in reality, an ideal eagerly sought without any current prospect of being achieved.

The declaration of independence proclaimed on 15 November 1988 by Yasser Arafat was nothing more than a public relations stunt since the Palestine Liberation Organization then controlled not one single centimeter of former Palestine. Such declaration sought to be justified  on the basis of the United Nations 1947 Partition Plan that had recommended division of Western Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab States. That recommendation  had been unanimously rejected by the Arab League. Relying on it 41 years later seemed a hypocritical exercise in diplomatic peace making.

A large part of the world was however prepared to forget and forgive the Arab aggression that followed the rejection of the 1947 UN recommendation and grasp this 1988 lifeline in a further effort to bring about a resolution of  the conflict between Jews and Arabs.  It has proved to be a waste of time in achieving what the Declaration sought to supposedly accomplish.

….fiction represented as fact.

Whitbeck further reveals the fantasy world in which he is living when he states:

“While still under foreign belligerent occupation, the State of Palestine possesses all the customary international law criteria for sovereign statehood. No portion of its territory is recognized by any other country (other than Israel) as any other country’s sovereign territory, and, indeed, Israel has only asserted sovereignty over a small portion of its territory, expanded East Jerusalem, leaving sovereignty over the rest both literally and legally uncontested.”

Whitbeck’s claim is a load of arrant nonsense.

The criteria for recognition of a state in customary international law were codified in Article 1 of the Montevideo Convention signed on 26 December 1933 which provide as follows:

“The state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications:

(a) a permanent population;

(b) a defined territory;

(c) government; and

(d) capacity to enter into relations with the other states.”

There is indeed a permanent Palestinian Arab population living in the West Bank and Gaza.  55% of the  West Bank Arabs live in 17%  of the West Bank under the exclusive administrative and security rule of the Palestinian Authority (known as Area A) and so could be said to exist within a defined territory. 100% of Gaza and its entire Arab population is under the administrative and security control of Hamas and so would also meet the first two criteria.

However such a State possesses no government. Relations between Hamas as governing authority in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority as governing authority in the West Bank. are at rock bottom.  Arab League efforts to effect a rapprochement continue to founder. Death, torture and false imprisonment continue to mark the three years long internecine struggle between the two governments to win the hearts and minds of the West Bank and Gazan Arab populations. Neither has the capacity to enter into relations with other states. Both of these criteria for statehood are non-existent and their fulfillment appears a hopeless dream.

Whitbeck’s claim of international recognition of the State of Palestine is therefore meaningless – other than to indicate this is a result the world would like to see. But that was also the world view in 1947 when the Arabs then rejected an Arab State in an area much larger than the one contemplated by even the most optimistic of today‘s recognizing States.

Whether any such an option in any kind, shape or form is available in 2010 – given the new facts created by 500000 Jews now living in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – appears increasingly to be fated to consignment once again to the garbage bin of history.

Any suggestion that the West Bank be entirely cleared of its Jewish population would be a preposterous notion that has no place in the current interpretation of international humanitarian  law.

America. Russia, the European Union and the United Nations have been actively involved in trying to overcome these obstacles during the last seven years – but all to no avail. There is no prospect on the horizon that this situation will change.

Whitbeck’s claim that Israel has only asserted :

“sovereignty over a small portion of its territory, expanded East Jerusalem leaving sovereignty over the rest both literally and legally uncontested”

is another self-serving piece of propaganda and is completely removed from reality. It completely ignores Israel’s legal right to establish the Jewish National Home in both the West Bank and Gaza under the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.  Sovereignty in the West Bank and Gaza resides in neither Jews nor Arabs at the present time. Sovereignty in East Jerusalem has been claimed by Israel but not internationally recognized. Efforts extending over the last 17 years to determine sovereignty in all these territorial areas have been unsuccessful.

Israel’s claim as sovereign owner of the whole or part of West Bank and sovereign ruler of East Jerusalem cannot be summarily dismissed or written off by the pathetic bleating of a former adviser to the Palestinian negotiating team.Indeed one could reasonably conclude that with advice such as this  – it is no wonder that the Palestinian negotiating team have been indoctrinated into believing  that they are entitled to continue to claim sovereignty in 100% of Gaza and the West Bank as well as East Jerusalem to the total exclusion of Israel’s claim.As one saying goes – “I can only act on my lawyer’s advice”.

As another saying goes – “I think you better change lawyers because the advice being given to you by your current adviser seems to be way off the mark”

Whitbeck’s conclusions on the international recognition of the State of Palestine are not worth the paper they are written on.

Comments

3 Responses to “Palestine – Lawyers, Hot Air and no Clothes”
  1. David Singer says:

    Whitbeck’s past form as revealed by Peter Wertheim indicates that Whitbeck sees the formation of a Palestinian state as but one step towards the eventual elimination of Israel.

    As Whitbeck is an acknowledged member of the Palestinian negotiating team is this indeed the agenda of the Palestinian Authority?

  2. So Whitbeck is urging the nations of the world to recognise a “State of Palestine” that does not exist on the ground. Funny, but in the 2 February 2007 edition of the Christian Science Monitor, the same John Whitbeck argued that Hamas (and Palestinians generally) should not be required to “recognise Israel’s right to exist”, even though such a State clearly does exist on the ground and has been a member state of the UN since 1949.

    Whitbeck made much of the fact that some Hamas leaders had made nebulous statements appearing to accept the reality of Israel and the possibility of a 2-State solution. He asserted that this was sufficient reason for the international community to stop ostracising Hamas.

    Whitbeck’s argument has since been trashed by Hamas itself, whose leaders have made numerous statements that they will never recognise Israel or make peace with it. Senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar gave a crudely antisemitic speech shown on November 5 on Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV. He reiterated the thesis (which was also the subject of his book) that Jews have “no future between nations”. Al-Zahar covered the long history of acts of murder and persecution against Jews and their expulsion from European countries. He claimed that the calamities that befell the Jews stemmed from their various characteristics (murder, theft, betrayal, etc.), presenting it as proof that the elimination of the State of Israel and the expulsion of the Jews from the entire territory of Palestine is a historic necessity dictated by reality.

    Here’s another recent gem from Ahmed al-Jaabari, the acting supreme commander of the al-Qassam Brigades: “Our eyes will…not be confined to the borders of Gaza. Our plan of struggle shall extend as always, sooner or later, to our entire plundered country….As long as the Zionists occupy our lands, only death or exile await them.”

    Memo to Whitbeck: Read and digest the Hamas Charter.

  3. Richard Joachim says:

    I hereby declare that the Sovereign State of Capricornia now exists; all lands north of the Tropic of Capricorn in what was hitherto known as Australia are now sovereign territory of the State of Capricornia. Anyone not liking this arrangement, feel free to move to south of our borders.

    As we have a large indigenous population who have agreed with this proclamation, we are well within our international rights to declare ourselves independent. We may not have a viable legal system, we may not have a law and order system, we may not have a social security system, we may not have a health system as we rely on Israel (opps, sorry, I meant to say) the southern States of what used to be Australia to provide all our needs in that area, but we do have well paid politicians to push our cause. We also have men with guns who can enforce our claims (sadly the rest of the world sees them as criminals and terrorists, ah well, we’ll have to wear that). Maybe the rest of the world will forget that.

    Long live Capricornia, a new land in cloud-cockoo land, sod the rest of the civiliised world.

    Richard, Grand Poobah of the New Republic.

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