Palestine – United Nations Perfidy Exposed

July 20, 2012 by David Singer
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The canard – supported by countless United Nations General Assembly Resolutions – that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal in international law – has been dealt a crushing blow with the the recent release of the Levy Committee Report in Israel rebutting that claim. ..writes David Singer.

The Committee comprised a retired Supreme Court Judge – Edmund Levy – a  Tel Aviv District Court Judge – Tchia Shapira – and a former Foreign Ministry  legal adviser Alan Baker. They were appointed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in January 2012 to consider among other matters the legality of Jewish settlements established in the West Bank.

The San Remo Conference held in Italy in April 1920 was the Committee’s starting point.

That Conference had laid the grounds for the eventual creation of the Mandate for Palestine as part of a Mandate system involving the disposition of vast tracts of territory held by the Ottoman Empire for 400 years – but lost by it following its defeat in World War I .

Whilst Arab self-determination was to occur in 99.99% of the captured territory – the right of the Jewish people to reconstitute the Jewish National Home was limited to the remaining 0.01%. of that territory.

The Levy Report elaborates:

“In August 1922 the League of Nations approved the Mandate which was given to Britain, and thus the Jewish people’s right to settle in the Land of Israel, their historic homeland, and to establish their state there, was recognized in international law.

To complete the picture, we’ll add that with the establishment of the United Nations in 1945, the principle of recognizing the validity of existing rights of states acquired under various mandates, including of course the rights of Jews to settle in the Land of Israel by virtue of the above documents, was determined in article 80 of its charter”

The International Court of Justice had failed to consider the Mandate and article 80  when it delivered its non-binding advisory opinion on 9 July 2004 that  Israel had no legal right to erect part of Israel’s security barrier in the West Bank.

That decision has since been used by the United Nations and detractors of Israel to repeatedly discredit and delegitimise Israel’s right to maintain its claim to sovereignty in any part of the West Bank and for Jews to live there.

Surprisingly it was Egyptian appointee to the International Court – Judge El-Araby – who in fact had cautioned the other 14 Justices against ignoring an examination of the legal effect of the Mandate:

“The international legal status of the Palestinian Territory (paras. 70-71 of the Advisory Opinion), in my view, merits more comprehensive treatment. A historical survey is relevant to the question posed by the General Assembly, for it serves as the background to understanding the legal status of the Palestinian Territory on the one hand and underlines the special and continuing responsibility of the General Assembly on the other. This may appear as academic, without relevance to the present events. The present is however determined by the     accumulation of past events and no reasonable and fair concern for the future can possibly disregard a firm grasp of past events. In particular, when on more than one occasion, the rule of law was consistently side-stepped. The point of departure, or one can say in legal jargon, the critical date, is the League of Nations Mandate which was entrusted to Great Britain.”

Regrettably Judge El-Araby’s sage advice was ignored – as the Levy Report now makes very clear.

In one respect the International Court could be excused for failing to consider the Mandate and Article 80 – since the then Secretary General of the United Nations – Kofi Annan – had failed to include these vital documents in the dossier of 88 documents he was required to submit to the Court that were “likely to throw light upon the question” – as he was legally required to do under Article 65 of the Court‘s statute.

The International Court’s decision was fatally flawed  as a result.

If you only submit half the relevant documents – you are sure to get only half an answer.

Those persons who prepared the dossier of documents and Mr Annan himself now need explain how documents – deemed so relevant by the Levy Committee – were omitted from the dossier submitted to the International Court.

The Levy Committee – after having considered the Mandate and Article 80 – concluded:

“.. we have no doubt that from the perspective of international law, the establishment of Jewish settlements in Judea and Samaria is legal”

The Levy Committee dismissed the opinion of the International Court that the legal status of this tiny sliver of land between Jordan and Israel – the size of Delaware – was solely governed by the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention 1949 – when stating:.

“We do not believe that one can draw an analogy between this legal provision and those who sought to settle in Judea and Samaria not as a result of them being “deported” or “transferred” but because of their world view – to settle the Land of Israel.

We did not ignore the view of those who think that one should interpret the Fourth Geneva Convention as also prohibiting the occupying state to encourage or support the transfer of parts of its population to the occupied territory, even if it did not initiate it

But even if this interpretation is correct, we would not change our conclusion that no analogy should be drawn between Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria, in light of the status of the territory under international law”

It would surely be the height of folly for the United Nations and Israel’s denigrators to continue to categorically spruik that Israel’s presence in the West Bank is illegal following the release of the Levy Report.

The United Nations needs to come clean and investigate why highly relevant documents to support the legal claim of Jews to settle in the West Bank were withheld from the International Court.

Will the egg splattered all over the United Nations following the release of the reasoned and considered Levy Report deter it from conducting such an investigation?

The continuing use of  the International Court decision and the Fourth Geneva Convention to assert that Israel has no legal right to remain in even one square meter of the West Bank must now be seriously questioned.

Ironically Judge El-Araby is now the Secretary General of the Arab League and meets with Mr Annan frequently in Mr Annan’s new job with the United Nations trying to stop the slaughter in Syria.

Maybe Mr Annan can explain the cover up to Judge El-Araby over a cup of Turkish coffee.

Don’t hold your breath waiting.

 

David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network

Comments

12 Responses to “Palestine – United Nations Perfidy Exposed”
  1. Everett says:

    Two points: first of all, the ICC judgement dealing with the security barrier (which, following Palestinian dictates, it insisted on calling “the Wall,” despite a wall being only 3% of its length, the other 97% being a fence) did not actually take up the question of the legal status of the disputed territory, only stating that the seizure of land by a state in the course of military aggression does not confer legal title. This ruling itself is question-begging: was Israel in possession of the disputed territory due to military aggression?

    And that brings up the second point: the legality of the possession of something is determined by finding out how it came into the possession of the party currently holding it, and, then, whether that party still has a right to hold it. Israel came into possession of the disputed territories through a war of self-defense. Was it illegal for Israel to fight that war? No, in international law: every state has a right to self-defense. No court has or could rule that Israel’s response to the prior and very real aggression of other states was illegal. It was in the course of that war, in which Israel begged Jordan not to participate but Jordan plunged in anyway, that Israel came into possession of the West Bank, and of course also Gaza which was then held by Egypt, the instigator of the war. So Israel gained those territories quite legally.

    Has Israel’s continuing possession of those territories been legal? Well, there is a UN resolution on this matter, Resolution 242, the so-called “Land for peace” resolution, which called for Israeli withdrawal “from territories occupied” in 1967 (NOT “all the territories occupied”), recognized the need for the determination of the final borders to be made through final peace negotiations between the conflicting parties (i.e., Egypt and Jordan: “Palestine” was not named as such), and to reflect the legitimate security needs of Israel, so they would not be identical with the very insecure borders before the 1967 war, and that once there was such a peace treaty, it must include the commitment to “the termination of all claims or states of belligerency.” Egypt and Jordan subsequently renounced claim to the territories, ceding it to the Palestinians in the course of their own peace treaties with Israel. Since such a peace treaty has not yet been signed with the Palestinians, Israel has no choice but to hold on to the land for the time being. Thus, her continuing occupation of the territories is entirely legal.

    We do not need to go back to the San Remo Conference of 1923 to conclude that Israel is not illegally occupying the disputed territories. But, it is true, the San Remo Conference, etc., shows that Israel has a deeper legal title to the land, along of course with the historical fact that Judea and Samaria are the Biblical heartland of the Jews, almost all its cities and towns still carry names derived from the many centuries of Jewish statehood and occupation, and most of Judaism’s holiest sites are there.

  2. Ben says:

    Sam forgets the precedent to these in the Balfour declaration – His majesty’s government will view with sympathy the setting up of a jewish national home in palestine – no mention of a state or country – merely an ambiguous promise of a home in palestine. The entire Zionist project is dubious or illegitinmate by theiown interpretation of documents.

    • Otto Waldmann says:

      The “Ben” camp is, as expected, ridiculously shoprt on facts and long on tendentious interpretations.
      While the Balfour Declaration was but a STAGE in the much longer process of Jewish State recognition, to which the 1948 act is the most relevant, the evidence of British intetional ambiguity on the terminology and, true, administrative morphology of the Jewish presence in was then termed as Palestine, can only be considered as a transitional phase. Much more consideration was given by the British in 1918 to the strong anti-Zionist reactions by the Arab sheriffs than to the Zionist interests. Some anti Zionist, even of the Jewish kind , influences well within the British political circles had a determined role in the careful choice of terms, i.e. Jewish National Home as against Jewish State.

      The current realities are rightfully disposing with the events of nearly 100 years ago and deal, as most approprite, with the impending realities.
      The contiuation of anti Zionism, compliments of the Arab “feindly” attitude to ll matters Jewish, in a number of fora is a matter that is best dealt with principally by the Jewish STATE itself. As such, the dispute over circumstantial politocal-temporal terminologies is not even a luxury, but a redundant attempt at detracting tangible issues.
      The most important matters are related to the viciuous palestinian “ethos” of hatred toward the Jews. Consequently, all those respectable international bodies that support those palestinians stances defy the very ethics on which they are supposed to function.
      The “bens” of this world have no argument, no factual logic, but a “rationale” that is doomed to failure as much as it is utterely practically inoperational.
      THe Jewish State of Israel has been conducting itslef with an impecable manner of politcal logic and comprehensive consideration of ALL factors at play, palestinian just interests included.

    • David says:

      Ben

      The Balfour Declaration was merely a statement by the British Government and did not have the force of law.

      The incorporation of the Balfour Declaration into the League Of Nations Mandate for Palestine adopted unanimously by all members of the League of Nations for the purposes of reconstituting the Jewish National Home in Palestine is binding in international law.

      The Levy Report has come to its conclusions based on documents that were never given to the International Court by Kofi Annan.

      Doesn’t that concern you?

      That is what my article is about. I am not sure what you are about – but I sense you want to put up a smokescreen and not discuss what appears to be in the absence of some explanation from the UN – a blatant attempt to pervert the course of justice.

      • Ben says:

        Yes! And you might want to reveal the truth about Palestinian and Arab participation in the Balfour declaration or the passing of the mandate. Or the fact that the Palestinians opposed the mandate and were brutally suppressed by the British wiht Zionist help.

        • singer says:

          Ben

          The truth is that the Mandate was part of a package deal in which Mandates were created for self determination by the Arabs in Syria, Lebanon, and Mesopotamia and by the Jews in Palestine.

          The Arabs got 99.99% of the captured Ottoman territories – the Jews 0.01%. Yet the Arabs still complain and have never accepted that carve up after 92 years.

          How much of the pie can the Arabs eat before they get indigestion?

          Trying to get their teeth into that tiny slice called Palestine has caused them nothing but grief – and will continue to do so until they abate their appetite.

          Give us a break with your nonsense comments.

          Rather try and give us a rational comment on why the UN failed to include the Mandate and article 80 of the UN Charter in the documents they submitted to the International Court in 2003.

          Who in the UN made that decision and why?

          The Levy Report has made it clear these documents are the Jewish people’s title deeds to settle in the West Bank.

          Yet they were omitted from the documents submitted to the International Court.

          Why do you think this was allowed to occur? Was it deliberately done on the instructions of Kofi Annan or some other senior UN official or just left out by some poor clerk who just happened to have not realised the importance of including these documents?

          Focus on these issues because they are what my article is all about – and I guess many future articles will be about until the UN comes clean..

    • singer says:

      Ben

      You are becoming less irrelevant with general comments such as these that are completely unsubstantiated.

      No mention of a state or country in the Balfour Declaration? Really? Where did you get your information from?

      Have you read the 1937 Peel Commission Report which stated the following:

      “We must now consider what the Balfour Declaration meant. We have been permitted to examine the records which bear upon the question and it is clear to us that the words ” the
      establishment m Palestine of a National Home ” were the outcome of a compromise between those Ministers who contemplated the ultimate establishment of a Jewish State and those who did not.

      It is obvious in any case that His Majesty’s Government could not commit itself to the establishment of a Jewish State. It couId only undertake to facilitate the growth
      of a Home. It would depend mainly on the zeal and enterprise of the Jews whether the Home would grow big enough to become a State.

      Mr. Lloyd George, who was Prime Minister at the time, informed ufs in evidence that: –
      ” The idea was, and this was the interpretation put upon it at the time, that a Jewish State was not to be set up immediately by the Peace Treaty without reference to the wishes of the majority of the
      inhabitants. On the other hand, it was contemplated that when the time arrived for according representative institutions to Palestine, if the Jews had meanwhile responded to the opportunity afforded them by the idea of a national home and had become a definite majority of the inhabitants, then PaIestine would thus become a Jewish Commonwealth. ’ ’

      Thus His Majesty’s Government evidently realized that a Jewish State might in course of time be established, but it was not in a position to say that this would happen, still less to bring
      it about of its own motion.

      The Zionist leaders, for their part,recognised that an ultimate Jewish State was not precluded by the terms of the Declaration, and so it was understood elsewhere.

      ” I am persuaded ’ ’ , said President Wilson on the 3rd March,1919, ’ ‘ that the Allied nations, with the fullest concurrence of our own Government and people, are agreed that in Palestine shall
      be laid the foundations of a Jewish Commonwealth “.

      Ben – Trotting out Arab propaganda is really a waste of time and marks you as no supporter of the right of the Jewish people to legally reconstitute the Jewish National home in former Palestine.

  3. Ben says:

    Sorry! The Levy report has been criticised as a “made to order legal opinion” within Israel as well. No doubt along with the “legal opinion” justifying the invasion of Iraq. The real question is does it recognise historical realities, universal human rights and international law!

    If Lebanon were to build Cheristian settlements on Tel Aviv, no doubt it can find “legal opinion” to support the action.

  4. singer says:

    sam

    I think that the International Court should be concerned that it was hoodwinked by the failure of Kofi Annan to submit to it the San Remo resolutions, articles 95-97 of the Treaty of Sevres, the Treaty of Lausanne, the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the UN Charter.

    Annan was legally bound to provide these documents when he first approached the International Court for its advisory opinion in 2003.

    Would these documents have made any difference to its decision had they been considered? The Levy Report says they would have.

    The United Nations created this mess. It should take steps to confess its errors and approach the International Court to review its decision by considering the above documents.

    Until this is done the International Court decision is not worth the paper it is written on.

    People who continue to rely on that judgement to claim that Jewish settlements in the West Bank are illegal in international law are being intellectually dishonest.

    This sounds eerily like the continuing refusal of UNESCO to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court on the legality of Palestine’s admission to UNESCO.

    The International Court is the legal organ of the UN. It should be allowed to do its job properly and to deal with legal issues as they arise.

    It can only act on a request from the UN or its organs where advisory opinions are required.

    So here we see a half baked request on the issue of Israel’s security barrier omitting relevant documents being submitted by the UN and no attempt at all to clarify Palestine’s admission to UNESCO.

    There is a stench emanating from UN and UNESCO Headquarters in New York and Paris that is growing stronger with each passing day.

    Israel – if no one else – should be demanding answers.

  5. Sam says:

    Hi David,
    No doubt Israelis and most Jews of the diaspora are in full agreement with the Levy Committee report, but the rest of the world will do as they always do and cry “biased”. If it is historically irrefutable, why not gather a committee of international experts on International Law to comment on the Levy Committee report and hopefully to endorse this report. Surely then some may take notice and identify the error of the United Nations.
    I realize that Israel does not consider it needs its judgements endorsed by other sources, but you never know pigs might fly!

  6. sam says:

    Hi David,
    No doubt Israelis and most Jews of the diaspora are in full agreement with the Levy Committee report, but the rest of the world will do as they always do and cry “biased”. To get the United Nations General Assembly to be impressed would it not be possible to gather a committee of international experts on International Law to comment on the Levy Committee report and hopefully to endorse this report. Surely then some may take notice and identify the error of the United Nations.
    You never know pigs might fly!

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