Tuesday, May 18, 2004

Illegal Occupation of the Truth

Here follows one of my responses to the claims of "illegality" and "occupation" that is the stock
of Israel bashers:-

United Nations Secretary-General Koffi Annan’s repetition of the Arab stock propaganda phrase of “illegal occupation”, to describe Israel’s post-1967 presence in portions of its historic homeland, is a new phase in the traditional UN anti-Zionist attitude. The bandying about of so-called international law has been for too long ignored by official Israeli bodies and its supporters.

Let’s start at the beginning. The Balfour Declaration of 1917, the text of which had been pre-approved by U.S. President W. Wilson who himself affirmed “that Palestine should become a Jewish State”, refers to “a National Home for the Jewish people in Palestine”. The “non-Jewish communities in Palestine” are to have their “civil and religious rights” protected.

The distinction is not coincidental. National and historical rights are recognized clearly and solely in the context of the Jewish people. There is no support for the claim that the land in question ‘belonged to an Arab people’. Indeed, the Mandate text acknowledges that “recognition has thereby been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country”. In Article 6, the administration apparatus of the Mandate, a temporary form of government, was charged with facilitating and encouraging “close settlement by Jews on the land, including State lands and wastelands not required for public purposes”.

It is worthy to note that the United States House of Representatives and the Senate adopted resolutions supporting the Mandate, on June 30, 1922 and May 3, 1922 respectively. President W. Harding signed a proclamation on September 21, 1922 that stated that “the United States of America favors the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish People...and that the holy places and religious buildings and sites in Palestine shall be adequately protected”. These acts reinforced the position fully understood at that time by the international community that the rights accruing a national grouping belonged solely to the Jewish people and that non-Jewish elements could claim but protection for individual rights.

The UN General Assembly’s November 29, 1947 Partition Resolution, accepted by the governing institutions of the Jewish People but rejected by the Arabs, offered sovereignty. That rejection, and the Arab declaration of war on Israel, severed all legal connection to claims the Arabs did or would, in the future, make. The collapse of the diplomacy of compromise revived the full and inalienable rights of Jews to all the territories of the Mandate, especially Judea, Samaria and Gaza, wherein Jewish communities were razed and their population expelled.

It was Jordan that practiced “illegal occupation”, uncriticized by the UN. The non-Jewish communities of Judea and Samaria never established a state on their territory but did request, in Jericho on December 1, 1948, that these territories be enjoined to the Hashemite Kingdom. A resolution of unification was signed into Jordanian law on April 24, 1950, which purported to transfer to the Hashemite Monarchy sovereign rights to those areas of Western Palestine not under Israeli control following the 1948-49 War. That law surely negated the terms of international law.

As for the implications of the 1967 Resolution 242, Eugene V. Rostow who participated in the negotiations of that resolution makes it plain that Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria is indeed legal, and that the Jewish right of settlement west of the Jordan River is “unassailable”. In a television interview on NBC’s The Today Show, on October 1, 1997, U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, when pressed on the legal question of building in Yesha, admitted: “it's legal.”

The status of the areas of Judea, Samaria and Gaza (YESHA) can in no way be conceived as being governed by the Fourth Geneva Convention for the simple reason that they are not occupied territories as defined in this document. Paragraph (6) of Article 49 of the said Fourth Geneva Convention, usually cited, is irrelevant to the question at hand in that Article 2 stipulates that the territory under issue must belong to a High Contracting Party. This is not the case, as the territory under discussion did not belong to any such Party. Furthermore, the drafting history of Article 49 was directed against the practices of the Nazi regime in forcibly transporting populations. It would border on the ridiculous to claim that Article 49 (6), which was fixed to prevent a return of heinous Nazi practices of Judenrein, should now be understood as meaning that the Jewish heartland of YESHA must become empty of Jews.

One last point. The basis for an Arab claim to Palestine, formulated by the PLO, which represents itself as the legal vehicle for that claim, is the Palestinian National Covenant. This document can only be described as racist and invalid on humanitarian grounds and unacceptable in international law. In fact, a Palestinian identity has always been a tactical move by Arabs who always viewed themselves as belonging to a greater Arab nation as in the case of the request of the General Syrian Congress on July 2, 1919 “that there should be no separation of the southern part of Lebanon [that is, the Palestine territory] from the Syrian country”, a position repeated ever since as, for example, by Yasser Arafat when he declared over the Voice of Palestine on November 18, 1978 that “Palestine is southern Syria and Syria is northern Palestine”.

A matter of illegality? Not really. Actually, Annan is engaged in an illogical exercise.

No comments: