Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Could the Temple Mount Be Adjudicated?

After reading the news item below, I wondered - could Israel ever get itself into a situation whereby the ICJ would be sitting in judgment regarding in whose sovereign territory is the Temple Mount located?

Listed as as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008, the Preah Vihear Temple was first constructed in the early 9th century and dedicated to the Hindu god Shiva.  There are elements of  the late 10th century but most of the current temple edifice was built in the first half of the 11th century and then again, a 100 years later.

Substitute"Temple of Preah Vihear" for "Temple Mount", "1907 frontier" for "Green Line", "Franco-Siamese Mixed Commission" for "United Nations Truce Supervision Organization" , "keepers stationed at the Temple" for "Waqf guards", "precincts" for "precincts", "refugees" for "refugees", etc., and you hear an echo of the reality in Jerusalem - without going into the legalities.

The case, briefly summarized, is based on this:-

...Cambodia invokes the first paragraph of the operative clause of the 1962 Judgment, in which the Court declared that “the Temple of Preah Vihear [was] situated in territory under the sovereignty of Cambodia”. The Court notes Cambodia’s argument whereby it “could not have reached such a conclusion if it had not first recognized that a legally established frontier existed between the two Parties in the area in question”.

It also recalls that the Applicant implies that, in the reasoning of the 1962 Judgment, the Court considered that the two Parties had, by their conduct, recognized the line on the map in Annex I to Cambodia’s Memorial (hereinafter the “Annex I map”), a map drawn up in 1907 by the Franco-Siamese Mixed Commission, as representing the frontier between Cambodia and the Kingdom of Thailand (hereinafter “Thailand”) in the area of the Temple of Preah Vihear...the Court declared that “Thailand [was] under an obligation to withdraw any military or police forces, or other guards or keepers, stationed by her at the Temple, or in its vicinity on Cambodian territory”. The Court further observes that, according to the Applicant, this obligation derives from the fact that the Temple of Preah Vihear and its vicinity are situated in territory under Cambodian sovereignty, as recognized by the Court in the first paragraph of the operative clause, and “goes beyond a withdrawal from only the precincts of the Temple itself and extends to the area of the Temple in general”...

All that is based on what happened a century ago:

In 1904, Siam and the French colonial authorities ruling Cambodia formed a joint commission to demarcate their mutual border. In the vicinity of the temple, the group was tasked by the two governments to work under the principle that the border would follow the watershed line of the Dângrêk mountain range, which places nearly all of Preah Vihear temple on Thailand's side. In 1907, after survey work, French officers drew up a map to show the border’s location. However, the resulting topographic map, which was sent to Siamese authorities and used in the 1962 (ICJ) ruling, showed the line deviating from the watershed without explanation in the Preah Vihear area, placing all of the temple on the Cambodian side.

And here is the news item:

PAD asks Govt not to accept ICJ ruling

The People's Alliance for Democracy (PAD) has formally submitted a seven-point proposal for the government not to accept the International Court of Justice's(ICJ) pending ruling over the Thai-Cambodian border dispute...the PAD asked the government to officially declare that the ICJ does not have the jurisdiction to interpret the 1962 judgement, which awarded ownership of the Preah Vihear temple to Cambodia but left the 4.6 sq km area surrounding it in dispute...

...Following the declaration, Thailand would subsequently not be duty-bound to comply with the ICJ's injunction.  It would not have to withdraw troops or police from the disputed area, but push a Cambodian community out of the Thai soil...The Thai government must reiterate that other UN members cannot interfere in Thailand's internal affairs, citing  provisions in the UN Charter...The government should take action to expedite the release of Veera Somkwamkid and Ratree Pipattanapaiboon, members of the Thai Patriots Network, who have been imprisoned in Cambodia for alleged spying and border encroachment...the PAD would consider taking action, which might be a mass rally, if the government did not respond to the proposal.

This was no laughing matter.  Under the Khmer Rouge regime, 42,000 Cambodians were forcibly taken to Preah Vihear. Large numbers of Cambodian refugees had entered Thailand after Vietnam invaded (complicated, no?). The refugees were unloaded from the buses and pushed down the steep escarpment.
They crossed three miles of mined land to reach the the other side. The estimation was that as many as 3,000 Cambodians had died in the push-back and another 7,000 were unaccounted for.

If Israel does not assert its legitimate primary claim to the Temple Mount, apply the law passed by the Knesset, twice (Law for the Protection of the Holy Places, 1967 and Basic Law: Jerusalem in 1980), defend Jewish religious and historical rights at the site and environs and wage an information campaign against Islamic nonsensical and malicious claims, who knows, maybe we will be in court.


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