A group of Arab states launched negotiations on a resolution against Israeli building in West Bank settlements and aimed to finish a final draft in the near future, chief Palestinian UN delegate, Riyad Mansour was quoted as saying by Reuters on Wednesday.
“We are beginning the process of text negotiations, and we hope that we can finish this exercise as soon as possible … to pave the way for action by the Security Council,” Mansour said…
“Once Israel complies with this resolution — meaning to stop all settlement activities immediately — the day after that we will be ready to go back to negotiations,” he said.
Probably this resolution will say something about the settlements being ‘illegal’. But this is not a simple concept. At the risk of oversimplification, international law is based on the consent of the parties involved: the treaties and agreements that nations have agreed to be bound by. Disputes can be adjudicated by the International Court of Justice (ICJ), insofar as the parties agree to submit such issues to its jurisdiction (there is also an International Criminal Court, but it only has jurisdiction over ‘crimes’ like genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. Israel is not a signatory to the statute which created it).
In any event, the issue of the legality of the settlements has not been submitted to the ICJ, and given the politicized nature of it — in a famous and idiotic decision, Israel’s security barrier was declared ‘illegal’ — will not be. The usual arguments against Jewish settlement in the territories are made in terms of the fourth Geneva Convention, and in my opinion are very poor. You can read a good discussion of this issue here.
The point is that the UN Security Council (UNSC) is not a court which can adjudicate whether settlements are ‘illegal’, and constant reiteration in the BBC and the NY Times, etc., does not make them so.
The UNSC is simply a device that can be used by its permanent members to give a fig leaf of international legitimacy to their use of force or economic sanctions. At present it is not believed that the US will allow a resolution against the settlements to pass, although there’s no doubt that the Obama Administration wishes them to go away. The prospect of force or sanctions being applied to Israel would be very unpopular in the US, both among voters and in the Congress.
The distorted usage of language about legality, morality and human rights by the Arabs and others who in fact want to deny basic rights to the Jewish people was recently noted by Melanie Phillips:
In routine, everyday discourse history is turned on its head; logic is suspended; and an entirely false narrative of the conflict is now widely accepted as unchallengeable fact, from which fundamental error has been spun a global web of potentially catastrophic false conclusions.
This has led to a kind of dialogue of the demented in which rational discussion is simply not possible because there is no shared understanding of the meaning of language. So victim and victimiser, truth and lies, justice and injustice turn into their precise opposite.
Phillips explains the process that gave rise to this collective mental illness, and adds
Israel and its defenders have been fighting on the wrong battleground: the one that has been chosen by its enemies. The Arabs brilliantly reconfigured the Arab war of extermination against Israel as the oppression by Israel of the Palestinians.
That has transformed Israel from victim to aggressor — the reversal of reality which lies at the very heart of the western obsession with the ‘settlements’ and the territories.
The attempt to bring this issue to the UN — when the real issue of 63 years of aggression against Israel is ignored — is the fruit of this disorder. Phillips explains at length how Israel should respond to the wholesale warping of historical truth that underlies the anti-Israel worldview that has come to suffuse the political, intellectual and media universe.
Phillips says that Israel needs a policy, and it must be a proactive one. Israel must stop playing defense and move to offense.
Here is what I think such a policy should look like:
Politically, the main thing is for Israel and her friends to end the apologetic acceptance of the goal of the Palestinian movement — purportedly to have a state, but in reality to end the Jewish state. Israel’s official position should be that the Palestinian Arabs are a hostile entity.
Negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) are based on the false premise that the PA can deliver — or wants to deliver — peace in return for withdrawal. Therefore, continued negotiations represent acquiescence to this lie. Negotiations are used as a lever to force Israel to make concessions of various types, such as ending construction inside of settlements. The status quo cannot continue. It can only lead to the piecemeal destruction of the Jewish state.
It must be a condition for negotiations that the PA commit to recognition of Israel as a Jewish state and agree to end demands for the transfer of the descendants of the 1948 Arab refugees to Israel. Until the PA can agree to this, talks are about surrender, not peace.
Israel should decide what portions of Judea, Samaria and Jerusalem are natural and appropriate parts of Israel, taking into account population, historical/religious sites, and security issues. Then it should annex these areas. What the Arabs do with any areas that are not annexed is up to them, except that it should be understood that aggression against Israel from them will be answered by force.
In order for this to be practical it will have to happen along with the destruction of Hamas and Hizballah as military threats. When the next war breaks out — and there is no doubt that it will — this has to be Israel’s objective. At the same time, fully rational and defensible borders should be established as above.
Arab citizens of Israel will have to be loyal to Israel. There’s no alternative. A state can’t exist when one-fifth of its population wants to overthrow it. The end of the Hamas and Hizballah armies should make it clear to them that there is no solution for them other than loyalty, except emigration.
It’s unfortunate that Western weakness has allowed the military threats against Israel to develop to the point that it will require another war before the conditions for peace will be restored. As Phillips makes clear, the West has allowed its own narrative to be replaced by one created by the Islamic world, and it will have its own existential problem until this is sorted out.
For Israel, the next war will have to be its second War of Independence.