Livni: I Am Against International Law In Particular

Wow. Tzipi Livni really lays it on the line in this one: “I was the Minister of Justice. I am a lawyer…But I am against law — international law in particular.  Law in general.”

Israel has generally argued that its policies are legal under international law. The classic example, of course, is the argument that the Fourth Geneva Convention, which governs, among other things, the behavior of states that occupy

Tzipi Livni, seeming to say "Yo, I got your international law right here!"

territory not their own, does not apply to the Palestinian Territories because they were not legally part of a state prior to the Israeli occupation. Sure, no one else buys the  argument (even, at least technically, the US doesn’t, though they’ve accepted the Israeli terminology referring to the Territories as “disputed” rather than “occupied”), but the ability to make the argument has always been important to Israelis.

Well, Livni does away with all of that, doesn’t she?

The comments were part of a discussion aimed at producing a joint statement at the Annapolis Conference. Livni went on to say that “If we want to make the agreement smaller, can we just drop some of these issues?  Like international law, this will make the agreements easier.” The disdain for international law, seeing it as an inconvenience and annoyance, both something undesirable and not much of an obstacle, couldn’t be clearer. Continue reading

The Need to Read the Palestine Papers With a Critical Eye

The Palestine Papers are certainly explosive, and very important. But this article in The Guardian (UK) also points up the need for some critical examination of the coverage of the Papers. There is a pretty important distortion in the article that really needs to be addressed.

Guardian writers Ian Black (who really should know better) and Seamus Milne write the following: Continue reading

PA Panicked by Palestine Papers

The PLO’s spokesman, Saeb Erekat, released a statement today in response to Al Jazeera’s publication of The Palestine Papers. The release is pasted below.

The statement would seem, at least at this early stage, to reflect genuine panic on Erekat’s part. The standard denial of something having been “taken out of context,” which is often very valid, plays very badly when the full contents of the minutes of meetings and entire documents are what he is addressing.

Saeb Erekat seems to know he's in a very bad position because of the Palestine Papers

His statement that the PA position has maintained the traditional Palestinian stances — “…to establish a sovereign and independent Palestinian State along the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital and to reach a just solution to the refugee issue based on their international legal rights, including those set out in UNGA 194…”– is clearly contradicted by the contents of the Papers.

Even more, the assertion that the PA made today, that Al Jazeera was essentially acting as a tool of the Qatar government, which is relatively friendly toward Hamas, has no foundation. It’s similar to the Israeli tactic regarding the Goldstone Report, which was to try to attack the source’s credibility rather than deal with the substance, which was largely unassailable.

Also today, a mob of Abbas supporters attacked the Al Jazeera headquarters in Ramallah on the West Bank. They did some damage an no one, apparently, was injured. The crowd was said to number around 250 people. Was that staged? Who can say, though I have my suspicions. But if a lot of Palestinians really bought Erekat’s response, that number would surely have been much higher; Ramallah is a pretty packed city.

Even if the PA, with its current Fatah leadership, somehow manages to stay in power after this, the PLO’s legitimacy as the “sole representative of the Palestinian people” is hopelessly compromised.  Continue reading