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
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.
I’m not a big fan of international law in modern politics. When it actually functions as a legal system, rather than a tool to be used by powerful countries at their whim (which, to be sure, sometimes can lead to good uses), I’ll be more interested in its playing a central role in diplomacy and politics.
Still, Israel is a signatory to many international treaties, including the Fourth Geneva Convention and others which it violates as a direct outgrowth of the occupation. Anyone who cares about Israel’s long-term interests must see that mainstream Israelis have always valued the rule of law, even while their government scoffed at it as a matter of course.
This has to change, and it starts with Israelis and their supporters insisting that Israel comply with its own laws and the agreements it has made. Livni stands against that, something to remember when we are considering how much better an option Kadima is.