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 →
Al Jazeera unloaded a bombshell on the US-brokered Israel-Palestine diplomacy today when they released the first wave of what they are calling “The Palestine Papers.”
These papers consist of some 1,600 internal documents (e-mails, minutes of classified meetings, maps and strategy papers) from negotiations between the Palestinians and Israelis from 1999-2010. The revelations are staggering, largely in that they confirm what most serious analysts have been saying for the past decade: that these negotiations have been futile from the beginning owing to the severe imbalance of power between Israel and the Palestinians and the US’ failure to act as an honest broker.
Lead PLO Negotiator, Saeb Erekat
The revelations in the initial release include these:
The Palestinian Authority (PA) was willing to give over to Israel all the existing territory on which Israel has established settlements in East Jerusalem except for Har Homa (Jabal Abu Ghneim). This was something Yasir Arafat had specifically refused to do in 2000
The PA was also willing to settle for only a token number of refugees returning to Israel and would agree to a 1:1 land swap of 1.9% of West Bank Territory in exchange for an equal quantity of Israeli territory
That Israel rejected these offers out of hand, while insisting that it was the Palestinians who were being intransigent
That the US told the Palestinians that they must cede the areas of the settlements of Ariel and Ma’ale Adumim or the Palestinians “won’t have a state,” fully adopting the Israeli position
The US, frequently said to have acted as Israel’s lawyer, simply was not even trying to balance the power scales in these negotiations, but only adding the weight of the world’s only superpower behind that of the regional power, Israel.
Israel, for its part, is convincingly revealed as not being interested in reaching a deal with the Palestinians without a complete Palestinian surrender; there was no hint here of compromise, even with the allegedly more moderate Kadima government. Tzipi Livni, indeed, seems assured that the Palestinians would eventually have to agree with her, since the alternative would be dealing with Benjamin Netanyahu.
Let’s look at what these, and many other, revelations mean for each of the parties and for the peace process more broadly. Continue reading →
In my capacity as the Director of B’Tselem’s US Office, I’ve been asked frequently of late about the Israeli elections that are winding down as I write this. In general, B’Tselem stays away from matters of politics. Our credibility is dependent on our being focused on human rights, no matter what the shape of the Israeli, or any other, government may be.
An Israeli ballot box
But this time, I could answer honestly: It really doesn’t matter. Historically, Israel’s observance of international legal standards regarding the Palestinians, while having its peaks and valleys, has moved independently of the party or Prime Minister in power. And in this case, none of the candidates has offered any hint that they are different from the others.
The exception is not one of the contenders for Prime Minister, and that is Avigdor Lieberman. And all that signifies is how much of a threat Israeli democracy is really facing.
Settlement expansion, lack of law enforcement on the West Bank, ongoing house demolitions, the effects of the Separation Barrier, the massive proliferation of roadblocks…and many other issues, all of them get the silent treatment from all of the major candidates. Continue reading →