On Wednesday, in the wake of Israel’s announcement of hundreds of more units in West Bank settlements, the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted a page on its website articulating its view that building in the occupied West Bank is legal under international law and is not, as many critics claim, an impediment to peace. The fact that the MFA felt the need to make such a case indicates that rising international criticism, particularly from the U.S., is having an impact, and that case bears an examination of its key claims. Read more at “Facts on the Ground,” the Foundation for Middle East Peace’s blog.
Posts Tagged ‘international law’
Posted in Uncategorized, tagged Ayelet Shaked, Gaza, Gaza Under Attack, Genocide, international law, Moshe Feiglin, Operation Prote, Richard Falk, Russell Tribunal on Palestine on October 7, 2014 | 1 Comment »
I was not surprised that my recent article which, in part, discussed Mahmoud Abbas’ assertion that Israel committed genocide in Gaza caused some controversy and discussion. Indeed, I was gratified by it.
This is an important question, one that goes well beyond the rhetorical issue and one that I did not delve nearly as deeply into as I probably should have in my piece. Richard Falk’s article in The Nation has now done that job for me. I don’t always agree with Falk, but in this case, I think he and the Tribunal got it exactly right. I see this even though I get the sense from this piece that the Tribunal, and possibly Falk as well, believe in their hearts that genocide was committed in Gaza, while I do not.
One point bears some stress. Falk points out that genocide is regarded as “the crime of crimes.” Some of the debate over the use of this word to describe not only the Gaza horror of 2014 but the occupation more broadly has centered on the legal definition of genocide. I maintain that Israel’s crimes do not reach that level. But beyond the legal semantic question is the very important colloquial understanding of that word.
When people hear “genocide” they think of the Nazis, Rwanda, the Khmer Rouge and the Armenians. These were all incidents where huge numbers and huge percentages of particular populations were exterminated. As Falk points out, the legal definition actually holds a higher standard, where intent to annihilate a particular group must be proven. But colloquially, the understanding most people have of genocide plainly doesn’t fit Gaza. That’s the biggest reason I disagree with the use of that word.
But there was also a demonstrably “genocidal atmosphere” in Israel over the summer, whether it be tweens proudly stating that killing Arabs is a good thing, to plans put forth by Knesset members to empty Gaza of Arabs to statements by another MK that all Palestinians are legitimate targets. That makes the accusation worth investigating. So does the fact that the attack happened in the context of an ongoing blockade of Gaza which left Gazans nowhere to flee to, either outside their borders or within the sardine-can-like Strip.
When the Tribunal did so, they came to this conclusion, as described by Falk: “Despite these factors, there were legal doubts as to the crime itself. The political and military leaders of Israel never explicitly endorsed the pursuit of genocidal goals, and they purported to seek a ceasefire during the military campaign. The tribunal convincingly documented the government’s goal of intensifying the regime of collective punishment, but there was no clear official expression of intent to commit genocide. The presence of genocidal behavior and language, even if used in government circles, is not by itself sufficient to conclude that Protective Edge, despite its enormity, amounted to the commission of the crime of genocide.”
I think that’s right. You make your own decision, but I strongly urge us all to hold the accusation of “genocide” to the highest standard, because there is nothing worse.
Posted in Gaza, tagged amnesty international, B'Tselem, Benjamin Netanyahu, Gaza, Genocide, Hamas, Human Rights Watch, human shields, IDF, international law, Iron Dome, islamic jihad, Israel, Israel Defense Forces, Lebanon, Noura Erekat, Operation Solid Cliff, Palestine, Popular Resistance Committees, Salah Shehade, United Nations, war crimes on July 26, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
An edited version of this article originally appeared at LobeLog.
Like many of us, I’ve been very busy on social media since this started. I see a lot of ignorant nonsense there, and it’s not limited to the pro-Israel side. I also see a lot of shoddy thinking and ignorance of the facts. Since I had to study up on a lot of this for my job as the Director of the US Office of B’Tselem, I thought I might clear a few of those up.
Various memes make the rounds in discussions of war crimes. One that I found particularly laughable was “Even the UN says Hamas is committing war crimes but they say Israel only might be.” I’ve also seen defenses of Hamas’ firing of missiles at civilian targets at Israel based on Palestinians’ right of self-defense.
Here is the long and short of it: War crimes are defined as “Serious violations of international humanitarian law constitute war crimes.” That’s going to encompass pretty much every violation that might become a public issue in any conflict. (more…)
Posted in Gaza, Hasbara, tagged Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, atomic bomb, Benjamin Netanyahu, Dalia Scheindlin, Gaza, Gaza massacre, Gaza Strip, Hamas, Harry Truman, international law, Israel, Japan, John Kerry, nagasaki, Operation Cast Lead, Operation Solid Cliff, Shujaiya, Shujaiyah on July 21, 2014 | Leave a Comment »
Israel seems to be failing to make the (false) case that it is not trying to harm civilians in Gaza. People aren’t buying it this time. True, the politicians haven’t changed. But the public response has been sharp. There are still plenty of people to whom Palestinian life has no value, and they fully support what is Israel is doing, but that now seems to be the dividing line. I explore today at LobeLog.
Posted in Gaza, tagged ceasefire, Egypt, Gaza, Gaza Siege, international law, Israel, Muslim Brotherhood, Operation Protective Edge, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Three kidnapped Israelis, Turkey, United States, West Bank on July 18, 2014 | 1 Comment »
A slightly edited version of this article first appeared at LobeLog. It’s the best resource on the web for analysis of US foreign policy. Please check it out.
The two ceasefire proposals aimed at ending the accelerated violence in Gaza and Israel offer one of the best illustrations of the
Israel-Palestine conflict one could ask for. The circumstances and the content of each proposal demonstrate very well why outside pressure is necessary to end this vexing, seemingly endless struggle and just how differently Israelis and Palestinians view both current events and the conflict as a whole.
Let’s look at the two proposals. Egypt, acting as the United States normally does, worked out the details of their ceasefire idea with Israel primarily. The deal reflects the Israeli and Egyptian agenda: it mostly follows the formula of “quiet for quiet,” essentially bringing back the status quo ante of early June. It offers Hamas a vague promise of future negotiations to address the siege of the Strip. But this is hardly something Hamas will put stock in. The 2012 ceasefire agreement, which was negotiated by then-Egyptian President Muhammad Morsi, a man much friendlier to Hamas than the current Egyptian leadership, also made such a promise and it never came to anything. Finally, Egypt says it is willing to open the Rafah crossing between Gaza and Egypt more widely but only if Hamas allows PA security to police it instead of their own people. (more…)