A Palestinian “resistance” view
After 66 years of brutal occupation “peace talks without applying the principles of international law are an exercise in delusion”
As expected, the “peace” talks farce has ended in disarray with all parties utterly discredited again. Do they never learn? Expect more acrobatics and slapstick if the same circus clowns remain in the ring.
We badly need a new act. Let this be the moment in history when world leaders finally stop talking poppycock about peace in relation to the Holy Land, and start talking justice.
A statement issued on 29 April by the Palestinians’ chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, seemed to say there will be no more negotiations until Israel complies with the 1967 borders and ends its illegal occupation. He didn’t mention explicitly that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would now take their case to the International Criminal Court or War Crimes Tribunal; but he talked about using “every legitimate means possible” to pursue Palestine’s independence and fulfil its people’s rights.
We were also given figures showing how desperately the Israelis – those self-styled “partners for peace” – were trying to sabotage the talks throughout the nine months they were going on. They stepped up their occupation and colonization activities, announcing homes for over 55,000 new settlers. Israeli military and security officials killed 61 Palestinians and injured 1,100 more. There were 660 settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and property, including places of worship. And construction of more than 14,000 Jews-only housing units was begun in the illegal settlements while Israel demolished 508 Palestinian structures (196 residential and 312 business) in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, resulting in 878 persons being forcibly displaced.
While we wait for US Secretary of State John Kerry to contemplate the revolver on the silver tray and write his suicide note, readers will recall an earlier article telling of my failed attempts to conduct an interview with the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi and posting the unanswered questions instead. Well, they were suddenly answered, out of the blue, by Emmanuel Tierra, a former national security adviser to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and a former acting PLO chairman. He tells me he is currently a senior policy adviser and military analyst with the Provisional Interim Council of Government (PINCG), which is an unincorporated agency of individuals from all 17 Palestinian resistance groups, excluding the Palestinian Authority and Al-Qaeda-type organizations. Marwan Barghouti is chairman and joint chief of staff of the Militia and National Command Authority (MANCAT). Tierra is deputy chairman. I imagine these shadowy organizations are waiting in the wings for the day when Mahmoud Abbas finally falls under a bus, and are as new to most of you as they are to me.
Is he a spokesman for the PLO? I doubt it; he speaks with a different tone of voice. I asked Dr Ashrawi’s office – the Department of Information no less – and received no reply. So Tierra remains a rather mysterious, shadowy figure, and that’s maybe just as well in the circumstances. Here are some of his responses.
[Question] What do you expect John Kerry’s peace “framework” to deliver, and will it amount to any more than another giveaway of Palestinian positions, entitlements and assets?
[Answer] “There is only one framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is international law of the UN Charter and the laws of armed conflict.
“Without applying the principles of international law it is an exercise in delusion. The Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement was possible because it applied UNSC [UN Security Council Resolution] 242.”
UNSC 242 emphazises the inadmissibility of acquiring territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every state in the area can live in security. It also calls for “withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict” and “termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every state in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force”, in accordance with UN Charter principles.
It emphasizes further that all member states in their acceptance of the UN Charter have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter. This says in particular:
- All members shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice are not endangered.
- All members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations.
- All members shall give the United Nations every assistance in any action it takes in accordance with the present charter, and shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
- The organization shall ensure that states which are not members of the United Nations act in accordance with these principles so far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international peace and security.
Appeasing Netanyahu “destroys US credibility”
Tierra maintains that the Palestinian leadership has actually been successful in its negotiations inasmuch as it has “not sold out Palestinian sovereignty or territory for glass beads and trinkets. The only expectation that Palestinian citizens and the international community should have is that international law compliance will bear fruit for not only an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, but also Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese agreements.
“Palestinian Resistance leaders know very well that the USA cannot deliver any peace agreement with Netanyahu’s intransigence. We went along with this present effort so that the US administration and the American people could see for themselves that Israeli Zionism is the root of the problem and appeasing Netanyahu or any other Israeli leader who continues Israel’s criminal enterprise will eventually destroy the US’s credibility in the Middle East and globally.”
[Question] Why has the Palestinian leadership been so reluctant to take its case to the International Criminal Court, opting instead for more bogus negotiations mediated by a dishonest broker and giving the occupier even more time to establish irreversible “facts on the ground”? Shouldn’t maximum effort be made to reach a law-based solution, all other ways having failed?
[Answer] “First, Zionist ‘facts on the ground’ such as Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine West Bank are not irreversible. The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49 prohibiting the transfer of Israeli citizens into occupied territory, should see to that.
“The substantive issue is sovereignty and territorial integrity. UNGA [United Nations General Assembly Resolution] 181 divided the territory of Mandated Palestine as follows:
- State of Palestine territory/sovereignty is defined in UNGA 181 Part II Boundaries A.,
- State of Israel territory/sovereignty is defined in UNGA 181 Part II Boundaries B.,
- Jerusalem is placed under UN trusteeship defined in UNGA 181 Part III, as a corpus separatum.
“Regardless of how anyone interprets the establishment of the state of Israel, the Israeli government in its UNGA 273 Accession to the UN Charter ‘unreservedly agreed’ to the international law context of UNGA 181.
“The Partition Plan also laid down a guarantee of the rights of minorities and religious rights, including free access to and the preservation of holy places, the constitution of an economic union between the two states, and a custom union, including equal access to water and energy resources.”
UNGA 181 called for the Security Council to consider whether the situation in Palestine constitutes a threat to peace. If it decides that such a threat exists, and in order to maintain international peace and security, the Security Council should supplement the authorization of the General Assembly by taking measures under articles 39 and 41 of the UN Charter, to empower the United Nations Commission to exercise in Palestine the functions which are assigned to it. It also called for the Security Council to determine as a threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in accordance with Article 39 of the charter, any attempt to alter by force the settlement envisaged by this resolution.
“To comply with UNSC 242 Israel will have to remove its war criminal settlers,” says Tierra. “The houses would remain within the context of a comprehensive peace agreement dealing with UNGA 181 Palestinian territories occupied since 1949 by the state of Israel. A lottery would award the houses to Palestinians currently living in refugee camps within Palestine and in third Arab states.
“This of course is within the context of Israeli reparations for 44 years of war crimes occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza. It assumes that a sincere Israeli leadership would be our partners in an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. A hardline Zionist government, however, might demolish the housing colonies, but compliance with UNSC 242 would still be required.”
As regards the International Criminal Court, Tierra points out that it does not have the universal jurisdiction that some people think. “It cannot apply retroactively. Its temporal jurisdiction is limited to acts committed after 1 July 2002. And its territorial jurisdiction is limited to nation states that have acceded to the Rome Statute. The state of Israel has not contracted with the ICC; the State of Palestine has just filed an Instrument of Accession.”
Sovereignty/territory of Israeli and Palestinian states as originally defined by UN
The questions that beg to be answered, he says, are:
- “What is the sovereignty/territory of the state of Palestine?” and
- “What is the sovereignty/territory of the state of Israel?”
He points again to UNGA 273 which admitted Israel to the United Nations and to Israel’s unreserved acceptance of binding obligations and unreserved agreement to the international law context of UNGA 181 and UNGA 194.
ICC jurisdiction includes a Chapter VII, Article 41 referral, but the provisions of articles 39 and 40 must to be exhausted (they surely must have been by now) before Articles 41 (sanctions or referral to the ICC) and 42 (military intervention) can be triggered.
[Question] What action is being taken to protect Palestine’s offshore and inland oil/gas reserves from being plundered by Israel? What is being done to retrieve Palestine’s water resources?
“UNGA 181 state of Palestine has been under occupation since 29 November 1947. Yet it is a UN Trusteeship State in accordance with the UN Charter Chapter XII, Article 80, Terms of Trusteeship, and as such should be under direct UN administration in accordance with charter Article 81.
“The Palestinian resistance leadership cannot protect these resources nor prevent Israel plundering them while UNGA 181 state of Palestine is under IDF [Israel Defence Forces] occupation and our people are under siege. Therefore, the Palestinian resistance is striving to become a professional military corpus, a professional diplomatic corpus and a professional public administration of civil servants. If we are to protect our natural resources, it is imperative that we defeat the Israelis diplomatically, although defeating them militarily would be nice.
“I emphasize that the General Assembly, with UNGA 3236, granted the PLO provisional sovereign powers, but these powers cannot be exercised until UNSC 242 is complied with. So, in order to protect the resources belonging to UNGA 181 state of Palestine we are steadily becoming a more professional agency of governance and liberation, with the aim of taking back our territory centimetre by centimetre if necessary.”
Incidentally, 3236 reaffirms the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people in Palestine, including their right to self-determination without external interference and their right to national independence and sovereignty. It also recognizes the right of the Palestinian people to regain their rights by all means in accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and it appeals to all states and international organizations to help the Palestinian people in their struggle to restore those rights. UK are you listening?
[Question] When is President Abbas, who has long overstayed his term of office and exhausted his legitimacy, expected to step down?
“The Palestinian Authority is fraud masquerading as national governance. Its only subscribers are the Israelis and the USA plus the cronies and stooges that draw PA salaries. The presidential term expired in 2009 and the legislature expired in 2010.”
Palestinian leaders who speak up for unity are likely to go on Israel’s kill list
[Question] What are the prospects for Palestinian unity and how much longer will it take to achieve? Palestinian women have been a tower of strength throughout the long years of occupation. Could Palestinian “girl power” be mobilized to help bring about unity?
“Without Palestinian unity, we may as well just surrender to the Israelis because liberation cannot be achieved.
“Arafat and I formulated a Palestinian Defence Policy in 2000 that had as its objective the integration of all Palestinian resistance agencies into a Provisional Council of Government that was titled PALGAZ, PALWEB and PALIS, establishing political administration for Gaza, West Bank and territories occupied by Israel in 1949.
“Abbas was played by the Israelis, Europeans and Americans into attempting a coup of the Hamas-elected Palestinian Authority in 2007, which resulted in the PA and Fatah being expelled from Gaza.
“How long will it take to achieve Palestinian unity? The Palestinian resistance fragmentation of the 1970s into multiple agencies has hurt the Palestinian cause right up to the present time and was the result of self-idolatrous vanity. It will take as long as it takes to instil into the emergent leadership that governance and legitimate political authority are intended to serve the interests of the people and not selfish greed.
“Equality of women shall be a cornerstone of the Palestinian political community. Anything less would be an offence against the very persons who have been heads of households while their men have been in Israeli prisons. All that is needed is to offer women the opportunity to voice their opinions through their votes, and voice their concerns through equal opportunities in education and employment.
“The present PLO-Hamas unity agreement was envisioned by myself and Arafat under the title ‘Articles of Confederation’. Unity will take as long is it takes to grasp the reality that no one is coming to help Palestinians remove the Israeli yoke of oppression – not the third Arab state, not the human rights preaching Americans, not the civil rights preaching Europeans, and certainly not the Palestinian Authority.”
He’s right, of course. The “great and good” are ultimately unprincipled, as they demonstrate repeatedly. Civil society, however, is angered by the inaction of those who are supposed to represent them, and movements like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) are fast gaining ground.
“And Palestinian unity will become a reality,” says Tierra, “when Palestinians stop believing in the delusion that 100 per cent of the Mandate of Palestine should or could be liberated. The state of Israel is a permanent fixture among nation states. So, we must embrace international law, UN Charter Article 80, Terms of UN Trusteeship, and UNGA 181 because these offer protection to the viability of a nation state of Palestine as defined in UNGA 181 Part II Boundaries.”
[Question] Israel has run rings round the Palestinians media-wise. Communication is practically non-existent. What professional media training do key people at the PA and PLO receive?
“Palestinians are building a nation state from scratch without any help other than the UN agencies that are humanitarian-aid-focused and not diplomatically focused.
“I am 100 per cent in agreement that Palestinian resistance agencies should incorporate public diplomacy. However, please understand that the Israelis since the 1960s have targeted for killing all Palestinian leadership that voice opinions that would unify Palestinians or expose the reality of Israel’s war criminal enterprise.”
That’s a chilling thought on which to end.