Slouching Toward “Palestine”


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It is easy to condemn Israel with rhythmic chants of “disproportionality.” Yet, competent legal scholars will always acknowledge the vital evaluative significance of context.

It should be clear, until now,  that any seemingly disproportionate use of force by the Israel Defense Forces had actually been the permissible outcome of antecedent and perfidious crimes committed by its enemies. What about charges, from one war to the next, that Israel had committed “aggression” in Lebanon?  At Lebanon’s insistence, certainly not Israel’s, a formal state of war has existed between the two tiny countries since the Jewish State came into existence in May 1948. Only an armistice agreement obtains between Israel and Lebanon. Signed on March 23,1949, this was not a war-terminating agreement, but merely a pledge to “cease fire.”

Legally,  it is not possible for Israel to commit aggression against Lebanon. This is because the latter already considers itself in a formal condition of belligerency with the Jewish State. Israel cannot commit aggression against another state with which it is already at war.

Faced with multiple and sometimes cooperating enemies on several fronts who often make no secret of their genocidal intentions, Israel has nonetheless adhered to the law of war. Indeed, in starkly marked contrast to the conscious indiscriminacy of its terrorist foes in Gaza, Judea/Samaria (West Bank) and Lebanon, Jerusalem has struggled mightily to respect this law.

The authentic legal issue in recurrent Middle East conflict is not Israeli “disproportionality” or “aggression,” but rather a persistent enemy resort to terrorism and perfidy. Notwithstanding foreseeable U.S. and Israeli objections to any Fatah/Hamas merger, neither Palestinian party has any effective reason to refrain from further terrorism against Israel. Already engaged in a far-reaching diplomatic end-run around Jerusalem, neither Fatah nor Hamas will require Prime Minister Netanyahu’s negotiated approval to proceed toward complete Palestinian sovereignty.

In September, probably with very little prodding, the U.N. will take up the issue of membership for “Palestine.” Almost certainly, although any such consideration would likely not meet the more stringent requirements of statehood that were formally established at the 1934 Convention on the Rights and Duties of States (Montevideo Convention), a generally-recognized and totally militarized Palestinian state would then become a fait accompli. Should this U.N. conferral of sovereignty be implemented, Israel’s starkly limited future will be discoverable in Article 12 of the PA (Fatah) Charter, which calls for “the liberation of Palestine completely….,” and in Article 19: “The struggle will not end until the elimination of the Zionist entity and the liberation of Palestine.”

As for the less-moderate Hamas Covenant (Charter of the Islamic Resistance Movement), it begins with Israel’s annihilation: “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it….” Significantly, especially in view of what is still happening in Egypt, the Covenant refers to Hamas as “one of the wings of the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine.”

In the Middle East, wishful thinking is always perilous. Israel’s enemies plainly have no regard for compliance with the law of war. Once granted a new state carved out of Israel’s still-living body, “Palestine” would enthusiastically seize new opportunities not “only” for war and terrorism,  but also (in the literal jurisprudential sense of pertinent international treaties) for genocide.

In the final analysis,  Fatah/Hamas seek not to enlarge a secular power over life, but rather a supremely religious power over death.

Is there any power in world politics or diplomacy that can conceivably compete with such a sacred promise of immortality?

Louis René Beres is Professor of International Law at Purdue. Educated at Princeton (Ph.D., 1971), he is the author of many books and articles dealing with terrorism, international law and the law of war. He has counseled governments in Washington and Jerusalem.

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  • Harold P

    Try to explain this to the United Nations. Israel will always be at fault and the poor Palestinians will always be victims.

  • John

    In order to have "rules" in combat, everyone (without exception) has to be on the same page and abide by those rules. Rules mean absolutely zip to the Muslim, Arab, Palestinian mind set. Complete waste of time. However, the UN will hold Israel to every single rule that they can come up with, while the Palestinians use children and women as human shields, fire from schools and hospitals, heavily populated areas, fire rockets into Israel, etc., then cry foul when Israel has had enough while obeying none of the rules themselves. Then we've got a anti Israel president, cabinet and state department that agree with him/her. And he's provided ways to bring Palestinians here to Nashville who disperse and noone know which military Hamas training camp the disappear into (of which we have several.) Are we happy about it? Only the sane ones aren't.

  • steven l

    The idea of proportionality is absurd because it prevents the one who is attacked to decisively destroy the attacker and eliminate the option of preemptive attack for self-defense against a vicious enemy and it also generates a state of chronic conflict. Furthermore, the enemy being Muslims, as we all know, do not abide by the rules whether they lose or win (god forbid).
    The West continues to perpetuate their double standard against Israel. Where is the report from Hamas about their systematic violations of rules of war and humans rights violations? Are the US, GB, FR or Germany after the Arabs and Hamas insisting on getting these reports from Hamas? Suffice to say that the West deliberately ignore the Balfour declaration as well as the San Remo declaration. That says enough about the game they play.
    According to the law, it is better to respect the law and be dead than alive while violating the law.

    • Raymond in DC

      The Balfour Declaration has no binding legal authority, as it was merely a statement of British intent. But the League of Nations Mandate of 1922 has international agreement behind it (and the added bonus of Congressional confirmation), and it specifies the land all the way to the Jordan as intended for a Jewish homeland. The UN's GA resolution of 1947 does not supersede that, as it was merely advisory. So no, what's at stake are not "Palestinian lands", as they've never held legal sovereignty over any lands.

      None of this seems to matter to the international community, as international "law" is only what's politically fashionable or expedient. And these days sucking up to the Arab and Muslim world is both. It's time that Israel dropped the "We want peace!" mantra and reminded the world that they have rights too.

  • Alfonz Shmedlap

    W., 05/11/11 common era

    The late U.S. General George Patton once said, "The purpose of the military is to kill people and break things." Israel ought to immediately adopt that credo for the IDF and no longer care what the Gentile world says. "Esau hates Jacob." Nothing has changed in that regard. The proposed "2-State Solution" would inevitably turn into a "2-State Final Solution 2."

    • Guest

      The two state "Solution" IS the final solution!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Israel will have no choice but to do what Simon did, according to the Bible story, after he was blinded and tortured. He destroyed the arena killing himself with the Philistines.
      He crying while pushing the columns apart "Let my soul die with the Philistines"!

  • LindaRivera

    DECEITFULLY called the Arab Israeli conflict, it's global jihad against Israel and the entire free world. But because in Israel, the victims of jihad are Jews, the PLO/Palestinian Authority Muslim terrorist organization is heavily financed by the nations. Billions of tax dollars have been gifted.

    For years, the Palestinian Authority security services (army) has been financed, armed and given constant advanced military training by America. One of the U.S. trained terrorists, told journalist, Aaron Klein, that all of the American training is used against Israel. They are America's proxy army against the Jewish people. A terrible crime against humanity.

    All morals and all ethics have been abandoned by the US/EU/UK/UN as they viciously seek a Muslim terror state implant in vulnerable Israel that will render little Israel at mid-section to 9 miles wide INDEFENSIBLE, Auschwitz borders. It is the greatest betrayal of a nation in all of history.

    • Guest

      I am a child survivor and this betrayal is SOOOOOOOO deep that even the American Jews do not realize or recognize it .

      It is disgusting and so painful to see and understand!

  • Terry

    Forget the rest of the world's warped morality. Bibi knows the score. When the time comes, Israel will prevail.

    Am Yisroel Chai.

  • jeronimus

    These insightful articles unfortunately only preach to the converted.
    No amount of right or morals or law will ever change the virulent anti semitism that drives the
    world's hatred toward Israel. It is a cancer that will never be cured.
    Israel stands alone trying to always do the right thing in the face of smiling smug and snide
    anti- Semites from the royally biased and lefty BBC to the USA who is not a friend and reminds me of the adage with friends like that who needs enemies.
    From Clinton to Rice to Obama and all the other bleeding heart liberals ,the cancerous rot has set in and is being fueled by the catalyst of misinformation propaganda and
    good old inbred jew hatred.
    Hear O Israel the Lord our G-d the Lord is one.
    and the myopia regarding the truth and the who the victims really are

  • jeronimus

    the ultimate sentence in my last comment somehow slipped in and should be ignored.

  • Drewinna

    We Americans speak of freedoms, tolerance, and diversity, yet our government makes the Zionist occupation possible against our will, with our tax money, and making us accomplices in constant murders that the Zionist regime is committing including murders of our own American citizens (search on youtube for “Rachel Corrie” video of Zionist bulldozer crushing her to death). I am ashamed as an American that our politicians are controlled by the Zionist regime to such a terrifying extent. Tens of senators, state representatives, and ambassadors to foreign countries are Jewish. While I recognize that many are honest and against the Zionist regime, I am concerned about the fair representation of our will at the highest levels of our government. Just look on Wikipedia for “List of Jewish American politicians,” and visit prince.org/msg/105/271100 to discover that all five Federal Reserve chairmen/chairwomen are Jewish, and almost all (9 out of 12) regional Fed chairmen/chairwomen are also Jewish. I never like to generalize, but Jews comprise only 2% of our population and they have so much power in the government and almost absolute power over our money supply and economic polices. I am just not comfortable that all Americans are being represented properly especially not on the Palestine occupation issue that I know most people do not support judging by the comments against the Zionist regime I hear everywhere. Urge your state representatives and senators to immediately stop any remaining support for the Zionist regime. Much of the support already stopped because of the increasing pressure on this issue, but we Americans need to completely distance ourselves from this oppressive regime and stop being accomplices in its murders! The world is also reacting. Who would want to be remembered in history as an accomplice to ruthless occupation? Many countries, companies, and countless moral individuals have already successfully implemented no relations with the Zionist government and others are implementing the same policy as we speak. Not travel there, not buy anything from it, not trade with it, not communicate with it, etc. Also do the same with any country that supports it because the Zionist government only survives because of its external supporters

  • GreySky

    If it is ever reached, the current and any other artificial “peace agreement” will be illegitimate before it is ever signed because (1) all people living in Palestine regardless of religion, race, origin, etc. (hereinafter “All People of Palestine”) were never given a choice on how they want their land to be governed, and (2) all contracts signed under duress are null and void.
    The biggest problem in Palestine is that the Zionist regime never offered a choice to All People of Palestine on how they want to govern their land because the Zionist regime cannot exist as a democratic entity. If there was ever any democratic process in Palestine, Zionists would have been outvoted and the Zionist regime would have never existed. That is why the Zionist regime is the occupier because it does not offer choice (i.e. democracy), but instead imposes its regime (i.e. occupies). Imagine if Russians would simply occupy a town in the U.S. where they are in significant numbers and attempt to create a Russian state there without giving the rest of the Americans living there a choice. Imagine then if they would try to institute a “peace agreement” that would attempt to legitimize their occupation. The “peace agreement” would logically and legally be illegitimate because the Americans were not given a choice.

    Under all countries’ laws, any contract is null and void if it is signed under duress. The current Palestine “peace agreement” process reminds me of The Godfather movie where the mafia boss (i.e. the Zionist regime) made a guy “an offer he could not refuse” by placing a gun (i.e. Zionist conventional and nuclear arsenal) to his head and making him sign the contract. Like the mafia boss’ offer, any “peace agreement” other than the choice for All People of Palestine is a crime, and the contract is legally null and void.

    The bottom line is that All People of Palestine never wanted to divide their land into artificial two states the way the occupation and this “peace agreement” attempt to divide it. From the beginning of the Zionist regime to its unavoidable end, All People of Palestine and the region never wanted the Zionist regime and they do not want it even more after all the atrocities the Zionist regime committed. I just cannot believe how the Zionist regime can be so ignorant to think that this or any other “peace agreement” that does not allow people to choose how they want to be governed will last and ensure its people’s survival. The Zionist regime fails to realize that no matter if it succeeds in muscling this “peace agreement” by unspeakable historic coercion tens of millions of moral people around the world will oppose it until it is corrected, and until justice and free choice prevail. Also, ever increasing number of Jewish people are realizing that Zionism is becoming a destructive force for them and are leading the global resistance to it.

    Feel free to copy this comment, email it to other bloggers, and repost it on other blogs, newspaper websites, Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking websites, and include it in any correspondence/lobbying with senators, state representatives and any other public officials so the public learns the truth

  • Will_Garret

    All who oppose the Zionist regime please STOP calling it “Israel” Every time you do it you reward the occupation of Palestine. Name “Israel” implies a state on the occupied territory. Call the occupiers what they really are: the Zionist regime. This way, every time you refer to it, you will imply its temporary nature (the nature of all occupying regimes). Encourage your fellow comment posters to use the name Zionist regime as well. We must also be categorically against generalizing, and recognize that many Jews are against the crimes the Zionist regime is committing in their names, and that many Jews are leading the global resistance to it. They should be proud. I wish that they finally find piece wherever they choose to live (including Palestine) through a peaceful democratic process as opposed to the Nazi-style occupation the current Zionist regime is using