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April 25, 2014     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, APRIL 25, 2014 " PAGE 5A Point: The West Bank is under military occupation, and that's a fact By Jessica Montell JERUSALEM (JTA)--Ac- cording to press reports, the crowd at a recent Republican Jewish Coalition confer- ence "noticeably gasped" when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie referred to the West Bank as "occupied ter- ritories." Christie promptly apologized to the event's host, mega-donor Sheldon Adelson, clarifying that his remarks "were not meant to be a statement of policy," according to a source. This incident illustrates the many semantic land mines involved in talking about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The terms employed to talk about the separation barrier or the Israeli settlements or some of Jerusalem's holy sites often belie a political agenda intended not only to describe reality but also to affect it. Yet this incident also il- lustrates the way in which an inherently legal term has been branded as somehow part of a radical political agenda. " Acknowledging that the West Bank is presently subject to military occupation is not at all a statement of policy. It is a statement of fact. Many Jews, both in Israel and in the United States, use the biblical names Judea and Samaria, highlighting the belief that this territory forms the foundation of the Jewish people. This territory is indeed the biblical heart- land of the Jewish tradition, where according to our Bible the Patriarch Abraham pur- chased a plot of land for his family, where Joshua brought the people after 40 years of wandering in the desert and built the tabernacle to house the Ark of the Covenant. But calling this area Judea and Samaria tells us nothing about the applicable legal framework: Who is the legis- lator in Judea and Samaria? Who is the executive branch of government in the West Bank? What is the judiciary there? The answer to all three questions is the Israeli mili- tary. The military passes laws, in the form of military orders that supersede the local laws that otherwise remain in force. Even the fact that Israeli law applies in the settlements, and personally to Settlers, is not due to legislation from the Knesset but because the military commander signed an order giving force to that particular piece of Knesset legislation. The military is also the executive, administering all aspects of the governance of this territory. Many of the Israeli civil authorities operate in the settlements, and the Palestinian Authority has responsibility for civil affairs within Palestinian cities. However, all of these authorities operate within the overall control of the Israeli military. And the military is the judiciary. The military le- gal advisors decide what is lawful and what is not. The Israeli military maintains a military court system in which Palestinians are tried for everything from security offenses to traffic violations. All Palestinians--includ- ing those living in Area A under the nominal control of the Palestinian Authority-- are subject to the jurisdic.tion of the Israeli military. Some 300,000 Israelis live in this territory as well (not count- ing the 200,000 Israelis in the territory annexed to the city of Jerusalem). Though they also live in territory governed by military law, settlers enjoy all the rights of the Israeli democracy, as well as additional financial benefits intended to encour- age Israelis to live there. The result is that two different and discriminatory legal systems operate in the same territory, with a person's rights and benefits determined by his or her national origin. The words "military oc- cupation" might sound harsh to the American ear. Many Israelis don't like the sound of it either. Yet the reality is indeed harsh. Millions of Palestinians have lived, for almost half a century under military rule, denied basic rights and subject to the whims of a government they did not elect and have no ability to influence. Adelson and his ilk may be able to dictate a form of censorship of the political conversation in the United States. ' This ostrich-like be- havior, however, does not alter the reality on the ground. This is a rotten system. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is currently devoting massive efforts to address this prob- lem. If his efforts are to have any hope of success, we must first of all call it like it is. Jessica Montell is execu- tive director of B'Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Riffhts in the Oc- cupied Territories. Counterpoint: 'Occupied territories' is a flawed and biased term By Alan Baker JERUSALEM (JTA)--When New Jersey Gov. Chris Chris- tie apologized to Republican donor Sheldon Adelson for using the term "occupied ter- ritories" to refer to the West Bank, critics pounced. Jon Stewart of "The Daily Show" ridiculed the apology, insist- ing that the phrase is "widely context is flawed legally, his- torically and factually. The phrase does not ac- curately reflect the status of the areas that it purports to describe. Yet it has regretta- bly become lingua franca in contemporary international andU.N, parlance, including for senior members of the U.S. administration and European leaders. accepted" and accurate. The expressions "occupied :-While th teYn is ihdedT"'tlei,'rit6y""and'?'dUpied wideiyusedtodescribelsrael's Palestinian territory" are relationship to the West Bank political terms frequently areas of Judea and Samaria, used in nonbinding political that doesn't make itaccurate, resolutions, principally in In,teed, the use of the term the U.N. General Assembly, "occupied territories" in thi representing nothing more than the political viewpoint of the majority of states voting in favor of such resolutions. These political pronounce- ments have never constituted, nor should they constitute, an authority for any determina- tion that the territories are Palestinian or that they are oc- cupied. Such determinations would appear to b e based on incorrect and partisan read- ings of the factual situation 'andof the relevant interna- tional legal documentation. In the 1967 Six Day War Israel took control of Samaria, Judea, eastern Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. These areas had previously been seized by the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and Egypt and held by them since the 1948 war, initi- ated by them against Israel. International law relates to occupation of foreign territory from a "prior legitimate sov- ereign," and these areas never constituted the legitimate sovereign territory of Jordan or Egypt. Hence, the accepted international law definition status in these areas. The unique historic and le- gal nature of these territories, in which there has existed a basic indigenous Jewish pres- ence since at least 1500 BCE, Arab League rejects Israel as Jewish state So, who is the Arab League? sures to be taken m response to the Palestine crisis." In October 1948, it rejected the UN "Partition Plan" for Palestine adopted by the General Assembly in Resolu- tion 181. On May 15 1948, as the regular forces of Egypt, Trarls- Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, and contingents from Saudi Arabia and Yemen invaded Israel to 'restore law and or- der,' the Arab League issued a lengthy document titled "Declaration on the Invasion of Palestine." In it, the Arab states drew attention to: "The injustice implied in this solution [affecting] the right of the people of Palestine to immediate independence ... declared the Arabs' rejection of ]Resolution 181]" which the League said "would not be pos- sible to car ry it out by peaceful means, and that its forcible impositionwould constitute a threat to peace and security in this area" and claimed that the "security and order in Pales- tine have become disrupted" due to the "aggressive inten- tions, and the imperialistic designs Of the Zionists" and "the Governments of the Arab States, as members oftheArab League, a regional organiza- tion ... view the events taking place in Palestine as a threat to peace and security in the area as a whole... Therefore, as security in Palestine is a sacred trust in the hands of the Arab States, and in order to put an end to this state of affairs.., the Governments of the Arab States have found themselves compelled to in- tervene in Palestine." The Secretary-General of the Arab League, Azzam Pa- sha, was less diplomatic and far more candid. With no pa- tience for polite or veiled lan- guage, on the same day Israel declared its independence on May 14 1948, at a Cairo press conference reported the next day in The New York Times, Pasha repeated the Arabs' "intervention to restore law and order" revealing'. "This will be a war of ex- termination and a momen- tous massacre which will be spoken of like the Mongolian massacres and the Crusades." The League of Arab States continued to oppose peace after Israel's 1948 War of Independence: On July 15, 1948, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 54 calling on Arab aggression to stop: "Taking into consideration that the Provisional Govern- ment of Israel has indicated its acceptance in principle of long before the arrival of Islam in the 7th-century CE, with concomitant Jewish historic rights, inevitably renders these territories as sui generis, or having a unique legal status: This status runs counter to any attempt to use standard definitions such as "occupied territories" in order to desig- nate or describe these areas. Furthermore. the historic of "occupation" of territory and legal rights of the Jew- cannot be attributed to lsrael's : ish people to this territory, rendering it unique and not "occupied." have been ac- knowledged and encapsulated legally and historically in of- ficial, binding and still valid international documents: the 1917 Balfour Declaration, the 1920 San Remo Declaration. -the 1922 League of Nations Mandate Iastrument and the 1945 U.N. Charter. By any objective criteria, the By Eli E. Hertz Myth and Facts magazine a prolongation of the truce in Palestine; that the States members of the Arab League have rejected successwe ap- peals of the United Nations Mediator, and of the Security Council in its Resolution 53 (1948) of 7 July 1948, for the prolongation of the truce in Palestine; and that there has consequently developed a renewal of hostilities in Palestine." In October 1949, the Arab League declared that negotia- tion with Israel by any Arab state would be in violation of Article 18 of the Arab League. In April 1950, it called for severance of relations with any Arab state which engaged in relations or contacts with Israel and prohibited Member states from negotiating uni- lateral peace with Israel. In March 1979, it suspended Egypt's membership in the League (retroactively) from the date of its signing a peace treaty with Israel. More recently, in the Beirut Declaration of March 27-28, 2002, adopted at the height of Palestinian suicide attacks in Israel, the Arab League declared: "We, the kings, presidents, and emirs of the Arab states It is illuminating to ex- amine the record of the League of Arab States since the founding of the League in 1945, which is hardly a model for peaceful settlement of disputes in the spirit of the United Nations. Prior to the establishment of the Jewish state, the League took the following steps: In December 1945, the Arab League launched a boycott of 'Zionist goods' that continues to this day. In J/me 1946, it established the Higher Arab Committee to "coordinate efforts with regard to Palestine," a radical body that led and coordinated attempts to wipe Jsrael off the map. In December 1946, it reject- ed the first proposed Palestine partition plans, reaffirming "that Palestine is a part of the Arab motherland." In October 1947, prior to the vote on Resolution 181--the"Partition Plan"--it reassert.ed the necessity for military preparations along Arab borders to "defending Palestine." In ,February 1948, it ap- proved "a plan for political, military, and economic mea- Hertz on page 15A status of the territory could therefore only be considered to be at the most "disputed territory," subject toan agreed- upon negotiation process between Israel and the Pales- tinians aimed at determining its ultimate status by agree- ment. This negotiating process includes the requirement to agree on secure and recog- nized permanent boundaries. Demands that Israel with- draw to the "1967 lines," which are in effect the 1949 armistice demarcation lines, are equally flawed and misleading. Such demands attempt to prejudge an open negotiating issue. Efforts by leadingele,ents in the international c()'mmu- nity to assign the territory to the Palestinians, prior to a successful conclusion of the negotiating process, or to deny the rights and status of Israel, demonstrate nothing more than political ignorance and bias. Alan Baker is director of the Institute for Contempo- rary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, as well as of the International Action Division of the Legal Forum for Israel. He has served as the legal counsel to Israel's Foreign Ministry and as Israel's ambassador to Canada. Dry Bones TO ACCEPT I THAT'5 NOT TOO/