UN Court of Justice to Rule on Israeli Occupation

UN Court of Justice to Rule on Israeli Occupation February 26, 2024

ISRAEL PALESTINE MAP
ChrisO’s modification of 2004 UN Map of Israel

At the request of the UN General Assembly, the Court of Justice at The Hague held a week of hearings, which it completed today, about Israel’s 57-year occupation of the so-called “Palestinian territories.” It heard from over 50 nations, most of whom sided with Palestinians in the intransigent conflict between Israel and Palestinians. Since justice grinds slowly, the Court said it would render its opinion on the matter in about six months.

What matter? Israel allegedly in violation of international law for 57 years by refusing to forfeit its control of the West Bank and Gaza Strip which it gained in the Six-Day War of 1967.

The United Nations was set up in 1945 with a charter as its basis. This UN Charter declares that any member state that goes to war against another member state or entity, resulting in it possessing the opponent’s territory, this victor must through peace negotiation return that territory to the victim.

Israel has always refused to do that by arguing that it makes Israel less defensible in time of war. Since I wrote a book about this Israeli-Palestinian conflict, entitled Palestine Is Coming: The Revival of Ancient Philistia (1990), I have been of the opinion that both the general census of the UN and Israel are right. That is, for Israel to remain a member of the UN it should abide by the UN principle that it return the two occupied territories; yet Israel is right that it must be geographically able to defend itself, which forfeiture of the West Bank does not permit.

That is one of the many reasons I assert that the two parties ought to abandon their focus on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and consider an alternative arrangement wherein Palestinians would live in their own state. And I propose that it be in accordance with historical precedence, as can seen by the map image on the front cover of my book. Many argue against this proposal, promptly citing all kinds of scenarios about the injustice and seeming impossibility of applying this principle elsewhere in the world. But they do so by either ignoring, or being ignorant, that Israel’s 1948 Proclamation of Independence does that very thing, and repeatedly so. That is, it demands that the Jewish people have a right “to go back to the land of their fathers and regain their statehood.”

Well, guess what folks; it didn’t happen, that is, not exactly. The Jews fought and created their state, but not exactly in their “ancestral land.” For instance, many Israeli Jews, and especially Jewish settlers in the West Bank, refuse to acknowledge the West Bank and call it “Judea and Samaria.” They merely mean, and rightly so, that the West Bank is the heartland of ancient Israel, which was then called “Judea and Samaria.” Plus, much of present western Israel was not ancient Israel. Rather, for hundreds of years, and during the golden years of ancient Israel, that was “the land of the Philistines.” This is an important point that Jewish leaders either ignore or are ignorant of. They often say ancient Israel was all the land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan-Dead Sea Depression. Not so! See my book–chapter 2.

Thus, I maintain that an important discussion that needs to be had in this conflict is this–“What is Eretz Yisrael?” For, I state in my book, “Jews have never decisively designated the borders of Eretz Yisrael (Hebrew for ‘the land of Israel’). Throughout their scriptures and ancient rabbinic literature, Eretz Israel ‘was never defined with geographical precision.’ This condition remains today. When an Israeli leader [right after the 1967 War] asked U.S. President Johnson to recognize Israel’s acquisition of the occupied territories, he retorted, ‘You are asking me to recognize your borders? You have never defined the borders of Israel. Indeed, ‘the definition of what constituted the confines of Eretz Israel is one of the thorniest problems in Jewish literature.'” [See the book’s documentation for these quotations.]

The international pressure being exerted on Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin (Bibby) Netanyahu to end the current war with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and announce Israel’s intentions for a future Gaza, has caused Bibby to reveal his true colors. A few days ago, he said for the first time that he and his administration strongly oppose the creation of a Palestinian state. That is partly because his coalition government his quite religious, right-wing, and rests on shaky ground. A majority of Israeli voters now oppose Bibby as prime minister and are calling for a vote for another coalition government.

Through the decades, the UN General Assembly has passed many resolutions regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But it had never asked the Court of Justice to make a ruling as it now has. And whenever the UN Security Council, of which the US has always been a permanent member, voted on resolutions regarding this conflict which Israel opposed, the US always voted in Israel’s favor, thus squashing that resolution.

But that may change soon. When the Israel-Hamas War broke out on October 7 last year, US President Joe Biden, a long-time friend of Bibby, flew to Israel to literally embrace him and declare that the US firmly supported Israel in this war. But Biden’s public speech about it at that time was woefully deficient in that he said nothing of the disenfranchisement that Palestinians have suffered at the hands of modern Israel since its inception, such as loss of land and homes in 1948-1949 and 1967, with no repayment of any kind. Any reasonable, unbiased person must conclude that such loss has contributed immensely to the burgeoning anger of Palestinians toward Israeli Jews throughout all of these decades. Yet Biden said nothing about it, which is the reason for Hamas’ anger toward Israel. And in saying this I do mean that Hamas is justified in its aggression toward Israel. I’m just stating what is common sense.

However, President Biden is not a monster. He apparently has been listening to many of his staff, allies, Democratic colleagues, etc., who are calling for a more just approach by the Biden administration to this Israel-Hamas War. It has resulted in 1,200 initial Jewish deaths, but reportedly 30,000 Palestinians deaths to date. That is colossally disproportional! So, Biden seems to be changing his mind and departing from his former position in providing uncritical support to Bibby in this war. Biden has been prevailing upon Bibby to hold a ceasefire and allow for prisoner negotiations and aid to get into the Strip for the more than 2 million Palestinians.

Bibby announced “no Palestine” during his watch because the Biden administration had just announced that it favored the creation of a Palestinian state, thus advocating the common two-state solution in which Palestine would be established in the two separated territories of the West Bank and Gaza Strip. And for Biden to approve of this, it indicates that the US may make a huge change in this portion of its foreign policy by indicating that if the UN Security Council would put forth a resolution to recognize a Palestinian state prior to its existence, the US would not veto it but approve of it. For, the US has always been the only permanent member of the Security Council that vetos such a resolution. If that happened, it would be a profound change in US foreign policy that, in my, I hope, humble opinion has been way too long in coming.

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