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Monday, September 14, 2009

The delusional Saudis

Over the weekend, Saudi Prince Turki al-Faisal published an op-ed in the New York Times. The op-ed is laced with inaccuracies. It insists that Israel must give the Arabs all of the land it liberated in the defensive 1967 war and then the Saudis will deign to consider normalization of some sort.
It must therefore refuse to engage Israel until it ends its illegal occupation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and the Golan Heights as well as Shabaa Farms in Lebanon. For Saudis to take steps toward diplomatic normalization before this land is returned to its rightful owners would undermine international law and turn a blind eye to immorality.

Shortly after the Six-Day War in 1967, during which Israel occupied those territories as well as East Jerusalem and the Sinai Peninsula, the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution stating that, in order to form “a just and lasting peace in the Middle East,” Israel must withdraw from these newly occupied lands. The Fourth Geneva Convention similarly notes “the occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”
No, that's not what the United Nations said and it's not the correct interpretation of the 4th Geneva Convention.
Before turning to the specific issue of the settlements, it is instructive to recall that Israel's entry into the West Bank, in particular, created a number of legal dilemmas that would ultimately impinge on how the legal question of settlements was examined. Israel entered the West Bank in a war of self-defense, so that the UN Security Council did not call on Israel to withdraw from all the territory that it captured, when it adopted UN Security Council Resolution 242 in November 1967. The previous occupant in the West Bank from 1949 to 1967 had been the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, whose sovereignty in the territory the entire international community refused to recognize - except for Britain and Pakistan. Prior to 1949, the governing document for legal rights in the West Bank was the 1922 Palestine Mandate, which gave international recognition to Jewish legal rights.

U.S. officials were cognizant of these considerations. Eugene Rostow, a former dean of Yale Law School who was also Undersecretary of State in the Johnson years, would write years later that "Israel has an unassailable legal right to establish settlements in the West Bank." He argued that Israel's claims to the territory were "at least as good as those of Jordan." Prof. Stephen Schwebel, who would become the State Department legal advisor and subsequently the President of the International Court of Justice in The Hague, went a step further when he wrote in 1970 that "Israel has better title in the territory of what was Palestine, including the whole of Jerusalem, than do Jordan and Egypt." On July 29, 1977, Secretary of State Cyrus Vance stated that "it is an open question as to who has legal right to the West Bank."
Faisal goes on:
Now, Israeli leaders hint that they are willing to return portions of these occupied territories to Arab control, but only if they are granted military and economic concessions first. For the Arabs to accept such a proposal would only encourage similar outrages in the future by rewarding military conquest.
Talk about turning the table upside down....
Today, supporters of Israel cite the outdated 1988 Hamas charter, which called for the destruction of Israel, as evidence of Palestine’s attitude toward a two-state solution, without considering the illegalities of Israel’s own occupation. Israel has never presented any comprehensive formulation of a peace plan. Saudi Arabia, to the contrary, has done so twice: the Fahd peace plan of 1982 and the Abdullah peace initiative of 2002. Both were endorsed by the Arab world, and both were ignored by Israel.
The Hamas charter, which calls for Israel's destruction, remains a legally enforceable document. So does the Fatah charter, which also calls for Israel's destruction. Israel cannot propose any 'peace plan' because anything less than a total surrender would just be pocketed by the Arabs and become the platform for the next negotiations. As for the Saudi 'proposals,' anything that calls for the 'return' of all the 'Palestinian refugees' to Israel is a non-starter.

The rest of the op-ed probably sets a world record for pomposity. But given that the President of the United States bows to their king, that's not surprising.


At 10:03 PM, Blogger NormanF said...

The essence of the Arab program is "Land First, then Peace." Israel is being asked to put its neck in the noose in exchange for an Arab promise. And every one in Israel has plenty of experience in just how much Arab promises are worth. If the Saudis think Israel will want to change the status quo in exchange for a vague Arab offer of "normal relations," they will be waiting until the arrival of Godot for that to come about.

At 10:49 PM, Blogger Chrysler 300M said...

Saudi Wahabism is more dangerous than Iran


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