With Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas circling the globe
up support from UN Security Council countries for his statehood bid, the Foreign
Ministry circulated a document to its representatives abroad this week, spelling
out legal arguments against the move.
The document, written by the
Foreign Ministry’s legal department at the behest of Foreign Minister Avigdor
Lieberman, is to serve as a basis for Israel’s envoys in their continued efforts
to poke holes into the Palestinians’ argument that they are ready for
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Abbas is currently in Colombia, and on his way to Portugal, to
lobby those countries to support his bid in the Security Council.
Palestinian request for membership in the United Nations, which was submitted to
the Secretary-General on September 23, 2011, implies that a Palestinian state
already, somehow, exists,” read the document, obtained by The Jerusalem
“The request asked to build upon this supposedly existing status to
request membership in the United Nations. However, based on both traditional and
contemporary legal and tangible tests, it is clear that while one day the
Palestinian state could come into existence, today the Palestinian entity has
not achieved the status of statehood.”
The five-page paper states that
under the accepted principles of international law going back to the Montevideo
Convention of 1933, there are four prerequisites for statehood: a permanent
population; defined territory; effective government; and a capacity to enter
into relations with other states.
Regarding its permanent population, the
paper stated that the Palestinians have “been ambiguous about which group of
people would constitute the permanent population of their state.”
Palestinians seem to be seeking to establish a new state, and at the same time
preserve the status of Palestinians living in the diaspora as so-called
‘refugees,’” the document continued.
“As part of this effort, they have
presented contradictory positions, wanting to continue to represent all
Palestinians on refugee-related claims, but, at the same time, stating that they
do not intend to grant citizenship to members of the Palestinian
According to the document, this is an “internal contradiction”
that necessarily leads to ambiguity on the population issue since a state can
only represent the claims of its own citizens.
The document cited a
report in Lebanon’s Daily Star
newspaper in which Abdullah Abdullah, the
Palestinian ambassador to Lebanon, said the future Palestinian state would not
be issuing Palestinian passports to refugees – even refugees living in the West
Bank and Gaza.
As to the prerequisite of effective government, the
document said it would be difficult to argue that the Palestinians presently
meet the most basic test of effective governmental control of the territories
they are claiming within their state.
“Hamas continues to exercise full
control of the Gaza Strip,” the document read. “Despite the signing by Fatah and
Hamas of a so-called ‘Reconciliation Agreement’ in May 2011, nothing has changed
Palestinian Authority leadership, which submitted the UN
request for membership, is completely excluded from responsibility in Gaza and
retains no control in Gaza.”
One glaring example of this lack of
effective control is that Abbas himself has been unable to visit Gaza since
Hamas seized control there in 2007.
In addition to a lack of control over
Gaza, the Palestinians also do not have control over the West Bank, with some 60
percent effectively under full- Israeli control, as part of Area
“Therefore,” the document reads, “the Palestinians would have a
difficult time demonstrating effective control over most of the territory they
are currently claiming, both regarding the West Bank and Gaza.”
also argues that “recent trends” suggest other criteria as well when considering
whether an entity is a state: that it be based on a “lawful claim of statehood;”
that it commit itself to international law, human rights and global peace; and
that it constitute a viable entity. On each of these counts, the paper argued,
the Palestinians fell short.
Additional details of Israel’s legal
arguments against the Palestinian statehood bid will appear in Friday’s