A view from Israel: The morning after

Israelis may soon find themselves in the defendant’s seat at The Hague if the Palestinians succeed in becoming a non-member state at the UN.

By ISRAEL KASNETT
September 23, 2011 16:11
A view from Israel: The morning after

icc hague 248 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Today, Israel and the Palestinians each take their case to the United Nations, one in an effort to create a state, the other to thwart it.

It is almost a foregone conclusion that the Palestinians will become a non-member state and will have access to UN bodies such as the International Criminal Court (ICC) and the International Court of Justice (ICJ) from which to continue their onslaught against the Jewish people.

Make no mistake about it – this is another attempt to delegitimize Israel. Let us go back to Mahmoud Abbas’s New York Times article on May 16, in which he iterated his belief that Israel has been an occupier for 63 years, thus denying Israel’s right to exist. He wrote, “Our quest for recognition as a state should not be seen as a stunt.”

He also wrote, “The State of Palestine intends to be a peace-loving nation, committed to human rights, democracy, the rule of law and the principles of the United Nations Charter.”

But he contradicts himself when he reminds us the real reason behind the effort to declare statehood unilaterally: “Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one. It would also pave the way for us to pursue claims against Israel at the United Nations, human rights treaty bodies and the International Court of Justice.”

Clearly, it has become imperative to shift our focus and mind-set elsewhere. Nearly gone, it seems, are the days of diplomacy and negotiations. The idea to let bygones be bygones seems to have vaporized. All Israel has left, at least in the near future, is to lead the legal battle that will now be waged in the (astoundingly) widely-respected ICJ.

If it is true, as Abbas declared in his article, that the Palestinians will now seek to vilify Israel through the international and legally viable options soon available to them, Israel will need a large and brilliant legal team to head off efforts to delegitimize it in international legal bodies.

If Palestine is accepted by the UN General Assembly as a non-member state, future fact-finding missions similar to the ridiculous one led by Richard Goldstone, which recommended the parties take the allegations of the report to the ICC, will prompt the Palestinians to take action – something they could not have done in the past.

Although the ICJ's opinions are just that – advisory opinions – and have no binding effect, its rulings do carry weight within the international community and decisions made against Israel could have far-reaching ramifications.

For this reason, it is already necessary, even before the UN vote on Palestinian statehood, to exit the offices of diplomats and enter the courthouse. The legal battle has now begun and Israel must focus on preventing its isolation on the legal battlefield by organizing a large team of lawyers well-versed in international law.

IN AN off-the-record meeting with the prime minister this week, I was pleased to observe his realist approach, steadfastness and determination to protect Israel against all efforts to delegitimize it, especially at the UN. It may be true that there is no better place for the nations of the world to hear the truth directly from the prime minister than at the UN, and the Palestinians have made crystal clear their intentions to continue fighting Israel – rather than attempting to make peace with it.

Yesterday’s diplomatic struggle is today’s legal one.

Tomorrow it will be fully military. Israel and the Quartet should insist that the Palestinians sign a declaration, similar to the Kellogg-Briand Pact of 1928, to renounce war as an instrument of national policy and hold them accountable in the future.

Furthermore, the culture of hatred against Jews that has so permeated Muslim culture and specifically Palestinian culture has practically eliminated any chance for peace. Palestinian leaders have denied their own people the right to a state for years and it is becoming apparent that the leadership is not necessarily representative of the constituency.

Will a Palestinian state be based on the consent of the governed and remain devoted to securing individual rights? That’s hard to believe.

Internal Palestinian fighting has become so intense that even if a Palestinian constitution ever comes into being, it is unlikely to begin with the words “We the People.”

It should be clearly evident, to even the casual observer, that the Palestinian leadership is once again misleading its people by shunning Israel’s overtures and requests for negotiations and instead choosing the path of least resistance by going to the UN, through which it can get the most international support.



Recently, The Wall Street Journal pointed out that there are other nations of the world with higher entitlement to a state than the Palestinians. The Kurds, for example, “one of the oldest ethnic groups in the world,” still do not have a state of their own. The same goes for “the Tamils of Sri Lanka, the Tibetans of China, the Basques of Spain, the Chechens of Russia or the Flemish of Belgium.”

Clearly, the Palestinians do not have a better claim to statehood and it is obvious that their only intention is to continue maligning Israel in any way possible.

As Abba Eban put it, “Those which want to perpetuate a deadlock and to prove that their adversary is at fault find the UN a congenial arena... The United Nations must decide what it wants to be: an instrument for solving conflicts or an arena for waging them.”

The ICJ and other UN bodies will find themselves convening over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict far more frequently than they do now and Israel had best be prepared.


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