NGO's lawsuit against Clinton not expected to have impact

NGOs lawsuit against Cl

Though the Office for Israeli Constitutional Law may soon bring a lawsuit against US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, former Israeli ambassador to Canada and legal expert Alan Baker believes Clinton has little reason to worry. As the The Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday, the OFICL recently sent Clinton a letter threatening to sue, since her labeling of Jewish settlements in the West Bank as "illegal" contradicts the 1924 Anglo-American Convention, in which the United States formally accepted the borders put forth in the British Mandate of 1922. According to OFICL, when the US signed the 1924 treaty, America's policy became one that forever allowed Jews to settle in what is now the West Bank. But Baker, who now works at a Tel Aviv law firm, said he does not believe the case would be taken very seriously. "I'm quite skeptical," he said. "Times have changed, new states have arisen, the situation in the Middle East has changed and US interests and policies have changed. So I doubt very much whether [OFICL] will be able to glean from the [1924] agreement anything that reflects on the situation today." Baker cited the founding of the State of Israel in 1948, the peace treaties with Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994, and the various United Nations Security Council resolutions as having substantially lessened the importance the Anglo-American Convention. However, Baker did agree with OFICL's opinion that the settlers' activities are not illegal. "They are not, in Israel's view, prohibited by international law and their status remains subject to whatever political agreement will be forthcoming in the permanent status negotiations," Baker said. Baker also cited the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, signed by Clinton's husband and then-president Bill Clinton as a more recent example of the United States accepting settlers' actions as legitimate. "The Israeli-Palestinian Agreement permits each side to go ahead with planning, zoning and building in the areas under their respective jurisdictions," Baker said. "Israel's continued presence in the areas is with the agreement of the Palestinians, and thus can not be regarded-even by the Americans-as occupation, because they themselves are signatories to the same statement." And since both the Palestinians and Americans agreed to accept the settlers' activities, Baker believes that the 1995 treaty would serve as a more effective tool in combating Clinton's rhetoric. "I think that basing the criticism of Secretary Clinton's statement on the [1995 treaty] is far more relevant to the legal situation today than the argumentation put forward by OFICL," Baker said.