April 10: Accord or treaty?

No one should be surprised that there is confusion over whether the Annapolis accord was ratified.

letters 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
letters 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Accord or treaty? Sir, - No one should be surprised that there is confusion over whether the Annapolis accord was ratified ("Who Killed Annapolis?" Editorial, April 3). First, ratification normally applies to treaties, and it is not clear that the Annapolis accord is a treaty. Second, Israel does not have a formal, logical procedure for ratifying treaties. You chide Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman for saying that the Israeli government did not ratify the Annapolis accord, and contend that the cabinet endorsed it. Depending on what one means by "the Israeli government" and by ratification, both statements are true. But neither contention has legal significance. If Lieberman meant that the Annapolis accord was not brought to the Knesset for approval, he is correct. But such approval is not necessary under Israeli law. It may also be correct that the cabinet (sometimes confusingly referred to in Hebrew as "the government") endorsed the accord; but such endorsement does not constitute ratification, neither in Israel nor in virtually any country. Ratification of a treaty typically requires approval by a specified majority of the legislature before it binds a nation. Unfortunately, this is not the law in Israel. Here, when the prime minister signs a treaty, we are bound internationally without any prior action by the Knesset. Knesset approval is required only to make the treaty part of our domestic law. We were bound internationally by the Oslo Agreement when Rabin signed it on the White House lawn. It now appears that the new government is reviewing "all diplomatic components" from Oslo to the Road Map ("Government reconsidering road map," Monday, April 6). Let us hope that the new Knesset will have the courage to define which international agreements are treaties and therefore require ratification, and to provide that a treaty must be ratified by a majority of the lawmakers before it becomes effective. JAN SOKOLOVSKY Jerusalem Try again Sir, - Based on the way the media and the world have reacted to our new government - if only Tzipi Livni had won, peace would be breaking out; oh, and with Avigdor Lieberman in the government, Israel has shown its true "racist" face... ("Egypt's FM says he won't shake hands with Lieberman. PM silent and diplomats confused after Israel Beiteinu head's diplomatic bombshell on Annapolis," April 3). Of course, when Lieberman and his party were in the Kadima government, he was kosher. For the last three years, Kadima tried to make peace by offering the most generous concessions that any Israeli government has ever made. We were greeted by a Hamas "electoral" victory in Gaza and constant shelling in the south. Maybe we need a new approach in negotiating with her our neighbors. unilateral concessions do not impress our adversaries, or gain us brownie points with our allies. SHLOMO LOSHINSKY Ma'aleh Adumim