January 1: The vote to annex

"Can anyone name one thing the Palestinians have done to give us the confidence that they want to live with us in peace?"

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
The vote to annex
Sir, – The recent ministerial vote (“Palestinians attack symbolic ministerial vote to annex Jordan Valley,” December 30) sends a clear message to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and US Secretary of State John Kerry that Israel will not willingly commit suicide.
While our peace negotiator, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni, ignores everything the Palestinians do and places blame on her co-ministers, PA President Mahmoud Abbas and his crew continue to glorify terrorists, incite their public against Israel and abrogate every agreement they ever made.
The mere fact that the first thing the Palestinians demanded before agreeing to resume talks was the release of terrorists – who would have received the death penalty in any other country – is a clear signal about who our “partners” for peace are.
Can anyone name one thing the Palestinians have done to give us the confidence that they want to live with us in peace? The prime minister has spoken about making tough decisions.
The first tough decision should be an affirmation of the Levy Report, which clearly states that we have the right to be controlling and living on the land promised to our forefathers.
One can only hope that the Netanyahu who made all those beautiful speeches while in the opposition is the real Netanyahu.
Sir, – As a member of Machsom Watch who visits the Palestinian hamlets and villages in the Jordan Valley regularly, I cannot help but notice the huge difference between the basic services available to Jewish settlements and those available to the Palestinians.
Would an annexation after more than 45 years of occupation mean that the Palestinian residents will finally enjoy the benefits of running water, electricity and a sewage system in their villages? Would it mean that education and medical care will be available to them, just as it is to the Jewish settlements? Would it mean that the random checkpoints preventing Palestinian families from traveling from one point in the Jordan Valley to another will now be removed? Or would it be an excuse for the continued violation of the human rights of some of the inhabitants, the continued military intrusion into their lives, and the continued denial of basic services?
AVIVA HAY Even Yehuda
Raisins in a cake
Sir, – Daniel Steiman (“The settlements are illegal under international law,” Comment & Features, December 30) follows the traditional script of the 4th Geneva Convention, picking arguments to boost his contention, like raisins in a cake, and ignoring decisive aspects of international law. The convention does not exist in a vacuum.
While Israel’s conquest of Samaria, Judea and the Gaza Strip in June 1967 is the starting date of the “occupation” in the minds of its opponents, it is by no means the legal starting date of Israel’s rights or claims to the territories. That’s akin to accusing the Allies of occupying Normandy on D-Day because they took over territory formerly in German hands. The forgoing history must be referenced, something that anti-settlement proponents religiously ignore.
The Palestine Mandate Declaration of 1922, ratified by an overwhelming majority of members of the League of Nations, specified that the roughly 20 percent remaining of Palestine, which included the West Bank and Gaza, was intended for a Jewish homeland and, specifically, “close settlement” by the Jews. It is an instrument of international law.
Additionally, the Balfour Declaration, often dismissed by Israel’s opponents as only a statement of intent, is also an instrument of international law, having gained that status by being referenced verbatim in the mandate declaration, which was further enshrined in international law by having its rights and terms ratified in the UN charter – which, ironically, is something every state must endorse upon becoming a member.
Sir, – Just like a magician who directs his audience’s attention only to what he wants it to see in order to pull off his sleight of hand, Daniel Steiman misleads your readers by conveniently ignoring the most important fact of all: The Jewish people’s legal right to all of Palestine was recognized, endorsed and ratified into law by the League of Nations in 1922 (Palestine Mandate) and again in 1945 by its successor, the UN.
Sir, – Daniel Steiman argues that Article 49(6) to the 4th Geneva Convention prohibits settlement activity.
As noted by the Permanent Court of International Justice – the preeminent international law body of its time – the starting point of any discussion on international legal norms must be that “[t]he rules of law binding upon States… emanate from their own free will.” Accordingly, as stated by its successor, the International Court of Justice, upon interpreting an international treaty one must place emphasis on its basic text and seek to discern the intention of its drafters.
In regard to the 4th Geneva Convention, which prohibits transferring “parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies,” the term “transfer,” in its natural meaning, would involve more proactivity than merely providing the incentives that Israel practices.
(Do we consider providing incentives to olim, even housing, a transfer?) This conforms to the intentions of those who drafted the convention, who were concerned merely with addressing those acts as they had taken place in World War II.
The question might arise: How does international law develop over time to reflect the changing “free will” of states? For solving this problem, an accepted form of treaty interpretation provides that subsequent state behavior (“state practice”) toward an agreement is to be referred to.
As observed by Prof. Eugene Kontorovich, almost every state that has occupied another territory (such as Turkey, China, Armenia and Indonesia) has allowed for settlement activity – even more proactively than does Israel – yet are subject to nearly no condemnation.
ORI POMSON Jerusalem The writer is a teaching assistant in the field of international law at the law faculty of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.
Sir, – While I am a complete layman, with no knowledge of international law whatsoever, Daniel Steiman’s explanation of the legal status of the disputed territories starts from an arbitrary point between 1949 and 1967, when all Jews living in Judea and Samaria who survived the War of Independence had been illegally expelled from their homes and their communities.
During the British Mandate, Jews and Arabs lived side by side.
The illegal removal of the Jews cannot cancel their rights to legally purchased properties and to living in the region. Surely, once the illegal occupier (in this case, the Jordanians) was removed, Jews were entitled to reestablish their communities.
Choice of words
Sir, – In “Releasing Arab terrorists proves Jewish blood is cheap, say those protesting prisoner release” (December 30), reporter Daniel K. Eisenbud says about the protesters: “This sentiment, accompanied by palpable rage, was reiterated ad nauseam Sunday by a cross section of Israelis....”
Ad nauseam? What chutzpah! How could protesting the release of murderers be ad nauseam? I am incensed by your reporter’s choice of words.
Ma’aleh Adumim
Daniel K. Eisenbud responds: The term “ad nauseam” was solely meant to convey the collective, overwhelming disgust of those present at the protest.
When the piece is read in its entirety, I believe it is quite evident how much respect and compassion was rightly expressed for these victims and their bereaved families.