Whose international law?

There is absolutely no legal sanctity today to the 1949 armistice line.

A stone-thrower stands next to a tire set ablaze during clashes with police in Shuafat. (photo credit: REUTERS)
A stone-thrower stands next to a tire set ablaze during clashes with police in Shuafat.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Yara Dowani, writing in The Jerusalem Post on November 4 (“More police are not the answer in east Jerusalem”), invokes international law repeatedly.
First she refers to “the occupation.”
And then, when alluding to the police and military presence in Shuafat, she writes: “If Palestinians in Shuafat are throwing stones at the Israeli light rail while it’s passing through, it is for a reason.
That reason is very clear: the light rail is considered to be illegal by international law, and allowing it to pass through normalizes the illegal situation in that area. So I think it is totally understandable and normal that Palestinians resist its presence.”
This is a startling – indeed shocking – statement on several counts. But let’s start with the matter of “international law” – a term that is invoked very freely.
Dowani’s position, clearly, is that Israel is an “illegal occupier” everywhere over the 1949 armistice line (often erroneously referred to as the “1967 border”). That is the position embraced by the Palestinian Authority and by the several nations that support the PA stance. But in point of fact, it is not supported by international law.
Everything from the 1949 armistice line east to the Jordan River is unclaimed Mandate Land – for the League of Nations, in 1922, charged Britain with administering this area, allocated as a Jewish Homeland. The Mandate was truly an article in international law and has never been superseded. It is not possible for Israel to be an “occupier” in land that was intended for Jews in the first place.
Security Council Resolution 242 – passed after the war in 1967, when Israel had liberated eastern Jerusalem and all of Judea and Samaria from an illegal Jordanian occupation – did not require Israel to return behind the 1949 armistice line. The final border, declared this resolution, would be determined via negotiations. That was the position of the original armistice agreement between Israel and Jordan as well: the armistice line was temporary and the final border would be determined by negotiations.
There is absolutely no legal sanctity today to the 1949 armistice line.
This is the case for all of Judea and Samaria. As far as the area of Jerusalem where Shuafat is located is concerned, there is yet another dimension to the legal story.
Dowani refers to “east Jerusalem,” which lends the impression that it is somehow legally separate from “west Jerusalem.”
Yet this is not the case, for, in 1980, Israeli basic law was amended to recognize all of Jerusalem, united, as the capital of Israel.
After all of this is said, there are yet other points that Dowani makes – related to her first – that must be addressed: She claims that because Israel is in Shuafat “illegally,” it is “understandable and normal” that the Palestinian Arab residents there would throw stones at the Jerusalem light rail, which, in passing through Shuafat, “normalizes an illegal situation.”
This is an outrageous position.
There is no justification – ever – for threatening the safety of civilians riding the light rail.
What is more, Dowani is highly selective in objecting to the rail line as something that “normalizes” the Israeli “occupation” of the eastern part of Jerusalem. For she seems to have no trouble with other aspects of Israeli administration of the city.
It is exceedingly likely that the stone throwers possess Jerusalem residency cards.
This gives them all sorts of perks and benefits, which they receive gladly. I don’t see anyone suggesting that they renounce these benefits in protest against Israeli “occupation” – even though receipt of these perks “normalizes” the fact that Israel is the administrator of Jerusalem.
How’s that for having your cake and eating it too? What I can envision, very readily, is what would have been said by Palestinian Arab residents of Shuafat had the light rail circumvented their area: they would have protested that this was “apartheid,” and that Israel treats them shabbily.
In truth, Dowani’s words about the presence of soldiers and police everywhere provided me with a certain comfort.
How disingenuous she is when she asks what the police and soldiers and helicopters flying overhead are looking for. Given the recent violence, it’s not possible that she doesn’t know. She believes in freedom, she tells us. Well, I, as a Jewish citizen of Israel and resident of Jerusalem, believe in freedom too: the freedom to be able to move about the city everywhere without fearing rock throwers and worse.
The author, a writer, author and blogger, is co-chair of the Legal Grounds Campaign.