Special to Washington Jewish Week
Granted UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) membership, “Palestine” seeks recognition of statehood with a vote from the U.N. Security Council. Palestinian Authority officials should be careful what they wish for.
The P.A. seeks sovereignty so, among other things, it can haul Israelis before the U.N.’s International Criminal Court on “war crimes” charges.
Yet Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia and Egypt, for example, have not joined the ICC.
One reason, according to Prof. Robbie Sabel, former legal adviser to the Israeli Foreign Ministry, is that they don’t want their citizens exposed to war crimes prosecution. Terrorism is such a crime.
P.A. President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed as heroes terrorists freed by Israel in October in exchange for kidnapped Sgt. Gilad Shalit, held five years by Hamas in the Gaza Strip. More than the 1933 Montevideo Convention on the Rights and Duties of States – which requires a unified government in control of its own territory – stands between the P.A. and legal endorsement of it as the 22nd Arab country. So does Palestinian behavior.
Provisions of the Israeli-Palestinian Sept. 28, 1995, Interim Agreement on the West Bank and Gaza Strip require the Palestinian Arabs to end anti-Israel terrorism and incitement. The P.A. has never fulfilled these pledges.
In fact, in a symbolic “two-fer,” the person the P.A. chose to present a statehood request in September at U.N. offices in Ramallah was Latifah Abu Hmeid. She is the Palestinians’ widely honored “mother of martyrs” – seven terrorist sons.
U.N.-affiliated courts recently have convicted Congolese and Rwandan leaders on crimes ranging from use of child soldiers to incitement to genocide. Palestinian officials are similarly vulnerable.
P.A. television, newspapers, mosque sermons, school curriculum and summer camps foment – in violation of the 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child – hatred of Jews, delegitimization of Israel and a cult of “martyrdom” among Palestinian children. Likewise the use by Abbas’ Fatah movement, as well as by Hamas, of countless child soldiers (those under 18). During the 2000-2005 second Intifada, Palestinian terrorist groups dispatched several dozen children in attempted or successful suicide bombings.
Then there’s the 1948 U.N. Convention for the prevention and punishment of crimes of genocide. Denial of Jewish peoplehood and history in the land of Israel, insistence that “Arab Palestine” includes all of the Jewish state and celebration of “martyrdom operations” (suicide bombings) contradict the convention and the U.N. requirement that member states be “peace-loving.”
Also on the wrong side of history and law are incessant charges of illegality regarding Israeli occupation and settlements, frequently reiterated by Abbas and his colleagues. Israel gained the West Bank disputed territories in successful self-defense in the 1967 Six-Day War and similarly retained them in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. It remains the legitimate military occupational authority until peace is negotiated.
In some respects, Israel’s West Bank presence resembles that of the victorious World War II Allies in post-1945 Germany, except that Israel, unlike the Allies, has territorial claims. Jewish rights in Judea and Samaria (renamed the West Bank under Jordanian occupation), as well as the rest of Palestine, were confirmed by the World War I Allies at the 1920 San Remo Conference.
The subsequent League of Nations’ Palestine Mandate, exercised by Great Britain, called in Article 6 for “close Jewish settlement on the land” west of the Jordan River. The United Nations, under which the British continued the mandate, incorporated Article 6 via U.N. Charter Article 80 (the so-called “Palestine” article).
Further, the 1949 Israeli-Jordanian armistice agreement, which set a temporary frontier between Israel and the West Bank, did not prejudice Jewish claims. Likewise, Security Council Resolution 242 does not call for complete Israeli withdrawal from territories gained in the Six-Day War.
The more Palestinian leaders insist on “international legitimacy” while celebrating terrorists and condemning settlements as illegal, the more Israel and the United States might want to hold them to it.
The author is Washington director of CAMERA, the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America. Any opinions expressed above are solely his own.