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One State and Two State Advocacy are Both Counterproductive


The National Lawyers Guild instead calls for a campaign for Palestine based on principles of international law 

 

            The Israeli government has long benefited from disunity among Middle East peace activists divided into "one state" and "two state" camps. The Israeli government also benefits another way: Each of the competing campaigns legitimizes a different set of Israel‘s egregious violations of international law. Because together they legitimize more of Israel’s violations than either campaign alone the Israeli government benefits most from them both continuing to exist and competing with each other.

 

            Of course, either an actual Palestinian state or an actual unified country with equal rights for all would confer real benefits on Palestinians. But a legal organization or a peace movement calling for either a one-state solution or a two-state solution confers immediate benefits only on the Israeli government. This is because calling for either one of these final status outcomes has the legal organization or the peace movement legitimizing violation of fundamental principles of international law by the Israeli government and detracting from fundamental Palestinian rights.

 

            Inherent in advocating for a one-state solution that includes all of Israel plus the occupied West Bank and Gaza is legitimizing the Israeli government’s acquisition of territory by force in 1947-48 and 1967. Also inherent is legitimizing Israel‘s insertion of settlers on that occupied territory. Both the acquisition and the settlement are otherwise outlawed under international law.

 

            While a single democratic state, if it actually came into existence, could potentially redress certain Palestinian grievances, advocating for a single state confers no benefit on Palestinians and creates a problem for Palestinians that has no remedy. The advocacy de-legitimizes the fundamental prohibitions on acquisition of territory by force and inserting settlers on occupied territory and legitimizes the Israeli government’s violation of international law to acquire that territory and insert those settlers. The advocacy also reinforces the idea that international law has exceptions for Israel. The advocacy also detracts from the Palestinian right to self-determination. It also detracts from the Palestinian right to have its territory free of occupation and settlement.

 

            Similarly, inherent in most calls for the two-state solution is the legitimation of Israeli discrimination against its Palestinian citizens in the "Jewish state." Also inherent in most calls for the two state solution is legitimation of loss of the right to return for most Palestinian refugees. Also inherent in most calls for the two state solution is legitimation of Israeli acquisition by force of illegal settlement blocks on occupied territories. Also inherent is the legitimation of the acquisition of territory by force, destruction of over 500 Palestinian villages, ethnic cleansing, and building of settlements on Palestinian lands starting in 1947-48 by forces that became the Israeli government.

 

            To the extent that the Israeli government enjoys legitimacy for all these illegal actions provided by advocates for one state and two state solutions, the Israeli government has that much less reason to make either deal with the Palestinians.

 

            Avoiding these problems, the National Lawyers Guild adopted a resolution[1] to advocate for and build a movement based on fundamental principles of international law. The underlying principles enjoy wide support and avoid legitimizing any of Israel’s violations of international law. Building campaigns based on one or more of these principles also provide a way to overcome disunity, to include large numbers of people, and to increase pressure for change.

 

End Occupation, Equal Rights, Return of Refugees, End US aid

 

            The NLG resolution calls for:

 

(a) a complete Israeli withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from the territories acquired by force in 1967, including that Israel dismantle its walls, checkpoints, roadblocks, and other methods of control over Palestinians without requiring the Palestinians to agree to a "final status" of the conflict; (b) equal rights for all within Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries; (c) full implementation of the right of refugees and their descendants to return to their homes and villages and to receive just compensation, in accordance with international law and UN resolutions, and d) an end to U.S. military, economic and other assistance to Israel.

 

            While the NLG recognizes that some supporters of the "one state" or "two state" solutions may shrink from supporting one or another of these principles, each one stands at the heart of international law and human rights law. In addition, broad based campaigns against the occupation, for equal rights for all, and for return of refugees provide practical basis for unity in action.

 

End the occupation

 

            The call for the complete Israeli withdrawal of settlers and soldiers from the territories acquired by force in 1967 is consistent with article 2, section 4 of the UN Charter that prohibits "the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state."[2] It is also consistent with UN resolution 242 that affirms the "inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war," and requires "withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent [1967] conflict."[3] It is also consistent with General Assembly resolution 2625 that says, "no territorial acquisition resulting from the threat or use of force shall be recognized as legal."[4]

 

            Building a broadly supported worldwide movement against the Israeli occupation is especially important in view of Israel’s escalating pressure on the civilian population of the Palestinian occupied territories, particularly in Gaza. The Fourth Geneva Convention, adopted August 12, 1949, addresses how civilians are to be treated during armed conflict, including civilians living in militarily "occupied territory."[5] Article 146 of the Convention requires signatory countries to take steps to address "grave breaches" of the Convention, including searching for persons who have committed grave breaches and bringing them before the courts of the signatory countries.

 

            Article 147 defines the term "grave breaches" as follows:

 

Grave breaches to which the preceding Article relates shall be those involving any of the following acts, if committed against persons or property protected by the present Convention: wilful killing, torture or inhuman treatment, including biological experiments, wilfully causing great suffering or serious injury to body or health, unlawful deportation or transfer or unlawful confinement of a protected person, compelling a protected person to serve in the forces of a hostile Power, or wilfully depriving a protected person of the rights of fair and regular trial prescribed in the present Convention, taking of hostages and extensive destruction and appropriation of property, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.

 

            The Israeli government appears to have violated each of these grave breaches except biological experiments.

 

            The pressure against the civilian population includes food deprivation, destruction of agricultural land, destruction of infrastructure, home demolitions, diversion of aquifers, land expropriation and colonization in ethnically pure Jewish settlements on occupied territory, extrajudicial killings and targeted assassinations, detention without trial, mistreatment of prisoners, wall building, checkpoints, roadblocks, and restrictions on freedom of movement that limit access to health care, education, and employment.[6] With respect to the ethnically pure Jewish settlements on occupied territory, UN Security Council Resolution 465, adopted March 1, 1980, determined that Israel’s policy and practices of settling parts of its population and new immigrants in the Arab territories occupied since 1967 "constitute a flagrant violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention . . . and also constitute a serious obstruction to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in the Middle East."[7] Resolution 465 also "calls upon all States not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connexion with settlements in the occupied territories."

 

            The International Court of Justice decision, "Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory," decided by the justices in a 14-1 vote,[8] the 150-6 vote by the UN General Assembly demanding Israeli compliance with that decision on July 20, 2004,[9] and the 157-7 vote by the UN General Assembly in 2006 supporting the rights of the Palestinian people to self-determination and to an independent state, and which stressed the need for Israel to withdraw from the Palestinian territory it has occupied since 1967,[10] all demonstrate a strong international consensus.

 

            In a vote on Jerusalem, "the Assembly adopted a resolution reiterating its determination that any actions taken by Israel to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration on the HolyCity are illegal and, therefore, null and void, and had no validity whatsoever. It did so by a recorded vote of 157 in favour to 6 against (Israel, Marshall Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, United States), with 10 abstentions."[11]

 

            In its decision on the wall, the International Court of Justice found that "the Fourth Geneva Convention is applicable to the Palestinian territories which before the 1967 conflict lay to the east of the Green Line and which, during that conflict, were occupied by Israel."[12]

 

            The court further stated,

 

the information provided to the Court shows that, since 1977, Israel has conducted a policy and developed practices involving the establishment of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, contrary to the terms of Article 49, paragraph 6, of the Fourth Geneva Convention which provides: "The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies." The Security Council has taken the view that such policy and practices "have no legal validity" and constitute a "flagrant violation" of the Convention. The Court concludes that the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.[13]

 

            The Court also found that "the construction of the wall has led to the destruction or requisition of properties under conditions which contravene the requirements of Articles 46 and 52 of the Hague Regulations of 1907 and of Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention."[14]

 

            The court further found that

 

the construction of the wall and its associated régime impede the liberty of movement of the inhabitants of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (with the exception of Israeli citizens and those assimilated thereto) as guaranteed under Article 12, paragraph 1, of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. They also impede the exercise by the persons concerned of the right to work, to health, to education and to an adequate standard of living as proclaimed in the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.[15]

 

            The Court also found that the route of the wall "creates a ‘fait accompli’ on the ground that could well become permanent, in which case . . . it would be tantamount to de facto annexation." This would violate the prohibition of acquisition of territory by force. The Court further obligated all states "not to recognize the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall . . . not to render aid" to the Israeli government in its illegal activities, and "to see to it that any impediment, resulting from construction of the wall, to the exercise by the Palestinian people of its right to self-determination is brought to an end."[16]

 

            Further illustrating the consensus, in his book, Palestine Peace Not Apartheid, former President Jimmy Carter wrote,

 

The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American Policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens-and honor its own previous commitments-by accepting its legal borders. . . . It will be a tragedy-for the Israelis, the Palestinians, and the world-if peace is rejected and a system of oppression, apartheid, and sustained violence is permitted to prevail.

 

            A campaign against the occupation offers opportunity to unite with a broad range of groups and individuals in the US and around the world who want Israel out of the occupied Palestinian territories.

 

            A successful movement against the occupation can also limit the Israeli government’s ability to mount further aggressive wars of choice against neighboring countries, such as its attacks on Lebanon in 1948, 1978, 1982, 1993, 1996, and 2006, in which the Israeli government demonstrated a keen interest in acquiring Lebanese territory.[17] For example, starting on July 12, 2006, Israeli forces used massive bombing to depopulate the portion of Lebanon extending up to the Litani River. On August 11, 2006, the UN Security Council unanimously approved Resolution 1701 that called for a cease fire beginning 3 days later. Israel invaded on August 12 and attempted to occupy this area. Just before the UN Security Council cease fire came into effect on August 14, Israeli forces mined the area with millions of cluster bombs, dropped thousands of leaflets, and stationed soldiers along the Litani River to prevent civilians from returning. However, in a massive display of civil disobedience, on August 14, hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians defied orders from Israeli commanders, took to the roads immediately upon commencement of the cease fire, and returned home. This display of unity in action was a key factor forcing Israeli forces to withdraw.[18] On that occasion, united action by Lebanese civilians was successful in preventing a new occupation and settlement. Similarly, a worldwide movement against Israel’s occupations could restrict the Israeli government’s ability to mount such wars of aggression in the future. In view of the Israeli government’s recent attack on Gaza and its current threats against Iran, uniting against aggression and occupation is particularly important.

 

Equal Rights

 

            The call for "equal rights for all within Israel’s pre-1967 boundaries" is supported by the UN Charter, UN General Assembly Resolution 181, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 

            Article 1, section 2, of the UN Charter says that one of the purposes of the United Nations is "to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples." Article 55 calls for "respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples," and section (c) of article 55 calls for "universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion."[19]

 

            Concerning both the Jewish State and the Arab State that its plan of partition recommended, chapter 2 of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, adopted in 1947, says, "No discrimination of any kind shall be made between the inhabitants on the ground of race, religion, language or sex. All persons within the jurisdiction of the State shall be entitled to equal protection of the laws."[20]

 

            Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted in 1948, says, "All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights." Article 2 says,

 

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

 

            Article 7 says, "all are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination."[21]

 

            Article 26 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, adopted in 1966, says,

 

All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law. In this respect, the law shall prohibit any discrimination and guarantee to all persons equal and effective protection against discrimination on any ground such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.[22]

 

            The NLG’s 2007 resolution places the NLG in support of the growing campaign among Israeli Palestinians for equal rights within Israel as exemplified by Adalah–The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel.[23] The resolution notes that

 

Israel’s human rights violations are not limited to the Occupied Territories. Inside Israel, Palestinians are subjected to a system of de jure discrimination administered by the State and quasi-governmental entities. Land-ownership practices and harshly discriminatory immigration laws, for example, strongly favor Jewish citizens. Settlements serving only Jewish citizens have been massively supported by the State to facilitate Jewish immigration and to secure an expanded Jewish State.

 

            A campaign demanding equal rights for all within Israel is vital.

 

Return of Refugees

 

            The call for "full implementation of the right of refugees and their descendants to return to their homes and villages and to receive just compensation" is supported by the Fourth Geneva Convention, the 1907 Hague Regulations, UN General Assembly Resolution 181, UN Security Council Resolution 194, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, UN Security Council Resolution 242, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

 

            Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention says,

 

Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive. Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons do demand. Such evacuations may not involve the displacement of protected persons outside the bounds of the occupied territory except when for material reasons it is impossible to avoid such displacement. Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased. . . . The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.[24]

 

            Chapter 2 of UN General Assembly Resolution 181, says, "No expropriation of land owned by an Arab in the Jewish State (by a Jew in the ArabState) shall be allowed except for public purposes. In all cases of expropriation full compensation as fixed by the Supreme Court shall be said previous to dispossession."

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