International law is under the microscope this week and the examination will determine whether a rules based world order is a reality or a figment of the imagination spouted for effect by various world leaders and players but amounting to no more than a fairy-tale. Do international laws actually apply in the world or are they as useful as a chocolate teapot?
Make no mistake about it, the Israeli plan which was announced in January to extend its presence in Palestine and unilaterally annexe another thirty percent of Palestinian land, including some of the most arable and productive areas necessary for Palestinian food production, is illegal. No ifs or buts or maybes. In the eyes of international law and the world such action by Israel is against the law. Arguments over the morality or justice of nation state actions across the globe will always be contentious and generate biased debate but the planned annexation actions of Israel do not enter that category. There is no debate. Under international law they are illegal.
The Illegality of Israel’s Annexation Plan is Not A Matter of Debate
I covered the details of this illegal land grab plan in an earlier column, but the tide of opposition and condemnation has only grown since then. The plan has been unanimously opposed by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation representing 57 nations. Unanimously rejected by the Arab League of nations representing 22 countries. And the United Nations most senior international law chief, the body representing 193 independent states, only yesterday confirmed the illegality of the plan in the clearest terms possible. Michelle Bachelet the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights said:
“Annexation is illegal. Period. Any annexation. Whether it is 30 percent of the West Bank, or 5 percent. I urge Israel to listen to its own former senior officials and generals, as well as to the multitude of voices around the world, warning it not to proceed along this dangerous path.”
“The precise consequences of annexation cannot be predicted. But they are likely to be disastrous for the Palestinians, for Israel itself, and for the wider region. The Secretary-General of the United Nations has called on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plans, and I back that call one hundred percent.”
“As many others have noted, any attempt to annex any part of the occupied Palestinian territory will not only seriously damage efforts to achieve lasting peace in the region, it is likely to entrench, perpetuate and further heighten serious human rights violations that have characterized the conflict for decades”
Only United States Backs Israel’s Illegal Intentions
The one nation which stands behind Israel in support of this grotesquely illegal plan with its horrendous human rights violations implications is the United States. Donald Trump has obscenely called the move a ‘Peace Plan’ while his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has incredulously said the illegal annexation plan is ‘up to Israel to decide’. This political chicanery is outrageously irresponsible and riven with extremely dangerous consequences. In the face of world-wide opposition and condemnation of an action declared illegal under international law and a violation of human rights the United States of America’s official response is ‘its up to Israel to decide’.
If ever any lingering doubts about the suitability of the US to act as a self-appointed world policeman and arbiter of international remained, they must surely be extinguished completely by their role in relation to Israel and Palestine. According to the highest authority on international law Israel’s existing settlements within Palestinian territory are already illegal, ‘Settlements – already a clear violation of international law’, but now the US is prepared to endorse an even greater illegal land grab in the face world opposition across regions, continents and political divisions. It is a shameful and disgraceful political stance to adopt.
This is a Watershed Moment for Relevance of International Law
The United Nations Secretary General has described the Israeli annexation plan as ‘a watershed moment’ in the history of the Middle East and international rule of law:
“If implemented, annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law, grievously harm the prospect of a two-State solution and undercut the possibilities of a renewal of negotiations. I call on the Israeli Government to abandon its annexation plans”.
The unilateral, illegal, and wholly unjustified Israeli annexation of Palestine plan must not just be delayed but ditched completely. The world must not stand idly by and witness the effective destruction of an independent nation state as Palestine simply cannot viably exist if the thirty percent land grab goes ahead.
Israel must not be permitted by the world to further destroy Palestine and end the prospect of the two-state solution endorsed by the world community.