Monday, June 18, 2012

"Jerusalem and Jewish Rights"

Arlene Kushner
Last week, Jacques Gauthier came to town for a conference on who has the rights to Jerusalem.  Gauthier, who is a lawyer specializing in international law, says, hands down, the Jews do.  What is significant here is that he is not Jewish, and arrived at his opinion not from the basis of religious conviction, but rather from an examination of the legal and historical facts.
His interest in Jerusalem began in 1982, when he traveled here; he subsequently devoted 25 years of study to the subject, culminating in a Ph.D. dissertation on the issue that runs for 1,300 pages and has 3,250 footnotes.
gauthier copy.jpg
Credit: CAMERA
Claims to the contrary notwithstanding (see below), Gauthier says that Jewish rights to Jerusalem are firmly established in international law.  His focus is on the San Remo Conference of April 24-25, 1920, which predated -- and established the legal basis for -- the Mandate for Palestine of 1922, which was founded on the Balfour Declaration of 1917.  This Mandate established Palestine as a homeland for the Jewish People.
The San Remo Conference was a gathering of the Supreme Council of Allied Powers, the five major victors of World War I, who were to determine how borders would be set for new nation-states to be carved out of the old Ottoman Empire and how mandates would be established.  (Mandates were temporary governorships assigned to European nations of areas in the Middle East that were slated to eventually be ruled independently but were not ready yet to do so.)  The division of Europe had been determined at the earlier Paris Peace Conference of 1919 -- the San Remo Conference was a follow-up to this.
Gauthier says this conference was the "final hearing" of a "world court," with this the "key defining moment in history" on the issue of the title to Jerusalem.  He draws upon the legal principle of "la chose jugée" (judged issue) -- indicating that all legal rights and claims recognized by the Supreme Council became irreversible, binding forever in a "sacred trust."
Gauthier, who sees these questions of Jerusalem as touching upon human rights issues, says that Jerusalem is holy to all three major religions, but is central only to Judaism.
You can see a two-part YouTube (each part about 10 minutes) of a TV interview of Gauthier, which provides a broad overview, here:
A more thorough hour-long analysis (a presentation for the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem) can be seen here:
Let's switch gears for a moment and take a look at what EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in an address to the European Parliament last week.  I have just written about increasing anti-Semitism in Europe, and I think her blatantly anti-Israel bias, as reflected here, is of a piece with this.
Declared Ashton, settlements represent the "key and most serious concern" with regard to the peace process.  Not Abbas's refusal to come to the table, or the continuing incitement of the PA, or the PA's readiness to form a coalition with Hamas, but "settlements."  This is her constant refrain, and I mention it here in order to put the lie to her claims.
According to her, not only do "settlements" "put current peace efforts at risk," they are illegal under international law.  But they are not.  What is more, Israel builds in Judea and Samaria almost exclusively within the boundaries of existing communities, and is not, as is frequently charged, forever spreading out over a greater area of Judea and Samaria.
She says the EU is opposed to Israeli development in area C, but wants to see Israel facilitate Arab development in this area.  But area C is the region of Judea and Samaria that, according to the Oslo Accords, is fully under Israeli military and civil control.  Demanding Palestinian Arab development here is a new Abbas tactic, and she's fully on board with it.
Perhaps most significantly, she says that the EU will not recognize any change to the pre-1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem (which means the Kotel and the Temple Mount would not be in Jewish hands), unless both parties consent. 
Now, you've heard it here a thousand times. And if you listen to the Gauthier videos you'll hear it as well from this international lawyer: The 1967 line, otherwise referred to as the Green Line, was nothing more than a temporary armistice line established between Israel and Jordan at the end of the War of Independence in 1949.  It has no legal status as a border.  What is more, Security Council Resolution 242, passed after the war in 1967, says Israel does not have to return to that line, as it would not provide a secure border.  The final border, said this resolution, has to be determined via negotiations.  This is what the Armistice Agreement of 1949 said, as well.
But none of this deters Catherine Ashton, who is eager to establish the outcome before negotiations to resolve the issue are held.
For me, what all of this proves is that there is no way to satisfy the international community.  We must in all respects proceed in the manner that is in our best interest.
PA negotiator Saeb Erekat, who is about to leave for the US to confer with Secretary of State Clinton, has put out this statement:
"I was assigned by President Abbas to inform US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton of our position on resuming negotiations once Israel commits to stopping settlement activity and release of prisoners, among other obligations... "We hope the American administration compels the Israeli government to fulfill its obligations in order to get the peace process back on track."
At a conference in Ramallah, Abbas said:
"The peace process is clinically dead and the Israeli side is definitely the one responsible.  The ball is in their court."
Well, the peace process damn well is dead, and Netanyahu had best attend to business here at home.  In an attempt to appease nationalists with regard to Ulpana's partial demolition by July 1, he has made all sorts of pledges regarding building in Judea and Samaria, starting with 300 units in Beit El.
Already there are rumors that Netanyahu knew when he made this pledge for the 300 units that it would not be feasible: allegedly this is based on the opinion of Deputy Attorney General Mike Blass. Don't know if the rumors are true, but I do know that I'm uneasy, and concerned, lest he back down to show the international community our "sincere intent."
Minister of Security Affairs Moshe (Bogie) Ya'alon, in an interview with Mikor Rishon on Friday, said that:
"I helped formulate the outline on Ulpana. It would be a disaster if the 300 houses are not built. It would be a breach of trust towards me, towards the Prime Minister and towards the public."
This implies that Netanyahu didn't know when he made the pledge that it might not be feasible.  But I cannot comment on this.  
What does seem apparent already, however -- and this is a considerable disappointment -- is that the committee the prime minister promised to appoint to oversee settlement issues will not in any way impinge on the authority of Defense Minister Barak, although this was broadly understood in many quarters. (Was Netanyahu content to allow this misunderstanding to persist?)
According to Barak Ravid, writing in Haaretz:
" examination of the details of that submission [to the Cabinet of the plan for the committee] reveals that the defense minister's authority on West Bank issues remains untouched."
"'The decision does not diminish the prime minister and defense minister's authority, as stated in government decisions, according to which the defense minister has the authority to approve construction and planning in the West Bank,' Barnea-Farago [legal advisor to the Prime Minister's Office] wrote."
In addition to Netanyahu and Barak, those sitting on the committee will be Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz,  Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, Science and Technology Minister Daniel Hershkowitz, Interior Minister Eli Yishai, Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, Minister Benny Begin, Public Diplomacy and Diaspora Affairs Yuli Edelstein, Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, and Environmental Protection Minster Gilad Erdan.
For further details:
I want to call your attention here to an interview of Moshe Ya'alon with Ari Shavit in the Haaretz Magazine.  It is in unofficial translation from the original Hebrew on the IMRA website.
The very significant core of it all is here (with all emphasis added):
Q:. Is the result that we already face the cruel dilemma of a bomb [in Iran's possession] or to bomb [Iran to prevent this]?
A: We're not there yet...The international community can still act firmly and decisively. There may be other developments too. But if the question is a bomb or to bomb [the] answer is clear: to bomb.
Q:. We survived the Cold War.... Is it not fair to say that just as Europe lived in the past with the Soviet bomb we could live in the future with the Shiite bomb?
A: No ...if Iran becomes nuclear, four - five other countries in the Middle East can become nuclear. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, Jordan and other Arab states say that if Iran has the bomb also they need the bomb. The result will be a nuclear Middle East. A nuclear Middle East would not be stable... Nuclearization of Iran would lead to nuclear chaos.
The second answer to your question is a nuclear umbrella would allow Iran to achieve regional hegemony... Nuclear Iran could dominate the Persian Gulf energy sources and a very large share of world oil supplies. There would be far-reaching international implications...
The third answer to the third to your question is that one day the Iranian regime might use its nuclear capability it. That does not mean that the day after they have a bomb they send it on a plane or a missile and drop it on a western city. But there is a danger of using nuclear weapons by proxy. Terrorist organization with a dirty bomb could bring it into New York Harbor or the Port of London or the Port of Haifa. I also do not exclude the possibility of a direct nuclear weapons attack with missile. The risk is
indeed low but it exists. This extreme scenario is not impossible.
A Western observer takes the fantastic aspirations of the Iranian leadership with a grin. "What do they think, they will convert us to Islam?" The surprising answer is yes. They think they will convert us. The current regime in Tehran wants it that in the long run the Western world will become Muslim. Therefore we need to understand their rationale is completely different from our rationality. Concepts are different and the considerations are different. They are in no way like the former Soviet
Union...It is impossible to contain a nuclear Iran and achieve stability under such circumstances. The consequences of a nuclear Iran are intolerable.
Q: ...The feeling is that Israel cries wolf, is playing a sophisticated game of "hold me back".
A: There is one thing is very important that speakers of English understand it: We are not bluffing. If political and economic pressure fails and other alternatives exhaust themselves and
Iran continues to race toward the bomb, it will require decisions.

Q: There is a danger the Iranian crisis will culminate in the coming year?
A: Once we talked about a decade. Then we talked about for years. Now we're
talking about months. ...
Over Shabbat, two Grad Katyusha rockets were fired into Israel.  Friday night one landed in the Arava near Uvda; Saturday, one landed near Mitzpe Ramon in the Negev.  There were no injuries, and the question as to whether these came from Egypt or Jordan is currently being investigated.
And I end today with a story designed to bring a smile.  I think we need every smile we can get!
After (groan) an 18-month pregnancy, Tendra, a 20 year old white rhino in the Ramat Gan Safari park near Tel Aviv, has given birth to a healthy calf (gender yet undetermined as I write).  This is of significance because the while rhino in an endangered species and difficult to breed in captivity.
Tendra, who previously showed herself to be a good mother, had one other calf in the park.
A baby rhino was born to mother Tendra at the Ramat Gan Safari on Friday (photo credit: Tibor jager/Ramat Gan Safari/Flash90)
Credit: Tibor jager/Ramat Gan Safari/Flash90
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