Israel lobby groups engaged in propaganda, intimidation and smear campaigns ahead of vote.
Newly released Palestinian lawmaker helped imprisoned women and girls pass their secondary school exams.
By Victor Kattan
U.S. President Donald Trump’s formal recognition of the Golan Heights – captured from Syria in the June 1967 War – as part of Israel could be considered even more dangerous than his decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
To be sure, the Golan Heights do not have the emotional attachment Jerusalem has. But from a legal perspective, Israeli scholars had at least fashioned plausible legal arguments in support of Israel’s claim to Jerusalem, even though these claims are being challenged by the Palestinians at the International Court of Justice. When it comes to the Golan Heights, however, Israel has never articulated a plausible legal argument to retain it.
Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights is based on security, not legal title. The territory was never included in the British mandate of Palestine. It was never promised to the Jewish people by the League of Nations. It was never mentioned in the UN Partition Plan. It was part of the French mandate for Syria, and part of the Syrian Arab Republic before it was captured.
The Golan Heights will continue to remain occupied Syrian territory, whatever U.S. President Trump said when he met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington.
The Golan Heights remain Syrian territory, not just because Syria, Turkey, Iran, Russia, and the Arab League say so. (For the record, the EU, France, Germany, the Gulf Cooperation Council, and the United Kingdom, have also made it clear that they do not recognize Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights and have no plans to recognize it).
The Golan Heights remain Syrian because that acquisition of territory, even if acquired in a war of “self-defense,” violates a fundamental tenet of the international legal order: the non-acquisition of territory by force.
This is why the UN Security Council called on Israel to withdraw from the Golan Heights in 1967 and why it decided that Israel’s 1981 decision “to impose its laws, jurisdiction and administration in the occupied Syrian Golan Heights is null and void and without international legal effect.”
Let me be clear: Israel’s decision to annex the Golan Heights was legally wrong, not just because the Security Council or any other state said it was wrong. It was wrong because the international community has prohibited the acquisition of territory by war since 1945. And the reason why the international community prohibited recognizing the acquisition of territory by armed conflict was in order to discourage further conflict by revisionist powers.
This prohibition formed the cornerstone of the Anglo-American security architecture that was outlined in the Atlantic Charter (1941) that was formulated amidst the Second World War. Its roots go back even further, to the Stimson doctrine, which ironically, was formulated by the United States in response to Japan’s annexation of Manchuria in 1931. The doctrine of non-recognition was also applied by the U.S. to the Soviet annexation of the three Baltic states – Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, and remained official US policy until their independence in 1991.
It found expression in the UN Charter (1945), in the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Cooperation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations (1970), and in other universally agreed documents.
It does not take a genius to understand why recognizing territory acquired by armed force is dangerous because it could provide a precedent for states to annex territory that they claim is necessary for their defense. Palestinian leaders legitimately fear that President Trump’s recognition of the Golan Heights is a prelude to the annexation of parts of the West Bank. Who can blame them after Jason Greenblatt, President Trump’s top Mideast peace negotiator, tweeted his support for the decision?
But the recognition also has broader policy implications beyond the Arab-Israeli dispute.
Just think of China’s claim to the islands in the South China Sea, or its claim to Askai Chin in Jammu and Kashmir. How can President Trump square his decision to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel when the U.S. government strongly condemned Russia’s annexation of the Crimea? How would President Trump or the European Union react were the Arab states to recognize the independence of Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, and establish diplomatic relations with it – in spite of UN Security Council condemnation?
As I have previously argued here in Haaretz, we are now living in a world where the permanent members of the Security Council no longer agree on the basic rules of international legal order. It may be argued that this was always so, but that states did not articulate these differences publicly.
But I would respond that there is a difference between governments fashioning legal arguments to support controversial territorial claims, and brazenly staking a claim to territory by recognizing a right of conquest. And this is exactly what President Trump has just done.
Victor Kattan is Senior Research Fellow at the Middle East Institute of the National University of Singapore (NUS) and an Associate Fellow at NUS Law. Twitter: @VictorKattan
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE March 22, 2019 Contact: Sonya E Meyerson-Knox | [email protected] | 929-290-0317 PDF version of this statement Dear Members of Congress, We, the members of the Jewish Voice for Peace Rabbinical Council urge you not to attend the upcoming AIPAC conference, March 24-26th 2019. With the issue of the AIPAC now squarely in the public spotlight, we believe two things are indisputably…
Fascinating article by Oliver Miles
Summary: Saudi Arabia shoots itself in the foot, bringing 10 women to trial for promoting lifting the ban on women driving.
The trial of ten women which began yesterday in Riyadh is a remarkable example of Saudi Arabia’s ability to commit self-harm (not an ability confined to Saudi Arabia).
The case arises from the issue of women driving, which in a different way had been another example, that one lasting over 50 years. The ban, unique to Saudi Arabia, was never convincingly justified on any grounds, Islamic law, tradition, security, even Saudi law. Arabian women have ridden and driven camels since time immemorial, and since the introduction of the motorcar herding livestock, largely women’s work, has mainly been done by car (Charles Doughty writes that “herding maidens may go alone with the flocks far out of seeing of the
According to a report in the Saudi newspaperOkaz investigations were concluded 12 days ago. At the court
The reports in Okaz and other Saudi newspapers are short on information such as the names of the accused, but the Saudi-based Arab News gives a bit more detail, adding that when local media said the accused were traitors and “agents of embassies”, Arab News criticized such reporting as unfair and unprofessional, and argued that the accused should be treated as innocent unless proved guilty.
Last week at least 36 countries including all 28 members of the EU (but not the US, although Mike Pompeo like Jeremy Hunt has reportedly raised this case during recent visits to Riyadh) included a call to release the activists in a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council. Three of the U.S. congresswomen mentioned in yesterday’s digest, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib and Tulsi Gabbard have on various occasions called for a boycott of Saudi Arabia,
The Arab News report adds that “The accused women generated a high level of publicity when they were arrested, and the opening of the trial also attracted considerable attention from international media and human right organizations.” That perhaps underestimates the importance of the case for Saudi Arabia’s image, tarnished as it currently is. At a time when women’s affairs and women’s rights are everywhere in the media, the damage this case will do goes beyond cases which are perhaps objectively more important, such as executions.
The media naturally love the fact that some at least of the accused are photogenic.
By Helena Cobban
March 13, 2019
The Gaza protests will mark their one-year anniversary on March 30. For 50 weeks, the Gaza Strip has seen thousands of residents taking part every Friday in the creative mass protests called the “Great March of Return.” Might this well-organized nonviolent action mark a new trend in Palestinian politics?
If it does, it would not be the first time that densely populated Gaza has acted as a crucible for the emergence of new political forces in Palestinian society.
When letters first showed up on Alan Leveritt’s desk saying the Arkansas Times was required to sign a pledge not to boycott Israel in order to continue to receive state contracts, he ignored them.
“I was frankly not aware there was a boycott of Israel when I started getting these notices,” Leveritt told NBC News.
As the publisher of the Arkansas Times, a monthly magazine based in Little Rock, he relies on advertisement revenue from state entities to keep his business afloat.