Fair Policy, Fair Discussion

December 20, 2009

Netanyahu government helping dissolve ‘rule of law’ in Israel?

Filed under: Israeli settlements,Netanyahu government's policy — Helena Cobban @ 1:41 pm

How else can we read this amazing piece from Haaretz today?

It tells us (with the hyperlinks, as follows), that

The Israel Defense Forces said on Sunday that a leaked memo outlining tactics to enforce a freeze on construction in West Bank settlements was just a preliminary draft, following a torrent of criticism by settlers over the document.

“The commands published today in the Israeli media describe the first draft received by senior officers in the Judea and Samaria Regional Division and the Central Command as well as other relevant senior security officials,” the IDF statement said.

Earlier Sunday, Haaretz published the leaked memo it had obtained, which states that raids by special forces and air surveillance would be used to enforce the 10-month moratorium on new construction.

But the IDF later said that, “No IAF activity has been planned in this regard… “

There is a lot going on in this story.  First, there is the Israeli military, under Defense Minister Ehud Barak, having reportedly drawn up the plans to “enforce” the constraints (not freeze) on new-settlement activity that PM Netanyahu rolled out with such great fanfare a couple of weeks ago.

According to the version “leaked” (by whom, Haaretz doesn’t tell us… ) to Haaretz,

Documented violations will be destroyed in lightning operations in which the army will create a closed military zone so media will not be allowed to enter. The document differentiates between what its authors called “tactical surprise” and “strategic surprise.”

First, there will be an effort at dialogue with settlers, the document states. “On the tactical level, surprise needs to be achieved…by blocking off the area with large forces so as to paralyze….”

All intelligence sources will participate in tracking violations, the document said…

Violators will be subject to prompt action by the Israel Police…

IDF troops would be called in to evict settlers “only in extreme instances which will be decided upon individually,” the document says in reference to this sensitive issue.

But then, in the face of some protests by some settler organizations, the Netanyahu government backs down. The later Haaretz piece “assures” its Israeli readers that,

The army statement went on to stress that the IDF’s main objective in the West Bank is to combat terror and not clash with Israeli civilians.

So one of the main things that’s happening is that either the original leak to Haaretz was genuine, but then the Netanyahu government backed down; or the leak was never really genuine but was part of the elaborate piece of political theater that Netanyahu (like Sharon, or Barak, or any other Israeli leader) likes to stage-manage whenever there’s any pressure from outside to slow down settlement building or even– gasp!– to evict some of those half million Jewish settlers who haven ow been illegally implanted onto occupied Palestinian land.

Either way, it looks as though, if there was ever anything like the “rule of law” in the areas under Israel’s control, these latest actions by government members have yet further undermined it.

Raids by “special forces” and air surveillance are, as we know, very routinely used by the Israeli authorities to deal with those in the Palestinian community whom it judges to have broken the law– or even, on many occasions, those whom it thinks just might, at some point in the near or distant future, perhaps be inclined to break the law, as defined by Israel…

So why should such law-enforcements tactics not be used against those in the Jewish-settler community against whom there may be rock-solid evidence of lawbreaking?

Whoosh!  There goes any concept of “the rule of law”….

In these articles you can also see another distinction that the Israeli authorities are attempting to make.  They were arguing that the IDF should be used “only” against Palestinian lawbreakers, but that “the Civil Administration, the Israeli Police and the Border Police are the relevant authorities who deal with Israeli civilians.”

But what is this “Civil Administration”?  It is, in fact, the branch of the Israeli military that deals with civilian affairs.  It is the major body that– on behalf of the Israeli military, which holds the West Bank under the law of belligerent military occupation– deals with the affairs of the civilian residents of the West Bank.

The law of belligerent military occupation is the only “law”, recognized by the great body of the world’s nations, that allows Israel to exercise any ongoing control and jurisdiction within the West bank, and Gaza and Golan, at all.

Of course, the law of belligerent military occupation is supposed only to apply to transitional situations– that is, pending the speedy conclusion of a final peace between the previously warring powers.

It also involves many constraints on what the occupying power can do, at all… Most notably, in the Fourth Geneva Convention, the occupying power is quite prohibited from moving any members of its own civilian population into the occupied areas.  So the fact that there are any Israeli civilians living inside the West Bank at all– let alone, 500,000 of them!– is already a major violation of the rule of (international) law.

It is, of course, that occupation that needs to end.

And then let the settlers decide whether they want to stay and live under Palestinian law, or to go “home” to Israel.

I suspect that, absent the many privileges and subsidies they have enjoyed for so long in their colonial homes in the occupied West Bank, when given that choice, many of them might opt for a third choice– to go “home” to Miami, Florida, or Los Angeles, or wherever else it was that so many of them came from originally.

Aren’t they lucky to have so many choices?

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4 Comments »

  1. Israel’s addiction
    Gideon Levy, one of the most prominent Israeli journalists working with Ha’aretz speaks to The Real News’ Lia Tarachansky about Israel’s addiction to the occupation of the Palestinian Territories.

    Comment by Salah — December 21, 2009 @ 12:21 am | Reply

  2. Joel, of course you may or may not approve of the presence of US soldiers in your country,

    Reidar, with full respects of your thoughts and views, but I found Jol is a complete biased neocones propagandist who believe in “NOBEL” Neocoen project in Iraq, which turned to be a hoax with his handlers.
    Its not more than an colonialism greed with such liars as turned from Blair recent questioning its all lies nothing with the ground oh humanitarians or human rights.
    During 1991&2003 With two distractive war I witnessed with all Iraqis which we as Iraqis, we believes the distraction of state of Iraq was not directed to a dictator and his gangs who were in US and Britons or in another places with billions in their accounts, and main thing here is the doctor’s family with billions of Iraqi money looted during their time living under US eyes in Jordan and Qatar kms from US the biggest and major inelegance and military basses.

    As a historian yourself and with all due respects of your positions here, we “Iraqis” first hand witnesses of major US and thinktank liars but also they are propagandas for their colonial project in ME.

    One last thing Reidar history written by the winners that’s means not necessarily an accurate and reflects the reality on the ground, Iraq 2003 war telling a lot.

    Comment by Salah — December 21, 2009 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

  3. Apologies just bad thing happen here.

    Comment by Salah — December 21, 2009 @ 7:16 pm | Reply

  4. Evgeny Primakov – former Prime Minister and top expert in Russia on the Middle East.

    Comment by Salah — December 21, 2009 @ 7:46 pm | Reply


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