Wednesday, October 19, 2016

B'Tselem: Undermining Israeli democracy with lies

From Israel Hayom, 18 Oct 2016:

B'Tselem Executive Director Hagai El-Ad lied in his speech in an informal U.N. Security Council meeting  titled "The settlements as an obstacle to peace and a two-state solution." It was also the opening shot in a Palestinian gambit to promote an anti-Israel resolution on the settlements. 

El-Ad's intentional misrepresentation was based on the claim that all settlements in Judea and Samaria are illegal because of what he calls "international agreement that the settlements are illegal."

This claim is mistaken in three respects:

The first and most important one is that according to international law, only the Jewish people has the right to sovereignty, including the right to build communities in the western part of the Land of Israel, which includes Judea and Samaria and the Gaza Strip.
This is because the State of Israel was established eight hours before the British Mandate ended, which gave it sovereignty over the entire territory that had been given as a mandate to the British by the League of Nations in a unanimous vote so that they could prepare the leaders of the Jewish people, through the Zionist movement, to take on the task of building a state. This was a precise implementation of Article 22 of the Covenant of the League of Nations, which is part of formal international law.

The second mistake is Meretz Chairwoman Zehava Galon's argument that the B'Tselem executive director had the same right to speak abroad as does the prime minister of Israel. Except that as long as the prime minister is acting within the framework of his legally defined authority to set policy that is backed by the representative of sovereignty -- namely the Knesset -- he must promote that policy in every possible forum, even if the B'Tselem leader doesn't like it. There is no symmetry here, because the policy that El-Ad was trying to promote through external intervention goes against the will of the sovereign entity, the people, as reflected in the Knesset. The executive director is trying to undermine the foundations of Israeli democracy, which is representative and parliamentary. Someone who fails over and over to achieve a majority for a particular worldview, no matter how right it might be in his eyes, must accept the decision of the majority. The spirit of democracy prohibits him from attempting to lead a foreign body to impose policies that go against what the majority wants.

The third mistake has to do with the chosen forum -- the United Nations. Article 80 of the U.N. Charter states that it and its institutions may not restrict the rights granted to the Jewish people by the mandate that was fulfilled when Israel was founded. 
According to Article 80, the U.N. had a window of almost three years, from the time of the U.N. declaration to the time the state was founded, to revoke that right, but it chose not to do so. Therefore the Jewish people's sole right to sovereignty in Israel requires that all U.N. member nations refrain from dividing the western part of the land of Israel. Actions such as the recent U.N. Security Council session or the UNESCO decisions denying Jewish ties to the Temple Mount and the Western Wall violate the U.N. Charter and are completely invalid. (Take note, Israeli decision-makers as we approach the window of opportunity that U.S. President Barack Obama might exploit to pass decisions like these in the U.N. Security Council.) Preventing this is in accordance with the law, is just, and lines up with the rights the international community granted anew to the Jewish people through the Zionist movement.

The executive director's performance took advantage of a loophole in the law that the Knesset must close to protect democracy from being undermined and put on the defensive.

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