Middle East Peace Summit in Paris – January 15th, 2017
The European Coalition for Israel and the Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition represent millions of people around the world who support the right of the Jewish State of Israel to exist as a sovereign nation within secure borders and free of threats of force.
In light of United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 and U.S. Secretary of State Kerry’s speech on December 28th, 2016, we are writing to express our deep concern about the upcoming conference in Paris on Sunday January 15th, 2017.
It appears that Security Council members and other participating nations at the conference are considering adopting measures, without Israel’s consent, that would effectively adopt or purport to give recognition to the following positions that have been consistently advocated by the Palestine Liberation Organization since the 1970’s, and which Israel disputes. These measures include:
- Recognition of the 1949 Armistice Lines (the “4 June 1967 lines”) as being the default or de facto “borders” between Israel and “Palestine” in the event that no agreement can be reached on this issue between the PLO and Israel;
- Recognition of the so-called “right” of the Palestinian people to an independent State of Palestine, and nomination of “East Jerusalem” as capital of the “State of Palestine”; and
- Recognition of an obligation on Israel to “withdraw from the Occupied Palestinian Territories” (perhaps within a specified time period) on the basis that all Israeli settlements in these territories are illegal, and/or such occupation is “illegal.”
In our submission, any resolution or other internationally-sponsored measure that purported to implement any of these terms without Israel’s consent would be counterproductive and undermine real prospects for peace if it would adopt a one-sided narrative which completely ignores Israel’s genuine historical, religious and security concerns.
Furthermore, essentially any such resolution or measure would itself infringe a number of important principles of international law as:
- These measures would constitute a grave infringement of the legitimate claims and rights of the State of Israel and the Jewish people with respect to sovereignty over “East Jerusalem” and the “West Bank” under international law. The San Remo resolution (1920) and the Mandate for Palestine (1922) recognized the pre-existing rights of the Jewish people to self-determination based on their close historical connection with the land. Under the Mandate for Palestine, the Jewish people had a right to “close settlement” in all of Palestine. The rights recognized and created under these binding instruments of international law were explicitly preserved in article 80 of the UN Charter, and have in no way been waived or terminated. Similarly, pursuant to the principle of “uti possidetis juris”, the boundaries of the Mandate for Palestine determined the borders of the new State of Israel on 14th May 1948.
- They would completely undermine the rights of Israel under the Oslo Accords and would conflict with the PLO’s obligations under those agreements. These measures would also constitute a breach of the obligations of the United States and Russia as signatories of the Oslo Accords. These agreements, which remain valid and binding on the parties, provide that all “permanent status” issues such as the status of Jerusalem, “settlements”, “security arrangements” and “borders” are to be determined through bilateral negotiations between Israel and the PLO. By seeking to have conditions imposed – directly or indirectly – by means of UN resolutions, the PLO is gravely in breach of its obligations under the Oslo Accords, and by adopting such claims the signatories to those Accords are also in breach of their commitments.
- These measures would infringe the principle of sovereign equality of states and the fundamental right of the State of Israel to territorial integrity, inviolability and political independence, as reflected in the UN Charter and Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338. All UN Member States are obliged to recognize these rights, and they have no jurisdiction whatsoever to determine the borders of another sovereign UN Member State or in any other way impinge on Israel’s right to territorial integrity and political independence.
- In the absence of robust security arrangements, acceptance of the “4 June 1967 lines” as de facto borders would undermine the right of Israel, as a sovereign state, to secure borders. It is widely acknowledged that, without binding guarantees and enforceable security arrangements on the ground, the 1949 Armistice Lines are completely indefensible.
- Allowing “East Jerusalem” and the “West Bank” to become part of an Islamic State of Palestine, without further agreed measures, would fail to protect the UN right of freedom of religion of all minority groups to worship in these areas as the Palestinian institutions have failed to demonstrate that they are willing and able to allow Jews and Christians to access their holy sites in the territories under their control, including the Temple Mount – the holiest site in Judaism, and an important site for many Christians. On the contrary, they have openly advocated for the removal of all Jews from these areas. The current Israeli administration of “East Jerusalem”, on the other hand, has proven since 1967 that it is both willing and able to ensure protection of freedoms for minority groups far exceeding any other nation in the Middle East.
- These measures would undermine the UN Charter principle of the prohibition of the acquisition of territory by force, and the obligation of all UN member states to refrain European Coalition for Israel from acts of aggression and settle their disputes by peaceful means. The 1949 Armistice Lines were themselves the result of the armed attack launched on the fledgling State of Israel on 15th May 1948. De facto acknowledgement of these lines as “borders” effectively recognizes the validity of this attack on the State of Israel, and implicitly validates the PLO’s consistent use of armed force to achieve its aims.
- Finally, such measures ignore the fact that “Palestine” does not meet the criteria for Statehood under international law. In particular, “Palestine” completely lacks an effective authority that is capable of governing East Jerusalem, Gaza and the West Bank. Unless and until such authority has been established, the “State of Palestine” simply does not exist under international law, and it is incumbent on UN member states not to recognize such a State or entity.
The only route to lasting peace in the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, in full compliance with international law, is through mutual acceptance, negotiation, and cooperation — and this should not be undermined by outside parties.
We call on the international community to embrace these principles in order to keep alive the chances of genuine reconciliation and real peace.
Mario Bramnick, Esquire
Hispanic Israel Leadership Coalition, President
National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, Vice President