Lebanese President General Michel Aoun deemed on Saturday that “the message content of Israel’s Delegate at the United Nations, Danny Danon, poses a threat to Lebanon,” adding that “the international community ought to pay attention to the possible Israeli hostile intentions against Lebanon.”
Speaking before his interlocutors at Baabda Palace this afternoon, Aoun asserted that “any Israeli attempt to undermine the sovereignty of Lebanon shall be confronted with the appropriate response.”
The President stressed that “Israel must comply with Security Council resolutions before any other, yet it still refuses to implement Resolution #1701 and the transition from the cessation of hostilities to a ceasefire stage, despite the fact that more than 11 years have passed since the release of said Resolution.”
“Israel still occupies Lebanese territories in the northern part of Ghajar, Shebaa Farms and Kfar Shouba Hilltops, while effecting daily violations of the Blue Line and Lebanese sovereignty by air and sea,” Aoun went on to indicate.
“In addition, half a million Palestinians are still forced to stay away from their homeland, hosted by Lebanon in the absence of their right to return to their land and property, which constitutes an act of aggression against Lebanon and its people,” he added.
“This act of aggression falls under the content of Article 51 of the UN Charter, which gives Lebanon and its people the natural right to defend their land,” Aoun underscored.
The President concluded that “Lebanon, which has respected all obligations towards the United Nations and its labor force in the South, views the Israeli message to the United Nations as a blatant attempt to threaten the security and stability enjoyed by the southern towns and villages located within the international area of operations, and therefore, bears full responsibility for any aggression against Lebanon.”
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres has reportedly offered Israeli lawmaker, Tzipi Livni, a senior post at the world body, shortly after Washington, in a controversial move, blocked the appointment of a former Palestinian premier as the UN special envoy to Libya.
According to a report published by the Israeli daily, Haaretz, on Sunday, Livni, who represents the center-left Zionist Union political alliance at the Knesset (Israeli parliament), has been offered the position of under-secretary-general in what has been seen as a measure to boost Tel Aviv’s influence within the world body.
From 2001 to 2009, the 58-year-old legislator served in the cabinets of Israel’s former prime ministers, Ariel Sharon and Ehud Olmert, most notably as the regime’s foreign minister in the latter’s administration, during which she got acquainted with Guterres, who was Portugal’s prime minister at the time.
Some two weeks ago, Livni made a one-day trip to New York aimed at having a personal meeting with the UN chief. Haaretz’ report further said that the pair, among other issues, had discussed the possibility of Livni’s appointment. It added that during the tenure of former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, she had also shown an interest in a top post at the UN.
If the Israeli lawmaker accepts the offer, she will become the first Israeli to serve as the UN under-secretary-general. The UN Security Council, however, will ultimately decide whether she gets the position.
The new development comes after US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley, on Friday night, blocked the designation of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to lead the UN mission in Libya, saying that the administration of US President Donald Trump “was disappointed” to learn that Guterres had proposed him for the job.
The Haaretz report, citing some unnamed UN officials, added that Guterres was allegedly trying to forge a deal with Washington, under which the US would take back its fierce opposition to Fayyad, Guterres’ favorite pick for the position, and in return, US-backed Livni would attain the senior post at the world body.
The developments come as the Tel Aviv regime is under fire for its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The international community, including Tel Aviv’s own allies, view the Israeli settlements as illegal under the Geneva Conventions, which forbid construction on occupied territory.
Since January 20, when Trump, an ardent supporter of Israel, took office, Tel Aviv has launched a major land grab drive in defiance of global calls for the regime to stop its settlement activities on the occupied Palestinian lands.
A senior Russian diplomat has expressed surprise at an outcry provoked by the new US administration over Iranian missile work, saying Tehran’s missile tests are not violating any UN bans, legally speaking.
“This outcry about Iran’s ballistic missile launches. I was surprised to hear even American experts speaking on CNN and calling it a violation of bans by the UN Security Council,” said Russia’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin in an interview with RT published Tuesday.
He was referring to Resolution 2231 adopted by the Security Council in July 2015 to underpin the landmark nuclear deal inked days earlier between Tehran and the P5+1 group of states, namely Russia, China, France, Britain, the US plus Germany.
The document terminated the provisions of previous UN resolutions, calling on Iran “not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons, including launches using such ballistic missile technology.”
Explaining the legal language used in Resolution 2231, Churkin said the document merely “calls” on Tehran not to conduct tests of missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, but does not impose any ban on Tehran.
“Those bans were there before, all those bans were lifted,” said the Russian official. “Technically or legally you cannot argue that they are violating any kind of a prohibition.”
He also said no evidence has been provided to support the claims that Tehran’s missiles are capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
Late last month, Washington’s UN envoy Nikki Haley slammed a missile test by Iran as “absolutely unacceptable.”
US President Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Michael Flynn also said following the January 29 test that Washington was “officially putting Iran on notice,” claiming that the launch was “in defiance of UN Security Council Resolution 2231.”
The Islamic Republic has, on numerous occasions, asserted that its missiles are not designed to be capable of carrying nuclear warheads, and that it is not involved in such missile work.
In March 2016, Russia blocked the potential ratification of a United Nations Security Council resolution against Iranian missile tests in a session called by the former US administration.
Explaining Russia’s opposition to an anti-Iran resolution, Churkin said back then that in the view of veto-wielding Russia, Resolution 2231, which endorsed a nuclear deal between Iran and six other countries, did not legally prohibit Iranian ballistic missile tests.
He said the text explicitly did not ban Iranian missile test-launches.
“A call is different from a ban, so, legally, you cannot violate a call, you can comply with a call or you can ignore the call, but you cannot violate a call,” Churkin said. “The legal distinction is there.”
Elsewhere in the interview, Churkin warned that the United States’ tensions with Iran might work to affect Moscow’s relations with Washington.
“There are so many complexities, so many issues which can create additional problems, including problems which might affect our relations with the US,” he said.
The envoy cautioned the US against behaving emotionally instead of relying on facts when it comes to Iran.
“In international life, you have to differentiate between your emotions, what you want to see and what you have the right to expect from another country,” he said.
Churkin further took on US President Donald Trump’s recent comment to Fox News that the Islamic Republic is “terrorist state number one.”
The envoy pointed to the active role the Islamic Republic is playing in the fight against the Daesh Takfiri terror group, which is mainly active in Syria and Iraq.
Iran has been providing military advisory support to the countries’ respective militaries in their fight against the terrorists, an assistance that has been met with appreciation from both governments.
On Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov also reacted to Trump’s remarks, saying, “We disagree with this postulate.”
A Georgetown Law professor named David Koplow has drafted what he calls a Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact. In an article proposing it, Koplow does something all too rare, he recognizes some of the merits of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. But he misses others of those merits, as I described them in my 2011 book When The World Outlawed War.
Koplow acknowledges the cultural shift that the pact was central to, that shifted common understanding of war from something that just happens like the weather to something that can be controlled, should be abolished, and would henceforth be illegal. He acknowledges the role of the pact in motivating trials (albeit one-sided trials) for the crime of war following World War II.
But Koplow also does something that I imagine any U.S. law professor must be expected to do. I have yet to find one who doesn’t. He declares that the pact “silently” includes language that it does not actually include, language opening up a loophole for defensive war. While Britain and France added reservations to the treaty, other nations ratified it as it is written. The United States Senate Foreign Relations Committee produced a statement interpreting the treaty, but not actually modifying the treaty. Japan did the same. That committee statement interprets the existence of a loophole for defensive war. The pact itself does not contain it and would not have been created, signed, or ratified had it done so.
The actual text of the treaty is superior to the United Nations Charter in not containing two loopholes, one for defensive wars and the other for UN-authorized wars. And contrary to what Koplow claims, but consistent with the facts of the matter that he relates, the Kellogg-Briand Pact is still law. That this makes numerous recent wars illegal is not so significant, as most — if not all — of those wars fail to fit into the UN Charter’s loopholes. But the existence of those loopholes allows endless claims to legality that muddy what would be clear waters if we looked to the peace pact instead of to the UN Charter.
Of course intent is often taken to override actual text. If the people who created the pact intended it to silently allow defensive war, then it allows defensive war, according to this theory. But did they? That all depends on who counts as being those people. Koplow only mentions one of them, Senator William Borah. In fact, Koplow drastically understates Borah’s role. Following the lead of the Outlawry movement and intense lobbying by its leaders, Borah had publicly promoted outlawing war for years before the pact came up for a vote, and he had been instrumental in making sure that it did. On November 26, 1927, Borah had written this in the New York Times :
“I do not think peace plans which turn upon the question of an ‘aggressor nation’ are workable. An aggressor nation is a delusive and wholly impracticable proposition as a factor in any peace plan.” Borah, agreeing with the widespread understanding of the Outlawrists, believed that in any war each side would label the other the aggressor, and that through ultimatums and provocations any side could make another into the aggressor. “I would not support a peace plan,” Borah wrote, “which recognized war as legitimate at any time or under any circumstances.” Having learned from the creators of outlawry, Borah tutored Kellogg and Coolidge, even overcoming the hurdle created by the latter’s belief that outlawing war would be unconstitutional.
But in what exactly did Borah tutor them? Surely not in what appears to every living U.S. law professor in 2017 utter nonsense or a suicide pact? Yes, in fact, in just that. And I’m not sure either Kellogg or Coolidge ever understood it to any greater extent than this: the public demand for it was a hurricane. But here’s what it was, and why those who come around to praising the Kellogg Briand Pact seem more intent on burying it. Outlawry was opposed to the entire institution of war on the model of opposition to dueling — which, outlawrists pointed out, had not been replaced by defensive dueling, but by abolition of the whole barbaric institution. Once you sanction some wars, you motivate preparation for wars, and that moves you toward wars of all kinds. The Outlawrists had grasped this even before Dwight Eisenhower had been part of a chemical weapons attack on World War I veterans in the streets of D.C., much less made any farewell addresses.
But if you ban all war, the Outlawrists grasped, you end up eliminating the need for any war. You organize nonviolent systems of conflict resolution. You create the rule of law. You mobilize a reverse arms race. Peace Studies Departments have largely grasped this just in recent years. Peace activists had it down in the 1920s. And they insisted on their vision in the treaty that they wrote, that they negotiated, that they lobbied for, and that they passed — against the very will of many of the Senators ratifying it. Si vis pacem, para pacem. Koplow quotes this inscription from the pen used to sign the treaty. If you want peace, prepare for peace. That people actually meant that in 1928 is beyond common understanding in 2017. Yet it is down in writing in both the text of the treaty and the many texts of the movement that created it. Banning all war was the intention and is the law.
So why should we, as Koplow proposes, create a brand new treaty, modeled on Kellogg-Briand, but banning only nuclear war? Well, first of all, doing so would not legally or otherwise cancel the existing Kellogg-Briand Pact, which is universally ignored by that tiny number of people who’ve ever heard of it. On the contrary, creating a nuclear KBP would bring attention to the existence of the total KBP. Ending all nuclear war would be a powerful step in the direction of ending all war, would quite possibly keep our species in existence long enough to do so, and would point our thinking in just the right direction.
The treaty as Koplow has drafted it would not be in any conflict with a treaty banning nuclear weapons, but might be a treaty that nuclear nations would sign and ratify, and it would be stronger than simply a commitment not to be the first to use nukes. As drafted, the Nuclear Kellogg-Briand Pact goes beyond mirroring the language of the KBP to finesse the defensive question and many others. It’s well thought out, and I recommend reading it. Buried toward the end of the draft treaty is a requirement to accelerate efforts toward total nuclear disarmament. I think passing such a ban on only nuclear war would actually accelerate the abolition of all war, and might just do so via creating awareness that all war has been illegal for 88 years.
A group of European journalists and aviation experts has sent an open letter to Donald Trump asking him to back a new UN-run investigation into the 2014 crash of Flight MH17. The current Dutch-led inquiry is “neither independent nor convincing,” they said.
The open letter, signed by 25 journalists, former civil aviation pilots and researchers from Germany, the Netherlands and Australia, was posted on the website of Joost Niemoller – a Dutch journalist who publicly challenged the current investigation into the ill-fated Flight MH17, which was downed over Ukraine in July 2014.
With Trump having taken office as the new president of the United States, the letter says “there is now a real chance of resolving the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine,” and also “hope of improving the quality of the investigation into the alleged shooting down of the MH17.”
The experts suggested that the new investigation should include independent international researchers able to overcome governments’ reluctance to disclose information, and should be overseen by the United Nations. At the moment, Ukraine’s secret service (SBU) plays a major role in providing data to the Dutch investigators, while Russian investigators are being excluded from the process.
In September last year, the Dutch investigators said the aircraft was shot down with a missile from a Buk launch system that “was brought from the territory of the Russian Federation and after launch subsequently returned to the Russian Federation territory.” The investigation stopped short of accusing Russia directly, saying that “we have determined that the weapons came from the Russian Federation.”
Furthermore, the experts’ letter referred to former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who claimed in July 2014 that Washington possesses “satellite imagery” showing the trajectory of a surface-to-air missile from areas controlled by rebels in eastern Ukraine. The US should release the images or recognize that they never existed, the experts stressed.
Notably, the open letter calls for a forensic investigation into the impact holes on the fragments of the MH17 wreckage, and suggests the same damage patterns should be reproduced in a shooting test. Similar experiments have already been staged by Almaz Antey, Russia’s leading missile manufacturer, in July and October 2015, although their results were subsequently ignored by international investigators.
Almaz Antey’s experts said that judging by the T-shape strike elements, the missile was an old Buk-M1 model fired from a Ukraine-controlled area, contesting the preliminary theory by Dutch investigators. “If the Malaysian Boeing was downed by a Buk missile, it was done with an old Buk model which does not have double-T iron strike elements,” CEO Yan Novikov told a media conference in Moscow after the experiment.
The new investigation proposed by Dutch, German and Australian experts should pave the way for “an international tribunal under the auspices of the UN,” the letter said, staffed with judges from countries that are not related to the disaster.
In 2015, speaking on MSNBC, Trump contested preliminary findings of the Dutch Safety Board (DSB), whose report alleged that the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 was hit by a surface-to-air missile launched by eastern Ukrainian rebels.
“It may have been their weapon, but they didn’t use it, they didn’t fire it, they even said the other side fired it to blame them,” Trump said. “I mean to be honest with you, you’ll probably never know for sure.”
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Alabama) is the latest example of a member of Congress who seems to be slipping further and further from reality. Rogers has introduced a bill entitled “The American Sovereignty Restoration Act of 2017”–which sounds good until you get to the fine print.
The bill is aimed at eliminating US membership in the United Nations, which Rogers sees as a threat to US sovereignty. It also would end US support for UN agencies such as UNESCO and the World Health Organization, and would even have the UN headquarters kicked out of New York.
Personally, I am not a big fan of the UN. It has been used often as a political tool to support US foreign policy objectives, for instance in 2011 when it authorized a no-fly zone over Libya–and so for this reason I have some doubts as to whether Rogers’ bill will pass. But this is neither here nor there. Where things get really crazy is when you look at the congressman’s reasoning behind the bill.
According to RT, Rogers’ bill, officially HR 193, was motivated by the UN Security Council resolution adopted last month criticizing Israeli settlements. I have already discussed HR 11, a bill introduced specifically in response to that Security Council resolution and which was approved by a vote 342-80, and HR 193 seems to have been similarly motivated. Or at least partly, at any rate–for the RT report makes note of the fact that the Alabama congressman introduced an earlier version of the bill back in 2015.
“Why should the American taxpayer bankroll an international organization that works against America’s interests around the world?” Rogers is said to have asked at that time. “The time is now to restore and protect American sovereignty and get out of the United Nations.”
A little more from the RT report:
Later, in June 2015, Rogers had introduced his document – then named HR 1205, but essentially the same USExit idea he’s proposing now.
“The UN continues to prove it’s an inefficient bureaucracy and a complete waste of American tax dollars.” Rogers went on to name treaties and actions he believes “attack our rights as US citizens.” These included gun provisions, the imposition of international regulations on American fossil fuels – but more importantly, the UN attack on Israel, by voting to grant Palestine the non-member state ‘permanent observer’ status.
“Anyone who is not a friend to our ally Israel is not a friend to the United States.”
So in Rogers’ delusional thinking, it is the UN, and not Israel or its US Lobby, which threatens the sovereignty of the United States.
American funding to the UN comes to approximately $8 billion per year, that’s in mandatory payments as well as voluntary contributions. This makes up about 22 percent of the UN’s overall budget.
By contrast, US funding of Israel presently comes to about $3.8 billion per year (in direct aid). Presumably, if Rogers’ bill passes, the $4.2 billion difference will then be available to pass along to Israel. I’m not saying that’s what will happen, but worth keeping in mind is that in September of last year, Obama signed a $38 billion aid package to the Jewish state, and Obama wasn’t even on good terms with the Israeli leadership. Imagine what largess may flow under a Trump administration.
As I said before, the US is often able to pressure other nations and thereby use the UN as a political tool to advance its own foreign policy objectives, so from that standpoint one might argue that the $8 billion per year was an investment which brought back a return.
By contrast, if the money goes to Israel, the opposite will be the case: for it is Israel which uses the US as a political tool, not the other way around.
If we continue to be ruled by people like Rogers, our national sovereignty will eventually disappear. We will become a nation governed in total by a foreign power.
… and so does the Palestinian leader (again)
The Middle East peace conference in Paris was the usual farce with Israel and Palestine, the subjects under discussion, both staying away. Netanyahu called the talks “useless” and Abbas was off opening an embassy in Vatican City and meeting the Pope while 70 nations gathered to take part in another peace pantomime. It ended with a pathetic declaration urging both sides to “officially restate their commitment to the two-state solution”.
Is this what the much-trumpeted 2-state solution looks like?
Everyone knows Netanyahu and the Israeli regime have never wanted peace. Land-grabbing and ethnic cleansing is what they do, so the jackboot of Israeli occupation must remain firmly on the Palestinians’ neck. He was bound to treat any peace conference with utmost contempt. And Abbas’s crass absence was not only another slap in the face to all who sympathise with the Palestinians’ plight and to the millions of campaigners who fight for their cause but also another disservice to the Palestinian people.
I call the conference declaration “pathetic” because no-one in the international community, as far as I’m aware, has actually told us what the 2-state solution they keep banging on about will look like – or even what they think it should look like. No-one, that is, since Ehud Barak and his so-called “generous offer” to the Palestinians in the summer of 2000.
The West Bank and the Gaza Strip, seized by Israel in 1967 and occupied ever since, comprise just 22% of pre-partition Palestine. When the Palestinians signed the Oslo Agreement in 1993 they agreed to accept the 22% and recognise Israel within ‘Green Line’ borders (i.e. the 1949 Armistice Line established after the Arab-Israeli War). Conceding 78% of the land that was originally theirs was an astonishingly big-hearted concession on their part.
But it wasn’t enough for greedy Israel. Barak’s “generous offer” demanded the inclusion of 69 Israeli settlements within the 22% Palestinian remnant. It was obvious on the map that those settlement blocs created impossible borders and already severely disrupted Palestinian life in the West Bank. Barak also demanded the Palestinian territories be placed under “Temporary Israeli Control”, meaning Israeli military and administrative control probably indefinitely. The generous offer also gave Israel control over all the border crossings of the new Palestinian State. What nation in the world would accept that? But the ludicrous reality of Barak’s 2-state solution was cleverly hidden by propaganda spin.
Later, at Taba, Barak produced a revised map but withdrew it after his election defeat. The ugly facts of the matter are well documented and explained by organisations such as Gush Shalom, yet the Israel lobby’s stooges continue to peddle the lie that Israel offered the Palestinians a generous peace on a plate. Is Barak’s crazed vision of the 2-state solution the one the 70 nations have in mind?
Britain’s stance on Palestinian independence has always been nonsensical. I remember former foreign secretary Alistair Burt announcing that we would not recognise a Palestinian state unless it emerged from a peace deal with Israel. London “could not recognise a state that does not have a capital, and doesn’t have borders.”
Where did he suppose Israel’s borders are? And is Israel within them? Where did he think Israel’s capital is? And where did Israel claim it to be? In other words, is Israel where Israel is supposed to be? If not, how could he possibly recognise it let alone align himself with it? “We are looking forward to recognising a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations on settlements because our position is again very straightforward: We wish to see a two-state solution, a secure and recognized Israel side by side with a viable Palestine, Jerusalem as a joint capital and agreed borders,” Burt said.
Negotiations about illegal settlements? Since when did Her Majesty’s Government favour negotiating with the perpetrator of criminal acts and crimes against humanity? At around the same time Hillary Clinton had rejected in advance an anticipated Palestinian bill in the UN against unlawful Israeli settlement building. According to her, Israel’s illegal squats could be resolved through “negotiations” between Palestinians and Israelis and to hell with international law. Burt embraced this “solution” instead of enforcing international law and upholding justice, as he should have. He co-operated with the most dishonest peace brokers on the planet to revive discredited, lopsided direct talks. It’s been the same story with every other UK foreign secretary.
Resolution 242, a work of evil
So why, after decades, is the Palestinian homeland still under foreign military occupation and total blockade when international law and the United Nations have said it shouldn’t be?
And why are the Palestinians being pressured – yet again – to submit to “direct negotiations”, victim versus armed invader haggling and pleading for their freedom?
The answer appears to lie in the hash made of United Nations Security Council Resolution 242 of November 1967. Here is what it said:
The UN Security Council…
Emphasizing the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in which every State in the area can live in security,
Emphasizing further that all Member States in their acceptance of the Charter of the United Nations have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance with Article 2 of the Charter,
- Affirms that the fulfilment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of both the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories [i..e. Gaza, West Bank including Jerusalem, and Golan Heights belonging to Syria] occupied in the recent conflict;
(ii) Termination of all claims or states of belligerency and respect for and acknowledgment of the sovereignty, territorial integrity and political independence of every State in the area and their right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries free from threats or acts of force;
- Affirms further the necessity
(a) For guaranteeing freedom of navigation through international waterways in the area;
(b) For achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem;
(c) For guaranteeing the territorial inviolability and political independence of every State in the area, through measures including the establishment of demilitarized zones;
- Requests the Secretary-General to designate a Special Representative to proceed to the Middle East to establish and maintain contacts with the States concerned in order to promote agreement and assist efforts to achieve a peaceful and accepted settlement in accordance with the provisions and principles in this resolution;
- Requests the Secretary-General to report to the Security Council on the progress of the efforts of the Special Representative as soon as possible.
It was adopted unanimously.
Article 2 of the UN Charter states, among other things, that all Members “shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and security, and justice, are not endangered” and “shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations”.
Nothing too difficult there for men of integrity and goodwill, one would have thought. But after 49 years nothing has happened to give effect to the Charter’s fine words or to deliver the tiniest semblance of peace, or allow the Palestinians to live in security free from threats or acts of force. Israel still occupies the Holy Land and the Golan Heights with maximum brutality while law and justice, the cornerstones of civilisation, have evaporated.
This dereliction of duty began with careless use of language – or more exactly the deliberate non-use of a certain word, the “the” word which should have been inserted in front of “territories” but was purposely omitted by the schemers who drafted the resolution.
Behind the scenes there was no intention of making Israel withdraw
Arthur J. Goldberg, US Ambassador to the UN in 1967 and a key drafter of Resolution 242, stated:
There is lacking a declaration requiring Israel to withdraw from the (or all the) territories occupied by it on and after June 5, 1967. Instead, the resolution stipulates withdrawal from occupied territories without defining the extent of withdrawal. And it can be inferred from the incorporation of the words ‘secure and recognized boundaries’ that the territorial adjustments to be made by the parties in their peace settlements could encompass less than a complete withdrawal of Israeli forces from occupied territories.
According to Lord Caradon, then the UK Ambassador to the UN and another key drafter:
The essential phrase which is not sufficiently recognised is that withdrawal should take place to secure and recognised boundaries, and these words were very carefully chosen: they have to be secure and they have to be recognised…. It was not for us to lay down exactly where the border should be. I know the 1967 border very well. It is not a satisfactory border, it is where troops had to stop in 1947, just where they happened to be that night, that is not a permanent boundary….
He later added:
It would have been wrong to demand that Israel return to its positions of 4 June 1967… That’s why we didn’t demand that the Israelis return to them and I think we were right not to.
Professor Eugene Rostow, then US Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs, had also helped to draft the resolution. He was on record in 1991 that Resolution 242:
… allows Israel to administer the territories it occupied in 1967 until ‘a just and lasting peace in the Middle East’ is achieved. When such a peace is made, Israel is required to withdraw its armed forces ‘from territories’ it occupied during the Six-Day War – not from ‘the’ territories nor from ‘all’ the territories, but from some of the territories, which included the Sinai Desert, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. Israel was not to be forced back to the fragile and vulnerable Armistice Demarcation Lines (the ‘Green Line’).
Israel could thus keep the territory it seized as long as the Zionist regime avoided making peace. Even if it did make peace, it could keep some unspecified territory, presumably what it had stolen in terror raids before the 1967 war.
In the meantime Arab leaders had picked up on the fact that the all-important “the” word in relation to territories had been included in other language versions of the draft resolution (e.g. the French document) and it was therefore widely understood to mean that Israel must withdraw from all territories captured in 1967. Unfortunately, under international law, English is the official language and the English version ruled.
For Israel, Abba Eban said:
As the representative of the United States has said, the boundaries between Israel and her neighbors must be mutually worked out and recognized by the parties themselves as part of the peace-making process. We continue to believe that the States of the region, in direct negotiation with each other, have the sovereign responsibility for shaping their common future. It is the duty of international agencies at the behest of the parties to act in the measure that agreement can be promoted and a mutually accepted settlement can be advanced. We do not believe that Member States have the right to refuse direct negotiation….
Eban seemed to forget that Israel was in breach of international law.
‘Acquisition of territory by war is inadmissible’, right?
So here was Israel, aided by the devious drafters, pressing for direct negotiations as far back as 1967 and sensing that the defenceless and impoverished Palestinians under their heel would be easy meat.
But the Russian, Vasily Kuznetsov, wasn’t fooled.
In the resolution adopted by the Security Council, the ‘withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict’ becomes the first necessary principle for the establishment of a just and lasting peace…. We understand the decision taken to mean the withdrawal of Israel forces from all, and we repeat, all territories belonging to Arab States and seized by Israel following its attack on those States on 5 June 1967.
Kuznetsov dismissed Goldberg’s border-adjustment argument, saying that the clause concerning the inadmissibility of territorial acquisition trumped any consideration for secure boundaries. He argued that the security needs of Israel “cannot serve as a pretext for the maintenance of Israel forces on any part of the Arab territories seized by them as a result of war.”
Your average native English speaker would not have been fooled by the missing word either. To the man on the Clapham omnibus “withdrawal from territories occupied in the recent conflict” plainly means “get the hell out of the territories you occupied in the recent conflict”.
US Secretary of State Dean Rusk writing in 1990 remarked:
We wanted [it] to be left a little vague and subject to future negotiation because we thought the Israeli border along the West Bank could be rationalized; certain anomalies could easily be straightened out with some exchanges of territory, making a more sensible border for all parties…. But we never contemplated any significant grant of territory to Israel as a result of the June 1967 war. On that point we and the Israelis to this day remain sharply divided…. I’m not aware of any commitment the United States has made to assist Israel in retaining territories seized in the Six-Day War.
And how had UN members so conveniently forgotten about the Palestinian lands seized and ethnically cleansed before 1967? You know, those important Arab towns and cities and hundreds of villages that had been allocated to a future Palestinian state in the UN’s 1947 Partition Plan but were seized by Jewish terrorist groups and Israel militia while the ink was still drying on the document? Had they also forgotten that the Palestinians were never consulted on the UN’s decision to hand over their lands to aliens mainly from Europe and with no ancestral links to the ancient Holy Land? The borders set down in the 1947 Partition and incorporated into UN Resolution are certainly “recognised” because they were duly voted on and accepted even by the Zionists and their allies, were they not?
As everyone knows, Israel has never declared its borders nor respected the UN-specified borders. It is still hell-bent on thieving lands and resources, so no border is ever secure enough or final. Of course, a Palestinian state, if or when it emerges, is equally entitled to secure borders but the Israeli regime is unlikely to agree. It wants total control. So going down the talks path again and again is fruitless. Borders should be imposed by the proper international bodies and enforced. That has to be the start-point. Adjustments can then be made with mutual consent once Israeli troops are no longer in occupation.
Incidentally, Article 33 of the UN Charter says that parties to any dispute, the continuance of which is likely to endanger international peace and security, shall first of all seek a solution by negotiation, enquiry, mediation, conciliation, arbitration, judicial settlement, resort to regional agencies or arrangements, or other peaceful means of their own choice.
Should the parties fail to settle it by those means Article 37 says they must “refer it to the Security Council. If the Security Council deems that the continuance of the dispute is in fact likely to endanger the maintenance of international peace and security, it shall decide whether to take action under Article 36 or to recommend such terms of settlement as it may consider appropriate.”
Article 36 declares that “in making recommendations under this Article the Security Council should also take into consideration that legal disputes should as a general rule be referred by the parties to the International Court of Justice in accordance with the provisions of the Statute of the Court.”
Isn’t the Israeli occupation a legal dispute? How much longer must we wait to see the Charter complied with? Which brings us back to the question: why wasn’t Abbas at the conference batting for Palestine’s freedom and a just solution based on law? His presence would have put Netanyahu on the wrong foot.
Cuba has denounced US-led coalition airstrikes in Syria, saying they violate the Arab country’s sovereignty as they are not permitted by Damascus.
Cuban Ambassador to the United Nations Humberto Rivero made the criticism during a UN Security Council meeting in New York on Wednesday.
“We demand the cessation of the violations of Syrian sovereignty and the foreign military presence without the consent and the coordination of operations with the Syrian government, the only legitimately elected authority in the country,” Rivero said.
He further condemned the “politicization” of the crisis in Syria and “the tampering of the humanitarian crisis and the suffering” of people in the Middle Eastern country.
Those who are “supplying weapons, money and patronage to terrorist groups are responsible for the thousands of civilian victims of the conflict and the humanitarian situation,” the Cuban diplomat said, expressing his opposition to “the promotion of an interventionist agenda” in Syria.
The US-led coalition has been conducting air raids against what are said to be Daesh terrorists inside Syria since September 2014 without any authorization from the Damascus government or a UN mandate. Analysts have assessed the strikes as unsuccessful as they have led to civilian deaths and failed to counter terrorism.
The US Air Force is also carrying out airdrops of weapons, ammunition and other equipment to militants fighting against the pro-government forces in Syria.
UN chief optimist on ‘conflict freeze’
Separately on Wednesday, United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres warned that the consequences of the Syria crisis had become “too dangerous.”
Speaking in a briefing at the UN office in the Swiss city of Geneva, Guterres stressed that the conflict had fueled instability in the Middle East region and terrorist attacks across the globe.
Touching on the upcoming Syria peace talks in the Kazakh capital Astana, the UN chief further expressed hope that the discussions could “lead towards a consolidation of the ceasefire and a freeze in the conflict.”
The cessation of hostilities took effect on December 30, following an agreement between Syria’s warring parties.
Mediated by Russia and Turkey with the support of Iran, the truce is the first of its kind that has been largely holding in Syria for almost three weeks now. Earlier attempts by the US to broker such a long-lasting ceasefire had failed.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Guterres underlined that the success of the Syria talks could “help create the conditions for a political process” regarding the Syria crisis.
The Astana talks, which are scheduled to be held on January 23, were brokered by Moscow, Ankara and Tehran.
On 23 December the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) voted to adopt a resolution condemning Israeli settlement activity as illegal, and demanding that Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including east Jerusalem”.
For once, the USA decided to join the rest of humanity and didn’t veto the resolution. The message is obvious: if Zionism was a promise to make the Jews people like other people, its failure is colossal. The Jewish State and its lobbies are people like no other. 14 out of 15 members of the UNSC voted against Israel, the US abstained. In the most clear terms, the UNSC denounced the Jewish state’s treatment of the Palestinian people. If Israel would be an ordinary state, as Zionism initially promised, it would take some time to reflect on the resolution and consider the necessary measures to amend its public image. But as one would expect, the Jewish State did the complete opposite. It took the path of the bully and decided to punish the world.
In his first reaction to the resolution Israeli PM Netanyahu told his followers that the Security Council’s behaviour was “shameful.” He also harshly denounced President Obama’s choice to abstain. A list of American elected spineless characters were quick to cry havoc and promised to correct the damage. Netanyahu has instructed Israel’s ambassadors in New Zealand and Senegal to “return to Israel for consultations.” A scheduled visit of the Ukrainian PM in Jerusalem next week was cancelled. Netanyahu also ordered to block the shekel pipeline to some UN institutions.
But things may be slightly more complicated than they look at first glance. If the One (Bi-National) State is an existential threat to Israel being the Jewish state, then the recent UN resolution is obviously a last attempt to revive the Two-State Solution. It, de facto, legitimises the existence of the Jewish State within the pre-1967 borders. The resolution provides Israel with a practical and pragmatic opportunity to dissolve the West Bank settlements. Banks and businesses may start to refrain from operating in the occupied territories. Israeli military personnel serving in the occupied territories are about to become subject to the scrutiny of international law. Netanyahu, so it seems, made a fuss about the resolution, but the resolution plays into his hands. It provides him with an opportunity to break the stalemate with the Palestinians. Netanyahu knows it. President Obama knows it, the president-elect will be advised about as soon as he takes some time off Twitter.
But if the resolution serves Israeli national and security interests, why did Netanyahu react like a bully? The answer is simple. Bibi is a populist. Like president-elect Trump he knows what his people are like. He knows what the Jews and the Israelis seek in their leader. They want their king to celebrate Jewish exceptionalism. They want their master to perform contempt towards the Goyim. PM Netanyahu knows very well that David Ben Gurion (the legendary first Israeli PM) dismissed the UN, famously saying “it doesn’t matter what the Goyim say, the only thing that matters is what Jews do.”
It is far from clear whether Ben Gurion was really dismissive of Goyim. However, he was loved by his people for conveying the image as if he did. Bibi follows the same rule. In the public eye, he is dismissive of the UN, he is full with contempt to the nations and Goyim in general. But in practice he knows that the resolution is essential for the existence of the Jewish state. It is probably the last opportunity to scale down the pretentious Zionist dream and make it fit with the reality on the ground. Let me reassure you, I don’t hold my breath. In reality it is actually the Israelis who don’t miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity.
The United Nations General Assembly today approved a historic resolution to launch negotiations in 2017 on a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons. The vote follows a decision on 27 October by the General Assembly’s First Committee – which deals with disarmament and international security matters – to begin work on the new treaty despite fervent opposition from some nuclear-armed nations.
The resolution was adopted by a large majority, with 113 UN member states voting in favour, 35 voting against and 13 abstaining. Support was strongest among the nations of Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean, Southeast Asia and the Pacific. A cross-regional group comprising Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria and South Africa initiated the resolution and are likely to lead next year’s negotiations.
At a UN budget committee meeting earlier this week, the United States attracted the ire of other nations when it objected to a funding request for the planned four weeks of negotiations on the treaty, to be held at UN headquarters in New York. But under intense pressure from supporters of nuclear disarmament, it eventually withdrew its objection, and the committee authorized the request.
In a leaked document distributed to all NATO members in October ahead of the First Committee decision, the United States – which possesses some 7,000 nuclear weapons – urged its allies to oppose the resolution and to boycott the negotiations, fearing that the treaty would erode the perception that nuclear weapons are legitimate for certain nations and make it more difficult for NATO to engage in nuclear war planning.
A number of close US allies that voted against the resolution or abstained have indicated their intention to participate in the negotiations anyway, in order to help shape the treaty. For example, the Netherlands, which hosts US nuclear weapons on its territory and abstained from voting, has confirmed that it will take part, and Japan’s foreign minister, despite opposing the resolution, wants his country to attend.
The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) is urging all nations to take part. “Every nation has an interest in ensuring that nuclear weapons are never used again, which can only be guaranteed through their complete elimination. We are calling on all governments to join next year’s negotiations and work to achieve a strong and effective treaty,” said Beatrice Fihn, executive director of ICAN.
ICAN stressed that the negotiations should proceed whether or not nuclear-armed nations agree to participate. “As a matter of principle, weapons that are indiscriminate in nature and are intended to cause catastrophic humanitarian harm should be prohibited under international law. This new treaty will place nuclear weapons on the same legal footing as other weapons of mass destruction,” said Fihn.
“We believe that, through its normative force, the nuclear weapon ban treaty will affect the behaviour of nuclear-armed nations even if they refuse to join it. It will also affect the behaviour of many of their allies that currently claim protection from nuclear weapons, including those in Europe that host nuclear weapons on their territory. It will contribute significantly towards achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world.”
The negotiations will be divided into two sessions, from 27 to 31 March and from 15 June to 7 July. ICAN plans to send a large delegation of campaigners to both sessions. The campaign is urging governments to make every effort to conclude the treaty by the end of the four weeks of negotiations, noting that much preparatory work has already been done, including by a UN working group that met in Geneva this year.
The treaty is likely to include provisions similar to those found in existing treaties banning biological weapons, chemical weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. These include prohibitions on use, development, production, acquisition, stockpiling, retention and transfer, as well as assistance, encouragement or inducement of anyone to engage in any of these prohibited activities.
Multilateral negotiations for nuclear disarmament have been deadlocked for two decades, as all nine nuclear-armed nations have invested heavily in upgrades to their nuclear forces. Alternative proposals for advancing a nuclear-weapon-free world have failed to gain traction or produce results. A majority of UN member states view the ban treaty approach as the most viable and promising pathway forward.
Israel will not abide by the UN Security Council’s demands for Tel Aviv to halt its settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian lands, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a statement.
“Israel rejects this shameful anti-Israel resolution at the UN and will not abide by its terms,” the statement from the PM’s office said, according to Reuters.
The Obama administration “failed to protect Israel against this gang-up at the UN,” and what is even worse, “colluded with it behind the scenes,” the statement added.
In order to “negate the harmful effects of this absurd resolution,” Israel is looking forward to working with President-elect Trump and with “all our friends in Congress, Republicans and Democrats alike.”
Israel’s ambassadors to New Zealand and Senegal – countries who along with Malaysia and Venezuela tabled the draft resolution – were immediately ordered to return to Tel Aviv for consultations.
Earlier, the Israeli ambassador to the council, Danny Danon slammed the vote as a “victory for terror, a victory for hatred and violence.”
“Who gave you the right to issue such a decree, denying our eternal rights in Jerusalem?” he added.
The UN Security Council resolution, demanding an end to the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories, was adopted with 14 of 15 UNSC members voting in favor. The US was the only nation to abstain from voting.
The US defended its abstention from Israeli criticism by stating that one “cannot champion settlements and the two state solution” at the same time. The US Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, said the US did not veto the resolution as it “reflects the facts on the ground and is consistent with US policy.”
The main US pro-Israel lobby group, AIPAC, said it was “deeply disturbed” by the Obama administration’s reluctance to use its veto in what it described as a “destructive, one-sided, anti-Israel resolution.”
The UN Security Council has passed a resolution demanding an end to the construction of Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian territories after the US abstained from voting.
The resolution was introduced to the UNSC by New Zealand, Malaysia, Venezuela and Senegal on Friday, a day after Egypt withdrew reportedly under pressure from Israel and US President-elect Donald Trump.
Earlier, Trump and Israeli authorities also called on the US to veto the resolution. The document was eventually adopted with 14 of 15 UNSC members voting in favor. The US was the only nation to abstain from voting.
It is the first resolution passed by the UNSC on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in almost eight years.
The Israeli envoy to the UN Danny Danon criticized the US’ decision to abstain. However, he expressed his confidence that the new US president would “no doubt” usher in a new era in UN-Israeli ties, as well as the new UN Secretary General.
The US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power responded to the Israeli envoy’s criticism by stressing that one “cannot champion settlements and the two state solution” at the same time. She went on to say that the US did not veto the resolution as it “reflects the facts on the ground and is consistent with US policy.”
Power also stressed that continued settlement building “undermines” Israel’s own security.
Meanwhile, US House Speaker Paul Ryan denounced US abstention by calling it “absolutely shameful” and describing it as a “blow to peace.” The US Republican senator, John McCain, went further and said that the abstention in the UNSC vote made the US “complicit in this outrageous attack” against Israel, reported Reuters.
Danon earlier said that the resolution served as “the condemnation of the sole democracy in the Middle East [Israel].”
The UNSC was initially scheduled to vote on the resolution on Thursday but Egypt pulled its text at the last minute, postponing the vote until after the wrapup of the Arab League ministerial meeting in Cairo. According to Israel’s Haaretz newspaper, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exerted heavy pressure on Egyptian President Abdel Sissi urging him to delay the vote.
Netanyahu also urged the US to veto the vote on the “anti-Israel resolution” on Wednesday night in a short tweet.
The current Obama administration previously expressed its disapproval of Israeli settlement policies, which Tel Aviv has pursued since 1967. However, in 2011, Washington vetoed a draft resolution condemning Israeli settlements.
Israel occupied Palestinian territories in 1967. Now, more than 500,000 Israelis live in settlements built on occupied territories. Meanwhile, Palestinians have been seeking full independence for the occupied territories for decades and demand full recognition as a sovereign state from both the UN and the international community.