FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

If Kosovo, Why Not Palestine?

by JOHN V. WHITBECK

On July 22, the International Court of Justice issued an advisory opinion on the following question posed to it by Serbia: “Is the unilateral declaration of independence by the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government of Kosovo in accordance with international law?” By a 10-4 majority, the court ruled that, because “general international law contains no applicable prohibition of declarations of independence”, Kosovo’s declaration of independence in February 2008, coordinated with and supported by the American and most EU governments and subsequently recognized by 69 countries, “did not violate general international law.” The clear implication is that no declarations of independence violate international law and that all are therefore “legal”.

Because the court’s majority chose to rephrase the question before the court (addressing violation of, rather than accordance with, international law in circumstances in which international law is silent) and to respond with wording which has permitted the supporters of Kosovo independence to claim an unequivocal victory and the American government to call publicly on all countries to recognize Kosovo as a sovereign state, not only Kosovars and the American and most EU governments will be celebrating this advisory opinion as a vindication of their positions. So will the peoples and governments of Abkhazia, South Ossetia, Transniestria, Nagorno-Karabakh, Bosnia’s Republika Srpska, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus and Iraqi Kurdistan. Discontented minorities and potential separatists elsewhere (including Alaska, Hawaii and Vermont) may also find cause for encouragement in this opinion.

Might the Palestinian people also find reason to celebrate, cause for encouragement or grounds for hope in this opinion?

The American and EU impatience to amputate a portion of a UN member state (universally recognized, even by them, to constitute a portion of that state’s sovereign territory), ostensibly because 90% of those living in that portion of the state’s territory supported separation, contrasts starkly with the unlimited patience of the U.S. and the EU when it comes to ending the 43-year-long belligerent occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip (no portion of which any country recognizes as Israel’s sovereign territory and as to which Israel has only even asserted sovereignty over a tiny portion, occupied East Jerusalem). Virtually every legal resident of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip seeks freedom — and has for over 40 years. For doing so, they are punished, sanctioned, besieged, humiliated and, day after endless day, killed by those who claim to stand on the moral high ground.

In American and EU eyes, a Kosovar declaration of independence from Serbian sovereignty should be recognized even if Serbia does not agree. However, their attitude was radically different when Palestine declared independence from Israeli occupation on November 15, 1988. Then the U.S. and the EU countries (which, in their own eyes, constitute the “international community”, to the exclusion of most of mankind) were conspicuously absent when over 100 countries recognized the new State of Palestine, and their non-recognition made this declaration of independence purely “symbolic” in their own eyes and, unfortunately, in most Palestinian and other eyes as well.

For the U.S. and the EU, any Palestinian independence, to be recognized and legally effective, must still be directly negotiated, on a wildly unequal bilateral basis, between the occupying power and the occupied people — and must be agreed to by the occupying power. For the U.S. and the EU, the rights and desires of a long-suffering and brutalized occupied people, as well as international law, are irrelevant.

For the U.S. and the EU, Kosovar Albanians, having enjoyed almost nine years of UN administration and NATO protection, could not be expected to wait any longer for their freedom, while the Palestinians, having endured over 40 years of Israeli occupation, can wait forever.

With the “peace process” effectively brain-dead, the Kosovo precedent offers the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership, accepted as such by the “international community” because it is perceived as serving Israeli and American interests, a golden opportunity to seize the initiative, to reset the agenda and to restore its tarnished reputation in the eyes of its own people.

If this leadership truly believes, despite all evidence to the contrary, that a decent “two-state solution” is still possible, now is an ideal moment to reaffirm the legal existence (albeit under continuing belligerent occupation) of the State of Palestine, explicitly in the entire 22% of Mandatory Palestine which was not conquered and occupied by the State of Israel until 1967, and to call on all those countries which did not extend diplomatic recognition to the State of Palestine in 1988 — and particularly the U.S. and the EU states — to do so now.

Of course, to prevent the U.S. and the EU from ignoring such an initiative or treating it as a joke, there would have to be a significant and explicit consequence if they were to do so. The consequence would be the end of Palestinian adherence to the “two-state” illusion.

The Palestinian leadership would make clear that if the U.S. and most EU states, having recognized a second Albanian state on the sovereign territory of a UN member state and having called on all other states to do likewise, will not now recognize one Palestinian state on a tiny portion of the occupied Palestinian homeland, it will dissolve the “Palestinian Authority” (which, legally, should have ceased to exist in 1999, at the end of the five-year “interim period” under the Oslo Accords) and the Palestinian people will thereafter seek justice and freedom through democracy — through the persistent, non-violent pursuit of full rights of citizenship in a single state in all of Israel/Palestine, free of any discrimination based on race and religion and with equal rights for all who live there, as in any true democracy.

Palestinian leaderships have tolerated Western hypocrisy and racism and played the role of gullible fools for far too long. It is time to kick over the table, constructively, and to shock the “international community” into taking notice that the Palestinian people simply will not tolerate unbearable injustice and abuse any longer.

If not now, when?

JOHN V. WHITBECK, an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel, is author of “The World According to Whitbeck“.

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

John V. Whitbeck is an international lawyer who as advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.

More articles by:
May 31, 2016
Vijay Prashad
Stoking the Fires: Trump and His Legions
Uri Avnery
What Happened to Netanyahu?
Miguel A. Cruz-Díaz
Imperial Blues: On Whitewashing Dictatorship in the 21st Century
Corey Payne
Reentry Through Resistance: Détente with Cuba was Accomplished Through Resistance and Solidarity, Not Imperial Benevolence
Patrick Howlett-Martin
Libya: How to Bring Down a Nation
Bill Quigley
From Tehran to Atlanta: Social Justice Lawyer Azadeh Shahshahani’s Fight Human Rights
Manuel E. Yepe
Trump, Sanders and the Exhaustion of a Political Model
Bruce Lerro
“Network” 40 Years Later: Capitalism in Retrospect and Prospect and Elite Politics Today
Robert Hunziker
Chile’s Robocops
Aidan O'Brien
What’ll It be Folks: Xenophobia or Genocide?
Binoy Kampmark
Emailgate: the Clinton Spin Doctors In Action
Colin Todhunter
The Unique Risks of GM Crops: Science Trumps PR, Fraud and Smear Campaigns
Dave Welsh
Jessica Williams, 29: Another Black Woman Gunned Down By Police
Gary Leupp
Rules for TV News Anchors, on Memorial Day and Every Day
May 30, 2016
Ron Jacobs
The State of the Left: Many Movements, Too Many Goals?
James Abourezk
The Intricacies of Language
Porfirio Quintano
Hillary, Honduras, and the Murder of My Friend Berta
Patrick Cockburn
Airstrikes on ISIS are Reducing Their Cities to Ruins
Uri Avnery
The Center Doesn’t Hold
Raouf Halaby
The Sailors of the USS Liberty: They, Too, Deserve to Be Honored
Rodrigue Tremblay
Barack Obama’s Legacy: What Happened?
Matt Peppe
Just the Facts: The Speech Obama Should Have Given at Hiroshima
Deborah James
Trade Pacts and Deregulation: Latest Leaks Reveal Core Problem with TISA
Michael Donnelly
Still Wavy After All These Years: Flower Geezer Turns 80
Ralph Nader
The Funny Business of Farm Credit
Paul Craig Roberts
Memorial Day and the Glorification of Past Wars
Colin Todhunter
From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never Serve the Public Good
Rivera Sun
White Rose Begins Leaflet Campaigns June 1942
Tom H. Hastings
Field Report from the Dick Cheney Hunting Instruction Manual
Weekend Edition
May 27, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
Silencing America as It Prepares for War
Rob Urie
By the Numbers: Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump are Fringe Candidates
Paul Street
Feel the Hate
Daniel Raventós - Julie Wark
Basic Income Gathers Steam Across Europe
Andrew Levine
Hillary’s Gun Gambit
Jeffrey St. Clair
Hand Jobs: Heidegger, Hitler and Trump
S. Brian Willson
Remembering All the Deaths From All of Our Wars
Dave Lindorff
With Clinton’s Nixonian Email Scandal Deepening, Sanders Must Demand Answers
Pete Dolack
Millions for the Boss, Cuts for You!
Peter Lee
To Hell and Back: Hiroshima and Nagasaki
Gunnar Westberg
Close Calls: We Were Much Closer to Nuclear Annihilation Than We Ever Knew
Karl Grossman
Long Island as a Nuclear Park
Binoy Kampmark
Sweden’s Assange Problem: The District Court Ruling
Robert Fisk
Why the US Dropped Its Demand That Assad Must Go
Martha Rosenberg – Ronnie Cummins
Bayer and Monsanto: a Marriage Made in Hell
Brian Cloughley
Pivoting to War
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail