In a commentary published in the Yukon News on February 14, HRC Regional Director Michelle Whiteman points out that when it comes to the Middle East conflict, international law is on Israel’s side.
Read the full commentary immediately below:
Yukon News: Michelle Whiteman, “International Law is on Israel’s Side” (Feb. 14, 2014)
Al Pope is opposed to Israeli settlement building which he deems contrary to international law. Yet, he illustrates a disregard for international law by championing the Palestinian violation of the Oslo Accords, which is a binding instrument of international law.
The Canadian government opposed the Palestinian unilateral declaration of statehood because it was a direct violation of the terms of the accords to which the Israeli and Palestinian leaderships obligated themselves. Yet, Mr. Pope berates the Canadian government for not endorsing this violation.
In point of fact, the Oslo Accords contain no prohibition whatsoever on building Jewish homes in settlements. According to the terms of the accords, the issue of settlements is to be determined in a final status phase of negotiations which, as everyone knows, has yet to take place. Even so, the Israeli government has refrained from building new settlements as a good will gesture, instead building strictly in existing settlements in settlement blocs to accommodate natural growth and which, in any peace agreement, Israel is expected to retain.
The same cannot be said for the Fatah Palestinian leadership which does violate its commensurate obligations through its unilateral declaration of statehood and its continued incitement and glorification of terror which is a serious roadblock to peace.
The Hamas leadership in Gaza, furthermore, calls for the genocide of Jewish people worldwide and violates the rights of its minorities with impunity, which explains why Christians are fleeing Gaza and the West Bank. Mr. Pope’s claim that the West Bank is “Palestinian territory” is inaccurate. There exists no legal instrument which places the territories under Palestinian sovereignty.
The legal status of the territories is “disputed.” This is because both Israel and the Palestinian leadership claim the same territory. Israel’s claim to the territories is compelling. Historical and indigenous, its rights are also legal by virtue of the Balfour Declaration, the 1920 San Remo
Declaration, the League of Nations Mandate instrument and article 80 of the United Nations Charter.
The Canadian government’s position is not suffering from a lack of clarity. However, one can suggest that a deficient knowledge of the historical record and international law has led Mr.
Pope to make incorrect assumptions. Our Canadian government rightly sides with democracies, not dictatorships.