After 66 years of brutal occupation “peace talks without applying
the principles of international law are an exercise in delusion”
As expected, the “peace” talks farce has ended in disarray with all
parties utterly discredited again. Do they never learn? Expect more
acrobatics and slapstick if the same circus clowns remain in the
We badly need a new act. Let this be the moment in history when
world leaders finally stop talking poppycock about peace in relation
to the Holy Land, and start talkingjustice.
A statement issued on 29 April by the Palestinians’ chief
negotiator, Saeb Erekat, seemed to say there will be no more
negotiations until Israel complies with the 1967 borders and ends
its illegal occupation. He didn’t mention explicitly that the
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) would now take their case to
the International Criminal Court or War Crimes Tribunal; but he
talked about using “every legitimate means possible” to pursue
Palestine’s independence and fulfil its people’s rights.
We were also given figures showing how desperately the Israelis –
those self-styled “partners for peace” – were trying to sabotage the
talks throughout the nine months they were going on. They stepped up
their occupation and colonization activities, announcing homes for
over 55,000 new settlers. Israeli military and security officials
killed 61 Palestinians and injured 1,100 more. There were 660
settler attacks on Palestinian civilians and property, including
places of worship. And construction of more than 14,000 Jews-only
housing units was begun in the illegal settlements while Israel
demolished 508 Palestinian structures (196 residential and 312
business) in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem,
resulting in 878 persons being forcibly displaced.
While we wait for US Secretary of State John Kerry to contemplate
the revolver on the silver tray and write his suicide note, readers
will recall an earlier
article telling of my
failed attempts to conduct an interview with the PLO’s Hanan Ashrawi
and posting the unanswered questions instead. Well, they were
suddenly answered, out of the blue, by Emmanuel Tierra, a former
national security adviser to PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and a former
acting PLO chairman. He tells me he is currently a senior policy
adviser and military analyst with the Provisional Interim Council of
Government (PINCG), which is an unincorporated agency of individuals
from all 17 Palestinian resistance groups, excluding the Palestinian
Authority and Al-Qaeda-type organizations. Marwan Barghouti is
chairman and joint chief of staff of the Militia and National
Command Authority (MANCAT). Tierra is deputy chairman. I imagine
these shadowy organizations are waiting in the wings for the day
when Mahmoud Abbas finally falls under a bus, and are as new to most
of you as they are to me.
Is he a spokesman for the PLO? I doubt it; he speaks with a
different tone of voice. I asked Dr Ashrawi’s office – the
Department of Information no less – and received no reply. So Tierra
remains a rather mysterious, shadowy figure, and that’s maybe just
as well in the circumstances. Here are some of his responses.
[Question] What do you expect John Kerry’s peace “framework” to
deliver, and will it amount to any more than another giveaway of
Palestinian positions, entitlements and assets?
[Answer] “There is only one framework for resolving the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is international law of the UN
Charter and the laws of armed conflict.
“Without applying the principles of international law it is an
exercise in delusion. The Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement was
possible because it applied UNSC [UN Security Council Resolution]
UNSC 242 emphazises the inadmissibility of acquiring 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. It also calls for
“withdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the
recent conflict” and “termination of all claims or states of
belligerency and respect for and acknowledgement 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”, in
accordance with UN Charter principles.
It emphasizes further that all member states in their acceptance of
the UN Charter have undertaken a commitment to act in accordance
with Article 2 of the Charter. This says in particular:
All members shall settle their international disputes by
peaceful means in such a manner that international peace and
security, and justice are not endangered.
All members 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.
All members shall give the United Nations every assistance in
any action it takes in accordance with the present charter, and
shall refrain from giving assistance to any state against which
the United Nations is taking preventive or enforcement action.
The organization shall ensure that states which are not members
of the United Nations act in accordance with these principles so
far as may be necessary for the maintenance of international
peace and security.
Appeasing Netanyahu “destroys US credibility”
Tierra maintains that the Palestinian leadership has actually been
successful in its negotiations inasmuch as it has “not sold out
Palestinian sovereignty or territory for glass beads and trinkets.
The only expectation that Palestinian citizens and the international
community should have is that international law compliance will bear
fruit for not only an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, but also
Israeli-Syrian and Israeli-Lebanese agreements.
“Palestinian Resistance leaders know very well that the USA cannot
deliver any peace agreement with Netanyahu’s intransigence. We went
along with this present effort so that the US administration and the
American people could see for themselves that Israeli Zionism is the
root of the problem and appeasing Netanyahu or any other Israeli
leader who continues Israel’s criminal enterprise will eventually
destroy the US’s credibility in the Middle East and globally.”
[Question] Why has the Palestinian leadership been so reluctant to
take its case to the International Criminal Court, opting instead
for more bogus negotiations mediated by a dishonest broker and
giving the occupier even more time to establish irreversible “facts
on the ground”? Shouldn’t maximum effort be made to reach a
law-based solution, all other ways having failed?
[Answer] “First, Zionist ‘facts on the ground’ such as Israeli
settlements in occupied Palestine West Bank are not irreversible.
The Fourth Geneva Convention, Article 49 prohibiting the transfer of
Israeli citizens into occupied territory, should see to that.
“The substantive issue is sovereignty and territorial integrity.
UNGA [United Nations General Assembly Resolution] 181 divided the
territory of Mandated Palestine as follows:
State of Palestine territory/sovereignty is defined in UNGA 181
Part II Boundaries A.,
State of Israel territory/sovereignty is defined in UNGA 181
Part II Boundaries B.,
Jerusalem is placed under UN trusteeship defined in UNGA 181
Part III, as acorpus
“Regardless of how anyone interprets the establishment of the state
of Israel, the Israeli government in its UNGA 273 Accession to the
UN Charter ‘unreservedly agreed’ to the international law context of
“The Partition Plan also laid down a guarantee of the rights of
minorities and religious rights, including free access to and the
preservation of holy places, the constitution of an economic union
between the two states, and a custom union, including equal access
to water and energy resources.”
UNGA 181 called for the Security Council to consider whether the
situation in Palestine constitutes a threat to peace. If it decides
that such a threat exists, and in order to maintain international
peace and security, the Security Council should supplement the
authorization of the General Assembly by taking measures under
articles 39 and 41 of the UN Charter, to empower the United Nations
Commission to exercise in Palestine the functions which are assigned
to it. It also called for the Security Council to determine as a
threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression, in
accordance with Article 39 of the charter, any attempt to alter by
force the settlement envisaged by this resolution.
“To comply with UNSC 242 Israel will have to remove its war criminal
settlers,” says Tierra. “The houses would remain within the context
of a comprehensive peace agreement dealing with UNGA 181 Palestinian
territories occupied since 1949 by the state of Israel. A lottery
would award the houses to Palestinians currently living in refugee
camps within Palestine and in third Arab states.
“This of course is within the context of Israeli reparations for 44
years of war crimes occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and
Gaza. It assumes that a sincere Israeli leadership would be our
partners in an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. A hardline
Zionist government, however, might demolish the housing colonies,
but compliance with UNSC 242 would still be required.”
As regards the International Criminal Court, Tierra points out that
it does not have the universal jurisdiction that some people think.
“It cannot apply retroactively. Its temporal jurisdiction is limited
to acts committed after 1 July 2002. And its territorial
jurisdiction is limited to nation states that have acceded to the
Rome Statute. The state of Israel has not contracted with the ICC;
the State of Palestine has just filed an Instrument of Accession.”
Sovereignty/territory of Israeli and Palestinian states as
originally defined by UN
The questions that beg to be answered, he says, are:
“What is the sovereignty/territory of the state of Palestine?”
“What is the sovereignty/territory of the state of Israel?”
He points again to UNGA 273 which admitted Israel to the United
Nations and to Israel’s unreserved acceptance of binding obligations
and unreserved agreement to the international law context of UNGA
181 and UNGA 194.
ICC jurisdiction includes a Chapter VII, Article 41 referral, but
the provisions of articles 39 and 40 must to be exhausted (they
surely must have been by now) before Articles 41 (sanctions or
referral to the ICC) and 42 (military intervention) can be
[Question] What action is being taken to protect Palestine’s
offshore and inland oil/gas reserves from being plundered by Israel?
What is being done to retrieve Palestine’s water resources?
“UNGA 181 state of Palestine has been under occupation since 29
November 1947. Yet it is a UN Trusteeship State in accordance with
the UN Charter Chapter XII, Article 80, Terms of Trusteeship, and as
such should be under direct UN administration in accordance with
charter Article 81.
“The Palestinian resistance leadership cannot protect these
resources nor prevent Israel plundering them while UNGA 181 state of
Palestine is under IDF [Israel Defence Forces] occupation and our
people are under siege. Therefore, the Palestinian resistance is
striving to become a professional military corpus, a professional
diplomatic corpus and a professional public administration of civil
servants. If we are to protect our natural resources, it is
imperative that we defeat the Israelis diplomatically, although
defeating them militarily would be nice.
“I emphasize that the General Assembly, with UNGA 3236, granted the
PLO provisional sovereign powers, but these powers cannot be
exercised until UNSC 242 is complied with. So, in order to protect
the resources belonging to UNGA 181 state of Palestine we are
steadily becoming a more professional agency of governance and
liberation, with the aim of taking back our territory centimetre by
centimetre if necessary.”
Incidentally, 3236 reaffirms the inalienable rights of the
Palestinian people in Palestine, including their right to
self-determination without external interference and their right to
national independence and sovereignty. It also recognizes the right
of the Palestinian people to regain their rights by all means in
accordance with the purposes and principles of the UN Charter, and
it appeals to all states and international organizations to help the
Palestinian people in their struggle to restore those rights. UK are
[Question] When is President Abbas, who has long overstayed his term
of office and exhausted his legitimacy, expected to step down?
“The Palestinian Authority is fraud masquerading as national
governance. Its only subscribers are the Israelis and the USA plus
the cronies and stooges that draw PA salaries. The presidential term
expired in 2009 and the legislature expired in 2010.”
Palestinian leaders who speak up for unity are likely to go on
Israel’s kill list
[Question] What are the prospects for Palestinian unity and how much
longer will it take to achieve? Palestinian women have been a tower
of strength throughout the long years of occupation. Could
Palestinian “girl power” be mobilized to help bring about unity?
“Without Palestinian unity, we may as well just surrender to the
Israelis because liberation cannot be achieved.
“Arafat and I formulated a Palestinian Defence Policy in 2000 that
had as its objective the integration of all Palestinian resistance
agencies into a Provisional Council of Government that was titled
PALGAZ, PALWEB and PALIS, establishing political administration for
Gaza, West Bank and territories occupied by Israel in 1949.
“Abbas was played by the Israelis, Europeans and Americans into
attempting a coup of the Hamas-elected Palestinian Authority in
2007, which resulted in the PA and Fatah being expelled from Gaza.
“How long will it take to achieve Palestinian unity? The Palestinian
resistance fragmentation of the 1970s into multiple agencies has
hurt the Palestinian cause right up to the present time and was the
result of self-idolatrous vanity. It will take as long as it takes
to instil into the emergent leadership that governance and
legitimate political authority are intended to serve the interests
of the people and not selfish greed.
“Equality of women shall be a cornerstone of the Palestinian
political community. Anything less would be an offence against the
very persons who have been heads of households while their men have
been in Israeli prisons. All that is needed is to offer women the
opportunity to voice their opinions through their votes, and voice
their concerns through equal opportunities in education and
“The present PLO-Hamas unity agreement was envisioned by myself and
Arafat under the title ‘Articles of Confederation’. Unity will take
as long is it takes to grasp the reality that no one is coming to
help Palestinians remove the Israeli yoke of oppression – not the
third Arab state, not the human rights preaching Americans, not the
civil rights preaching Europeans, and certainly not the Palestinian
He’s right, of course. The “great and good” are ultimately
unprincipled, as they demonstrate repeatedly. Civil society,
however, is angered by the inaction of those who are supposed to
represent them, and movements like Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions
(BDS) are fast gaining ground.
“And Palestinian unity will become a reality,” says Tierra, “when
Palestinians stop believing in the delusion that 100 per cent of the
Mandate of Palestine should or could be liberated. The state of
Israel is a permanent fixture among nation states. So, we must
embrace international law, UN Charter Article 80, Terms of UN
Trusteeship, and UNGA 181 because these offer protection to the
viability of a nation state of Palestine as defined in UNGA 181 Part
[Question] Israel has run rings round the Palestinians media-wise.
Communication is practically non-existent. What professional media
training do key people at the PA and PLO receive?
“Palestinians are building a nation state from scratch without any
help other than the UN agencies that are humanitarian-aid-focused
and not diplomatically focused.
“I am 100 per cent in agreement that Palestinian resistance agencies
should incorporate public diplomacy. However, please understand that
the Israelis since the 1960s have targeted for killing all
Palestinian leadership that voice opinions that would unify
Palestinians or expose the reality of Israel’s war criminal
That’s a chilling thought on which to end.