In the newest development concerning peace negotiations between Israel and the PA, Netanyahu has offered to partially extend the fake settlement freeze in exchange for recognition of Israel's Jewish character. In a startling spectacle of rationality, the PA has rejected the offer in kind. BBC reports:
The chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, said Mr. Netanyahu was "playing games" with his offer, and that there was no connection between settlements and the national character of Israel.
"I don't see a relevance between his obligations under international law and him trying to define the nature of Israel," he added. "I hope he will stop playing these games and will start the peace process by stopping settlements."
He's right. Settlement activity in the West Bank is illegal under international law regardless of Israel's "Jewishness". Perhaps Bibi Netanyahu forgot the following:
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development [... and] have been established in breach of international law. -International Court of Justice Ruling, July 9, 2004
Or operative paragraph one of UNSC Resolution 242, in which the Security Council unanimously:
...Affirms that the fulfillment of Charter principles requires the establishment of a just and lasting peace in the Middle East which should include the application of...the following principles:
(i) Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict...
Or UNSC Resolution 446, which affirmed in explicit terms the conclusions of UNSC Resolution 242 (three abstentions) as did UNSC Resolution 452 (one abstention) UNSC Resolution 465 (unanimous), and UNSC Resolution 471 (one abstention)?
Or the portion of UNSC Resolution 252, passed with two abstentions, in which the Security Council:
...Considers that all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel, including expropriation of land and properties thereon, which tend to change the legal status of Jerusalem are invalid and cannot change that status; [and] Urgently calls upon Israel to rescind all such measures already taken and to desist forthwith from taking any further action which tends to change the status of Jerusalem...
Or UNSC Resolution 267, unanimously adopted, which affirmed the conclusions of UNSC Resolution 252, as did UNSC Resolution 298 (one abstention), UNSC Resoluition 476 (one abstention) and UNSC Resolution 478 (one abstention)?
Maybe Bibi forgot that, unlike the General Assembly, resolutions passed by the Security Council are indeed binding?
Maybe he forgot that in 1993 the UNSC approved a report by the Secretary General which concluded beyond doubt that the law applicable in armed conflict as embodied in the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 and the Hague Convention (IV) of 18 October 1907 had become part of international customary law, and thus applied even if the other party was not a High Contracting Party (as is the case in Palestine)?
Did he simply imagine that at the end of each of these resolutions is the caveat "if and only if Israel is recognized as a Jewish state," thus exempting Israel from its legal obligations?
Or perhaps Erekat is right, and Bibi really is just playing games. Setting aside the composition of Israel's demand of recognition as a Jewish state (which is ridiculous in and of itself), the mere act of setting preconditions for compliance with international law attests to Netanyahu's seemingly limitless arrogance. He honestly thinks he can shift the blame for the disintegration of peace talks by throwing bones to the PA, which already affirmed Israel's right to exist (sans the racist classification) in 1993. He clearly believes that through slight of hand he can simultaneously eviscerate the Right of Return for Palestinian refugees, and strengthen the codification of Arab subjugation in Israel all in exchange for what exactly? "An additional suspension of building for a limited period of time," says Bibi. Will this be the same kind of "suspension" that still allowed for unhindered construction in East Jerusalem, for the razing of Palestinian villages and confiscation of private Palestinian property, and for continued work on current projects which would most likely include the 3,000 that began as soon as the last "suspension" ended?
Let's just hope this doesn't constitute the kind of gesture Obama promised to prostitute US taxpayers in order to coax out of the Israeli government.
Maggie Sager is currently a student at Mills College in Oakland, California. You can find her work at http://www.resistingoccupation.com.