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Lawyer at ‘Counterpunch’ validates Palestinian right of armed resistance to occupation

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Lynda Burstein Brayer is a South African, Israeli-trained human rights lawyer. She has worked in the West Bank. This is at Counterpunch, in a takedown of the Goldstone reconsideration, a discussion of the Palestinian right to self-determination and thus, violent resistance. Others have said the same thing, of course; Michael Neumann said so, at Counterpunch during Cast Lead. Palestinians make this point too. And in our Goldstone volume, Jerry Slater wrote that Israel had no right to launch Cast Lead when it had an alternative response to the Hamas rockets, of negotiations.

There is one outstanding question and issue which Justice Goldstone chose not to address: neither in the original commission nor in his retraction. This is the question of the right of a people to resist an aggressor and/or an oppressor, and the legitimacy of such resistance. I would argue that according to international law today, Israel has no rights to or in the Occupied territories of Palestine. According to the same international law, the occupation ought to have ceased one year after its beginning, that is by June 1968. The United Nations Security Council passed a resolution requiring Israel to withdraw from all occupied territories, Resolution 242 in November 1967. 

I would contend that the continuing presence of Israel in these occupied territories, its building of settlements and the transfer of a huge Jewish population into it, and an infrastructure built from Palestinian assets to serve those settlements, its control over the use of land and water, and its continuing oppression of the indigenous population, should be classified as a colonialist venture. From the Palestinian point of view, the Israeli policies and practices are formulated and executed for the destruction of Palestinian society, private and public life, and their material assets.

In this situation of continuing oppression, dispossession, detention, killing and destruction of social frameworks, are Palestinians not permitted to resist all or any of this? If Israel is a colonizing power over and above its status as Military Occupier, precisely because of its settlement activity and control of the resources of the territory in Occupied Palestine then it would seem that the Declaration on Granting Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples, 1960 General Assembly Resolution 1514 (XV), December 14, 1960 applies to Palestinians today. I quote two relevant articles. 

1. The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation.

2. All peoples have the right to self-determination; by virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development.

Above and beyond the basic right of all human beings to resist their being killed and harmed, and a society to take armed actions to protect itself, this document legitimizes also national liberation struggles, including, at this time in history, most particularly, the Palestinian people’s struggle for its own freedom. It is this right which legitimizes all Palestinian attempts to lift the yoke of Israeli oppression from Palestine, including all the actions taken by the Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead.

And is not the right to resist oppression universal? Does this right not justify the American Revolut8ion and then the French Revolution and the wars of liberation in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is senior editor of and founded the site in 2005-06.

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