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Israel’s war on international law

By Mehmet Nedim Aslan

Before the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government was formed in Britain, Israel’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper carried an article voicing concerns about LibDem leader Nick Clegg’s stance on the policies of the Jewish state. Clegg called for an arms embargo during the Israeli assault on Gaza last year, during which 1,400 Palestinians were killed and thousands more were wounded. Meanwhile, the Jewish Chronicle has reported that Israel and its supporters are happy with the appointment of William Hague as Foreign Secretary in the new government.

As soon as the coalition government was formed, ever-watchful Israel sent one of its top officials to London to lobby for a change in the law so that Israeli leaders accused of war crimes can travel to Britain. The Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Senior Deputy Legal Adviser, Daniel Taub, showed that he was a more accomplished diplomat than his boss Avigdor Lieberman, not through an acceptance of the international criticism of his country, but in his portrayal of Israel.


To anyone unfamiliar with the conflict in the occupied Palestinian territories, Mr. Taub’s remarks would make sense and even create sympathy towards Israel. He told a press conference that while it was very necessary to keep international law for global security and peace, there is at the same time “international bias against Israel” especially, he claimed, by UN bodies and their resolutions. He ignored, very conveniently, the numerous vetoes of those resolutions by the US and European “permanent members” of the Security Council. In his interpretation, Israel is a state under occupation and attack which is facing double standards in the application of international laws and conventions against it.

When he complained about the limits of international law, he mentioned the “militants in Gaza launching rockets into Israel” and “Palestinians carrying fuel in their cars for launching the rockets”. In this way he was seeking to justify the killing of innocent Palestinians who, if they are not firing rockets themselves, must be aiding and abetting the “militants” by supplying fuel to them.

According to Daniel Taub, Israel regards any Palestinian who carries a grudge against the Jewish state for its policies as a legitimate “enemy to be destroyed”. Using his own logic, it could be argued that every Israeli citizen is thus a legitimate target for Hamas or Hezbollah because the taxes they pay are used to fund the military occupation of Palestinian land and attacks against the civilian population. Of course, Mr. Taub sought to talk his way out of this by saying that he didn’t mean to say that every Palestinian is a lawful target; responding to questions on this point he focused again on the “bias” against Israel in the application of international law.

Israel, he said, is lobbying hard for a change in Britain’s law to allow Israeli leaders to visit the UK without fear of arrest under the law of universal jurisdiction. The Conservative Party promised such a change before the General Election but Deputy PM Nick Clegg’s support is necessary to push this through. Israel and Daniel Taub are now targeting the LibDem leader and his party instead of the Conservatives, who are already “on side”.

As Mr. Taub was in London portraying his country as “law-abiding and the only democratic state in the Middle East”, there was another programme being held by Amnesty International discussing the situation of Palestinians who have been expelled from their lands, homes and families by the so-called “democratic state” of Israel. Daniel Taub’s complaints about international law indicate how desperate Israel is to clear itself of the “aggressor” image it has on the international stage. To-date it has been able to rely on the US in the UN Security Council, but the international community is unlikely to sympathise with Israel now that the reality of its illegal and immoral policies against the Palestinians have again been exposed.

 

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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