Position Paper: A Grant of Recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve
The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR), December 7, 2017
Baflour Declaration Recurs
In a dangerous precedent that violates the international law, on Wednesday, the US President, Donald Trump, declared that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and the American Embassy will be removed to it, signing an order of this. The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) condemns the irresponsible statements by the US President and emphasizes that Jerusalem’s legal status as part of the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) codified in the international law according to the resolutions adopted by the UN and International Court of Justice (ICJ) and recognition of an overwhelming majority of the world’s States. 154 States voted in favor of recognizing the state of Palestine on the territory occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem.
PCHR believes that the declaration represents granting recognition from those who do not own to those who do not deserve as if the history repeats itself to bring out a new “Balfour Declaration in the centennial of the old declaration but by an American tongue this time. PCHR stresses that the Palestinian right to Jerusalem is an international law that cannot be changed by political statements and measures, adding that the declaration convicts its issuer, making him a criminal at the international level and a big shame to the free world.
PCHR emphasizes that Trump’s declaration explicitly violates the international law, Security Council Resolutions, and Geneva Conventions, and constitutes two crimes. The first crime is a crime of aggression against the Palestinian State as the declaration supports and upholds the annexation of lands using force. The second crime is a war crime as the declaration is considered as a complicity in the Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank, including Jerusalem.
In his comment, Lawyer Raji Sourani, PCHR’s Director, said that, “This decision is an explicit call for imposing the rule of jungle and de facto policy in addition to completely flouting the international law and UN’s role… This declaration also gives political legitimacy for the Israeli crimes and affects the history, present and future of the Palestinian people.”
This development came in light of the current US administration’s systematic policy of denying the Palestinians’ right to self-determination and attempting to close down the Palestinian cause. This policy started with supporting the settlement expansion, which was explicitly expressed by the American administration in many events, through being deliberately silent to condemn it or through frankly speaking that settlements belong to Israel and denying they are an occupied territory. In addition, the huge pressures practiced by the US on the UN Bodies, Intentional Criminal Court (ICC) and the Palestinian leadership to deprive the Palestinians of resorting to the International Justice. This was a position expressed by the US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, when she said that, “the days of Israel bashing at the UN are over.” And finally, the Us Administration’s aggression on the Palestinian territory came to end practically the Peace efforts and the two-state solution.
It should be mentioned that 13 States had embassies in Jerusalem until 1970s without recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. However, the US was not among those States as it only had a Consulate in Jerusalem that refers to the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. Those 13 States then moved their embassies from Jerusalem to other cities in Israel, especially following the Security Council’s Resolutions No. 476 and 478, which both condemn Israel’s attempted annexation of Jerusalem.
It is noteworthy that the US Congress recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel in 1995, and the US President recommended in his decision at that time to issue an official declaration to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Since then, the US Presidents continued to delay the embassy move until today when the US President Trump dared to issue the declaration in violation of the international law and disregard for the international peace and life of many innocents that would be endangered due to provoking feelings of millions of Muslims and Christians around the world.
Explicit Violation of UN Resolutions
The Security Council issued 12 resolutions that emphasize Jerusalem is a territory occupied by the Israeli authorities. Eight of them stipulate that all measures and changes in the legal status of the city are not lawful and the Israeli forces shall be withdrawn from it. The four other resolutions call upon Israel to withdraw from the territories occupied in 1967, including Jerusalem. The first of them was the Security Council’s Resolution 242.
Of those resolutions directly relevant to Jerusalem is the Security Council’s Resolution 476 in 1980 that Calls upon Israel to withdraw from the occupied territory, including Jerusalem, emphasizing any change to the status and character of Jerusalem has no legal validity.
In the same year, Resolution 478 was adopted to condemn Israel’s Basic Law which declared Jerusalem to be Israel’s “complete and united” capital, constituting a violation of international law and not affecting the continued application of the Geneva Convention on the City as an occupied territory. The Resolution also condemned all legislative and administrative measures and actions taken by Israel which have altered or purport to alter the character and status of Jerusalem are null and void and must be rescinded forthwith.
One of the latest and most prominent resolutions condemning settlements in the oPt, including Jerusalem, was Resolution 2334 in 2016, which states that Israeli settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity” in addition to undermining the peace process and two-state solution. The Resolution also calls upon all States to distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967. It is noteworthy that this Resolution passed in a 14–0 vote by members of the UN Security Council with the US abstention. This Resolution is considered the fifth of its kind affirming and condemns Israel’s commission of the settlement activity crime.
In its Advisory Opinion on the Annexation wall in 2004, the ICJ affirms that the Gaza Strip and West Bank, including Jerusalem, are occupied territories according to the international law. On this basis, the ICJ’s Resolution came to affirm that the wall has no legal validity as it cuts off parts of the Palestinian territory.
The General Assembly also adopted many resolutions affirming that Israel has no right to Jerusalem as it is an occupying power. The first of these resolutions was Resolution 303 in 1949, which condemns Israel’s declaration of Jerusalem as its capital.