How the Israel-UAE Pact Undermines International Law

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How the Israel-UAE Pact Undermines International Law—An Analysis (22 August 2020) by Lawrence Davidson

Part I—“Normalizing” Relations

Much of the diplomatic world has gone gaga over the 13 August 2020 “normalization” of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates (UAE)—facilitated by years of encouragement coming out of Washington. 

In truth this is but a quasi-new relation, because “Israel and the UAE have been cooperating and normalizing relations under the table for many years.” The UAE’s agreement to the public upgrading of this relationship was reportedly made in exchange for Prime Minister Netanyahu’s “suspension of plans to annex parts of the West Bank.” We can now update the old warning to beware of Greeks bearing gifts—beware of Zionists offering compromise.

Though the Israeli Prime Minister’s suspension of annexation is hailed as a major compromise on the part of Israel, it is more illusory than real. Both the Palestinians and Netanyahu himself pointed out that the suspension is not seen as a permanent one. The Palestinians and their supporters also quickly pointed out that this agreement changed nothing in terms of Israel’s illegal behavior on the ground—particularly the de facto annexation represented by the continuing encroachment of Israeli settlements. Under these circumstances, the agreement actually registers the UAE’s acceptance of this criminal state of affairs. The Palestinian spokesperson Hanan Ashrawi put it succinctly: “May you never be sold out by your ‘friends.’ Israel got rewarded for not declaring openly what it has been doing to Palestine illegally & persistently since the beginning of the occupation.”

Despite the fact that the change from informal relations to something more official and public meant little change on Israel’s part, the leaders of the Zionist state, the U.S., and the UAE were determined to present the event in a way that would convince both themselves and others that something momentous had been realized. 

The joint statement coming from the three governments celebrated a “historic diplomatic breakthrough.” Netanyahu asserted that the agreement marked “a new age in Israel’s relations with the Arab World.” He expected to see more Arab states follow the UAE’s lead. And, indeed, it looks like the disreputable dictatorship in Bahrain might be the next in line. 

President Trump framed the event this way, “By uniting two of America’s closest and most capable partners in the region” — something which his egocentric worldview drove him to insist only his administration could do—“this deal is a significant step towards building a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous Middle East.” Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien expressed his opinion that the deal should “solidify a Nobel Peace Prize nomination for Trump.” That would, potentially, put Trump right up there with the ignominious Henry Kissinger.

The Democratic Party candidate for president, Joe Biden, immediately gave his approval. “The UAE’s offer to publicly recognize the State of Israel is a welcome, brave, and badly-needed act of statesmanship. … A Biden-Harris administration will seek to build on this progress, and will challenge all the nations of the region to keep pace.”

Others soon chimed in:

—Egyptian military dictator Abdel Fattah El-Sisi told us “This step will bring peace to the Middle East. We appreciate the efforts of those in charge of this agreement in order to achieve prosperity and stability for our region.”

Germany’s Foreign Minister Heiko Maas: Germany welcomed the “historic” deal between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. The normalization of ties between the two countries “is an important contribution to peace in the region.”

—United Kingdom Prime Minister Boris Johnson praised the agreement, saying “The UAE and Israel’s decision to normalize relations is hugely good news.”

Besides the Palestinians, there were only a few others who saw through the facade. Iran labeled the agreement as a betrayal of the Palestinian cause. “The oppressed people of Palestine and all the free nations of the world will never forgive the normalizing of relations with the criminal Israeli occupation regime.” Turkey’s reaction was similar: “Neither history nor the collective conscience of the region will ever forget and forgive the hypocritical behavior of the UAE, which is trying to depict the deal as a sacrifice for Palestine, when in reality it is a betrayal to the Palestinian cause for its own narrow interests.”

I think Iran and Turkey are correct in their reaction to what is certainly a betrayal. However, I am not sure of the “never forgive” part, keeping in mind the fact that collective memories have, historically, proved fickle. Nonetheless, if anything, these two critical countries did not go far enough in their condemnation. This is so because the Israel-UAE deal is a betrayal of more than the hopes for justice and a better future of oppressed peoples. This bilateral agreement, whether it spreads to the rest of the Arab world or not, is nothing less than the forsaking of the world’s prospects for more civilized and humane international relations.

Part II—The Deep Context 

It would appear that the vast majority of world leaders either know very little history or consider it, as Henry Ford did in 1916, as “bunk.” Yet, the Israel-UAE pact should be measured not only against the historical injustices to Palestinians which it reinforces, but also against the harm it does to a number of progressive historical achievements realized immediately following World War II.

After World War II a number of seminal reforms were undertaken. A revived United Nations was established, a Universal Declaration of Human Rights was inaugurated, international conventions outlawing genocide and crimes against humanity were signed. Eventually apartheid was outlawed and an international criminal court established. These steps, spurred on by the horrors of total war culminating in the Holocaust, represented great forward progress for mankind. They should have strengthened the provisions set forth in the pre-existing Geneva Conventions and acted to restrain aggressive nationalism. They should have acted to educate the masses against racist policies and assured accountability for those who would promote government-level criminal behavior. 

If all of these post-World War II reforms had actually been enforced, it would now be easier to exercise effective pressure to settle the differences between Israelis and Palestinians based on the principles of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the provisions of the 4th Geneva Convention. International acceptance of the racist nature of Israeli society and the apartheid-style policies it pursues would be much less likely. Government leaders who promoted near-genocide in places like Myanmar and Sri Lanka would face a truly effective International Criminal Court. George Bush’s unjustified invasion of Iraq in 2003 would have had to be judged every bit as criminal as Saddam Hussein’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait. And the two men’s fates might have been the same. The world would have progressed both in terms of ethics and respect for laws forbidding crimes against humanity.  

The recent Israel-UAE deal is but another sign that these progressive reforms mean nothing. The Israelis can perhaps look forward to “normal” relations with ever greater number of Arab states. The reaction of Western countries to Israeli crimes will be to continue turning a blind eye. All the governments concerned will see the UAE’s behavior as a green light, and thus they too will acquiesce in the destruction of those progressive achievements outlined above.

Part III—Calling Going Backwards Something “New and Innovative”

Back in 2018 I attended a small conference put on by an organization named Middle East Dialogue. The stated aim of this meeting was to “promote dialogue about current policy concerns in the Middle East, and to provide a civil space for discussion across the religious and political spectrum.” The conference theme in 2018 was “A New Collective Vision.” 

While there I attended a presentation on “new and innovative” approaches to foreign policy in the Middle East. The presenters were extolling an environment of national self-reliance—the formation of policy based on assumed national interests without any “unreasonable” restrictions placed on policy by outside organizations. This was, of course, a version of the traditional “realist” approach to foreign policy that conservatives support. However, here the approach was being presented as something new. And, surprise, surprise, the presenters were claiming that Israel was leading the way into this new and bright future.

Come the Q and A session, it took me about 45 seconds to destroy the presenters’ premise. And, if I do say so myself, I did it politely. Their only reply was that my rebuttal was not how they saw things—implying that mine was but another opinion. The presenters were wrong. What I laid out was a short version of the above, based on evidence of the potential progress they sought to destroy. As good Zionists they probably knew that it was only based on the destruction of agreements like the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the 4th Geneva Convention, that today’s Israel could be accepted as a “normal” state. The United States has long bought into this Faustian restructuring of international relations. Now the UAE leaders can regard themselves as fully part of this ruinous bargain. 

Trump/Kushner Deal of the Century: ‘Money, Money, Money, It’s A Rich Man’s World’

Trump/Kushner Deal of the Century: ‘Money, Money, Money, It’s A Rich Man’s World’

Former Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir said that Palestinians did not exist, but if they did, she claimed that Jews always had a ‘supreme morality.’ Her infamous contention, ’Peace will come when the Arabs will love their children more than they hate us’ displayed a belief that Palestinian Arabs were barely human.

Cruelty by discrimination became explicit in the Jewish Nation State Law of August 2018, which says this state actualises its national, religious and historical rights for self-determination. The distinguished Israeli journalist Gideon Levy concluded that through this law, Israel had adopted apartheid as a form of government, bolstered by the ‘moral rot’ of a ‘legal system far removed from fundamental principles of equality and justice.’

The latest demand to maintain the superiority of one people over another comes from the Israeli Ambassador to the UN, Danny Danon. In a New York Times Opinion piece, he wrote as a leader of a master race. Armed with his assumptions about the merits of top down abuses of power, about humiliation as a policy, and cruelty to inferiors taken for granted, he advised that the best the Palestinians could do is surrender. They should negotiate without any prospect of a State. ‘A national suicide of Palestinians’ current political and cultural ethos is what is needed for peace.’

Danon associated himself with what he calls Western Liberalism, as illustrated by the ‘natural right of the Jewish people to be masters of their own fate in their own sovereign state.’ By contrast, an inferior people such as Palestinians could not have rights to self-determination, even though those rights are made clear in Article 1 of the Charter of the UN.

Consistent with a New York real estate agent’s technique for softening up powerless tenants before evicting them, Trump had already humiliated Palestinians, yet asked them to accept his deal. The US Embassy in Israel had been moved to Jerusalem, Palestinian diplomatic offices in Washington were closed, most funds for the refugee agency UNRWA terminated, so too crucial financial support for Palestinian hospitals in East Jerusalem; then the Golan was annexed and renamed Trump Heights.

The New York Real Estate agency had become Cruelty Inc. There would be no withdrawal of settlements, no end to Israeli control of Palestinians’ lives and nothing to address the injustices to refugees. The Bahrein workshop was told the Palestinians could not secure a better offer.

Deception is another key ingredient in the cruelty mix. Kushner made fraudulent claims even as he appeared to be generous. Fifty billion dollars would generate recovery of the Palestinian economy even though any Palestinian economic development has been restricted by the occupation of the West Bank, the siege of Gaza and other military controls. The $50 billion would be pledged largely by Arab States but no pledges had been made.

In Bahrein, Kushner delivered his father-in-law’s notion that life is about deals and deals are about money. He spoke the Abba lyrics, ‘Money, money, money, must be funny…All the things I could do, If I had a little money, It’s a rich man’s world, It’s a rich man’s world.’ To Palestinians, nothing sounded funny.

Fragile but significant Lebanon could receive $6 billion from a plan geared mostly towards connecting Lebanon with Gaza and the West Bank but the Lebanese rejected this as a shameless bribe. They know that money will come and go whereas Palestinians will always pursue their human rights and ownership of their lands.

Hidden in the offer to the Lebanese was the long held Israeli view that by making Palestinians citizens of other countries, Jordan, Lebanon, Egypt, they could be made to disappear. Lebanon could be bullied, yet as home to 450,000 Palestinian and 1.5 million Syrian refugees, the Lebanese know that without politically just solutions to conflict, no economic initiatives could succeed.

Like fraudulent advertising to increase prospective home owners’ interests, the Kushner deal was presented as the carrot to attract all prospective buyers, even though Palestine was not for sale. Bill Law in the Journal Middle East Eye says that as with other Trump frauds, the deal of the century was not meant to work. The purpose was to pretend peace until more land had been stolen, more checkpoints erected, more night raids made on Palestinians’ homes and more weapons tested over Gaza. Ghassan Khatib from the Jerusalem Media and Communication Centre says,

‘It’s purpose was to buy time, kick dust, shift blame and thereby guarantee permanent Israeli control of the West Bank.’

In this post truth era when ideas about US domestic and foreign policy flow from a President’s tweets, there’s an inherent cruelty in a deal of the century which ignored decades old injustices, the occupation of Palestinian lands, the siege of Gaza, the continued containment of millions of refugees.

To pursue peace with justice for Palestinians and Israelis, politicians and other policy makers should cease being intimidated by a toxic Zionist lobby, and instead ponder Dr. Hanan Ashrawi’s judgement that the Kushner plan is ‘… totally divorced from reality. The elephant in the room is the occupation itself.’

In addition, we could all learn from Palestinian delegations’ reasons for boycotting the Bahrein workshop. They know that you don’t fight for freedom by giving it up.

The Lie of the Century. Kushner’s 136 Pages of Lies. Palestinians have No Rights Whatsoever

Global Research, July 01, 2019
IMEMC News 30 June 2019

Well, it’s happened. It’s real. Mr. Jared Kushner, the son-in-law and Senior Advisor of President Trump has delivered 136 pages of lies, suppositions and conjuring tricks to seduce or compel us Palestinians to accept our fate and surrender our rights. What rights? As far as this document is concerned, Palestinians have no rights whatsoever, and, as for a Palestinian perspective, what is that?

The Palestinians were not even invited to Manama, let alone considered. What about the Israelis? Were they there? Were they invited? On the face of it, no. But, in reality, they were amply represented. What is Jared Kushner if not the team captain for the Greater Israel Project? After all, he is Jewish, an ardent Zionist, an investor in the illegal settlements in Palestine and an advocate, par excellence, for Israeli survival and supremacy.

The Lie Of The Century, as I call it, is just that. A lie. From beginning to end, every word, every supposition of this long-winded deception is to ensure that the Greater Israel Project will advance unhindered, and we, the Palestinians, are to accept the crumbs off the table of our land-lords. Or perish.

But, hang on a minute. How could an occupier who seized our land by brute force be made a legitimate land-lord over us? The answer is simple. In the Trumpian universe, all that matters are power and Mammon. Isn’t this what the ‘Deal of The Century’ is all about? American/Israeli power exercised over us Palestinians without mercy? And, what about the money? Oh, yes. There is money, but it is not American nor Israeli money. It’s Arab money — to be extorted from despotic, Arabic regimes in the Gulf, as per usual. Trump demands and the Arab Regimes of the Gulf and Saudi Arabia oblige. If they don’t, as Mr. Trump intimated, their shaky thrones wouldn’t last a week without US protection.

Mr. Kushner promised $50 billion in Arab money to be divided between Palestine, Jordan and Egypt. Nowhere in the document was there any mention of Palestinian political rights, the right of return of the Palestinian refugees or even the Israeli occupation of Palestine. All was conveniently kicked into touch because it doesn’t matter, you see. What matters is Israeli survival and supremacy and the continued, rapid march of the Greater Israel Project.

I say ‘rapid march’ because who is to stop it? The Palestinians do not have an army, an air force, a navy or even a coalition to stop this march. Jordan has already succumbed to American threats and promises of prosperity. The same goes for Egypt, especially under the hand-picked President Abdul Fatah Alsisi, whose sole purpose is to neuter Egypt and serve as a facilitator for American and Israeli hegemony in our area.

Syria? Western powers, Israel and despotic Arab/Muslim states have made sure that Syria is taken out of the equation by embroiling it in a 7-year long devastating war.

The Gulf States? Saudi Arabia? Instead of stopping this advance of Greater Israel they are facilitating it by making a frantic rush towards normalization with Israel and to form a coalition of the willing to combat a perceived threat from another Muslim country, Iran. The honorable exception is the State of Kuwait, who refused to attend this farce and reaffirmed their total support of Palestinian rights and aspirations.

Let’s look closely at the word, ‘surrender’. Many of you might remember an article I wrote recently, entitled, ‘Surrender Or Die’. It didn’t take too long for the Israelis to prove me right. There it is. From the Grand weasel’s mouth, none other than Danny Danon, the Israeli Ambassador to the UN. In an article entitled, ‘What’s Wrong With Palestinian Surrender”, published in the New York Times on June 24th, one day before the Manama ‘Workshop’. “Surrender”, he wrote,” is the recognition that in a contest, staying the course will prove costlier than submission.”

There you have it. To the victor the spoils.

And, then, comes the other Grand Weasel, Mr. Jared Kushner, to deliver the message of surrender to a room full of weasels. All of these aforementioned weasels, who have been gnawing at our heels for over a century, omitted to consider one vital point: The Palestinian character and pride.

Surrender is not in our character. We’d rather die standing up, defending our rights than exist, kneeling at the feet of our self-appointed land-lords and benefactors.

Just in case any of those weasels calling for our surrender might have any interest in what we Palestinians want, here is how Executive Member of the PLO, Dr. Hanan Ashrawi, put it:

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Featured image is from IMEMC News

U.S. Rejectionist Policy Toward Palestinian Participation, Rights

Global Research, June 25, 2019

Upon hearing the news that Palestinian diplomat Dr. Hanan Ashrawihad been denied entry to the United States on a speaking engagement, my husband wrote an e-mail to Indiana Senator Mike Braun titled, ‘Tell State Dept & Trump to give Ashrawi a visa now!’

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His letter was brief and to the point:

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Dear Senator Braun:

The State Department under President Trump is denying widely respected Palestinian leader Hanan Ashrawi a visa to visit the U.S.

Ashrawi has visited the U.S. frequently ever since she studied for her PhD here several decades ago. She has met with every Secretary of State since George Schultz and every President since President George Bush Senior.

Ashrawi has been critical of the Trump administration.

US law does not authorize the refusal of visas based solely on political statements or views. A State Department spokesman says: ‘Visas may be denied only on grounds set out in US law.’

Tell Trump to stop denying her a visa!

Sincerely,

J. Merriman

It took Senator Braun over a month to respond. His e-mail reads, in part:

“In May of 2019, Hanan Ashrawi claimed she was denied a visa to the United States. Visas cannot be denied based on political statements but may be denied only on grounds established by U.S. law.” (Bolded text mine)

We understood his response to mean that Dr. Hanan Ashrawi was lying about the reasons for the U.S. denying her a visa, and that means she must be in violation of some U.S. law.

Here is a news item that includes what Dr. Hanan Ashrawi herself has to say about the matter:

The US denies PLO Executive Committee Member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi a visa. She says this represents the overall denigration of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks. Watch the full discussion:

Senator Braun’s allusion to “grounds established by U.S. law” made me wonder about relevant laws. I asked my niece, a human rights attorney practicing in Chicago, who sent me the following information:

The State Department says,

“If denied a visa, in most cases the applicant is notified of the section of law which applies.” Since Dr. Ashrawi was apparently not provided a reason, we are forced to speculate.

My own speculation goes along the following lines:  Could it be the State Department has labeled Dr. Ashrawi a “terrorist supporter” based on the Immigration and Nationality Act, which states:

(IV) is a representative (as defined in clause (v)) of — (bb) a political, social, or other group that endorses or espouses terrorist activity;

That can’t possibly be true — despite the New York based Zionist journal The Algemeiner’s blaring in a headline that ‘MESA Demands US Welcome Palestinian Terror Apologist Hanan Ashrawi.’

Dr Ashrawi, founder of the Independent Commission for Human Rights and the recipient of numerous awards from all over the world, including the distinguished French decoration, “d’Officier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur”, is not politically affiliated with the Palestinian group the U.S. has labeled terrorist (Hamas), and the Trump administration has yet to declare the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) terror groups.

Another, more likely, reason for exclusion according to the Immigration and Nationality Act is:

© Foreign policy. — (i) In general. — An alien whose entry or proposed activities in the United States the Secretary of State has reasonable ground to believe would have potentially serious adverse foreign policy consequences for the United States is inadmissible.

But how can Dr Ashrawi represent “serious adverse policy consequences” to U.S. foreign policy? Well, only if you understand the United States’ role in brokering a peace between Israel and the Palestinians to be so skewed in Israel’s favor, that it is reasonable for the State Department to prevent a well-spoken Palestinian representative from entering the United States and presenting the Palestinian cause to the American public.

And that is, indeed, the case. The U.S. has always been a “dishonest broker” when it came to its role in Israel/Palestine, as Naseer H. Aruri amply demonstrates in his 2003 book of that title.

Aruri writes:

Consequently, they have prolonged the occupation and obstructed the opportunity for peace with justice — the only peace that can promise an enduring coexistence between [Palestinian] Arabs and [Israeli] Jews, and the only peace capable of transforming the political landscape of the Middle East from a perpetual battleground to a terrain of dignity, reciprocity, mutuality, freedom, and self-determination.

What’s more, the Immigration and Nationality Act cites other provisions for exclusion from the United States that, in fact, apply to the Israeli government, and by extension, to its diplomatic corps, rather than to the Palestinian Authority or the PLO — and by extension to Dr. Ashrawi:

(E) PARTICIPANTS IN NAZI PERSECUTION, GENOCIDE, OR THE COMMISSION OF ANY ACT OF TORTURE OR EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLING

(iii) COMMISSION OF ACTS OF TORTURE OR EXTRAJUDICIAL KILLINGS- Any alien who, outside the United States, has committed, ordered, incited, assisted, or otherwise participated in the commission of —
(I) any act of torture, as defined in section 2340 of title 18, United States Code; or
(II) under color of law of any foreign nation, any extrajudicial killing, as defined in section 3(a) of the Torture Victim Protection Act of 1991 (28 U.S.C. 1350 note), is inadmissible.

Genocide, acts of torture against Palestinian children as well as adults, and extrajudicial killings have all been documented against Israel. And yet, an Israeli prime minister is invited to address a joint meeting of Congress.

The outrageous attack on Palestinian freedom of expression that the United States has exercised in this case is only the latest assault on Palestinian rights carried out by the U.S. government — as well as by other similarly-minded governments — for example, in Germany, as Samidoun: Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network , an international network of organizers and activists working to build solidarity with Palestinian prisoners in their struggle for freedom, documents:

The repression of Palestinian rights advocacy in Germany continued last night, Saturday, 22 June, as Palestinian writer Khaled Barakat was banned by the Berlin authorities from delivering a speech on the so-called “deal of the century” spearheaded by Donald Trump and the Arab and Palestinian response. He was also banned from engaging in all political activities and events in Germany until 31 July, whether directly (in-person) or “indirectly” (over video.) This outrageous attack on freedom of expression is only the latest assault on Palestinian rights carried out by the German government.

The U.S. Department of State ought to be working closely with Palestinian leaders, legislators, activists, writers and scholars in order to fashion its foreign policy on Israel/Palestine. Instead, it is forcing “normalization” on Arab states without Palestine, something that will never, ever lead to justice and peace. The denial of a visa to Dr. Hanan Ashrawi simply highlights the outright U.S. rejectionist policy toward Palestinian participation and Palestinian rights.

By shutting down the much-needed debate on Zionist history and the nature of the Zionist state, the U.S. government and its allies continue to impose a Western imperial project on the Middle East.

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Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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