Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine) Addendum: Some History and Contextualization of Rights

By Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Adaptations and changes made based on feedback from some readers with the Addendum, here, as one supplementary piece to the educational series with Human Rights Watch. Other materials can be found through keyword search on the Canadian Atheist website for “Ask HRW (Israel and Palestine).”

Duly note, as some history and contextualization of rights, Palestine, “formerly belonging to the Turkish Empire” (League of Nations, 1922), existed as a former “Ottoman” territory within the United Kingdom’s administration in 1922 under the League of Nations (United Nations, n.d.). All former Ottoman territories became independent, eventually, except for the Palestinian territory. This was part of the British Mandate (League of Nations, 1922) incorporating the 1917 Balfour Declaration (Rothschild et al, 1917). In 1947, the United Kingdom relinquished complete control of the problem of Palestine over to the United Nations, which took the place of the League of Nations after its dissolution on April 19, 1947 (United Nations, n.d.; The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2020). That is to say, this remains one of the longest unresolved problems or questions – the Question of Palestine – in the history of the United Nations harkening back to its inception as an international human rights institution and bureaucratic juggernaut.

Upon which, the United Nations proposed a, and in November of 1947 voted for the, partitioning of the Palestinian (British) mandate territory/mandate Palestine into two independent states with one as an Arab state and another as a Jewish state (United Nations, n.d.; United Nations General Assembly, 1947). Jerusalem became internationalized in 1947 in Resolution 181 (II). From 1948 to 1949, this was the time of Israel’s War of Independence and The Palestinian Nakbah [Ed. “Nakbah” means “catastrophe” or “disaster.”], where combat began “almost immediately between Jews and Arabs in Palestine” (The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). With the May 15, 1948 withdrawal of British troops, Israel declared independence. Nakba (“Nakbah”) Day is commemorated on the Gregorian calendar as the “Day of Catastrophe” on May 15; Yom Ha’atzmaut or the “Day of Independence” is celebrated on May 14. Each in reference or correspondence to the “Day of Catastrophe,” on the one side, and the “War of Independence,” on the other side, respectively. The 1948 Arab-Israeli war led to over half of the Arab Palestinian territory fleeing or forcefully being expelled (United Nations, n.d.). Israel, following the vote and the war, expanded to 77% of mandate Palestine (Ibid.). Resolution 181’s stipulated territory for the Arab state (Palestinian territory) alongside the Jewish state (Israel) went under the aegis of Jordan and Egypt (United Nations General Assembly, 1947; United Nations, n.d.).

Another pivotal war broke out in 1967, from June 5 to 10 in an event called the Six-Day War, in which Israel controlled the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, and East Jerusalem. This war resulted in a second expulsion of Palestinians estimated at half of a million Palestinians (United Nations, n.d.). The United Nations Security Council resolution 242 (United Nations Security Council, 1967) “formulated the principles of a just and lasting peace, including an Israeli withdrawal from territories occupied in the conflict, a just settlement of the refugee problem, and the termination of all claims or states of belligerency” (United Nations, n.d.). Further conflict in 1973 led to the United Nations Security Council resolution 338 (United Nations Security Council, 1973), which made an open call for peace negotiations. On November 22 of 1974, in resolution 3236 (XXIX) of the United Nations General Assembly, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people were “reaffirmed” with specifications on the “right to self-determination without external interference; the right to national independence and sovereignty; and the right of Palestinians to return to their homes and property, from which they had been displaced and uprooted” (United Nations, 2019; United Nations General Assembly, 1974a). On the same day – November 22, 1974, the United Nations General Assembly conferred Observer Status on the Palestinian Liberation Organization or the PLO (United Nations General Assembly, 1974b). With November 10 of 1975 resolution 3376 (XXX), in the United Nations General Assembly, there was the establishment of the Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian people with a request for a systematic set of recommendations on the implementation of the enabling of the rights of the Palestinian people (United Nations General Assembly, 1975).

Circa June, 1982, Israel aimed to eliminate the PLO through aggressing against Lebanon, where a ceasefire was arranged, eventually, as the PLO left Beirut and transferred to “neighbouring countries” with Israeli forces completely leaving Lebanon in June of 1985 (United Nations, n.d.; The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica, 2019). The International Conference on the Question of Palestine (ICQP) adopted some principles including “the need to oppose Israeli settlements and Israeli actions to change the status of Jerusalem, the right of all States in the region to existence within secure and internationally recognized boundaries, and the attainment of the legitimate, inalienable rights of the Palestinian people” in September of 1983 (United Nations, n.d.; United Nations, 1983). In 1987, a mass uprising took place against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories (occupied Palestinian territory or the oPt) in an event known as the Intifada/Intifadah, or the “shaking off,” with the “methods used by the Israeli forces” creating “mass injuries and heavy loss of life among the civilian Palestinian population” (United Nations, n.d.; Araj, B. & Brym, R.J., 2018). The Palestine National Council in Algiers, in 1988, “proclaimed the establishment of the State of Palestine” (United Nations, n.d.) with the proclamation of independence on November 15, 1988 relayed by ambassador Abdullah Salah and (in Annex I) Dr. Riyad Mansour, Deputy Permanent Observer (United Nations Security Council, 1988). In Madrid, Spain in 1991, there was a Peace Conference convened for the purpose of the direct negotiations for a peaceful settlement of disputes between Israel and Arab States and Israel and Palestinians (United Nations, n.d.) because of resolution 242 (United Nations Security Council, 1967) and resolution 338 (United Nations Security Council, 1973), which resulted in the “mutual recognition between the Government of Israel and the PLO, the representative of the Palestinian people” in the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements, the DOP, or the Oslo Accord from 1993 (United Nations, 1993). These lead to partial withdrawal of Israeli forces, and the elections of the Presidency of the Palestinian Authority and the elections to the Palestinian Council (United Nations, n.d.), with, importantly, the “establishment of a functioning administration in the areas under Palestinian self-rule.”

The Oslo Accords deferred some issues until permanent status negotiations held at Camp David in 2000 and at Taba in 2001 with inconclusive results at the time (Ibid.). In Jerusalem in 2000, Ariel Sharon of the Likud Party of Israel travelled to and visited Al-Haram Al-Sharif (Temple Mount), the second intifada or the Al-Aqsa Intifada followed this event and then Israel began construction of the separation wall of the West Bank with locations “mostly within the Occupied Palestinian Territory” (Beauchamp, 2018; United Nations, n.d.). An action ruled as illegal by the International Criminal Court. The United Nations Security Council affirmed an Israel-Palestine two-States solution to the issue (United Nations Security Council, 2002). The Arab League (2020) adopted the Arab Peace Initiative in 2002 (Agence France-Presse (AFP), 2002) followed by, on May 7 of 2003, the European Union, Russia, the United Nations, and the United States of America, also known as the Quartet (United Nations, 2020) – who follow the principles of “non-violence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements” (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 2008; United Nations, 2020), publishing “A Performance-based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian” (United Nations Security Council, 2003a). The United Nations Security Council resolution 1515, on November 19 of 2003, endorsed “A Performance-based Road Map to a Permanent Two-State Solution to the Israeli-Palestinian” proposed “a three-phased performance-based strategy to move the peace process towards a final resolution of the conflict.” The Israelis and the Palestinians widely promoted an unofficial Geneva peace accord in 2003, too (United Nations, n.d.). Israel, in 2005, withdrew both “settlers and troops” from Gaza while maintaining control over the airspace, borders, and seashore (Ibid.). With the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, the Quartet ensured support on a conditional basis to the Palestinian Authority with requisite commitments to nonviolence, a recognition of Israel, and an acceptance of previous agreements, i.e., the affirmed guiding principles as endorsed in United Nations Security Council resolution 1515 (United Nations Security Council, 2003b; United Nations, 2020; United Nations, n.d.).

However, with an aggressive/armed takeover of Gaza by Hamas in June of 2007, Israel imposed a blockade, which followed a series of restrictions on Gaza by Israel in the 1990s onwards with the culmination of the blockade with approximately 1.8 million or more Palestinians in Gaza “locked-in” to the Gaza Strip (Oxfam International, 2019; United Nations, n.d.; United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, n.d.). November 27, 2007 to about the end of 2008 exemplified another attempt at a peace process with the Annapolis process (Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME), 2017). Operation “Cast Lead” in Gaza by Israeli forces followed escalations in rocket fire and air strikes in late 2008, where Human Rights Watch reported Israel violated the Fourth Geneva Convention regarding “wanton destruction” (Institute for Middle East Understanding, 2012).  Resolution 1860 was adopted by the United Nations Security Council with reiterations on Palestinian territory and eventual statehood, and the importance of a ceasefire (United Nations Security Council, 2009). In 2009, the Goldstone report resulted from the investigation into violations of international law during the recent Gaza conflict (United Nations General Assembly, 2009). The Palestinian Authority in 2009 developed a programme for the development of State institutions, which “received wide international support” (United Nations, n.d.). More peace negotiations happened in 2010, which broke down following the patterns of previous meetings following an “expiration of the Israeli settlement moratorium” (Ibid.). President Mahmoud Abbas submitted a 2011 application for the membership of Palestine in the United Nations (United Nations Security Council, 2011) with United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) admitting Palestine as a member and exploratory Israeli-Palestinian talks being held in early 2012 in Amman, Jordan (United Nations, n.d.). Following more combat breaking out in November of 2012 between Israel and Palestine, Egypt managed to get a ceasefire between all parties (United Nations Security Council, 2012). November 29, 2012, marks the granting to Palestine of non-member observer State status at the United Nations (United Nations General Assembly, 2013) with the United Nations General Assembly stating 2014 as the International Year of Solidarity with the Palestinians/“Palestinian People” (United Nations, 2014). New negotiations started in 2013 with a suspension of the talks by Israel in April of 2014 with the announcement of a “Palestinian national consensus Government” with further fighting occurring between Israel and Gaza between July and August of 2014 (United Nations, n.d.) with the adoption of resolution 2334 on settlements by the United Nations Security Council (2016).

Human Rights Watch, for some more recent coverage, provided reportage on the 2017 and 2018 contextualizations of events (Human Rights Watch, 2018; Human Rights Watch, 2019a). More recent coverage for 2019 from Human Rights Watch covers the closure or blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip by the Israeli government, the injuring of 11,453 and killing of 71 Palestinians in Gaza circa November 11, 2019 (with another 114 injured and 33 killed between November 12 and 14) by Israeli forces, the injuring of 123 and killing of 4 Israelis and firing of 1,378 rockets towards Israel by Palestinian armed groups, unlawful Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East  Jerusalem, discriminatory policies and demolition of Palestinian homes by Israelis, “onerous” restrictions of movement imposed by Israel on Palestinians, arbitrary detention and the detention of children by Israel of Palestinians, Palestinian Authority’s “in effect” criminalization of dissent through detention of Palestinians based on insulting “higher authorities” and the creation of “sectarian strife” including 752 detainments for “social media posts,” the upcoming Israeli elections (March, 2020) and the National State Law or the Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People (State of Israel, 2018) impacts on inequality in the prioritization to construct homes and revocation of Arab as a state language in Israel, the Israeli government attempts to and Supreme Court decision for the expelling of a Human Rights Watch official, i.e., Omar Shakir, (Human Rights Watch, 2019b; Ayyub, 2019; Democracy Now!, 2019; Conley, 2019) or the prevention of a Palestinian staff member of Amnesty International, Laith Abu Zeyad, from traveling outside of the Occupied West Bank (Amnesty International, 2019; Middle East Monitor, 2019) or entry into Israel of United States Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib (BBC News, 2019; The Associated Press/CBC News, 2019), the non-legal status of same-sex marriage in Israel, acknowledgement of the ongoing issues related to the annexation of the Golan Heights and other bounded geographic areas, issues around global tourism centered on Airbnb, the conclusion of the prosecutor (International Criminal Court, n.d.), Fatou Bensouda, for the International Criminal Court (ICC) for meeting the criteria to move forward with a formal investigation into these issues, and some more (Human Rights Watch, 2020a). For a more comprehensive look, please examine the publication “Born Without Civil Rights: Israel’s Use of Draconian Military Orders to Repress Palestinians in the West Bank” by Human Rights Watch (2019c). Now, since Session 3 of this educational series, Shakir worked outside of Israel based on expulsion from Israel because of the decision of the Israeli Supreme Court about Shakir.

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Scott Douglas Jacobsen is the Founder of In-Sight: Independent Interview-Based Journal and In-Sight Publishing. He authored/co-authored some e-booksfree or low-cost. If you want to contact Scott: Scott.D.Jacobsen@Gmail.com.

Canadian Atheist Associates: Godless Mom, Nice Mangoes, Sandwalk, Brainstorm Podcast, Left at the Valley, Life, the Universe & Everything Else, The Reality Check, Bad Science Watch, British Columbia Humanist Association, Dying With Dignity Canada, Canadian Secular AllianceCentre for Inquiry CanadaKelowna Atheists, Skeptics, and Humanists Association.

Other National/Local Resources: Association humaniste du QuébecAtheist FreethinkersCentral Ontario Humanist AssociationComox Valley HumanistsGrey Bruce HumanistsHalton-Peel Humanist CommunityHamilton HumanistsHumanist Association of LondonHumanist Association of OttawaHumanist Association of TorontoHumanists, Atheists and Agnostics of ManitobaOntario Humanist SocietySecular Connextions SeculaireSecular Humanists in CalgarySociety of Free Thinkers (Kitchener-Waterloo/Cambridge/Guelph)Thunder Bay HumanistsToronto OasisVictoria Secular Humanist Association.

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