(International Law Professors) Letter against Annexation of the West Bank

international law

A letter addressed to Israeli government leadership by a long list of international law scholars against annexation of West Bank territories. Scroll down for the English. I’m also posting a PDF here [[H/t Nathaniel Berman]]

10.6.2020

 

לכבוד:

חבר הכנסת בנימין נתניהו, ראש הממשלה

חבר הכנסת בני גנץ, ראש הממשלה החליפי ושר הביטחון

חבר הכנסת גבי אשכנזי, שר החוץ

חבר הכנסת אבי ניסנקורן, שר המשפטים

ד”ר אביחי מנדלבליט, היועץ המשפטי לממשלה

 

נכבדינו,

 

החתומים מטה, אנשי אקדמיה מישראל והעולם העוסקים במשפט בין לאומי, מבקשים להביע בפניכם את  חששנו הכבד בנוגע לכוונתה של מדינת ישראל, כפי שבאה לידי ביטוי בדברי ראש הממשלה בנימין נתניהו, לפעול לסיפוח חד צדדי של חלקים מהגדה המערבית ב- 1 ביולי 2020 או לאחר מכן.

 

צעד כזה יהווה הפרה בוטה של עקרונות יסוד במשפט הבין לאומי, וייצור איום רציני על היציבות הבין לאומית באזור.

 

האיסור על סיפוח חד צדדי של שטח שנתפס בכוח מוכר באופן אוניברסלי ככלל יסוד במשפט הבין לאומי. כל בתי הדין הבין לאומיים )ביניהם בית הדין הבין לאומי בהאג( וכל המוסדות הבין לאומיים )ביניהם העצרת הכללית ומועצת הביטחון של האו”ם( אשר עסקו בסוגייה זו, כמו גם הרוב המכריע של משפטנים בין לאומיים, מאשרים קביעה זו ללא סייגים. איסור זה חל בין אם מדובר בשטחים בריבונותן של מדינות אחרות ובין אם מדובר בשטחים שאינם עצמאיים שבהם חיים עמים הזכאים לקבוע את עתידם הפוליטי מכוח הזכות להגדרה עצמית. נוסף על כן, איסור זה חל על כל שטח שנתפס בכוח, אף אם נטען שהשימוש בכוח היה לכתחילה פעולה של הגנה עצמית.

 

הגדה המערבית נתפסה בכוח ב- 1967 . העצרת הכללית של האו”ם, מועצת הביטחון של האו”ם ובית הדין הבין  לאומי הכירו בעקביות בשטח זה כשטח כבוש, שבו העם הפלסטיני זכאי לממש את זכותו להגדרה עצמית. כך המצב אף אם הפרטים בדבר הסדרי ביטחון וגבולות סופיים עשויים להיקבע במשא ומתן דו צדדי. יתר על כן, מזה עשרות שנים מחילים ממשלת ישראל ובית המשפט העליון את דיני התפיסה הלוחמתית בגדה המערבית. הדבר בא לידי ביטוי בעשרות פסקי דין של בית המשפט העליון, ובעמדתה של ישראל בהתבטאויותיה בפני המוסדות המפקחים על אמנות בין לאומיות, בהן היא טוענת שהגדה המערבית אינה תחת סמכות ישראלית בכל הנוגע לתחולתן של אמנות זכויות אדם.

 

מהאמור עולה שסיפוח חד צדדי של חלק מהשטח יהווה הפרה של האיסור הבסיסי על סיפוח, כמו גם של הזכות להגדרה עצמית. צעד כזה יהיה בטל מעיקרו, יגרור אחריות בין לאומית בגין הפרה של המשפט בין לאומי, ובנסיבות מסוימות עלול להוביל לאחריות פלילית אישית על פי המשפט הבין לאומי. בהקשר זה אין חשיבות להבחנה בין “החלת ריבונות”, “החלת המשפט, השיפוט והמינהל”, או סיפוח במפורש. לסיפוח בפועל יש אותן תוצאות משפטיות כמו לסיפוח פורמלי.

נוסף על כן, צעד כזה אינו יכול להביא באופן חוקי, או להצדיק, הסדרים מפלים, בין היתר בנוגע לאזרחות או זכויות קניין.

 

אנו מבקשים להזכירכם שבמזכר היועץ המשפטי לממשלה שפורסם לאחרונה נטען במפורש שכל ההיבטים הטריטוריאליים בסכסוך הישראלי-פלסטיני צריכים לבוא על פתרונם במשא ומתן דו צדדי. 1 צעדים לסיפוח שטחים עומדים בניגוד להתחייבות זו. יתרה מכך, בהתאם לעמדתה ארוכת השנים של ישראל שהגדה המערבית נתונה תחת תפיסה לוחמתית, ישראל טענה בעקביות שפעולותיה בשטח מוצדקות נוכח זמניות המצב, ומונעות מטעמי ביטחון בלבד. 2 כל צעד לסיפוח שטחים יעמיד בסימן שאלה טיעונים קודמים ועתידיים של ישראל על כך שפעולותיה אכן מונעות אך ורק מצרכים בטחוניים לגיטימיים.

 

אנו מבקשים מכם בכל לשון של בקשה לשקול מחדש תוכנית פעולה זו, שהיא במובהק בלתי חוקית ויש סבירות גבוהה שתגרור תוצאות קשות, לרבות אי הכרה ותוצאות אחרות הנובעות מהפרות של המשפט בין לאומי. זאת בנוסף לנזק ללגיטימיות של מדינת ישראל וליחסי החוץ שלה, ולסיכוי גבוה להסלמה אלימה.

 

מצ”ב הנוסח באנגלית, ובסופו רשימת החתומים. שיוך מוסדי מובא לצרכי זיהוי.

­­­­­­­­­­הערות

1 היועץ המשפטי לממשלה, “היעדר סמכות השיפוט של בית הדין הפלילי הבין-לאומי על המצב המכונה ‘המצב בפלסטין'”, 20 בדצמבר 2019 , פס’ 41 .

2 כך, למשל, בנוגע לחוקיות גדר ההפרדה, ישראל טענה –בעקיפין בפני בית הדין הבין לאומי בהאג, ובמישרין בבית המשפט העליון –שתוואי הגדרה נקבע משיקולי ביטחון בלבד, ואינו מיועד לקבוע גבולות. אכן, כפי שנקבע בבית המשפט העליון בשבתו כבג”ץ ,”המפקד הצבאי אינו מוסמך להורות על הקמת גדר ההפרדה אם הטעם המונח ביסוד הקמת הגדר הוא טעם מדיני, שעניינו “סיפוח”

שטחים מהאזור למדינת ישראל וקביעת גבולה המדיני של ישראל”, בג”ץ 7957/04 מרעאבה נ’ ראש ממשלת ישראל ) 2005 ( פס’ 15 .

 

 

June 10, 2020

 

MK Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister

MK Benny Gantz, Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense

MK Gabi Ashkenazi, Minister of Foreign Relations

MK Avi Nissenkorn, Minister of Justice

Dr. Avichai Mandelblit, Attorney General State of Israel

 

Dear Sirs,

 

We, the undersigned, scholars of public international law, are writing to express our grave concern regarding the intention of the State of Israel, as expressed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to move towards the unilateral annexation of areas in the West Bank on or after 1 July 2020.

 

Such an action would constitute a flagrant violation of bedrock rules of international law, and would also pose a serious threat to international stability in a volatile region.

 

The norm prohibiting unilateral annexation of territory acquired by force has come to be universally recognized as a basic rule of international law. All international courts (including the International Court of Justice) and all international institutions (including the UN General Assembly and Security Council) who have considered this matter, as well as the overwhelming majority of international jurists, affirm this rule unequivocally. This prohibition applies equally to territories belonging to other states, as well as to non-self-governing territories in which peoples are entitled to determine their political fate in accordance with the right to self-determination. Furthermore, this prohibition applies to all territories occupied by force, even if it is claimed that force was initially used in an act of self-defense.

 

The West Bank was taken by force in 1967. It has been consistently recognized by the UN General Assembly, the UN Security Council, and the International Court of Justice as an occupied territory, in which the Palestinian people is entitled to fulfill its right to self-determination. This remains so even if bilateral negotiations could determine the details of security arrangements and final borders. Furthermore, the Israeli government as well as the Israeli Supreme Court have for decades applied the law of belligerent occupation to the West Bank. This is demonstrated in dozens of decisions by the Supreme Court of Israel, as well as in Israel’s positions before international treaty bodies, where it argues that the West Bank is not under Israeli jurisdiction for the purpose of application of human rights treaties.

 

It follows that unilateral annexation of any part of this territory would violate the fundamental norm prohibiting annexation as well as the right to self-determination. As such, it would be null and void, entail consequences of international wrongfulness, and – under certain circumstances – lead to individual international criminal liability. In this context, it matters not whether such actions would be effected through “extension of sovereignty,” “extension of law, jurisdiction, and administration,” or explicit annexation. De facto annexation entails the same legal consequences as de jure annexation. Additionally, in no case can such an act lawfully bring about or justify discriminatory results, inter alia in relation to citizenship or property rights.

 

We would like to remind you that In a recent memo by Israel’s Attorney General, it was argued explicitly that all territorial aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict must be resolved through bilateral negotiations.3 Moves to annex parts of the territory would run counter to this pledge. Furthermore, in accordance with its longstanding position that the West Bank is held under belligerent occupation, Israel consistently argued that its actions in the territory are justified by the temporary nature of the situation, and motivated by security concerns alone.4 Any move to annex territories will put in question past and future arguments by Israel that its actions are indeed concerned only with legitimate security needs.

 

We therefore urge you to reconsider this path, which is clearly unlawful and will most likely have adverse consequences, including non-recognition and other consequences of an internationally wrongful act. This is in addition to the harm to the legitimacy and foreign relations of the State of Israel, and to a high likelihood of violent escalation.

footnotes

3 State of Israel, Office of the Attorney General, The International Criminal Court’s Lack of Jurisdiction over the So-Called “Situation in Palestine” §49 (Dec. 20, 2019).

4 For instance, concerning the legality of the West Bank Wall/Security Barrier, Israel claimed –indirectly before the International Court of Justice and directly in its own Supreme Court – that the route of the Wall is strictly based on security considerations, and is not designed to determine borders. Indeed, as ruled by the Israeli Supreme Court, sitting as the High Court of Justice, “the military commander is not authorized to order the construction of a separation fence, if the reason behind the fence is a political goal of ‘annexing’ territories of the area to the State of Israel and to determine Israel’s political border.” See HCJ 7957/04 Mara’abe v. The Prime Minister of Israel §15 (2005).

 

 

Signatories (affiliations are for identification purposes):

 

Mads Andenas, Professor, Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo

Kyo Arai, Professor of International Law, Doshisha University, Kyoto

Yutaka Arai, Professor in International Human Rights Law, Brussels School of International Studies, University of Kent, Brussels

Cecilia M. Bailliet, Professor of International Law, University of Oslo, Norway

Orna Ben-Naftali, Emile Zola Chair for Human Rights, Shtricks Scool of Law, The College of Management

 

Daniel Benoliel, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa

Eyal Benvenisti, Whewell Professor of International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge

Nathaniel A. Berman, Rahel Varnhagen Professor, Brown University

Nehal Bhuta, Professor of Public International Law, University of Edinburgh

Eirik Bjorge, Professor of Law, University of Bristol Law School

Ziv Bohrer, Senior Lecturer, Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law

Bill Bowring, Professor of Law, School of Law, Birkbeck University of London

Tomer Broude, Bessie & Michael Greenblatt, Q.C., Chair in Public and International Law, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 

Jutta Brunnée, University Professor, Metcalf Chair in Environmental Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law

 

Gráinne de Búrca, Florence Ellinwood Allen Professor of Law, NYU School of Law

Sarah H. Cleveland, Louis Henkin Professor of Human and Constitutional Rights, Columbia Law School

 

Geoff S. Corn, Vinson & Elkins Professor of Law, South Texas College of Law Houston

Harlan G. Cohen, Gabriel M. Wilner/UGA Foundation Professor in International Law, University of Georgia

 

Olivier Corten, Professor of International Law, Université libre de Bruxelles

Matthew Craven, Professor of International Law, SOAS, University of London

Omar M. Dajani, Professor of Law, McGeorge School of Law, University of the Pacific

Tom Dannenbaum, Assistant Professor of International Law, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University

 

Natalie Davidson, Lecturer, Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

Janina Dill, Associate Professor, University of Oxford Department of Politics and International Relations

 

Catriona Drew, Lecturer in International Law, School of Law, SOAS University of London

Dieter Fleck, Honorary President, International Society for Military Law and the Law of War

Gregory Fox, Professor of Law, Wayne State University Law School

Tarcisio Gazzini, Professor of International Law, University of East Anglia

Robin Geiss, Chair of International Law and Security, University of Glasgow; Swiss Chair of International Humanitarian Law, The Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights

 

Rotem Giladi, Teaching Fellow in International Law, University of Edinburgh Law School

Christine D. Gray, Emerita Professor of International Law, University of Cambridge Faculty of Law

James A. Green, Professor of Public International Law, University of Reading

Aeyal Gross, Professor of Law, Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

Francoise Hampson, Emerita Professor of Law, University of Essex

Matthew Happold, Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, Economics and Finance, University of Luxembourg

 

Guy Harpaz, Associate Professor, Faculty of Law and Department of International Relations, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 

Adil Haque, Professor of Law and Judge Jon O. Newman Scholar, Rutgers Law School

Kevin Jon Heller, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Amsterdam, Professor of Law, Australian National University

 

Christian Henderson, Professor of International Law, University of Sussex

Larissa van den Herik, Professor of Public International Law, Grotius Centre for International Legal Studies, Leiden University

 

Moshe Hirsch, Maria Von Hofmannsthal Chair in International Law, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

 

Tamar Hostovsky Brandes, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Ono Academic College

Robert Howse, Lloyd C. Nelson Professor of International Law, NYU School of Law

Ardi Imseis, Assistant Professor, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University

Ioannis Kalpouzos, Lecturer on Law, Harvard Law School; Lecturer in Law, City University of London

 

Alexandre (Sandy) Kedar, Associate Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa.

Jan Klabbers, Professor, University of Helsinki Faculty of Law

Jann K. Kleffner, Professor of International Law, Swedish Defence University

Robert Kolb, Professor of Public International Law, Law Faculty, University of Geneva

Martti Koskenniemi, Professor of International Law, University of Helsinki Faculty of Law

Shiri Krebs, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Deakin University

David Kretzmer, Professor Emeritus of International Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Nico Krisch, Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute for International and Development Studies, Geneva

Nicolas Levrat, Professor of European and International Law, Global studies Institute, University of Geneva

 

Eliav Lieblich, Senior Lecturer, Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

Karin Loevy, JSD Program Manager and IILJ Research Scholar, NYU Law School of Law

Marco Longobardo, Lecturer in International Law, University of Westminster

David Luban, University Professor and Professor of Law and Philosophy, Georgetown University Law Center

 

Noam Lubell, Professor of International Law, School of Law, University of Essex

Doreen Lustig, Senior Lecturer, Buchmann Faculty of Law, Tel Aviv University

Itamar Mann, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Haifa University

Susan Marks, Professor of International Law, London School of Economics

Tamar Megiddo, Minerva Center for the Rule of Law under Extreme Conditions, Faculty of Law, University of Haifa

 

Marko Milanovic, Professor of Public International Law, University of Nottingham School of Law

Makane Moïse Mbengue, Professor of International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Geneva

Kirsten McConnachie, Associate Professor in Law, University of East Anglia

Samuel Moyn, Henry R. Luce Professor of Jurisprudence and Professor of History, Yale University

Stefan Oeter, Professor of Public International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Hamburg

Phoebe Okowa, Professor of Public International Law, Queen Mary, University of London

Anne Orford, Redmond Barry Distinguished Professor, Michael D Kirby Chair of International Law, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

 

Dianne Otto, Francine V. McNiff Chair in Human Rights Law, Melbourne Law School, The University of Melbourne

 

Paolo Palchetti, Professor of International Law, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne

Anne Peters, Managing Director, Max Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Heidelberg

 

Frances Raday, Elias Lieberman Chair in Labour Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem; Director of Concord Research Institute for Integration of International Law in Israel, Shtricks School of Law, The College of Management

 

Surabhi Ranganathan, University Senior Lecturer, University of Cambridge Faculty of Law

Steven R. Ratner, Bruno Simma Collegiate Professor of Law, University of Michigan Law School

Yaël Ronen, Professor of Law at the Academic Center for Science and Law at Hod Hasharon; Minerva Center for Human Rights, Hebrew University in Jerusalem

Brad R. Roth, Professor of Political Science and Law, Wayne State University

Tom Ruys, Professor of International Law, Ghent University

Michal Saliternik, Lecturer, Netanya Academic College School of Law Marco Sassòli, Professor of International Law, University of Geneva

 

Ben Saul, Challis Chair of International Law, University of Sydney

 

Michael N. Schmitt, Professor of International Law, University of Reading

 

Andrew I. Schoenholtz, Professor from Practice and Director, Human Rights Institute and Center for Applied Legal Studies, Georgetown University Law Center

 

Yuval Shany, Hersch Lauterpacht Chair in Public International Law, Faculty of Law, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Scott J. Shapiro, Southmayd Professor of Law and Professor of Philosophy, Yale University

Sivan Shlomo-Agon, Lecturer, Bar-Ilan University Faculty of Law

Stefan Talmon, Professor of Public Law, Public International Law and European Union Law, University of Bonn

 

Christian J. Tams, Professor of International Law, University of Glasgow

Attila M. Tanzi, Chair of International Law, School of Law, University of Bologna

Ruti Teitel, Ernst C.Stiefel Professor of Comparative Law, New York Law School

Dire Tladi, Professor of International Law, University of Pretoria

Antonios Tzanakopoulos, Associate Professor of Public International Law, University of Oxford Faculty of Law

 

Maria Varaki, Lecturer in International Law, War Studies Department, King’s College London

Carlos M. Vázquez, Scott K. Ginsburg Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center

Yael Vias Gvirsman, Lecturer in International Law; Director, International Criminal and Humanitarian Law Clinic, Harry Radzyner Law School, Interdisciplinary Center (IDC), Herzliya

 

Michael Waibel, Professor, Department of European, International and Comparative Law, University of Vienna

 

Ralph Wilde, Associate Professor, Faculty of Laws, University College London

Siobhán Wills, Professor of Law, Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University

Ariel Zemach, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, Ono Academic College

Andreas Zimmermann, Professor, Faculty of Law, University of Potsdam

Gentian Zyberi, Professor of International Law and Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Oslo__

About zjb

Zachary Braiterman is Professor of Religion in the Department of Religion at Syracuse University. His specialization is modern Jewish thought and philosophical aesthetics. http://religion.syr.edu
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