Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Words matter: A new language for peace - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

This article is important because it addresses the international' status of Palestine and legal issues that whirl around it. Israel has distorted its tenuous legal position over its borders and Jerusalem in the US.

"The Palestinian territories conquered by Israel in 1967 are still frequently referred to as "disputed". They are not. They are "occupied" - and illegally so, since the status of "perpetual belligerent occupation" which Israel has been seeking to impose since 1967 does not exist in international law. While sovereignty over expanded East Jerusalem, which Israel has formally annexed, is explicitly contested, no other state has recognised Israel’s sovereignty claim and Palestinian sovereignty over the Gaza Strip and the rest of the West Bank is, in both literal and legal senses, uncontested.

Israel has never even purported to annex these territories, knowing that doing so would raise awkward questions about the rights (or lack of them) of the indigenous population living there. Jordan renounced all claims to the West Bank in favour of the Palestinians in July 1988. While Egypt administered the Gaza Strip for 19 years, it never asserted sovereignty over it . . .

Commentators on all sides speak of Israel's "ceding" territory occupied in 1967 to the Palestinians. The word suggests a transfer of land by its legitimate owner. Unless there are reciprocal exchanges of territory in a final peace agreement, the issue of Israel's "ceding" territory to Palestine does not arise. Israel can withdraw from occupied Palestinian territory, but to "cede" property one must first possess legal title to it."

John V Whitbeck is an international lawyer who has advised the Palestinian negotiating team in negotiations with Israel.
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

source: Words matter: A new language for peace - Opinion - Al Jazeera English

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