Zondi’s narrative skirted legality of the occupation
Dr SIPHAMANDLA Zondi, in his piece in The Star on December 28, refers. One must agree with the doctor in his remarks about President Barack Obama, who has indeed been bold in many areas of his foreign policy.
The jury is still out on his Iranian deal and enormous failure, notwithstanding his “red line”, by allowing Syria (and Russia) to perpetrate the genocide that is still going on.
Russia has now regained its foothold in the Middle East, resulting in a new Cold War.
The subject of Zondi’s column is, however, the US’s about-turn in its traditional support for Israel against the tirade of unmitigated bias that persists at the UN. What Zondi fails to include in his narrative is the question of the legality of the occupation, which the Obama administration has used as its pretext to abstain at the UN Security Council, reiterating its stand that it views settlements (read occupation) as the main obstacle to peace.
Before the 1967 war, Jordan occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem – territory that it had captured in the war with Israel in 1948. No country, not even the UN, had any objection to this occupation. Israel regained that territory in the Six Day War, and the world was, and still is, outraged.
Professor John Dugard, dean of international law at Leyden University (and certainly no friend of Israel), quoting international law, states: “A state is allowed to occupy a territory acquired in armed conflict pending a peace settlement. But the occupation must be temporary.”
So here you have a dichotomy – that territory that is now referred to as the West Bank, originally designated to be part of the Jewish state by the League of Nations and ratified at the San Remo Conference in 1922, was not only occupied by Jordan during and after the 1948 war between Israel and its Arab neighbours, but later illegally annexed by that country. International law was ignored by the world during Jordan’s occupation of the land.
Israel then recaptured that territory during the 1967 war and was fully prepared to return it even though Jordan had no legal sovereignty, but the offer was rejected by the Arab collective in their now infamous “Three Noes” – no peace, no recognition and no negotiation. That was all before there was a claim to that land by any Palestinian entity.
In terms of various international agreements, Jerusalem was to become an “international city” under the control of a “trust”. For the next 19 years after the 1948 war, Jews were denied access to East Jerusalem, and every aspect of Jewish life, including homes and synagogues, were destroyed by the Jordanians.
It’s interesting to note that in the immediate aftermath of the 1967 war, the conquering Israeli army handed full control of the Muslim part of the Temple Mount over to the Waqf in Jordan, and to this day, all major religions have free access to all the holy sites in Jerusalem.
The question therefore that Zondi should answer is: Whose occupation is and was illegal?
It seems however that Zondi’s real issue is in numbers. He writes that “thousands of Palestinians have perished in recent years, while only a few Israelis died”.
Now here’s the real problem – too few Jews being killed. Nearly 2000 Jews killed in the two intifadas doesn’t register on his abacus. It seems while Zondi wrote almost half a page justifying the US about-turn on policy, it’s only about Palestinian numbers.