Pressure for Palestine
Tuesday April 8, 2003
If Tony Blair is truly committed to ending double standards in Palestine, then he should back the UN road map, not the hypothetical document on the agenda in Belfast (Leaders, April 7). Palestine has been the responsibility of the UN ever since the UK abandoned this former mandate. The UN has laid the legal framework for any negotiated settlement. The two-state solution was put forward by the UN from the start and the proclamation of an independent state of Palestine by the PLO in November 1988 was declared legitimate by the general assembly.
The security council has declared null and void any Israeli legislative or administrative measure (including settlements) purporting to alter the status of Jerusalem or the occupied territories. It has called on Israel to "abide scrupulously by its legal obligations"; it has "deplored" and expressed its "grave concern" over Israel's rejection of these calls; it has reaffirmed its "determination to examine practical ways and means to secure the full implementation of its resolutions in the event of non-compliance". Such resolutions are binding, even if not adopted under chapter VII of the charter (see the reasoning of the international court of justice in the case of Namibia ).
The legal issues involved - the right of refugees to return to their homes and/or to receive compensation; the right to self-determination of the Palestinian peoples, which includes respect for the territorial integrity of the whole territory under occupation within the 1967 borders; the duties of an occupying power to respect the fourth Geneva conventions - are of fundamental concern to the international community. The UN, not self-appointed "honest" brokers, should resume full responsibility over Palestine: by calling for an international conference on the Middle East along the lines of the Dayton peace process, by expediting an international presence in the area and by examining enforcement.
The war on Iraq has more than ever underlined the double standards involved. It is in the interest of each member state to ensure, through the UN, the even-handed application of international law. This is the message Mr Blair should get across.
Prof Vera Gowlland-Debbas
Graduate Institute of International Studies, Lausanne, Switzerland
· One would expect those of us who support a two-state solution to welcome Blair's pushing of the "road map" (Report, April 7). Sadly, his motivation appears to consist of a desire to appease those in his party and in the Arab world who despise Israel. The impression seems to be that it's OK to lash out at Israel when other "anti-Arab" actions have placed you in a corner. This is a dangerous road. As Eden said in 1967, "if we were to try to do as we did in the 30s in respect of Czechoslovakia, at the expense of Israel, we should deserve all we got". Then, "all we got" referred to the nuclear danger. Now it refers to the potential triumph of radical Islam. What message will be drawn if we negotiate under fire?
· Irving Moskowitz has long supported the Israeli far right's settlement activities. Yet Israeli opinion polls consistently show a majority for withdrawal from West Bank settlements, which they see as a barrier to the two-state solution they support. The proposed road map clearly states "freezing the Jewish settlements in the territories ... including their natural increase". Moskowitz is a Sharon amanuensis, derailing the road map behind the smokescreen of the war, in flagrant disregard of what most Israeli Jews believe.
British Friends of Peace Now