Thursday, 10 January 2008

IHL - Toothless and delegalized in Jerusalem

Bush is visiting Olmert and Abbas in Jerusalem and Ramallah these days to engage in a series of toothless 'tittle tattle' on the jaded, politicized legal questions of Jerusalem, refugees and settlements that sit at the top of the agenda for the resolution of conflict and detangling of events in the region.

Mr. Bush declared this a “historic moment, a historic opportunity” to overcome the deep skepticism here and elsewhere that the peace efforts begun in Annapolis, Md., in November would succeed. (see

The senior official added that Israel was determined to continue building in Jerusalem, and that there was no change in the position on the issue despite the rare criticism by America's top diplomat. (see

If east-Jerusalem is not recognized as "occupied territory" under the Fourth Geneva Convention (regardless of the length of the occupation), if the right to return in international law is not afforded to the some 2 million Palestinian refugees, and if the rules of jus in bello pertaining to the conduct of the occupying power are not enforced, there is absolutely no place for soft, leaky diplomatic chatter. Or is there?

The aged state of international humanitarian law (IHL) has been a topic for debate in recent years with the emerging face of the twenty-first-century armed conflict (i.e. state against non-state actor). It's body being not only unsuitable for the traditional IHL outfit, but has further ripped this traditional outfit apart exposing its inherent deficiencies in operability.

In creating and maintaining the 'big prison', i.e. the Gaza Strip, for the past two years the Israeli authorities have been supported by American officials that had chosen to endorse 'national security' and 'the fight against terrorism' to negate hard rights, obligations and soft politico-legal agreements that today form the very creature of IHL and international human rights law.

Before the law is applied by both sides, even in the very denuded state in which it is found today, delegalised politics is a means for reinforcing the present state of paralysis and rejecting the validity of the fundamental aspirations of the international community for its peaceful coexistence and collective struggle against the horrors with which it is presently faced.

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