International Law


Israel and Gaza: The world without international law

Hamas has been firing rockets at Israel from the Gaza Strip in violation of international law. Specifically, it has been violating the prohibition of the use of force contained in article 2 paragraph 4 of the United Nations Charter. This prohibition is contained in a norm of jus cogens or peremptory law, from which there can be no derogation by agreement.

Israel has the right of self-defense against an armed attack in accordance with Article 51 if the U.N. Charter and general international law.

However, the exercise of this right is subject to two conditions:

First, the use of force in self-defense must be necessary to stop the armed attack to which the country is being subjected. Here, that means the force used must be aimed at stopping the armed attack, and rationally related to that objective.

Second, the use of force by Israel must be proportional to the threat posed by the armed attack by Hamas.

Regardless of whether or not Israel can sustain its argument under international law, as interpreted by impartial experts, that its use of force against Gaza is a necessary and proportionate response to Hamas’ rocket attacks against Israel, Israel is legally obligated to comply with international humanitarian law (the laws of war).

International humanitarian Law prohibits the targeting of civilians, including news agencies. The Israeli military gave residents of a residential building in which the Associated Press and Al Jazeera had their offices one hour to evacuate the building before it was bombed.

This warning constituted undeniable evidence that this residential building, filled with civilian residents and workers, was deliberately targeted.

Consequently, the bombing of this building would appear to constitute an egregious war crime by Israel. Bombings of other civilian targets also represent presumptive war crimes.

The United States should not veto any Security Council resolutions necessary to take these steps.

The steps suggested above would lead back to the path of international law and a cessation of hostilities.

The alternative is a continuation of the the illegal actions we have witnessed in recent days, and a progression toward a wider war.




China and Russia form common front against the West

One such mistake has been to grant unscripted interviews on television. In his interview with George Stephanoupoulis, on ABC-TV, Stephanapoulis asked him if he thought Vladimir Putin was “a killer”. Biden, unaccompanied by his handlers and off-script, naively answered, “Yes.”

The answer enraged Putin, who at a press conference, said,

“What would I answer him? I would tell him: be healthy,” Putin said. “I wish him good health. I say this without irony, no jokes. This is first of all.”
CNN

So, Biden’s first big mistakes vis-à-vis Russia and China were to publicly call Putin a “killer” and to adopt a confrontational attitude at the first bi-lateral meeting between foreign ministers with China.

In both cases, Buden and Blinken were playing primarily to their domestic audience. The point is not that Biden and Blinken should not have spelled out in detail their criticisms of China. The point is this was the wrong time and the wrong place.

The common front against the West should come as no surprise. Its timing has at least symbolic significance.


Khashoggi assassination: To really sanction MBS, minimize U.S. and allied dealings with him

Now, the U.S. can send a subte message to King Salman and the Saudi Royal family by having minimal contact and interaction with the Crown Prince.

The Saudis can choose whoever they want to be King.  But they should know that Americans will never forget or forgive the assassination of Jamal Khashoggi.

If the Saudis enthrone MBS they are likely to have one kind of relationship with the United States. 8ut if they choose someone else to be King, they could have another kind of relationship.


Where can Trump go to escape the law? Israeli settlements in the West Bank?

First, because it is occupied territory it is far from clear that the U.S. extradition treaty with Israel would be held to apply. In any event, if an extradition request were made to Israel, the treaty’s dubious applicability to the occupied territories would offer Trump and his co-conspirators ample opportunity for litigation and delay–and, if need be, escape.

Second, if Trump becomes the object of an extradition request, or an INTERPOL “red ticket” for his arrest, should his West Bank settlement refuge become risky, he can always slip over the border into Saudi Arabia.

If Saudi Arabia represents a strong and secure fall-back location for Trump and his co-conspirators, the West Bank represents a huge potential for real-estate and other developments by Trump and his minions.

One can easily imagine one or more West Bank Trump Tower and Golf Resorts  in the West Bank.  The weather is ideal during the winter months in Europe, which is a relatively short plane ride away (six or seven hours from Paris).

But it is time to act.  The clock is ticking.



Fighting continues over Nagorno-Karabakh; ceasefire does not hold

Fighting continues in and over Nagorno-Karabakh. The Russian-brokered ceasefire agreed upon in Moscow on Saturday is not holding. It is time for the U.N. Security…