UKLFI: Supporting Israel with legal skills

The UN is part of the problem, says UKLFI in its submission to UNHRC’s Special Rapporteur

Palestinian self-determination must take into account the rights of others, most Arab residents of Jerusalem prefer Israeli rule, Palestinian Authority representatives have no legitimate authority to speak on behalf of Arabs in the West Bank and Gaza, and the UN is an obstacle to peace, according to a submission by UK Lawyers for Israel (UKLFI) to a UNHRC Special Rapporteur on the subject of the right of Palestinian to self determination.

The UNHRC Special Rapporteur “on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967”, Ms Francesca Albanese, is preparing a thematic report on self-determination, to be presented to the UN General Assembly in October 2022. She called for submissions, including from civil society organisations.

Her report “will focus on the status of the right of self-determination for the Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian territory, its meaning and implications for the Palestinian people.” She states: “While recognized as a fundamental and inalienable right of the Palestinian people, meaning and implications of this right remain to be fully explained.”

UKLFI’s submission notes that “a basic difficulty in addressing self-determination for inhabitants of the former territory of the Palestine Mandate west of the Jordan river/Arava valley is establishing what Arab inhabitants of this area actually want.”

It continues: “Unfounded assumptions and false statements are regularly made in this regard, possibly influenced by saviourism. This is strikingly illustrated by a recent opinion poll which found that 93% of Arabs in East Jerusalem would prefer a continuation of Israeli rule. This empirical result is clearly at odds with assumptions regularly made in the international community.”

UKLFI point out that Jerusalem has been regarded as a distinct area requiring special treatment in attempts to find a permanent solution to issues arising out of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine. For example, UNGA Resolution 181(II) of 29 November 1947 recommended a special international regime for Greater Jerusalem, to last initially for 10 years, with the residents of the City then being free to express their wishes as to the future regime by a referendum.

The principle of self-determination would thus appear to favour continuation of Israeli rule over the whole of Jerusalem in accordance with the wishes of overwhelming majorities of its major ethnic communities.

UKLFI observe that the Palestinian Authority has not held elections for its President or Legislative Council since 2005 and 2006 respectively. Therefore those representing the Palestinian Authority do not have any legitimate authority to express supposed views of Arab inhabitants of the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

A further point made by UKLFI’s submission is that self-determination is a relative right, which needs to be accommodated with other rights and requirements, including the doctrine of uti possidetis juris, the self-determination and security of Israeli citizens, and the rights of the Jewish people recognised in the League of Nations Mandate, which remain in force in the West Bank in accordance with Article 80 of the UN Charter and case-law of the International Court of Justice.

The only practicable way of accommodating the respective rights and requirements will be through agreement, as recognised in the Camp David Accords. Unfortunately, however, the UN, the Palestinian Authority, various NGOs and media organisations are actively prejudicing the possibility of reaching such an agreement, through bias, incitement, and conduct promoting hatred.

UKLFI’s Chief Executive, Jonathan Turner commented: “We have concluded that the UNHRC and other UN bodies are an obstacle to a solution accommodating the rights and requirements of the inhabitants of this area, rather than a factor facilitating it. We urge the Rapporteur to consider critically the conduct of these bodies and their unhelpful contribution to promoting conflict.”