Share via Email Palestinians carry a wounded protester, during clashes near the Gaza border fence last week. Every day Palestinians are killed, wounded, arrested. Every day colonialism advances, the siege on our people in Gaza continues, oppression persists. As many today want us to be overwhelmed by the potential consequences of a new spiral of violence, I will plead, as I did into deal with its root causes:
How can Palestinians legally fight occupation? Experts say the question is not about Palestine's right to resist, but about holding Israel accountable for its crimes. Media coverage surrounding the Palestinian struggle for self-determination in the face of Israeli occupation often frames the narrative by equating the ethics of violence on both sides - but what does international law have to say about the Palestinian right to resistance?
Does it fall short of providing an occupied people the tools to resist? What options do Palestinians have? Al Jazeera asked several analysts to weigh in.
She is cofounder of the International Solidarity Movement and former chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement, which organised a dozen sea voyages to challenge Israel's naval blockade on Gaza. Huwaida Arraf [Photo courtesy of Huwaida Arraf] It's easy to feel like a broken record for those of us who remember those talking about Israel's violations of international law.
The list of these violations is seemingly endless and their condemnation by Palestinian, international and Israeli human rights organisations abound.
Over the years, experts, independent commissions, NGOs, the UN, and even the US State Department have documented the numerous and massive violations of Palestinian human rights committed by Israel; yet the violations continue and, arguably, have become more egregious, with no accountability to the victims and no repercussions for Israel.
This dismaying reality is an inevitable result of perhaps the biggest shortcoming of international law - that adherence to it and its enforceability depend largely on voluntary state consent and compliance.
In other words, absent the political will to make state behaviour comport with the law, violations are the norm rather than the exception. In this case, Israel is certainly not interested in sacrificing its colonial agenda to comply with international law, and with the unwavering political and economic support of the United States, thus far it has not had to.
What's more, even though the UN has repeatedly recognised the right of an occupied people to use legitimate armed force in the struggle for "liberation from colonial and foreign domination", and has specifically applied this to Palestine, Palestinians have had to endure decades of being labelled as "terrorists", while the terrorism perpetuated by their occupiers and oppressors has been labelled "self-defence".
All of this has contributed to a feeling among Palestinians that international law is meaningless when it comes to protecting them, and it is difficult to argue otherwise. Expanding the legal paradigm will serve to address all of Israel's crimes against our people, past and present, and not only those committed in the OPT since This is not to say that we should turn our backs on international law.
Rather, we should understand its limitations and develop a Palestinian national plan to use it effectively. This must include, among other things, using documented Israeli human rights violations to make the case for boycott, divestment and sanctions BDS.
It must also include expanding the legal paradigm in which Palestine is viewed, from one that goes beyond a focus on international humanitarian law IHLto one that addresses colonialism, apartheid and the right to self-determination. The latter was the topic of a conference held at Birzeit University in Maybut it has yet to be translated into a broad strategy.
As IHL is the law governing situations of armed conflict and occupations, it is applicable only to the internationally recognised occupied areas of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza the occupied Palestinian territories, or OPT. While useful in establishing that certain Israeli practises, such as settlement building, are illegal, an exclusive reliance on IHL is problematic in that it treats Israel's occupation regime as one that is lawful, focusing only on the legality of Israel's actions rather on the il legitimacy of the occupation itself.
It also grants the occupier a certain set of rights, which Israel has manipulated to justify grossly repressive measures against the occupied civilian population, such as the near hermetic closure of the Gaza Strip, land confiscation, and mass killing. Perhaps more importantly, an exclusive IHL focus, compounded by the framework created by Oslo, has fragmented our national liberation struggle, excluding from it Palestinians outside of the OPT and ignoring the fundamental rights denied to them by Israel's colonial, apartheid regime.
Expanding the legal paradigm will serve to address all of Israel's crimes against our people, past and present - and not only those committed in the OPT since While Palestinians demonstrating in the streets today in the West Bank, Gaza, Sakhnin, Nazareth, and in the diaspora are likely not thinking about their actions in the context of international law, they are undoubtedly rising above the fractioning of our struggle to affirm the unity of our fight for freedom, justice and dignity.
The challenge now is to develop a comprehensive legal strategy that utilises all aspects of international law to join BDS and the popular resistance to confront Israel on all fronts towards liberation.
Richard Falk [AFP] As has been widely understood in recent decades, international law was an instrument of colonial rule, as well as serving for several centuries the purposes of a West-centric world order in conflict situations.
The linchpin of this system was upholding the prerogatives of the fully sovereign states as modified by the geopolitical power of the dominant political actors.
Under these circumstances, it is hardly surprising that the rights of peoples to resist and national movements were not acknowledged in international law even if conditions of severe repression or tyranny prevailed.
This situation becomes even more clearly grasped if it is remembered that in the formative era of modern international law, most of the leading states were governed as absolute monarchies. At the same time, it should be taken into account that in this Western tradition, leading political philosophers including Hobbes, Locke, and Rousseau recognised a right of revolution in the face of tyrannical rule.
This right is embodied in international morality, but until recently was not explicitly incorporated into international law.Hatem Abudayyeh: The Palestinian question is not only one that affects us and the settler-colonialist Europeans who live on our land, but the entire region of the Arab World and the Middle East.
So it’s a global question that does not necessarily need only a third party, but many parties. HSRC's report concluded that Israeli occupation, colonialism and apartheid are "systematic and comprehensive, as the exercise of the Palestinian population's right to self-determination has been frustrated in all of its principal modes of expression.".
However, the occupation continues and deepens. “At the same time, Netanyahu is on a collision course with history. In the year , with the revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and hundreds of thousands in the streets of Israel in over two months against price increases and the housing crisis, support for the government plummeted.
As the uprising against Israel's occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land and holy sites continues, many commentators have spent ample time analysing the methods by . Land was no International Encyclopedia of Revolution and Protest, ed.
Immanuel Ness, Blackwell Publishing, , pp. – Uganda, protests against British colonialism and occupation free asset but restricted to loyalists of British gov- to vote on whether it .
Colonial occupation is in clear violation. The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples (the Declaration on Colonialism), condems "colonialism in all its forms and manifestations," including illegal settlements.