IDF soldier lightly hurt in West Bank stabbing attack
An IDF soldier was lightly wounded in an attempted stabbing attack Wednesday afternoon near the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar.
The stabbed soldier shot and killed the assailant at the scene near Nablus.
According to the IDF, the incident began as car-full of Palestinians hurled rocks at passing vehicles.
Security forces then pursued the vehicle before one Palestinian exited the car and proceeded to stab a nearby soldier, wounding him in light condition.
During attempts to stop the assailant while he was in his vehicle, security forces rammed the car. There were no injuries as a result of the collision.
The wounded soldier was taken to a hospital for medial treatment. (Jerusalem Post)
IDF raids uncover illegal weapons in West Bank
In the predawn hours of Tuesday, the IDF, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Border Police carried out the largest raid on West Bank terror infrastructure so far this year.
The IDF said the West Bank operation was aimed at disrupting weapons manufacturing in the Bethlehem and Hebron areas, from where 30 percent of recent terror attacks had emanated.
Security forces found seven workshops, 54 guns and 22 lathes for the manufacture of weapons, as well as other firearms, ammunition clips and weapon parts. Two suspects were arrested for arms dealing and manufacturing, with one handed over to the Shin Bet for interrogation, the IDF said.
Since the start of 2016, security forces have raided 29 weapons factories and confiscated 49 lathes and over 300 firearms in the West Bank.
Over 30 terror attacks occurring this year have involved the use of firearms, and over 140 suspects have been arrested for illegal arms dealing.
The IDF also provided the prices of various illicit firearms in the West Bank, with “Carlo” guns (based on the Carl Gustav submachine gun) running at NIS 2,000 to NIS 5,000, a hand gun costing NIS 10,000 to NIS 20,000, and an M16 assault rifle commanding over NIS 50,000.
“We are conducting substantial efforts to locate, uncover and frustrate the illicit weapons industry on the streets of Judea and Samaria,” said Etzion Commander Col. Roman Gaufman, in a video distributed by the IDF. “Tonight [early Tuesday], we came to one of the factories in this apparatus.”
The video shows dozens of soldiers entering the area, laying out rows of seized guns, boxes of ammunition and machinery, and digging up items hidden below ground.
At the end, the facility is shown being sealed off.
The operation came just one night after Sderot was hit by a rocket, after which the IDF hit 50 Gaza targets in response.
As with the West Bank operation, the Israeli retaliatory strikes on Gaza were the most comprehensive of the year.
They targeted Hamas operational sites that had often been left unscathed by retaliatory strikes. (Jerusalem Post)
Rivlin: We don’t want war, but we’re ready
The IDF is well prepared to combat any offensive from Gaza, President Reuven Rivlin was told Tuesday in a series of conversations with Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the Gaza Division commander and officers and soldiers of units stationed along the Gaza Strip in a briefing at Gaza Division Headquarters at Raim Army Base.
Even though there is no anticipation of an immediate escalation of violence from across the southern border.
Early in his presidency, just a month after the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge in 2014, Rivlin toured the area and has been returning periodically to receive updates on military and civilian developments and boost the morale of the locals.
“There are citizens on both sides of the border who want to live in peace and quiet, and we will make sure that the citizens of Israel can live in tranquility,” Rivlin said. “We are not interested in war, but after hours of talking to wonderful commanding officers, I know that if war is imposed on us, the army is as professionally prepared as anyone could want.”
Rivlin, who was made privy to intelligence reports, new defense techniques and equipment and long-term plans that collectively contribute to Israel’s military strength, came away with the impression that “we’ve got people on whom we can rely.”
He also spoke of Israel’s determination to bring home the remains of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul who were killed during the 2014 conflict in Gaza and whose bodies remain held by Hamas, saying the government is doing everything possible to bring their bodies home for proper Jewish burial.
“Israel is morally obligated to bring them back,” he said.
Goldin’s parents, Leah and Simcha, and his twin brother, Tzur, will join Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his trip to New York next month to address the UN General Assembly.
A selection of drawings by Hadar Goldin will be displayed in one of the main exhibition areas at UN headquarters.
The Shaul family has staged demonstrations outside Nafthah Prison to prevent families from visiting Gazan prisoners and has demonstrated near the Prime Minister’s Residence.
Rivlin also made a point of thanking the soldiers and commending them for their efficiency, and their courageous service in the face of a constant threat, saying the relative quiet along the border is not something that can be taken for granted. (Jerusalem Post)
Netanyahu, Putin Discuss Israeli-Palestinian Peace in Phone Call
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the Israeli-Palestinian peace process with Russian President Vladimir Putin in a telephone conversation night. A statement issued by the Kremlin said the call was initiated by Netanyahu and dealt with the peace process and other regional issues.
The conversation comes two days after Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi said the Russian president was willing to host Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas for direct talks in Moscow. Al-Sissi made the statement at a briefing for the editors of leading Egyptian newspapers.
“The Russian president has informed me that he has invited Palestinian President Abu Mazen and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu for a meeting in Moscow,” Al-Sissi said, referring to Abbas by his nickname. “Egypt supports these efforts and both sides are urged to participate and respond positively to the initiative for the sake of finding light at the end of the tunnel for Palestinians and establishing their state alongside Israel.”
The Egyptian president said “there is need for change, if there is a mutual desire by both sides, Israeli and Palestinian, as well as by the international community.”
He also said that Israel’s understanding of its own need for an agreement and its desire “to lead to a kind of break in the impasse” have both been growing, “and that’s a positive sign.”
Earlier this week that senior European officials have been trying unsuccessfully for several weeks to arrange such a meeting. (Haáretz)
Netanyahu pushes for haredi compromises on controversial social issues
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned on Tuesday that if the haredi political parties do not compromise on the pluralist prayer section at the Western Wall, the High Court of Justice was likely to impose a solution.
The prime minister made his comments in a lengthy meeting on Tuesday with journalists from the haredi print and online media, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Netanyahu reportedly stated that, on issues such as Shabbat in the public realm; the status of the progressive Jewish streams; and prayer rights at the Western Wall, the haredi political leadership would need to reach certain compromises.
The prime minister said the agreement proposed by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit after three years of negotiations was a reasonable one, and it should be implemented. He said that outcome is preferable to having the issue decided by the High Court.
The meeting Tuesday lasted some six hours, and covered issues ranging from defense to economics, religion and state and the haredi community.
Yisroel Cohen, a senior journalist with Kikar Shabbat, the most widely read haredi news website, said the prime minister had impressed the haredi journalists and spoke candidly with them, even though there had been disagreements between them.
Cohen added that Netanyahu had demonstrated empathy for the haredi world view.
“On the one hand, he was attentive and understood the haredi position, and on the other he made it understood that there are things that must be compromised on and that it is not good for the haredi community to come into conflict with the broader Israeli public,” said Cohen.
In the meeting, Netanyahu also blasted former prime minister Ehud Barak, calling him “the worst prime minister in Israel’s history.” Netanyahu was responding to Barak’s attack on him last Wednesday at an event of the anti-Netanyahu organization Darkenu in Rishon Lezion.
At the event, Barak accused Netanyahu of being a weak and paranoid leader of a government that harms the security of the state. Barak said Netanyahu made decisions based on his own personal considerations, rather than the good of the country and his continued rule was the “sparks of fascism.”
“The countdown to the end of Netanyahu’s tenure has begun, and I think he understands that,” Barak told the crowd.
Netanyahu said Barak’s attack was an attempt at a political comeback.
Regarding the allegation that he had exposed Israel to a security challenge, Netanyahu said that if it was true, Barak would not have declined to reveal the information to Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee chairman Avi Dichter.
“If he had what to say, he would have told me or Dichter, and we would have dealt with it,” he said.
“No one knows what he is talking about. I asked my security advisers. No one has a clue.”
Netanyahu denied reports that he met last Thursday with Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog at the home of a neighbor in Caesarea.
“There have been no talks recently,” Netanyahu said. “But I have kept the Foreign Affairs portfolio for Buji [Herzog]. I have told him I want a broad government.” (Jerusalem Post)
Poll: Only half of Israeli Jews feel responsible for fate of Diaspora
Only half of Jewish Israelis wholeheartedly believe that Israel is responsible for the fate of Diaspora Jewry, according to the results of a new Diaspora Affairs Ministry poll acquired by The Jerusalem Post.
Respondents were given five options in answering questions about Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora: strongly agree, agree, somewhat agree, disagree and strongly disagree.
While a total of 50 percent picked the first two options when asked whether Israel was responsible for Jewish continuity in the Diaspora, 30% said they somewhat agreed and 20% said either disagree or strongly disagree.
When anti-Semitism is put into the equation, the figures go up slightly.
Fifty-two percent of the respondents agreed or strongly agreed that Israel had significant responsibility for the security of Diaspora Jewry in the face of anti-Semitism, 21% disagreed.
The poll found that the majority of the respondents were unenthusiastic about investing funds in Jewish identity efforts in the Diaspora. Only 9% strongly agreed that Israel should invest money on Jewish identity in the Diaspora to the same extent it does in Israel, while 18% agreed, 30% somewhat agreed and the rest agreed or strongly disagreed.
The poll was conducted three weeks ago online, anonymously, using a sample of 1,119 people representing the Jewish public in Israel, including 100 youths between the ages of 16-18.
There was a 3% margin of error.
The respondents were also presented with the government’s annual budget (NIS 460 billion), the budget for aliya and absorption (NIS 2.3b.) and the budget for culture, sport and science (NIS 1.9b.). They were then asked how much they thought should be put into strengthening Diaspora Jewry.
An accumulative 43% selected NIS 500 million or more, of which 13% chose NIS 1b. and 9% chose NIS 2b.
– a sum similar to the Culture, Sport and Science Ministry budget. Another accumulative 48% was willing for the state to invest NIS 200m. or less: 24% selected NIS 100-200m., 24% chose up to NIS 10m., and 9% said no investment whatsoever should be made.
As for taking the interests of Diaspora Jewry into consideration when making governmental decisions, only 11% of the respondents said this should not be done, while 49% believed it was very important to do so when making decisions related to security and foreign affairs.
Only 16% of the respondents were aware of how much money Diaspora Jewry invests in Israel, with 60% putting the number at NIS 3b., less than half of the actual sum. The same proportion estimated that Israel invests more that it does in the Diaspora, placing it at NIS 300m. or more.
The ministry’s senior director of Diaspora affairs, Hagay Elitzur, said that the poll reflected the importance the ministry placed on a reciprocal relationship between Israel and the Diaspora.
“We’re one nation, one family,” he stated. “We wanted to fully understand the perspective of Israelis in this area.”
The ministry will conduct this poll on an annual basis in order to assess the impact it is making on the Israel- Diaspora relationship, he said.
Elitzur opined that there was a basic feeling of mutual responsibility, but that many in Israel don’t really understand what is happening with world Jewry and see this relationship solely from the perspective of Israel and its interests.
“We want to change this perception, to stimulate discussion about our relationship with the Diaspora and its significance,” he said.
He added that the ministry’s objectives in the field were to increase Israelis’ knowledge about Diaspora Jews, to increase the sense of belonging between Israeli Jews and Diaspora Jews, and to generate more involvement and action on issues related to Diaspora Jews. (Jerusalem Post)
Unemployment in Israel hits historic low of 4.7%
Unemployment rates in Israel continue to break new records: In July, the national unemployment rate reached a historic low of 4.7%, according to data issued Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics.
The rate of unemployment among women dropped from 4.95% in June to 4.7% in July, while the rate for men remained unchanged at 4.6% in the same period.
Among Israelis aged 25 to 64, the rate of unemployment in July stood at 4.1% for men and 3.9% for women.
In absolute terms, 184,000 individuals were unemployed in July.
The number of participants in the civilian workforce over the age of 15 reached an all-time high of 3.94 million, and the number of people actually employed rose to a record 3.74 million, an increase characteristic of the summer months, when teenagers find summer work and fresh high-school graduates start jobs.
The percentage of participants in the civilian workforce rose to 64.4%, among the highest percentages in the West: 69.7% of men and 59.2% of women were part of the civilian workforce.
The percentage of people between the ages of 25 and 64 in the workforce rose from 79.8% in June to 80.1% in July. Among men in that age category, 85.4% were part of the workforce in July, compared to 84.6% in June, while the number of women from that age group dropped slightly to 74.8% from 75.2% in June. The drop is attributed to the number of women who temporarily leave the workforce during the summer months.
Broken down by cities, July’s unemployment rate was highest in Jerusalem (6.5%) and lowest in Tel Aviv (3.4%). Most of central Israel had a similarly low unemployment rate of 3.9%. Unemployment in Haifa and the Galilee stood at 5.7%, while in Beersheba and the rest of southern Israel it was 5.4%.
The weekly overview put out by Finance Ministry Chief Economist Yoel Naveh called Israel “a paradise” when it comes to unemployment and said that “anyone actively seeking work generally finds [a job] in less than 14 weeks.”
Naveh said unemployment was not a problem for older women in Israel and that unemployment among men aged 55-61 was not significantly higher than among younger people.
However, as part of his overview, Naveh broadened the definition of who is considered “unemployed” to include groups such as people forced to settle for part-time work, active job seekers who are willing and able to work, and people who have given up on finding work. According to Naveh, if those groups are added, the unemployment rate in Israel for 2015 jumps to about 10.6%, from the official figure of 5.2% for that year.
Still, according to Naveh, the job market in Israel is much better than in the European Union and OECD nations. Statistics for 2015 show that while the official unemployment rate in Israel was 5.2%, it was 7.9% for the OECD and 9.4% for the EU. Greece and Spain had unemployment rates of 25% and 22% respectively. (Israel Hayom)
Israeli medalist auctioning autographed Olympic name patch for charity
Israeli judoka Yarden Gerbi, who won a bronze medal in the women’s 63-kg judo competition at the Rio Olympics, is auctioning off her Olympic name patch for charity.
Gerbi has offered the name patch for sale on eBay, and agreed to autograph it with a dedication to the buyer.
The proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Tel Aviv Sourasky Medical Center to be used to purchase medical equipment, Gerbi said in her description on the auction website.
As of Tuesday morning, the highest bid was $13,000. The auction closes in five days.
Yarden Gerbi’s auctioned Olympic name patch.
Yarden Gerbi’s auctioned Olympic name patch.
Gerbi defeated Miku Tashiro of Japan for Israel’s first Olympic medal since the 2008 games in Beijing. Another Israeli judoka, Ori Sasson, won a bronze medal in the men’s judo over-100 kg. competition.
“The medal is for all of Israel, for everyone who supported me and cheered me on,” Gerbi said after her victory. “I’m waiting for someone to wake me up. I gave my soul and it paid off. Whoever said you can’t succeed in Israel is wrong.” (Jerusalem Post)
3,500-Year-Old Artifacts Found at Sea in Hadera Given to Israel Antiquities Authority
Ancient metal artifacts were recently given to the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) by a family whose father had collected them from the water along the coastal city of Hadera.
The Mazliah family inherited the artifacts from their late father, who pulled the objects from the sea while he was employed at the Hadera power station. After realizing they belonged to the state, they contacted IAA and invited them to their home to inspect the items.
IAA discovered the objects had fallen overboard from a metal merchant’s ship in the early Islamic period.
The finds include a toggle pin and the head of a knife from the Middle Bronze Age, more than 3,500 years ago. The other items include two mortars and two pestles and fragments of candlesticks that date to the Fatimid period in the 11th century CE. The items were apparently made in Syria and brought to Israel. The finds are evidence of the metal trade that was conducted during this period, said IAA’s curator Ayala Lester.
The Mazliah family will receive a certificate of appreciation from the IAA for turning over the artifacts. (the Algemeiner)
How Israel Became a Role Model in Fighting Terrorism
By Nathalie Hamou Worldcrunch/Real Clear World
In the wake of last month’s tragedy in Nice, just like after the attacks in Paris on November 13th, the same solution was put forward for France: “the Israeli model,” where the terrorist threat is part of daily life.
In Tel Aviv, military experts invited on television sets appeared to be modest, avoiding any kind of reference to an “Israeli anti-terrorist model.” The Jewish state, whose people have been through seven wars and two intifadas since its creation, has become a textbook case for how to handle a permanent state of insecurity. This expertise could be a source of inspiration for European decision-makers.
In the aftermath of the attacks in Paris, Cannes mayor David Lisnard called upon former Israeli Brigadier-General Nitzan Nuriel to help local authorities and emergency intervention teams prepare for a possible attack during the world-famous Cannes film festival. Last April Nuriel, who also headed Israel’s anti-terrorism bureau from 2007 to 2012, conducted a terror simulation at the festival’s convention center to test the city’s reinforced security measures. He had previously carried out an audit based on lessons learned from the 2008 Mumbai attacks and the 2004 Madrid bombings, the two disasters professionals remember most.
One of his recommendations was to “secure the seafront” and enhance controls on all land and sea access points to the city of Cannes. Asked about the Nice attack, he told Les Échos: “I have the feeling France wasn’t really prepared for such a disaster.”
Ben Gurion, the world’s safest airport
In the past 18 months, delegations of countries struck by terrorism have been visiting Israel’s Ben Gurion International airport considered the world’s safest to assess the country’s fight against terrorism. A country where homeland security isn’t the responsibility of the army, but of intelligence services and the police.
In February, former Nice mayor Christian Estrosi traveled to Israel, where he met the CEO of the Eagle Security and Defense company Giora Eiland, also the former director of the Israeli National Security Council. During his visit, Estrosi insisted on the need “to be at the forefront of the fight through intelligence against cybercrime, considering that radicalization is done through social networks.” A field in which the Jewish state excels, as it is one of the world’s pre-eminent cyber-powers along with the United States, China, Russia and the United Kingdom.
A third intifada?
Why is the Israeli approach so efficient? “For decades, Israel has been confronted with a multiform and disseminated threat,” says David Khalfa, research associate for the think tank IPSE. “The country has suffered a series of terror attacks with an ever-changing modus operandi. Israel’s anti-terrorism strategy has had to permanently adapt by taking on an approach based on anticipation and rapidity of reaction, with mixed results, but countries faced with an important terror threat are scrutinizing this experience,” he says.
According to Khalfa, this threat has gone through important changes over four broad periods of time: First the 1970s with the attacks from the Palestinian fedayeen; then the time of the Oslo Accords in 1993 and its wave of suicide attacks; followed by the post-Oslo years during which Israel faced with the second intifada found itself targeted by rocket or missile fire from Hamas and Hezbollah; and now, the more recent escalation of car-ramming or knife attacks.
“Israeli anti-terrorism is based on defensive modes of action, such as safety barriers and military checkpoints, as well as offensive ones like infiltrations, preventive arrests, and targeted killings. This double-edged approach, coupled with its security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority, allowed Israel to significantly bring down the number of major scale attacks, even though small-scale attacks by Palestinians with rudimentary means have taken over in the last few months,” says Khalfa.
Intelligence as the cornerstone
The cornerstone of Israel’s anti-terrorism system is the intelligence apparatus, which works in concentric circles: in the West Bank, at Israel’s borders, and inside the country. Inside Israeli cities, the Jewish state relies on elite counter-terrorism units placed under police command, except for the former riot police unit Yasam, which now patrols on motorbikes inside Israel and directly answers to Shin Bet, the internal security service.
Israel can thus react extremely quickly in case of an attack, and Israeli civil society plays an especially important part in fighting terrorism. The army plays a crucial role, as every young Israeli is required to serve three years two for women under the flag. But there’s also the fact that the authorities have made it easier to carry weapons, meaning that civilians can respond more quickly when there’s an attack, not to mention the private protection companies which mushroomed at the beginning of the second intifada and its suicide attacks.
“The public’s awareness and resilience are a key asset,” explains Boaz Ganor, director of the International Institute for Counter Terrorism (ICT) of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya. The authorities take many preventive measures, such as banning vehicles from circulating in entire areas altogether during major events and gatherings. Checkpoints and barricades are also erected, an action plan that was reinforced during the recent wave of terror attacks that killed more than 31 Israelis, 4 foreigners and 207 Palestinians, including 130 assailants, since the fall of 2015.
A population aware of the risk
While this cycle of violence has produced 140 attacks with knives, guns or ramming cars initiated mostly by young Palestinians considered “lone wolves,” it hasn’t had the same psychological impact as the suicide bombings of the second intifada. “We’ve experienced worse but the ‘knife intifada’ has broken a run of six years of relative calm,” says Ely Karmon, research director at the ICT. As a matter of fact, Israeli security forces have found themselves helpless against Palestinian assailants aged between 13 and 20, unknown to the intelligence services and acting mostly alone. But as usual, the operational adjustment has been swift: Blocks of concrete or metal rods were installed at bus stops to protect commuters and stop ramming attacks against exposed pedestrians, and the authorities raised awareness among the population.
Another defensive approach that’s evolving is the monitoring of social networks. “Israel has invested heavily in this area,” explains Khalfa. “Especially since it noticed the growth of ISIS’s influence on certain young, self-radicalized Palestinians, for whom the fight is more in line with jihadism, as was recently observed in the attack in Tel Aviv’s Sarona market.”
That attack, on June 8, was carried out by two cousins from a West Bank village south of Hebron. They opened fire on people sitting at the terrace of a chocolate shop, killing four and wounding about fifteen people. According to Shin Bet’s investigation, the two terrorists had decided to carry out an ISIS-inspired attack, but hadn’t been officially recruited by the terror organization nor had they received help in the process. Against such attacks, even Israel hasn’t found a solution yet.
Why There Can Be No “Demilitarized” Palestinian State
by Louis René Beres The Gatestone Institute
Any treaty or treaty-like compact is void if, at the time of its entry into force, it conflicts with a “peremptory” rule of international law – that is, one from which “no derogation is permitted.” As the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces for self-defense is always such a rule, Palestine would be within its lawful right to abrogate any pre-independence agreement that had (impermissibly) compelled its own demilitarization.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), now officially a Nonmember Observer State to the United Nations General Assembly, will likely seek next month a Security Council resolution favoring full Palestinian sovereignty, probably as part of a cooperative Security Council initiative with France. Following such an initiative, the current U.S. president, or the next U.S. president could then be moved to accept the PA position on the grounds of some prior Palestinian “demilitarization.” Unfortunately, any such acceptance would be without any legal or practical value; therefore, no state of Palestine should ever be approved because of any apparent promise of demilitarization.
Whoever wins the November election, the next U.S. president will have to deal with the continuing issue of Palestinian statehood. For the moment, agreeing to any such new Arab sovereignty — a 23rd Arab state — would appear to be contingent upon some prior acceptance of Palestinian “demilitarization.” After all, for a new president to disregard this seemingly prudent contingency would immediately place the United States in stark opposition to Israel.
More precisely, it would put Washington at odds with the core requirements already laid down explicitly by Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Nonetheless, there is substantial irony to this obligation. Simply put, meaningful Palestinian demilitarization could never take place. In essence, international jurisprudence could not allow it. First, international law would not necessarily expect Palestinian compliance with any limitations on negotiated agreements concerning national armies and armed forces.
But what if the government of a fully sovereign Palestinian state were in fact willing to consider itself bound by some pre-state agreement to demilitarize? There is still a big problem. Even in these improbable circumstances, the new Palestinian Arab government could likely identify ample pretext and opportunity to invoke lawful “treaty” termination. Here are some specific examples:
Palestine could withdraw from any such agreement because of what it would regard as a “material breach,” a purported violation by Israel, one that had allegedly undermined the object or purpose of the accord. It could also point to what international law calls Rebus sic stantibus: “permissible abrogation,” known more popularly as a “fundamental change of circumstances.” If Palestine should declare itself vulnerable to previously unforeseen dangers, perhaps even from interventionary forces, or the forces of other Arab armies or insurgencies that it could claim might be trying to occupy it, it could lawfully end its previously codified commitment to stay demilitarized.
There is another reason why any hopes for Palestinian demilitarization must remain unsupportable. After declaring independence, a Palestinian government — any Palestinian government — could point to particular pre-independence errors of fact, or to duress, as appropriate grounds for invoking selective agreement termination. In this regard, the grounds that may be invoked under domestic law to invalidate contracts could also apply under international law, whether to actual treaties, or, as in this particular case, to lesser treaty-like agreements.
Further, strictly speaking, recalling the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties (1969), an authentic treaty must always be “between states.”
Above all, however, any treaty or treaty-like compact is void if, at the time of its entry into force, it conflicts with a “peremptory” rule of international law — that is, one from which “no derogation is permitted.” As the right of sovereign states to maintain military forces for self-defense is always such a rule, Palestine would be within its lawful right to abrogate any pre-independence agreement that had (impermissibly) compelled its own demilitarization.
The next U.S. president, it follows, should take no comfort from any purportedly legal promises of Palestinian demilitarization. Should the government of any future Palestinian state choose to invite foreign armies or terrorists on to its territory, even after the original government had been overthrown by more militantly jihadist or Islamic forces, it could do so not only without practical difficulties, but also without necessarily violating international law.
In the end, the core danger to Israel of presumed Palestinian demilitarization would be far more practical than legal. The illusion of demilitarization without the ability to enforce it could be a potentially lethal threat. Even now, prevailing versions of the Middle East peace process generally stem from the persistent misunderstanding of Palestinian history and goals. From the start, every Palestinian faction has regarded all of Israel as “Occupied Palestine.” From the beginning, not a single Palestinian faction has ever expressed satisfaction with a new state that would be confined to West Bank (Judea/Samaria) and Gaza.
The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was formed in 1964, three years before there were any “Israeli-Occupied Territories.” What, then, was the PLO originally planning to “liberate?” Even now, the Palestinians remain as divided as ever; it remains unclear, therefore, who can speak with real authority for any still-plausible Palestinian state. Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is in the eleventh year of his four-year term; should he agree to anything substantive, others could later legitimately claim, long after land may have been irreversibly “exchanged,” that he had no legal authority to make a decision, and they would be right.
Moreover, for Israel and the United States, this insurmountable condition of fragmentation complicates any still-lingering hopes hope for Palestinian demilitarization.
A Palestinian state — any Palestinian state — could represent a mortal danger to Israel, especially if it should appear at approximately the same time as Iranian nuclearization. This danger could not be removed or even reduced by any pre-independence Palestinian commitments to demilitarize.
The next U.S. president will need to be prepared to do whatever is necessary to prevent the creation of another enemy state. Palestine would have a high probability of quickly becoming a new launching point for jihadist terror attacks around the region, and possibly the world.
Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue University.