24 thoughts on “The Mysterious San Remo Treaty, Hasbarists’ Delight – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم
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  1. “There is no war.”

    There IS but only when Israel chooses to fight it….it’s a lot like the long war the US Cavalry fought against the Plains Indians from 1840-ish to the 1880s, i.e. a slow ethnic cleansing.

    Long live the Indians.

  2. Then what’s wrong about IDF actions during the Gaza War, if you already support Murray’s opinion that it’s completely legit “to step up such attacks to the maximum”?

    1. First, I’m talking about the present moment in which there is no war declared on either side. That’s why San Remo doesn’t apply now & why it never legitimately applied since when Israel first began the blockade there were no major hostilities or declaration of war.

      Second, as for 2009, Israel hadn’t declared war in that case either. And in any case, I’m not sure a country can declare war on an enclave that isn’t a country. Nor could Gaza very well declare war on Israel since it isn’t a country. But at any rate, even if Gaza were a country it wouldn’t have declared war on Israel. Israel’s attack on Gaza was very much a one-sided affair.

      1. First of all, even if we ignore the Hamas covenant (because you’ll most certainly smear this argument as “hasbara-talk” and I have no desire going into such nonsense again), the organization is waging a de-facto war on Israel. This is evident not only in his actions, but also in the declarations of his representatives (http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/security/Article-cd979380451ec21004.htm and also http://news.walla.co.il/?w=/2686/1752214).

        Secondly, I read through the San Remo Manual (http://www.icrc.org/IHL.nsf/52d68d14de6160e0c12563da005fdb1b/7694fe2016f347e1c125641f002d49ce!OpenDocument) and couldn’t find any limitation binding it exclusively to a state of declared war as opposed to any armed conflict. If you find one, please direct me to it. The military attorney’s office, by the way, has officially declared the situation in the WB and Gaza as an armed conflict at the start of the second intifada (recently the definition was changed for the WB http://www.haaretz.co.il/hasite/spages/1224000.html).

        Thirdly, Murray’s claim that Hamas’s rocket attacks are permissible by international law at times of war is preposterous and stupid (notwithstanding his illustrious credentials). These attacks are directed exclusively towards civilians. In times of war civilians get hurt as collateral damage, but attacks directed at civilians (such as the bombing of Dresden) are illegal. If Hamas would have targeted military bases that would have been legal.

        Finally, concerning the legality of the blockade itself, I direct you to the commenter quoting Eric Posner. Claiming the blockade is illegal because its collective punishment means any blockade is illegal. This includes even the UN Maritime Sanctions enforcement against Iraq or NATO blockade on Yugoslavia during the 90’s. Civilians were deeply affected in both of these cases in the name of just campaigns.

        1. the organization is waging a de-facto war on Israel.

          I’ve never heard of a “de facto war” & don’t know what the term means. More accurately, Palestinians are waging an insurgency (not a war or de facto war) against Occupation. First, an insurgency is not a war. Second, the insurgency is an act of resistance against an act (Occupation) illegal under international law & almost universally condemned by the world.

          I don’t know what “read through” means, but it seems to me something less than ‘I read the entire document as Craig Murray did.’ I think I trust the characterization of a former British ambassador & expert on laws of maritime conflict over yours.

          And as for what the IDF says is going on in Gaza, it means little to me. Besides, how can the situation in Gaza be an armed conflict and a ceasefire at the same time? Did you stop to think about the contradiction?

          I don’t think Murray was arguing that he supported the idea of firing rockets at Israel. He was trying to dramatize his point, which was that the firing of rockets at Israel during a war would be acceptable under the laws of war just as Israel would also be firing such rockets into Gaza. We can argue whether Israel’s rockets or Gaza’s rockets inflicted civilian casualties. I presume if you find the inflicting of casualties on Israeli civilians to be a violation of the laws of war you’d be equally willing to see Israeli commanders charged with violations of the laws of war. Is that true? Or are you a hypocrite?

          There was no NATO blockade on Yugoslavia in the 1990s. How could you blockade a country that has multiple borders & hundreds of miles of coastline?? But yes, the sanctions against Iraq were a devastating blow against Iraqi children just as Israel’s siege is a massive blow against Gaza’s.

          I should note another commenter’s portrayal of San Remo as not a treaty, but as a formulation by 24 nations which has no binding effect of anyone or anything.

          1. I read the document through and through- Murray’s wrong, read it for yourself and then argue.

            Is intending to obliterate Israel (As these representatives declare) an act of insurgency? You could somehow make that claim for the fight to establish a Palestinian state based on 67′ borders, but not about Hamas’s aspirations. The legality of the occupation has nothing to do with the legality of the blockade. Hamas could have the most justified cause and it still won’t be relevant. There is no chapter in this treaty dealing with the cause and agenda of either party. See my other comment for my point about war vs. armed conflict, and why I don’t think the distinction is relevant in this case.

            A ceasefire is not an armistice; it is a suspension of active aggressive actions between soldiers of the fighting sides. It is certainly not an end of a conflict, your claim is plain wrong. This fragile truce is periodically abandoned by both sides (Hamas firing rockets, Israel retaliating and so on) time and again. By the way, this ceasefire doesn’t say anything about the blockade. It was declared separately by both sides after Op. Cast Lead- Israel withdrew from Gaza and in return Hamas agreed to end its violent attacks. Your claim about the Yugoslavian war is also wrong (see Operation Sharp Guard).

            The treaty doesn’t contradict the Geneva Conventions, it only adds to them. You are of course right, it isn’t binding, but it is the only modern law codex concerning these subjects out there. If we ignore it, than Israel’s actions are even more legal, because there are no laws to adhere.

            As for Israeli commanders prosecuted for violations of acts of war- I support filing charges against anyone singling-out civilians and attacking them specifically, whether he’s IDF, Hamas, US Marine or a redneck with a shotgun. The sad truth is that Hamas does this all the time as an agenda (either with rockets or with terrorist attacks). While IDF attacks do cause civilian casualties (sometimes even more than Hamas’s), they are not directed at civilians but rather at armed terrorists and terrorist leaders (this I know first hand). An IDF soldier who attacks and kills a civilian intentionally should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

        2. I direct you to the commenter quoting Eric Posner. Claiming the blockade is illegal because its collective punishment means any blockade is illegal. This includes even the UN Maritime Sanctions enforcement against Iraq or NATO blockade on Yugoslavia during the 90′s.

          So why exactly are we ignoring the reports from the qualified officials that were appointed by the member states of the two major treaty organizations? As a signatory of the major human and humanitarian instruments, Israel has accepted the competence of the panels of legal experts in the treaty monitoring bodies to decide these legal questions on its behalf. The ICRC and UNHCHR are the among those Protecting powers mentioned in Article 103 of the San Remo Manual. Both mandate holders have reported that Israel’s blockade is an illegal form of collective punishment.

          I’m also confident that Eric Posner is aware of the fact that, in the Bosnian genocide case, Judge Elihu Lauterpacht affirmed a preliminary objection which held that Article 103 does not preempt State obligations arising from customary international law norms. See para 98-107 on Pages 64-71. He held that the UN arms embargo was illegal. He noted that the supremacy clause in Article 103 of the UN Charter only prevails over other conventions, but not over the jus cogens norms of customary international law. Lauterpacht explained that the Security Council arms embargo had, in effect, required the member states to assist in Serbia’s genocidal activities, while denying the Bosnians the ability to exercise an inherent right to self-defense. Does anybody see the parallel to the blockade of Gaza in that? So, Section III Article 8 and many other portions of the San Remo Manual are moot points. Even the Security Council and NATO are bound unconditionally by customary norms and their decisions are subject to review by the appropriate treaty bodies and judicial organs. One of the most important norms is the right to self defense. It is reflected in the UN Charter and Article 3 of the Montevideo Convention:

          Even before recognition the state has the right to defend its integrity and independence, to provide for its conservation and prosperity, and consequently to organize itself as it sees fit, to legislate upon its interests, administer its services, and to define the jurisdiction and competence of its courts. The exercise of these rights has no other limitation than the exercise of the rights of other states according to international law.

          BTW, the use of “talking heads” with no official standing or judicial experience – like Prof Eric Posner – is deliberate misdirection. Eric Posner, like John R. Bolton and Tzipi Livni, has stated on many occasions that he simply dislikes the existing system of international law. His goal appears to be to publish often and to be as provocative and controversial as possible. For example, he sometimes writes about the dangers of universal jurisdiction and global legalism, while at other times he writes that the international Courts are toothless and irrelevant – which is it? He proposes new theories of customary international law and the laws of war based upon “game theory” and Realpolitik.There is a much greater chance that he’ll be hit by lightning than the odds that any of those proposals will ever be adopted by the international community of States.

          I would hasten to add that I can’t dispute some of Posner’s conclusions, e.g.:

          Here’s a fine and well-deserved portrait of Harvard Law School’s best-known and least accomplished faculty member. (Folks outside law don’t seem to know this, but Dershowitz hasn’t made a substantive contribution to legal scholarship in two decades or more. As Richard Posner has noted: “Although he is a professor at Harvard Law School, Dershowitz is not a scholar.”) — Prof Brian Leiter

  3. Richard,

    Why cannot war and terror be part of the same equation?

    Israel is at war with Hamas, the governing authority of Gaza. Yet, in this war, Hamas uses, on top of regular military means – against Israeli security forces – terrorist means – intentionally targeting civilian populations.

    I do not see the contradiction. There is a war, with arguably legitimate means, and there is terror, with undoubtedly illegitimate methods.

    (Please note I am certainly not defending Israel’s blockade of Gaza, but I think the “it is illegal to enforce a general blockade on an entire population” argument is more appropriate than the “There is no war” argument)

    1. No, actually Israel has a ceasefire with Hamas. How can you have a ceasefire & war at the same time? As for targeting civilians, Hamas does very little damage against Israeli civilians or military. Israel’s forces do 5-10 times the damage in terms of numbers of Palestinian civilians killed compared to Israeli.

      So there is no “war” except in a metaphorical sense. Employing a blockade against an enemy territory actually requires a real, declared war with ongoing regular hostilities. What is happening in Gaza is a long term insurgency against Israeli Occupation, which itself is a violation of international law.

  4. RE: “So please no more references to San Remo. It’s a red herring argument.” – R.S.

    “Sticks and stones may break our bones, but facts will never sway us.” ~ Hasbarist Creed

    ALSO SEE – The Second Battle of Gaza: Israel’s Undermining Of International Law – by Jeff Halper, 02/22/11

    (excerpt)…A few years ago (April 15, 2005, p. 34) the Up Front weekend magazine of The Jerusalem Post published an interview with an Israeli “expert in international law” who, tellingly, chose to remain anonymous. This what s/he said:
    International law is the language of the world and it’s more or less the yardstick by which we measure ourselves today. It’s the lingua franca of international organizations. So you have to play the game if you want to be a member of the world community. And the game works like this. As long as you claim you are working within international law and you come up with a reasonable argument as to why what you are doing is within the context of international law, you’re fine. That’s how it goes. This is a very cynical view of how the world works. So, even if you’re being inventive, or even if you’re being a bit radical, as long as you can explain it in that context, most countries will not say you’re a war criminal…

    SOURCE – http://www.alternativenews.org/english/index.php/topics/news/2465

  5. “Now, can we please focus on the real subject at hand?”

    Your anger that you can’t join the Zahal and go on a one-man war against Israel’s enemies?

  6. Silverstein, your argument is silly. There is no general blockade, there is a specific blockade against weaponry and dual purpose materials. The basic needs of the population is met, unless you think that happiness is a warm gun and some dead Jews.

    Further Hamas declared war on Israel by escalating a minor skirmish on November 4th, 2008 – and it has not negotiated a peace treaty. True, it was a stupid thing for them to do, but intelligence is not the issue.

    Your desperation truly shows when you raised the straw dog argument of Israel blowing up the recent flotilla and killing “hundreds of people”. It didn’t happen.

    1. It seems to be raining Hasbara today between Willig & King. Listen guys, you may think the sun revolves around the earth but that don’t make it so. We’ve been over & over the nature of the Gaza blockade so we’re not going over it again just for the sake of some right wing pro Israel point scorers. When you have something original to say come back. Till then, you’ll be moderated to prevent you from going on ad nauseam.

      What you’ve written is little better than swill. Complete falsehoods debunked so many times here w. actual evidence I simply don’t have the heart to delve into the subject again.

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