July 17, 2019
- International law on the issue of a new country’s borders is fairly clear, and is applied almost across the board. But where Israel is concerned, and where the status of Jerusalem is concerned, what the UN claims international law says is not what it does say.
- A cascade of UN resolutions has described as an “occupation” Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank): territories taken, or rather retaken, from Jordan in the defensive Six-Day War of June 1967. In fact, these UN resolutions contradict well-established and broadly applied rules for determining the borders of newly created countries.
- Not everything that is passed off as international law qualifies as international law. The UN General Assembly has, by the UN’s own Charter, no power to make any binding decisions whatsoever. The Security Council does have real power, but far less than is commonly assumed.
- The Security Council is emphatically not an international legislature: it does not have the power to rewrite international law, let alone to make a special law for a particular country. Nor is it an international court: it cannot make binding determinations about the content of international law.
- It is free to offer up, as recommendations, its opinions about the content of international law and its application to particular cases. But others, including Israel, remain free to test the validity of these claims.
- If the principles endorsed by the Security Council in the case of Israel contradict international law as it applies to other countries, they do not become more valid by dint of a vote in the Security Council.The writer is a professor at George Mason University School of Law and a scholar at the Kohelet Policy Forum in Jerusalem.