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Op-Ed

What, exactly, were the Palestinian Arabs trying to “liberate?”

A core principle of all civilized legal systems – one reaffirmed at the post-war Nuremberg trials – is nullum crimen sine poena, “no crime without a punishment.” Today, following “perfidious” Hamas terror attacks on Israeli civilians, the world is apt to blame the Israeli victims as vigorously as the jihadist perpetrators. Though it is plain that Israel’s counter-terrorist war in Gaza is killing and wounding Palestinian Arab civilians, these harms are unintentional and inadvertent. They are not (as in the case of the brutish October 7 Hamas terror attacks) the result of overt “criminal intent” (mens rea).

In essence, for a small beleaguered state trying to survive in an incomparably cruel neighborhood, Gaza represents a “no choice war.”

For genuinely informed explanations, history and law deserve pride of place. Though few outside observers seem to understand relevant history and law, the self-justifying Palestinian Arab narrative of an Israeli “occupation” is built upon an edifice of legal falsehoods. It is, prima facie, a contrivance of propaganda. But even if the contrivance were not so conspicuous, Palestinian insurgents would still lack any law-based right to deliberately harm Israeli noncombatants.

In law, all law, even an allegedly “just war” must be fought by “just means.”

Under international law, rape, murder and hostage-taking (Hamas methods of the October 7 attacks) are never a permissible path to “self-determination.”

Under law, the ends can never justify the means.

In law, rights can never stem from wrongs; ex iniuria ius non oritur.

There is more. For the most part, Hamas criminals are not “lone wolves.” On the contrary, they have been spurred on by organized Palestinian incitements to no-holds-barred terror-violence.

  • Above all, though still overlooked, they have been captivated by the incomparably compelling Islamist promise of power over death, by a delusionary power reserved exclusively for “martyrs.”

What this signifies, among other inglorious traits, is that Hamas terrorists are never heroic in their fiendish deeds; rather, they are bitterly consumed by a pervasive personal and collective cowardice. Should there be any expressed doubts about such an unvarnished judgment, it need only be remembered that the jihadist kills himself (or herself) in order not to die. This is because the “death” he/she expects to suffer is little more than a transient inconvenience on the glorious path to “life everlasting.”

Does the Hamas criminal really believe such tormented reasoning? To answer this basic question, one must first understand that faith can easily trump logic and science in many corners of the world, especially the Islamic Middle East. A personally reinforcing point can be offered by the present writer, who some years back, was able to interview a failed Palestinian Arab suicide-bomber. When I inquired of this very young man (face to face, with interpreter) how he felt about his recent failure as “martyr” (as a shahid), the would-be terrorist replied without hesitation: “Frightened, because now I (and my parents) will have to die.”

Apparently, the deal he had struck with his jihadist handler and mentoring clerics had generously extended the promise of immortality to include his father and mother.

Now a specific legal question arises: Can there be a proper “cease-fire” between a national government (Israel) and an inherently illegal organization (Hamas)?

Whatever the merits of each side’s position, the immediate effect of any cease-fire would be to bestow upon a criminal-terror organization a wrongfully enhanced position under international law and the status of formal legal equivalence with a fully-sovereign state. Inter alia, the inherent illegality of Hamas as an organization may be extrapolated from the sweeping criminalization of terrorism under both codified and customary international law. The propriety of such broad criminalization is also deducible from the Nuremberg Tribunal’s authoritative decision to find all SS members criminal per se.

What about “Palestine?” Though the name would seem to signify “sovereign equality” with Israel, the legal reality is different.

There has never been a sovereign state of Palestine, nor does such a state exist presently. For those willing to examine this core matter in proper legal context, the place to begin is with the Convention on the Right and Duties of States (1933). This governing treaty on statehood plainly dispels still-prevailing falsifications about an historic “state of Palestine.”

But truth is too often willfully overlooked. At some point, and without a scintilla of objective legal verification, the global community could be convinced to interpret the Montevideo Convention as a validation of Palestinian statehood. Now bolstered by purposely enhanced falsehoods, this jihad-based Arab state would quickly accelerate its pre-independence program of war and terror against Israel. From the standpoint of every operational Palestinian faction, Fatah as well as Hamas, all of Israel would then be designated “occupied territory.”

  • Though openly genocidal, “From the river to the sea….” is already the pre-state Palestinian mantra.

Should there remain any doubts about contrived Palestinian Arab definitions of an Israeli “occupation,” one need only to check the various official Palestinian maps of “Palestine.” On each and every such map, Palestine’s borders are drawn to include all of Israel. In this connection, one should also recall that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO, forerunner of PA and Hamas) was founded in 1964, three years before there were any “occupied territories.”

What, exactly, were the Palestinian Arabs trying to “liberate?”

During the many years that Fatah and Hamas terrorists were busily slaughtering each other (as well as Israeli civilians), Israel’s persistent warnings about Palestine were swept under America’s diplomatic rug. Not even after 9/11, when both Fatah and Hamas enthusiastically celebrated America’s jihad-triggered misfortune, did the United States and its allies bother to re-evaluate their traditional support of Palestinian statehood.

We must inquire, therefore, especially as another US presidential election approaches: Is it reasonable for the United States to support Palestinian Arab statehood when such support would be on behalf of a continuously hateful and inherently illegal terror organization?

As always, theology will matter. For all jihadist forces in the Middle East, conflict with Israel is never authentically about land.

It is about God; it is about derivative promises of immortality.

For the Palestinians and their allies, the true enemy is never Israel as such. This true enemy is always “The Jews.”

The young Palestinian terrorist who strikes with axe or blade (both were used for beheading Jewish children on October 7th 2023) is always expecting to become a “martyr,” a shahid.

It’s time for candor. Hamas and all other Palestinian Arab insurgent organizations seek a “One State Solution” for their “Jewish Problem.” In principle, earlier declarations of American support for Palestinian “self-determination” might not have been unreasonable, but only if the Palestinian Arab side had been more genuinely committed to a “Two-State Solution.”

Even as they periodically war against each other, both the Palestinian Authority and Hamas continue to agree on one central point. This is their joint and immutably lethal conviction that: (1) Israel is by its very nature intolerable (because any Jewish State, by definition, represents a religious abomination in the Dar al Islam); and that (2) allof Israel is “Occupied Palestine.”

From the seventeenth century onward, the world political system has operated in a corrosive “state of nature.” In the anarchic Middle East especially, considerations of raw power have routinely trumped any binding expectations of international law. On those endlessly perplexing matters concerning Palestinian statehood, it is finally time to understand that “Palestine’s” true enemy in the region is not Israel, but a distressingly sordid mix of jihadist criminal forces.

Any further Palestinian advances toward statehood would be to the long-term existential disadvantage of both Arabs and Israelis. As a complicating factor, because of the still vital Sunni-Shiite schism, most specific outcomes of Palestinian statehood could remain indeterminate and unpredictable.

In such murky circumstances, the final victor here could be Shiite Iran.

We learn from the Nuremberg Tribunals and Nuremberg Principles: “No crime without a punishment.” In the end, if American, European and other leaders continue to betray the most elementary principles of law and justice in dealing with jihadist terrorism against Israelis, Palestine will likely wind up as Gaza in macrocosm.

  • By definition, this means a palpably disintegrating, deeply corrupted and irremediably destructive state, one already programmed to generate chaos.

“If you like Gaza, you’ll love “Palestine.”

Source: LOUIS RENÉ BERES -Arutz Sheva