“Israel and the International Law” Conference
Convened in Beirut, 4-5 November 2009
Al-Zaytouna Centre for Studies and Consultations in Beirut convened a conference under the theme “Israel and the International Law”, on 4-5 November 2009. The conference was attended by a large and distinguished gathering of elite scholars, experts, researchers, and concerned persons. The conference comprehensively discussed throughout the two-day period 20 working papers, addressing various issues relating to Israeli practices in the light of international law. It also explored the possibility of holding “Israel” accountable for its violations, enforcing its respect for international law and the international community and guaranteeing that neither “Israel” nor its leaders and officials should escape punishment for the crimes they commit.
After two days of intense deliberations, the conference concluded the following:
- The conference unreservedly supports the right of the Palestinian people to their land and holy sites, their right to self-determination, to establish their fully independent sovereign state in their homeland with Jerusalem as its capital. It calls upon the international community to compel “Israel” to end its occupation of Palestinian land.
- The conference affirms that Israel committed war crimes and crimes against humanity and violated international laws and conventions by expelling the Palestinians from their homes and denying their return. The conference asserts the right of the Palestinian refugees to return to their land and homes from which they were expelled. This is an inalienable, legitimate, legal, and humanitarian right; it is also an individual as well as a collective right. The refugees have the right to demand compensation for the losses suffered, without jeopardizing their right of return.
- The conference discussed the Israeli actions in Jerusalem, and underscored that Israel’s annexation of Jerusalem constitutes a violation of international law. It also clarified that “Israel’s” process of Judaizaton of Jerusalem, expulsion of the Jerusalemites, its attempts to usurp the Islamic and Christian holy sites and sanctuaries, threats to their existence, its acts of fabricating history, and theft of historical artifacts…all amount to crimes which should not go unpunished. The conference affirmed the critical need to activate international legal processes to bring about a final end to these practices.
- The conference views with grave concern the Israeli practices against children, women, and prisoners in the Occupied Territories and notes that these practices represent a scandalous contravention of international law and humanitarian law, including the Hague Conventions and the Geneva Conventions. They degrade human dignity and deny them of their natural and civil rights under the Occupation.
- The conference debated extensively the Israeli practices, which contravene various customs and international law, which include the expropriation of Palestinian land, destruction of infrastructure and agriculture, and demolition of homes. The conference unanimously agreed that the Israeli settlements constructed on Palestinian land are illegal and must be dismantled, whether the Israeli authorities regard them as official or not. Equally, it is obliged to compensate the Palestinians for any damage or loss incurred from the expropriation of their land, demolition of their homes, and construction of settlements.
- The conference affirms that the wall which “Israel” constructed in the West Bank contravenes international law and it should be dismantled. It is vitally necessary to activate the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (July 2004) concerning the wall. The conference asserted that this wall is not simply a security structure, as “Israel” claims. It is essentially a racist wall, which has lead to economic, political, strategic, and social consequences, aimed at destroying the social fabric of Palestinian society, ruining the economic life of the Palestinians, displacing them, and crushing their aspiration to establish a sovereign state on their land.
- The conference discussed the war crimes committed by the Israelis in its successive wars including that on southern Lebanon and its most recent on the Gaza Strip. It noted the growing awareness among legal practitioners and proponents of justice of the need to hold “Israel” and its leaders accountable for the crimes they perpetrated. The conference highlighted the positive aspects of the Goldstone report and other reports on the Gaza conflict, (including the Report of the Independent Fact Finding Committee on Gaza to the League of Arab States), the possibility of utilizing them in the possible legal prosecution on the international level. It emphasized the need to establish appropriate, permanent, and effective mechanisms to pursue and exercise international jurisdiction.
- The conference assures that the Israeli siege imposed against the Palestinian people is a serious violation of the International and Humanitarian law, and Human Rights. The conference calls upon international institutions and the international community to compel “Israel” to lift the siege and open the crossings with Gaza Strip. It also calls upon the Egyptian government to open Rafah crossing immediately, and thwart the siege on Gaza Strip.
- The conference affirms the right of the Palestinian people to liberate their land and their holy sites by all legal means, including the right to armed resistance. It emphasizes that this is a natural right consistent with international law.
- The conference emphasizes the need to lift the international cover off Israeli practices which violate international law and human rights, and to end immediately the practice of dealing with “Israel” as a state above the law. It calls on the world’s powers to end their policies of double standards and compel “Israel” to stop Its aggressions.
- The conference commends the role of human rights organizations and law institutions in exposing the Israeli practices which violate international law and for their efforts to help the Palestinian people realize their aspirations, as well as their efforts to bring the Israeli war criminals to justice. It calls for the coordination and intensification of their efforts to ensure more effective and better results.
- The conference calls upon the Arab countries and the international community to take decisive actions towards the legal and judicial prosecution of Israel, and holding it accountable for its crimes; through the employment of various available legal instruments in the United Nations and International Criminal Court … and others. The conference also calls upon all Arab governments to stop normalization with Israel, and lift any legal cover off the normalization activities.
- The conference calls for the establishment of specialized international legal institutions, acting in accordance with the professional rules and expertise in their legal pursuit to secure accountability for Israeli practices, and to acquire maximum benefit possible under international law from their efforts to enable the Palestinians to achieve their aims and to compensate them for any loss or damage that befell them and to put on trial the Israeli war criminals. The conference calls upon all the specialists to participate in their respective fields to ensure the success of these institutions.
- The conference calls the governmental and popular bodies concerned to form specialist legal units to follow up its work, documenting the Israeli practices according to the scientific standards and legal requirements so that they can be utilized as basis for future legal prosecution. The conference calls also for explaining the international law stand on the Israeli practices and subsequently putting this understanding in the curricula of schools, universities, and research centers and in the media.
- The conference calls for the spread of legal education, informing people about their legal rights and consecrating human rights culture.
The participants in the conference expressed their profound gratitude to the state of Lebanon and its people for facilitating the conference, as well as their appreciation to al-Zaytouna Centre for their remarkable preparation and organization of this conference.