Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Court of Appeal of Versailles Says Israel is Legal Occupant of West Bank

The Court of Appeal of Versailles ruled that West Bank Settlements and Occupation of Judea Samaria by Israel is unequivocally legal under International Law, in a suit brought by the Palestinian Authority against Jerusalem’s light rail built by French companies Alstom and Veolia.

First and foremost, the Versailles Court of Appeals had to determine the Legal rights of Palestinians and Israelis in West Bank. Their conclusion: Palestinians have no right, in the International Legal sense, to the region, unlike Israel, who is legitimately entitled to occupy all land beyond the 67 line.

The context :

In the 90s, Israel bid for the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail. The tender was won by French companies Veolia and Alstom. The Light Rail was completed in 2011, and it cross Jerusalem all the way to the East side and the Occupied Territories.

Following this, the PLO filed a complaint with the High Court, Tribunal de Grande Instance, of Versailles France, against Alstom and Veolia, because according to PLO, “the construction of the tram is illegal since the UN, the EU, many NGOs and governments consider that Israel illegally occupy Palestinian territories.”

In order to rule whether the Light Rail construction was Legal or not, the Court had to seek the texts of International Law, to examine International Treaties, in order to establish the respective rights of the Palestinians and the Israelis.

It is the first time since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948 that an Independent, Non-Israeli Court has been called upon to examine the Legal status of West Bank Territories under International Law, beyond the Political claims of the Parties.

Keep in mind though, that the Court’s findings have no effect in International Law. What they do, and it’s of the utmost importance, is to clarify the Legal reality.

The Versailles Court of Appeal conclusions are as resounding as the silence in which they were received in the media: Israel has Real Rights in the Territories, its decision to build a light rail in the West Bank or anything else in the area is legal, and the Judges have rejected all the arguments presented by the Palestinians.

The Court of Appeal does not deny the Occupation, but it destroys all the Palestinian arguments, one after another.

Referring to the texts on which the PLO claim is based, the Court of Appeal considers that Israel is entitled to ensure Order and Public life in the West Bank, therefore Israel has the right to build a light rail, infrastructure and dwellings.

Article 43 of the Fourth Hague Convention of 1907 stipulates that “The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety.”

Israeli occupation does not violate any international law.

The Court explains that the Palestinian Authority misinterprets the texts and they do not apply to the occupation:

- First of all, all the International Instruments put forward by the PLO are acts signed between States, and the obligations or prohibitions contained therein are relevant to States. Neither the Palestinian Authority nor the PLO are States, therefore, none of these Legal Documents apply.

- Secondly, said the Court, these texts are binding only on those who signed them, namely the “contracting parties.” But neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority have ever signed these texts.

The Court, quite irritated by the presented arguments, boldly asserted that the Law “cannot be based solely on the PLO’s assessment of a political or social situation.”

The PLO mistakenly refers to the wrong Legal document because the Hague Convention applies in case of bombing. And, “Jerusalem is not bombed.”

The PLO and the Palestinians were dismissed. The PLO cannot invoke any of these international conventions, said the Court. “These international norms and treaties » does not give the « Palestinian people that the PLO says he represents, the right to invoke them before a court.”

The Court of Appeal therefore sentenced the PLO and Association France Palestine Solidarité AFPS who was co-appellant to pay 30,000 euros ($32,000) to Alstom, 30,000 euros to Alstom Transport and 30,000 euros to Veolia Transport.

Neither the PLO nor the Palestinian Authority nor the AFPS appealed to the Supreme Court, therefore the Judgment has become final.

This is the first time that a Court has legally destroyed all Palestinian Legal Claim that Israel’s occupation is illegal.

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