Palestine, Palestinians and International Law
By Francis A. Boyle
I am not Arab. I am not Jewish. I am not Palestinian. I am not Israeli.
I am Irish American. Our People have no proverbial "horse in this race."
What follows is to the best of my immediate recollection:
The Big Lie
Growing up in the United States during the late 1950s and early 1960s
while strongly supporting the just struggle of African Americans for
civil rights, I was brainwashed at school as well as by the mainstream
news media and popular culture to be just as pro-Israel as everyone else
in America. Then came the 1967 Middle East War. At that time, my
assessment of the situation was that Israel had attacked these Arab
countries first, stolen their lands, and then driven out their
respective peoples from their homes. I then realized that everything I
had been told about Israel was "The Big Lie." Israel was Goliath, not
I resolved to study the Middle East in more detail in order to figure
out what the Truth really was.
Of course by then I had already figured out that everything I was being
told about the Vietnam War also constituted The Big Lie. The same was
true for U.S. military intervention into Latin America after the Johnson
administrations gratuitous invasion of the Dominican Republic. The same
for the pie-in-the-sky "Camelot" peddled by the Kennedy administration
after the Bay of Pigs invasion/fiasco and its self-induced Cuban Missile
Crisis that was a near-miss for nuclear Armageddon. So I just added the
Middle East to the list of international subjects that I needed to pay
more attention to in my life.
I entered the University of Chicago as an undergraduate in September of
1968 after having just attended the tumultuous Chicago Democratic
Convention. Because of the heavy common-core requirements there, I could
not take a course on the Middle East until the next academic year. Then
I signed up for a course on "Middle East Politics" taught by Professor
Leonard Binder. To his great credit, Professor Binder was most fair and
balanced in his presentation of the Palestinian and other Arab claims
against Israel during the course of his classroom lectures. In addition,
his massive reading list forced me to go through everything then written
in English that was favorable to the Palestinian People, as well as
reading the standard pro-Israel sources. By the end of Professor Binders
course in the Winter of 1970, I had become convinced of three basic
propositions: (1) that the world had inflicted a terrible injustice upon
the Palestinian People in 1947-1948; (2) that there will be no peace in
the Middle East until this injustice was somehow rectified; and (3) that
the Palestinian People were entitled to an independent nation state of
their own. I have publicly maintained these positions for the past three
decades at great cost to myself.
In particular, I have been accused of being everything but a child
molester because of my public support for the Palestinian People. I have
seen every known principle of Academic Integrity and Academic Freedom
violated in order to suppress the basic rights of the Palestinian
People. In fact, there is no such thing as Academic Integrity and
Academic Freedom in the United States of America when it comes to
asserting the rights of the Palestinian People under international law.
In any event, the University of Chicago has always had a first-rate
Center for Middle East Studies that I have heartily recommended over the
years to many prospective students all over the world seeking my advice
on where to study that subject. By comparison, Harvards Center for
Middle East Studies was then basically operating as a front organization
for the <C.I.A>. and probably the Mossad as well. No point anyone
wasting their time studying Middle East Politics at Harvard.
Nevertheless, I entered Harvard in September of 1971 in order to pursue
a J.D. at the Harvard Law School and a <Ph.D>. in Political Science at
the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences, Department of
Government. The latter was the same doctoral program that had produced
Henry Kissinger, Zbigniew Brzezinski, Samuel Huntington, and numerous
other Machiavellian war-mongers trained by Harvard to "manage" the U.S.
global empire. In other words, Harvard trained me to be one of these
American Imperial Managers: "There but for the Grace of God go I!"
For the next seven years at Harvard I was quite vocal in my support for
the Palestinian People, including and especially their basic human
rights, their right to self-determination, and their right to an
independent nation state of their own. Although I felt like a distinct
Minority of One among the Harvard student body at the time, I did
receive the support and encouragement for my pro-Palestinian viewpoints
from several of my teachers. At the Harvard Law School were Roger Fisher
(The Williston Professor of Law), Louis Sohn (Bemis Professor), Richard
Baxter (Hudson Professor), Clyde Ferguson (Stimson Professor), and
Harold Berman (Ames Professor). At the Government Department was my
doctoral dissertation supervisor, Stanley Hoffmann, who has always been
most sympathetic to the tragic plight of the Palestinian People.
He is now a University Professor, Harvard's highest accolade, and well
While in residence as an Associate at the Harvard Center for
International Affairs (CFIA) from 1976-1978, I also came into contact
with Walid Khalidi. I was present for the dramatic off-the-record
confrontation between him and Shimon Peres at the standing CFIA Seminar
on "American Foreign Policy" then conducted by Stanley Hoffmann at their
old headquarters on 6 Divinity Avenue. Peres refused to budge even one
inch no matter how flexible Khalidi was. A harbinger for the Middle East
Peace Negotiations over a decade later.
As a most loyal and grateful Harvard alumnus (J.D. magna cum laude,
A.M., Ph.D.), I must nevertheless state that it is shameful and
shameless that Harvard never granted a tenured full professorship to
Walid Khalidi because he is a Palestinian despite the fact that he is
universally recognized as one of the worlds foremost experts on the
Middle East. This gets back to my previous observation that there is no
point studying Middle East Politics at Harvard. Walid and I would later
meet again at the Middle East Peace Negotiations in Washington, D.C.
during the Fall of 1991
Soon after my graduation from Harvard Law School in June of 1976, the
very first public Lecture I ever gave was at the invitation of the
Harvard International Law Society. I decided to speak on the subject of
The Israeli Raid at Entebbe, during which I analyzed many of the legal
and political problems surrounding this raid that had just been so
unanimously applauded by the U.S. news media. Roger Fisher was kind and
gracious enough to show up at this my first public Lecture on anything.
He also offered some words of support when I was attacked by another
professor for discussing the political motivations behind the Entebbe
hijacking by the PFLP. I had expressed my opinion that the PFLP/PLO
political claims can, must, and should be negotiated. We even got into a
little debate about who was the real "terrorist" here.
Obviously, these were not a very popular point of view to take back in
the Fall of 1976 at Harvard. Clyde Ferguson would later inform me that
my pro-Palestinian viewpoints prevented him from reporting my dossier
out of the Harvard Law School Appointments Committee (upon which he then
sat) despite his best efforts to get me hired there.
In any event, I decided to take my "Entebbe Show" on the road and to use
it as my standard job interview lecture in order to get hired somewhere
as an Assistant Professor of Law. Not surprisingly, I was rebuffed at
the very top law schools. But in December of 1977, I received an offer
to become an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Illinois
College of Law in Champaign, which had just been semi-officially ranked
the Number Eleven law school in the country by an American Association
of Law Schools Report. So I moved back to Illinois on July 14, 1978 with
the hope and expectation that someday I would be able to make a positive
contribution to the most desperate plight of the Palestinian People.
The American-Israel Society of International
Law and Power
Around the same time, Clyde Ferguson was to become the first African
American President of the American Society of International Law and
would preside over their 75th Anniversary Convocation in 1981. Clyde
decided to put me on their Concluding Plenary Panel that he would
personally chair: "I want you to get up there and send those people a
message!," Clyde enjoined me. And so I did, as indicated by the text of
my Speech set forth herein, The American Society of International Law:
75 Years and Beyond, 75 Am. Socy Intl L. Proc. 270 (1981). In
particular, I publicly supported the right of the Palestinian People to
self-determination and the fact that the PLO was their sole and
legitimate representative. I also severely criticized Israels grievous
mistreatment of the Palestinian People as a violation of international
humanitarian law, and soundly condemned Israels criminal practices in
After my Speech, I was thenceforth treated by the Members of the
so-called Society as the proverbial skunk at their yearly garden party.
For the next decade I would vigorously speak out in support of, and
publicly debate, the rights of the Palestinian People at American
Society of International Law Conventions against innumerable pro-Israel
supporters. But after ten years of banging my head against this wall, I
concluded that I was wasting my time. I have not returned since, and
doubt that I ever will again return to this American-Israel Society of
International Law and Power. Standing in solidarity with the Palestinian
The very next year, when Israel again invaded Lebanon in1982, I
immediately tried to organize what little academic opposition there was
among professors of international law. I drafted a Statement condemning
this invasion in no uncertain terms, and then proceeded to call up about
35 professors of international law here in the United States to see if
they would sign it. Not unexpectedly, I could only "round-up the usual
suspects": Roger Fisher, Clyde Ferguson, Stanley Hoffmanm, Richard Falk,
and Tom Mallison.
George Ball personally contributed $1000 out of his own pocket to help
publicize our stand. But I could not even get this Statement published
anywhere in the United States. Tom Mallison eventually got it published
in Britain as Violations of International Law, Middle East
International, September 3, 1982, reprinted here. It was a very sad and
telling commentary that only a handful of American international law
professors possessed the fortitude of soul to soundly condemn Israels
egregious invasion of Lebanon, and support the basic rights of the
Palestinian People under international law. And this by a group of
professors allegedly committed to the Rule of Law in international
relations. Intellectual, moral, and professional cowardice and hypocrisy
of the worst type. Not much has changed during the past two decades.
Soon thereafter, I found myself speaking, writing, and lecturing all
over the country against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon and in support
of the basic rights of the Palestinian People under international law. I
would later sum these viewpoints up in an essay entitled Dissensus Over
Strategic Consensus, reprinted here from my Future of International Law
and American Foreign Policy (Transnational Publishers:
1989). This essay sets forth a comprehensive critique of the Reagan
administrations foreign policy toward the Middle East from an
international law perspective.
Written around the same time and in similar vein was my Preserving the
Rule of Law in the War Against International Terrorism, reprinted here
from my Future of International Law and American Foreign Policy
(Transnational Publishers: 1989). This essay provided a detailed
critique of the Reagan administrations self-styled "war against
international terrorism" from an international law perspective, with a
special emphasis on the Middle East. Not much has changed two decades
later with the Bush Jr.
administrations bogus "war against international terrorism." Plus ca
change, plus, ca reste la meme chose--especially when it comes to
American foreign policy towards the Middle East.
Suing for Sabra and Shatilla
Leading the legal charge against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon would
ultimately result in my filing a lawsuit against Israeli General Amos
Yaron, who bore personal criminal responsibility for the massacre of
about 2000 completely innocent and unarmed Palestinian women, children
and old men at the Sabra and Shatilla refugee camps in Lebanon. To the
best of my knowledge, this was the first time ever that any Lawyer had
attempted to hold an Israeli government official accountable for
perpetrating a massacre against the Palestinian People. I lost. But for
historical purposes my key court papers are reproduced here from 5
Palestine Yearbook of International Law (1989).
Not surprisingly, when General Ehud Barak became Israeli Prime Minister,
he appointed Yaron to serve as Director-General of the Israeli "Ministry
of Defense." Truly Orwellian! But of course only fitting for Israel to
have a major war criminal and genocidaire serve in this high-level
capacity in order to inflict more heinous war crimes against the
Palestinian People during Israels repression of the Al Aqsa Intifada
that was instigated on 28 September 2000 by General Ariel Sharon, the
architect of the 1982 Israeli invasion of Lebanon. From this demented
perspective, it made perfect sense for the genocidaire Sharon to
continue the appointment of the genocidaire Yaron when he became Prime
Minister of Israel. Needless to say, the United States government under
Reagan/Bush, Clinton, and Bush Jr. fully supported Begin/Sharon/Yaron,
Barak/Yaron and then Sharon/Yaron in perpetuating their serial massacres
upon the Palestinian People. Some things never change.
Creating the Palestinian State
Two decades after Israel launched the June 1967 Middle East War that
first sparked my concern for the plight of the Palestinian People, the
U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the
Palestinian People scheduled a 20th Anniversary Commemorative Session at
U.N. Headquarters in New York for June of 1987. The PLO asked former
U.S. Attorney General Ramsey Clark and me to speak on their behalf.
Seated right next to us at the speakers podium was Professor Ibrahim
Abu-Lighoud, while behind us sat the entire Palestinian Delegation at
that time: Ambassador Zuhdi Terzi; his Deputy, now Ambassador Nasser
Al-Kidwe; and Counsellor Riyad Mansour. The rest of the hall was
occupied by Ambassadors from supposedly pro-Palestinian U.N. member
After Ramsey spoke, I proceeded to state quite forthrightly that the
time had now come for the Palestinian People to unilaterally proclaim
their own independent nation state under international law and practice.
I then proceeded to sketch out precisely why and how this could be done.
I argued that the Palestinians must not go to any International Peace
Conference to ask the Israelis to give them their State. Rather, the
Palestinians must unilaterally proclaim their own independent nation
state, and then attend an international peace conference where they
would simply ask Israel to evacuate from Palestine.
I spoke for about half an hour along these lines. Needless to say,
Abu-Lighoud stared at me throughout this period as if I had just
descended on a spaceship from Mars. At that point in time the most the
PLO had contemplated was to declare themselves a "government-in-exile."
By contrast, I was explaining to the PLO and to the United Nations
Organization both why and how the Palestinians must unilaterally create
their own independent nation state, and then have Palestine become
internationally recognized, including by the United Nations itself.
There must be a Palestinian State first before there could be a
Palestinian governmentsomething I had learned from Louis Sohns final
examination in his United Nations Law course at Harvard Law School back
during the 1974-75 academic year. And less than eighteen months after my
U.N. speech, the Palestine National Council would determine that the
Executive Committee of the PLO constitutes the Provisional Government of
the State of Palestine--not a so-called "government-in-exile." But that
is jumping ahead of the story.
Sparring with Jordan
After I had concluded my U.N. speech, the Jordanian Deputy Ambassador
immediately demanded from the President of the Conference the so-called
"right of reply." He reprimanded me that as a professor of international
law I should know better than to publicly propose the dismemberment of a
U.N. member state at U.N. Headquarters in New York. Of course he was
referring to the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which had been illegally
occupied and annexed by Jordan after the partition of the Palestine
Mandate up until the 1967 war, when the West Bank and East Jerusalem
were then illegally occupied and the latter illegally annexed by Israel.
Since I was speaking at the United Nations Headquarters as a guest of
the PLO, I had to be most diplomatic in my response to the Jordanian
Deputy Ambassador. So I chose my words quite carefully:
"Jordan has been as helpful as it can to the Palestinian People--under
the circumstances. But the entire world knows these lands are
Palestinian." Abu-Lighoud chuckled at my diplomatic formulation since he
knew full well that I was never one to mince words. There was some more
diplomatic sparring back and forth between the Jordanian Deputy
Ambassador and me about the right of the Palestinian People to
unilaterally establish their own independent nation state on the West
Bank and Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as their Capital. But
eventually he gave up the ghost arguing with me--just as his boss King
Hussein later would in July of 1988.
Immediately after my U.N. speech, the members of the Palestinian
Delegation asked me a large number of questions about why and how they
could go forward and unilaterally proclaim their own independent nation
state under international law and practice. Zuhdi Terzi then asked me to
prepare a formal Memorandum of Law on this entire matter for formal
consideration by the Palestine Liberation Organization. I readily agreed
to do so--and free of charge. Standing in solidarity with the
I spent the entire summer researching and drafting this Memorandum of
Law. In the Fall, I gave it to my incoming research assistant in order
to research, document, and add the footnotes for the Memorandum.
He returned the footnoted draft Memorandum to me in December of 1987just
on time for the outbreak of the first Palestinian Intafada in Gaza.
This original Intifada was a spontaneous uprising by the Palestinian
People living under the boot of Israels racist, colonial, and genocidal
occupation. The PLO leadership then headquartered in Tunis were taken
completely unaware by the outbreak of the Intifada in occupied
Palestine. The PLO did not order the Inifada, the PLO did not direct the
Inifada, and the PLO had to constantly scramble in order to try to keep
up with the Inifada. Quickly the leaders of the Intifada living in
occupied Palestine established their own Unified Leadership of the
Intifada. And in the late Winter of 1988, the Unified Leadership of the
Intifada issued a Communiqui in which they demanded that in recognition
of the courage, bravery, and suffering of the Palestinian People living
in occupied Palestine during the Intifada, the PLO must create an
independent nation state for all Palestinians around the world. It was
just about at that time when I transmitted my revised Memorandum of Law
to the PLO on this precise subject, which was entitled "CREATE THE STATE
OF PALESTINE!" Then nothing happened on this project for several months.
There was a deafening silence from the PLO.
It was clear that the creation of a Palestinian State would generate too
many internal political problems for the PLO, which at that time
operated upon the principle of consensus. Back in those days the
Palestinian Independence Movement was a genuine democracy. The creation
of a Palestinian State would have forced the PLO to make some very
difficult political decisions that could have produced a terrible
division among the different groups composing the Palestinian
Independence Movement at the very time when the Palestinian People were
being massacred by the Israeli Army. So I bided my time in silence.
On July 31, 1988 I was teaching Summer School when King Hussein of
Jordan announced that he was severing all forms of legal and
administrative ties between Jordan and the West Bank. Later that
afternoon in class, my students asked me what I thought would happen as
a result of this decision:
"Honestly speaking, I really do not know." When I returned to my office
at the end of teaching that very class, there was a message sitting on
my desk from Zuhdi Terzi asking me to come to New York immediately in
order to discuss my Memorandum of Law.
In attendance as this meeting convened at the PLO Mission to the United
Nations in New York were Zuhdi Terzi, Nasser Al-Kidwe, and Ramsey Clark,
as well as Tom and Sally Mallison. Since I had already drafted a
comprehensive Memorandum of Law on how to create a Palestinian State, I
had to do a good deal of the talking. The Palestinians had a list of
questions from PLO Headquarters in Tunis that they wanted us to answer
for transmission back to the PLO Leadership. The first question was:
"Why should the PLO create an independent Palestinian state?" My answer
was characteristically blunt and succinct: "If you do not create this
State, you will forfeit the moral right to lead your people!" So that
there was no misunderstanding during the process of transmission, I
personally faxed that message to the highest levels of the PLO in Tunis.
At the end of this meeting, I agreed to serve as Legal Advisor to the
Palestine Liberation Organization on the creation of the state of
Palestine--again free of change. Pro bono publico in the true sense of
that hallowed legal tradition. Once again, standing in solidarity with
the Palestinian People.
My Memorandum of Law would serve as the PLOs position paper for their
right to create the Palestinian State. Although originally provided to
the PLO under attorney-client confidence, Ibrahim Abu-Lighoud arranged
to have my Memorandum published in American-Arab Affairs, Number
25(Summer 1988). It is reprinted here from my book The Future of
International Law and American Foreign Policy (Transnational Publishers;
1989), together with some additional explanatory background materials.
The Palestinian Declaration of Independence
On November 15, 1988, the Palestine National Council meeting in Algiers
proclaimed the existence of the new independent state of Palestine. On
that same day, after the close of prayers at Al-Aqsa Mosque in
Jerusalem, the crowd came out of the Mosque into the Great Courtyard in
front of the Dome of the Rock, where Mohammed (May Peace Be Upon Him)
had ascended into heaven. Then one man got up and read the Palestinian
Declaration of Independence right there in front of the assembled
It was my advice to the PLO that the Palestinian State must also be
proclaimed from their own capital in Jerusalem; that since this State
would be proclaimed "In the Name of God"(which it was), the State must
be proclaimed in the Grand Courtyard in front of the Al-Aqsa Mosquethe
third Holiest site in Islam--at the close of prayers on Independence
Day. I told the PLO that although I would very much like to be the
person to do this job, it would be inappropriate for me because I was
not a Palestinian. I likewise declined their request to write a first
draft of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence for similar
reasons. But some of my suggestions can be found there and in the
attached Political Communiqui. So much for a "government-in-exile." We
had Leadership on the ground in Palestine!
As a tribute to the leading role played by Palestinian Women during this
original Intifada, the Palestinian Declaration of Independence
established full legal equality between women and men. But upon my
return to Palestine in 1997, I was told by two Palestinian feminist
human rights leaders from Gaza and the West Bank, respectively, that
male-chauvinist Palestinian judges had dis-interpreted this basic
requirement of international human rights law to be non-self-executing
and thus non-enforceable in court.
We will have to countermand this patriarchal chicanery in the
Constitution for the Republic of Palestine.
Moving the Mountain
Immediately after 15 November 1988, Palestinian President Yasser Arafat
sought to travel to the United Nations General Assembly in New York in
order to explain these extraordinary developments to the entire world at
its Official Headquarters. But the Reagan Administration illegally
deprived President Arafat of the requisite visa. Abu-Lighoud called to
ask my advice: "If Mohammed can not come to the mountain, then bring the
mountain to Mohammed. Have the General Assembly adjourn, and then
reconvene at U.N.
Headquarters in Geneva." So it was done. President Arafat addressed the
U.N. General Assembly meeting in a Special Session at Geneva. This was
the real start of the Middle East Peace Process--by the Palestinian
People themselves, not by the United States government, and certainly
not by Israel.
As I had predicted to the PLO, the creation of Palestinian State became
an instantaneous success.
Palestine would eventually achieve de jure diplomatic recognition from
about 130 states. The only regional hold-out was Europe and this was
because of massive political pressure applied by the United States
Government. Nevertheless, even the European States would afford the
Palestinian State de facto diplomatic recognition.
Furthermore, following the strategy I had worked out for the PLO, the
Provisional Government of the State of Palestine would repeatedly invoke
the U.N. General Assemblys Uniting for Peace Resolution (1950) to
overcome U.S. vetoes at the Security Council in order to obtain for
Palestine all the rights of a U.N. member state except the right to
vote. In other words, Palestine eventually became a de facto, though not
yet a de jure, U.N. member state. The votes were and still are there for
Palestines formal admission to U.N. membership. Only the illegal threat
of a veto by the United State Government at the Security Council has
kept the State of Palestine out of formal de jure U.N. membership. That
latter objective is only a question of timeand unfortunately more
bloodshed by the Palestinian People.
On Their Own
I summarized all of these legal, political, and diplomatic developments
in my essay The International Legal Right of the Palestinian People to
Self-Determination and an Independent State of Their Own, which was
accepted for publication by the exact same American-Arab Affairs around
the early Summer of 1990. And then Iraq invaded Kuwait. The Provisional
Government of the State of Palestine refused to join the so-called
Coalition put together by President Bush Sr. to attack Iraq, but instead
did its best working in conjunction with Libya and Jordan to produce a
peaceful resolution of this dispute. For this policy of principle and
peace, the Palestinian People were and still are unjustly but
predictably vilified by the world news media.
While the crisis over Iraq was unfolding in the Fall of 1990, I
corrected the page-proofs for my essay that was then scheduled to be the
lead article in the next issue of American-Arab Affairs coming out
around the turn of the new year. Then I received a notification from the
American-Arab Affairs editorial office that the issue was at the printer
and would soon be distributed. The next thing I heard was that the
executive director of their parent organization had resigned. It was
well known that American-Arab Affairs and its parent organization were
heavily subsidized by Gulf Arab funds.
The next thing I knew I was informed that this entire issue of
American-Arab Affairs with my essay as the lead article had been
suppressed, withdrawn, and would never be published. This issue never
saw the light of day. Apparently the Gulf Arab funders of American-Arab
Affairs and its parent organization did not want to see a lead article
arguing that the Palestinian People had a right to self-determination
and an independent nation state on the verge of their war against Iraq
without the support of the Palestinians. I would later get this essay
published in Volume 12 of the Scandinavian Journal of Development
Alternatives (June-September 1993), from which it is reprinted here.
Of course during the past 25 years of my public advocacy of the rights
of the Palestinian People under international law, I have lost track of
the number of times when my lectures, panels, publications, and
appearances have been killed outright. But this was the first time that
my pro-Palestinian viewpoints had been suppressed by an Arab source. It
would not be the last time. This inexcusable instance of
anti-Palestinian censorship by a leading Arab-American organization
should make it crystal clear how truly desperate the plight of the
Palestinian People really is. The Palestinian People have been
repeatedly abandoned and betrayed by Arab Leaders. The Palestinians are
on their own, and they know it full well.
Middle East Peace Negotiations?
This suppressed essay provided an excellent snapshot of the legal,
political, and diplomatic situation that confronted the Palestinian
People just before the United States and its so-called Coalition
launched their genocidal war against Iraq. In order to get the support
of the Arab Leaders for that slaughter, U.S.
Secretary of State James Baker promised them that when the war was over
the United States Government would do something for the Palestinians.
Eventually the Middle East Peace Negotiations would open in Madrid in
the Fall of 1991. At that time I was invited by the PLO to come to Tunis
in order to speak at a Conference being held there in support of and in
solidarity with the Palestinian Delegation then in Madrid. I also
conducted consultations with PLO leaders in Tunis who had been illegally
barred from the Middle East Peace Negotiations by the United States
acting in conjunction with Israel despite the fact that the United
Nations had long ago recognized the PLO as the sole and legitimate
representative of the Palestinian People.
Upon my return home, I was asked to serve as Legal Advisor to the
Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations headed by
Dr. Haidar Abdul-Shaffi. He is a person of great courage, integrity, and
principle. I would fight the devil himself for Dr. Abdul-Shaffi. The
work that I did as the Lawyer for Dr.
Abdul-Shaffi and the Palestinian Delegation can be found here in my
unpublished essay The Al Aqsa Intifada and International Law (30 August
2001). A substantially revised and edited revision of this essay was
published as Law & Disorder in the Middle East, 35 The Link, No. 1
(Jan.-Mar. 2002), by the Americans for Middle East Understanding (AMEU).
Dr. Abdul-Shaffi expressly waived all attorney-client confidences with
respect to my work as Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the
Middle East Peace Negotiations in the hope and expectation that it might
do some good for me to substantiate the fact that the so-called Oslo
Agreement of 13 September 1993 called for the imposition of a
The Oslo Bantustan
It is a matter of public record that the Oslo Agreement was signed at
the White House against the most vigorous objections by Dr. Abdul-Shaffi
acting in reliance upon my advice and counsel. Indeed, a year prior
thereto, Dr. Abdul-Shaffi had instructed me to draw up the Palestinian
counteroffer to Israels Bantustan Proposal. This I did in a Memorandum
of Law entitled The Interim Agreement and International Law, which was
later published in 22 Arab Studies Quarterly, Number 3(Summer 2000),
that is reprinted here. My Memorandum of Law was approved by the
Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations as well as
by the Leadership of the PLO then headquartered in Tunis. In other
words, my Memorandum of Law was the Palestinian alternative to Oslo,
which is now dead as a dodo bird. Nevertheless, after the Oslo Bantustan
was signed, I bided my time in silence for the next four years.
Then, it was only fitting and appropriate that I had the opportunity to
return to Palestine in December of 1997 in order to commemorate the 10th
Anniversary of the original Intifada. I visited the very street where
the Intifada had commenced. I then gave a Lecture before a Human Rights
Conference convened by the Palestine Center for Human Rights
headquartered in Gaza. The title of my lecture was Palestine Must Sue
Israel for Genocide Before the International Court of Justice!, which is
reprinted here from 20 Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, Number 1
(2000). My thanks to the Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs for
permission to reprint this article here.
I then personally met with President Arafat in his recently bombed-out
headquarters in Gaza. I discussed this proposed World Court Lawsuit
against Israel for genocide with him. I then personally placed my
written proposal for this World Court Lawsuit against Israel for
genocide into President Arafats hands.
Since our last meeting in December of 1997, I have repeatedly asked for
his authority to file this lawsuit for genocide against Israel on behalf
of Palestine and the Palestinian People before the International Court
of Justice in The Hague. Perhaps some day I shall receive this
One of the most important issues I have dealt with repeatedly for the
Palestinian People is Jerusalem.
For example, I helped to launch a campaign to prevent the United States
Government from illegally moving the United States Embassy from Tel Aviv
to Jerusalem. In order to head off this abomination, I prepared
Memoranda of Law on the <U.S.-Israel> Land-Lease and Purchase Agreement
of 1989, which I sent to Congressman Lee Hamilton who was then Chairman
of the Subcommittee on Europe and the Middle East of the Committee on
Foreign Affairs of the U.S. House of Representatives. These Memoranda
are reprinted here from American-Arab Affairs, Number 30 (Fall 1989).
The Israel Lobby and its supporters in Congress are still attempting to
pressure the United States government to move the U.S. Embassy from Tel
Aviv to Jerusalem. Of course this would be a political, legal, and
To be sure, there would certainly be no problem under international law
and practice for the United States government to move its Embassy from
Tel Aviv to Jerusalem as part of a comprehensive Middle East Peace
Settlement whereby the Embassy would be simultaneously accredited to
Israel and Palestine, with Jerusalem being recognized as the shared
Capital of both States. Why and how this can be done is fully explained
in my essay The Al Aqsa Intifada and International Law, which has
already been commented upon above. Years ago the PLO had approved my
proposal set forth therein on the Final Status of Jerusalem. But Israel
wants this entire Baby for itself. And the United States has never been
solomonic when it comes to Palestine and the Palestinian People.
U.S. Mideast Policy v. International Law
During the past two decades I have written many other publications
dealing with Palestine, Palestinians, and International Law. For obvious
reasons I do not have the space to reprint them all here. But in order
to facilitate research into these heavily censored and outrightly
suppressed subjects, I have included an incomplete Bibliography on this
and some of my other writings on the "Middle East and International Law"
in general. These other topics include Iran, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, and
Syria, inter alia. For reasons that should be obvious by now, it is
almost impossible to get published on these subjects here in the United
States of America"the land of the free, and the home of the brave ." It
has been a real struggle for me just to get these meager offerings into
But summing them all up into a nutshell it can be fairly said that U.S.
Mideast Foreign Policy has not shown one iota of respect for
international law. Of course the same can be said for the rest of
American Imperial Policy around the world. In order to substantiate that
latter proposition, the reader will have to consult the rest of my opera
that are not listed here. But to return to Palestine, Palestinians, and
Right after General Sharon instigated the Al Aqsa Intifada on 28
September 2000, the United Nations Human Right Commission condemned
Israel for inflicting a war crime and a crime against humanity upon the
Palestinian People. The Nuremberg crime against humanity is the
historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as
defined by the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Historically, Israels criminal conduct against the Palestinians has been
financed, armed, equipped, supplied, and politically supported by the
United States. Nevertheless, the United States is a founding sponsor of,
and a contracting party to, both the Nuremberg Charter and the Genocide
Convention, as well as the United Nations Charter. But these legal facts
have never made any difference to the United States when it comes to its
criminal mistreatment of the Palestinian People.
The world has not yet heard even one word uttered by the United States
and its NATO allies in favor of "humanitarian intervention" against
Israel in order to protect the Palestinian People from Israeli war
crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. The United States, its
NATO allies and the Great Powers on the U.N. Security Council would not
even dispatch a U.N. Charter Chapter 6 "monitoring force" to help
protect the Palestinians, let alone even contemplate any type of U.N.
Charter Chapter 7 "enforcement action" against Israel. Shudder the
thought! The doctrine of "humanitarian intervention" clearly proves
itself to be a joke and a fraud when it comes to stopping the ongoing
Israeli campaign of genocide against the Palestinian People.
As a matter of fact, in the case of Israel genocide has paid quite
handsomely to the tune of about $5 billion per year by the United States
government, the U.S. Congress, and the U.S. taxpayers, without whose
munificence this instance of genocide would not be possible. Proving the
validity of the proposition that genocide pays so long as it is done at
the behest of the United States and its de facto or de jure allies.
Dishumanitarian intervention by the United States of America against
Palestine and the Palestinians.
Just before the September 13, 1993 Oslo Agreement signing on the White
House Lawn, I commented to a high-level official of the P.L.O.: "This
document is like a straight-jacket. It will be very difficult to
negotiate your way out of it!" This P.L.O. official readily agreed with
my assessment of Oslo: "Yes, you are right. It will depend upon our
I have great respect for Palestinian negotiators. They have done the
very best they can negotiating in good faith with an Israeli government
that has been invariably backed up by the United States. But there has
never been any good faith on the part of the Israeli government either
before, during, or after Oslo.
The same is true for the United States.
Even if Oslo had succeeded, it would have resulted in the permanent
imposition of a Bantustan upon the Palestinian People. But Oslo has run
its course! Therefore, it is my purpose here to sketch out a New
Direction for the Palestinian People and their supporters around the
world to consider as an alternative to the Oslo process.
First: We must immediately move for
the de facto suspension of Israel throughout the entirety of the United
Nations system, including the General Assembly and all U.N. subsidiary
organs and bodies. We must do to Israel what the U.N. General Assembly
has done to the genocidal rump Yugoslavia and to the criminal apartheid
regime in South Africa. Here the legal basis for the de facto suspension
of Israel at the U.N. is quite simple:
As a condition for its admission to the United Nations Organization,
Israel formally agreed, inter alia, to accept General Assembly
Resolution 181 (II) (1947) (on partition and Jerusalem trusteeship) and
General Assembly Resolution 194 (III) (1948) (Palestinian right of
return). Nevertheless, the government of Israel has expressly repudiated
both Resolution 181 (II) and Resolution 194 (III). Therefore, Israel has
violated the conditions for its admission to U.N. membership and thus
must be suspended on a de facto basis from any participation throughout
the entire United Nations system.
Second: Any further negotiations
with Israel must be conducted on the basis of Resolution 181(II) and the
borders it specifies; Resolution 194 (III); subsequent General Assembly
resolutions and Security Council resolutions; the Third and Fourth
Geneva Conventions of 1949; the 1907 Hague Regulations; and other
relevant principles of public international law.
Third: We must abandon the fiction
and the fraud that the United State government is an "honest broker" in
the Middle East. The United States government has never been an "honest
broker" since from well before the formal outset of the Middle East
peace negotiations in 1991. Rather, the United States has invariably
sided with Israel against the Palestinians, as well as against the other
Arab States. We need to establish some type of international framework
to sponsor these negotiations where the Palestinian negotiators will not
be subjected to the continual bullying, threats, intimidation, lies,
bribery, and outright deceptions perpetrated by the United States
working at the behest of Israel.
Fourth: We must move to have the
U.N. General Assembly adopt comprehensive economic, diplomatic, and
travel sanctions against Israel according to the terms of the Uniting
for Peace Resolution (1950).
Pursuant thereto, the General Assemblys Emergency Special Session on
Palestine is now in recess just waiting to be recalled.
Fifth: The Provisional Government of the State of Palestine must
sue Israel before the International Court of Justice in The Hague for
inflicting acts of genocide against the Palestinian People in violation
of the 1948 Genocide Convention.
Sixth: We must pressure the Member
States of the U.N. General Assembly to found an International Criminal
Tribunal for Palestine (ICTP) in order to prosecute Israeli war
criminals, both military and civilian, including and especially Israeli
political leaders. The U.N. General Assembly can set up this ICTP by a
majority vote pursuant to its powers to establish "subsidiary organs"
under U.N. Charter article 22. This International Criminal Tribunal for
Palestine should be organized by the U.N. General Assembly along the
same lines as the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former
Yugoslavia (ICTY) that has already been established by the U.N. Security
Seventh: Concerned citizens and
governments all over the world must organize a comprehensive campaign of
economic disinvestment and divestment from Israel along the same lines
of what they did to the former criminal apartheid regime in South
Africa. This original worldwide disinvestment/divestment campaign played
a critical role in dismantling the criminal apartheid regime in South
Africa. For much the same reasons, a worldwide disinvestment/divestment
campaign against Israel will play a critical role in dismantling its
criminal apartheid regime against the Palestinian People living in
occupied Palestine as well as in Israel itself.
During the course of a public lecture at Illinois State University in
Bloomington-Normal on 30 November 2000, I issued a call for the
establishment of a worldwide campaign of disinvestment/divestment
against Israel, which I later put on the internet. In response thereto,
Students for Justice in Palestine at the University of California at
Berkley launched a divestment campaign against Israel there. Right now
the city of Ann Arbor Michigan is also considering divesting from
Israel. And just recently the Palestinian Students at the University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (whom I am privileged to advise) launched
an Israeli divestment campaign here. This movement is taking off.
These seven steps taken in conjunction with each other should provide
the Palestinian People with enough political and economic leverage
needed to negotiate a just and comprehensive peace settlement with
Israel. By contrast, if the Oslo process is continued, it will
inevitably result in the permanent imposition of a Bantustan upon the
Palestinian People living in occupied Palestine, as well as the final
dispossession and disenfranchisement of all Palestinian People living in
their diaspora. Consequently, I call upon all Palestinian People living
everywhere, as well as their supporters and friends around the world, to
consider and support this New Direction that is sketched out here.
Francis Boyle is Professor of International Law Legal at Illinois
University, an advisor to the Palestine Liberation Organization on
Creation of the State of Palestine (1987-1989) Legal Advisor to the
Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Negotiations (1991-1993)
Sometime Legal Advisor to the Provisional Government of the State of
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