West’s double standard on Israeli-Indian annexation
THE global rule of law can never be selective that it is applicable to one state and remains inapplicable to the other.
After Russia’s illegal annexation of the Ukrainian territories, this urge has become inevitable that the West, while criticizing the Russian annexation, should voice against illegal and unlawful Indian annexation of the Kashmiri territories as well as against that of the Israeli annexation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).
The time has come that a global order of justice must prevail vis-à-vis the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the states.
The selective western criticism of Russian annexation and Russia’s human rights violation in Ukraine has galvanized its duplicity on these issues.
Recently, the Foreign Ministers of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, and the High Representative of the European Union have made a joint statement regarding the Russian annexation of the Ukrainian parts.
’’ Russia must immediately stop its war of aggression, withdraw all of its troops and military equipment from Ukraine, and respect Ukraine’s independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally-recognized borders.
We reaffirm that the regions of Donetsk, Luhansk Kherson and Zaporizhzhya as well as Crimea are integral parts of Ukraine’’.
The fact is that for decades, people of Palestine and Kashmir have been waiting to see a similar western stand against the Israeli and Indian annexation of their respective territories.
Justifiably, Kashmiris and the Palestinians are demanding a global order that takes seriously the rules of the United Nations Charter — notably on respect for sovereignty and fundamental human rights.
As for the Palestinians’ plight, over a half century’s occupation by Israel is actively funded, militarily supported and legally shielded by the so-called western liberal democracies.
Gershon Shafir, an American sociologist and human rights scholar, has explored why this is the case in the face of clear international legal and political norms to the contrary — of the UN Charter and the 1949 Geneva Conventions to explicit judicial rulings and UN resolutions, in addition to essential ethical and humanitarian principles.
The US accuses Russia of abusing its privileged position as a veto-wielding permanent member of the Security Council.
Nonetheless, the US has continually screened Israel from global condemnation and intermittently interrupted international efforts to hold the Israeli government accountable for genocidal crimes under the UN Charter and international law.
While the US rebuffs Russian security reservations apropos of NATO expansion in Eastern Europe, the US administrations have time and again defended Israeli atrocities on Palestinians in the name of ‘Israel’s right to defend itself’ when in reality, Israel acts to be a brutal encroacher of the Palestinian territory. The two drastically antipodal narratives are the manifestation of American duplicity.
“Military occupation is permitted in international law only if it is temporary and based on military necessity, but in the case of Israel’s occupation there is no end in sight.
International law contains clear guidelines on how occupations should work: a territory must be returned to its temporarily displaced sovereign, and the occupying power must be able to justify its continued control over the territory at all times on the basis of military necessity.
“According to Pakistan, no legal title under International law has passed to India regarding the territory of Jammu & Kashmir, therefore, any attempt to subsume it within its own territory amounts to an act of occupation and illegal annexation.
Pakistan’s position of Jammu & Kashmir, being disputed territory and India’s consequent lack of legal title to it, has been recognized by numerous UN Security Council resolutions on the matter.
Due to this lack of legal title, India lacks the competence to take any unilateral action altering the status of Jammu & Kashmir from a disputed territory to a part of the Union of India’’.
As for the Israeli case, the basis for this judicial practice is Israel’s formal government-sanctioned policy of recognizing the habitual residence of settlers in the occupied territory, which is contrary to the most fundamental dictates of IHL.
As such, Israel’s protection of settler rights in occupied territory cannot be considered as a lawful basis for justifying the limitations placed on Palestinian rights in the same territory’’.
The Indian and Israeli practices of unlawful appropriation of property by an occupying power amounts to ‘pillage’ which is prohibited in The Hague Regulations and Fourth Geneva Convention.
Whereas, in both the Israeli and Indian annexation cases, an inescapable truth upholds that, : “A deep-rooted problem at the heart of these conflicts has not been lack of clarity of international law – in fact it is quite clear, but the unwillingness of the international community, particularly the western community, to enforce what it has proclaimed.
” While witnessing such a swift response to the sufferings and human rights violations of Ukrainians, one wonders why the Kashmiri and Palestinian causes have not elicited the same favourable and supportive response from Western governments and media
Arguably enough, to protect the collective right to self-determination of the local population in the occupied territory, occupation law suspends certain decision-making processes (placing them in what is called a state of ‘abeyance’) until the return of the rightful sovereign – in addition to prohibiting the representatives of the local population of the occupied territory from waiving the law’s protections, as reflective in the Israeli-Indian policies of persistent occupation and unlawful annexation.
For the last 74 years, the people of Illegally Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IOJ&K) have been resisting forced occupation.
And yet, those calling for the immediate halt of Russian advancement in Ukraine and deeply concerned about the gross human rights violations and alleged atrocities committed by Russian troops, are mysteriously tight-lipped when asked about the atrocities committed by India in IIOJ&K.
Thus, by giving effect to such unlawful acts, some third parties may also compromise the implementation of their domestic law and public policy by relying on the other’s non-corresponding wrongful practice and interpretations of international law.
For the last 55 years, every day, the state of Palestine has been shrinking, its territory is being encroached by the Israeli government and illegal Jewish settlers, but those, whose eyes flared with anger and outrage over the Russian annexation of Crimea and the recent advances in Ukraine, have been indifferent to brutal Israeli and Indian annexations of the Palestinian and Indian territories.
—The writer, an independent ‘IR’ researcher-cum-international law analyst based in Pakistan, is member of European Consortium for Political Research Standing Group on IR, Critical Peace & Conflict Studies, also a member of Washington Foreign Law Society and European Society of International Law. He deals with the strategic and nuclear issues.