Today a lot of the efforts to dismantle Israel’s apartheid and settler colonial methods of domination over the Palestinian individuals look like following a authorized method.
Students, activists and even policymakers invested within the problem more and more counsel the trail in direction of Palestinian liberation is thru securing a authorized opinion formally defining Israel’s violent expulsion of Palestinians as apartheid and colonialism.
The current United Nations Basic Meeting (UNGA) decision calling on the Worldwide Court docket of Justice (ICJ) to provide an opinion on the authorized penalties of Israel’s unlawful occupation of Palestinian territories is the latest instance of this development.
I wholeheartedly help and encourage all such efforts, and I’m happy that the UNGA handed this essential decision. Although sceptical, I really hope that the ICJ opinion will mirror the actual situations that Palestinians endure, and assist dispel Israeli propaganda. But I don’t imagine it’s productive or sensible to restrict all efforts in direction of Palestinian liberation throughout the frames of human rights and worldwide legislation.
The Palestinian battle for liberation have to be multifaceted and multidimensional. We have to be certain that the authorized method doesn’t change into the predominant face of the Palestinian battle. It’s – and may stay – merely certainly one of its aspects. In any case, the core of the Palestinian battle has by no means been and can by no means be a authorized one. It’s a battle of and for justice, not legislation. There’s a essential distinction between the 2.
The authorized method has a number of shortcomings which implies that, whether it is pursued by itself, or posited because the main aspect of the battle, it would hurt the Palestinian trigger.
First, the worldwide authorized system usually fails to correctly contextualise state violence as a political matter and treats it as a solely felony one. Because of this, it associates justice solely with the punishment of particular person perpetrators, leaving complicated political buildings, logic, and dynamics which might be on the root of the issue unanalysed and unaltered.
Second, worldwide courts face important pushback, together with questions in regards to the limits of their jurisdiction, each time they try to legally outline and problem a verdict on the violence perpetrated by states that belong to the US’ imperial energy bloc (of which Israel is part). Thus, if a court docket, such because the ICJ or the Worldwide Prison Court docket (ICC), dares to designate Israel an apartheid state, will probably be attacked by Israel’s highly effective and influential allies. And, maybe extra importantly, the opinion will possible lead to not any significant punitive motion towards Israel by the leaders of the worldwide neighborhood, however to a watering down of the which means of the phrases used to outline Israel’s violent actions.
Past these limitations, there may be additionally the truth that the worldwide authorized system has been created by imperial powers to guard their hegemony and serve their pursuits. Certainly, the authorized buildings that the oppressed and marginalised are informed to depend on to take care of imperial and settler colonial violence are themselves a vital a part of the political system that birthed that violence. They actively legitimise, preserve and justify imperial and settler colonial violence, together with Israel’s towards the Palestinians.
Worldwide legislation, which is meant to be a impartial automobile for justice, is, the truth is, a type of violence in and of itself. After I say legislation is a type of violence, I’m not referring to how the settler colonial state makes use of it to legitimise what its navy has achieved via brute power. Slightly, I’m referring to how the legislation itself is an end result and continuation of settler colonial and imperial violence. Violence perpetrated by the highly effective validates the legislation – provides it function, legitimacy and efficiency. Thus the legislation is designed to stifle, not strengthen, Palestinian resistance.
All this doesn’t imply the authorized system can’t be utilised by the oppressed to inch in direction of liberation – it might probably, and it ought to. However the violent, colonial origins and nature of the authorized buildings at present in use imply that we Palestinians shouldn’t focus our efforts for liberation and justice solely on the legislation.
We must always keep in mind that the validity of our trigger doesn’t rely upon authorized establishments defining Israel’s violence towards us as apartheid, settler colonialism, or anything. The authorized establishments tasked with making such determinations are half and parcel of the political order that paved the best way for the institution of the Israeli settler colony. They’re integral elements of the system that works to guard Israel and conceal its true nature and the brutality of its aggression and violence.
It’s unlikely that any court docket will precisely describe Israel’s violence and suggest significant corrective and punitive motion from the worldwide neighborhood anytime quickly. However even when we managed to manoeuvre via the troublesome political terrain and safe a authorized opinion recognising Israel as a settler colonial state practising apartheid, we might not essentially obtain justice. Certain, such an end result would result in therapeutic at a sociocultural stage and add new fireplace to the Palestinian battle. It might not, nevertheless, ship the specified outcomes on the political entrance and result in systemic change. As a substitute, the designations of “apartheid” and “settler colony” would possible be co-opted and diluted to avoid wasting Israel from scrutiny in the identical approach ideas like “decolonisation”, “anti-racism” or “variety” have been diluted and emptied out in recent times.
We must always always remember that what we’re coping with isn’t an inherently impartial authorized system that’s going through some pressures from highly effective actors. What we’re coping with is a authorized system that has been designed to legitimise and preserve the very violence that we are attempting to outline and finish.
For the worldwide authorized system to change into a really great tool to additional the Palestinian trigger, it must undergo a technique of radical decolonisation. We are able to and may have a separate debate about what that course of ought to appear like, and what methods we must always pursue to get there. However as Palestinians, we must always by no means lose sight of what worldwide legislation actually is and the boundaries of what it might probably do for us for the time being.
As we search liberation, we must always focus not on the legality however on the justness of our trigger, as outlined and decided by our lived experiences of oppression and aspirations for a free decolonised life. What Israel and its highly effective imperial allies fail to grasp is that the very violence they inflict on Palestinians is a wellspring of resistance, from which the justness of our battle is constantly revealed.
The views expressed on this article are the writer’s personal and don’t essentially mirror Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.