Palestine and Israel: The Endless War  

  Palestine and Israel: The Endless War  

By Yousra Jouglaf

Conflict between Palestine and Israel has prolonged for many decades now, seemingly escalating with each passing day.[1] Members of differing parties are polarized by the issues they deem most pertinent to the ongoing conflict: from human rights violations by the Israeli government to declarations against Hamas as a terrorist organization, there is endless debate about which side is in the right.[2] And while the conflict appears to be between only these two countries, the issue itself has expanded beyond their borders, affecting many nearby regions and countries.[3]

Different factors have played into the escalating conflict between the two nations; beginning in the mid-twentieth century, the origins of the conflict can be traced back to Jewish immigration into Palestine in 1948. This began the initial dissolution of the Palestinian administration and hold over Gaza as conflict escalated post-WWII when Jewish descendants who had been displaced by the Holocaust sought to establish sovereignty in a new homeland.[4] Despite being able to choose anywhere in the world to settle, Jewish citizens felt a connection to the land of their self-claimed birthright, choosing to settle in the then recognized nation-state of Palestine and eventually beginning the process of displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their homes.[5] A Zionist movement had begun to take place, led by its father Theodor Herzl, and many Jewish citizens responded positively to the movement “in response to a rise in anti-Semitism across Europe.” [6] Despite providing a home to settle within for their displaced Jewish neighbors, Palestinians quickly began to become relocated by the new Jewish settlements, and petitioned Ottoman rulers to regulate the numbers of Jewish immigrants settling into their lands. The increase in settlements created a genuine concern that the Arab culture and religion of Islam would dissolve under the new Jewish influence, effectively dissolving the “Arab territorial unity of the Middle East” as well.[7]

The violence of the conflict has only grown with the cultural and religious differences each country is rich in, finding further conflict in key issues such as water rights, land rights, control of the shared holy land of Jerusalem, and their defined and constantly re-defined borders.[8] These issues have expanded into global complications, extending from human rights claims by Palestine against the Israeli government, to security issues each country shares against one another.[9] In 1997, both nations engaged in the Middle-East Peace Process in hopes of finding a resolution to the conflict that plagues their countries, and adopted the first of the Oslo Accords.[10] This led to the creation of Palestine from “the Israeli lands of Judea, Samaria (West Bank) and Gaza,” hoping to reduce the tensions they share.[11] However, this formal recognition of Palestine’s ownership of Gaza has led to escalating conflict, as Israel moved to explicitly declare its nuclear capabilities after its loss of the land.[12] Israel has further moved to illustrate its hegemonic prowess in other ways, and has often falsely depicted the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as “conflict between two equal sides with irreconcilable claims to one piece of land.”[13] Moreover, Israel has often disregarded international law and has continued its occupation through military-like rule, often denying Palestinian citizens basic democratic rights within civil, economic, and political forums.[14] In fact, Israel’s adoption of a liberal democracy has been rather ironic, as “[M]ajority rule in a plural society results in majority hegemony and minority suppression rather than democracy . . . .” proving their democracy is no democracy at all.[15]

Multiple groups have spoken out in protest against the unfair, military-like regime that Israel has imposed upon Palestinian citizens, often citing the up rise in violence as a direct response by agitated Palestinian citizens against the oppressive Israeli Defense Forces that are afflicting damage on their homes and families. While Israel holds a strong alliance with the United States (an alliance further strengthened under the new Trump administration), Palestine holds no such alliance. With Trump’s leadership, Israeli Defense Forces have benefitted from additional funds and aid from American taxpayer’s money, and have intensified their settler takeover efforts within Palestinian lands, an act that has the UN Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia issuing reports determining that the Israeli occupation has become nothing short of “the crime of apartheid.”[16] Hamas, an infamous vigilante group led by frustrated Palestinian nationals, has attempted to navigate the difficult relationship it carries with Israel by embarking on a new reconciliation process, only to meet rejection by Israeli government officials.[17] Since then, Israel has continued to occupy East Jerusalem, and has obtained official international recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s official capital, an act that effectively circumvents the rule of law when it comes to politics on the international stage by formally pronouncing that Israel is its own nation-state, while denying Palestine the same courtesy.[18] While this act may not seem perilous in the status quo, its future implications could mean an endless war between Palestine and Israel as they continue to fight to find a two-state solution that could work.

Currently, Israel has imposed several decade-long restrictions and taken punitive measures against Palestinian citizens that have many officials calling against Israel for the humanitarian crisis it has inflicted on destitute Palestinians.[19] From cutting off electricity to bombing hospitals and schools, Gaza has now been rendered “unlivable” by the United Nations. Further, Israel has been denounced by multiple human rights campaigns as its forces continue to cut off basic human necessities to Palestinian citizens and repeatedly use unethical live ammunition against citizens approaching the Gaza border.[20] Palestinian citizens are subject to collective punishment efforts by Israeli Defense Forces and consistent, oppressive searches and segregation within their own villages.[21] In fact, Israel’s human rights violations can be succinctly divided into five categories: “[U]nlawful killings; forced displacement; abusive detention; the closure of the Gaza Strip and other unjustified restrictions on movement; and the development of settlements. . . .”[22] The aforementioned unlawful killings included the killing of over 2,000 innocent Palestinian civilians; often, these deaths are attributable to the excessive force that Israeli Defense Forces use against Palestinian demonstrators along the West Bank border.[23] Despite the outcry for a cease-fire and for an official two-state solution, Israeli government officials (formally led by infamous right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) have chosen to deny the call for a more humanitarian and peaceful approach to the regional conflict.[24] When it becomes evident to human rights organizations, the UN, and several national leaders that Israeli officials are refusing to comply with the outcry for peace, the most imminent question to ask oneself is: what must be done next? And in an ironic twist, one wonders: truly just how dissimilar is the nationalist movement of Zionism in Palestine in comparison to the anti-Semitic sentiments displayed by Nazis in the 1940s?

The answers to these questions does not come easily; surely, whichever response prompts even the slightest deviation of Israel’s power will result in either direct refusal by its officials, or a potential increase in its hegemonic powers to defy the suggested course of action. Empirically, there has yet to be a recommended two-state solution that would be accepted by both sides. Each side is hesitant to lose the battle for the land it holds dear to its heart; however, at this point, it is evident that both sides have lost the war.

 

[1] Zack Beauchamp, Everything you need to know about Israel-Palestine, VOX (May 14, 2018, 10:20 AM), https://www.vox.com/cards/israel-palestine/intro.

[2] Id.

[3] Id.

[4] Evan Goldsmith, Comment, Could Commercial Arbitration Help Settle a Historic Conflict between the Israelites and Palestinians, 6 Y.B. On Arb. & Mediation 404, 404-416 (2014) (discussing solutions to Palestine-Israel conflict).

[5] Id.

[6Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Naomi Chazan, Oslo, Then and Now, 23 Palestine-Isr. J. Pol. Econ. & Culture 8, 1-6 (2018)

[9] Id.

[10] OFFICE OF HIST. & BUREAU OF PUBLIC AFFAIRS, THE OSLO ACCORDS AND THE ARAB-ISRAELI PEACE PROCESS (2000).

[11] Evan Goldsmith, Comment, Could Commercial Arbitration Help Settle a Historic Conflict between the Israelites and Palestinians, 6 Y.B. On Arb. & Mediation 405, 404-416 (2014) (discussing rise in conflict between Palestine and Israel).

[12] Id.

[13] What is the Struggle between Israel and the Palestinians About?, JEWISH VOICE FOR PEACE (last visited Oct. 10, 2018), https://jewishvoiceforpeace.org/israeli-palestinian-conflict-101/.

[14] Id.

[15] Roger I. Zakheim, Comment, Israel in the Human Rights Era: Finding a Moral Justification for the Jewish State, 36 N.Y.U. J. Int’l L. & Pol. 1005, 1005-1012 (2004)

[16] Amnesty International: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2017/2018 (2018), https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/ 

[17] Id.

[18] Id.

[19] Id.

[20] Id.

[21] Human Rights Watch: Israel: 50 Years of Occupation Abuses (2017), https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/06/04/israel-50-years-occupation-abuses.

[22] Id.

[23] Id.

[24] Amnesty International: Israel and Occupied Palestinian Territories 2017/2018 (2018), https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/report-israel-and-occupied-palestinian-territories/.

The (Steel) Rains Down in Africa

 

On October 4, 2017 in a village called Tongo Tongo, located 174 kilometers North of the Nigerian capital of Niamey, the highest-casualty event in Africa for American forces since the Mogadishu incident that inspired the movie “Black Hawk Down” took place. Four American Green Berets and four Nigerian soldiers were killed in an ambush set up by the Islamic State. This event shined a light on the fact that US forces were not only on the continent of Africa, but seemed to be engaged in direct action as well. The deaths of four elite soldiers caused inquiries as to why the United States was on the continent of Africa and under what authority they were there. The Trump administration, now tasked with managing the US military presence around the world, responded by stating the US was deployed to “train, advise, and assist Nigerian partner forces.”[1] While it is not a new or novel concept in the post-9/11 age for the citizenry of the United States to be unaware of clandestine operations around the world, it certainly is unusual for senators, such as Lindsey Graham to state, “I didn’t know there was 1,000 troops in Niger, this is an endless war without boundaries and no limitation on time and geography.”[2]

According to the Comptroller of the Department of Defense (DOD), approximately $44,827,000, before factoring in funds allocated through 10 USCS §127e, has been preliminarily allocated to U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM) for the fiscal year of 2019.[3] The code 127e usurps the War Powers Resolution by circumventing the need for congressional approval of funds for specific operations. Very little is available to the public in terms of exactly what the funds are spent on, but according to General Raymond A. Thomas it provides “unique access and capabilities” to the Special Operations Forces (SOF) community.[4]

The issue here is not that the government seems to be waging a clandestine war on the African continent. Considering that the continent has some of the fastest growing economies,[5] it is in the interest of the United States to help stem the tide of terrorism and foster closer ties with the most resource and opportunity rich continent on the planet. This is especially true considering the fact that China is investing approximately $60 billion into the African continent.[6] Russia, in the same fashion as the preceding Soviet Union,[7] is investing heavily into Africa with money, weapons, and “advisors.”[8]

The United States on the other hand, is lagging far behind the two rival nations in terms of investment into Africa. The Brookings Institute stated that the U.S. Commercial engagement in Africa has not only ceased to increase but has actually decreased over the last five years. Therefore, it is through necessity that the United States is providing value to African nations with the greatest and most abundant export resource at its disposal: warriors.

Again, the issue isn’t that the US is engaged in a secret war on the continent, the issue is that the new modus operandi of the government seems to lean toward acquiring a large defense budget in support of American national security; support for necessary military expenditures like investing money into the F-35[9] as well as the added expenses of global clandestine operations that include activities in Africa. While the language of the transparency report of March, 2018 clearly stated that the United States is in Niger to provide training and support, there are numerous reports from service members that they are engaged in active hostilities on the African Continent.[10] If the fight for the preservation of order is as important as General Bolduc says,[11] then it would behoove the government to go through the proper channels of the legislative branch to acquire more funding than the meager amount currently being channeled into the continent.

It is an old habit of presidents to deploy US troops without a declaration of war from Congress in direct contradiction to the Constitutional separation of powers.[12] The justification has historically been that in actions that arguably do not warrant a declaration of war, the president need not rely on Congress to approve. Frustrated with the seeming circumvention of duly divided Constitutional powers Congress, during President Nixon’s term, passed the War Powers Resolution despite the direct veto of the president. The War Powers Resolution allowed the Commander in Chief of the military to place troops in various geographic locations, and indeed even into hostile zones so long as a few conditions were met. The Commander in Chief can utilize his Constitutionally vested authority to deploy troops so long as the authority is 1) exercised pursuant to a declaration of war, specific statutory authorization from congress, or a national emergency created by an attack on the United States, 2) report the activities to Congress, 3) withdraw all US forces within 60 days of a report, unless Congress approves continued action or is physically unable to meet.[13]  The arrangement has historically been that should Congress find the engagement distasteful, they can end the conflict after sixty days by cutting funding to an operation. The operation in Niger was a shocking revelation because it seems to have shown that even the War Powers Resolution is being side stepped, if not outright ignored by the executive branch to an extent. The executive branch seems to be sidestepping the War Powers Resolution by acquiring funds via 10 USCS §127e. 10 USCS §127e allows the Secretary of Defense to expend “up to $100,000,000 during any fiscal year to provide support to foreign forces, irregular forces, groups, or individuals engaged in supporting or facilitating ongoing military operations by United States special operations forces to combat terrorism.”[14] The language “combat terrorism” seems to be a deliberate introduction of language that would give the executive branch an unsupervised ability to allocate funds, especially since the Authorization for Use of Military Force, better known as Pub. L. 107-40 has been used to justify anti-terrorist activities since September 18, 2001.[15]

 

[1] https://assets.documentcloud.org/documents/4411804/3-18-War-Powers-Transparency-Report.pdf

[2] Volcovici, Valerie, ‘The answer we have now is not adequate’: Lawmakers are raising questions about the ambusth on US troops in Niger, Reuters.com  https://www.businessinsider.com/r-us-senators-seek-answers-on-us-presence-in-niger-after-ambush-2017-10

[3] Fiscal Year(FY) 2019 President’s Budget, Office of the Secretary of Defense, https://comptroller.defense.gov/Portals/45/Documents/defbudget/fy2019/Security_Cooperation_Budget_Display_OUSDC.pdf

[4]General Thomas, A. Raymond , Statement before the House Armed Services Committee; Subcommittee on emerging threats and capabilities, https://www.socom.mil/Documents/Posture%20Statements/2018%20USSOCOM%20Posture%20Statement_HASC%20Final.pdf

[5] Ebatamehi, Sebastiane, Top 10 Fastest Growing Economies in Africa 2018 https://www.africanexponent.com/post/9157-africas-largest-economies-in-2018

[6] Sow, Mariama, Figures of the week: Chinese investment in Africa, https://www.brookings.edu/blog/africa-in-focus/2018/09/06/figures-of-the-week-chinese-investment-in-africa/

[7] Bienen, Henry, Soviet Political Relation sin Africa, Internatinoal Security Vol. 6, No. 4 (spring 1982) https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/2538682.pdf?refreqid=excelsior%3Ab4f8fd5227f7b0555720d1c18f198080

[8] https://www.scmp.com/news/world/africa/article/2159622/how-russia-boosting-its-role-africa-weapons-investment-and

[9] https://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-18-321

[10]Morgan, Wesley, Behind the secret U.S. war in Africa, Politico.com, https://www.politico.com/story/2018/07/02/secret-war-africa-pentagon-664005

[11]Brigadier General Bolduc, C. Donald, The Pentagon Wants To Pull Special Operations Forces Out Of Africa. That’s A Huge Mistake, taskandpurpose.com, https://taskandpurpose.com/special-operations-forces-africa-plan/

[12] Id.

[13] http://www.loc.gov/law/help/war-powers.php

[14] https://www.gpo.gov/fdsys/granule/USCODE-2016-title10/USCODE-2016-title10-subtitleA-partI-chap3-sec127e

[15] https://www.npr.org/2017/10/30/560778907/the-future-of-the-presidents-authorization-for-use-of-military-force

The Avtomat Kalashnikov Model of Year 1947

 

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author's and do not necessarily reflect the position of JLIA, Penn State Law, School of International Affairs, or Pennsylvania State University.

 

In examining modern history, the tools that have been responsible for the majority of combat related deaths are small arms and light arms. Small arms are man-portable weapons like rifles, pistols, and light machine guns, light arms are weapons operated by crews of people like mortars, recoilless rifles, and heavy machine guns.[i] The king of small arms and the rifle—AK or Avtomat Kalashnikov rifle—has been in nearly every conflict since 1950. It is the brainchild of Mikhail Kalashnikov, a soviet tank commander who envisioned a soviet army equipped with a nigh unstoppable rifle. The AK is an eight-pound amalgamation of wood and steel that can operate in mud, sand, dust and similar conditions that would make competing western rifles fail. The operation and maintenance of the rifle is so simple that child soldiers are often equipped with it.

 

In the years following its adoption in 1947, the production of the AK and its variants were spread out among the Warsaw Pact countries and “licensed” to other nations as well. The AK rifle and the cheap and effective power it could lend to small groups was as much a Soviet export and component of Soviet foreign policy as was the spread of communism. In the eyes of the Soviet Union, the rifle was the chief tool by which the proletariat could rise up in communist insurrection around the world. The devastating effect of the AK was first seen by the world during the Vietnam war. The deadly reputation of the AK was solidified in the jungles of Southeast Asia and has been and still is reinforced in conflicts around the world. From the killing fields in Cambodia to the massacres in Yugoslavia and in the hands of terror groups worldwide, the AK is a mainstay in modern conflicts. The abundance of AK sightings in conflict zones is mainly due to the war doctrine of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s battlefield policy was not to repair but to replace as the need arose, as a result of this doctrine, the Soviet Union and Eastern Bloc nations produced a staggering amount of AK rifles for a war with the west that never came. As of 2004, of the nearly 500 million firearms in the world 100 million are AK or AK variants produced by nations, failed states, and even insurgent groups.[ii]

 

Since the fall of the iron curtain and the primary purpose of toppling the west was lost, the rifles have seen varying uses around the world. Envisioned by Mikhail Kalashnikov as a tool of liberation, the AK has ended up becoming the symbol of tyranny, crime, and terror.[iii] Most modern stockpiles of AK rifles used by terror or criminal groups come from unlicensed productions being produced today or leftovers from the Cold War era. AK rifles are still being produced today, nations like China, Iran, North Korea, India and many others produce near identical rifles that have indigenous names. These rifles, while officially for state use only have seeped into black markets and ended up in the hands of criminal and terror organizations around the world. Beyond the currently produced rifles, many of the rifles used in crimes across western Europe come from Eastern bloc stockpiles. After the fall of the iron curtain, former Warsaw Pact nations were extremely poor and had one chief export: arms and armor from the cold war.

 

The effects of the sell-off of cheap rifles made for war are felt today. While western European nations are fearful of firearms and impose stricter and stricter gun laws, terrible attacks like the one on the offices of Charlie Hebdo, the concert in Paris, and the constant attacks in Sweden are becoming more common. The AKs used in the Paris attacks were supposedly leftover rifles from the fall of Yugoslavia, leftovers from the communist era that still carry their deadly purpose.[iv] Most of the AK rifles seeping into Western Europe make their way from the Balkans.[v]

 

The legal issue here is how to create governmental restrictions and impositions that would better protect the people of the world and in particular western Europe. Simply setting limitations within the sovereignty of nations is clearly ineffective. Weapons seep through the borders of nations that lie next to former soviet satellite states, and the free travel within the European nations allows for easy transport of weapons once in the union. The UN has not remained idle on this issue either, in 2014 the landmark treaty named Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) entered into force.[vi] Signed by nearly 92 nations worldwide, the ATT is a near global attempt to set standards on the import and export of small-arms and other more conventional weapons worldwide. The purpose is to curb the regional and international insecurity that is caused by unregulated arms trafficking. So far, the efficiency of the treaty remains in question, many attacks have happened and continue to happen with weapons that originate from nations that have signed the treaty.

 

The ATT’s substantive language states that the goal is to “create a safer environment for the United Nations and other organizations.”[vii] This goal is supposed to be achieved by the “regulation of cross-border trade of conventional arms.”[viii] This goal is admirable but ultimately seems insufficient to stop the spread and usage of AK rifles and other soviet arms that have been left behind in the wake of the Cold War

 

The answer to preventing more weapons from ending up in the “wrong hands” is not a simple one. The issue lies with understanding the motivations of those who sell the firearms illegally. Many of the groups currently selling illicit firearms to western European buyers are motivated by money. The average price for an AK rifle is about $1200 in Belgium.[ix] Lack of economic opportunities leads to the transaction of the only goods that seem to hold value: weapons. Perhaps the answer lies in creating a multinational organization that has the sole purpose of finding and purchasing Kalashnikov rifles and preventing them from falling into the control of nefarious groups in the west.

 

While the solution suggested in this article is far from one based in a legal basis, the current solutions presented by passage of legislation or treaties does not seem to be stemming the tide of deadly relics of the Soviet Union making their way into Europe.

 

About the Author: Hojae Chung is a 2L at Penn State Law.


 

[i] Klare, Michael, Small Arms Proliferation and International Security, Hampshire College

https://www.hampshire.edu/pawss/small-arms

[ii] Chivers, C.J., The AK-47: ‘The Gun’ That Changed The Battlefield, NPR https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130493013

[iii] Franko, Blake, The Gun That Is in Almost 100 Countries: Why the AK-47 Dominates, NationalInterest.com

http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/75-million-guns-ready-war-why-the-ak-47-dominates-20561

[iv] Bajekal, Naina and Walt, Vivienne, How Europe’s Terrrorists Get Their Guns, Time.com

How Europe’s Terrorists Get Their Guns

[v] Ask not from whom the AK-47s flow, Economist

https://www.economist.com/news/europe/21697019-answer-often-serbia-croatia-or-bulgaria-ask-not-whom-ak-47s-flow

[vi] The Arms Trade Treaty, UN.org

The Arms Trade Treaty

[vii] Module 1: Arms Trade Treaty Implementation Kit, UN

https://unoda-web.s3-accelerate.amazonaws.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/2015-08-21-Toolkit-Module-1.pdf.

[viii] Id.

[ix] McCarthy, Niall, The Cost of An AK-47 On the Black Market Around the World, Forbes.com

https://www.forbes.com/sites/niallmccarthy/2017/03/30/the-cost-of-an-ak-47-on-the-black-market-across-the-world-infographic/#628e8d887442