Palestinian right to fight occupation not only moral, but legal as well

I agree wholeheartedly with Noam Sheizaf’s recent post about the Palestinians’ moral right to resist. But I would like to add that the moral right to resist is also the foundation of the Palestinians’ legal right to resist the illegal Israeli occupation. Considered within that framework, Israel’s suppression of Palestinian protest and resistance becomes even more striking and perverse.

Palestinian right to fight occupation not only moral, but legal as well
Israeli soldiers surround a Palestinian at Nabi Saleh (photo: flickr/Activestills)

Speaking to +972, Israeli human rights lawyer Lynda Brayer remarks, “When we say moral, we’re talking about the general principle of behavior to promote, sustain, nurture, and help human life… international law reflects, on paper, moral values as we understand them.”

The Palestinian’s legal right to resist occupation—to fight for their ability to promote, sustain, and nurture human life, to fight for their right to grow, to flourish—comes from two documents: the 1960 Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples and the Fourth Geneva Convention and its subsequent protocols.

Taken together, people have the right to “fight against colonial domination and alien occupation in the exercise of their right to self-determination,” Brayer explained.

Writing in CounterPunch this spring in the wake of Goldstone’s backpedaling, Brayer went into detail:

Above and beyond the basic right of all human beings to resist their being killed and harmed, and a society to take armed actions to protect itself, this document legitimizes also national liberation struggles, including, at this time in history, most particularly, the Palestinian people’s struggle for its own freedom.  It is this right which legitimizes all Palestinian attempts to lift the yoke of Israeli oppression from Palestine, including all the actions taken by the Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead.

And is not the right to resist oppression universal? Does this right not justify the American Revolution and then the French Revolution and the wars of liberation in the 1950′s and 1960′s. Nelson Mandela is a hero because of his resistance to, not because of his subservience to apartheid repression. And the Warsaw Ghetto uprising by the Jewish population against the Nazi repression is a beacon of pride in modern Jewish history.  it is also a fact that Jews who joined the resistance, say in Poland or other places under Nazi occupation, are heroes for the Jewish people. I would contend that one cannot deny that right of resistance to Palestinians which the Jews appropriated to themselves, and which is the right of all peoples living under military occupation and/or colonialist regimes.

Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights, a professor of international law at Princeton University, the author of dozens of books, writes in “International Law and the Al-Aqsa Intifada”:

Though the Israeli government and the US media persist in describing the second Palestinian intifada as a security crisis or a disruption to the ‘peace process,’ in international law, Palestinian resistance to occupation is a legally protected right…Israel’s failures to abide by international law, as a belligerent occupant, amounted to a fundamental denial of the right of self-determination, and more generally of respect for the framework of belligerent occupation — giving rise to a Palestinian right of resistance.

It boils down to this: every time the Israeli military arrests a Palestinian for “stone throwing” or “incitement” or any other bogus, trumped-up charges—and every time Israel holds a protest organizer or a Popular Committee leader prisoner—it is, perversely, detaining Palestinians for exercising their inalienable moral and legal rights to resist an illegal and violent military occupation.