Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)

Francis A. Boyle. Palestine, Palestinians and International Law

Academic journal article Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)

Francis A. Boyle. Palestine, Palestinians and International Law

Article excerpt

Francis A. Boyle. Palestine, Palestinians and International Law. Atlanta, GA: Clarity Press, 2003. 205 pages. Paper $10.49.

The general premise of this book is that Palestinian national rights are best understood within the context of international law. This is to say that the Palestinian people have firmly established rights under this framework and can only be denied these rights in a lawless world where international law is ignored. The book also emphasizes the futility of engaging in any Israeli-Palestinian talks without any reference to international law. At least where the Palestinians are concerned, retrieval of their rights can only come as a result of negotiations based on the principles of international law, rather than as a result of political deals and compromises.

The author of this book, Francis Boyle, Professor of International Law at the University of Illinois-Champaign, is a leading American advocate of the rule of international law. His wide experience in this field includes drafting the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989, as well as representing Bosnia-Herzegovina at the World Court. More importantly, he has been intimately associated with the Palestinian cause, at one time, advising the PLO during the drafting of the 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, and from 1991 until 1993, as the Legal Advisor to the Palestinian Delegation to the Middle East Peace Conference at Madrid.

Boyle's commitment to the defense of Palestinian national rights is grounded in his superb training as a Harvard graduate of both the Law School end the Department of Political Science. His career as an ivy league student opened his eyes to the entrenchment of pro-Israeli academic figures in academia and even to the inordinate presence of Israeli generals in some distinguished halls of ivy such as Harvard's Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Boyle's sense of fairness was offended by this and predisposed him to a certain sensitivity to issues of the forgotten centers of humanity, such as the Palestinians, Namibians end eventually the Bosnians. He began to press the Palestinians to declare their independent state in 1987, when the U.N. Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People commemorated the June War of 1967. Boyle took the opportunity to call for the unilateral declaration of an independent Palestinian state based on the right to self-determination end following the steps taken by the former Mandate territory of Namibia. After this, the Palestinians could then demand Israel's withdrawal from Palestinian lands while participating in an international peace conference. The PLO's sights at the time were only set on the possibility of declaring themselves a government-in-exile. He argued with Palestinian observers at the U.N. that the state should precede the government. A year later, he watched the PLO finally meet the U.S. demands before the latter bestowed diplomatic recognition. Arafat's address before the U.N. General Assembly meeting at Geneva, inaugurated the Middle East peace process, according to Boyle, end forced the U.S. to begin its "diplomatic dialogue" with the PLO. The result was a de facto U.S recognition of the PLO's Executive Committee as the Provisional Government for the State of Palestine end the start of an ongoing diplomatic dialogue which continues to this very day. Boyle also counseled the PLO acting as the Provisional Government of the State of Palestine continuously to invoke the U.N. General Assembly's Uniting for Peace Resolution of 1950. This would be done in order to override the record of U.S. vetoes in the Security Council and to secure all rights of a U.N. member state save that of voting, again employing the tactic of obtaining de facto status of U.N. membership rather than waiting to achieve de jure recognition. He asserts that as things stand today what stands between the Palestinians and their formal acquisition of U. …

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