Skip to content
Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs
Strategic Alliances for a Secure, Connected, and Prosperous Region

The Palestinian Claim to Statehood: An Open Letter to PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat

Filed under: International Law

The Palestinian Claim to Statehood:  An Open Letter to PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat

PLO Negotiator Saeb Erekat denounced Australia’s recognition of West Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, stating that “East Jerusalem, under international law, is an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territory.”

I responded on Twitter: Saeb – you’re not a lawyer. There’s no violation of international law in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. You seem to confuse international law with UN resolutions which are not international law.

Saeb – I value this opportunity to communicate with you after so many years since we worked together on the 1995 Oslo Interim Agreement.

Permit me to remind you and your colleagues of some basic facts and truths:

A Palestinian state does not exist because it cannot fulfill the accepted international law criteria for statehood. The Palestinians are divided among themselves and sponsor, support, finance and encourage terror.

The fact that the PLO is committed by the Oslo Accords to negotiate with Israel on the issue of the permanent status of the territories is indicative of the fact that permanent status has not yet been agreed upon, and thus there can be no Palestinian state.

Basing their claim to statehood on a 2012 non-binding General Assembly resolution is totally flawed, manipulative, and misleading. The General Assembly is not empowered to establish states. It only upgraded the Palestinian Authority’s observer status and reaffirmed the necessity to negotiate.

Since the PLO is not a state, it therefore cannot be party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court  (ICC), which is specifically open only to states. Clearly, the ICC cannot exercise jurisdiction over territory that you falsely claim to be sovereign Palestinian territory. It is not Palestinian territory, since its status has yet to be determined through the negotiating process to which the PLO is committed. The fact that the Palestinians politically manipulated the UN and ICC into viewing them as a state is legally flawed and has yet to be reviewed juridically.

The fact that the Palestinians manipulatively present themselves as a state and accede to international treaties and organizations is legally flawed and an abuse of the bona fides of the international community, as well as being a serious violation of the Oslo Accords that they negotiated.

The Palestinians’ fixation with the “1967 borders” has no legal basis. No such borders ever existed. There is no reference in any of the agreements between Israel and the Palestinians to 1967. To the contrary – the determination of borders is an agreed final status negotiating issue.

Similarly, Palestinian claims that establishing the U.S. embassy in Jerusalem violates international law is simply false, including your curious litigation in the International Court of Justice  (ICJ) against the U.S. No provision of international law prevents this.

Saeb, if, as you claim, you seek peaceful relations between our two peoples, then you must restore your credibility and stop deluding yourselves and the international community.

Rather than going to such great efforts to manipulate and abuse the international community, and trying to bypass the negotiating process, the Palestinians need to restore their credibility as a viable negotiating partner and return to that process immediately, before it’s too late.