According to Amnesty International’s report “Destination: Occupation,” Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor are contributing to, and profit from, the maintenance, development and expansion of illegal settlements, “which amount to war crimes under international criminal law.”
Amnesty International does not bother to explain how such acts would “amount to war crimes.” Article 8 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court, contains a comprehensive list of acts constituting war crimes. Yet it provides no explicit or implicit provision under which contributing, or profiting from, the maintenance, development or expansion of presumed illegal settlements is a war crime.
The role of Amnesty International is not to invent non-existing war crimes, but to denounce the perpetration of acts defined as war crimes by a competent body. The publication of unfounded accusations does not contribute to the prevention of war crimes; on the contrary, it tends to lessen their gravity.
To justify its position, Amnesty International invokes Conventional and Customary International Law, provisions of the Geneva Conventions, Additional Protocol I, as well as peremptory norms of jus cogens. However, these rules “do not create direct obligations” that are “directly applicable” to private companies, as confirmed by two French courts in the case filed on Feb. 22, 2007 in France by France-Palestine Solidarité (AFPS) and by the PLO, against the French corporations Veolia Transport, Alstom Transport SA and Alstom SA for participating in the construction of the Jerusalem light train. Corporations are not subjects of international law and do not have international legal personality.
According to accepted international commercial practice, and in conformity with international law, Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor provide services without discrimination in Judea and Samaria. The development and expansion of Jewish settlements in those territories are not illegal. No Jew was deported or forcibly transferred by the Israeli government to Judea and Samaria in violation of the Forth Geneva Convention; they returned to their homeland voluntarily.
Amnesty cites in its report some cities and villages in Judea and Samaria. Let us cite others. Many cities and villages have names that are not Arabic and very rarely appear in other Arab lands. Among such names are Kafr Yasif, Kafr Yatta, Kafr Manda, Kafr Samiya. Others have names similar or identical to their original Jewish/biblical names: Saffurye/Tziporis, Esdud/Ashdod, Asqalan/Ashkelon, Tal’at ed-damm/Ma’ale Adumim, Betin/Beth El, Bet Lahem/Bethlehem, Hagla/Bethagla, Ata(t)ara/Ataroth, Saasa/Saasa, Bi’am/Kfar Bar’am, Beit Jan/Beit Dagan, Susya/Khirbet Susiya, Shiloah/Silwan, etc. … (Silwan is not the City of David as mentioned in Amnesty Report, but Shiloah, where Yemenite Jews build their houses that were taken over in 1948 without compensation. Shiloah was translated into Arabic as Silwan).
Names of valleys are the same as in biblical times. For example: Sahal El Id (translation of the Valley of the Feast) and Sahal El Bnet (the Valley of the Young Girls, where young Jewish girls and boys came for the Jewish feast of Tu B’Av to meet and marry).
The Jews are the indigenous people, also known as first people or native people, of Judea and Samaria (Palestine). The Treaty of Lausanne (1923), the British Mandate (1922), the San Remo Resolution (1920), the Treaty of Sèvres (1920) and the Balfour Declaration (1917) recognized the Jews indigenous rights to the Land.
The United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), was solemnly proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 13, 2007 (144 states in favor, four against and 11 abstentions) (A/RES/61/295), as “a standard of achievement to be pursued in a spirit of partnership and mutual respect.”
The Jews are the indigenous people and this declaration recognizes the rights of indigenous peoples to their lands, territories and resources (Art. 26).
Beyond Amnesty International and Airbnb’s choice to deny the rights of the Jews as indigenous people, they do not recognize that this land has been given to the Jews by the Almighty, as recorded in the Bible, as well as in the Koran. Like the Prophets, the Koran (Surah A’raf) (“The Heights,” 7: 137) foresaw the return of the Jews “en masse” (Koran, Surah al-Isra) (“The Night Journey”) as Bani Isra’il (“Children of Israel,” 17:105). Amnesty International and Airbnb ignore that the Jews are a people, and the original settlers of Judea and Samaria 3,500 years before C.E.
Amnesty International and Airbnb see themselves entitled to discriminate against Jews living in Judea and Samaria although “indigenous peoples and individuals are free and equal to other peoples and individuals and have the right to be free from any kind of discrimination, in the exercise of their rights, in particular, that based on their indigenous origin or identity” (Art. 2 of the UNDRIP).
By targeting Jews living in Judea and Samaria, Amnesty International, the BDS organizations and the UNHCR violate the same human rights they claim to protect.
Judea and Samaria are territories belonging to the indigenous people. It is time for states to recognize this reality, to stop the falsification/manipulation of International law, to stop the delegitimization of the State of Israel and to recognize the right of the Jews as the Indigenous People to settle in all their territories in accordance to the UNDRIP.
Other inhabitants living in Judea and Samaria are not indigenous peoples. They have settled, occupied or colonized this area more recently. “There is no Palestinian nation, there never was” as confirmed by Azmi Bishara in 1999 on Israeli television before a panel of Jewish speakers. The other peoples are the descendants of migrants who came from various countries and regions, Balkans, Greeks, Syrians, Egyptians, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Persians, Kurds, Germans, Afghans, Circassians, Bosnians, Sudanese, Samaritans, Algeria and other countries of the Maghreb, Tartars … “Half of the Palestinians are Egyptians and the other half are Saudi” as stated by a Hamas Minister.
We are concerned that “indigenous people [like the Jews], have suffered from historic injustices as a result of, inter alia, colonization and dispossession of their lands, territories and resources, thus preventing them from exercising, in particular, their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests” (Preamble of the UNDRIP).
Their rights to their lands, territories and resources where confiscated successively by the Romans, the Byzantines, the Persians, the Arabs-Muslims (including the Waqf) and by Christians (including the Christians Churches of all denominations). The Jews endured the yoke of the Turks, and thereafter, of the British Empire who prevented them from exercising their right to development in accordance with their own needs and interests, and to return to their land. It thereby increased the number of victims taken to the gas chambers. It was at Great Britain’s request that over two-thirds of the Jewish National Homeland was disposed of and transferred to the “Hashemite King” originating from Arabia.
Being the indigenous people, the Jews “… have the right to redress, by means that can include restitution or, when this is not possible, just, fair and equitable compensation, for the lands, territories and resources which they have traditionally owned or otherwise occupied or used, and which have been confiscated, taken, occupied, used or damaged without their free, prior and informed consent” (Art. 28.1 of the UNDRIP).
The Byzantine Church, the Muslims, the Christian Churches and their Crusaders never bothered to obtain the consent of the Jews. They not only took their property, but killed the land’s Jewish inhabitants.
The time has come for the Jews to exercise their rights and for the “United Nations, its bodies and specialized agencies, including UNESCO, to promote respect for and full application of those provisions of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and advance the effectiveness of this Declaration” (Art. 42).
Dr. Michael Calvo is an international lawyer and author of the book The Middle East and World War III: Why No Peace? with a foreword by Col. Richard Kemp, CBE.