Key Issues in the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict from the Viewpoint of International Law: Prepared for the Independent Panel Appointed to Review the Impartiality of the BBC's Coverage of the Conflict
57 Pages Posted: 23 Mar 2009
Date Written: February 6
This paper aims to provide an overview of key aspects of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, within the context of international law. The paper has been commissioned by the independent panel appointed by the BBC Board of Governors, to review the impartiality of the BBC's coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. For that purpose, this paper focuses upon those issues over which debate has regularly emerged, in particular with regard to use of legal terms and references to international law. Discussion and the reporting of the conflict inevitably contain references to international law, and at times describes certain actions or events as being lawful or unlawful, or uses terms that have legal meaning. This paper will provide a certain amount of guidance as to when and how these legal references can be made, and when they should perhaps be avoided. As will be seen, a large number of the issues are open to multiple interpretations and more than one view can be supported. In many of these areas of contention (but not all - it is impossible to cover all issues relating to the conflict within the current scope), this paper seeks to explain the differing sides to the debate, without necessarily supporting either view. In these cases, an understanding of the points of contention, can hopefully assist in the ability to accurately report them. Furthermore, in certain areas in which the dust of debate is relatively settled, or when the vast majority of opinion supports one particular conclusion, this will be pointed out as a strong indication of an approach that can likely be safely adopted in the context of reporting. There are many other debatable aspects to the conflict beyond the legal interpretations; this paper is however concerned only with questions of international law. The format and style of this paper is not that of an academic article. Indeed, any one of the chapters presented here contains sufficient complexities to justify being the independent recipient of lengthy attention, and most of them are in fact subjects of articles and books. This paper has been written with a non-legal audience in mind, and assumes no prior knowledge of international law.
Keywords: International law, human rights, humanitarian law, Israel, Palestine, Occupation, Geneva conventions
JEL Classification: K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation