Ambassador John Bolton: ‘Palestine’ is not a state

October 4, 2018

US National Security Adviser John Bolton speaks during a briefing at the White House in Washington, Oct. 3, 2018. (AP/Susan Walsh)

“It’s not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood,” US National Security Adviser John Bolton stated.

By Batya Jerenberg
World Israel News

US National Security Adviser John Bolton put the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) official status into perspective at a Wednesday press briefing when he announced that the United States would no longer be a signatory party to the United Nations’ International Court of Justice (ICJ).

“The president has decided that the United States will withdraw from the optional protocol and dispute resolution to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations. This is in connection with a case brought by the so-called state of Palestine naming the United States as a defendant [in the ICJ], challenging our move of our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” Bolton said.

White House reporters immediately jumped on the adjective, asking whether calling the Palestinian Authority (PA) a “so-called state” was “productive,” considering that President Donald Trump had said he was working towards a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Bolton’s answer was unequivocal.

“It’s not a state now. It does not meet the customary international law test of statehood,” he said. “It doesn’t control defined boundaries. It doesn’t fulfill the normal functions of government. There are a whole host of reasons why it’s not a state.”

“It could become a state, as the president said, but that requires diplomatic negotiations with Israel and others,” he added. “So calling it the ‘so-called state of Palestine’ defines exactly what it has been. [That’s] the position that the United States government has pursued uniformly since 1988, when the Palestinian Authority declared itself to be the State of Palestine.”

Bolton might have been referring to the fact that 137 countries have recognized the PA as a state since that date. He reiterated the US rejection of this position on a bipartisan level.

“We don’t recognize it as a state… We have consistently, across Democratic and Republican administrations, opposed the admission of ‘Palestine’ to the UN as a state because it’s not a state.”
Although the PA is only a “non-member observer state” at the UN, it was allowed to formally join the International Criminal Court in 2015. Since the court’s decisions are binding, the US, by leaving the protocol, blocked the Palestinian case.

Bolton added that the withdrawal was part of a general effort by the Trump administration to protect US sovereignty from the reach of the international court.

“We will commence a review of all international agreements that may still expose the United States to purported binding jurisdiction dispute resolution in the International Court of Justice,” he said. “The United States will not sit idly by as baseless politicized claims are brought against us.”

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