Australia’s Aborted Embassy Move — the Legal Implications

Hugh KistsonArticles, Hugh Kitson

Whose Land? Documentary Production Team
Delegates at the conference in the Czech Parliament.

Israel’s 70th Birthday Present

Last May, on the occasion of Israel’s 70th anniversary, I happened to be in Jerusalem. Among other things I filmed an interview with David Parsons, Vice-President of the International Christian Embassy, Jerusalem. Trained as an Attorney, David was the principal author of the Jerusalem Embassy Act that passed through the US Congress in 1995, which ultimately led to the US Embassy move to Jerusalem. 

Jerusalem Day, the anniversary of Jerusalem’s re-unification in 1967, happened to fall on 13th May in the Gregorian Calendar (28th Iyar in the Hebrew Calendar). The following day was Israel’s 70th birthday in the Gregorian Calendar. It was on that day that the United States opened its Embassy in Jerusalem, and I had the pleasure to be there to witness it from nearby. Of course, there was widespread condemnation expressed by many nations from across the world, including from nations that call themselves friends of Israel. Among other things, the US Embassy move was condemned as
‘a violation of International Law’. Actually, as far as International Law is concerned, President Trump did the right thing. Nevertheless, the Palestinian Authority is planning to contest the legality of the move in the International Court of Justice.

International Law Conference in the Czech Parliament

In early January—last month—I had the privilege of attending a conference in Prague which focused on the sovereignty of Jerusalem in International Law, as well as looking at the political and legal issues surrounding the so-called ‘Two-State Solution’. These issues are central to “Whose Land?” Parts 2 & 3 respectively. The conference, under the auspices of The Hague Initiative for International Co-operation (thinc.), was held in the Czech Parliament and sponsored by a number of organisations including the European Coalition for Israel, the International Christian Embassy Jerusalem, the Israel Allies Foundation, Sallux, the William Wilberforce Institute (Czech) and B’nai B’rith. One of the main organisers and speakers was Andrew Tucker, Co-founder and Director of thinc. Among the other speakers was David Parsons. 

thinc. is a forum for international lawyers to come and work together to find a just and lasting solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, within the framework of International Law, that honours both sides. Another aim is to expose the abuse of International Law used by Israel’s enemies to achieve the political goals that seek to delegitimize the Jewish state. In 2017 I attended thinc.’s inaugural conference at the Palace of Peace in The Hague, home of the International Court of Justice. The significance of the location of this latest conference, which was opened by the Speaker of the Czech Parliament, is that the Czech Republic is following the USA, Guatemala and Brazil in recognising Jerusalem as the capital city of Israel and moving its embassy there.

Australians to recognise ‘West Jerusalem’ as Israel’s capital

After several years of lobbying by various groups in Canberra, the Australian Prime Minister made an announcement just before Christmas. Many Australian Christians, however, are deeply disappointed that the government has only gone considerably less than half way. Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who is an Evangelical Christian, caved in under international political pressure—as well as intense pressure from the Foreign Ministry and Intelligence agencies—to make a considerably watered down announcement. While recognising ‘West Jerusalem’ as Israel’s capital, Australia will not be moving its embassy there until Israel and ‘the Palestinians’ come to a negotiated settlement and the so-called ‘Two-State Solution’ is finalised. 

Andrew Tucker, himself an Aussie, and the main legal advisor for “Whose Land?”, believes that this situation is worse than if Australia had refrained from making a decision altogether.

Why? 

Firstly, because it gives credence to the claim of the PLO (the main governing body of the Palestinian Authority) to both a legitimate historic and legal right to the ancient Jewish capital—its claim is entirely fraudulent. Moreover, the PLO has never recognised the right of Israel to exist as the nation-state of the Jewish people, and neither has it ever amended its founding Charter that calls for the destruction of the Jewish state, which it agreed to do under ‘Oslo’. Rather, the PLO’s claim of sovereignty over the ancient Jewish capital is nothing less than an attempt to rip the heart and soul out of the Jewish nation.

Secondly, the ‘Palestinian’ claim on Jerusalem is based on Jordan’s illegal seizure of ‘East Jerusalem’, which is what brought it into Arab hands during the War of Independence in 1948.

The ancient Jewish capital (specifically ‘The Old City’) was ethnically cleansed of its Jewish population. Jordan’s conquest of ‘East Jerusalem’, which was both politically and militarily supported by Britain, was illegal under the UN Charter. As Andrew Tucker tells us in Part 2 of “Whose Land?”;

“Jordan had no claim to Jerusalem or the ‘West Bank’—on the basis of any doctrinal principle of international law.” 

In 1988 Jordan renounced its territorial claim to ‘East Jerusalem’ and the ‘West Bank’ in favour of the ‘Palestinians’, and as another lawyer points out— Professor Eugene Kontorovich—Jordan had no legal power of disposition to do so. Therefore the ‘Palestinian’ Arab claim to sovereignty over ‘East Jerusalem’ is a violation of a universal principle of International Law known as ‘ex injuria jus oritur’ which basically means that something acquired illegally cannot be used as a point of legal claim.

Andrew Tucker address delegates at Conference

Thinc’s Director, Andrew Tucker, addresses the conference.

There are other conventions of International Law that come into play as well. The fact is, the Palestinians have no legal claim whatsoever under International Law to any part of Jerusalem. Nations that support the concept of a Palestinian state with ‘East Jerusalem’ as its capital do so illegitimately. The only way the ‘Palestinians’ can legally attain sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem is if the State of Israel voluntarily cedes it to them. Israel conditionally offered to do this under ‘Oslo’ but the Palestinian leadership rejected it.

Thirdly, the Australian Prime Minister’s announcement has made the move of its embassy to Jerusalem more unlikely than ever. I can say that the Israeli government is also disappointed that a nation that is one of its closest friends has let them down in this way.

Lastly, and most significantly, it has put Australia on a collision course with Israel’s God and King. Australia is not unique in that respect by any means, but it has joined the huge band of nations who are trying to thwart the purposes of God, which we can see from Zechariah 1:14b – 16: 

‘Thus says the LORD of hosts: “I am zealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with great zeal. I am exceedingly angry with the nations at ease; for I was a little angry, and they helped—but with evil intent.” Therefore thus says the LORD: “I am returning to Jerusalem with mercy; My house shall be built in it,” says the LORD of hosts, “And a surveyor’s line shall be stretched out over Jerusalem.”‘

I believe this is what the Lord is saying to the nations at this time. As I have often said before, the Lord Jesus is not going to return to Jerusalem as the capital of an Islamic Palestinian state. As an Australian citizen myself, I am dismayed by what has happened. Of course, Britain’s betrayal of the Jewish nation is far greater and a source of even deeper grief to me as a British citizen, and anger as far as the Lord is concerned (see above Scripture). In fact, a lot of the problems that Israel faces today are a legacy of Britain’s violation of the terms of the Mandate.

The battle for Jerusalem still has a long way to go in the international arena, as well as fulfilment in the prophetic Scriptures. The command that we have is to “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem.” (Psalm 122:6), and that shalom will only come once the Prince of Peace is reigning from the throne of David in the City that He calls His own.

Update on “Whose Land?”

We thank the Lord for an injection of funds at the end of last year which has enabled us to substantially reduce shortfall when Part 1 was released, and make some further progress with research and development. Although we are still unable to properly restart the production, we do believe that this is the first-fruits of what is to come. In the meantime we are continuing to try to raise funds from various sources. Until we receive the funding we need for completion, we can’t give a release date for Part 2, even though the production of both Parts 2 & 3 is well advanced. 

To see more about “Whose Land?” visit www.whoseland.tv