Invitation to participate in the ‘Israel on Trial’ Conference 2023 Conference participants share their experiences Hillel Neuer, international lawyer and Executive Director of UN Watch, tells the story of the UN’s increasingly adversarial relationship with Israel. He walks through the history of the UN-Israel relationship, and pulls the veil off some of the extreme institutional bias leveled at the Jewish State from several UN organizations, including the UN Human Rights Council, and the UNRWA (UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian Refugees). Neuer calls attention to the parade of dictators, murderers, and despots who have been honored by the UN organizations purporting to be Human Rights oriented – all the while defaming Israel, the Middle East’s only liberal, democratic state, and keeping it as a constant agenda item in the Human Rights Council. Gregory Rose, law professor and Director of Research at thinc., discusses the concept of “lawfare,” and explains how legal mechanisms and legal jargon are often disingenuously deployed against the State of Israel. Unlike “Rule of Law,” Lawfare is a tool for the powerful to pursue selfish ends at the expense of the weak. And so Rose shows us how nefarious actors have hijacked the term “Apartheid,” have infiltrated the International Criminal Court, and have successfully manipulated a coterie of Human Rights organizations into producing legalistic-sounding reports that have no basis in law or the reality of the Israeli-Palestinian situation. Dr. Matthijs de Blois, fellow at thinc. and former assistant professor at Utrecht University’s Institute of Legal Theory of the Law Faculty, discusses ‘The Jewish State of Israel under international law’. In his speech, De Blois addresses the recent request of the General Assembly of the United Nations to the ICJ to render an Advisory Opinion on various legal questions related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. De Blois argues that any such opinion, as well as other issues that relate to the Jewish State under international law, should take into account article 80 of the UN Charter, which preserves the rights of the Jewish People under the Mandate for Palestine based on the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine. Dr. Loqman Radpey, research fellow of the Edinburgh Centre for International and Global Law (ECIGL), discusses the foundations of the Modern Middle East – A Kurdistan Perspective. In his speech, Radpey addresses the notion of national self-determination, peoples’ self-determination, and the crystallization of self-determination as a legal right as applied to the Kurds. Treaties shaped the boundaries of the modern Middle East, and the Kurds were fragmented among different nation States. Because of this fragmentation, as well as the fact that the current scope of self-determination doesn’t capture the current situation of the Kurds, the Kurds have not been able to implement self-determination to create their own nation-state. The Kurds’ well-defined nationhood, however, should ideally be the paradigm of a nation, Radpey argues in his presentation. Steven Zipperstein, Lecturer in the Global Studies program at UCLA, visiting Professor at Tel Aviv University Law School and Distinguished Senior Fellow of the UCLA Center for Middle East Development, discusses the Arab-Jewish conflict, framing of the conflict, and statehood proposals. In his speech, he argues the Palestinian legal case is weak due to the lack of political rights granted, as well as the repeated renunciation of statehood proposals by the Palestinian Arabs throughout. Zipperstein argues that the Palestinian insistence on invoking transformational legal framing and the injustice/victimhood narrative has become so overwhelmingly identified with the Palestinian politico-national movement that little or no room remains for serious discussion of the future task of state-building. Zipperstein suggests that the way to move forward is for the Palestinians to return to the negotiations table instead. Natasha Hausdorff, a barrister in London and a Director of UK Lawyers for Israel, addresses the question ‘What are the border of the State of Israel?. In her speech, she argues that Israel’s international standing has been harmed by the application of double standards and the continuing misrepresentations of international law. The universal rule for determining borders for emerging states dictates that such states are established with the same boundaries of the prior administrative entity in that land unless otherwise agreed. The rule has been consistently applied. Under this principle of international law, Hausdorff argues, Israel automatically inherited the mandatory boundaries as its own borders. While parts of these territories (e.g. the Westbank) are politically disputed, the correct legal principle to be applied is clear and the term “annexation” is fundamentally misconceived as a State cannot annex its own sovereign territory. Prof. Dr. Wolfgang Bock addresses ‘Palestinian statehood: fallacies of the EU’s approach to international law’. In his speech, he highlights different misconceptions that have been adopted by the international community that distort the correct understanding of Israeli and Palestinian statehood and self-determination. These misconceptions include the fact that UN resolutions are presented as law, that the Palestine Mandate is losing authority, the tenet of the ‘legal second’ – the void of one second between the passing of the mandate and the establishment of the State of Israel which transferred authority to the Palestinian people, and the dogma that argues that sovereignty doesn’t require any sort of process, but is intrinsic in the individual. Naomi Linder Kahn, director of the International Division of Regavim, addresses the Israeli and Arab activities in the West Bank/Judea and Samaria since the Oslo Accords. In her speech, she zooms in to the actual and physical expressions on the ground of the war of attribution in Judea and Samaria, and the many ways Israel’s sovereignty and (international) law are being violated. One of the primary worrying markers is Israel’s significant loss of land in area C, over 20% to date. In her speech, Kahn addresses the reasons for this land loss and general Palestinian practices aimed at breaking, stopping, or reversing Israeli landownership in the West Bank (e.g. illegal construction, environmental terrorism, agricultural land seizure, etc.) In her final remarks, Kahn underlined the fact that Israel created this situation by refraining from imposing Israeli law under the pressure of the international community. Therefore, according to Kahn, it is Israel that can correct it. Robbie Sabel, Professor of International Law at the Faculty of Law and at the Department of International Relations of the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, addresses the question: “Are the Settlements Legal?”. In his speech, Sabel explains the three-sided claim of illegality: the West Bank not being sovereign Israeli territory, Israel as an occupying power illegally transferring settlers into the territory of the West Bank, and Israel violating the human rights of Arab inhabitants. Sabel argues that the claim of illegality cannot hold. In his argumentation, he discusses the applicability of the IVth Geneva Convention, the voluntary moving of settlers, and the absence of local Arab evictions as a result of the building of settlements. Sabel concludes with a reminder that the final status of the settlements is to be negotiated based on the Oslo Agreements. Jonathan Turner, UK Lawyers for Israel, addresses “’Apartheid’, the BDS movement and antisemitism in the UK”. Turner argues that the apartheid debate is still very much alive. The fact that Arabs living within the Green Line are fully Israeli citizens and that Arabs in the region have a way higher standard of living than in neighboring countries is often ignored. In his speech, Turner argues the intensity of the apartheid debate has slightly decreased, despite the incendiary reports that were brought out by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. In his opinion, the reports didn’t get as much attention as the organizations hoped for. As a conclusion, Turner points out that charities should be held accountable for their activities. Under the rules of the charity committee, they are not to engage in purely political matters but should serve the public benefit. In this speech, Professor Wolfgang Bock addresses “The dynamics of power politics in the Middle East and North Africa.” He illustrates the latest developments in the region, mainly relating to Iran and Saudi Arabia. Bock argues that since Biden is in power, the Saudis – which have historically been great allies of the US – have been pressured and shown signs of distrust, driving them into the arms of China to request help in pressuring against Iran. About Iran, Bock is optimistic that the regime won’t hold in the long run. The retreat from the Middle East by the EU and the US, however, and their lack of support for the resistance in Iran, will be remembered and will have a boomerang effect. Yifa Segal, attorney and Managing Director of Hetz for Israel, addresses “the Abraham Accords, normalization and Palestinian self-determination”. While starting off with a positive note on the Gulf States and Egypt, Segal quickly moves the attention to the challenging position Saudi Arabia. Left alone and disgraced by the Biden administration, while facing significant local and regional challenges, Saudi is moving closer to China and Iran. This development can be harmful to Israel and the entire west. Segal concludes with a call to action on European governments: Saudi-Arabia does not like to be close with Iran and China, European backing of Saudi-Arabia is a chance to regain western influence in the Middle East.