Israel’s Right to Self-Defence 'Non Existent'

Francesca Albanese, UN Special Rapporteur for the occupied Palestinian territory, addresses the National Press Club of Australia on why previous approaches in Israel and Palestine have failed, and why we need to recast our approach based on self-determination and human rights.

Israel has no right of self defence against Hamas under international law and is committing “war crimes” that must be accounted for, the UN special rapporteur said.

Francesca Albanese, said from a legal perspective, Israel’s right to self-defence was “non-existent” and the Jewish state had ignored proportionality in its “unrelenting bombardment of Gaza”.

She used her speech to criticise the international community – including Australia – for being almost “completely paralysed” amid the unfolding crisis, adding that Palestinians were facing the “most significant existential threat” and it was not enough for Western countries to back Israel’s right to defend itself.

She said Israel could not claim self-defence in the laws of war because that could only be prescribed when under threat from another state.

“Israel cannot claim the right of self-defence against a threat that emanates from a territory it occupies, from a territory that is under belligerent occupation,” she said.

“What Israel was allowed to do was to act to establish law and order, to repel the attack, neutralise whomever was carrying out the attacks and then proceed with law and order measures... Not waging a war.

“What is being done (in Gaza) is wrong … How many more people need to die?”

Francesca P. Albanese is an Italian international lawyer and academic. She was appointed United Nations Special Rapporteur on the occupied Palestinian territories for a three-year term in May 2022. She is a strong opponent of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, Albanese recommended in her first report that UN member states develop "a plan to end the Israeli settler-colonial occupation and apartheid regime". Albanese holds a law degree with honours from the University of Pisa and a Master of Laws in human rights from SOAS University of London.


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