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Netanyahu Wants to Change Laws of War

An admission they were broken, or needed update for age of terrorism?

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Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting last week.(Baz Ratner-Pool/Getty Images)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last week came up with a new gambit to bolster Israel’s reputation in the wake of the controversial Goldstone report, which charges that both the IDF and Hamas may have committed war crimes during last winter’s Gaza war. Netanyahu wants to change the rules of war. At a meeting of his security cabinet, he instructed government ministries to look into an “international initiative to change the laws of war in keeping with the spread of terrorism.” Goldstone doesn’t think much of the idea. “I think it’s sad,” he said in an interview with Al Jazeera, as reported in the Jerusalem Post. “Israel is clutching at straws. International law can’t be changed just because one side doesn’t like the laws of war.” And the paper quoted another expert on the rules of war, William Schabas of the Irish Centre for Human Rights said, “the fact that Netanyahu says he wants to change the laws of war is almost an admission that Israel violated them.”

But Victor Hansen, a professor at New England Law School and co-author of recently published The War on Terror and the Laws of War points out that there is in fact a mainstream but minority view that argues laws of war do need updating. “If a democracy decides they want to fight a war, they have to recognize that there are some limitations to the use of that law, and that there would probably need to be some changes and international agreements,” he told Tablet Magazine. “Terrorism has presented a different dynamic and recognition that maybe law of war as written doesn’t get to these issues,” Hansen maintains. For example, he said, many agree that the use of civilians in warfare, both as literal shields and as implicit supporters of terrorism, has not been effectively covered by the Geneva Convention and other existing laws. “But that hasn’t yet led to a groundswell of opinion that says we need to change laws of war.”

PM: Change of Laws of War to Deal With Terrorism [JPost]
Government Looking To Set Int’l Rules for Fighting Terror [Haaretz]
Lieberman Discusses Goldstone With Ban [JPost]
Expert: Plan to Change Laws of War Unrealistic [JPost]

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Netanyahu Wants to Change Laws of War

An admission they were broken, or needed update for age of terrorism?

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