Monday, September 30, 2013

"Witt: Two Conceptions of Suffering in War"

Since at least the middle of the nineteenth century, two competing conceptions of suffering in wartime have dominated western thought about the laws of armed conflict. One conception views suffering – and especially suffering in war – as an evil in itself. Those who take this view, like Henri Dunant, founder of the International Committee of the Red Cross and inspiration for the Geneva Convention of 1864, typically adopt the minimization of suffering as the principal goal for a law of war. Another conception of suffering in war, however, sees the experience of pain as an inevitable and sometimes even ennobling accompaniment to the hard work of bringing about just ends in the world. This latter view rejects the idea that one can evaluate suffering or its legal significance without knowing why the suffering exists. This approach has a long tradition, too, one that stretches back through Dunant’s contemporary the Prussian-American Francis Lieber, drafter of the Union’s rules of engagement in the American Civil War.

These two ways of making sense of human suffering (and the conflicts between them) have animated legal efforts to manage warfare ever since Dunant and Lieber launched the modern chapter of the laws of armed conflict a century and a half ago. And for good reason. Each of the two dominant conceptions of suffering contains inescapable limits and indispensable moral insights. The difficulty – our difficulty – is to capture their insights while containing their flaws.”

Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Oslo Accords and Israel's "international standing"

“Following the 1991 Madrid Conference and the Oslo accords numerous countries that had previously not maintained diplomatic relations with Israel, including China and India, established such relations. The Arab Boycott, in its secondary and tertiary forms, which had existed until the early 1990s, more or less evaporated. For example, until the early 1990s the only Japanese car manufacturer willing to sell to Israel was Subaru.
The fact that Israel has been released from the direct administration of most of the Palestinians is a real relief, and in many spheres there is fruitful cooperation between Israel and the PA.” That’s the real issue: The
Oslo Accords have not ended the Israeli occupation. In fact, they have only exempted the occupation from its duties towards the occupied Palestinian people.

As a result of the Accords, the protracted Israeli occupation has become profitable for Israel; no duties, no responsibilities vis-à-vis Palestinians.

Palestinians and Israelis: Not equal before the law; the occupier's law

“So what does discrimination look like in the West Bank? Well, take the example of a Palestinian child who throws a stone at a child from a settlement, or visa versa. Under the principle of non-discrimination, both children should be dealt with equally under the law. This does not mean that Israel must apply its civilian law to Palestinians, as this would be viewed as annexation, but the military law applied to Palestinians must provide rights and protections no less favorable than those afforded to Israeli citizens living in the settlements. However, the current reality in the West Bank is that Palestinian children accused of throwing stones are prosecuted in military courts, whereas their Israeli counterparts living in the settlement next door, are dealt with in Israel’s civilian juvenile justice system.
Not surprisingly, the civilian system has far greater rights and protections than its military counterpart, as the examples below illustrate:
• Settler children cannot be interrogated at night, whereas a Palestinian child can be;
• Settler children can consult with a lawyer prior to questioning, whereas a Palestinian child rarely does;
• Settler children are accompanied by a parent when questioned, a Palestinian child is not;
• Settler children see a judge within 12-24 hours following arrest, whereas Palestinian children must wait at least twice as long;
• Settler children can not be imprisoned if under 14, whereas a 12-year-old Palestinian child can be; and
• If convicted Israeli children stand a 6.5 percent chance of imprisonment, whereas 90 percent of Palestinian children are incarcerated.”

Israel increases rate of home demolitions

“Burhan Bisharat lost his home last week to an Israeli army bulldozer, but he retains the Palestinian ethos of hospitality, pressing his interviewer to drink more tea as he recounts how he has slept amid the ruins of the dwellings of this tiny village in the occupied West Bank.”

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

The EU pressures Israel on Gaza: That's unusual

“European ambassadors and consuls pressured the Israeli government to allow necessary construction materials to enter Gaza, given that the economic recession has been exacerbated by the tightening on goods transferred through tunnels between Gaza and Egypt, according to a European diplomatic source that spoke to Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity.”

Saving Jerusalem, too late

More and more Palestinians voices are heard, calling earnestly to salvage Jerusalem from irretrievable loss. That sounds “ironic” for it has indeed become too late to do anything about it, namely after 46 years of Israeli occupation and a systematic policy of faits accomplis on the ground ... remote from any condemnation by the international community.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Obama's UNGA address and US commitment to a Palestinian State

In his address before the UN General Assembly, Obama “reaffirmed US commitment” to a sovereign Palestinian State. He also mentioned the Israeli occupation - once - when he said: “On the same trip, I had the opportunity to meet with young Palestinians in Ramallah… They are understandably cynical that real progress will ever be made, and they’re frustrated by their families enduring the daily indignity of occupation.”
However, he didn’t explicitly say that Israel must end its illegal occupation, nor did he utter a word about Israel’s illegal settlement policy, which, too, must be stopped - and already existing settlements must be dismantled.
What about the illegal Separation Wall, which has nearly become forgotten?
So what kind of a sovereign Palestinian State was he referring to?

Monday, September 23, 2013

"Israel demolishes Bedouin village in E1 - that Obama declared was key to two-state solution"

“A week ago today I visited E1, a mountainous patch of land east of Jerusalem that is famous because the Israelis have designated it for more settlements that will further fragment the West Bank and limit Palestinians’ movements, as the State Department has repeatedly stated.
In E1, I witnessed the results of the recent Israeli bulldozing of a Bedouin village in which 47 people lost their homes. You can see Mohamed Odeh S’eedi in the video above, showing me through portions of the devastated village, AzZa’ayyem.”

The Palestinian-Israeli conflict has never been economic, America

The apparent failure of the ongoing secret Palestinian-Israeli talks appears to have led their US sponsors to put more emphasis on economic issues. A three-year plan has been drawn up by the US peace delegation working through the offices of the Quartet, still nominally headed by former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair.

US emphasis on economic issues is not solely due to the “failure of peace talks”. As a matter of fact, it’s a deliberate attempt to divert attention from the real nature of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict: political, legal and humanitarian. It has never been economic.

That said, it should be emphasized that only Israel, the occupying Power, is responsible for economic, social and development issues in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. And as long as Palestinians live under occupation, Israel has a duty to provide them with all kinds of services. Only Israel should bear the cost.

This duty derives from Article 43 of the Regulations concerning the Laws and Customs of War on Land annexed to The Hague Convention (IV) respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land of 1907, which provides: “The authority of the legitimate power having in fact passed into the hands of the occupant, the latter shall take all the measures in his power to restore, and ensure, as far as possible, public order and safety…”

A resident of WB village attacked for living in a village that actively opposes the occupation

"M., a resident of the West Bank village of Al-Ma’asara, was attacked by Border Policemen solely for living in a village that actively opposes the occupation.

One morning in early August, M., a resident of the West Bank village of Al-Ma’asara, went to Ramallah for medical treatment. He took a public taxi back home. At one point, the taxi reached the Container Checkpoint, which was manned by a Border Policeman.
The cop asked for the Palestinian’s ID card, as per protocol. He took a long time examining M.’s card, then ordered him off the vehicle. As M. climbed down, the policeman slapped him without any provocation. He tried to slap him again but M. blocked the blow. Then another Border Policeman arrived, and according to M.’s testimony, the two of them dragged him aside and beat him repeatedly. When the taxi driver tried to intervene, he was informed it would better for him to return to the vehicle, or he would get a beating as well.
The reason for the beating? Nobody told M. anything, but the goons who assaulted him used the name “Ma’asara” time and time again. Al-Ma’asara is one of the villages that holds a rather peaceful demonstration every Friday." 

Ban Ki-moon calls on Israel to lift Gaza blockade, respect freedom of movement ...

During a Human Rights Council session held today, Ban Ki-moon called on Israel to lift the blockade on Gaza, to respect freedom of movement for Palestinians in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and to take all necessary measures to ensure accountability for violations by its military forces of International Humanitarian Law.

Does Ki-moon think that calling on Israel is enough?

Wait: The international community doesn't understand anything and Jerusalem isn't occupied

Israeli Economy and Trade Minister Naftali Bennett: ““We’re being told that right behind this succa [the Old City of Jerusalem] is occupied territory, and we may be boycotted as long as we’re there.
Whoever thinks our capital of 3,000 years is occupied doesn’t understand anything. Stop the lies,” he said.” Bennett’s racism has no limits. 

Saturday, September 21, 2013

French diplomat thrown to ground by Israeli troops

“France has demanded an explanation of an incident Friday in which Israeli soldiers manhandled a French diplomat and threw her to the ground. Marion Fesneau-Castaing and other European diplomats were trying to deliver tents and aid to Palestinians whose homes were demolished ealier in the week.

"LOOK: Jerusalem Like You've Never Seen It Before"

"'Jerusalem' IMAX Movie By National Geographic Is Just Stunning (EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS) (VIDEO)"

Friday, September 20, 2013

Fact Sheet: "Israeli Annexation Policies in the Jordan Valley: Destroying the Future of the State of Palestine"

“The Palestine Liberation Organization Negotiations Affairs issued Thursday, a new Fact Sheet entitled “Israeli Annexation Policies in the Jordan Valley: Destroying the Future of the State of Palestine.”

Turkish Parliament's bill authorizing military operations in Syria

“A new bill set to replace a resolution passed last year by the Turkish Parliament authorizing cross-border military operations in Syria might include some amendments, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said…”

Turkey's Parliament bill authorizing the Government to carry out military operations in Syria is illegal under international law.

The fact that it authorizes operations "in Syria” - and therefore outside Turkish borders - breaches Article 2(4) of the UN Charter. Furthermore, the persistence/continuation of such an authorization poses a threat to international peace and security in the region (as it authorizes operations in another country, threatening its sovereignty) - a matter which should be addressed by the Security Council.

Concerning the right to self-defence: Turkey, like any other country, has the right to self-defence. But the exercise of this right is certainly not unlimited.

Requirements of self-defence: It must be necessary and instant, and the acts done - in self-defence - must not be unreasonable or excessive, and the force used must be proportionate to the harm threatened or caused. Otherwise, the situation turns into an act of aggression. In other words, a country can only defend itself against an imminent or actual armed attack - while abiding by the aforementioned rules.

On this basis, Turkey can defend its own territory, but it cannot enter another country’s territory.

Given the above-mentioned requirements, the right to self-defence cannot serve as a “justification” for such an authorization by the Turkish Parliament. In addition, the right to self-defence must not be abused or used as a pretext in order to invade or occupy the territory of another country. 

In conclusion, the authorization should be rescinded.

NATO's Rasmussen and use of force against Syria

“The option of carrying out a military strike or similar operation in Syria must be kept open as a way of dealing with the crisis, the secretary-general of the NATO military alliance said on Thursday… “I think, irrespective of the outcome of the deliberations in the UN Security Council, the military option will still be on the table," Rasmussen said at an event organized by the Carnegie Europe thinktank.”

This is yet another example of how NATO tends to compete with the United Nations. This practice should be condemned and stopped, as it blatantly violates both the Treaty establishing the North Atlantic Alliance and the Charter of the United Nations.

NATO was established as a “regional collective self-defence organization”. However, it has chosen to act as the “world’s policeman”. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

ICC invites US to arrest and surrender Omar Al-Bashir

International Criminal Court Judges invite the US to arrest Sudan's Al-Bashir and surrender him to The Hague.

ICC's Decision Regarding Omar Al-Bashir's Potential Travel to the United States of America

Monday, September 16, 2013

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Western Governments, Syria and threat of force

It seems that threatening to use force against other sovereign States has become "normal" for Western Governments and part of their foreign policies.

Although the US and Russia reached an agreement on stripping Syria of its chemical weapons, and Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention (it will enter into force for it on 14 October 2013), the US said that “military option remains on the table”. Also, France’s Hollande stated that “the use of force against Syria is critical”.

So, how could the US and France talk about international peace and security when they both say that “using force against Syria is still an option”? The threat of force against another State itself threatens international peace and security, and also violates international law, particularly Article 2(4) of the UN Charter.

15 September: International Day of Democracy

“Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives. 
While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy. Activities carried out by the United Nations in support of efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate democracy are undertaken in accordance with the UN Charter, and only at the specific request of the Member States concerned.

The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and also decided that 15 September of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy.”

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Syria's instruments of ratification and non-recognition of Israel

It is noteworthy that Syria is the only Arab State that maintains a practice according to which it expressly rules out (implicit) recognition of Israel upon ratification of, or accession to, multilateral treaties or agreements. Syria has always done so in the form of declarations or reservations.

Although Israel is not a State Party to the Chemical Weapons Convention, Syria attached a declaration to its instrument (document) of accession to this Treaty, deposited with the UN Secretary-General, which reads:  “The accession of the Syrian Arab Republic to the Convention shall not in any sense imply recognition of Israel, and shall not entail entering into any relations with Israel in the matters governed by the provisions thereof.”

The official text.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Davutoglu: "Turkey never calls for war" !

Ahmet Davutoglu: “Turkey has never invited and encouraged foreign military intervention in the region.” Erdogan had called for a Kosovo-like intervention in Syria !

On 30 August 2013, Erdogan said: “A limited military action will not satisfy us.  The intervention should be like in Kosovo.”

20 years of Oslo Accords

Today, 20 years of Oslo Accords have exempted the Israeli occupation from its duties towards the occupied Palestinian people.

As a result of Oslo Accords, the protracted Israeli occupation has become profitable for Israel - no duties, no responsibilities. 

Syria accedes to Chemical Weapons Convention

Syria acceded to the Chemical Weapons Convention, which proves the seriousness of both the Russian initiative and Syria.

Remember that Obama kept on repeating his bizarre “theory”: “189 countries, representing 98% of the world’s population”.
 Now: would Obama start saying “190 countries, including Syria, representing more than 98% of the world’s population” - excluding Israel?

P.S: The Chemical Weapons Convention will enter into force for Syria on the 30th day following the date of deposit of its instrument of accession with the UN Secretary-General.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Freed Belgian hostage Piccinin: Syrian Government didn't use sarin gas in Ghouta

“A Belgian writer held hostage for five months in Syria said that his own rebel captors said that President Bashar al-Assad was not to blame for the Ghouta massacre.
Pierre Piccinin said that he and fellow hostage Domenico Quirico, an Italian war reporter, heard their jailers talking about the chemical weapon attack and saying that Assad was not responsible.
The captives became desperate when they heard that the US was planning to launch a punitive attack against the regime over the gas attack in the Damascus suburb.
"It wasn't the government of Bashar al-Assad that used sarin gas or any other gas in Ghouta," Piccinin told Belgian RTL radio after he was released.
"We are sure about this because we overheard a conversation between rebels. It pains me to say it because I've been a fierce supporter of the Free Syrian Army in its rightful fight for democracy since 2012," Piccinin added.”

"Conscience", Syria and Palestine

Notice how the “war coalition” against Syria has been invoking “conscience”, which is nothing but a pretext to justify military action.

But let’s ask an innocent question: where has this “conscience” been as regards the 65-year old Palestinian tragedy?

Israel has persistently and systematically violated international law, including the UN Charter and the fourth Geneva Convention of 1949. Israel has used internationally banned weapons. It has breached almost every provision of International Humanitarian Law.

But Israel’s acts haven’t so far shocked the “world conscience”. And it continues to violate international law, with complete impunity.

Therefore, it’s a selective “conscience” - a “conscience” à la carte.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

What constitutes an armed attack? Is it legal to arm rebels?

International Court of Justice

Case concerning the Military and Paramilitary Activities in and against Nicaragua (Nicaragua v. United States of America) (Merits)
ICJ Judgment of 27 June 1986

195. “There appears now to be general agreement on the nature of the acts which can be treated as constituting armed attacks. In particular, it may be considered to be agreed that an armed attack must be understood as including not merely action by regular armed forces across an international border, but also “the sending by or on behalf of a State of armed bands, groups, irregulars or mercenaries, which carry out acts of armed force against another State of such gravity as to amount to” (inter alia) an actual armed attack conducted by regular forces, “or its substantial involvement therein…” The Court sees no reason to deny that, in customary law, the prohibition of armed attacks may apply to the sending by a State of armed bands to the territory of another State, if such an operation, because of its scale and effects, would have been classified as an armed attack rather than as a mere frontier incident had it been carried out by regular armed forces. But the Court does not believe that the concept of “armed attack” includes not only acts by armed bands where such acts occur on a significant scale but also assistance to rebels in the form of the provision of weapons or logistical or other support. Such assistance may be regarded as a threat or use of force, or amount to intervention in the internal or external affairs of other States.” 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Kenyan Parliament approves withdrawal from ICC

“Kenyan MPs have approved a motion to leave the International Criminal Court (ICC) following an emergency debate.
A bill to this effect is expected to be introduced in the next 30 days, after opposition MPs boycotted the vote.
The ICC has charged President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto with crimes against humanity, which they both deny. Mr Ruto's trial is due to start in The Hague next week.

The ICC said the cases would continue even if Kenya pulled out.”

Monday, September 2, 2013

"Striking Syria: Illegal, immoral, and dangerous"

“Because whatever Congress may decide, a US military strike against Syria will still be illegal, immoral and dangerous, even reckless in the region and around the world. Congress needs to say no.

NATO's Rasmussen on Syria

Rasmussen is "convinced that Syria was behind chemical weapons attack". No: he is just convinced that NATO should keep on attacking other countries.

US Administration and Syria

US Administration should realize that it's easier to abide by international law than to try to find "justifications" to violate it.