Showing posts from 2014

Sweden recognises Palestine and increases aid

"Sweden has today recognised the State of Palestine. The Government considers that the international law criteria for the recognition of Palestine have been satisfied.  Sweden hopes that its decision will facilitate a peace agreement by making the parties less unequal, supporting the moderate Palestinian forces and contributing to hope at a time when tensions are increasing and no peace talks are taking place.
"The purpose of Sweden's recognition is to contribute to a future in which Israel and Palestine can live side by side in peace and security. We want to contribute to creating more hope and belief in the future among young Palestinians and Israelis who might otherwise run the risk of believing that there is no alternative to the current situation," says Minister for Foreign Affairs Margot Wallström (Social Democratic Party).
The Government also adopted a five-year aid strategy including substantially increased support to Palestinian state-building. Bilateral a…

UK MPs vote to recognise Palestinian statehood

"MPs have backed the recognition of the state of Palestine alongside Israel in an historic symbolic vote in the House of Commons. The vote of 274 to 12, majority 262, saw MPs on all sides urge the Government to "recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel" as part of a "contribution to securing a negotiated two state solution"."

The US, Palestine and the International Criminal Court

It was reported lately that Netanyahu had approached US lawmakers to help Israeli political and military leaders evade war crimes charges, as Palestine is likely to accept the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.  
Can the US really help Israel?
Firstly, as far as Palestine is concerned, the fact that the US is a non-Party to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court should be viewed positively.  
The US is not a member of the Assembly of States Parties to the Rome Statute, which bars it from having “direct influence” over the Court. But this, of course, does not imply that the ICC Judges and Prosecutor do not function independently. This is merely to say that the US is completely outside the ICC. Furthermore, the US does not contribute to the budget of the Court, and therefore cannot “blackmail” it, or impose financial “sanctions” on it. 
In this respect, it is worthwhile reminding how the US sanctioned UNESCO when it admitted Palestine as a full member in 2011. T…

Palestine and Article 16 of the ICC Rome Statute

If Palestine eventually decides to turn to the International Criminal Court, there is no doubt that the United States would try to rely on Article 16 of the ICC Rome Statute to block the procedures.
The ICC may be prevented from exercising its jurisdiction when so directed by the Security Council, according to Article 16. This is called ‘deferral’. The aforementioned Article states that the Security Council may adopt a resolution - under Chapter VII of the UN Charter - requesting the Court to suspend investigation or prosecution for a twelve-month period. In this case, the Court may not proceed.   
Perhaps Palestine should go to Moscow and/or Beijing, before going to The Hague, to “guarantee” their vetoes - in case the US would try to shield Israeli political and military leaders from prosecution.

Israel must provide shelters to Palestinians

Israel, the Occupying Power, has an obligation to provide proper shelters to Palestinian civilians whom it orders to evacuate. However, it not only violates its obligation, but also pounds shelters provided by third parties.

Cutting off electricity and water supply for the Gaza Strip: Limits under international law

“Under international humanitarian law, Israel is obliged, in the current conditions of armed conflict, to maintain water supplies from Israel to the Gaza Strip at current level and of an electricity supply sufficient to meet the basic needs of the civilian population.”

Palestinian factions in Gaza use civilians as human shields?

Israeli officials claim that Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip use civilians as “human shields”.
Needless to remind, this conduct, regardless of who carries it out, constitutes a war crime, according Article 8(2)(b)(xxiii) of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court.
However, a number of reports from Gaza denied Israeli claims. But let’s presume that Israeli claims are not false. Does that mean Israel can still go ahead and bomb, despite civilians presence? Absolutely not. Israel cannot bomb areas where civilians are known to be present. That’s prohibited and further constitutes a war crime. Consequently, the response to Israeli claims lies in Article 8(2)(b)(iv) of the ICC Rome Statute - in addition to other principles of international humanitarian law.

French lawyer lodges a complaint with the ICC against Israel: Inadmissible

It was reported that a French lawyer lodged a complaint with the International Criminal Court against Israel. This is interesting yet inadmissible. As a matter of fact, there are different reasons why the ICC would decline to “examine the complaint”. However, let’s mention only three of them.  Firstly, unlike national courts, the ICC - unfortunately -  doesn’t receive complaints from individuals. Secondly, the lawyer was acting “on behalf of the Palestinian Minister of Justice”. So it was the Minister’s initiative, and not the Government’s. Thirdly, any acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction, or referral to the ICC, must be signed by the President, which - obviously - wasn’t the case.

"“Operation Protective Edge": Self-defence?

The ‘right to self-defence’ can only be invoked in the case of armed attack by one State against another. 
Needless to say, Israel continues to exercise effective control over the Palestinian Territory, including the Gaza Strip. 
Israel claims that it launched “Operation Protective Edge” in order to defend itself. However, the alleged “threat” originates from within, and not outside, the territory under Israeli full control. Accordingly, Israel cannot invoke the right to self-defence vis-à-vis the Gaza Strip, nor any part of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Richard Falk on the "network of Israeli prisons"

“We should not forget that there is a callous and manifest unlawfulness about this network of Israeli prisons, all but one of the 19 being located in Israel, in direct violation of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention governing belligerent occupation: “Protected persons accused of offenses shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve therein.”  Underlying such a provision of law is a humane impulse: compelling an individual to be imprisoned in the occupying country imposes a geographic separation from family and homeland, which in the Israeli case is accentuated by a permit system that as a practical matter makes family visits from occupied Palestine a virtual impossibility. With respect to prisoners from Gaza, there are virtually no prison visits allowed even if sentences are for several decades or lifetime. As is widely known, the people of Gaza have been subject to a punitive blockade maintained ever since mid-2007 that involves a massive impos…

Hillary Clinton and Israeli settlements

If pressing Israel to freeze settlement construction in 2009 was a “tactical mistake” -  according to Hillary Clinton - then the Israeli settlement policy itself is a “tactical war crime”.

Demolitions, and (silent) displacement of Palestinians

Recent demolitions and displacement
Over the past two years, 126 Palestinians have had their homes demolished and some have been forcibly transferred out of these dislocated communities as a result of demolitions: these include 51 people from the Al Khalayla Bedouin community, 63 from the Tel Al Addasa Bedouin community and 12 from Khirbet Khamis.6 Outstanding demolition orders against residential and livelihood structures continue to threaten other dislocated communities with displacement and/or the erosion of livelihood sources, including Khirbet Khamis, An Nabi Samwil village and its nearby Bedouin community, Al Khalayla and Ras Shihadeh Bedouins.

Silent displacement: the case of An Nabi Samwil
In other cases, difficult living conditions, the denial of residency permits by the Israeli authorities and the inability to build as a result of planning and building restrictions have forced families to move out to the remainder of the West Bank. For example, according to An Nabi Samwil vill…

International Court of Justice on occupied East Jerusalem

“73. In the 1967 armed conflict, Israeli forces occupied all the territories which had constituted Palestine under British Mandate (including those known as the West Bank, lying to the east of the Green Line). 74. On 22 November 1967, the Security Council unanimously adopted resolution 242 (1967), which emphasized the inadmissibility of acquisition of territory by war and called for the “Withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict”, and “Termination of all claims or states of belligerency”. 75. From 1967 onwards, Israel took a number of measures in these territories aimed at changing the status of the City of Jerusalem. The Security Council, after recalling on a number of occasions “the principle that acquisition of territory by military conquest is inadmissible”, condemned those measures and, by resolution 298 (1971) of…

The 47th Anniversary of An-Naksa

Chronology of events:
An-Naksa, the Debacle, also known as June 1967 War or the Six Day War. On the morning of Monday, June 5, 1967, Israeli military aircraft raided the Egyptian airfields, destroying the bulk of the Egyptian Air Force.
Ground attacks started immediately thereafter on the Jordanian and Syrian fronts, bound to Egypt with military common defense pacts. The Israeli Air Force ravaged the Sinai Peninsula with almost no fight - Egyptian units deprived of air cover. By Friday June 9, the Israeli Army stood on the East Bank of Suez Canal, captured the Golan Heights and the rest of the Palestinian territories (Jerusalem, West Bank, and Gaza Strip). 
Since the start of the occupation, Israeli policies and practices under various governments - in a striking challenge to international law and UN Security Council resolutions - have been characterized by:
- confiscation of land; - construction of settlements; - crushing Palestinian resistance movements - politically and militarily; - viol…

Pope Francis offers prayers at Israeli Separation Wall in Bethlehem

“It is an image that will define Pope Francis's first official visit to the Holy Land. Head bowed in prayer, the leader of the Catholic church pressed his palm against the graffiti-covered concrete of Israel's imposing "separation wall", a Palestinian girl holding a flag by his side. It was, as his aides conceded later, a silent statement against a symbol of division and conflict.”

The Palestinian Nakba: 66 years, and counting

66 years - day by day - have passed since Palestinians were forcibly evicted out of their homes towards unknown destinations. In no time, they found themselves living under temporary tents which became their permanent shelter for many many years ahead. They became to be known as Palestine refugees, to live in the most inhuman and miserable conditions.
Nakba, known also as the 1st Arab-Israeli War, stands for the  1948 catastrophe surrounding the establishment of the State of Israel, resulting in the dispersion of Palestinians worldwide.
The United Nations General Assembly Partition Plan of  1947 - UNGA Resolution 181 - caused the first Arab-Israeli war in 1948, in the wake of the exodus of British Mandate forces from Palestine on May 14, 1948. The Plan granted  the Jews in Palestine just over 56% of the area at a time when they owned less than 7% of the land and constituted approximately one-third of the population. By the end of the War, Israel controlled 77.4% of the land. Palestine w…

Palestine becomes a State Party to Geneva Conventions

As of 2 April 2014, the State of Palestine is a State Party to the four Geneva Conventions of 1949 and to the Additional Protocol I of 1977.
A notification by Switzerland.

It’s not a "unilateral action" to join human rights conventions; US should commend Palestine

The following are 9 of the 15 conventions on human rights Palestine has decided to accede to: International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities 2006International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination 1965United Nations Convention Against Torture, adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1984Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide1948Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid 1973

It is worthwhile mentioning that the US itself has not yet acceded to the following conventions: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights 1966 (signed, but not ratified)Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women 1979(signed, but no…

US is determined to isolate itself further: "Power: US opposes Palestinian moves to statehood"

“U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power told a House panel on Wednesday that the U.S. opposes all unilateral actions that the Palestinians take to statehood. She says there are no shortcuts to statehood, and that any unilateral actions could be "tremendously destructive" to the peace process.”

1) The US Permanent Representative to the UN probably thinks that she has a “good sense of humor”, but this is certainly not the case.
2) We know that the US opposes anything that is related to Palestine and the Palestinian people. No news.
3) Taking unilateral actions is actually Israel’s “specialty”. It is only Israel which has always taken unilateral actions. Israel unilaterally and illegally annexed Jerusalem in 1967. Israel unilaterally and illegally annexed the Syrian Golan Heights in 1981. Israel unilaterally and illegally continues to annex Palestinian lands and to create facts on the ground, including through the illegal settlement policy and Separation Wall. Israel unilater…

US self-inflicted isolation

When it comes to Palestine, the United States is isolated from the international community. Its approach, and full support for Israel, will only isolate it further.
This self-inflicted isolation is particularly reflected in the voting at the UN. As a matter of fact, US attitude towards Palestine at the UN can only be described as “hostile”.
The most recent vote the UN Human Rights Council was yet another example. Out of 47 members, 46 voted in favour of four resolutions on Palestine. The US decided to stand alone, to isolate itself – it voted against. But, voting against human rights of an occupied people necessarily means voting against human rights, and siding – all alone – with injustice.
Would one forget, for example, how the US opposed, all alone, Palestine’s full membership at the UN back in 2011? The US did so not because Palestine is “not” a peace-loving State, but because it chose to side with the oppressor - and it still does.

In 2012, an overwhelming majority of UNGA voted in f…

Palestinian unilateral actions?!

It was allegedly reported that Israel had offered to Palestinians, through the US, “to release 400 prisoners in exchange for agreeing to extend peace talks by several months and for Palestinians not taking unilateral steps at the United Nations during that period”.
Does it stand to reason? When have Palestinians ever taken “unilateral” steps or actions? Turning to the UN cannot in any way be considered a “unilateral” step or action. It is not illegal to turn to the UN. In fact, it is the right place for Palestinians to raise the injustices that they face on a daily basis, and to illustrate Israeli persistence in violating international law, including the UN Charter.
It is only Israel which has always taken unilateral actions. Israel unilaterally and illegally annexed Jerusalem in 1967. Israel unilaterally and illegally annexed the Syrian Golan Heights in 1981. Israel unilaterally and illegally continues to annex Palestinian lands and to create facts on the ground, including through the…

"How many racist laws in Israel?"

“The Discriminatory Laws Database, the first of its kind, is anonline resourcethat collects more than 60 Israeli laws enacted since 1948 that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel in all areas of life, including land and planning; education; budgets and access to state resources; prisoners and detainees; civil and political rights. Some of the laws also violate the rights of Palestinians living in the 1967 OPT and Palestinian refugees.”

No prisoners release: US and EU reactions

Israel withheld the release of the 4th batch of Palestinian prisoners, as scheduled.
US expected reaction: it will exert pressure on Palestinians - the weaker side - as usual.
Whereas EU’s expected reaction: it will call - as usual - on “both sides” to show self-restraint, or to refrain from taking actions that could undermine peace talks. This is the classical scenario - even when Israel announces new settlement plans.

US votes against human rights

Let’s make it clear: when the United States vetoes a draft UNSC resolution on Palestine, it vetoes the Charter of the United Nations.  
And when the US votes against a draft resolution - at UNGA or UNHRC - on human rights of Palestinians, it in fact votes against human rights altogether.
Only today, the UN Human Rights Council adopted four resolutions on Palestine; 46 members voted in favour and only one against. The US, in support of Israel, chose to vote against human rights.

When Israel runs away from the UN General Assembly

Regardless of one’s view of the situation in Ukraine/Crimea.
The UN General Assembly adopted a Resolution on the “territorial integrity of Ukraine”. Ironically, Israel chose not to show up at the vote. It neither voted ‘yes’ nor did it vote ‘no’, nor did it even abstain. Obviously, any action would have condemned it. 
Here is the voting record:

Here is the text of UNGA Resolution on Ukraine.

US “peace sponsor” role: Some observations

US role as a “peace sponsor” is striking, ill-balanced - to say the least.
The US exerted pressure over Arab leaders meeting in Kuwait not to issue a final communiqué at the end of the Summit – but a mere “declaration”.
Conversely, when Israel refused the peace initiative proposed by the Arab Summit of  Beirut in March 2002 it did not lift its eyebrows at Israel, to “pressure” it to accept the opening towards a global peace with the Arab countries. Sharon at that time reacted arrogantly that the Arab Summit initiative “was not worth the ink it was written with”.
US Secretary of State John Kerry cut short a visit to Rome to rush  to Amman for quick talks  with King Abdullah, in order to try to bring the parties closer together, and to keep the peace process on-going, at stake by  differences over the impending release by Israel of the last batch of pre-Oslo 1993 Palestinian detainees.
King Abdullah, regardless of the outcome, is not a basic component of the formula.
Kerry had asked Presiden…