| #ziocolony: From kidnapping to collapse: The beginning of the end?

From kidnapping to collapse: The beginning of the end? ~ Jeff Halper, +972.

In the end, the unsustainability of warehousing Palestinians will force the hand of the international community. The Israeli government, so strong it does not know when to stop, will lead us to that moment.

 

The kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli youths in the West Bank has unleashed a military operation marking the end of the Israeli occupation. The term “occupation” designates a temporary military situation resolvable only through negotiations. If that is were case, then it could be argued that Israel’s occupation over the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza (not to mention the Golan Heights) lasted only a decade, during the dithering rule of Labor.

From 1977, when the Begin/Sharon government announced that “Judea and Samaria” would be considered integral parts of the Land/State of Israel, when it formally annexed East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights and began its campaign of systematically eliminating any two-state solution through massive settlement building, “occupation” gave way to something else. In fact, Israel denied it even had an occupation – that “something else” in Israeli parlance was merely the “administration” of a “disputed” territory.

 

Israeli army soldiers take part in the search operation for three kidnapped Israeli teenagers, on June 17, 2014 in the West Bank town of Hebron. [File photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Hence the Fourth Geneva Convention did not apply, Israel had not violated any international laws forbidding Occupying Powers from unilaterally changing the status of Occupied Territories and the Palestinians, defined as Protected People for whose well-being Israel is accountable, were left unprotected. Indeed, after the death of Arafat in 2004, if not before, Israel ushered in yet another variation of occupation: joint Israeli-Palestinian occupation rooted in an American-trained Palestinian Authority militia acting as Israel’s policeman.

 

And so it is with the killing of the three that we are about to enter yet another new and terrible phase of post-occupation, warehousing, a step beyond apartheid. After their land has been expropriated and 96 percent of the Palestinians confined to dozens of tiny islands on less than 40 percent of the Occupied Territories – i.e., 40 percent of 22 percent of their homeland – after 30,000 of their homes have been demolished and an entire population exposed to impoverishment and, in Gaza, conditions bordering on starvation, after negotiations have ended permanently and settlements have reached their critical, irreversible mass, warehousing is about to begin. The good news is: as violent and oppressive as Israel’s campaign of warehousing is likely to be (though strong international pressure may avert the worst measures), it will lead in short order to the complete collapse of Israeli rule and, if we are ready with an inclusive alternative, will open the way to new possibilities of a just peace not available today.

The term “warehousing” comes out of the world of America’s prisons. The U.S. has 4.4 percent of the world’s population and 25 percent of its prisoners. They are inmates, wards of the state, whose status is fixed and who have, for all purposes, disappeared. No one cares what happens to them (prison reform will not get you elected to Congress), and their rights are respected only in the breach. And when they “riot” – for we use non-political language to describe the doings of these less-than people – the prison guards have every right and duty to suppress them. No negotiations. They are not a “side,” just subjects to be managed, to be “warehoused,” forever if they prove to be recalcitrant.

This expresses precisely the way Israel views the Palestinians. It has never recognized the existence of the Palestinian people or their national rights of self-determination, and even in the brightest days of Oslo only recognized the PLO as a negotiating partner. Israel has never officially declared its acceptance of a two-state solution, certainly not one requiring it to withdraw completely from to the Green Line. Not considering them a genuine and equal “side” with whom to negotiate, it has merely made “generous offers” which they could either take or leave. Indeed, since the days of Ehud Barak Israel has claimed that it has no “partner for peace,” meaning that its policy decisions are made unilaterally.

The two-state solution buried forever under the settlement blocs, Israel is mopping up: the prison cells of Areas A and B have been prepared, and now the prison authorities have to convey to the prisoners the reality and hopelessness of their situation. Submit and you will live; resist and you will die. That is precisely the message of Operation Brother’s Keeper, which was only waiting for a pretext provided by the kidnapping.

Read +972′s full coverage of the kidnappings and their aftermath

Yet the powerless have one effective instrument at their disposal. They can say “no.” The Palestinian Authority comes close to being an occupying power in its own right. Israel’s take-over of Ramallah during its latest “operation” was carried out with the active cooperation of Palestinian security forces, and Palestinians often speak of living under two occupations. Whether it resigns or merely collapses under the weight of its own lack of credibility, it is hard to see how the PA can survive both the humiliation and the formal role of collaborator forced upon it by Israel, which it will be if it stays in power with no meaningful political process.

Palestinian security forces in Bethlehem. (Photo by Oren Ziv/Activestills.org)

Here is where the collapse comes in – and the final resolution of the conflict. With no PA to perpetuate the fiction of “two sides” engaged in negotiations, Israel will unilaterally annex the main settlement blocs, half the West Bank, but will ultimately be forced to reoccupy the Palestinian cities and Gaza. (Avigdor Liberman, Israel’s foreign minister, has been urging the conquest of Gaza since the kidnappings took place.) Or vice versa, it doesn’t matter. What we will be left with, finally, is open-ended warehousing, the raw, naked imprisonment of an entire people. Israel thinks that’s a good thing. It believes it can imprison a people and get away with it. It can “win.” Such is its faith in the protection afforded by the American Congress and its usefulness as one of the world’s major purveyors of arms and security.

But here is where Israel misreads the political map. If left solely to governments, Israel could certainly prevail, for they merely manage conflicts rather than resolve them. But the Palestinian issue has assumed the proportions of the anti-apartheid struggle. And as in that struggle, the international civil society of political and activist groups, human rights organizations, trade unions, churches, students, intellectuals and an ever-more critical public opinion has grown in strength to the point where governments cannot ignore it. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not merely a spat between two local groups; it has become a global conflict that disrupts and destabilizes the entire international system, the inflammable Middle East in particular. In the end, the unsustainability of warehousing Palestinians will force the hand of the international community.

When that happens in the not-too-distant future, possibilities for a truly just resolution of the conflict will emerge offering alternatives not available today – the possibility of a single democratic, bi-national state being at the fore. The Israeli government, so strong it does not know when to stop, will lead us to that moment. It will not be a partner in achieving a just peace, however. It will be up to us ultimately, the people, to formulate what a just resolution would be, and push it to fruition. The moment is coming. The question is, will we be ready to seize it?

Jeff Halper is the Director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. He can be reached at jeff@icahd.org.

Related:
Analysis: The end of the ‘cheap occupation’ era
Our problem with selective sympathy for young victims
When the canons roar, the Israeli Left remains silent

ATM1 EarthSpeaks PalSol5

| Gaza Appeal: Farmers + fisherfolk need food sovereignty + end to Israeli attacks!

Gazan farmers and fisherfolk call for food sovereignty and an end to Israeli attacks ~ Corporate Watch.

On 20th November 2013 hundreds of farmers and fisherfolk gathered outside the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East (UNSCO) in Gaza City to demand that the international community take action to prevent the Israeli military’s attacks against them and to end the occupation.

Palestinians demonstrate outside UNSCO - 20/11/13

Palestinians demonstrate outside UNSCO – 20/11/13

One fisherman told Corporate Watch, “We are only looking for our daily food and a livelihood. We want to ask the UN to pressure the Israeli occupation not to attack us, we are just trying to earn a living for our families”.

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Saad El-Deen Ziada, Farmers and Fishermen Coordinator for the Union of Agricultural Work Committees said “This demonstration was the start of a Palestinian and international campaign to gain access to our lands and control our water. To achieve what we call food sovereignty.

We want to send a message to the international community and the General Secretary of the United Nations that it is time to stop the Israeli attacks against Palestinian farmers and to activate human rights law. International human rights law gives us the chance to sanction the occupation government and to support Palestinians to stay on their land. The international community must deal with the situation as a political issue and not a humanitarian one. First of all we need to end the Israeli occupation. We condemn the international community’s silence at the crimes we are subjected to.”

Several of the speakers at the demonstration also emphasised the importance of the international campaign for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli apartheid.

A delegation from the demonstration delivered a letter to a representative of Ban Ki Moon articulating the protesters demands.

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Palestinians and internationals deliver a message to the international community - 20/11/13

Palestinians and internationals deliver a message to the international community – 20/11/13

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| Michael Mansfield QC denounces Egypt coup for Rule of Law!

Michael Mansfield explains to MEMO why it is important to prosecute the perpetrators of the Egyptian coup ~ Dr Sarah Marusek, MEMO.

“The Middle East is a crucible for what is going on” in the world.

Afghanistan, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Palestine. These are among some of the territories that hegemonic world powers have been trying to construct as spaces of exception, where international law does not apply and crimes against humanity take place with impunity.

Since last summer, Egypt has now joined this list. However, as is the case in all of these territories, the effort to deny people their basic rights is being met with strong resistance in Egypt.

On Saturday, a group of international lawyers convened a press conference to present the initial findings of their investigation into the Egyptian military regime’s crimes against humanity since the coup d’état on 3 July that ousted Egypt’s first democratically elected president and parliament.

The high profile legal team has been appointed by Egypt’s Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) as well as other members of the country’s deposed parliament. Led by Tayab Ali, a solicitor and partner of the human rights law firm ITN Solicitor, the team comprises some of the world’s most distinguished legal minds, including: the former Director of Public Prosecutions, Lord Ken Macdonald QC; South African International Lawyer and former UN Human Rights Special Rapporteur, Professor John Dugard SC; and renowned human rights barrister, Michael Mansfield QC.

At the conference Ali and Mansfied joined Dr Abdul Mawgoud Dardery, a member of Egypt’s suspended parliament, and Professor Richard Falk, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Palestine, to discuss the preliminary findings of their report and to call upon the international community to name these crimes and actively oppose them.

Indeed, the speakers repeatedly stressed that we all share this historical burden and that our collective future, including the rights that we all cherish, depends on the outcome in Egypt.

Ever since the tragedy of 11 September 2001, Western eyes, and especially those of Americans, have been focused on the Middle East to try to understand why the attacks happened. However, as American scholar Derek Gregory points out in his book The Colonial Present, by searching for the answer “over there” rather than “over here”, the US and its European allies have created spaces of exception, where following the logic of the colonialist and Orientalist projects, the lives “over there” are imagined to be governed by a different set of ethical and legal principles than “over here”. This post-colonial gesture note only reproduces difference, but also undoes the rights-based achievements of the post-colonial era. Gregory suggests that “it is this asymmetry—accepting the privilege of contemplating ‘the other’ without acknowledging the gaze in return… that marks this as a colonial gesture of extraordinary contemporary resonance.”

More recently, Western eyes have watched the unfolding of the Arab uprisings, inspired by ordinary people mobilising in the streets to bravely demand an end to decades of dictatorship in order to make way for the rule of law and democracy. But while the revolutionary uprisings captured the Western imagination, even this was not enough to disrupt that colonial gaze and collapse the constructed difference that Gregory speaks of, as the West has been largely silent ever since Egypt’s democracy was crushed and the Egyptian people were terrorised by a military coup.

Those fighting to restore their democracy in Egypt are now demanding that the time has come for the international community to finally acknowledge their gaze. Oppressed by a military regime that is armed and supported by Western countries, Egyptians are now calling upon the international community to actively support their democratic struggle and to help them hold the military coup regime accountable for its crimes against humanity.

Before the press conference convened, Mansfield, who has worked on numerous international civil rights struggles for more than four decades, and who recently sat as a juror for the Russell Tribunal for Palestine, spoke at length with MEMO about this effort.

Outraged by our collective silence, Mansfield pointedly asked why “nobody’s making the point that President Mohamed Morsi is actually making himself,” which is that “he’s been deposed by a military coup.” He also stressed that the case against the perpetrators of the Egyptian coup is important because “the Middle East is a crucible for what is going on” in the world.

Mansfield explained to MEMO that using international jurisdiction to seek justice in Egypt is not without precedent. He cited other cases that “demonstrate the need to enforce international law” elaborating that, “One that I quite like using is one that the Israelis did. The Israelis, you may remember, in 1961 retrieved Adolf Eichmann, a war criminal, from South America and took him back to Jerusalem for trial on the basis that nobody else was going to do it.”

Since Eichmann had committed war crimes for which he would not have faced justice otherwise, Israel was indeed entitled to try him. Of course, many, including the Jewish scholar Hannah Arendt, critiqued Israel for trying Eichmann in the name of Jewish suffering rather than in the name of all. As critical theorist Judith Butler has observed “the destruction and displacement of whole populations was an attack not only on those specific groups, but on humanity itself.”

During Saturday’s press conference, Professor Falk also remarked that as citizens of conscience in the modern era, “it’s not just a matter of deferring to governments and states as the implementers of the rule of law. If we really believe in the premises of democratic society, we all have that right and obligation” to speak out against those who commit crimes against humanity, “because this is not a territorial crime; it’s a crime against people. And in a certain, very fundamental sense, we are all humans before we are nationals of any state, or we belong to any religion or ethnicity. Our humanity calls for a response to outrages of this dimension, this scale.”

Of course, Mansfield agrees on the ethical imperative here, but he also adds a practical layer by insisting that, “we all have an interest, a vested interest, in ensuring self-determination for the peoples in the Middle East, including Palestine and Egypt.”

Anybody who doubts this self-interest needs look no further than his or her own shores. In the UK, Mansfield pointed to the police’s efforts to spy on students at Cambridge University, as recently uncovered by the Guardian. In the US, there is the continued expansion of the Patriot Act, as well as the mass surveillance of Muslim Americans, which journalist Trevor Aaronson claims has resulted in the FBI’s manufacture of terrorists simply to justify the infringement of civil liberties.

And while Dr Dardery poignantly stated that, “Egypt is at the crossroads,” he too added that, “What is happening in Egypt now has serious ramifications on the future [of us all]. What type of future do we want? Do we want a future of war of all against all? Or do we want a future of democracy, rule of law and human rights?”

I asked Mansfield how his own past experiences shape the way that he sees the struggle for justice and democracy in Egypt, and he replied that, “I’ve recognised that fighting in court, the struggle inside the court to get justice, is only part of a bigger picture. You’re not going to get justice inside the courts unless you’ve created a climate outside the court, even a culture possibly, in which people recognise the rule of law, recognise the need for conventions on human rights, don’t disregard them, and further recognise that it makes a difference in individual, particular lives on the street. And once they realise that these rights are not ethereal, that they are not abstract, and that they are actually important for rights of assembly, speech and association and all that,” people will stop taking their activities for granted and recognise that their freedoms “have only survived because somebody has been bothered to clothe them, if you like, in the rights culture.”

He further explained: “The over-arching problem here is that, unless there is respect for the rule of law by nation-states who are otherwise acting like terrorists, and I include Israel in this, but obviously Egypt is the same; if, in fact, they are just going to stick their fingers up to all of this, and say we don’t care, carry on, it provides an example to others. Whatever their rationale is, they will be saying to themselves, so what? You know, if states do the same, then why can’t we do that? And so it sets a terrible example and it means that all the hard work that has been put in by lawyers and politicians over centuries to construct a civilised basis for conduct, it’s just undermined in one fell swoop. You just take over, because might is right.”

Mansfield and the others are all making an important point that in today’s world, our rights are always contingent upon others’ rights. While the current framework to ensure our rights may be imperfect, it remains a framework that we have struggled to create, and continually struggle to reform, for strong ethical reasons. And however imperfect, this framework must uphold the rule of law without discrimination or else the whole effort becomes meaningless.

According to Mansfield, “The problem that everybody’s got, is that the key decisions are taken by the UN Security Council, which is dominated by five permanent members, all of whom have the power of veto. And the US, in particular, vetoes regularly, certainly everything to do with Israel, but in all sorts of other spheres, if it thinks it is inimical to their national interest, whatever they are. And I definitely think that the veto has got to go and that the Security Council must be changed.” However Mansfield also stressed that, “On the other hand, bringing pressure to bear shouldn’t stop. So, for example, like when individual governments, such as the UK, approach the Security Council.”

And this is not the only way to act. Mansfield elaborated that, “I think every effort to isolate the Egyptian illegal government and bring pressure to bear to terminate the proceedings against President Morsi at the moment would be useful. So you start with politicians in the Senate and politicians in the UK parliament, and so on. But there has to be, you know, a form of solidarity between all these people who are willing to do it. There has to be.”

There are other cases that inform the international legal effort to seek justice in Egypt, for example the trial in Spain against former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet, as well as a UK court’s recent effort to arrest Israeli politician Tzipi Livni in relation to her role in the war crimes committed during the 2008-2009 invasion of Gaza. But while each case is different both legally and politically, Mansfield pointed out that all of these cases are sending out the same message “to people who are potential war criminals, or who are committing crimes against humanity, that you can run, but there is nowhere for you to hide. There is no safe haven, or there shouldn’t be a safe haven, for you.”

As Dr Dardery also warned the coup leaders in Egypt, “We as Egyptian people, we are determined to say clearly and widely, never again. Never again we will allow those who killed us to get away with it.”

While it is imperative that the Egyptian people always remain in control of their own destinies, what the international legal effort to seek justice in Egypt makes very clear is this: whether or not any safe haven exists for those who perpetrate crimes against humanity, including the war criminals in Egypt, depends not only on the will of the Egyptian people, our international bodies and our respective nations, but also on each and every one of us.

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| U-Turn: Israel PM halts plans to build settler homes!

Israel PM halts plans to build settler homes ~ Al Jazeera.

Israeli PM says plans caused ‘unnecessary conflict’ with international community and potentially hindered Iran talks.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has ordered a reassessment of plans to build nearly 24,000 settler homes, saying he feared an international outcry that would divert attention from Israel’s lobbying against a nuclear deal with Iran.

The right-wing Israeli leader announced the reversal on Tuesday in the face of stiff US opposition to settlement expansion in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, and Palestinian anger that threatens three-month-old peace talks brokered by Washington.

Before news of Netanyahu’s change of course, President Mahmoud Abbas ordered the Palestinian leadership to hold “an urgent emergency meeting in the coming hours, with all options on the table,” the Palestinian Maan news agency reported.

Peace Now, which monitors settlement activity on occupied land Palestinians seek for a state, said the Housing Ministry had issued tenders late last month for drawing up construction plans, but that no building work was imminent.

Publication of the tenders had gone unnoticed in the media until Israel’s left-leaning Haaretz newspaper and Peace Now reported on the potential projects earlier on Tuesday.

Netanyahu, a strong advocate of settlement building, appeared to have been caught unawares by the proposals, which were disclosed only days after US Secretary of State John Kerry visited Israel and the West Bank in a bid to salvage peace negotiations that have shown little sign of progress.

‘Bad deal’

Before leaving Israel, amid Netanyahu saying that “a very bad deal” was in the making between world powers and Iran over its nuclear programme, Kerry urged the Jewish state to limit settlement activity.

In a slap down of a key partner in his governing coalition, Netanyahu reprimanded Housing Minister Uri Ariel of the pro-settler Jewish Home party for publishing the tenders “without prior coordination.”

A statement issued by Netanyahu’s office said he ordered Ariel to reassess all of the proposed projects.

Publication of the tenders “created a needless confrontation with the international community just when we are making an effort to persuade (it) to reach a better agreement with Iran,” the statement said.

“World attention must not be diverted from the primary goal – preventing Iran from achieving an agreement that would enable it to continue its nuclear military programme,” Netanyahu’s statement said.

Israel, widely believed to be the Middle East’s only atomic power, has been pushing for total dismantling of Iran’s nuclear-enrichment capabilities and cautioning against any premature easing of economic sanctions.

Source:
Associated Press
 

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| Quisling: Appeasement dooms Palestinians to misery!

Appeasement dooms Palestinians to misery ~Stuart Littlewood, Redress Information & Analysis.

UN’s precious gift empowering legal action is squandered while Israel, with US/UK/EU acquiescence, continues to seize land and resources with impunity.

PALESTINE, UN observer state

PALESTINE, UN observer state

Later this month Palestinians will be celebrating an important anniversary, namely the decision by the UN General Assembly a year ago to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state.

But not with much joy, I suspect.

Its upgraded status enables Palestine to now take part in UN debates and join bodies like the International Criminal Court (ICC). Predictably, Israel flew into a rage at the prospect and said the move pushed the peace process “backwards”, while the US said it was “unfortunate”.

So what has the Palestinian leadership done with this precious gift of empowerment from the international community?

Nothing.

RUSSELL TRIBUNAL ON PALESTINE - MARCH, 2013

RUSSELL TRIBUNAL ON PALESTINE – MARCH, 2013

In March this year the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, concluding four years of investigations, called for the ICC to investigate “crimes” committed by Israel in the occupied territories. The Tribunal said it would “support all initiatives from civil society and international organisations aimed at bringing Israel in front of the International Criminal Court”. Since Palestine was awarded observer status at the UN the previous November, it could file complaints on its own behalf against Israel with the Court.

The tribunal also called on the ICC to recognize Palestinian jurisdiction and for an extraordinary session of the United Nations Special Committee against Apartheid, set up for South Africa, to examine the Israeli case.

The International Criminal Court

The International Criminal Court

Also in March the United Nations Human Rights Council said Israeli settlements in the West Bank were  a “creeping form of annexation” and the international community should take steps to halt business ties with those communities.  Their report claimed that Israel could be culpable for these acts before the International Criminal Court. The mission asked Israel to withdraw its settlers from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and urged the international community to comply with their obligation under international law to act.

In April senior Palestinian officials were saying that if Israel began construction in the area designated “E-1″ , a piece of land in the West Bank adjacent to Jerusalem seized by Israel in 1967, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas would join the ICC and seek indictments on war crimes charges. It is believed that Israel’s administration had just given provisional permission to build some 3,300 Jewish homes on E-1.

Palestinians say that Israeli construction there would make an independent Palestinian state virtually impossible because it would cut off East Jerusalem (which is Palestinian) from the rest of the West Bank.

But why is Abbas waiting for the bulldozers to go into E-1 when there’s a long list of other examples of criminal settlement building and atrocities that Israel ought to be charged with?

Palestinians say the Israelis' attempt to paint them as consenting in any way to settlement expansion are fallacious.

Palestinians say the Israelis’ attempt to paint them as consenting in any way to settlement expansion are fallacious.

In June Dr. Saeb Erekat, Palestine’s chief negotiator, was criticizing the policies being pushed by Israeli PM Netanyahu “including aggressive settlement activity, home demolitions, evictions and ID revocations. This is part of Israel’s plan to destroy any possibility for a Palestinian State, by annexing and changing the status quo of Jerusalem, the Jordan Valley and other vast areas of the Occupied State of Palestine”.

The Israeli government, with its destructive policies, was determined to make US Secretary Kerry’s efforts fail, he said. Israel’s actions made it clear they were declaring the end of the two-state solution. The international community should be pushing Israel to implement previous agreements and adhere to international law instead of calling for a resumption of negotiations. 

“There is a new urgency to face reality and finally hold Israel accountable for destroying the prospects of justice and peace.”

Israel was turning up its aggression against the Palestinian people while we were trying to reach a negotiated solution, grumbled Erekat. “After the announcement to intensify negotiations made by US Secretary John Kerry, Israel destroyed the village of Khirbet Makhoul for the fourth time and approved further settlement expansion aimed at sealing Occupied East Jerusalem from Ramallah.”

Palestinian leadership shows no sign of starting the justice ball rolling

Israeli settlements in Palestine are illegal…  and undermine the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution. If Israel is serious about peace, they must cease all settlement activities.” Erekat again demanded action by the rest of the world “to make Israel pay the price for its institutionalized defiance of international law and UN resolutions”.

But there was still no sign of his own people – the Palestinian Authority and the PLO – taking action on their own account, or at least starting the ball rolling, even though the international community had given them the wherewithall to do so.

Now I hear that Israel is drilling into 3.5 billion barrels of oil reserves straddling the armistice  ‘green line’, most of it lying under the West Bank. According to official agreements, says Al-Jazeera, “Israel is obligated to coordinate any exploration for natural resources in shared territory with the Palestinian Authority, and reach agreements on how to divide the benefits.”

Ashraf Khatib, an official at the Palestinian Authority’s negotiations support unit, described the oil field as part of Israel’s “general theft of Palestinian national resources…  the occupation is not just about settlements and land confiscation. Israel is also massively profiting from exploiting our resources. There’s lots of money in it for Israel, which is why the occupation has become so prolonged.”

And, of course, the world knows how the Palestinians are prevented from benefiting from their offshore gas field and how, if Israel has its way, they’ll never get a sniff of their own gas either.

‘Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle’

Since the beginning of the Oslo process over 20 years ago, the rights of the Palestinian people have been sacrificed on the altar of so-called political progress, the glittering prize being ‘peace and security’. But that was never really on the cards. All we’ve seen is a continuous slide downhill for the Palestinians while the Israelis’ colonisation and expansion programme goes from strength to strength. “In the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, the expansion of settlements continues relentlessly, while the illegal Annexation Wall creates a situation that is completely at odds with both international law and the stated goals of the peace process,” says Shawan Jabarin in an excellent article Time for the ICC to act on Palestine http://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2013/10/time-icc-act-palestine-20131015113944266410.html

“Life in Palestine is subject to the rule of the jungle: generals and politicians know that they can violate the law with impunity, fuelling a continuous cycle of violations and suffering. The result has been an increase in war crimes committed against innocent civilians. Throughout Palestine we are struggling for the right to live, and the right to live in dignity.”

Palestine children Obama hope

Talking of the right to live in dignity, only today I was reading how some of the Palestinian villages are used by Israel for military training exercises in which soldiers enjoy virtual impunity with regard to their cruel behavior in the Occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, the pretext being that the Israeli military is the sovereign authority over the whole territory. “This edict contradicts international law and numerous United Nations resolutions that question the Israeli claim to sovereignty over all Palestinian land,” reports IMEMChttp://www.imemc.org/article/66358.

The Israeli military frequently invades Palestinian towns and villages, with soldiers running through streets and alleys with loaded automatic weapons, ransacking homes and terrorizing residents, for the purposes of ‘training’. Residents and the human rights groups representing them have provided numerous examples of the soldiers tearing through homes and yards, breaking into houses, running up and down stairs and taking over rooftops of family homes as part of these exercises.

It’s bad enough that villages experience actual Israeli military invasions on a regular basis. Now, since the military makes no attempt to differentiate between an invasion and a ‘training exercise’, the villagers are just as terrorized as they are during real raids.

Wasting that all-important empowerment on a dumb promise

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda. Photo by Max Koot Studio

ICC Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Photo by Max Koot Studio

International justice remains out of reach for millions of civilians because the corrupt US, UK and EU political establishments conspire to ‘persuade’ Palestine not to join the ICC or press war crimes charges and other complaints against racist Israel.

The Office of the Prosecutor at the ICC, meanwhile, is waiting for Palestine to ratify the Statute of the International Criminal Court and become a full member if it wishes to commence proceedings.

To pretend there is something wrong with pursuing a brutal oppressor for war crimes through the proper channels – that is, the ICC – while talking peace, is absurd. No peace is sustainable unless it’s underpinned by international law and justice.

So a week ago I sent a ‘press enquiry’ to the Palestinian Embassy in London, addressed to Ambassador Hassassian. It said:

“What is the PA/PLO doing, please, to regularise its position regarding the ICC statute and satisfy any remaining requirements for exercising its membership rights and bringing charges against Israel for its crimes?

“What still remains to be done and why the continuing delay after the international community cleared the way and unpgraded Palestine’s status?”

No reply, no acknowledgement, despite follow-up phone messages. Silence speaks volumes and is par for the course when dealing with Palestinian officials.

However, I’ve heard it said that Abbas promised Kerry not to seek justice through the ICC during the nine months or more the going-nowhere peace talks will be… well, going nowhere. That takes us by my reckoning to May next year, or beyond. And he gave the undertaking without wringing from the Israelis a corresponding promise to halt settlement planning, construction and enlargement.

Welcome to the Palestinian School of Appeasement.

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