israel and palestine

0

Perhaps the US does still have a role to play as a peace-broker in the Israel/Palestine stand-off?  Certainly a visit by Obama to the West Bank would be a healthy start!

Certainly this will be a boost for Mahmoud Abbas. Lately all the kudos has gone to his counterpart in Gaza, with visits from dignitaries around the Muslim world. Even so, the visit could further entrench the divide between the two Palestinian factions, with Hamas being seen as representing the Muslim world while Fatah remains a puppet of Western interests.

It will all depend on how Obama manages the situation. Personally, I hold out little hope. Israel and the US have been blocking the path to a negotiated peace settlement for many years now. Is this really likely to change overnight?

Father Dave

Obama in Cairo - June 2009

Obama in Cairo – June 2009

Source: news.yahoo.com……

Obama to make first visit to Israel ‘in the spring’

President Barack Obama will visit Israel “in the spring” for the first time since taking office in January 2009, the White House said on Tuesday. Israeli media reports said the trip was set for March 20. Possible military action against Iran and the crisis in Syria seem sure to top the agenda.

Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the possibility of a visit during a Jan. 28 telephone call, White House press secretary Jay Carney told reporters. Carney said Obama would also visit Palestinian leaders in the West Bank and make a stop in Jordan, and that dates would be released later.

Obama visited Israel in July 2008, when he was running for office, but he has not been back since. Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign—and Republicans in general—have sought to use that as a political weapon, suggesting it shows he’s willing to shortchange the staunchest U.S. ally in the region. But both of George W. Bush’s visits to Israel came in 2008, when his second term was nearly up, and Republican icon Ronald Reagan never went.

The visit will come as Obama and other world leaders, notably Netanyahu, have warned that time is running short for a diplomatic end to the tense standoff with Iran over that country’s suspect nuclear program.

“When the president spoke with Prime Minister Netanyahu on January 28, they discussed a visit by the president to Israel in the spring,” Carney said. “The start of the president’s second term and the formation of a new Israeli government offer the opportunity to reaffirm the deep and enduring bonds between the United States and Israel and to discuss the way forward on a broad range of issues of mutual concern, including Iran and Syria.”

0

My friend Miko Peled is making waves across the US and into Canada now!

Apparently the YouTubed video of a speech he gave at a church in Seattle last year is approaching a quarter of a million hits!

Miko is a great man and a truly selfless champion of the oppressed. We were privileged to have him address our church community here in late 2011 and I’m hoping to see him back in Sydney again soon. You can see my interview with him here.

I’ve reprinted below a review of his current tour of Canada. It seems that he is being well received.No doubt his statement that “the IDF was one of the best trained, best financed terror organizations in the world” would have ruffled a few feathers, but it has made him plenty of friends too! I pray that he will remain safe.

Father Dave

source: www.rabble.ca/news/2013/02/generals-son-miko-peled-delivers-hopeful-message-israelpalestine…

Miko Peled and Father Dave in September 2011

Miko Peled and me in September 2011

The General’s Son: Miko Peled delivers a hopeful message on Israel/Palestine

Change the conversation, support rabble.ca today.

The Youtube video of Miko Peled’s book launch talk in Seattle last year has now had over 200,000 hits. So what’s all the fuss about?

Peled is no ordinary critic of current Israeli policies. He is a member of one of Israel’s elite Zionist families. His father was a famous general in the 1967 war and his grandfather was one of the signatories of the Israeli Declaration of Independence. Peled now lives in San Diego, California, but he is a frequent visitor to Israel and the West Bank.

His book, The General’s Son, has a very simple message: there should be equality between Israeli Jews and Palestinians and they should live together as citizens in one state between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, an area two-thirds the size of Vancouver Island. There should be no privilege for Jews, or a separation between Jews and Palestinians in this new state.

Miko Peled did not always have this view.

After 1967, his father Matti, the General, began questioning Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and was eventually elected to the Israeli parliament as a member of the Progressive List for Peace. Even though he agreed with his father that the occupation was wrong, Miko Peled felt that, as a committed Zionist, he should enlist in the army. So in 1980 he joined the elite Red Beret unit. He was discharged from Israeli military service in December 1983.

He then left to see the world, ending up in San Diego, where he opened a karate studio far away from Israel politics.

This all changed in the fall of 1997 when his niece Smadar was killed by a Palestinian suicide bomber. Peled went back to Israel and listened as his sister Nurit, Smadar’s mother, blamed the death of both her daughter and the Palestinian suicide bomber who had killed her on the brutal Israeli occupation. Her argument reached him.

When he went back to San Diego, he joined a Jewish/Palestinian discussion group. Suspicious at first, he eventually made close friendships with Palestinians and helped create a Rotary Club charity to send wheelchairs to Israel and Palestine. It was here that he learned what his grandfather’s and his father’s military project, in addition to his own service as a Red Beret, looked like from the receiving end. Gradually he began to understand the myths that justified the oppression of Palestinians in Israel/Palestine and the privileges accorded to Israeli Jews.

Miko Peled’s journey has led him to become an activist both in the Occupied Palestinian territories, where he has built relations with the non-violent Palestinian resistance movement and in the U.S., where he is a popular speaker.

Recently he told demonstrators who were protesting an Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) fund raising event in Los Angeles that “he had been a member of the IDF and was of the view that the IDF was one of the best trained, best financed terror organizations in the world.”

Needless to say this is not a view held by many people in the Israeli elite. It is a courageous view based on his personal experience and his relations with Palestinian friends.

To find out Miko’s tour dates: www.rabble.ca/news/2013/02/generals-son-miko-peled-delivers-hopeful-message-israelpalestine…

0

The following press release appeared in WAFA (The Palestinian News and Info Agency) today.

It is tragic that incidents like this happen without arousing international ire.

Presumably these ‘lawmakers’ are being detained without being charged. Such intimidating practices are hardly fitting for a state that calls itself democratic.  Arresting those who construct laws is like burning books. It is a rejection of civilisation.

Father Dave

Soldiers and Border Police v.s. Children

Soldiers and Border Police v.s. Children (photo: Palestinian Solidarity Project)

PLO Condemns Israeli Arrest of Lawmakers

RAMALLAH, February 4, 2013 (WAFA) – The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) condemned Monday in a statement Israeli arrest of West Bank lawmakers.

Israeli soldiers arrested early Monday three lawmakers from the Change and Reform Bloc in a wide arrest campaign that included more than 20 people. A total of 16 lawmakers are currently held in Israeli jails, mostly held in the illegal administrative detention policy.

PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi, herself a lawmaker, accused the Israeli government of breaching international law by arresting lawmakers.

“Israel is deliberately breaching international law and conventions relating to the immunity of democratically elected Palestinian officials,” she said.

Ashrawi accused Israel of attempting to undermine Palestinian reconciliation efforts with its incursions and arrests in the West Bank.

“It is apparent the Israeli government is implementing a policy of intimidation and power politics to meddle in Palestinian domestic affairs and to undermine reconciliation efforts,” she added.

“With such arbitrary arrests, Israel has violated international law and the most basic norms of human rights. Israel is not above the law,” she said.

“Therefore, we call on all parliaments – Arab, European and international – to hold Israel accountable and to ensure the release of Palestinian lawmakers. It is high time the international community put an end to Israel’s impunity and its illegal occupation of Palestine and the Palestinian people,” concluded Ashrawi.

0

The following article by George Bisharat appeared in the New York Times.

Bisharat makes a case for Palestine taking Israel to the ICC. My feeling is that it is unlikely to do any good. Even if the ICC finds Israel to be guilty of various war crimes what will be the result? Israel will dismiss the findings of the courts as misguided and uninformed. The US will concur and sideline the ICC as an irreparably biased organization. Israel is already isolated from the rest of the world, and so nothing will change.

Mind you, if ‘lawfare’ it the only alternative to violence then let’s hope that Palestine pursues its legal options. The lesson from the latest Gaza invasion seems to be that violence is the only language that the Occupier understands. Let us pray that the alternatives to violence start to look viable again.

Father Dave

source: www.thedailystar.net…

Why Palestine should take Israel to court in the Hague

Last week, the Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riad Malki, declared that if Israel persisted in its plans to build settlements in the currently vacant area known as E-1, which lies between Palestinian East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, “we will be going to the I.C.C.,” referring to the International Criminal Court. “We have no choice,” he added.

The Palestinians’ first attempt to join the I.C.C. was thwarted last April when the court’s chief prosecutor at the time, Luis Moreno-Ocampo, declined the request on the grounds that Palestine was not a state. That ambiguity has since diminished with the United Nations’ conferral of non-member state status on Palestine in November. Israel’s frantic opposition to the elevation of Palestine’s status at the United Nations was motivated precisely by the fear that it would soon lead to I.C.C. jurisdiction over Palestinian claims of war crimes.

Israeli leaders are unnerved for good reason. The I.C.C. could prosecute major international crimes committed on Palestinian soil anytime after the court’s founding on July 1, 2002.

Since the outbreak of the second Palestinian intifada in 2000, the Israel Defense Forces, guided by its military lawyers, have attempted to remake the laws of war by consciously violating them and then creating new legal concepts to provide juridical cover for their misdeeds.

For example, in 2002, an Israeli F-16 dropped a one-ton bomb on an apartment building in a densely populated Gaza neighbourhood, killing a Hamas military leader, Salah Shehadeh, and 14 others, including his wife and seven children under the age of 15. In 2009, Israeli artillery killed more than 20 members of the Samouni family, who had sought shelter in a structure in the Zeitoun district of Gaza City at the bidding of Israeli soldiers.

Last year, Israeli missiles killed two Palestinian cameramen working for Al Aksa television. Each of these acts, and many more, could lead to I.C.C. investigations.

The former head of the Israeli military’s international law division, Daniel Reisner, asserted in 2009: “International law progresses through violations. We invented the targeted assassination thesis and we had to push it. At first there were protrusions that made it hard to insert easily into the legal moulds. Eight years later it is in the centre of the bounds of legitimacy.”

Reisner is right that customary international law is formed by the actual practice of states that other states accept as lawful. But targeted assassinations are not widely accepted as legal. Nor are Israel’s other attempted legal innovations.

Israel has categorised military clashes with the Palestinians as “armed conflict short of war,” instead of the police actions of an occupying state — thus freeing the Israeli military to use F-16 fighter jets and other powerful weaponry against barely defended Palestinian populations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

It has designated individuals who fail to leave a targeted area after a warning as “voluntary human shields” who are therefore subject to lawful attack, despite the fact that warnings may not be effective and escape routes not clear to the victims.

And it has treated civilian employees of Hamas — including police officers, judges, clerks, journalists and others — as combatants because they allegedly support a “terrorist infrastructure.” Never mind that contemporary international law deems civilians “combatants” only when they actually take up arms.

All of these practices could expose Israeli political and military officials to prosecutions for war crimes. To be clear, the prosecutions would be for particular acts, not for general practices, but statements by Israeli officials explaining their policies could well provide evidence that the acts were intentional and not mere accidents of war.

No doubt, Israel is most worried about the possibility of criminal prosecutions for its settlements policy. Israeli bluster notwithstanding, there is no doubt that Jewish settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, are illegal. Israeli officials have known this since 1967, when Theodor Meron, then legal counsel to the Israeli foreign ministry and later president of the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia, wrote to one of Prime Minister Levi Eshkol’s aides: “My conclusion is that civilian settlement in the administered territories contravenes the explicit provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention.”

Under the founding statute of the I.C.C., grave violations of the Geneva Conventions, including civilian settlements in occupied territories, are considered war crimes.

The next step for the Palestinians is to renew a certificate of accession to the I.C.C. with the United Nations secretary general. Assuming that I.C.C. jurisdiction is accepted, investigations of alleged Israeli war crimes would still not begin automatically, because the I.C.C. must next find that Israel’s own courts are failing to adequately review those charges. Palestinians, by inviting I.C.C. investigations in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, also run the risk that their own possible violations — such as deliberate attacks on Israeli civilians — could come under I.C.C. scrutiny.

If Palestinians succeed in getting the I.C.C. to examine their grievances, Israel’s campaign to bend international law to its advantage would finally be subjected to international judicial review and, one hopes, curbed. Israel’s dangerous legal innovations, if accepted, would expand the scope of permissible violence to previously protected persons and places, and turn international humanitarian law on its head. We do not want a world in which journalists become fair game because of their employers’ ideas.

If the choice is between a Palestinian legal intifada, in which arguments are hashed out in court, and an actual intifada, in which blood flows in the streets, the global community should encourage the former.

Indeed, Palestinians would be doing themselves, Israelis and the global community a favor by invoking I.C.C. jurisdiction. Ending Israel’s impunity for its clear violations of legal norms would both promote peace in the Middle East and help uphold the integrity of international law.

The writer is a Professor at the University of California’s Hastings College of the Law.
1

The UN report will help explain why Israel is suddenly escalating tensions with Syria and Iran.  

Peace, Father Roy

source: www.com…

UN Report: Israel Must Immediately Dismantle Settlements or Face ICC

‘Magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights’

– Andrea Germanos, staff writer

Israel must immediately stop without preconditions all settlements, “developed through a system of total segregation,” which consistently and on a daily basis violate the rights of Palestinians and are in violation of the Geneva Convention, a UN report published Thursday states.

The scathing findings are from the International Fact-Finding Mission on Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory from the UN’s Human Rights Council (HRC), which notes that the illegal settlements, through systemic abuses, violate Palestinians’ right to self-determination, and could lead Israel to face the International Criminal Court.

“The magnitude of violations relating to Israel’s policies of dispossessions, evictions, demolitions and displacements from land shows the widespread nature of these breaches of human rights,” stated Unity Dow of Botswana, who joined Christine Chanet, Judge of the Court of Cassation of France and Asma Jahangir, leading Pakistani human rights lawyer and Trustee of the Board of the UN Voluntary Fund on Contemporary Forms of Slavery in the Mission.

“The motivation behind violence and intimidation against the Palestinians and their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands, allowing the settlements to expand,” she added.

Jahangir stated that the group is “calling on the government of Israel to ensure full accountability for all violations, put an end to the policy of impunity and to ensure justice for all victims.”

The report documents a “multitude of violations” against Palestinians, including:

  • discriminatory legal practices
  • “arbitrary arrest and detention, including administrative detention and mass arrests and incarceration,” as well as the arrest of children
  • impunity for settlers who engage in violence against Palestinians
  • ongoing dispossession and displacement of Palestinians
  • violent suppression of peaceful protest
  • restricting Palestinian access to water, either through policies that give Israel the “predominance in the allocation of West Bank water resources,” the inability of Palestinians to transfer water due to fragmented territory and restrictions on movement or deliberate destruction of Palestinian water infrastructure by Israel
  • destruction of Palestinian farmland and crops

The report adds that private businesses that are profiting from the settlements must terminate their activities there if they are contributing to rights violations against Palestinians.

Israel’s foreign ministry called the report, with which it did not cooperate, “counterproductive and unfortunate” and referred to the HRC as “one-sided.”

On Tuesday, Israel boycotted an HRC review of the country’s rights situation, marking the first time a country has been absent for its rights review since the HRC began them in 2007.

Israel cut ties with the HRC after the March 2012 announcement the body would embark on the fact-finding mission.