PNN reports that Wallstrom’s comments, made during a recent CNN interview, came after Mr. Lieberman, in denouncing Sweden’s decision to recognize the Palestinian Authority (PA) as “the State of Palestine,” said that “relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA”.
“I think it’s a sign of a sense of humor, and I will be happy to send him a flat pack of IKEA furniture and he will also see that what you need to put that together is, first of all, a partner,” Wallstrom said in response.
“You also need to cooperate and you need a good manual. I think we have most of those elements if we want to use them also for the conflict in the Middle East. For peace you need two parties to actually sit down at the same table and discuss the future,” she added.
“We think that now is the right time [to recognize a Palestinian state]. We think that the legal requirements are fulfilled but also it is timely because we’ve had a very serious situation on the ground.
“We’ve seen new settlements and more violence and also a tendency to radicalization of young people especially,” the FM noted, explaining her country’s decision to recognize Palestine, further adding:
“We hope that we can make the parties a little less unequal, that we might inject some new dynamics into the suspended peace talks and also give hope to young people that there is an alternative to violence and war and conflict.”
Just hours after his criticizing statement, Liberman recalled Israel’s ambassador to Sweden, Isaac Bachman.
Eight members of the Wahdan family, the youngest only two years old, were killed in an Israeli airstrike on their home in Gaza after Israeli forces confined them inside and used their home as a military base.
On July 17, Israeli soldiers raided a home where 15 members of the Wahdan family were sheltering in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun during a period of intense Israeli artillery bombardment. Israeli forces detained and removed seven male family members from the home including, Rami Hatem Zaki Wahdan, 30. The eight remaining family members, including three children, were confined to the ground floor of the home by Israeli forces as they used the house as a military base for over a week, according to evidence collected by DCI-Palestine. On August 4, following his release, Rami returned to find Beit Hanoun destroyed and the family home flattened to the ground.
The charred remains of Su’ad Wahdan, 67, and her grandchildren, Zeinab, 27, Sumoud, 22, Ahmad, 14, and Hussein, 10, were found under the rubble. The remains of Zaki Wahdan, 70, his daughter-in-law, Baghdad, 51, and his great-granddaughter, Ghena, 2, have not yet been recovered.
“Israeli military offensives have been consistently characterized by disproportionate force directed at civilians,” says Rifat Kassis, executive director of DCI-Palestine. “In this incident, Israeli soldiers deliberately attacked a house while fully aware there were people inside. Targeting civilians is strictly prohibited under international law and this tragedy must be investigated as a possible war crime.”
In a sworn affidavit collected by DCI-Palestine, Rami said he was able to have limited contact with his sister, Zeinab, 27, via mobile phone. She told him that the situation in Beit Hanoun was very dangerous, and Israeli soldiers held them captive on the ground floor of their house. In Rami’s last contact with Zeinab on Friday, July 25, she explained that the Israeli soldiers had withdrawn from the house in anticipation of an upcoming humanitarian ceasefire, but ordered the family to stay in the home.
Rami, his father, three brothers and two uncles were bound and blindfolded and taken from the home for interrogation on July 17. Having no connection to Hamas or information on tunnels, Rami and the other men were released three days later from an interrogation facility near the Erez border crossing in northern Gaza. Continued fighting and shelling prevented them from returning to Beit Hanoun so they took shelter with relatives and at a school in the nearby Jabalia refugee camp.
Rami and his brothers returned to Beit Hanoun on August 2, but failed to locate their grandparents’ home before Israeli forces moved back into the area. On August 3, Rami learned that his father and three other members of his family, including his four-year-old niece, were killed in a separate incident when Israeli drones targeted a house in Jabalia refugee camp where they had sought refuge.
On August 4, Rami returned to Beit Hanoun with his brothers and uncles to continue their search but instead found complete destruction. The family’s house was one of a group of homes completely destroyed in an hour of continuous airstrikes just minutes before the humanitarian ceasefire began on July 26.
Rami and the other men started sifting through debris and rubble for any sign of their family that they believed had been forced to remain in the home. They discovered severed limbs and body parts of brothers Ahmad and Hussein, their sisters Zeinab and Sumond, and their grandmother Su’ad. No remains of their grandfather, his daughter-in-law or his two-year-old great-granddaughter were found.
Speaking to DCI-Palestine, Rami said, “I feel like my family is cursed. Those who stayed in the house were murdered, and those who fled the area were also murdered. And those who have survived are still struggling. I keep remembering the incident. I will not forget it.”
International humanitarian law prohibits indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks and requires that all parties to an armed conflict distinguish between military targets, civilians and civilian objects. Directly targeting civilians is a grave violation of international law and amounts to a war crime. Israeli forces confined the family to the home and therefore were aware that eight civilians were inhabiting the house. The circumstances of the attack strongly suggest conduct amounting to a war crime under international law.
The civilian population of the Gaza strip, particularly children, paid a heavy price during Israel’s seven-week military offensive known as Operation Protective Edge. The UN estimates over 2,000 Palestinians, most of them civilians and including 501 children, lost their lives. DCI-Palestine has independently verified 475 child deaths as of October 29, 2014.
Reflecting on the loss of twelve members of his family, Rami said, “I cry a thousand times a day. I cannot and will not forget what Israel did to us in this war and how they executed my family in two different incidents. They murdered my little brothers, my two sisters, my mother and my grandparents in Beit Hanoun. And they murdered my father, my niece, my brother’s wife and my uncle’s wife in Jabalia refugee camp.”
A video posted online by Al Arabiya News on July 29, 2014 captures the destruction of the Beit Hanoun neighborhood in one hour.
SodaStream closes illegal settlement factory but remains actively complicit in the displacement of Palestinians
Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel | October 30, 2014
Palestinian boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) activists today welcomed the news that SodaStream has announced it is to close its factory in the illegal Israeli settlement of Mishor Adumim following a high profile boycott campaign against the company.
“SodaStream’s announcement today shows that the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement is increasingly capable of holding corporate criminals to account for their participation in Israeli apartheid and colonialism,” said Rafeef Ziadah, a spokesperson for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the broad coalition of Palestinian civil society organisations that leads and supports the BDS movement.
“BDS campaign pressure has forced retailers across Europe and North America to drop SodaStream, and the company’s share price has tumbled in recent months as our movement has caused increasing reputational damage to the SodaStream brand,” she added.
The news of this major success against a company famed for its role in illegal Israeli settlements broke amidst intensifying demonstrations against Israel’s policies of colonisation in Jerusalem.
Grassroots boycott activism saw SodaStream dropped by major retailers across North America and Europe including Macy’s in the US and John Lewis in the UK.
SodaStream was forced to close its flagship store in Brighton in the UK as a result of regular pickets of the store.
Soros Fund Management, the family office of the billionaire investor George Soros, sold its stake in SodaStream following BDS pressure.
SodaStream’s share price fell dramatically in recent months as sales dried up, particularly in North America.
After reaching a high of $64 per share in October 2013, the stock fell to around $20 per share this month. SodaStream has estimated its third quarter revenue will be $125 million, down almost 14 percent from the same period last year.
But Ziadah warned that SodaStream will still remain actively complicit in the displacement of Palestinians and will remain a focus of boycott campaigning.
“Even if this announced closure goes ahead, SodaStream will remain implicated in the displacement of Palestinians. Its new Lehavim factory is close to Rahat, a planned township in the Naqab (Negev) desert, where Palestinian Bedouins are being forcefully transferred against their will. Sodastream, as a beneficiary of this plan, is complicit with this violation of human rights,” she said.
SodaStream’s participation in Israel’s forced displacement of Palestinians gained international notoriety when A-list celebrity Scarlett Johansson signed up to be a brand ambassador for the company. Following an international campaign urging Oxfam end its relationship with Johansson for endorsing SodaStream, the actor decided to quit Oxfam.
SodaStream has also come under fire for its treatment of Palestinian workers in its West Bank factory, as Ziadah explains:
“Any suggestion that SodaStream is employing Palestinians in an illegal Israeli settlement on stolen Palestinian land out of the kindness of its heart is ludicrous.”
“Palestinian workers are paid far less than their Israeli counterparts and SodaStream recently fired 60 Palestinians following a dispute over food for the breaking of the Ramadan fast. Workers have previously said they are treated ‘like slaves’”.
“Palestinians are forced to work inside settlements in sub-standard conditions because of Israel’s deliberate destruction of the Palestinian economy. There’s an urgent need for the creation of decent and dignified jobs within the Palestinian economy.”
SodaStream have said all workers will be offered jobs at its new plant, although Israel’s apartheid wall and severe restrictions on movement will make the commute to the new plant difficult for its Palestinian workers.
All of the main Palestinian trade unions have called for boycott and are members of the Palestinian BDS National Committee, the civil society coalition that leads the BDS movement and helped to initiate the campaign against SodaStream.
The BNC quotes included in this release can be found in the following coverage of this story:
Eighteen years have passed and those who were forcefully sterilized in Peru have obtained no justice even though the issue was key for the electoral victory of current president Ollanta Humala.
On Wednesday, author and researcher Alejandra Ballon accused the current administration of president Ollanta Humala of using the case of forced sterilizations for political gain and failing to follow through with seeking justice for the victims.
Ballon is the author of the first book on the issue, released earlier this month with the support of the National Library of Peru. It is titled Memoirs of the Peruvian Case of Forced Sterilizations.
Crimes Against Humanity
Over 300,000 people, mostly indigenous women, were forcefully sterilized by the Fujimori regime during the 1990s. The program sought to reduce the number of children in poor rural indigenous families by deceiving and threatening them and even operating on them without them knowing. For those reasons the crimes are being described as genocide.
Sometimes, the signature of the victim’s relatives was used to go ahead with the process without consent. Sometimes the victims were operated on secretly after giving birth. The program was implemented nationally but the methods were not systematic. However, the government gave official quotas to each post for specific periods of time and medical personal were required to comply.
The results were brutal. There are several reports on the effects of such crimes including psychological and physical impairments of the victims and the effects on their relatives. “Women lost their physical strength and could no longer work as farmers, but also many were abandoned by their male partners, and forced to emigrate to the cities,” explained Ballon.
“It is not only the irreversibility of the operation and that women were made sterile against their will, but on top of that there are physical, mental, family, community, agricultural and cultural consequences,” asserts Ballon.
She described a case in Huancabamba where many women were dedicated to sewing using an ancestral, pre-Incan method called Cahihua, which uses the stomach. “It is one of the cultural legacies that we have in the country and we should take care of it,” argues Ballon. However, she explained that this sewing method uses a tool that places pressure on a person’s belly, and after being operated, the pain from the scar would not allow them to sew in that traditional manner. Ballon discovered this problem in 2012 but no systematic method has been implemented to be able to find all the other ways in which this criminal program has affected people’s lives.
The Case of Victoria Vigo
Victoria Vigo is one of the women who was forcefully sterilized. Right after a miscarriage in 1996, doctors secretly mutilated her reproductive organs to comply with the sterilization quota ordered by the regime.
She explains how she found out about her operation. “The doctor who was next to me and taking care of me told another doctor that what is happening is that my baby has passed away,” she explained, and the new doctor “turned around and told me ‘don’t worry you are young and you can have another baby.’” But the first doctor responded, ‘No, she has already been sterilized,’ and that is how I found out what they did to me,” says Victoria.
Victoria explains her feelings at the time. “When one loses a child, a longing to have another child stays… When you lose something you immediately want it. I wanted to have a child … but friends who are doctors talked with me and told me, no Victoria, it is irreversible,” she said.
Political Debt of President Humala
Ollanta Humala picked up the struggle for justice for these cases during his presidential bid. Many believe that such a move gave him the edge to win the election in the second round. He was running against Keiko Fujimori, daughter of Alberto Fujimori, the dictator in charge of the country when the sterilizations took place. During a presidential debate, Humala raised the issue and used it to attack Keiko. However, little has been done after his victory to investigate and obtain justice.
For those reasons, the victims are saying Humala only used them for political gain and he has no interest in their struggle or pain. Ballon has come out in their support. She argues that current president Ollanta Humala has a political debt with these women because he was partly able to win the election by promising in depth investigations into the matter.
Failures of Society
Ballon goes further than pointing out the failures of Humala. She calls these cases the “gravest violations committed against indigenous woman since the colonial times.”
“We are not understanding as a society what we can learn about ourselves through these women. They can tell us about how it was done so that we can learn who we are, what are we doing and to what point can we prevent a future possibility of repeating it.”
Ballon explains that the implementation of the program also shows chauvinism in society. Out of the 300,000 sterilized people, 22,000 were males. “There was gender discrimination in the program even though a man can procreate hundreds of kids and a woman has a limited number of children she can have,” points out Ballon. She concludes that “this is not a result of only the program but the social constructs of the country.”
In a similar way, racism must have been operating in society to permit such crimes. Ballon uses postcolonial theory to explain why indigenous populations, Quechua speaking, were the main target. She explains how hierarchies and racism imposed during colonial times have made committing and justifying such crimes against indigenous populations possible.
The National Library of Peru is investing in a collection of books, including Ballon’s, called La Palabra del Mudo (The Mute Person’s Word) that are using postcolonial theory to record and give voice to those who have not been included in the official histories. The ultimate goals are to strengthen democracy, recover memories, and construct new and inclusive narratives about Peru.
Methods range between severe beatings, putting prisoners under cold water followed by hot water, cuffing or restraining them with their arms behind them and then tying them to a door or window for long periods of time, often lasting hours
Hundreds of torture methods used against Palestinian prisoners during interrogations conducted in Israeli prisoners have been observed by human rights organisations and prisoners’ rights associations.
A report by the United Nations lists around 200 methods of torture. The Israeli rights group B’Tselem listed around 105 torture methods. Regardless of the number, all these reports indicate a grave level of violations perpetrated against Palestinians following their arrest.
Fouad Khuffash, director of the Ahrar Centre for Prisoners’ Studies and Human Rights, suggests that torture can be divided into two categories; physical and psychological. Some believe that psychological torture is less harmful than physical torture, but the mental scars left by both can leave prisoners traumatised long after their release.
Khuffash adds: “Torture in Israeli prisons is systematic and starts from the moment a prisoner is arrested, not from the moment they begin interrogation. This is a premeditated and staged scenario that changes according to the case of the detainee and the nature of their file. Investigators alternate and play various roles assigned in advance to each investigator.”
Fahd Abu Al-Hajj, director of the Abu Jihad Centre for Prisoner Affairs at the University of Jerusalem, noted that there are 73 methods of interrogation considered to be the “most popular” in Israeli jails. These methods demonstrate the barbarism of the occupation and its lack of respect for basic standards of human rights, he stated.
He added: “Nothing evidences this more than the repeated death of prisoners under interrogation, the most recent of which was the death of the prisoner Raed Al-Jabari.”
Al-Hajj believes that the use of torture is systematic, adopted by the Israeli intelligence services and that no prisoner detained in any Israeli prison is spared.
He also explained that these methods range between severe beatings, putting prisoners under cold water followed by hot water, cuffing or restraining them with their arms behind them and then tying them to a door or window for long periods of time, often lasting hours. Prisoners are also made to sit on chairs and beaten with sticks until they lose consciousness. These beatings may target sensitive areas of their bodies which have the potential to leave long-term negative effects, sometimes leading to chronic diseases.
Forms of torture
Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem acknowledged in its report that 105 torture methods are used against Palestinian detainees which are considered serious violations of human rights. A UN human rights committee described the torture in Israeli prisons as “crossing the line”, noting that Israel’s brutal methods of torture included breaking backs, pulling fingers apart and twisting testicles.
Israeli intelligence bases their torture of detainees on the so-called secret guidelines that were approved in 1987, after the outbreak of the first Intifada. These guidelines allow them to apply “moderate” physical and psychological pressure on prisoners. This gives a legal cover to the torture practiced by Israeli intelligence agents.
In the last 10 years, interrogators have decreased their use of torture, moving away from physical torture and instead used harsh psychological methods that can leave enduring scars, while continuing to use direct physical torture of varying degrees.
Mohammed Kilani, who has experienced many interrogations, noted that his solitary confinement which exceeded two months during which he was forced to remain chained to a chair, was the harshest method of torture he has suffered.
He also added that throughout the entire prison system across the globe, there exists no torture method that has not been thought of or used by the Israeli authorities at some point.
According to statistics, around 72 prisoners were killed as a result of torture in Israeli prisons since 1967, out of a total number of over 200 prisoners who died behind bars.
The first prisoner to die as a result of being tortured was Yousef Al-Jabali who died on January 4 1968 in a Nablus prison. Many prisoners have since followed him, such as Qassem Abu Akar, Ibrahim Al-Rai, Abdul Samad Harizat, Attia Za’anin, Mustafa Akkawi, and others, including the most recent, Raed Al-Jabari.
Israeli Occupation Forces on Thursday closed the al-Aqsa Mosque compound to all visitors after an overnight shooting incident in which a man on a motorbike tried to gun down an Israeli hardliner.
“This dangerous Israeli escalation is a declaration of war on the Palestinian people and its sacred places and on the Arab and Islamic nation,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeina quoted him as saying on Thursday.
“We hold the Israeli government responsible for this dangerous escalation in Jerusalem that has reached its peak through the closure of the al-Aqsa mosque this morning,” he told AFP.
“The state of Palestine will take all legal measures to hold Israel accountable and to stop these ongoing attacks,” he added.
Earlier on Thursday, Israeli forces killed a Palestinian man suspected of the shooting attack on the Israeli hardliner, a spokesman said.
“The Palestinian, who was the main suspect in the Wednesday night attack, was eliminated at his home in Jerusalem’s Abu Tor neighborhood by special police forces,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told AFP.
Abu Tor straddles the seam line between west Jerusalem and the occupied eastern sector, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six Day War.
The suspect’s death took place just hours after a gunman on a motorcycle had opened fire at a right-wing Zionist Rabbi called Yehuda Glick at a rally in Jerusalem, leaving him critically wounded.
Glick was reportedly shot in his upper body at “close range” at an event outside the Menachem Begin Heritage Center in Jerusalem, where a number of Israeli members of Knesset and right-wing activists were in attendance, Israeli news site Ynet said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday ordered a “significant increase” in police deployments in Jerusalem following the shooting.
“I have ordered a significant increase in forces as well as in means (available to them) so we can both ensure security in Jerusalem and also maintain the status quo in the holy places,” he said in a statement released by his office.
The attack was reported after a conference focused on the reconstruction of a Jewish temple on top of the al-Aqsa mosque was concluded at the center, with top right-wing Zionist officials and activists in attendance.
The incident comes amid increasing tension in Jerusalem over an expected Knesset vote to potentially divide the al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third-holiest site in Islam — between Muslims and Jews, or else restrict Muslim worship at the site.
The Israeli army radio announced early October that the ministry of tourism was working on a plan to allow Jews to enter the al-Aqsa compound through the Cotton Merchants Gate, in addition to the Moroccan Gate which is already used as an entrance for non-Muslims.
Although mainstream Jewish leaders consider it forbidden for Jews to enter the area, right-wing nationalist activists have increasingly called for Jewish prayer to be allowed on the site.
Since Israel occupied East Jerusalem in 1967, an agreement with Jordan has maintained that Jewish prayer be allowed at the Western Wall plaza — built on the site of a Palestinian neighborhood of 800 that was destroyed immediately following the conquest — but not inside the al-Aqsa mosque compound itself.
Yehuda Glick is an American-born Israeli and the chairman of the Temple Mount Heritage Fund, a Zionist organization focused on “strengthening the relationship between Israel and the Temple Mount.”
Critics charge that the Fund actually leads Jewish tours to the site with the intention of leading Jewish prayer there — currently banned under Israeli agreements — and encouraging Jews to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and build a Jewish temple there.
He has been previously banned by Israeli authorities from entering the compound due to provocations while on the site.
For Muslims, al-Aqsa represents the world’s third holiest site.
Al-Aqsa restrictions, violations
Israel continues to restrict the entry of Palestinian worshipers into al-Aqsa for the fifth week in a row.
In an urgent message to the US administration on Sunday, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas warned that Israel’s continued provocations at the mosque complex would lead to a “wide-reaching explosion.”
Israeli authorities have imposed restrictions on Palestinians seeking to enter the al-Aqsa Mosque compound, denying Muslim men under 40 access to the holy site while facilitating the entry of Zionist settlers of all ages.
In recent months, hundreds of extremist Zionist settlers – often accompanied by Israeli security forces – have repeatedly forced their way into East Jerusalem’s flashpoint al-Aqsa Mosque complex.
The frequent violations anger Palestinians who fear Zionist presence on the al-Aqsa is aimed at usurping the site.
Abbas said Saturday legal measures would be taken to prevent Zionist settlers from attacking Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque compound.
“The Palestinian leadership will be taking the necessary legal measures, at the international level, regarding the aggression of settlers on the Al-Aqsa mosque,” Abbas said in a speech to the Revolutionary Council of his Fatah party.
“We will not allow settlers to attack the mosque,” he added, referring to the entire compound, which is the third holiest site in Islam.
A Palestinian official last week called for holding an emergency Arab and Islamic summit to discuss Israeli plans to divide the al-Aqsa Mosque compound between Palestinians and Israelis.
“Israel is racing against time to legitimize storming of the al-Aqsa Mosque compound by herds of extremist settlers,” Ahmed Qurei, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), said in a statement.
Earlier this month, UN chief Ban Ki-moon said he was “deeply concerned by repeated provocations at the holy sites in Jerusalem,” saying that such actions “only inflame tensions and must stop.”
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah resistance movement condemned the “Israeli aggressions within the al-Aqsa Mosque compound” and slammed “Arab silence” and “international complicity.”
The resistance group called on “directing all efforts to protect al-Aqsa and the Islamic and Christian holy sites.”
Israel occupied East Jerusalem during the 1967 Middle East War. It later annexed the holy city in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
In September 2000, a visit to the site by controversial Israeli leader Ariel Sharon sparked what later became known as the “Second Intifada” – a popular uprising against the Israeli occupation in which thousands of Palestinians were killed.
(Ma’an, AFP, Al-Akhbar)
Sweden on Thursday officially recognized the state of Palestine, Stockholm’s foreign minister said, less than a month after the government announced its intention to make the move and one day after UN Security Council failed to condemn Israeli settlement plans.
“Our decision comes at a critical time because over the last year we have seen how the peace talks have stalled, how decisions over new settlements on occupied Palestinian land have complicated a two-state solution and how violence has returned to Gaza,” Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom told reporters.
“By making our decision we want to bring a new dynamic to the stalled peace process.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas hailed the decision, his spokesman told AFP.
“President Abbas welcomes Sweden’s decision,” Nabil Abu Rudeina told AFP, saying the Palestinian leader described the move as “brave and historic.”
Sweden is the first EU member state in western Europe to recognize Palestine.
European countries are stepping up the pressure on Israel to seek a peace deal, with the British and Irish parliament recently holding a non-binding vote on recognizing statehood.
Abu Rudeina claimed that Sweden’s recognition was linked to months of soaring tensions in occupied East Jerusalem, where Palestinians have clashed almost daily with Israeli Occupation Forces and where Israel has recently pushed ahead with plans to build another 3,600 settler homes.
“This decision comes as a response to Israeli measures in Jerusalem,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israel’s Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday denounced the Swedish government’s recognition of a Palestinian state as “deplorable”, saying it would undermine efforts to resolve the conflict.
“The decision of the Swedish government to recognize a Palestinian state is a deplorable decision which only strengthens extremist elements,” he claimed in a statement.
“It is a shame that the Swedish government chose to take this declarative step which causes a lot of harm and offers no advantage,” he said.
“The Swedish government must understand that relations in the Middle East are a lot more complex than the self-assembly furniture of IKEA and that they have to act with responsibility and sensitivity.”
Wallstrom rejected accusations that Sweden was taking sides and she hoped other EU countries would follow Sweden’s lead.
No Security Council statement condemning Israel
The Palestinians urged the UN Security Council on Wednesday to demand that Israel immediately reverse plans to build more Zionist settlements, at an emergency meeting called to address tensions in occupied East Jerusalem.
The 15-nation council met for urgent talks at Jordan’s and Palestine’s request after Israel announced plans on Monday to build 1,000 new settler homes in East Jerusalem.
However, no resolution was adopted and there was no Security Council statement condemning Israel.
“Israel, the occupying power, must be demanded to cease immediately and completely its illegal settlement activities throughout the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem,” Palestinian ambassador Riyad Mansour told the council.
Mansour said he was disappointed that the council had failed to issue a statement but praised members for speaking forcefully against Israeli settlements.
Speaking to the council, top UN official Jeffrey Feltman said the Israeli practice of moving settlers to Palestinian territories was “in violation of international law” and runs counter to a two-state solution of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is “alarmed” by the latest plans for new Israeli settlements which “once again raise grave doubts about Israel’s commitment to achieving durable peace,” Feltman told the council.
Israel’s ambassador Ron Prosor shot back, rejecting suggestions that settlement building jeopardized peace and accusing the UN of “playing second fiddle” to a Palestinian “campaign to vilify” his country.
“There are many threats in the Middle East, but the presence of Jewish homes is not one of them,” Prosor told the council.
Speaking to reporters outside council chambers, Prosor insisted the settlements were “not illegal” and that “building housing units in Jerusalem for children in places where there are Jewish neighborhoods is something that we will continue to do.”
Besides the 1,000 new settler homes, Israel has recently approved the construction of more than 2,600 settler homes in East Jerusalem.
More than 500,000 Israeli settlers live in settlements across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in contravention of international law.
Israel occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank during the 1967 Six-Day War. It later annexed the city of Jerusalem in 1980, claiming it as the capital of the self-proclaimed Zionist state – a move never recognized by the international community.
US, European countries “condemn” Israeli settlements
Even though there was no Security Council statement condemning the Israeli violations, Israel came under strong criticism from several countries, which called for an end to unilateral actions including settlement expansions.
The US representative David Pressman told the council “settlement activity will only further escalate tensions at a time that is already tense enough.”
British Ambassador Mark Lyall Grant warned that ongoing construction of Zionist settlements in Palestinian territories “makes it much more difficult for Israel’s friends to defend it against accusations that it is not serious about peace.”
French Ambassador Francois Delattre said “the risk of an explosion of uncontrolled violence in Jerusalem and the West Bank cannot be ignored” and called on Israel to drop the planned settlement.
Russian Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said the plan should be “frozen” and urged the council to play a more pro-active role to jump-start Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
On Wednesday, the Spanish government expressed its regret at the settlements plan. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the decision “does not reflect the formally accepted target of negotiating with the Palestinians to seek a peaceful, global and lasting solution based on two states.”
The ministry also reiterated its position, shared by the international community, that all forms of Israeli settlement construction in occupied Palestinian territories are illegal.
Israel’s latest push for settlements followed weeks of clashes between Palestinian youths and police in East Jerusalem over fears that Israel wanted to restrict access to the al-Aqsa mosque, Islam’s third holiest site.
Feltman called for a de-escalation, saying that both sides “can ill-afford” to inflame tensions so soon after the devastating Gaza war, which left more than 2,000 Palestinians dead.
In a draft resolution circulated, the Palestinian Authority set November 2016 as the deadline for ending the Israeli withdrawal from the territories occupied by Israel during the Six-Day War in 1967 and establishing a two-state solution.
It is worth noting that numerous pro-Palestine activists argue in favor of a one-state solution, arguing that the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel would not be sustainable. They add that the two-state solution, which is the only option considered by international actors, won’t solve existing discrimination, nor erase economic and military tensions.
(AFP, Ma’an, Al-Akhbar)
Israeli economics minister Naftali Bennett has claimed of Binyamin Netanyahu that “The prime minister is not a private person but the leader of the Jewish state and the whole Jewish world.” Really? Netanyahu is the leader of all the Jews in London, or California, or Ethiopia, who may never have set foot in his state?
This extraordinary remark by Bennett lays bare the fundamental flaw in the very concept of Israel. It is not a modern state, defined as a territory and comprising all the various citizens of whatever descent who live within it. It is rather a vicious racist construct, defined absolutely by race, refusing territorial limits, and with an aggressive theocratic overlay that claims tribal superiority over the entire rest of the world.
Here is a picture of the New Zealand cricket team. In the last twelve months, New Zealand cricket teams have fielded payers including Hamish Rutherford, Peter Fulton, Colin Munro, Dean Brownlie, Ross Taylor, Rob Nicol, Corey Anderson, Grant Elliott, Jimmy Neesham, Kyle Mills, Adam Milne and Mark Craig, not to mention the McCullum brothers. But if I told you that Alex Salmond was the leader of all Scots around the world, including the Black Caps, you would quite rightly call me a nutter.
We would not tolerate the level of racism in any other country that we tolerate from Israel. There was a huge outcry against Labour MP Paul Flynn who dared question whether it was sensible to send a strongly professed Zionist Jew as British ambassador to Israel, but when the Israeli government itself proclaim the political leadership of all Jews all over the world, it is a logical impossibility not to ask the question.
I wish nothing but good to all people, including all Jewish people, but by their increasingly hardline racialist approach, their unceasing encroachment on Palestinian land and their rigorous adoption of all the racist mechanisms of an apartheid state internally, I feat that the window of opportunity for a peaceful future for those Jewish people living in what is currently Israel is closing fast.
It must be universally proclaimed: there is not a single racial group in the whole world from whom worldwide racial claims of political allegiance, or an internal racially based legislative order, are acceptable. Bennett’s remarks are beyond the limit of civilised political discourse.
Documentary produced by Béatrice Pignède, with footage shot by Jonathan Moadab, Sylvia Page, Jean-Sébastien Farez and Saber Farzard. Music by Gilad Atzmon.
Visit http://apophenia.altervista.org for parts 1 to 4.
On October 24 of this year, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) which, according to its website, “…was founded in 1913 ‘to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment to all’,” printed an overview of what it called ‘Anti-Israel Activity on Campus After Operation Protective Edge: A Preview of the 2014-2015 Academic Year’. This article provides information about student groups that were appalled at Israeli cruelty during that country’s so-called ‘Operation Protective Edge’, the ridiculous name of the most recent invasion and carpet bombing of the Gaza Strip. It discusses the increase in student activity opposing Israeli policies, and projects that it will probably only continue to grow.
It is certainly true that opposition to Israel’s decades-long, brutal occupation of Palestine is growing. But the ADL made some statements in the article that belie belief. A look at one sentence suffices: “Student groups that constitute today’s anti-Israel movement hurl a multitude of hateful accusations against Israel, falsely claiming that Israel is guilty of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a number of other war crimes in an effort to demonize Israel.”
Let us break this amazing sentence down into its component parts, and see what we can learn from it.
‘Student groups that constitute today’s anti-Israel movement’. Certainly, it can’t be denied that college campuses not only in the United States, but also throughout the world are seeing more opposition to Israeli practices. But such groups do not constitute this movement; they are simply a part of greater, ad-hoc organizations around the world that are finally waking up to Israel’s unspeakable cruelties.
‘Hurl a multitude of hateful accusations against Israel’. It would not be difficult to diffuse these ‘hateful’ accusations. If Israel is indeed innocent of these charges, all it would need to have done would be to have cooperated with any of the international investigations of the last few years, or that are currently ongoing, into its practices. If Israel has nothing to hide, why not show the facts to the world? On the other hand, if the facts are already there for all the world to see, why not try calling them ‘hateful accusations’ and see if that accomplishes anything?
“Falsely claiming that Israel is guilty of apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a number of other war crimes”. Are these false claims? A quick Internet search shows this definition for apartheid: ‘any system or practice that separates people according to race, caste, etc.’. Palestinians in the West Bank cannot drive on the same roads that Israeli’s use. They are hindered in their daily activities by countless checkpoints that Israelis establish and man arbitrarily. A Palestinian arrested in the West Bank may spend months incarcerated without charge, and without access to legal representation. An Israeli arrested in the West Bank is either charged or released within hours, and has access to legal representation immediately. Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank need to ask permission from Israel to farm their own lands, and to harvest their own crops. No such restrictions or requirements are placed on Israelis.
Is Israel guilty of ethnic cleansing? Going to the same Internet source, this is how ‘ethnic cleansing’ is defined: “The elimination of an unwanted ethnic group or groups from a society, as by genocide or forced migration.” Israel was established in 1948 only after the forced removal (‘migration’) of 750,000 Palestinians from their ancestral homes. In the decades since that time, Palestinian homes have been, and continue to be, routinely demolished to make room for illegal Israeli settlements, in which only Israelis can live.
Now let us look at the charge of genocide. Returning again to the same dictionary site, genocide is defined thusly: “The deliberate and systematic extermination of a national, racial, political or cultural group.” When three-quarters of a million Palestinians were forcibly removed from their homes in 1947 and 1948, at least 10,000 of them were killed. Hundreds of Palestinian villages were completely destroyed, leaving no trace of mosques, museums, schools, cemeteries or other signs of Palestinian culture. Since then, countless mosques, schools and other vital structures of Palestinian culture have been obliterated by Israel, in order to make room for more, Israeli-only, illegal settlements. Ironically, in June of 2011, Israel bulldozed the ancient Muslim cemetery, Ma’man Allah, in order to build a ‘Museum of Tolerance’ on the site.
During Israel’s recent horrific bombing of the Gaza Strip, many more ancient mosques were destroyed, further decimating Palestinian culture.
These student groups accuse Israel of ‘a number of other war crimes’, says the ADL article. According to International Law, an occupying force (Israel) cannot move permanent settlers into the occupied territory. Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has stated flatly that he has no intention of giving up the West Bank, where over 500,000 settlers live illegally. It is also in violation of international law to remove residents from their property, something Israel does routinely, and has done for decades, causing the displacement of hundreds of thousands of Palestinians, many who had to leave their homes for refugee camps.
International law also says that in war time, schools, hospitals, residences, places of worship and press and media facilities cannot be bombed. During the recent bombing of the Gaza Strip, Israel bombed all of these, as well as clearly-defined United Nations refugee centers, with apparent impunity.
All possible care, according to international law, must be taken to prevent civilian casualties. Yet IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) soldiers (read: terrorists) blatantly targeted children playing a beach, killing them in front of international reporters.
The protection of the occupied people is also a requirement of international law. Yet in the West Bank, IDF soldiers and illegal settlers constantly harass Palestinians, and routinely shoot and kill Palestinians, including children. When this happens, if there is any international outcry at all, Israel says it is ‘investigating’. Yet nothing substantive ever comes of these ‘investigations’.
Like many other organizations that exist ostensibly to protect poor, vulnerable little Israel from the non-existent power of its enemies, the ADL attempts to defend the indefensible. The many crimes that Israel commits on a daily basis may once have been hidden behind a wall of secrecy. But that was before Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other social media enabled everyone with a cell phone and an internet connection to broadcast facts to the world. People around the globe see the horrors that Israel perpetrates, and understand it as all the things the ADL denies: apartheid, ethnic cleansing, genocide, and a number of other war crimes.
That students are waking up and taking action is another positive sign for Palestine. That Israel is becoming more and more isolated in the world community, with more and more countries recognizing Palestine and sanctioning Israel, is also very positive. That the ADL and other similar organizations are in panic mode, no longer able to defend a cruel, racist, apartheid regime, bodes well for a better future for Palestine.
Perhaps Israel felt it could once again bomb the Gaza Strip, and kill youths in the West Bank who have no weapons other than stones, with complete impunity. It must not be blamed for believing so; that was the model that was followed for years, and Israel can’t be faulted for not paying attention to sea changes that were occurring. Now that those changes have hit it in the face, full force, it can’t avoid seeing them. This new knowledge makes Israel all the more dangerous; any wild animal cornered will lash out, however erratically, in instinctive defense. Yet like the cornered animal that is eventually captured and controlled, this is what Israel can realistically expect. It will take time, but the process has begun, and it cannot be stopped now. Despite all Israel’s efforts to obliterate Palestine, it will fail; Palestine will be free.
Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).
The Guardian has about the best coverage to be found in the mainstream media of the Israel-Palestine conflict – which tells you quite how bad everyone else is.
Today the paper’s readers’ editor, Chris Elliott, ponders complaints about its coverage. Not surprisingly, many of them are from the Israeli embassy, which says it is concerned about the Guardian’s disproportionate interest in Israel-Palestine, implying that this is evidence of anti-semitism.
Actually it is quite the opposite. It is evidence of the Guardian’s historic and current support for the state of Israel, though not the occupation. Elliott alludes to this obliquely as he points out that the paper’s most famous editor, C P Scott, was instrumental in getting the British government to issue the Balfour Declaration. The Guardian’s pride in having helped to create a Jewish state is still palpable at the paper (as I know from my years there), especially among senior Jewish editors who influence much of the conflict’s coverage – yes, that is a reference to Jonathan Freedland, among others.
The Israeli embassy, of course, is trying to browbeat the Guardian to bring it into line with the dire coverage of the rest of the media.
The lesson the readers’ editor draws is:
When looking at these three complaints I think the important message is that if the Guardian is to continue its strong focus on Israel and Palestine, which it is entirely at liberty to do, we have to put a similar effort into the use and awareness of language that we use to discuss the issues on both sides.
And yet, as usual, the article only considers the problematic use of language regarding the Israeli side of the conflict. The reality is that the Guardian, like most western media, is really only interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict because of the Jews, not the Palestinians. There are many reasons for this:
- historic European guilt about the Holocaust;
- the central place of the Jews in Biblical stories most westerners were raised on in the still-Christian west;
- the sense that the Jews are more like us than the “Arabs” – that they are, as Theodor Herzl, the father of Zionism, put it, “a rampart of Europe against Asia, an outpost of civilization as opposed to barbarism”;
- the fact (mostly unmentionable) that Jews are strongly represented on the staff of western media often in senior positions, but rarely are there any Muslims or Arabs, and that many Jewish staff naturally identify with the plight of relatives in Israel;
- the continuing appointment to Jerusalem bureaux of partisan Jewish reporters who speak Hebrew but not Arabic; live in west Jerusalem, not East Jerusalem; whose younger children go to Jewish schools, not Arab schools; and whose older children serve in the army.
All of this is so normalised among the western media that the New York Times barely seems concerned that at least three of its senior writers on the conflict have had children serving in the Israeli army: Ethan Bronner, David Brooks and now, we discover, Isabel Kershner. We will know that we have an even-handed media only when we can conceive of a paper recruiting not only a Palestinian reporter (in itself almost impossible, it seems) but a Palestinian reporter with a child who openly supports Hamas (let’s not even try to imagine the possibility of their being allowed to have a child who fights in the resistance!).
As the Guardian’s Elliott inadvertently indicates, sensitivity about language is central to the concerns of papers like the Guardian when it comes to the Jewish side, but not so much when it comes to the Palestinians.
Today Moshe Machover, a London University philosophy professor, sent a letter to the readers’ editor that I reproduce below concerning a recent Guardian article. The Guardian’s report contains the usual insensitivities of language towards the Palestinians, so common-place that they are never noted or questioned. But this is about more than insensitivity. It is about the constant misuse of language in ways that work to Israel’s benefit by shaping how western publics understand the conflict. In fact, it is precisely such language that has enabled Israel to incrementally disappear the Palestinians.
Dear Readers’ Editor,
In yesterday’s Guardian there was a report by your Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont about what is in fact Israel’s continued illegal colonization of east Jerusalem.
“The Israeli government is to advance construction plans for 1,000 housing units to be built in parts of Jerusalem that Palestinians demand for their future state.”
The wording “the Palestinians demand” suggest that these parts of Jerusalem do not belong to the Palestinians but to someone else. This false impression is reinforced by what follows:
“The move, revealed by the prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is the first in what is expected to be a series of announcements this week on new settlement construction work in East Jerusalem and on the occupied West Bank.”
Surely, “work in East Jerusalem and on the occupied West Bank” is wrong as it falsely suggests that East Jerusalem is not occupied but belongs to Israel; it should have been “work in occupied East Jerusalem and West Bank.” I am sure you will wish to correct this misleading wording in your next column.