On 18 January 2016, US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro told a conference, attended by Israeli politicians and military officials, that Israel needs to halt settlement expansion and control settler violence. Organised by the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, the conference was reminded that discrimination was normal under Israeli rule. “There seems to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law, one for Israelis, and another for Palestinians,” Shapiro said. Thus, the veil covering Zionist ideology and purpose was lifted a little as the US Ambassador observed that “hovering over all these questions is the larger one about Israel’s political strategy vis-a-vis its conflict with the Palestinians.” In denial and totally committed to the Zionist enterprise, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of course rejected Shapiro’s remarks as “unacceptable and incorrect”. In a text message, the Israeli leader wrote: “Israel enforces the law for Israelis and Palestinians”. In fact, Israel enforces its self-serving rule by means of belligerent military Occupation. Also on 18 January, the European Union again affirmed its position that products made in Israeli settlements must be clearly labelled when offered for sale in Europe. EU Ministers reiterated, in accordance with international law, that the Palestinian West Bank and East Jerusalem, together with the Syrian Golan Heights, are NOT part of the internationally-recognised borders of Israel. The Ministers called for “a fundamental change of policy by Israel with regard to the Occupied Palestinian territory.”
Members of the UN Security Council are already aware that Israel practises, as a matter of policy, unacceptable violations of human rights and grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. In the UK Parliament, again on 18 January, Lord Judd asked the Foreign and Commonwealth Office what representations had been made to the government of Israel “about the humanitarian consequences in the acute winter season, especially for children, of the destruction by the Israeli Civil Administration of Bedouin homes and communities in Area C near East Jerusalem, including that of Abu Nuwar on 6 January.” Israeli troops had destroyed five residential structures, making 25 people (17 of them children) homeless in the middle of winter. The inhuman violation was perpetrated against the Jordan Valley Bedouin community of Abu Nuwar, with Israeli forces also destroying a livestock shelter and five portable latrines.
Lord Judd was answered on 25 January by Baroness Anelay of St Johns who admitted that “Israeli proposals to relocate the Bedouin population from the E1 area, which the UN have said could constitute forcible transfer” would “likely open the way for further settlement expansion” and “cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians”. The Baroness also affirmed that, according to the Fourth Geneva Convention, destruction of any real or personal property in the Occupied Territory is unjustifiable. She said the UK Government had also made clear to Israel that forcible transfer would be a breach of international humanitarian law and would have serious ramifications on Israel’s international standing. The question is, when will Security Council members move from mere criticism to finally taking positive steps to bring Israel to account?
Holocaust Memorial Day 2016 – “Never again for anyone”
On the 27 January the world marked Holocaust Memorial Day, the liberation of the Nazi death camp of Auschwitz. “Never again for anyone” — these words were spoken by the late Dr Hajo Meyer, the Auschwitz survivor and staunch supporter of the International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network (IJAN). In 2014 a letter from Jewish Survivors of the Nazi genocide appeared in memory of Meyer in the NY Times condemning Israel’s massacres in Gaza and calling for support for the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement (BDS). Hajo Meyer explained to the world how the Auschwitz tragedy was exploited by Israel and Zionism to justify the ethnic cleansing and colonisation of Palestine.
The people struggling to survive in Occupied Palestine are victims of a genocide according to the terms of the UN Convention on Genocide. The 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide (article 2) defines genocide as “any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group . . .” including:
- Killing members of the group;
- Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group;
- Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part;
- Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group;
- Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group.
As an example, the third act listed here: Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part is being carried out by Israel in a process that has been going on since 1948.
Profiting from the Occupation
Even though Israeli Occupation settlements displace and burden native Palestinians with land confiscation, loss of freedom of movement and economic hardship, Israel claims its settlement businesses ‘contribute’ to the Palestinian economy. According to a recent World Bank report, illegal Israeli settlement is costing the Palestinian economy almost 50% of its annual GDP. The local Palestinian estimate is higher, closer to 89% of current GDP. Israel’s settlements operate enterprises that exploit Palestinian natural resources, including water, land and materials such as stone, including marble, as well as Dead Sea minerals and agriculture. Large swathes of Palestinian land have been seized and much property destroyed in the pursuit of the economic exploitation of the Palestinian people. One of Israel’s greatest crimes is the exploitation of Palestinian water. Occupation settlers use six times more water than the whole West Bank Palestinian population.
The Israeli Occupation treats Palestinian communities with contempt, demolishing homes, prohibiting the building of schools and hospitals and denying or severely limiting Palestinian access to essential services, such as electricity and water. Most Occupation settlements, on the other hand, are designated by Israel as “national priority areas” and provided with financial benefits for education, health, housing construction and economic and agricultural development. The military Occupation’s Zionist ideology views Palestinians as less than human. In this Israeli Army video, posted on 16 January, Occupation soldiers safely amuse themselves, targeting outraged young Palestinians. Listen to their recorded conversation as they make sport of youngsters who are forced to live under foreign military Occupation. On 26 January, 21 Palestinian families were forcibly removed from their homes in order to make way for Israeli Army exercises. These were the most recent of Israel’s all-out population control exercises that come on top of the terror and humiliation of constant night and day home invasions by Occupation troops. Population control is a marketable commodity that Israel exploits to the utmost.
Zionist contempt for the UN and international law
Israel has indiscriminately attacked both civilians and UN staff members in Gaza, along with UN food warehouses, schools and health clinics. During the Zionist regime’s 2014 blitz on Gaza, United Nations officials described the night-time killing of children, sheltering in a Gaza school, as a serious violation of international law. A murderous Israeli Army attack on a school in Rafah was denounced by UN chief Ban Ki-Moon as a “moral outrage” and a “criminal act”. The school – the Rafah Preparatory A Boys’ School – was one of more than 90 UN shelters in Gaza. It was sheltering, at the time, more than 3,000 people displaced by the Israeli blitz and at least ten were killed, with dozens more wounded. Seven UN schools are known to have been targeted by Israeli forces. On 3 January 2009, an Israeli air strike also destroyed the two-storey English language Co-educational American International School in Gaza. It killed the night watchman, while books, computers, science equipment and art supplies were obliterated by rubble. Why does the Security Council fail to take action when Gaza and its people are being crushed by intermittent blitzes, continuing blockade and economic sabotage? Will no one speak out? Even the killing of United Nations personnel and the destruction of UN schools fail to put an end to Israel’s impunity.
Israel claims legitimacy stemming from the 1917 Balfour Declaration and later, against the expressed wishes of the Palestinian people, the United Nations arbitrary partition of Palestine. The Balfour Declaration reads as follows:
“His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine, or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
While the land in question is Palestine, the Palestinian people are dismissively referred to in the document as “existing non-Jewish communities”. In 1917, the Palestinian community comprised over 90% of the total population; the Jewish population in Palestine numbered around 50,000. Also in 1917, as British First World War forces made their way up the coast of Palestine, their Palestinian allies supported them by attacking Ottoman supply lines. One of the most essential rights of any colonised people is the expectation and realisation of their self-determination. The betrayed Palestinian people are still waiting for their liberation.
Today, more than 1.5 million Palestinians, around half of them children, find themselves crowded into 58 UN-recognised refugee camps. The camps are in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip and, further afield, in Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. Even though the camps are intended to be places of refuge, in Occupied Palestine the UN affords the refugees no protection from incursions, home invasions and acts of brutality committed by the Israeli Army. During home invasions, that take place night and day, children are often seized and taken away by soldiers. The children long to live normal lives and the feelings of some are expressed in this short video. Israel carries out its assault on the conditions of Palestinian life at every level. Palestinian culture is targeted in many ways and police violence is used to shut down cultural events and prevent audiences from getting to them.
United Nations membership obligations
One of the conditions of acceptance for Israeli membership of the United Nations is for the Zionist state to recognise the Right of Return of the Palestinian refugees. General Assembly Resolution 273 of 11 May 1949 requires Israel to comply with Resolution 194 of 11 December 1948, which states:
“The United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution 194 (III), resolving that ‘refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible’.”
Israel shamelessly compounds its refusal to abide by the requirements of the Palestinian Right of Return by continuing to displace ever more Palestinians. Israel’s determined programme of settlement expansion and extension of the annexation Wall continue to isolate growing numbers of Palestinian communities.
The Security Council
On 26 January, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, referred to the issue of increasing Palestinian frustration “under the weight of a half century of Occupation” and on recent violent reactions by some Palestinians, Ban Ki-Moon recognised that “. . . as oppressed peoples have demonstrated throughout the ages, it is human nature to react to Occupation”. The Secretary General went on to say that, “continued settlement activities are an affront to the Palestinian people and to the international community.” Clearly, Israel should be called to account. The Security Council, responsible for global Peace and Security, has the power. Articles 5 and 6 of the UN Charter allow for a member of the United Nations, against which preventive or enforcement action has been taken by the Security Council, to be suspended from the exercise of the rights and privileges of membership by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the Security Council. Moreover, a member of the United Nations that persistently violates UN Charter principles may be expelled from the organisation by the General Assembly, upon the recommendation of the Security Council. Universal, peaceful co-existence depends upon global leadership and the application of secular moral authority based on justice with respect for, and enforcement of, international law. First, the Security Council must take preventive or enforcement action, and the imposition of sanctions on Israel would be a practical beginning. Racist Zionism should be restrained and repudiated; the continuing ‘negotiations’ pretence has served only to legitimise Israel’s inhumanities.
UN and Security Council weakness
A former Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations, Denis Halliday, observed in an interview that Israel’s impunity continued because “. . . the United States gives blind support to Israel.” He went on to note that Israel is “in violation of just about every international convention, the Charter itself. So they go in there and they kill 450 children, for example, recently in Gaza. And do we get them to stop? No. Does the UN pay attention? No. Some wishy-washy statement . . . comes out saying regrettably this and that, or whatever.” On Gaza he said, “UNWRA, the UN agency, has been educating, and feeding and supporting these thousands of refugees for some 40 years. So the UN is actually being attacked, the schools were bombed by Israel, and again Israel walks free.”
Arms profiteering and impunity
In another interview Halliday pointed out that the five permanent members of the Security Council, supposedly the guardians of world peace and security, “together manufacture and sell some 85% of the military weapons and equipment used in the many small and larger conflicts and wars on Earth today. In other words, global peace and security is in the hands of the arms dealers . . . No other industry is more profitable to the five permanent Member States. This must be challenged by all who cherish decency and justice – it amounts to corruption – and that is unacceptable to most people. This moral bankrupcy renders the UN incapable of properly protecting the Palestinian people.” As Halliday put it, “the vast majority of the some 190 UN Member States of the General Assembly do not support, or condone Israeli aggression, war crimes, crimes against humanity vis-à-vis the Palestinians.” Ordinary decent people should not have to look on helplessly as Palestinians continue to suffer under Israeli rule.
New Zealand’s choice
In the United Kingdom, 71 doctors are asking the World Medical Association to revoke the Israeli Medical Association’s membership. If British doctors are capable of taking action, why cannot New Zealand’s Government speak up for the Palestinian people at the Security Council? Israel should be told that it will face sanctions and eventual expulsion, or at least suspension from UN membership, so long as it continues its inhumanities and violations of international law. New Zealand has a choice! It can either continue to be complicit in the appeasement of Israel or it can shake the world by seizing the opportunity to challenge the passivity of the five permanent Security Council members. Our voice at the Security Council, speaking on behalf of all humanity, would be universally welcomed. It could bring hope of a new direction and inspire an irresistible demand for change.