Bringing justice to Palestine is in our hands

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The NZ Herald published an Opinion piece by John Minto, National Chairman, Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa yesterday. 

Here is the full unabridged version:

It would be easy to throw up our hands in horror at the announcement of the so-called “deal of the century” but that would be pointless. We’ve all known for a long time that this “deal” would be a boon to Israel and a kick in the guts for Palestinians.

The Trump administration has given the Israeli government the green light to: continue building Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land; annex most of the occupied West Bank; continue its ongoing military occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza; refuse Palestinian refugees the right to return to their land and homes and to continue its religious and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.

For the Palestinian side there is nothing aside from a vague reference to a hollowed out Palestinian state that would resemble apartheid South Africa’s bantustans. As the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says – “the deal is like Swiss Cheese – the Israelis get the cheese while the Palestinians get the holes.”

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The US “deal” rewards the oppressor and abuses the oppressed. Politically Trump is making a strong play for the evangelical Christian vote in the coming US elections. These are Christians who confuse the Israel of the Old Testament in the Bible with the modern political state of Israel.

On the Israeli side the “deal” is a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who faces a third election in early March after failing to get enough support in the previous two elections to form a government. Netanyahu hope the deal will get him over the line this time.

Meanwhile none of the issues of profound injustice and oppression by Israel of Palestinians will go away, irrespective of the political manoeuvrings of Trump or Netanyahu.

So what is the way forward for Palestine?

The answer is surprisingly simple and was contained in a report last October from the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur for Palestine, Mr Michael Lynk.

The Lynk report says the international community has a responsibility and legal obligation to compel Israel to end its 52 year-long “occu-annexation” of Palestinian territory and remove barriers preventing Palestinian self-determination. Lynk points out that this occupation is the longest in the modern world and says it is “endlessly sustainable without decisive international intervention because of the grossly asymmetrical balance of power on the ground”.

He says “Accountability is the key to opening the titanium cage that is the permanent occupation. The international community has issued countless resolutions and declarations critical of the never-ending Israeli occupation. The time has long past to match these criticisms with effective consequences.” Well said.

To remedy this, Michael Lynk recommends that the international community should devise a list of effective countermeasures against Israel which would be “appropriate and proportional” to the circumstances.

He suggests some modern examples of applying pressure, such as diplomatic public statements, trade sanctions, flight bans, travel restrictions and reduction or suspension of aid.

Most importantly he says that “should Israel remain unmoved, (the international community) should apply and escalate the range of its targeted countermeasures until compliance had been achieved.”

After the “deal of the century” this is the only viable way forward.

The world faced a similar situation in the 1970s and 1980s with regard to the racist South African regime. While the great mass of humanity supported the struggle for self-determination of black South Africans, white South Africa was strongly supported by the UK and the US with leaders Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan respectively giving unwavering support to its brutal oppression of blacks.

Despite this iron-clad support from key Western governments a critical factor in forcing democratic change was the people and governments around the world implementing a wide range of boycotts against the regime – sporting, trade, investment and diplomatic boycotts were all part of the mix – which helped bring irresistible pressure for change.

Israel’s brutal military occupation and its racist apartheid policies towards Palestinians cannot and will not survive international boycott action.

South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu is clear on the importance of the approach proposed by Michael Lynk:

“In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime.”

And Archbishop Tutu has a message for governments like New Zealand.

“Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Michael Lynk’s report points the way. Our New Zealand government should be at the forefront in supporting this United Nations proposed approach.

Let’s do this!

10 COMMENTS

  1. Craig Murray, author, broadcaster and human rights activist, former British Ambassador to Uzbekistan , former Rector of the University of Dundee has written in informationclearinghouse an article titled
    Trump’s Bantustan Palestine Plan Shows the “Two State” Solution Was Always a Lie

    It’s well worth reading Murray’s article which he wrote after reading the entire 181 pages of Trump’s “peace deal”.

    He wrote “I have often pointed out that the proposed “two state solution” for Palestine has always been no more and no less than the old apartheid policy of “Bantustans” in South Africa, where the indigenous population were herded into six self-governing and four supposedly “independent states”.

    Murray makes comparisons between the bantustan proposals and Trump’s plan. “But the Trump proposals for how “Palestine” will run, make the Bantustan comparison still more stark. Indeed, the restrictions on the so-called “state” of Palestine under the Trump plan from having its own military or security forces are even greater than those imposed on the Bantustans by apartheid South Africa. Trump also proposes that Israel should have the right to stop Palestinian refugees from the wider diaspora entering the new “state” of Palestine. A “state” not permitted to define its own citizens is not a state.”

    Murray finds ‘incredible’ how welcoming of Trump’s proposals European governments are, with their reaction that ” that these are serious proposals with which the Palestinians must engage” and their applauding Trump’s “commitment to a two state solution”. Yet, Murray also notes that the Western powers have always sided together. “It is worth pointing out that the apotheosis of the apartheid system, the Bantu Self-Governing Act of 1959, was given Royal Assent by Queen Elizabeth II, a point now rather skated over by a false narrative that apartheid was a solely Afrikaaner project post-Independence.”

    The writer’s main point is that “the “two state solution” was always a con.”

    “The only long term solution for Palestine/Israel is, as with South Africa, a single state in which everybody has a vote and everybody is treated equally, irrespective of ethnicity, creed or gender.”

    I remember a talk the Palestinian-Australian poet Samah Sabawi gave in Christchurch several years ago. She said it was unhelpful to argue about a ” one State or two State solution”. The situation is a “One State Reality”.
    Israel is a State that openly oppresses its indigenous people, an apartheid State although the word apartheid isn’t really strong enough.
    If only New Zealand would dare to say no to Trump’s proposals and demand that Israel be treated as a rogue state until it conforms to international humanitarian laws. If only we the public could demand that our leaders: political, religious and academic, take a stand , for international law, for justice for all the people of historic Palestine.

  2. Two things: look after the lowest 20 % of us and send arms to the Palestinians.

    Or, for the ignorants, imagine us conquered by the Japanese in WW 2.

    I’ll never be able to present m’self in national politics after talking against the Israelis. Pricks though they are. They are too bright to ever have not known about their sin.

    • No,the Palestinians don’t want, are not asking, for weapons. Thy want the world to listen to them as they tell their own narrative. They want freedom , social justice, dignity.

      • So….rockets, guns, IEDs, knives, terror tunnels, molotov cocktails, armed drones, car rammings etc don’t qualify as using weapons????? Who exactly are these ‘Palestinians’ you are talking about? Hamas, who loathe Fatah and run the Strip with an iron fist, murdering opponents, plus are a listed terror organisation, or Fatah, who loathe Hamas and torture and imprison any dissenters? Neither group has held elections since 2007 and their leaders are autocratic exploiters of their people, plunging them into lives of misery and using them as human shields. Your narrative makes no sense. You aren’t even talking about these people whose charters both state the same aim: erase Israel and every last Jew. You have entirely fictionalised your ‘Palestinians’ for your own agenda of hatred, denying Israel any right to security in the process.

  3. The Trump Peace plan may not be perfect, but it is the best offer the Palestinians are likely to get since the entire world, Arab states included, are sick of their rejectionist antics – this one makes number 9. Already they have resorted to their familiar infantile behaviour with murderous acts of terror and their disgraceful ‘pay for slay’ policy. Abbas will continue to live in luxury, like Arafat before him, while his people suffer from his intransigent policies. In 2008 Olmert offered them 98% of what they wanted, with some land swaps making up the remaining 2%, and billions of dollars. They rejected the offer and resorted to violence once again. They don’t want a state: they want Israel gone, which is also your aim, begrudging the Jewish people one tiny sliver of land the size of South Canterbury, the world’s only jewish state. Your predictable analogy to apartheid South Africa is ridiculous, and anyway we all know how that turned out – just another corrupt, ruined African country. There is no Arab state called ‘Palestine’; there never was. The Jews are the indigenous people of this land and you can try to rewrite history, all you want, but you won’t fool anyone. The BDS movement is dead and the US will simply veto countermeasures attempted in the UN. The Syrian/Jordanian Arabs have one last chance here and they should take it, because the US has given Israel the right to act unilaterally and without having to make any concessions as was always the case before. Huff and puff all you want, but Israel is there to stay, prosper, and continue to be a light unto the nations.

  4. Gaby we took from the Holocaust, utmost justice. And from it inflicted conquest on an innocent people. I think Israel/ Palestine is war to the end, and if there are any ideals it must be for the Palestinians. Unless Israelis can see further than the ultimate end of Zionism which is their present govt. But present pleasure always beats ultimate reality, witness Nazi Germany.

    • Another shining example of the Left’s morally inverted universe which presents the Palestinians as the victims and the Jews as the oppressors whereas the opposite is the truth. The implied comparison of Israel with Nazi Germany is just another tired old trope, which is plain repulsive. Jews, the indigenous people, lived continuously in Palestine and were always willing to share the land with Arabs, who for religious and racial reasons want only to exterminate them all. Jordan is the Palestinian state. That’s why the flags are virtually identical. If by ‘conquest’ you mean Israel’s triumph over Arab countries trying repeatedly to destroy her without success, the Arabs have only themselves to blame for their defeat since they were always the belligerents. Try reading some proper history, not invented narratives.

      • We were all behind you for decades, Gaby, after the Holocaust. The Palestinians fought like the devil for their country in the 30s. You take our ethical support and demonise our ethical opposition?

        Israel is the moral handbook of my generation so don’t accuse me of not knowing about her story. She holds the land by right of sword, and thus has no call on my sympathy.

  5. Inventive narratives seems to be your specialty or your too young to know history of that area.
    Since when die Yiddish or Ashkenazi Jews ever have ancient blood ties in Palestine.

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