This is the second part of the exceptionally engaged and well-informed debate on the UK recognising Palestinian statehood. Again, MPs who have been traditionally pro-Israel remark on their disillusion and again the anger with Israel’s intransigence is cross-party. Questions are over the value of the UK expressing an opinion.
In this new report from Who Profits, the facts and figures are provided of how much money Israeli companies make by growing produce in the Jordan valley, by blocking Palestinian production and sales from their own land and by twisting and turning to evade the international laws that prohibit this agricultural business and its artful mislabelling.
The Palestine Festival of Literature is an annual event which draws authors from around the world. Yet however much they know, their reports back – here from Teju Cole – are not about the literature but stunned accounts of Israeli security; which makes them think – if it’s bad for us, what’s it like for Palestinians? Israeli own-goal.
Perhaps at some point for some Israelis the occupation of Palestinian land was seen as temporary – a situation allowed by the laws of war. The security structure and settlements make it clear beyond doubt that for Israel the occupation is permanent (and thus clearly illegal). New report from B’Tselem.
Here is yet another report, from Defence of Children International-Palestine, on the arrest, confinement and interrogation of Palestinian children some as young as 12 years old. What security threat do children throwing stones represent to the Israeli state? None of the many bodies who have investigated has found any justification for these practices. The security state has an insatiable appetite.
On April 9th, Parliament’s Foreign Affairs Select Committee announced it was holding an enquiry into the human rights work of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO). It invited submissions and, on behalf of JfJfP Arthur Goodman submitted a report, It emphasises the human rights which Israel abrogates, argues that the ‘even-handed’ approach of the FCO covers up the reality of Israel’s occupation and power (including its use of violence) and proposes stronger measures to be taken.
“The combined effect of the measures designed to ensure security for Israeli citizens, to facilitate and expand settlements, and, it would appear, to annex land, is ‘hafrada’, discrimination and systematic oppression of, and domination over, the Palestinian people.” This is Special Rapporteur Richard Falk’s final judgment on human rights in the oPt in which he also indicts corporate complicity. It is a closely argued and documented report, based on the body of international law.
They make a big pile, the corpses of the 45 Palestinians – unarmed, mostly young – killed by Israeli forces in the last three years, 22 of them last year. Amnesty has been counting and has released its grim report on the “unnecessary, arbitrary and brutal force against Palestinians”. The words callous, reckless, trigger-happy, impunity, illegal also occur. The protesters are unarmed – in many cases as a conscious policy of non-violence. The arms trade with Israel should be stopped; Israel’s buying and selling is based on putting down Palestinian resistance.
Determined as ever to extract a victim status for itself government ministers have found many ways to cast Kerry’s efforts as unjust to them – the latest being that the threat of boycott is ‘holding a gun to its head’, meanwhile continuing with the very illegal and inhumane actions which invite boycott – in this case the ruthless clearance of Palestinians from the Jordan valley. Adam Keller and statement from the UN.
Two teenagers shot in cold blood in December and January. Official figures show the IDF killed 27 Palestinians, four of them minors, in 2013 – three times the number killed in 2012. The numbers injured by security forces was also higher, as was the number of settler attacks. Clashes with security forces have been particularly common in Abu Dis, just the other side of the Wall from Jerusalem, and harrassment of students going to Al Quds university has notably increased. Has this increased level of violence and intimidation been ordered – or are police and soldiers just out of control?
Jeff Halper, co-founder and director of the Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions. opens this month’s newsletters with an unusually optimisitic forecast about the sustainability of the Occupation – and a bleak warning about Israel’s preferred role as the regional, weapons-exporting hegemon. The newsletter also carries reports from ICAHD in Jerusalem, its tours, and its role in Bethehem Unwrapped.
Israel’s dependence on its arms industry and exports is no secret. What exactly it sells and to which countries is, apparently, a state secret – of course, in the name of ‘security’. Two Ha’aretz reports on a subject that is at the heart of the Israeli state.
Details of what inducements John Kerry offered to Palestinian and Israeli leaders to start negotiations have not been made public. Palestinians certainly thought that if they entered talks Israel’s colonizing policies of land seizure, new Jewish settlements, demolition of Palestinian homes and amenities, military checkpoints etc would be halted. Two brief reports from the Land Research Centre show this is not so.
There have been many reports in the last few years about the lack of due process and lack of respect for human rights and dignity in the arrest and treatment of Palestinians. This is particularly serious in the case of minors, whose fear and helplessness intensifies their ordeal. Until the rights (e.g. to a lawyer or to know the reason for the arrest) of those arrested are enforced these reports will continue to be researched and published.
International energy for a just Palestinian-Israeli peace is expended on everything but the one thing that matters – ending the occupation. The PA, under then-PM Salaam Fayyad’s direction, worked hard to produce the state institutions demanded by the West. So what? As the World Bank report, and this FMEP report, both make clear the Palestinian economy cannot grow while it is squeezed within an inch of its life by Israel’s restrictions, regulations, checkpoints, barriers on movement, and so on. The claim that all these are imposed in the name of security is laughable.
In this time of global response to the destruction of typhoon Hainan it seems useful to look at overseas charitable aid. The biggest donors in terms of proportion of national income are the countries of north west Europe. The meanest giver is Israel and the country most likely to tie its aid to propaganda for its military and nation is also Israel. The head of Israel’s philanthropy centre suggests this is because Israelis think they should be the beneficiaries of aid – despite their insistence they have a first world prosperous economy.
INCLO, a group of 10 human rights organisations, has produced a report on the global suppression of protest. It takes nine countries – including Israel, the UK, Kenya and Hungary – as case studies. The chapter on Israel describes the suppression of the peaceful protests at Nabi Saleh and, in particular, the treatment of Bassem Tamimi. He has been arrested 12 times, held for long spells in administrative detention and tortured.
The Jordan valley is the most fertile land in Palestine/Israel. The land most coveted by Israelis. Before 1967 it was the centre of Palestinian farming and herding. Their population was around 250-300,000. Now it numbers 40-50,000. Settlements, firing zones, water expropriation and ruthless control of any building has forced Palestinians out of the area leaving a harried, unsafe minority.
As we know, so shocked was the Israeli government at the EC guidelines forbidding EU funds and financial instruments being given to Israeli entities in the oPt that it demanded an inquiry. These Guidelines are the single most important step the EU has taken against the economic and political viability of the Occupation. We post four letters sent by JfJFP’s campaigning diplomat Arthur Goodman and by the EJJP to EC and American diplomats urging them to understand, take seriously and enforce those Guidelines.
As B’Tselem says in its latest report, the right not to be subjected to physical or mental torture is regarded as absolute. And that’s for adults. Over the last few years, the Israeli human rights organisation has received multiple reports from minors of horrible threats and serious violence at Gush Etzion police station. It makes sickening reading. B’Tselem has pressed for a proper response from the authorities but received none.Gush Etzion is a bloc of 22 illegal settlements and particularly likely to use violence to intimidate Palestinian children.