An up-to-date legal statement from Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights elaborates and corroborates the case put forward by Gisha (Legal Center for Freedom of Movement) in 2008 that “The closure of Gaza is neither a siege, nor a blockade, nor an economic sanction – it is an illegal act of collective punishment and stands in violation of both international and Israeli law”.
B’Tselem – The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories – reports on recent house demolitions carried out by Israeli occupation forces, with Israeli High Court approval – a collective punishment in clear breach of international law.
Dr. Mahmoud Al-Mubarak, Director-General of the Centre for International Legal Studies, Saudi Arabia, provides a clear account of the legal provisions governing occupiers and occupied. This does not include the actions of police and resisters in Israel proper. He also proposes 3 tracks which Palestinians and supporters can follow.
President Abbas is to address the UN on September 26 with a plan to end the occupation of his country by Israel. The first step, one of his advisers says, is for Israel to draw its definite borders – something all Israeli regimes have refused to do, and for international law to be enforced. It is expected the Security Council will veto the proposals.
The central idea of this article by Uri Misgav is scary: that Israel, with its impunity from international law and its refusal to draw geographical boundaries, now knows no moral limits. Is there any act of cruelty or contempt for non-Jews which is beyond the bounds in today’s Israel?
In the latest of David Shulman’s illuminating reports, Ta’ayush volunteers try to engage in discussion the settlers and soldiers who are driving the Palestinian herders away. These men know nothing of international – or national – law; they live by the word of God (their unique interpretation) and of their commanding officer. In their ignorance of law, the soldiers terrify the shepherds by threatening to shoot them if they don’t go.
“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.
Building new homes for Israeli Jews, knocking down existing homes of Palestinians (including Israeli Bedouin) constitutes Israel’s violent drive to control all land in Palestine/Israel, preferably confining Palestinians to refugee camps. Here, 36 charities and aid groups sign a statement calling for an immediate end to the demolitions. ICAHD and the ECCP issue a more political statement on demolitions, the EU and international law.
The Israeli state has this defence against the crimes it has committed against Palestinians – so far with impunity: it is in a state of “armed conflict short of war” with Palestinians whom it has killed or imprisoned without due process. Al Haq and the PCHR have now urged the International Criminal Court to launch its own investigation into such crimes, thus helping free the people of the oPt from their ‘black hole’.
The implications of Palestine’s new UN status are examined by two Q&A articles, 1) from the BBC and 2) from ACRI. Apart from enhancing its status in relation to Israel, the main consequence is seen to be the PA’s possible entry into international bodies and agreements, giving the PA new powers as well as responsibilities.
The final international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, considering “US Complicity and UN Failings in Dealing with Israel’s Violations of International Law Toward the Palestinian People”, was held in New York city, October 6-7. Its conclusions include the use of social media to arouse public knowledge. UPDATE Frank Barat responds to criticisms.
We have posted many judgments on the Levy report, which was delivered to Netanyahu by his hand-picked committee last July. Here Iain Scobbie takes apart the Levy Commission’s legal ‘reasoning’ finding nothing substantial or forensic in their thinking. An expert on international law, Professor Scobbie wrote this opinion for the European Journal of International Law blog.
Five leading activist for human rights, committed through belief and experience to the work of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, here issue an appeal to others who share their shock at Israel’s violations of international law, to attend and promote the tribunal’s final hearings in New York in October. The five are Alice Walker, Angela Davis, Dennis Banks, Russell Means and Stephane Hessel.
David Steel, former MP, leader of the Liberal Party and Presiding Officer of the Scottish parliament, reviews a new book on creating public opinion on the Palestine/Israel conflict. He says: ‘What is the most appalling thread running through these essays is … the complicity of EU governments and that of the USA in letting the Israeli government get away with breach after breach of international law.’
It is one thing for individuals to boycott goods from illegal Israeli settlements, quite another for states to ban their import – especially in military gear. The TUC has taken a lead by commissioning an opinion from James Crawford, Whewell Professor of International Law, Cambridge University. Contrary to the fears of governments and the EU Commission, he gives his argument that they are entitled to take such action.
A panel headed by retired Supreme Court judge Edmond Levy, appointed by PM Netanyahu to provide a legal opinion on settlements, has obliged him by affirming the West Bank is not occupied territory and thus settlements break no laws. This contradicts both international legal judgments and Israel’s own Sasson report of 2005. Right-wing bodies have welcomed the Levy report and urged its rapid implementation.
Veolia is a multinational company providing services to local authorities and others in the UK. It also provides services linking Israel to its illegal settlements. JfJfP got legal advice on why Veolia could and should be excluded from contracts given by local authorities. The briefing is here.
The shameless flouting of the law by Israel beggars belief. Theft, threats, intimidation and blockages by illegal settlers are effectively denying access to water by Palestinians in Areas B and C. No action is taken. While the Palestinians depend on water for farming as well as drinking and sanitation, the settlers want it to encourage tourism to ‘their’ attractive venues. One of the most direct reports from the UN’s OCHA.
The furore caused by Norman Finkelstein when he derided the BDS movement as a ‘cult’ and vested his authority in a 2-state solution and the primacy of international law, has not faded. This is a pitfall of solidarity work – confusing the value to a cause of the work you do for the authority to lead that cause in a particular direction. The IOA tries to get the discussion back on track.
The next session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine will take place on the Southern tip of Africa, in Cape Town. The Tribunal will gather 5-7th November 2011 in the historic District 6 Museum. Frank Barat reports from the Tribunal.