Prime Minister Donald Tusk has said he does not want the arrest of an individual suspected of being involved in an extra judicial killing to damage relations between Poland and Israel.
The fact that the Polish government is prioritizing political relations with an ally which is non-compliant with international law and flagrantly violates the Geneva Conventions 1949 on a daily basis shows a contempt for the necessary observance of international law.
Poland along with Germany and other EU states are also in non-compliance with international law regarding the obligation to support the protection and self determination of the Palestinian people and to prevent violations being perpetrated by states covered by these laws, in this instance Israel.
The advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the illegality of Israel’s security barrier – twice as high as the Berlin Wall in some parts – made it an obligation for states including Poland to stop its’ construction and dismantle it. Israel’s Wall is our Berlin Wall – if Poland does not fulfill its’ obligation to dismantle it, it is responsible for building it.
Tusk told reporters this week: ‘I don’t need to explain to anyone that this (arrest of suspected Mossad Agent) is a delicate issue, due to historical associations – within this the triangle of Poland-Israel-Germany – meaning that this is a situation can give rise to bad associations’.*
For a start, the implications of non-compliance with a Europol arrest warrant and the rule of law are international and not confined to a ‘triangle’ of relations between three states.
Secondly, Tusk’s triangle omits a key actor, silenced and sidelined in this narrative – Palestine and the Palestinian people, their right to life, their right as an occupied people for over 60 years to resist occupation, and their inclusion as protected persons under the Geneva Conventions. The Polish government can add the historical and ongoing ethnic cleaning of Palestine to the negative association that this clear issue of a man suspected of carrying out a crime connotes.
Yes, we believe in the statement ‘Never Again’ to the crimes against humanity committed throughout Europe during the second world war, and with most inhumanity here in Poland. But we will not be held hostage to a history whose lessons have not been learned.
The internationally agreed means to ensure ‘never again’ are the Geneva Conventions and Universal Declaration on Human Rights.
These are the principles built by survivors of crimes against humanity, following the massacre, resistance and sacrifice of millions. These are principles that protect people from state violence. These are principles that are deliberately universal and not beholden to political party or ideological doctrine.
These are the principles that the current Polish government seems to regard as not applicable to the Palestinian people.
Compliance with the rule of law is an obligation and not a policy decision – this applies to whichever government is in power. We trust that the people of Poland will hold their government to account and not allow themselves or their history to be exploited in the cause of exploiting others.
The European Campaign to End the Siege of Gaza – Poland
*“Nie muszę nikomu tłumaczyć, że sprawa jest delikatna, począwszy od historycznych skojarzeń – w tym trójkącie Polska-Izrael-Niemcy wiadomo, że jest to sytuacja, która może budzić złe skojarzenia” – zaznaczył Tusk. Donald Tusk, June 15th 2010