Category Archives: HUMAN RIGHTS

Australian MPs react to Julian Assange’s release

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article of Yahoo News Australia

Julian Assange has walked free from prison after the WikiLeaks founder reached an agreement with the US Department of Justice, ending a years long legal saga that centred on the release of hundreds of thousands of classified State Department cables, a development that has been welcomed across the Australian parliament.


Kristinn Hrafnsson, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks, addresses supporters Julian Assange outside Australia House on April 10, 2024 in London, England. (Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images) Photo reproduced by Common Dreams

According to court documents filed on Monday, Mr Assange is expected to plead guilty to a single felony of conspiring to unlawfully obtain and disseminate classified information, a violation under the US Espionage Act.

The plea deal will spare him further time in prison in the UK where he was reportedly suffering health issues and living in solitary confinement.

Having left prison on Monday after he was granted bail by the UK High Court, Mr Assange then boarded a private jet at Stansted Airport joined by UK High Commissioner Stephen Smith and left the country en route to Bangkok.

The 52-year-old is expected to front a US Federal Court on Wednesday in Saipan, a self-governing US territory located in the western Pacific, about 2400km east of the Philippines.

After being sentenced to the 62 months he has already spent in prison, he is expected to return to Australia.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has previously raised Mr Assange’s case in talks with US president Joe Biden. Mr Albanese told parliament in February he hoped that a resolution to the case could be found.

In a short statement released on Tuesday morning, an Australian government spokesman confirmed Mr Assange’s legal proceedings scheduled in the US.

“The Australian government continues to provide consular assistance to Mr Assange,” the spokesman said.

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Question related to this article:

Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Is Internet freedom a basic human right?

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“Prime Minister Albanese has been clear – Mr Assange’s case has dragged on for too long and there is nothing to be gained by his continued incarceration.”

Coalition frontbencher and Nationals MP Barnaby Joyce on Tuesday thanked those who had supported Mr Assange’s release, including members of a self-funded parliamentary delegation to lobby US Congress for his freedom.

“There were so many people who were part of this process, and what it showed was people from both sides of politics, for different reasons, arrived at the same place,” Mr Joyce said on Tuesday morning.

But Mr Joyce warned there were still further steps to be taken before Mr Assange’s freedom was assured.

“In a 1500m race, you don’t stop and start waving at the crowd with 2½ laps (to go). Wait to the end of the race and then the race is over,” he said.

Greens senator David Shoebridge also welcomed Mr Assange’s release and remarked that he was “looking forward to welcoming Julian back home”.

“Let’s be clear, Julian Assange should never have been charged with espionage in the first place or had to make this deal. (He) has spent years in jail for the crime of showing the world the horrors of the US war in Iraq and the complicity of governments like Australia and that is why he has been punished.”

With Mr Assange en route to Australia, a statement released by WikiLeaks thanked those who had lent their support to co-ordinated efforts to free him.

“This is the result of a global campaign that spanned grassroots organisers, press freedom campaigners, legislators and leaders from across the political spectrum, all the way to the United Nations,” a WikiLeaks statement read.

“This created the space for a long period of negotiations with the US Department of Justice, leading to a deal that has not yet been formally finalised.

“Julian’s freedom is our freedom”.

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Complicity in Genocide—The Case Against the Biden Administration

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from In These Times

Early this month (February 2024), a federal judge dismissed a case brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) charging  U.S. President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken with complicity in the Israeli-led genocide in Gaza.

But while many media outlets were quick to report on the case not moving forward, they largely missed a key aspect of the ruling: the judge did not dismiss the case on its merits but rather because it fell  “outside the court’s limited jurisdiction,” therefore rejecting it on technical grounds. In fact, U.S. District Court Judge Jeffrey White’s statement appeared to uphold some of plaintiff’s key charges in the case:  “Both the uncontroverted testimony of the plaintiffs and the expert opinion proffered at the hearing on these motions as well as statements made by various officers of the Israeli government indicate that the ongoing military siege in Gaza is intended to eradicate a whole people and therefore plausibly falls within the international prohibition against genocide.”


US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, US President Joe Biden, and US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin look on during a Cabinet meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 2, 2023.
(PHOTO BY BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP VIA GETTY IMAGES)

The judge went further, urging Biden and his administration officials to scrutinize  “the results of their unflagging support” for the Israeli government’s assault on Gaza.

Judge White was not alone in his appraisal. The case, first heard on January 26 in front of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California, saw roughly 100 human rights and humanitarian aid groups write briefs supporting CCR’s charges against the Biden administration. 

These briefs make it abundantly clear that the Biden administration, in its steadfast support of the Israeli government, is complicit in the ongoing genocide, the displacement of approximately 80% of Palestinians from their homes and the deaths of more than 29,000 so far in this latest chapter of a year-long Nakba (catastrophe) that never ended.

CCR’s lawsuit underscored the plight of a Palestinian people asserting their humanity and refusing to be sacrificed at the altar of  the 1948 Genocide Convention—which tasks governments with preventing genocides and forbids their complicity in genocides perpetrated by another party — and the U.S. Genocide Convention Implementation Act, passed in 1988, which incorporates this mandate into U.S. law.

As multiple human rights advocates and experts such as Israeli historian and Associate Professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies Raz Segal have laid out, Israel is carrying out a textbook case of genocide” in Gaza, backed by clear genocidal intent, laid bare in Israeli Minister of Defense Yoav Gallant’s Oct. 9 declaration: “We are imposing a complete siege on Gaza. No electricity, no food, no water, no fuel. Everything is closed. We are fighting human animals and we will act accordingly.”

In response to the case, the Biden administration countered that CCR’s lawsuit should not move forward because supporting Israel is a foreign policy decision reserved for the executive branch, free from judicial interference; that the United States is not responsible for how Israel, a foreign government, acts; and that there is no federal law allowing the plaintiffs to sue.

CCR noted, first, that the issue is not whether the U.S. can make foreign policy decisions involving Israel but rather that the decision to aid in a genocide violates federal law, and the courts have a duty to uphold the law even against U.S. officials.

Second, CCR explained in detail how the Biden administration, far from a neutral spectator, is actively supporting the genocide through military, economic and diplomatic assistance.

Militarily, Secretary Blinken exercised emergency powers twice in December to approve the sale of armament worth approximately $254 million. According to the Defense Department, these supplies come from the War Reserve Stocks for Allies-Israel (WRSA-I), an obscure U.S. stockpile in Israel containing billions of dollars’ worth of equipment.

The administration now seeks to loosen WRSA-I restrictions for Israel, expanding access to weaponry, increasing the annual stockpile limits, and removing legislative oversight, while adding to the privileges Israel already enjoys such as permission to withdraw WRSA-I items without the prior justification required of all other recipient countries.

The U.S. has provided (or is on track to provide) Israel over 25,000 tons of military supplies: dozens of F‑35 and F-15 fighter jets (to be received in the coming years), a dozen Apache helicopters, two thousand Hellfire missiles, MK‑ 84 bombs and Joint Direct Attack Munitions to guide them, Spice bombs, M141 bunker‑buster munitions, one million rounds of 7.62 mm munitions and thousands of 155 mm artillery shells, 30 mm cannon munitions, night‑vision devices and much more. Meanwhile, the presence of U.S. surveillance drones in Gaza suggests the possibility of greater U.S. military involvement than previously thought.

Financially, President Biden requested an emergency supplemental budget exceeding $14 billion to support Israel. The House of Representatives responded with a bill reflecting this amount plus billions of dollars for joint operations assistance. The Senate has now passed a bill for $14 billion permitting the supply of currently forbidden military items to Israel, as well as waiving WRSA-I caps. These bills are currently being debated in Congress but enjoy broad bipartisan support.

And, diplomatically, the United States exercised its veto privilege at the United Nations Security Council to stall international calls for a cease-fire in Gaza on October 18, December 8 and February 20. The December instance followed UN Secretary General António Guterres’s invocation of Article 99 of the UN Charter to refer to the Security Council a “ matter which, in [his] opinion, may aggravate existing threats to the maintenance of international peace and security.”

Article 99 was last invoked in 1971 preceding the split of Bangladesh from Pakistan. Additionally, the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly supported cease-fire resolutions on October 27 and December 12 , both of which the U.S. voted against. And, on December 22 , the U.S. abstained from a Security Council vote to direct humanitarian aid to Gaza after stalling for four days to remove a call for cease-fire from the resolution.

These various forms of support unequivocally constitute aiding and abetting of Israel’s cataclysmic destruction of Gaza, and the CCR argued as much in establishing that the U.S. has been actively complicit in the ongoing genocide.

Relatedly, the CCR referenced this very aiding and abetting in claiming that they do have a federal right to sue under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS). As they explained, “aiding and abetting liability, particularly for U.S. defendants,” triggers the ATS goal of “provid[ing] a forum for violations of international law.”

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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Therefore, the CCR concluded, the courts do have a constitutional duty to put an end to the executive branch’s complicity in genocide; the executive branch is complicit based on its clear aiding and abetting in the form of military, financial and diplomatic support; and the ATS permits plaintiffs to sue federal officials for their violations of the Genocide Convention.

No conditions

CCR further charged Biden, Blinken and Austin with failure to prevent the genocide. The Genocide Convention and customary international law compel governments to exercise due diligence to prevent genocide, and self-defense is legally insufficient as a justification for eradicating a population. U.S. officials are liable if they could likely influence Israel’s conduct and if they should have known that Israel’s acts raised a serious risk of genocide in Gaza.

In Gaza, the U.S. indisputably can influence Israel’s conduct. The U.S. fills 92% of Israel’s arms imports. Much of this equipment can only originate from the U.S. as it utilizes proprietary technologies. Defense Minister Gallant admitted as much, when the U.S. pressured for humanitarian aid to Gaza, noting that “[t]he Americans insisted and we are not in a place where we can refuse them. We rely on them for planes and military equipment. What are we supposed to do? Tell them no?” The Biden administration similarly boasted about its influence in persuading Israel to pause aggressions for seven days in late November.

And the United States is doubtlessly aware of the ongoing genocide in Gaza. The CCR shared its emergency legal briefing paper with Biden, Blinken, and Austin in October explaining these exact points. The International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled in January that there is a plausible risk that Israel is carrying out genocide. Additionally, more than 800 public officials and diplomats across a range of countries, close to 80 of whom are based in the U.S. and work primarily within Blinken’s State Department, warned in February that their governments were at risk of being complicit in genocide.

In a previous case, the ICJ found Serbia to be liable for failing to prevent the genocide of Muslim communities in Srebrenica in 1995 by the Bosnian Serb forces, an independent actor that perpetrated the genocide with the support of the Serbian government. Dr. William A. Schabas, a renowned Professor of Human Rights Law and International Criminal Law, concluded that U.S. complicity in the war on Gaza “ has many parallels” with the Serbian government’s complicity in Srebrenica since, like the relationship between Israel and the U.S., “[t]he Bosnian Serb forces were very dependent upon weaponry and other logistical support from Serbia, and there were strong political and economic ties” between the two. The U.S. acknowledged this very duty to prevent genocide when it commented in support of Ukraine’s case against Russia at the ICJ in 2022.

The Biden administration blanketly denies the genocide charges against Israel while refusing to investigate them altogether. President Biden vowed that his “ administration’s support for Israel’s security is rock solid and unwavering.” Secretary Blinken has stated his view that South Africa’s “ charge of genocide [against Israel before the ICJ] is meritless.” And White House Coordinator for Strategic Communications John Kirby said, on behalf of the Biden administration, that “[w]e find [South Africa’s] submission meritless, counterproductive and completely without any basis in fact, whatsoever,” later insisting that “ we find that that claim is unfounded.”

More recently, former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi baselessly claimed that “ nothing [the U.S. has] sent since Oct. 7 [to Israel] has contributed to this brutality,” despite well recorded evidence to the contrary.

The U.S. State Department ordered officials to refrain from using the phrases “ de‑escalation,” “ cease-fire,” “ end to violence,” “ end to bloodshed,” and “ restoring calm” in press releases, and Secretary Blinken was found to have deleted references to a cease-fire in his posts on X (formerly Twitter) after they had already been sent out.

Conspicuously, a State Department task force on preventing atrocities took a full two weeks into the extremely brutal assault before meeting to discuss Israel and Palestine, and it was nevertheless sidelined by the administration.

According to Kirby, the U.S. imposes no conditions on weapons transfers to Israel even though the Foreign Assistance Act, the Leahy Law, and the Conventional Arms Transfer policy prohibit transfers when the weapons are likely intended to be used for genocide. Notably, transfers to most countries can be put on hold if one stakeholder suspects an item will be used unlawfully. In the case of Israel, multiple stakeholders, including the Bureau of Near East Affairs (NEA) and the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, must first agree that such risk exists, and the hold must be approved by the Deputy Secretary of State.

Moreover, these transfers are shrouded in secrecy. Whereas the U.S. published pages detailing what weapons, and in what quantities, it provided to Ukraine, governmental disclosures concerning Israel amount to one brief sentence. Josh Paul, former director in the State Department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs, remarks that there is no benefit in this secrecy except diminished oversight.

And the administration insists that it has remained close to the Israeli officials perpetrating the genocide. Kirby claimed that “ we have, since the beginning of the conflict, in the early hours, maintained a level of communication with our Israeli counterparts to ascertain their intentions, their strategy, their aims.” Secretary Blinken has held hours-long conferences with Israeli military officials, and Secretary Austin had near-daily calls with Minister Gallant “ to meet Israel’s needs, which include air defense, precision guided munitions, artillery and medical supplies.”

Responsibility to act

The U.S. District Court in California, spotlighting the ICJ’s finding of plausible genocide, implored the administration to reconsider its course for the welfare of the Palestinian people, finding the judiciary to be lamentably powerless to interfere with foreign policy decisions.

Looking to the future, a group of South African lawyers stated to the Biden administration their intention to sue the U.S. government for “ aiding, abetting and supporting, encouraging or providing material assistance and means to Israel” during a genocide. On February 12 , the South African government urgently requested that the ICJ use its powers to prevent further genocidal acts by Israel in light of the most recent attack on Rafah, “ the last refuge for surviving people in Gaza.”

As the CCR case makes clear, the United States government is currently facilitating the annihilation of Gaza and the Palestinian people. In the face of this massacre, Congress has a responsibility to rein in the abuses of the Biden administration by exercising its review authority to end any further aid to the Israeli government. While recent efforts to condition such aid have failed, that should not prevent members of Congress from taking a clear stand: now is the time to hold the Biden administration accountable for its complicity in the crime of genocide.

(Editor’s note: Recent polling data (May 8) in the United States indicates that 39% believe Israel is committing genocide against the Palestinian people living in Gaza, 38% saying Israel is not, and 23% saying they don’t know. A majority of Democrats (56%) and a slight plurality of Independents (36%) say they believe Israel is committing genocide in Gaza.)

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Bringing the Palestinian Message to Australia and New Zealand

. HUMAN RIGHTS . .

Excerpts with pictures of the tour in four installments/posts on the facebook page of the Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability

(Editor’s note: It is not in the headlines of the mass media, but there is a growing consciousness of people around the world that we need to stop the Israeli genocide, and work for a culture of peace. This may be seen in the reception of the people of Australia and New Zealand to the recent tour by Palestinians Mazin Qumsiyeh and his wife Jessie, as described in the following dispatches published on facebook.)

June 14. Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh and his wife Jessie concluded a very important trip to Australia and New Zealand (Aotearoa). Their goals were to gain long-term support for a) Palestine, b) sustainable human and natural communities globally, and c) Bethlehem University and our Palestine Institute for Biodiversity and Sustainability (palestinenature.org). The tour involved 53 days in 17 cities (Perth, Adelaide, Sydney, Wollongong, Brisbane, Melbourne, Geelong, Canberra, Hamilton, Napier, Palmerston North, Wanganui, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, Auckland).

They held 212 events, including speaking at lectures, workshops, rallies, informal gatherings, radio interviews, and media appearances. They drew a wide circle and met with people of all backgrounds: students, scientists, Aboriginal and Maori people, churches, mosques, Rotary clubs, environmental groups, museums, members of parliament in both countries, and local and national officials. They also met with scientists and political, religious, and community leaders. They averaged four events a day. They reached a total of 22,000 individuals and collected more than 3,400 emails to add to our contacts. Furthermore, they initiated over 20 potential joint projects.

There was an urgency regarding the situation in Palestine, involving genocide and ecocide, leading to a regional war and potentially a global catastrophic war. There was also an urgency regarding the state of our planet (e.g., with climate change).

The events also highlighted the ten-year anniversary of our institute (see this video https://youtu.be/qt8OTGoS198 and this booklet https://www.palestinenature.org/annual…/10-Years-PIBS.pdf). Here is a recording of an event with Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa: https://youtu.be/SfeM10YV8kw.

June 14bis. Wrapping up our educational activities in collaboration with Caritas Jerusalem, where we conducted eight visits benefiting 500 children. The aim of this collaboration was to introduce students to the biodiversity of Palestine, particularly in the Al-Makhrour region, and emphasize its importance in the success of environmental agriculture practices. Today, we hosted children from the Latin Scout Beit-Sahour. More educational activities and programs ahead.

June 1. New Zealand’s lectures and talks continue. We have been honoured by the hospitality and care for Palestine everywhere we go: Auckland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, etc. We miss Palestine The talks in New Zealand are ongoing. We were honored by hospitality and interest in Palestine everywhere we went: Aukland, Dunedin, Christchurch, Wellington, Queenstown, but we miss Palestine.

May 23. Jessie and I have been simply overwhelmed with events (2 to 5 events daily plus travel around this southern hemisphere continent). This morning only we had time off (due to an unexpected cancellation) to catch up, enter emails, and write you this note thanks and brief reflection. In our one-month tour of Australia, over 15,000 people heard our message of environmental justice and human rights and our tour of Aotearoa (New Zealand) is just beginning and already had 10 events over the past two days.
 
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Question related to this article:

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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We and our old and new friends were inspired over the past month from these events:-Several university encampments where we are inspired by students and faculty who demand their universities disclose any ties to genocide and divest and call for boycotts like we did with South Africa under apartheid. For more on encampments, see https://www.palestineiseverywhere.com/ and https://www.aljazeera.com/…/mapping-pro-palestine…

-Several rallies like the one in Gadi (aka Sydney) with 10,000 people

-Dozens of lectures at public events like the two events booked solid (300 and 100 people) at the Australian National University (ANU) to many others around the two countries in this continent

-Consultative and welcoming gatherings of activists and aboriginal leadership planning meetings. Here in Aotearoa (aka New Zealand), the Maoris were equally welcoming and inspiring.

-Conferences and conventions like the one of Australia Palestine Action Network (https://apan.org.au/ ) and the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (https://www.psna.nz/ )

-Many churches and seminaries of various denominations. As a Palestinian Christian, the message resonated of the need for christian communities to take a stand in line with what we Christian communities in the Holy Land have called for which is taking a moral and ethica stand in line with tenets of the faith (see https://www.kairospalestine.ps/ and https://sabeel.org/ )

-Other religious and secular community gatherings sympathetic to the Palestinian cause. I was especially inspired with the dedication of muslim communities from various backgrounds and the Arab communities (Chrisristan, Muslim, others). Their hospitality and kindness helped me feel at home and mitigated my feelings of “homesickness”

-Meeting with parliamentarians. Even during my brief visits over two days, I noted Zionist lobbyists who were not happy to see a Palestinian with a Kufiya in the parliament building. Outside activists organized a rally in front of the parliament building in commemoration of the ongoing Nakba. One MP from the labor party broke rank with her ruling party to say the truth (that it is a genocide and needs to stop). Other MPs show promise,

-Talks at high schools (the kids are amazing)

-Meeting with Rotarian Clubs (I am president of Rotary Club Bethlehem) to tell them of our humanitarian work and look for joint efforts.

-Meetings and talks at Botanic Gardens, seed banks, museums and other institutions doing similar work to ours (see palestinenature.org)

-Media appearances (social, TV, radio, newspapers, websites). Example:
St Mary’s Church/Anglican Cathedral Parnell
Green Left Television Show-1
Green Left Television Show-2
Podbean Climate Action Show

We had positive vibes in every one of these engagements and also grew ourselves with knowledge, new friends (thousands), and energy (spiritual and mental and physical- good food for heart, spirit and even stomach) and we thank all hosts and organizers for exceptional arrangements. We really feel the world changing but we must work hardeer to stop the genocide and decolonize globally. For me and Jessie, onward to more cities and then back to our beloved Palestine which we miss so much and then resume our volunteer and humanitarian work there. To support our collective work in Palestine (which has global reach),

PLEASE

See and act on our call for partnership: https://www.palestinenature.org/donations/PIBS-call.pdf

2) Volunteer (remotely or on site: https://www.palestinenature.org/volunteer

3) Donate https://www.palestinenature.org/donations

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New Caledonia – Kanaky: Mouvement de la Paix Calls for the Return and Continuation of the Decolonization Process

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

A statement by the Mouvement de la Paix (translation by CPNN)

Thirty years ago after the tragic outcome of the Caledonian crisis of the 1980s, a process was started, based on consultation and mutual respect between the parties.

The current situation, which recalls the worst moments of 1988, brutally calls into question this process which has ensured 30 years of peace in New Caledonia – Kanaky. It is due to the obstinacy of the President of the Republic in imposing a constitutional law that would transform the electorate of the island.


Photo by Nicolas Job/SIPA, published by Les Echoes

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(Click here for the original French version of this article.)

Question for this article:

What’s new in the struggle against colonialism?

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On May 13, the Congress of New Caledonia requested the withdrawal of the proposed law that would reform the Constitution. The Congress had previously denounced the maintenance of a referendum in the middle of a pandemic. The adoption of the reform of the electoral body would mean the end of the decolonization process and would break with the commitments of the French Republic.

The Peace Movement demands the immediate postponement of the convocation of the Congress intended to modify the Constitution and the withdrawal of the proposed law.

In a spirit of culture of peace, the Peace Movement calls for restoring the framework of a process based on the impartiality of the State and on dialogue, as respected by all the Presidents of the Republic since 25 years. The return of the colonialist spirit, whether to control mineral wealth like nickel or to strengthen a military presence in the service of a geopolitical strategy, can only lead to violence. It is the responsibility of President Macron and the government to re-establish the channels of dialogue, without ultimatum or forceful action, and with mutual respect for the different parties and in compliance with the Nouméa Accords.

Only a negotiated and consensual political solution can resolve the crisis and bring the decolonization process to its conclusion.

The National Council of Mouvement de la Paix
Malakoff, May 18, 2024

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Richard Falk: Why the ICC’s Decision to Recommend Arrest for Israeli and Hamas Leaders Is So Historic

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An editorial by Richard Falk from Common Dreams

The International Criminal Court this week made the first truly historic move since its establishment in 2002, with its chief prosecutor recommending arrest warrants  against two top Israeli  officials, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant, and three prominent Hamas leaders.


As expected, both sides have denounced this ICC action in the strongest possible language. Because of Western media bias, the angry reactions from Israel  and its allies have dominated the news cycle, while the official statement from Hamas has been largely ignored.

While each side chose a similar line of argument, there is a 180° difference in their substantive outlooks.

Israel’s most fundamental objection  to the prosecutor’s action is the supposed equivalence drawn between Hamas, which perpetrated the barbarous attack of October 7, and the democratically elected government of Israel, which says it acted to defend itself and restore the security of its population.

Hamas and its supporters are also appalled  at the equivalence implied by the call for arrest warrants, which “equate[s] the victim with the executioner” in the context of an oppressive Israeli occupation  that affirms Palestinian  legal rights of resistance, including recourse to armed struggle.

In my judgment, the Israeli response is rhetorical and polemical, to the effect that Israel and its leaders can never be accused of criminality in a context shaped by what happened on October 7, identified as the worst attack on the Jewish people since the Holocaust.

Netanyahu called  the recommendation for arrest warrants “a moral outrage of historic proportions”—a “travesty of justice” that sets “a dangerous precedent,” interfering with the right of democratic states to defend themselves.

Defense Lacking

What is missing from the Israeli response has been any defense against the specificities of Israeli behavior, viewed around the globe as amounting to genocide, as evidenced by growing protests even in the U.S., Israel’s most unwavering supporter.

The crimes and the evidence are delimited in the language of law, and they are certainly of a magnitude and severity to require a good-faith substantive response by Israel. Nothing less can convince world opinion that the ICC prosecutor exceeded his writ by proposing arrest warrants.

It is especially relevant to refer back to the International Court of Justice’s near-unanimous interim order in January as evidence that the charges against Israel’s leaders are hardly a disgrace or a dangerous precedent. That ruling gives firm, if provisional, grounds for believing that Israel’s violence after October 7 constitutes a deplorable instance of sustained genocide targeting the entire civilian population of Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

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To a far lesser extent, the same criticism applies to the Hamas response. Although the prosecutor should have addressed the context of a long abusive occupation and victimization in violation of international humanitarian law, this does not confer impunity on such criminal excesses as were committed on October 7.

The call to issue arrest warrants against Hamas leaders is dubious because of the absence to date of an impartial international investigation into what actually happened on October 7, and of evidence that the Hamas leaders—as opposed to other Palestinian resistance entities, such as Islamic Jihad—have been properly singled out.

It should come as no surprise that the U.S. leapt to Israel’s defense, joining in a rather mindless attack on the credibility of this treaty-based global tribunal, which has a mandate to investigate and take action against perpetrators of international crimes.

Although U.S. officials now complain about jurisdictional obstacles to indicting nationals of countries that are not parties to the ICC’s Rome Statute, Washington enthusiastically supported the court’s hasty indictment of Russian President Vladimir Putin soon after the 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Such double standards exhibit moral hypocrisy and juridical nihilism, with the U.S. invoking international procedures as foreign policy instruments rather than universally applicable norms.

Irrelevant Statement

In a striking phrase that could have come from the Israeli government, U.S. President Joe Biden said on Monday, “Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence—none—between Israel and Hamas.” He backed up this legally irrelevant statement with the categorical assertion that “we will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

Again, this is irrelevant. The only question is whether the evidence supports the issuance of arrest warrants. In reiterating such a one-sided stance, Biden is reinforcing the complaints of protesters everywhere that Washington is complicit in the most transparently reported genocide confirmed in real time, and not in retrospect or abstractly, as was the case even with the Holocaust.

Ironically, the misplaced rhetoric of outrage from Israel and its allies has endowed the ICC’s pronouncements with an importance that the institution never before possessed.

Beneath the smoke of controversy is the fire of a massive campaign of state terrorism that was projected at first as defensive and reactive violence, but quickly showed its true colours as premeditated violence and forced relocation of Palestinians in Gaza, increasingly remote from Israel’s genuine security concerns.

Also forgotten in the controversies of recent months is the context set by the Netanyahu government prior to the Hamas attack. Even in the West, this governing coalition was described as the most extreme  in the history of Israel. What made it so was its undisguised effort to initiate a settler-led campaign to make life as unliveable as possible for Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, expressed by a message  delivered in various ways to the effect of: “Leave or we will kill you.”

The Israeli government, including extremist cabinet ministers Itamar Ben Gvir  and Bezalel Smotrich, green-lit this violence as part of their priority goal of unilaterally establishing Greater Israel, and ending all Palestinian prospects of statehood or any meaningful form of self-determination.

Multiple Failures

In addition, the fact that Israel received advance warning  of a planned and rehearsed Hamas attack, possessed elaborate surveillance and informer capabilities, and reacted to the attack with uncharacteristic incompetence, all make it hard to believe that a massive response scenario was not already agreed upon by the Israeli leadership before a single hostage was seized.

When the Israeli retaliation did commence, it was immediately imbued with genocidal tactics and language, including policies to deprive Palestinians  in Gaza of food, fuel, electricity, and water. Most revealing were the forced relocations of Palestinians from northern to southern Gaza, the gruesome attacks on hospitals and population centers, the use of starvation as a weapon of war, and the ongoing efforts to induce Egypt  and other countries to accept large numbers of Palestinian refugees.

This sustained campaign seems to have become increasingly self-destructive from the perspective of Israeli security. Many Israelis now believe that the Netanyahu leadership is responsible for multiple failures: to destroy Hamas, to achieve the safe return of hostages, and to preserve the country’s reputation as a legitimate sovereign state.

The Biden leadership, through its posture of unconditional support for Israel and irresponsible denunciation of the ICC, has turned its back on its own younger generation, unleashing police brutality  and punitive actions against pro-Palestinian activism. It has been totally irresponsible to pretend there is no legal merit to the charges of genocide being leveled against Israel; its behavior at the United Nations  has damaged international law and the character of self-righteous liberal democracies.

The ICC prosecutor is also deserving of criticism. There is no proper equivalence between the one-off attack of October 7, despite its atrocities, and the seven-month Israeli campaign of death and devastation in Gaza.

Over time I suspect that the failure to address “genocide” will be regarded as the most shocking weakness in the prosecutor’s formal statement.

At the very least ICC Prosecutor Karim Khan should have explained why it would have been legally premature to include this most serious and widespread allegation against Israel among the grounds for recommending that the ICC issue arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant. By evading any mention of genocide, Khan can justly be accused of ignoring the elephant in the room.

Meanwhile, we should hope that the panel of judges  will accept the prosecutors’s recommendation and issue warrants against Israeli and Hamas leaders—while also doing their best to erase the impression of equivalence. If the ICC sticks to its underlying principled position, it will enhance its reputation as a dimension of global governance not tainted by partisan geopolitics.

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‘Watershed Moment’: Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine Kicks Off in South Africa

. TOLERANCE & SOLIDARITY .

An article by Brett Wilkins in Common Dreams ( licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

As Israeli forces continued their devastating assault on the Gaza Strip and deadly occupation of the West Bank, human rights defenders from around the world gathered Friday in South Africa—which is leading a genocide case against Israel at the World Court—for the inaugural Global Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine.


Palestinian lawmaker Mustafa Barghouti and South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hold hands and talk at the Anti-Apartheid Conference on Palestine in Sandton, South Africa on May 10, 2024. (Photo: Katlholo Maifadi/DIRCO)

The conference began with a moment of silence for the nearly 35,000 Palestinians—most of them women and children—killed by Israeli troops during the 217-day war and "complete siege," which has also wounded more than 78,000 people, displaced around 90% of the strip's population, and starved at least hundreds of thousands of others—dozens of whom have died.

Meanwhile, Israel's illegal occupation and settler colonization have intensified in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, where soldiers and settlers have killed at least 467 Palestinians and wounded or arrested thousands of others—some of whom were tortured—over the past seven months.

"This conference must make sure that we mobilize the world… and free the people of Palestine," Rev. Frank Chikane of the African National Congress (ANC) and World Council of Churches said at the start of the symposium.

Thanking Chikane for "spearheading" conference organizing efforts, South African Foreign Minister Naledi Pandor hailed the "watershed moment" of "anti-apartheid movements on Palestine from around the globe coming together and joining forces in the struggle for justice for the Palestinian people."

"It has never been so urgent for the progressive forces around the globe to come together in a collective effort to exert maximum pressure to end the genocidal campaign underway in Gaza, and to end the apartheid system in Israel and the occupied territories, which is worse than what we experienced in our own country," she asserted, echoing past remarks by other South Africans and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.

Pandor highlighted South Africa's December filing of a genocide case at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, a move supported by over 30 countries and regional blocs and hundreds of advocacy groups. In January, the ICJ found that Israel is "plausibly" committing genocide in Gaza and ordered its government to prevent future genocidal acts—an order human rights monitors say Israel has ignored, largely by blocking humanitarian aid. In March, the ICJ ordered Israel to allow more aid into Gaza.

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Question related to this article:

Israel/Palestine, is the situation like South Africa?

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"We will continue to do everything within our power to preserve the existence of the Palestinian people as a group, to end all acts of apartheid and genocide against the Palestinian people, and to walk with them towards the realization of their collective right to self-determination," Pandor said. "We continue to do so following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela and will not rest until the freedom of the peoples of Palestine is realized."

Ronnie Kasrils—a communist who went from being a guerrilla fighter in the ANC's armed wing during the apartheid era to a government minister in a free South Africa—warned against compromising in the fight for freedom. He also reaffirmed Palestinians' legal right to "armed struggle, an international right of resistance against tyranny, against military occupation."

"There is no need to pussyfoot around the fact when we have our discussions about the rights of the Palestinians to resist with arms," Kasrils stressed.

Palestinian lawmaker, physician, and activist Mustafa Barghouti said that "we've woken the people of the world against genocide and injustice… and hypocrisy of international governments."

"Israel initiated this war but Israel will not be the one who decides how it ends," he added.

Lamis Deek, a New York-based attorney specializing in international human rights, called for "liberation of all the land from institutions of Zionist violence and supremacy, return, reparations, justice and accountability for every Zionist crime, and restitution."

Declan Kearney, a member of Northern Ireland's Legislative Assembly and national chairman of the Irish republican and democratic socialist party Sinn Féin, noted that "Palestinian and Irish freedom fighters share a special bond. Our commitment is absolute and unbreakable."

The Republic of Ireland said in March that it would intervene in the South African ICJ case and the country—along with fellow European Union members Spain, Slovenia, and Malta—is set later this month to join the nearly 140 nations that recognize Palestinian statehood.

The United Nations General Assembly voted 143-9 on Friday to approve Palestine's bid for full U.N. membership. The United States—Israel's leading international backer—and Israel voted against the proposal, which will head to the U.N. Security Council and an almost certain U.S. veto.

Kearney echoed other speakers who stressed the importance of international solidarity, applauding the "unprecedented" global outpouring of support for Palestine.

"We are with the Palestinian people on their long walk to freedom and will never abandon them," he vowed.

While many Israelis and their backers bristle at the apartheid label, Palestinians and individuals ranging from Carter to the late South African bishop and human rights campaigner Desmond Tutu to United Nations special rapporteurs have for decades called Israel's policies and actions in Palestine apartheid.

Major human rights organizations—including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the Israeli groups B'Tselem and Yesh Din—have also done so. So have prominent Israelis including a former Mossad chief, multiple former attorneys general and ambassadors, and a growing number of journalists, artists, veterans, and others.

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Michael Moore: I Now Bring You the Voices of a New Generation

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article and podcast from Michael Moore

It is Day 19 today (May 6) of the Great 2024 Nonviolent Student Uprising against the U.S.-backed slaughter of innocent Palestinian civilians (over 70% of the dead are children, women and the elderly). Nearly 40,000+ souls massacred by the Israel Defense (Offense) Force via carpet bombing, sniper drones, forced starvation and the mass mandatory removal of Gazans into “safe zones” where they are then bombed again and murdered by the Israeli army. 

This horrific assault is armed and supported by the U.S. government and funded by nearly 300 million American taxpayers. This slaughter could end in the next hour if we Americans just simply pulled the plug, closed the bank, cut off the free billions to the Netanyahu regime, and stopped sending weapons to conduct a genocide that is in violation of American and International law. One phone call from President Biden, one stroke of his pen and POOF! — War Is Over. It literally is that easy. 

The youth already know this. That’s why tens of thousands of them across the country and around the world are holding sit-ins, nonviolently occupying campus quads and administration buildings, demanding their universities divest from companies doing business with a rogue and racist regime. These students are risking their college careers, facing suspension and expulsion, future blacklisting as they seek employment after college, physical assault from pro-Israel gangs armed with clubs, mace and explosives, and being arrested by the police because they were exercising their Constitution rights to free speech, freedom of assembly and the freedom to redress their grievances against their government’s actions. 

And for doing this — the most humane, most loving, most American of acts — they are slandered and smeared and called… wait for it!… antisemites! By the very antisemites who back the slaughter of the Semitic people known as the Palestinians! Wow. Now that’s chutzpah!

Lie after lie, day after day, is told about these protests. They are not threatening Jewish students. To the contrary, thousands of Jewish students and faculty have shown up to support and participate in the pro-Palestine, anti-war, anti-genocide demonstrations. The Palestinian students join them for Shabbat dinner on Friday nights. At one encampment the Palestinian students did a Jewish folk dance for their compatriots. The hater pudits don’t want you to know that. Why not? Because they know that’s the world you and I want to live in — as opposed to the world they’re trying to maintain for us: A world without Palestine. These young people have decided they want NONE of that. 

I say more nonviolent civil disobedience! More tent encampments! More sit-ins. More citizens taking to the streets. It’s a proud and time-honored America tradition! We wouldn’t have the rights and freedoms we now enjoy without an entire history of it! 

There would be no women able to vote today if the suffragettes hadn’t thrown up a picket line surrounding and blocking the White House in 1917. For that they were arrested, beaten, imprisoned for months, with many later abandoned by their husbands. 

There would be no UAW or unions in general had not my uncle and 2,000 other GM workers in 1936 taken over the factories in Flint and staged a 44-day sit down strike. 

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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Outside agitators? More of that too! That was the description used by all the media and the racist mayors and governors when Martin Luther King, Jr. showed up to town. He held sit-ins, takeovers, he trespassed everywhere and thank God for him because he moved mountains. He was hated for it. He was slandered and called every disgusting name possible. 

There would be no civil rights laws, no Black members of Congress if King had not been a nonstop “outside agitator” and lawbreaker of racist laws. 

And trespassing? The #1 Trespasser in American History? Her name was Rosa Parks. She broke the law and trespassed into the white section of a Montgomery, AL, bus on December 1st, 1955. And that was that. President Biden said that students who cause “chaos” will be arrested. Joe, Mrs. Parks heard you say that. If she and Dr. King and millions of others had not caused a massive amount of chaos, disruption and lawbreaking, where would we be? What if in 1960 four black students at the Woolworth lunch counter in Greensboro, North Carolina had not refused to move until they were served? Within a week there were illegal sit-ins demanding integration in over a hundred cities. 

And what of Vietnam? Millions of students taking over campuses! Newsflash: Windows were broken! Oh my! My lifelong friend and co-producer Rod Birleson sent me this text this morning remembering his days as a student in the 1960s and 70s at Easter Michigan University:

It was May, 1970, just days after the National Guard killed 4 students at Kent State.

I was a student at Eastern Michigan University. 

EMU was shut down for 4 days. Marshall law declared. A group of 3 or more students gathered together outdoors was considered an illegal gathering. But the cops could not enter the campus in patrol cars or police buses for those they were going to arrest because we spread roofing nails and broken glass on all the roads leading into campus. Even the city street cleaner could not clear a path, as it also got flat tires. The cops in riot gear had to walk into campus. K-mart sold out of sling shots. When the cops tried to enter the residential dorms to arrest students they couldn’t even get through the lobbies. One dorm started pouring boiling water out of their upper story windows. When they did manage to arrest a student with long hair, the police would cut off their hair and make it into a pony tail and hang it on their “scalp wall” in the police station. The EMU Student Council started paying the bail for any student who had been arrested. Then came the police helicopter dropping tear gas grenades on any group of more than three students.

It didn’t work. The entire campus was liberated. Breaking a few windows seemed like a small crime compared to an American B-52 dropping a load of 500-pound bombs on a village of Vietnamese people. 

Back then we were right. We were young and we were students. Today the young people are right. God bless them.

On this week’s episode(s) of my podcast, my crew and I disobey the college presidents’ and NYC’s Mayor Adam’s orders to “outsiders” to stay off the campuses and to stop trying to “radicalize” our youth (because young people don’t have a mind of their own). My crew (Angie, Donald, and “Anonymous”) paid a visit to the NYC protest encampments made up of students from Columbia University, City College, City University (CUNY), NYU, etc. to hear directly from the brilliant student organizers of these historic demonstrations. These are the voices you won’t hear on the mainstream media. Listen here to their eloquence and passion as they take a stand for the Palestinian people. 

And then either join them — or start one yourself.  

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Amnesty International: Julian Assange’s five-year imprisonment in the UK is unacceptable

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Amnesty International

Today (April 11) marks five years of Julian Assange being detained in Belmarsh, a high security prison in the UK. As he fights the extradition request from the US authorities, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, Agnès Callamard, said:

“Julian Assange dared to bring to light revelations of alleged war crimes committed by the USA. It is unacceptable that years of his life have been stolen. He remains arbitrarily detained in the UK on politically-motivated charges, brought by the USA for exposing their suspected wrongdoing. The US authorities have failed to conduct a full and transparent investigation into their alleged war crimes. Instead, they have chosen to target Assange for publishing information leaked to him – even if it was of public interest. The ongoing persecution of Assange makes a mockery of the USA’s obligations under international law, and their stated commitment to freedom of expression.


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(click here for the article in French or click here for the article in Spanish.).)

Question related to this article:

Julian Assange, Is he a hero for the culture of peace?

Is Internet freedom a basic human right?

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“If extradited to the USA, Assange will be at risk of serious abuse, including prolonged solitary confinement, which would violate the prohibition on torture or other ill-treatment. Dubious diplomatic assurances made by the USA as to his treatment are not worth the paper they are written on, not least because they are not legally binding and are riddled with loopholes.

Assange is wanted for activities that are fundamental to all journalists and publishers, who often receive sensitive government information from outside sources. Wikileaks published evidence of civilian deaths and of alleged war crimes. The public has a right to know if their government is breaking international law. The US authorities are paving the way to a disastrous precedent for worldwide media freedom if Assange is extradited. The USA must drop all the charges against Assange, which will allow for his prompt release from UK state custody.”

Background

Julian Assange faces prosecution in the USA under the Espionage Act of 1917, a wartime law never intended to target the legitimate work of publishers and journalists. He could face up to 175 years in jail. On the charge of computer misuse, he could receive a maximum of five years.

On 26 March, the UK High Court adjourned  to give the USA an opportunity to file fresh diplomatic assurances. The UK court will reconsider Julian Assange’s permission to appeal his extradition to the USA on 20 May 2024.

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South Africa requests ICJ emergency orders to halt “unspeakable” Gazan genocide

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from Pearls and Irritations

“Israel is now massacring desperate, starving Palestinians seeking to obtain food for their slowly-dying children.” The situation in Gaza is now so terrifying as to be unspeakable, writes South Africa in an urgent request for the International Court of Justice to issue additional provisional measures to stop Israel’s genocide.

South Africa today filed an urgent request with the International Court of Justice for the indication of additional provisional measures and the modification of the Court’s Order of 26 January 2024 and decision of 16 February 2024 in the case concerning Application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip (South Africa v. Israel), according to the ICJ in a press release dated 6 March.

In its request, South Africa states that it is “compelled to return to the Court in light of the new facts and changes in the situation in Gaza — particularly the situation of widespread starvation — brought about by the continuing egregious breaches of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide . . . by the State of Israel . . . and its ongoing manifest violations of the provisional measures indicated by this Court on 26 January 2024”.

It requests the Court to indicate further provisional measures and/or to modify the provisional measures indicated it its Order of 26 January 2024, pursuant to Article 41 of the Statute of the Court and Article 75, paragraphs 1 and 3, and Article 76, paragraph 1, of the Rules of Court, respectively, “in order urgently to ensure the safety and security of 2.3 million Palestinians in Gaza, including over a million children”. It urges the Court to do so without holding a hearing, in light of the “extreme urgency of the situation”.

The situation in Gaza described by the ICJ as “perilous” on 16 February, “is now so terrifying as to be unspeakable… justifying — and indeed demanding — the indication of further provisional measures of protection,” argued South Africa.

South Africa’s has requested that the ICJ make the following additional provisional measures and modification to existing measures:

1. “All participants in the conflict must ensure that all fighting and hostilities come to an immediate halt, and that all hostages and detainees are released immediately.

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

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2. “All Parties to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide must, forthwith, take all measures necessary to comply with all of their obligations under the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.

3. “All Parties to the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide must, forthwith, refrain from any action, and in particular any armed action or support thereof, which might prejudice the right of the Palestinians in Gaza to be protected from acts of genocide and related prohibited acts, or any other rights in respect of whatever judgment the Court may render in the case, or which might aggravate or extend the dispute before the Court or make it more difficult to resolve.

4. “The State of Israel shall take immediate and effective measures to enable the provision of urgently needed basic services and humanitarian assistance to address famine and starvation and the adverse conditions of life faced by Palestinians in Gaza, by: (a) immediately suspending its military operations in Gaza; (b) lifting its blockade of Gaza; (c) rescinding all other existing measures and practices that directly or indirectly have the effect of obstructing the access of Palestinians in Gaza to humanitarian assistance and basic services; and (d) ensuring the provision of adequate and sufficient food, water, fuel, shelter, clothing, hygiene and sanitation requirements, alongside medical assistance, including medical supplies and support.

5. “The State of Israel shall submit an open report to the Court on all measures taken to give effect to all provisional measures ordered by the Court to date, within one month as from the date of this Order.”

“Palestinian children are starving to death as a direct result of the deliberate acts and omissions of Israel — in violation of the Genocide Convention and of the Court’s Order. This includes Israel’s deliberate attempts to cripple the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (‘UNRWA’), on whom the vast majority of besieged, displaced and starving Palestinian men, women, children and babies depend for their survival,” write South Africa.

The latest death toll from Israel’s assault on Gaza stands at 30,717 people killed, including more than 12,300 children and 8,400 women. More than 72,156 Palestinians have been injured.

 Read the full text of South Africa’s submission to the International Court of Justice here: APPLICATION OF THE CONVENTION ON THE PREVENTION AND PUNISHMENT OF THE CRIME OF GENOCIDE IN THE GAZA STRIP (SOUTH AFRICA V. ISRAEL)

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Last Days of Hearings at the International Court of Justice on the Israeli Occupation of Palestine

. . HUMAN RIGHTS . .

An article from the United Nations Regional Information Centre for Western Europe

The advisory opinion requested by the United Nations General Assembly from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in December 2022 led to hearings that began on 19 February (read more about the first few days of the hearing in our first article and continued until 26 February, with 52 states and three international organisations  presenting their opinions.


Photo copyright ICJ

Iran Criticises “Inaction” of the Security Council

The Islamic Republic of Iran highlighted the “seriousness” of the situation in Gaza on 22 February, pointing to “the inaction or insufficient action of the Security Council, if not the main, is one of the main causes of the prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territories. All the atrocities and crimes committed by the Israeli régime in the past almost 80 years are a consequence of such inaction. Even today, the Security Council is paralysed due to the stalemate caused by a certain permanent Member.”

Iran called for an end to cooperation in all its forms, whether “political, military, economic, or other”, with Israel to prevent it from “continuing its prolonged occupation,” as well as for the “complete termination of all its military operations in the Gaza Strip.”

Iraq and Jordan Demand End of Occupation

Iraq argued for the ICJ’s jurisdiction in the ongoing procedure, noting that the Court had already issued an advisory opinion on the legal consequences arising from the construction of the wall in the Occupied Territories  in 2004.
In this opinion, the Court had determined that “the construction of the wall and the regime associated with it created on the ground a ‘fait accompli’ that could become permanent and, as such, amount to a de facto annexation,” in violation of the Palestinians’ right to self-determination.

Baghdad also called for “the respect (…) under any circumstance or in any place” for the opinion rendered by the ICJ on 26 January in the context of South Africa’s complaint against Israel for “genocide” in Gaza, “in order to stop the systematic killing machine against the Palestinian people.”

Speaking for Jordan, Ayman Safadi, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, spoke of the horrors of war in Gaza, where “children are operated on without anaesthesia.” He stated that “in Gaza, Palestinians are dying by Israel’s war. They are also dying from hunger and lack of medication, as Israel prevents the delivery of food and medicine in violation of international humanitarian law and in defiance of the provisional measures you have ordered. This aggression has to end and end immediately. Israel is acting and has been allowed to act in complete disregard of international law. That cannot continue.”

Asserting that “the occupation is illegal and inhumane,” he urged the Court to “rule that the Israeli occupation, the source of all evil, must end.”

13 Additional Countries Discuss Reparations

Visibly moved, Ali Ahmad Ebraheem S. Al-Dafiri, Ambassador of Kuwait to the Netherlands, stated that “the unprecedented violence in Gaza is a result of 57 years of illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, and it must stop.” Kuwait also demanded an end to the occupation and a negotiated two-state solution along the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital. It added that “the occupying Power is under the obligation to make full reparation for the injury caused by its occupation and discriminatory policies and practices.”

Lebanon highlighted that the ICJ had already affirmed in 2004 in its opinion on the construction of the wall that Israel was “obliged to return the lands, orchards, olive groves, and other real property seized to any natural or legal person.” Lebanon added that Israel “is also obliged to cease its violation of the right to self-determination of the Palestinian people, to end its occupation of the Palestinian territories, and to recognise the State of Palestine. And to provide reparations.”

Similarly, Libya, Syria, Malaysia, Ireland, Namibia, Oman, Indonesia, Slovenia, Tunisia, Spain, and the Maldives advocated for reparations through restitution or compensation. In total, 19 countries advocated for reparations during the six days of hearings.

The United Kingdom urges the ICJ not to respond to the request for an advisory opinion.

On 23 February, the United Kingdom reiterated many of the arguments previously made in writing by the United States, Canada, Fiji, Hungary, and Zambia, arguing for respect for the existing framework within the Security Council to allow for a negotiated solution to progress.
London went further, asking the Court not to issue a ruling due to the way the questions posed by the General Assembly were formulated. These two questions amount to “taking the entire Palestine question to be looked at by the highest court in the globe,” as stated by the United States.

According to the United Kingdom, the Court cannot interfere in a dispute between two parties, as mentioned in its 1975 advisory opinion on Western Sahara, without the consent of both parties.

Furthermore, the Court could “draw legal conclusions on an incorrect factual basis” due to not only the ongoing conflict but also the extent of the documentation required: “the entire factual record stretching back some 57 years and a United Nations dossier spanning nearly 30,000 pages.”

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Question related to this article:

How can war crimes be documented, stopped, punished and prevented?

Presenting the Palestinian side of the Middle East, Is it important for a culture of peace?

(continued from left column)

Finally, the United Kingdom believes that the framework established by the Security Council, with resolutions 242 and 338, envisions Israel’s withdrawal from the Occupied Territories through negotiation, not a judicial decision.

… while many countries defended the Court’s jurisdiction

Ireland condemns the 7 October attacks but believes that “these limits have been exceeded by Israel in its military response to the Hamas attack.”

Rossa Fanning, Attorney General of Ireland, stated that his country “believes that clarification now, by this Court, of the international law issues raised by the prolonged occupation of the Palestinian territory will assist in providing a stable foundation upon which to build a just resolution” of the conflict.

“Several States have suggested that this request for an advisory opinion is an attempt to resolve a bilateral dispute without the consent of one of the parties to that dispute. We very much regret that Israel has chosen not to engage with the subject matter of the request. (…) However, in our view, the issue of the Occupied Palestinian Territory is directly of concern to the United Nations itself, and it goes much further than a mere bilateral dispute.”

The ICJ’s jurisdiction was defended by many States, including Norway, which emphasised a situation of “de facto annexation” in the Palestinian Territories, Pakistan,  Spain,  Japan, and China, which expressed its support “for the just cause of the Palestinian people.”  Switzerland stated that “Israel has legitimate security concerns, but also the obligation to respect international law.”

Abdel Sattar Issa, Ambassador of Lebanon to the Netherlands, argued that “asking the Court not to intervene, not to give its advisory opinion in the name of a bilateral negotiation process to be protected, a political solution to be preserved, is a perverse argument that creates antagonism between the political and the legal when they are, in any society, including the international society, two complementary elements in dialectical relation. Law frames the political, prevents its drift, whether at the public or private level. Law guarantees a minimum of justice in relations.”

Similarly, Syria defended the Court’s jurisdiction at a time when “the Palestinian people find themselves with no real protection.” Ammar Al Arsan, Head of the Permanent Mission of the Syrian Arab Republic to the European Union in Brussels, stated, “We are here today to make sure that they – the occupiers – do not get away with impunity.”

“There is no peace process,” according to Indonesia.

Indonesia went further in opposing the argument made by the United States that the Court’s advisory opinion could impact a negotiated peace process: “First, there is no viable peace process to be undermined. Israel has been consistently obstructing a negotiated two-state solution that is in line with international law and relevant United Nations resolutions. (…)

After all, negotiation with someone holding a gun against your head is not a negotiation at all (…). Just last November, Prime Minister Netanyahu even boasted, “I’m proud that I prevented the establishment of a Palestinian State”.

This argument was echoed by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which includes 57 States: “Are there ongoing negotiations between Israel and Palestine? The truth about this matter is that there are none. It is a myth that has been artificially maintained for a long time, but which, in light of events, has collapsed by the admission of the parties involved.”

Qatar advocates for labelling of Israel’s practices as “apartheid.”

Qatar’s position, outlined by Mutlaq Bin Majed Al-Qahtani, ambassador to the Netherlands, highlighted a “growing perception in some quarters that international law applies to some, but not to others. That some peoples are seen as deserving of security, freedom and self-determination, but others are not. Some children are deemed worthy of the law’s protection, but others are killed in their thousands. Qatar rejects such double standards.”

Qatar denounced violence that has become “part of the fabric of life for Palestinians even before the beginning of the occupation in 1967. And Gaza has always paid the highest price. In the 15 years before 7 October, Israeli military campaigns killed 5,365 Palestinians in Gaza, the majority of whom were undisputedly civilians.”

The ambassador mentioned the increase in violence in the West Bank and “the systematic persecution of human rights organisations and journalists,” referring to the death of Shireen Abu Akleh from the Qatari channel Al Jazeera, “murdered by Israeli forces on 11 May 2022.”

Qatar urged the ICJ to label the occupation of the Palestinian Territories as an apartheid regime, an argument advanced by 25 participants in the hearings, so that the “the international community, including the General Assembly, can activate similar mechanisms for bringing about an end of the occupation as it did with the apartheid régime in South Africa. This is the surest path to truth, justice, and, yes, reconciliation.”

Three international organisations speak out.

On 26 February, the last day of hearings, the Arab League called for an end to the occupation and the “immediate” withdrawal of all Israeli settlers from the Occupied Territories.

The OIC concluded its presentation with these words: “The unfounded and unpunished violence that Israel exercises over the Palestinians leads to more violence in response. It is a vicious cycle, that of vengeance, which is always to the advantage of the strongest. This is the deadly cycle of violence that tragically unfolds before our eyes. To break it, an impartial third party, affirming the common standard with authority, is needed.”

Finally, the African Union (AU) declared that “Israel’s aggression against Gaza is nothing but a shameful attempt to create a new Nakba ⎯ , a new catastrophe aimed at erasing the Palestinian presence in Palestine.”

The Court has entered into deliberation before issuing an advisory opinion that will be given at a later date.

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