Another Israeli West Bank land grab: “the latest step in what appears to be an ongoing process of land expropriations, settlement expansions and legalisations of outposts . . .” [US State Department spokesman John Kirby]
By Leslie Bravery, Daily Blog, 19 March 2016
On 8 March 2016 the NZ Palestine Solidarity Network issued a Press Release critical of the New Zealand Government for failing “to live up to its international human rights obligations”. The National Government has signed a film production co-operation agreement with Israel that lends respectability to the Zionist regime just when the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has scored a massive victory for human rights protection. BDS activity has caused the British private security giant G4S to announce plans to sell its entire Israeli business within the next 12 to 24 months. G4S provides equipment and services to Israeli prisons and detention centres, in which thousands of Palestinian prisoners are tortured and held in captivity, some without even charge or trial. Israel violates international law by incarcerating Palestinians (including children) outside of the Occupied territory in which they were taken prisoner. The company also has contracts with the Israeli Occupation to provide equipment and services at checkpoints, which are an integral part of Israel’s annexation Wall. The world-wide condemnation of Israel’s conduct is exemplified in action by the United Methodist Church, the largest protestant church in the USA, to divest from G4S as morally indefensible. The Palestinian BDS National Committee spokesperson Mahmoud Nawajaa says, “We believe strongly that our ethical approach and just cause will prevail”. While the New Zealand Government wastes its precious opportunity to speak out for justice at the Security Council, it is left to others in New Zealand to act.
Janfrie Wakim, a spokesperson for the Palestine Solidarity Network, said of the National Government’s agreement to co-operate on film production, “this could not be a worse message to send to Israel.” She also said that “world-wide the Boycott, Disinvestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is isolating Israel to pressure it into conforming to international law on human rights, return of Palestinian refugees and withdrawal from the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The New Zealand Government is going in the other direction. It’s putting money into an agreement to help Israeli propagandists sugar-coat the reality of Israeli racism and Occupation. These are for films the Israeli Government funds or approves.” As the Palestine Solidarity Network points out, New Zealand is getting itself into an agreement that will make us a party to the continuing Occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Janfrie Wakim noted that, “In 2004 the International Court of Justice called on States Parties to the Geneva Conventions, such as New Zealand, to not do anything to assist the Israeli Occupation.” A government-to-government agreement with Israel that places film-makers in the Occupied Territories has the appearance of legitimising the Israeli Occupation.
Moving away from collusion
There was a move away from collusion with Israel when New Zealand’s Superannuation Fund disinvested from some Israeli companies that profit from the Occupation but now there seems to be a change of direction. The Palestine Solidarity Network Press Release also drew attention to the Zionist regime’s recent destruction of an entire Palestinian West Bank village. Janfrie Wakim said: “The Israeli Army destroyed all of Ein al-Rashash just last month so that Jewish settlers could replace the Palestinian inhabitants. These Palestinians were first made refugees in 1948 by Israel and now their homes have been destroyed again. They have nowhere to go in the middle of winter. The UN figures show Israel destroyed more Palestinian homes last month than for any month since it began keeping records in 2009. They do that so they can replace them with illegal Israeli settlements.” Collaboration with Israel encourages the Zionist regime to believe that its impunity is unassailable.
Israel does not confine its ethnic cleansing practises solely to militarily-occupied Palestinian territory. For example, in Israel itself the Bedouin villages of Atir and Umm al-Ḥīrān in the Negev Desert are designated “unrecognised”. The villagers had already been ‘relocated’ by the Israeli military in 1956 and now the State of Israel is striving to have the villages destroyed altogether. The Zionist regime plans to establish a new Jewish settlement, named Hiran, over the remains of the villages. On 17 January the villagers lost their appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court to be left unmolested and allowed to remain. The residents of these villages have explained that they wish to live in peace with their Jewish neighbours, pointing out that there is adequate land close to their villages for a new Israeli township. The decision to destroy two villages in order to plant a forest and establish a new Jewish town is racist and inhumane.
Gaza ceasefire violations – Israeli air strike kills 2 children
Israel claims that its periodic blitzes on the Gaza Strip, with their massive tolls of slaughter and economic sabotage, are necessary to stop missiles from Gaza being fired towards Israel. What the mainstream news media fail to report and the National Government chooses to ignore is that, in between every spate of missile firings from Gaza, Israel does its utmost to provoke Palestinian retaliation. An Israeli air strike on 12 March caused the deaths of a 10-year-old Palestinian boy and his six-year-old sister. The boy was identified as Yassin Abu Khoseh. His six-year-old sister Issra died in hospital later. Medics said the pair were hit by fragments from a missile fired by Israeli aircraft. The children’s brother, Ayyoub (13), suffered moderate injuries in the air strike. The children’s father said that he was asleep when their home was hit and awakened by the blast, rushed to see if the children had been hurt. “My boy was killed instantly, drowning in his own blood; my daughter was very seriously injured.” His other son said that when he looked at his brother and sister, he found them bleeding heavily from injuries to their heads and various parts of their bodies.
The Israeli attack was in response to rockets fired from Gaza that landed harmlessly in open areas in southern Israel, causing no deaths or injuries. The missiles fired from Gaza were themselves a response to over 240 ceasefire violations by Israel aimed at civilian targets, mostly farmers and fishing boats, since 1 January this year. Israel does its utmost to provoke missile launchings from Gaza. From 1 January to 10 March, there were just three Palestinian Gaza ceasefire violations. They all had been directed at Israeli blockade-enforcing military, taking place on 23 January, and 2 and 7 March. As a result of Israeli aggression in Gaza there have been, so far this year, four Palestinian deaths, including those of three children. Fifty-three Palestinians have been wounded and, in addition, Israel has hijacked five Palestinian fishing boats.
Negotiations cannot restrain Occupation settlement of West Bank
On 15 March, New Zealand’s Foreign Affairs Minister Murray McCully announced that Wellington was circulating a draft United Nations resolution to force Israelis and Palestinians back to table. McCully said in Sydney that Israel’s settlement activities are behind the disappearing viability of the two-state solution with the Palestinians. McCully admitted that: “As an elected member of the Council, we have a responsibility to make contributions.” What Murray McCully is actually asking for though, is that the Palestinian victims of Israeli military Occupation should be required to negotiate away, under duress, their rights under the provisions of Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. There is no justice in accommodating yet further Israel’s desire for territorial expansion. In 2011 the Israeli daily newspaper Haaretz quoted Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak acknowledging the unsustainable nature of the Israeli Occupation by saying, “We have been ruling over another nation for 43 years . . .”
McCully’s acknowledgement of illegal settlements is useful but we’ve heard it all before – years of ‘negotiations’ have achieved nothing more than the buying of time for Israel to consolidate its present annexations and prepare for the next round. On 16 January, In an interview on RNZ’s Morning Report, the Israeli ambassador to New Zealand reminded listeners of Israel’s withdrawal of illegal settlers from Gaza. So why not from the West Bank? It is quite clearly possible.
The call for negotiations evades the principle that violations of international law can never be justified or given validity. Human rights are non-negotiable. On 29 November 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu declared that there are no plans to deliver any land from West Bank Area C to Palestinians. In a meeting for Likud ministers, he stressed that there will be no transfer of land to the Palestinian Authority, “not 40 thousand dunams, not 10 thousand, not one metre.” How ‘diplomatic’ is that? According to the Times of Israel the President of the Zionist Federation of Australia, Danny Lamm, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency: “The New Zealand Foreign Minister is unfortunately misguided and in his attempt to promote peace has [passed off] blame on Israel when in fact there is no peace for one reason only: Israel’s enemies don’t want peace.”
Yet another Israeli land grab
As recently as 16 March there was yet another example of Israel’s insatiable taking of Palestinian land. COGAT, the Israeli military body that rules the daily lives of Palestinians living under Occupation, declared that about 580 acres (235 hectares) of West Bank land near the city of Jericho was now Israeli Government land. The latest violation of international law occurred just as US Vice President Joe Biden was ending a visit to Israel, according to a copy of the land declaration obtained by The Associated Press, and it drew a severe rebuke from the United States. US State Department spokesman, John Kirby, said that it was “the latest step in what appears to be an ongoing process of land expropriations, settlement expansions and legalisations of outposts . . .” The UK Foreign Office also said “We condemn the Israeli government’s decision to take over 585 acres of land in the West Bank as ‘state land’.” The International Court of Justice News reported that Israel has appropriated a large tract of fertile land and declared it as ‘state land’.
The Palestinian people have a right to expect the Security Council to live up to its name. BDS has set a non-violent example; an alternative to violent resistance that is supported by most of humanity. The Security Council should heed world opinion and itself impose sanctions in order to restrain Israel. The Zionist state must also be forced to understand that it will face suspension and ultimate expulsion from UN membership if it continues to violate the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the human rights of Palestinians.