John Minto on Trump’s ‘peace plan’

4 Feb

The NZ Herald published an Opinion piece by John Minto, National Chairman, Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa today.

Here is the full unabridged version:

Bringing justice to Palestine is in our hands

It would be easy to throw up our hands in horror at the announcement of the so-called “deal of the century” but that would be pointless. We’ve all known for a long time that this “deal” would be a boon to Israel and a kick in the guts for Palestinians.

The Trump administration has given the Israeli government the green light to: continue building Jewish-only settlements on Palestinian land; annex most of the occupied West Bank; continue its ongoing military occupation of Palestine and the siege of Gaza; refuse Palestinian refugees the right to return to their land and homes and to continue its religious and ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem.

For the Palestinian side there is nothing aside from a vague reference to a hollowed out Palestinian state that would resemble apartheid South Africa’s bantustans. As the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem says – “the deal is like Swiss Cheese – the Israelis get the cheese while the Palestinians get the holes.”

The US “deal” rewards the oppressor and abuses the oppressed. Politically Trump is making a strong play for the evangelical Christian vote in the coming US elections. These are Christians who confuse the Israel of the Old Testament in the Bible with the modern political state of Israel.

On the Israeli side the “deal” is a gift to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who faces a third election in early March after failing to get enough support in the previous two elections to form a government. Netanyahu hope the deal will get him over the line this time.

Meanwhile none of the issues of profound injustice and oppression by Israel of Palestinians will go away, irrespective of the political manoeuvrings of Trump or Netanyahu.

So what is the way forward for Palestine?

The answer is surprisingly simple and was contained in a report last October from the United Nations Human Rights Council Special Rapporteur for Palestine, Mr Michael Lynk. 

The Lynk report says the international community has a responsibility and legal obligation to compel Israel to end its 52 year-long “occu-annexation” of Palestinian territory and remove barriers preventing Palestinian self-determination. Lynk points out that this occupation is the longest in the modern world and says it is “endlessly sustainable without decisive international intervention because of the grossly asymmetrical balance of power on the ground”. 

He says “Accountability is the key to opening the titanium cage that is the permanent occupation. The international community has issued countless resolutions and declarations critical of the never-ending Israeli occupation. The time has long past to match these criticisms with effective consequences.” Well said.

To remedy this, Michael Lynk recommends that the international community should devise a list of effective countermeasures against Israel which would be “appropriate and proportional” to the circumstances. 

He suggests some modern examples of applying pressure, such as diplomatic public statements, trade sanctions, flight bans, travel restrictions and reduction or suspension of aid.

Most importantly he says that “should Israel remain unmoved, (the international community) should apply and escalate the range of its targeted countermeasures until compliance had been achieved.”

After the “deal of the century” this is the only viable way forward.

The world faced a similar situation in the 1970s and 1980s with regard to the racist South African regime. While the great mass of humanity supported the struggle for self-determination of black South Africans, white South Africa was strongly supported by the UK and the US with leaders Maggie Thatcher and Ronald Reagan respectively giving unwavering support to its brutal oppression of blacks.

Despite this iron-clad support from key Western governments a critical factor in forcing democratic change was the people and governments around the world implementing a wide range of boycotts against the regime – sporting, trade, investment and diplomatic boycotts were all part of the mix – which helped bring irresistible pressure for change.

Israel’s brutal military occupation and its racist apartheid policies towards Palestinians cannot and will not survive international boycott action. 

South African Archbishop and Nobel Peace Prize winner Desmond Tutu is clear on the importance of the approach proposed by Michael Lynk: 

“In South Africa, we could not have achieved our democracy without the help of people around the world, who through the use of non-violent means, such as boycotts and divestment, encouraged their governments and other corporate actors to reverse decades-long support for the apartheid regime.”

And Archbishop Tutu has a message for governments like New Zealand. 

“Those who turn a blind eye to injustice actually perpetuate injustice. If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

Michael Lynk’s report points the way. Our New Zealand government should be at the forefront in supporting this United Nations proposed approach.

Let’s do this!

– John Minto

One Response to “John Minto on Trump’s ‘peace plan’”

  1. Pat Reesby at 10:35 am #

    Very good. How can this be made an election issue? I think efforts need to be made to educate and inform ordinary New Zealand people, as they mostly get just one side of the story. For example, I feel appalled by an article in the current NZ Listener … Bob Narev maintaining that Israel is a poor innocent country smaller than Northland. Imagine Northland being a nuclear power and keeping thousands of its original inhabitants under military occupation while continuing to steal their land..

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