Video report: Basic medicines scarce in Gaza

22 Aug

Video report by We Are Not Numbers, 22 August 2019.

Shortages of essential medicines are chronic in the Gaza Strip. Here Rakan Abed El Rahman reports on efforts to try to produce essential drugs locally. Thanks to New Scene نيو سين for the camera work and editing.

Israel pushing Palestinians to leave Gaza

20 Aug

Relatives of Muhammad Abu Namous, one of three Palestinians killed along the Gaza-Israel boundary overnight, mourn during his funeral in Beit Lahiya, northern Gaza, on 18 August.

By Maureen Clare Murphy, Electronic Intifada, 20 August 2019

Israel is actively encouraging and ready to facilitate mass emigration of Palestinians from Gaza, according to a senior government official.

“Israel is ready to carry the costs of helping Gazans emigrate,” and would potentially use air force bases in Israel for that purpose, The Times of Israel reported on Monday.

The unnamed official, in Kyiv as part of Benjamin Netanyahu’s delegation to Ukraine, added that more than 35,000 Palestinians left the coastal enclave last year.

Two million Palestinians live in the Gaza Strip, which has been subjected to a punishing Israeli economic blockade for 12 years and repeated military offensives.

Residents of the territory have been plunged into poverty and cut off from the rest of Palestine and the wider world.

Every two in three Palestinians in Gaza is a refugee from lands inside what is now Israel. That government forbids them from exercising their right to return as enshrined in international law because they are not Jews.

The senior Israeli official was reported by The Times of Israel as saying that his government is asking countries to absorb Palestinians emigrating from Gaza.

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2020 Freedom Flotilla to raise awareness about Palestinian youth in Gaza

16 Aug

VIDEO: Caught in Israel’s permit system, Gaza children fear for their lives

Freedom Flotilla Coalition statement, 16 August 2019

In 2012, the UN predicted that Gaza was on track to become “unliveable” by 2020. In 2017, the UN acknowledged that the “unliveability” threshold had already been passed. Despite this, “somehow, families in Gaza find ways to ‘make do’.”

In Spring 2020, the next Freedom Flotilla will sail again to challenge the 12 year, illegal and inhuman Israeli blockade imposed on more than 2 million Palestinian people in Gaza – more than half of whom are children.

Partners in the Freedom Flotilla Coalition are mobilizing support for their participation in the Flotilla and you can get involved by contacting your nearest partner listed here.

The people of Gaza do not give up and neither do we. There are 1.4 million young people in Gaza who deserve a better future.

Across the world our partners and other friends have been organizing local events to raise
awareness about the continued blockade and also to raise funds to finance the purchase of boats and supplies.

For the children in Gaza and for respect of human rights we will sail again until Palestine is free.

You can support our NZ/Aotearoa participation by donating to our 2020 Gaza Flotilla Appeal: Make a direct payment to our bank account: Kia Ora Gaza Trust, 03-0211-0447718-000, Westpac Bank, Onehunga branch. Afterwards, email office@kiaoragaza.net with your deposit details so we can send you an e-receipt.

[Freedom Flotilla Coalition website: https://jfp.freedomflotilla.org/ Facebook  Twitter]

WATCH ABOVE +972 VIDEO: Caught in Israel’s permit system, Gaza children fear for their lives

What happens when children in Gaza need to leave the strip for medical care that is unavailable there? Filmmaker Jen Marlowe gives us a look into the lives of the families as they navigate the often Kafkaesque process of getting permission from the Israeli army to leave the besieged strip for medical treatments.

By Jen Marlowe – the Communications Associate for Just Vision and a filmmaker, journalist, author, and human rights activist.

What white terrorists have in common

16 Aug

Flowers left in memory of those who were killed in El Paso, US. (Photo: Twitter)

By Ramzy Baroud, Palestine Chronicle, 16 August 2019

Manifestos of Hate: What White Terrorists Have in Common

Writing under the title of “If the El Paso shooter had been Muslim”, Moustafa Bayoumi stated the obvious.

“If the El Paso shooter had been a Muslim,” Bayoumi wrote in the British Guardian newspaper on August 6, US President Donald Trump “would be lobbing accusations such as ‘Islam hates us’ in the direction of Muslims and not lecturing the public about video games.”

Bayoumi was referring to the double standards that define much of western official and media discourses regarding violence. When the alleged perpetrator of violence is a Muslim, then the case becomes a matter of national security and is categorically dealt with as an act of terrorism. When the perpetrator is a white male, however, it is a whole different story.

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Israeli Forces attack Palestinians in Al-Aqsa

12 Aug

Palestine Chronicle, 12 August 2019

Israeli forces attacked Palestinian worshippers in Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa mosque complex on Sunday, injuring at least 37, according to a Palestinian official, Anadolu Agency reports.

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Marking anniversary of Israeli attack on Gaza Flotilla

1 Aug

Al Jazeera Live Interview David Heap (FFC Spokesperson) Freedom Flotilla Coalition, 30 July 2018

Video interview with Freedom Flotilla spokesperson David Heap as the Gaza-bound ship Al Awda was being illegally attacked and hijacked in international waters by armed Israel forces one year ago.

On board was NZ representative, Unite union leader, Mike Treen (pictured below), who sustained multiple injuries during the attack. Kia Ora Gaza is a member of the international Freedom Flotilla Coalition, which is planning another attempt to break Israel’s illegal blockade of Gaza next year

UN lets Israel’s child killers off the hook again

1 Aug

A wreath stands in the place of Faris al-Sarsawi at his school in Gaza City on 7 October 2018. The 13-year-old was fatally shot in the chest by an Israeli sniper two days earlier.[Ramadan El-Agha APA]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 1 August 2019

Human rights defenders are slamming UN Secretary-General António Guterres for leaving Israel off an official list of the world’s worst abusers of children’s rights.

On Tuesday, the UN released the secretary-general’s annual report on children in armed conflict.

It finds that a record 12,000 children were killed or maimed in wars around the world in 2018.

But Human Rights Watch notes that Guterres “omitted countries responsible for grave violations against children in armed conflict in his new ‘list of shame.’”

The group notes that the list leaves off the Israeli military, the Afghan National Army and US-led international forces in Afghanistan.

“The UN secretary-general simply refuses to hold to account all warring parties that have inflicted tremendous suffering on children,” Jo Becker, children’s rights advocacy director at Human Rights Watch, said.

“By listing selected violators but not others, Secretary-General Guterres is ignoring the UN’s own evidence and undermining efforts to protect children in conflict.”

Indeed, evidence of Israel’s crimes is in the secretary-general’s report: Israeli occupation forces killed 56 Palestinian children in 2018. An Israeli settler killed a 57th.

That is a four-fold increase over the number of children Israel killed the previous year.

More than 30 of the children killed last year were shot dead in Gaza, as Israel unleashed snipers to deliberately target unarmed civilians with lethal force in the context of Great March of Return protests.

Nine out of 10 “were shot by live ammunition to the upper body, while reportedly posing no imminent threat of death,” the UN report states.

More than 2,500 Palestinian children were injured in 2018, more than double the number the previous year, the UN found.

An Israeli general, Zvika Fogel, admitted openly that Israeli soldiers were under orders to aim their rifles at the “small body of a child.”

An independent UN commission of inquiry called for Israeli officials to be sanctioned and brought to justice over suspected war crimes and crimes against humanity in Gaza.

“[Israeli forces] have intentionally shot children, they’ve intentionally shot people with disabilities, they’ve intentionally shot journalists, knowing them to be children, people with disabilities and journalists,” Sara Hossain, one of the investigators appointed by the UN Human Rights Council, said.

The new UN report documents other widespread violations of Palestinian children’s rights by Israel including arrests, detention and mistreatment, and disruption to their education.

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Gideon Levy at PalExpo. ‘One State: The Future’

11 Jul

Gideon Levy was a keynote speaker at PalExpo, London last week.

VIDEO by 4G Live TV, published 8 July 2019

Gideon Levy is a renowned columnist with Haaretz, a daily Israeli newspaper, and a member of the newspaper’s editorial board. Levy joined Haaretz in 1982, and spent four years as the newspaper’s deputy editor. He is the author of the weekly Twilight Zone feature, which covers the Israeli occupation in the West Bank and Gaza over the last 25 years, as well as the writer of political editorials for the newspaper. Levy was the recipient of the Euro-Med Journalist Prize for 2008; the Leipzig Freedom Prize in 2001; the Israeli Journalists’ Union Prize in 1997; and The Association of Human Rights in Israel Award for 1996. His new book, The Punishment of Gaza, has just been published by Verso Publishing House in London.

The NZ Palestine Solidarity Network hosted Gideon’s well-attended lecture in Auckland in 2017.

 

Nelson Mandela’s grandson slams ‘Israeli apartheid’

8 Jul

Zwelivelile Mandela sketched out a damning picture of the discrimination experienced by the Palestinian people, describing Israeli apartheid is the worst form of apartheid ever witnessed [File: Leon Neal/Getty Images]

By Gavin O’Toole, London, AlJazeera, 7 July 2019

The grandson of anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela has delivered a damning condemnation of “Israeli apartheid”, in a high-profile expression of solidarity between South Africans and Palestinians.

Zwelivelile Mandela, an MP of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), made the comments on Saturday at the Palestine Expo, an annual event in London aimed at showcasing Palestinian history, heritage and culture. Last year, it attracted 15,000 visitors.

Addressing a large audience, Mandela said that the Nation-State Law passed in 2018 declaring Israel to be the historical homeland of the Jewish people “confirmed what we have always known to be the true character and reality of Israel: Israel is an apartheid state”.

He also outlined what had constituted apartheid for black South Africans – from the creation of bantustan reservations to land expropriation and the daily assault on dignity.

“All these characteristics were present in apartheid Israel since its inception but have now been codified and given a constitutional status and expression by the Nation-State Law.

“Apartheid Israel perpetuates statutory discrimination through the very definition by the law as a Jewish state; by doing so it renders non-Jews as second-class citizens, alternately as foreigners in the land of their birth.”

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Palestine Solidarity Network revamped

2 Jul

Interim Chairman, John Minto, launches the revamped nationwide campaigning organisation at the Christchurch inaugural gathering of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA) last week.

PSNA Newsletter No 1

Kia ora koutou,

Welcome to the first newsletter of the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa.

I’m very pleased to let you know that a new national organisation to support the Palestinian struggle was formed at our one-day national seminar in Christchurch last Saturday, 22 June. The seminar was a huge success with people from ten cities outside Christchurch represented.

There was an outstanding presentation from our guest speaker followed by workshops where ideas for local activity and national actions were discussed. Planning for future events/activities is well underway. The energy, enthusiasm and determination from the seminar were impressive. It was a great day.

The new group is called the Palestine Solidarity Network Aotearoa (PSNA for short) and has formed an interim committee with representatives from across the country. We will be meeting regularly online.

It is an interim committee because we want representation decided by local Palestine support groups. In practice we want to work from the ground up rather than the reverse.

Na
John Minto

Interim Chair,

Palestine Solidarity Network, Aotearoa.

Email: johnminto@orcon.net.nz

Palestine’s ‘untold story’ building solidarity in Africa

28 Jun

US/Palestinian author Dr Ramzy Baroud talks with Ibtisam Jamal from HorizonTV, Kenya during Kenya Palestine Solidarity Week, 25 June 2019.

Nick Mudimba from SwitchTV, Kenya interviews visiting US/Palestinian writer, Dr Ramzy Baroud, author of ‘The Last Earth’, on 27 June. Dr Baroud, the editor of the Palestine Chronicle, is on an extensive world speaking tour, which included five cities in New Zealand last year.

NY Times publishes call for Palestinian ‘national suicide’

26 Jun

Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon yearns for Palestinian “national suicide.” [Jens Schott Knudsen]

By Ali Abunimah, Media Watch: Electronic Intifada, 25 June 2019

The anti-Palestinian bias of the The New York Times has long been a subject of complaint and derision among supporters of human rights and competent journalism.

But the “newspaper of record” outdid itself this week by publishing and promoting an op-ed by Israel’s UN ambassador Danny Danon claiming that “a national suicide of the Palestinians’ current political and cultural ethos is precisely what is needed for peace.”

Danon argues that a Palestinian “surrender” to Israel’s regime of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid “will create the opportunity to transform Palestinian society.”

Danon’s grotesque racism drew much sharp outrage from commentators.

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The day after: What if Israel annexes the West Bank?

26 Jun

US National Security Advisor John Bolton (L) Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) guided by Israeli army Major General Nadav Padan (L) at the Qasr al-Yahud baptism site at the Jordan Valley near the Palestinian city of Jericho, West Bank, Sunday, June 23, 2019. (Abir Sultan/EPA Pool via AP)

By Ramzy Baroud, Middle East Monitor, 25 June 2019

Calls for the annexation of the Occupied West Bank are gaining momentum in both Tel Aviv and Washington. But Israel and its American allies should be careful what they wish for. Annexing the Occupied Palestinian Territories will only reinforce the current rethink of the Palestinian strategy, as opposed to solving Israel’s self-induced problems.

Encouraged by the Donald Trump administration’s decision to move the US Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israeli government officials feel that the time for annexing the entirety of the West Bank is now.

In fact, “there is no better time than now” was the exact phrase used by former Israeli Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, as she promoted annexation at a recent New York conference.

Certainly, it is election season in Israel again, as Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu failed to form a government following the last elections in April. So much sabre-rattling happens during such political campaigns, as candidates talk tough in the name of ‘security’, fighting terrorism, and so on.

But Shaked’s comments cannot be dismissed as fleeting election kerfuffle. They represent so much more, if understood within the larger political context.

Indeed, since Trump’s advent to the White House, Israel has never – and I mean, never – had it so easy. It is as if the right-wing government’s most radical agenda became a wish list for Israel’s allies in Washington. This list includes the US recognition of Israel’s illegal annexation of Occupied Palestinian East Jerusalem, of the Occupied Syrian Golan Heights, and the dismissal of the Palestinian refugees’ right of return altogether.

Read: The deal of the century is not being announced, but implemented

But that is not all. Statements made by influential US officials indicate initial interest in the outright annexation of the Occupied West Bank or, at least, large parts of it. The latest of such calls was made by US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman.

“Israel has the right to retain some… of the West Bank,” Friedman said in an interview, cited in the New York Times on 8 June.

Friedman is deeply involved in the so-called deal of the century, a political gambit championed mostly by Trump’s top advisor and son-in-law, Jared Kushner. The apparent idea behind this ‘deal’ is to dismiss the core demands of the Palestinians, while reassuring Israel regarding its quest for demographic majority and ‘security’ concerns.

Palestinians hold banners as they gather to protest against a conference, which is the workshop, scheduled for June 25 and 26, in Bahrain’s capital Manama, related with a “Deal of the Century” plan in Ramallah, West Bank on 15 June 2019. [Issam Rimawi – Anadolu Agency]

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Buying Palestine for peanuts

25 Jun

Video interview with US/Palestinian author Ali Abunimah [AlJazeera/EI]

By Ali Abunimah, The Electronic Intifada, 24 June 2019

Over the weekend, the White House released “Peace to Prosperity,” the economic component of its so-called Deal of the Century.

It calls for $50 billion in “investments” spread over 179 projects. Half the money would be spent on Palestinian infrastructure over 10 years, with the rest spread between Egypt, Lebanon and Jordan.

It will supposedly include a $5 billion transportation corridor between the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip and another $2 billion in the Palestinian tourism sector.

The plan has zero chance of success, not least because no one knows where the money would come from – presumably it is to be pledged by America’s client states in the Gulf – and there’s no reason to believe Israel would ever remotely allow any major projects intended to benefit Palestinians.

Jared Kushner, adviser and son-in-law to President Donald Trump, and US envoy Jason Greenblatt, are the brains behind the plan.

They claim it will reduce Palestinian poverty by half and double Palestinian GDP over a decade.

I told Al Jazeera on Saturday that the plan amounts to reheated ideas for “economic peace” – the hope that a few financial crumbs will buy Palestinians off from demanding liberation and from continuing to resist Israel’s system of occupation, settler-colonialism and apartheid.

It’s an effort to buy Palestine for peanuts.

Palestinians protest against the Bahrain economic workshop, in Rafah, southern Gaza, on 18 June. This week’s gathering in the Gulf state will see the unveiling of the economic component of the Trump administration’s “Deal of the Century.” [Ashraf Amra APA]

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On 63rd Great March of Return & Breaking Siege..

24 Jun

..Israeli Forces wound 116 Palestinian civilians, including 34 children, 5 women and a paramedic

Injured paramedic

Palestinian Centre for Human Rights report, 22 June 2019

On Friday, 21 June 2019, in excessive use of force against peaceful protesters on the 63rd Friday of the Great March of Return and Breaking the Siege, Israeli forces wounded 116 Palestinian civilians, including 34 children, 5 women, a paramedic and a person with disability, in the eastern Gaza Strip. Four of those wounded sustained serious wounds.

According to observations by PCHR’s fieldworkers, the Israeli forces who stationed in prone positions and in military jeeps along the fence with Israel continued to use excessive force against the protesters by firing bullets and tear gas canisters at them. As a result, dozens of the protesters were  hit with bullets and teargas canisters without posing any imminent threat or danger to the life of soldiers.

On Friday, 21 June 2019, the incidents were as follows:

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Former Mossad Chief says: ‘Israel Does Not Want Peace’

24 Jun

Former chief of Israel’s intelligence agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit. [Photo: File]

PalestinePost24, 22 June 2019

‘Talking about peace the mother of sins,’ former Mossad chief Shabtai Shavit says.

Settlement in West Bank is based on religious myths, the Israeli official stressed.

Former Chief of Israeli Intelligence Agency Mossad, Shabtai Shavit, has said that Israel does not want peace and that, if it had, it would have made peace long time ago.

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Israel closes Gaza’s waters to Palestinian fishermen

13 Jun

Palestinian fishermen unload their catch at the seaport of Gaza City [File: Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Associated Press report, 13 June 2019

Jerusalem – The Israeli military says it is taking the rare step of closing the Gaza Strip’s offshore waters to Palestinian fishermen until further notice in response to incendiaries launched into Israel in recent days.

COGAT, the Israeli Defense Ministry body controlling the crossings with the coastal enclave, announced Wednesday that “due to the continuous launching of incendiary balloons and kites from the Gaza Strip towards Israel,” Israel would bar Gazans from using the territory’s coastal waters.

[abridged]

Inside Israel’s million dollar troll army

13 Jun

 Act.IL’s Israeli headquaters in Herzliya. [Act.IL/Facebook]

By Asa Winstanley, The Electronic Intifada 12 June 2019

A global influence campaign funded by the Israeli government had a $1.1 million budget last year, a document obtained by The Electronic Intifada shows.

Act.IL says it has offices in three countries and an online army of more than 15,000.

In its annual report, from January, Act.IL says its goal is to “influence foreign publics” and “battle” BDS – the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement for Palestinian rights.

Through its app, Act.IL issues “missions” to this troll army in exchange for “cool prizes” and scholarships.

The app directs comments towards news websites in support of Israeli wars and racism, while attacking Palestinians and solidarity campaigners.

The leaked report claims Act.IL’s app completes 1,580 such missions every week.

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How could the government have let this happen?

12 Jun

NZ First or Israel First? NZ Minister of Defence, Ron Mark with Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu in January.

By John Minto, Opinion Daily Blog, 10 June 2019 

How could the government have let this happen? Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee run by pro-Israeli extremists

Under Winston Peters (Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Ron Mark (Minister of Defence) government policy on the Middle East has taken a great stride to the right. It was always pro-Israeli and never pro-Palestinian but Peters and Mark have taken New Zealand further to the right and closer to the US position.

Select Committees are usually run by the government of the day who would normally have a majority on the committee. Not so Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade.

This Select Committee has four National MPs, three Labour MPs and one Green MP so there is no majority for the government but more surprisingly the Chair and Deputy Chair (Simon O’Connor and Tim Macindoe respectively) are both National Party MPs.

This mightn’t seem very important but becomes critical this Thursday when the committee will decide whether or not to conduct an inquiry into New Zealand government policy towards Palestine/Israel.

Details of their pro-Israeli extremism is at the end of this blog but first – where does our policy stand now?

Government policy towards the Middle East under Winston Peters and Ron Mark

Under Winston Peters (Minister of Foreign Affairs) and Ron Mark (Minister of Defence) government policy on the Middle East has taken a great stride to the right. It was always pro-Israeli and never pro-Palestinian but Peters and Mark have taken New Zealand further to the right and closer to the US position.

Earlier this year Ron Mark visited the Middle East and made a point of meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Did he raise issues of human rights for Palestinians? Did he ask why Israel continues stealing Palestinian land for Jewish-only settlements? Did he ask why Israeli snipers can murder unarmed Palestinian children with impunity? No to all the above.

Look at this video of their meeting:

This video posted on Youtube by Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu’s office on 27 January 2019 shows Netanyahu’s “warm welcome” for NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark. The NZ delegation included National MP and Associate Spokesperson for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Tim Macindoe.

It’s a grovelling sycophantic display by Ron Mark towards an avowed racist who openly proclaims “Israel is not a state for all its citizens”. (Instead it’s an apartheid state with full rights for people of Jewish descent but second-class citizenship for Palestinians with Israeli citizenship)

Ron Mark shows how thrilled he is to meet someone who gives the fingers to the United Nations, thumbs his nose at international law and continues daily murder and mayhem directed at Palestinians: cold-blooded killings, bulldozing homes and livelihoods and theft of land.

Ron Mark’s obsequious behaviour towards Netanyahu in our name is nauseating. (Standing on the other side of Netanyahu in the video is select committee deputy chair Tim Macindoe)

Did Ron Mark or Tim Macindoe meet with Palestinian leaders when they were in the Middle East? No again.

So what about Winston Peters? His position is summed up this letter to me:

I wrote this response:

Palestine Solidarity Network

31 May 2019

Winston Peters

Minister of Foreign Affairs

Parliament Buildings

Wellington

w.peters@ministers.govt.nz

Kia ora Mr Peters,

Renewed request to meet

Thank you for your letter of 24 May.

It is deeply disappointing to find the New Zealand government policy on the Middle East remains frozen in time 71 years after the Palestinian Nakba. It is a policy which adheres to US/Israel priorities but is unrelated to reality and is simply a recipe for the ongoing brutal oppression of Palestinians.

It leaves New Zealand on the wrong side of history. It is not acceptable.

The so-called “two-state solution” you espouse has been undermined by Israel to the point where it would be impossible to implement in any meaningful way. The land which could possibly have formed a Palestinian state has been stolen for Jewish-only settlements and the remaining fragments have been separated by Jewish-only roads. The two-state solution is dead.

Thank you for pointing out the government’s opposition to Israeli settlements but these are already illegal under international law and in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

It’s very difficult to take seriously your government being “deeply concerned about the significant numbers of civilian deaths and casualties in Gaza, particularly children and health workers” when the government has been silent when unarmed Palestinian children have been murdered by Israeli snipers – in plain sight – for daring to oppose the ruthless oppression they face every day.

In the context of Israel/Palestine it is offensive to ask Palestinians to exercise restraint. They are under military occupation. Would your government have asked the French resistance to exercise restraint in their fight against Nazi occupation of France in the 1940s?

We are all familiar with your much-repeated statement “while accepting Israel’s fundamental right to maintain its security, particularly in the face of provocation, any actions need to be proportionate.”

Why do Palestinians not have the same right to security?

The provocation you refer to is the firing of rockets into Israel from Gaza but you ignore the primary, massive provocation – the occupation of Palestinian land by a brutal, overwhelming military power which every day steals more Palestinian land, bulldozes Palestinian homes, murders Palestinian children and spreads the vilest of propaganda which attempts to erase Palestine and Palestinian existence.

Why does the government not demand the immense provocations of the Israeli military occupation of the West Bank and the siege of Gaza be ended?

Your final statement that the government is “committed to building a closer relationship with Israel and with the Palestinians” is surprising because the facts of New Zealand engagement in the Middle East tell a very different story. Your government has a strong, growing relationship with the state of Israel but no practical, meaningful relationship with the victims of its apartheid policies.

Your government has welcomed an Israeli embassy in Wellington; sent a New Zealand cabinet minister to meet the Israeli Prime Minister this year; supports a visa free scheme for young Israelis to travel to New Zealand; supports a film co-production agreement with Israel; supports an aviation agreement with Israel; supports increasing trade with Israel and shortly you intend to extend this by signing up to an innovation agreement with Israel.

You are rewarding Israeli’s most appalling behaviour – illegal under international law and in defiance of UN resolutions – with greater contact and enhanced international credibility. In effect New Zealand is helping shield Israel’s most egregious behaviour.

Alongside this you have a pretend policy of engagement with Palestinians. 

Just in the last week your government’s reported intention to purchase military equipment from Israel sums up the reality of your policy priorities much better than the “diplomatic speak” in your letter which tries to imply an even-handed approach.

These issues are too important for New Zealand to leave here. We repeat our request for you to meet with a delegation from the Palestine Solidarity Network as soon as possible to discuss a positive way forward for New Zealand in relation to the Middle East.

We look forward to a positive and timely response.

Na,

John Minto

For the Palestine Solidarity Network

Back to the Select Committee:

This Thursday the Select Committee will consider a request from the Palestine Solidarity Network for the committee to investigate the stride to the right in Middle East policy under Ron Mark and Winston Peters.

We are not holding our breath.

The Deputy Chair of the Committee, Tim Macindoe, was just as awestruck to meet Netanyahu as Ron Mark and that’s not surprising because Macindoe has aligned himself with the Israel Parliamentary Friendship Group (run by Alfred Ngaro). Like Ron Mark he made no attempt whatever, that we are aware of, to visit the occupied territories or Gaza or speak with any Palestinians in leadership positions anywhere. In his comments before, during and after his visit there isn’t a single mention of the word Palestine or Palestinians despite these being at the heart of what many consider to be the most serious international conflict of our time. Instead Macindoe has only weasily comments about Netanyahu and Israel. It seems Palestinians do not exist in Tim Macindoe’s world.

Committee chair Simon O’Connor is just as bad. O’Connor has gone out of his way to meet the Israeli ambassador to New Zealand but has made no attempt to meet any Palestinian leaders. After his meeting with the ambassador he said on Facebook:

“Pleased to welcome and chat with HE Dr. Gerberg – Israel’s Ambassador to New Zealand. A lot in common to discuss including our countries respective interest in research and development, as well as recent developments in the Middle East. Of course, it was also a chance to acknowledge Israel’s 70th anniversary of independence.”

O’Connor has lots to say about Hamas terrorists firing rockets into Israel and says:

“There should be one attitude towards terrorism, it is unacceptable, regardless of who perpetrates it or who suffers from it.”

Fair enough. But O’Connor is silent – absolutely silent, not even a whisper – about Israel’s reign of terror through its brutal military occupation and murder of Palestinians.

Not surprisingly O’Connor is praised by local Zionists as “one of the few National MPs who expressed disappointment at the time Resolution 2334 (condemning Israeli settlements on stolen Palestinian land) was passed.”

Elsewhere O’Connor says:

I wish to convey my condolences about the very sad news of an attack on a Jewish synagogue during a Passover celebration in San Diego on 27 April. Attacks on places of worship are increasing and must be condemned in the strongest possible terms. My thoughts are very much with the families affected, both in America but also with our Jewish community here in New Zealand.”

But no word of criticism about the frequent Jewish attacks on Palestinian mosques throughout the occupied territories.

This is the man overseeing New Zealand government policy on Palestine/Israel.

O’Connor sees and condemns the micro-terrorism of those firing rockets into Israel but is an apologist for racism, oppression and brutality when Israel is the perpetrator.

There is a lot of work to be done to wrest control of New Zealand foreign policy from this small cabal of far-right extremists.

 

John Minto, is a veteran human rights activist, commentator and spokesperson for NZ Palestine Solidarity Network. See his earlier 5 June statement here: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2019/06/07/psn-calls-for-investigation-into-nz-govt-policy-on-palestine-israel/ and his open letter to Winston Peters on 13 May 2019: https://kiaoragaza.wordpress.com/2019/05/13/open-letter-to-winston-peters/

Gaza: Isolation and control

11 Jun

Palestinians in Gaza have been subjected to Israeli restrictions on movement for decades [Adel Hana/AP]

By Ben White, Al Jazeera, 11 June 2019

Restrictions on the Gaza Strip are part of a sequence going back decades predating Hamas control, analysts say.

This summer marks an important but often overlooked anniversary in the history of the Gaza Strip. Thirty years ago, in June 1989, Israel imposed for the first time a magnetic-card system to restrict the exit of Palestinian residents. Anyone denied a card would be prevented from leaving.

While Israel‘s blockade of Gaza is often seen to have originated in 2006-2007 as a response to Hamas’s rise to power, the isolation of the enclave in fact goes back three decades – and for many analysts, this historical perspective is essential for understanding today’s developments.

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