momentum keeps building in so many ways every day. today a new petition to the european union. it’s not perfect, but i am hopeful that it will lead twoards the direction of sanctions. it reads:
We call upon the EU to:
• Demand Israel abides by International Law, including a complete withdrawal from Gaza and the West Bank.
• Suspend the Euro-Med Agreement until Israel abides by its human rights clauses.
• Reverse the recent upgrade of relations with Israel
but even more significant is this letter that from several swedish ngos addressing the issue that is far more urgent than the humanitarian aid coming into gaza, when israeli terrorists allow it to. and that is addressing the root cause of the problem. this is something we should see more of around the world–not just these words, but these words backed up with action:
In view of upcoming political decisions and donor conferences planned for the rebuilding of Gaza, We would like to bring your attention to the needs expressed on the ground.
Sweden needs to take its third states responsibility within International Humanitarian Law (IHL) and demand accountability from conflicting parties that violated IHL.
Based on a call from the Israeli-Palestinian organization Alternative Information Center, we Swedish NGOs would like to support their message that emergency and humanitarian aid to Gaza Strip is counterproductive without political demands. This message is instrumental at this very moment when many countries are rushing to pledge funds for the rebuilding of Gaza in upcoming donor conferences.
The Israeli military assault on the Gaza Strip during 27 December 2008 – 18 January 2009 has resulted in the deaths of hundreds, injury of thousands and long-term physical and psychological harm to hundreds of thousands of Palestinians. The first estimates of the physical damage to infrastructures and buildings in the Gaza, amount to at least 1.6 billion USD. The immediate and long-term costs of the loss and injury to human lives and spirits, in addition to the damage to roads, schools, hospitals and clinics, water and electricity sources, will reach horrifying levels of historic proportions. The humanitarian crisis created by the Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip will take decades from which to recover.
The Palestinian people of the Gaza Strip will require massive emergency and humanitarian assistance in order to meet the most fundamental needs for human existence. However, the humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip is the result of Israeli long term policies and their attendant military actions. Without addressing the root problems that caused the current humanitarian crisis, international donors will simply enter another cycle of providing emergency and humanitarian assistance for infrastructures and projects that could once again be compromised or destroyed by Israel at a later date.
The root cause of this humanitarian crisis is Israel’s ongoing occupation of the Palestinian Territory it occupied in 1967, including the Gaza Strip, effective and control over which Israel continues to yield even following its redeployment of troops in 2005.
Without work by the international community, including governments and civil society, to end Israeli occupation of the Palestinian Territory, there simply can be no real change in the situation.
Humanitarian and emergency aid, though offering relief in the short-term, also informs the Israeli occupation. Aid projects are used by Israel to evade its own responsibility, explicit in international humanitarian law, to the occupied population under its control. While aid might save lives in the short run, it also relieves Israel to pay the costs of the destruction that its military actions lead to, and it gives increased budget availability for military spending which would finance future military operations with possible new destructions and damages.
The Israeli government is now stressing the issue of humanitarian aid to Gaza, but they are taking no responsibility at all for the destruction and damages they have caused and they seem to rely on the international community and especially the EU to pick up the bill. By this Israel is also avoiding its obligation to provide the full scope of reparations to victims of IHL violations.
Swedish NGOs active in the occupied Palestinian territory implementing humanitarian aid and development cooperation asks the Swedish government the following:
1. Gather, analyze and disseminate information about the destruction of Swedish humanitarian aid and development cooperation in Gaza. Share information with other organizations and the media. Encourage other donor countries to do the same, and consolidate e.g. a joint EU and UN damage report.
2. Hold Israel accountable for the destruction it has caused to infrastructure and projects funded by Sweden in the Gaza Strip. The Swedish government and its Embassy in Tel Aviv need to contact the relevant Israeli authorities and demand explanations and full reparations for the destruction of civil infrastructures.
3. Use your political power to ensure international human rights and international humanitarian law. Israel is dependent on international aid to ensure the well-being of the Palestinian population, thus freeing it to take decisions unilaterally and with no consideration for the Palestinians. Donors thus have leverage over the Israeli government and can use it to demand compliance with international humanitarian and human rights law.
4. Don’t assist Israel in economically benefiting from its attacks on Gaza. The United Nations estimates that 45% of international aid sent to the Occupied Palestinian Territories flows back into the Israeli economy. The Paris Accords often render it less expensive to import goods to the OPT from Israel rather than neighboring or European countries. Demand that Israeli taxes on emergency and humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip be frozen.
5. Demand right to freely implement emergency and humanitarian projects. Demand free passage of goods and staff into and out of the Gaza Strip, in addition to unhampered movement within the Gaza Strip in order to implement projects, including for local partner organizations. Protest Israeli limitations on Your work, including the associated higher costs in storage and shipping that result accordingly.
6. Support political negotiations grounded in international law between the Palestinians and Israelis. The Oslo Accords have proven irrelevant and the Annapolis process has failed. It is time the international community publicly recognizes this reality and focuses on implementation of all United Nations resolutions and international laws applicable to the Israeli occupation and the Israeli-Arab conflict.
These demands are part of Sweden’s third states responsibility within International Humanitarian Law. Continued and new humanitarian aid due to the latest damages and destructions, without political demands, would also risk continuing the vicious cycle of conflict and counterproductive to the long term aims of peace between Israelis and Palestinians.
Since the EU is striving for a common foreign and security policy on these matters, the Swedish government should also encourage the EU to endorse the proposed actions above. If the above-mentioned measures prove to have no effect, the Swedish government should call upon the EU to suspend the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which unequivocally commits Israel to respect human rights and democratic principles, until Israel has demonstrated a concrete commitment to uphold its responsibilities and obligations accordingly.
Secretary General; The Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation
Secretary General; Diakonia
Chairman; The Palestine Solidarity Association in Sweden
Secretary General; The Swedish Organisation for Individual Relief
Secretary General; Olof Palme International Center
one caveat to the above letter: the root of the problem is the ethnic cleansing/an nakba in 1948 and the palestinian refugees right of return. but in any case, these types of calls to action are more important than ever given the seeming ways in which israeli terrorism may soon be coming to iran. just watch the israeli terrorist ambassador to australia, yuval rotem, slip up before the camera in australia, just before cutting them off:
and now it seems as though dennis ross may be the u.s. envoy to iran (yes, this is change my friends: okay, so he’s not envoy to palestine, but it doesn’t mean he still won’t be doing damage in the region):
Former Clinton Administration Middle East diplomat Dennis Ross is under consideration as US State Department envoy to Iran. Ross is currently the chairman of the Jewish People Policy Planning Institute (JPPPI) in Jerusalem, established by the Jewish Agency in 2002. Ross could face legal challenges under the 1938 Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, if he enters US government service.
FARA protects the American people and Congress from stealth propaganda and foreign lobbying through strict public disclosure filings. The Jewish Agency has repeatedly surfaced during investigations in the US. In the 1960s the Senate Foreign Relations Committee uncovered a network of stealth Jewish Agency “conduits” financing grassroots Israel lobby startup groups through the American Zionist Council (AZC). During 1963 hearings the Senate revealed the equivalent of $35 million went toward US lobbying, including $38,000 to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) founder Isaiah Kenen between 1960-1961.
in spite of these setbacks, the grassroots keep pushing forward as with the maritime union of australia, which is needed now and will be needed even further if the aggression moves to include iran:
3. We also call on the Australian Council of Trade Unions and Unions WA to give full organisational and financial support to the protest movement in Australia against the Israeli aggression. In particular we call on Unions WA to give full organisational and financial support to the action initiated by Friends of Palestine WA which will be happening at midday in Forrest Place on Saturday January 31st.
4. We will participate fully in the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign when it is initiated and support actions related thereof when they are called by either Friends of Palestine WA or other interested parties (including other trade unions). We call on the ACTU and Unions WA to join us in supporting the BDS campaign and specific actions related thereof
5. In furtherance of resolution 4, this meeting recommends State Conference adopt a position of boycotting all Israeli-registered vessels, and all vessels known to be carrying either goods destined for Israel or goods sourced from Israel.
this international pressure must continue to build, especially in light of recent disturbing news that france is going to become israel’s latest partner in terrorism as hasan abu nimah writes for electronic intifada:
Because it is generally accepted by the so-called “international community” that Hamas is a major threat to Israel, and therefore to world peace and security, France has dispatched a frigate to participate in a new blockade of the Gaza Strip. The Sunday Times reported that United States naval ships hunting pirates in the Gulf of Aden have been instructed to track down Iranian arms shipments (25 January). Many other European states offered their navies to assist. Indeed, United Nations Security Council resolution 1860 emphasized the need to prevent illicit trafficking in arms and ammunition.
Unfortunately not one European country offered to send its navy to render humanitarian assistance to the thousands of injured, hungry, cold and homeless people in Gaza rendered so as a result of Israel’s attack. Perhaps helping children dying from white phosphorus burns, or just lack of clean water, would be seen as supporting “terrorism.”
The perverse assumption behind all the offers of help to Israel seems to be that Hamas and other resistance groups in Gaza fired rockets at Israel merely because rockets were available. Therefore, the logic goes, peace would prevail if the supply of rockets were curtailed.
Another strange assumption is that Hamas was freely importing rockets from Iran or elsewhere because Gaza’s borders were open and free of any control.
This ignores the fact that since Israel “disengaged” from Gaza in the summer of 2005, the coastal territory was never allowed any free access to the outside world. Gaza has been under varied forms of siege and blockade by land, sea and air. Fishermen were not even free to fish without constant attacks by the Israeli navy.
The Rafah crossing linking Gaza to Egypt was kept closed on Israeli insistence until a regime for strict Israeli proxy surveillance, with European monitors acting on Israel’s behalf, was established for it.
If Hamas, despite the blockade and total financial and diplomatic boycott managed to import so many rockets or the materials to make them, what level of further siege would guarantee an end to arms importation now?
meanwhile stories continue to come out about the nautral gas belonging to palestinians, but of course israeli terrorists and europeans are scheming various plots to steal the gas (sort of reminds you of mohammed mossadegh in iran when the americans did their first cia coup because iran wanted more than a pittance of the revenue of their oil):
In addition to the difficult long-term security concerns that are sure to arise from Operation Cast Lead, the long-overdue Israeli invasion of the Gaza Strip has also raised a number of ancillary concerns that will need to be addressed over the coming weeks, including the future of key offshore natural-gas supplies.
About a year ago, The Jerusalem Post reported that Israel and UK-based BG Group, one of the world’s largest purveyors of natural gas, broke off talks concerning the possible sale of the natural gas contained in the Gaza Marine gas field, an area about 36 kilometers off of the Gaza coast.
In 1999, after paying the Palestinian Authority an undisclosed sum, BG, along with its partner, Consolidated Contractors Corporations, acquired the concession to survey for natural gas in 1,000 square kilometers of the Gaza Marine area.
In their agreement with BG, the PA stipulated that BG must pay it at least 10 percent of the royalties from any future sales of the gas, which the PA said would be placed directly into its Palestinian Investment Fund.
BG and CCC set about conducting seismic tests to determine if the field contained the valuable gas they had hoped for; in early 2000, BG confirmed that the field contained a large quantity.
Over the ensuring six and a half years, BG and officials from the Finance and National Infrastructures ministries tried to reach an agreement to pump the gas into Israel. But the two sides could not agree on the price.
Yet even before the talks broke off, the situation shifted dramatically in June 2007 when Hamas violently ousted Fatah from power in the Gaza Strip, claiming ownership of the gas fields off the coast and the proceeds from the sale of the gas.
This posed a serious problem for both Israel, which obviously was not going to pay a portion of the money to Hamas, and to BG, which was banned by its government from negotiating with Hamas. The Post reported that had Israel and BG reached an agreement on the sale price of the gas, they would have found an alternative arrangement for the transfer of funds to ensure they did not end up funding terrorism.
Today, the estimated $4 billion worth of gas off the Gazan coast is still sitting, untapped, at the bottom of the Gaza Marine gas field. Hamas has not backed away from it claim that it is the rightful owner of the gas, even saying it deserves more than the 10% of the royalties from the sale of the gas, as originally negotiated between BG and the PA.
no there is no change globally: it is business as usual. the extension of empire. and under obama there is business as usual too: the extension of the cia’s extraordinary rendition. but he let that one slip. can’t let it get out that secret detention and torture will continue, and it will continue in secret places where we can’t see and can’t know. but, oh yes, change has come to america. keep on drinking that koolaid:
The CIA’s secret prisons are being shuttered. Harsh interrogation techniques are off-limits. And Guantanamo Bay will eventually go back to being a wind-swept naval base on the southeastern corner of Cuba.
But even while dismantling these discredited programs, President Barack Obama left an equally controversial counterterrorism tool intact.
Under executive orders issued by Obama last week, the CIA still has authority to carry out what are known as renditions, or the secret abductions and transfers of prisoners to countries that cooperate with the U.S.
Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said the rendition program is poised to play an expanded role because it is the main remaining mechanism-aside from Predator missile strikes-for taking suspected terrorists off the street.
The rendition program became a source of embarrassment for the CIA, and a target of international scorn, as details emerged in recent years of botched captures, mistaken identities and allegations that prisoners were turned over to countries where they were tortured.
The European Parliament condemned renditions as an “illegal instrument used by the United States.” Prisoners swept up in the program have sued the CIA as well as a subsidiary of Boeing Corp., which is accused of working with the agency on dozens of rendition flights.
finally my colleague, abdul sattar qasim, who whose car was bombed last week and who i wrote a bit about, was on al jazeera’s “inside story” with the always astute imran garda. it was funny because i was in the car with abdul sitta when he got the phone call from the al jazeera producer to schedule the interview later that day, though the interview is about holding the israeli terrorist state accountable for the war crimes it committed not about the incident with his car:
putting pressure on all governments who normalize with the israeli terrorist state is as crucial as ever right now as israelis scheme and plot to make sure they are above the law as usual–spanish activists need to get on the ball especially in light of the news today:
Israeli foreign minister Tzipi Livni announced the news following a meeting with her Spanish counterpart Miguel Moratinos after a Spanish court accepted a lawsuit against former Israeli war ministry Benjamin Ben Eliezer and the then head of the air force Dan Halutz on charges against humanity.