Posts Tagged ‘Russell tribunal on Palestine’

European Union Boosts Israel Ties, Ignores Illegal Settlements

March 23, 2010

By David Cronin, Inter Press Service News

BRUSSELS, Mar 22, 2010 (IPS) – Diplomats representing the European Union (EU) have drawn up a new plan for strengthening their relations with Israel despite the expansion of illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

Spain, the current holder of the EU’s rotating presidency, is eager that work proceeds on formally upgrading the Union’s political and commercial ties with Israel over the next few months.

Although both the EU and Israel had agreed in 2008 to undertake steps designed to integrate Israel into the Union’s economy, work on this dossier has partly stalled because of the subsequent war in Gaza. But a confidential paper written by Spanish officials suggests that fresh discussions should soon be opened with Israel so that the upgrading process can regain its momentum.

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EU Found Guilty at First Session of Russell Tribunal

March 16, 2010
RTP is a peoples’ legal initiative (David Vilaplana/imagenenaccion.org)
By Ewa Jasiewicz and Frank Barat, The  Palestine Chronicle,  March 16, 2010


The first session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RTP) was heard in Barcelona, Spain earlier this month. The RTP is a peoples’ legal initiative designed to systematically try key actors responsible for the perpetuation of human rights violations in Palestine.

In the frame this time was the European Union (EU). Two days and 21 expert witness testimonies later, the RTP found individual states and the EU as a whole guilty of persistent violations and misconduct with regards to international and internal EU law. These included: assistance in perpetrating the crime of apartheid — deepened in definition as applicable to the violation of the inalienable right of return for refugees and the collective punishment and ghettoization of Gaza; aiding the procurement of war crimes and crimes against humanity particularly with regards to Gaza; and violating the Palestinian right to self-determination, aiding illegal colonization, the annexation of East Jerusalem and theft of natural resources.

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The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

May 18, 2009

by Stephen Lendman | Global Research, May 17, 2009

After two years of “underground” work, it was launched with a “successful press conference” and announcement that:

“The Russell Tribunal on Palestine seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the (way to settle) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Its work will focus on “the enunciation of law by authoritative bodies. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its opinion on the (Separation Wall in Occupied Palestine, addressed relevant) “International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, as well as dozens of international resolutions concerning Palestine.”

This Tribunal will “address the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified.” It begins where the ICJ “stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations.”

The Russell Tribunal is part of the larger BRussell Tribunal, named after noted philosopher, mathematician, and anti-war/anti-imperialism activist Bertrand Russell (1972 – 1970). Established in 1967 to investigate Vietnam war crimes, it’s a hearing committee, most recently on the Iraq war and Bush administration imperialism. Its work continues as “the only game in town for the anti-war movement in America, Britain and Europe” – to unite non-violently for peace on various world’s hot spots, now for Occupied Palestine to expose decades of injustice against a defenseless civilian population.

National committees will be formed globally, including expert ones composed of jurists, lawyers, human rights and international law experts, weapons experts, and others “to work on the evidence against Israel and third parties” to be presented in Tribunal sessions. Two are planned, “the earliest….by the end of this year.”

Frank Barat of the Organizing Committee urges activists to spread the news and offer support for this vital project. After Israel’s unconscionable Gaza attack, it’s never been more vulnerable given mass world public outrage. It’s long past time to hold Israel accountable for its decades of crimes of war and against humanity,  flaunting international humanitarian law, waging aggressive wars, continuing an illegal occupation, expropriating Palestinian land, and committing slow-motion genocide, so far with impunity. No longer can this be tolerated. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is dedicated toward that end.

The Tribunal’s Declaration on Iraq applies to Palestine. Substituting Israel for America and Palestine for Iraq, it reads as follows:

“The (Israeli) occupation of (Palestine) is illegal and cannot be made legal. All that has derived from (it) is illegal and illegitimate and cannot gain legitimacy. The facts are incontrovertible. What are the consequences?”

“Peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine) are impossible under occupation. Foreign occupation is opposed by nature to the interests of the occupied people, as proven” by:

— the forced diaspora;

— many others internally displaced or in refugee camps for decades;

— harsh military subjugation;

— a regimented matrix of control;

— the genocidal Gaza siege;

— state-sponsored mass incarceration, violence, and torture;

— the flaunting of international law and dozens of UN resolutions;

— targeted assassinations;

— the many tens of thousands of Palestinians killed, injured, or otherwise grievously harmed;

— massive land theft and home demolitions;

— the lack of judicial redress;

— denying all rights to non-Jews; and

— a decades-long reign of terror against defenseless Palestinian civilians.

Western propaganda tries to justify the unjustifiable, vilify ordinary people, call the legitimate government “terrorist,” rationalize savage attacks as self-defense, reject the rights of the occupied, and deny their self-determination.

“In (Palestine, people) resist the occupation by all means (including armed struggle), in accordance with international law. “The Commission on Human Rights has routinely reaffirmed” it. So have numerous General Assembly resolutions. The March 1987 Geneva Declaration on Terrorism states:

“Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples….that inflicts a gross and consistent pattern of violations of fundamental human rights….or that perpetuates military aggression and overt or covert intervention directed against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states,” such as Palestine.

The UN General Assembly has “repeatedly recognized” the rights of “peoples who are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination (to) have the right to use force to accomplish their objectives within the framework of international humanitarian law.”

It also recognizes the legitimacy of self-determination seeking national liberation movements and their right to strive for and receive appropriate support for their struggle. Further, under the UN Charter’s Article 51, “individual or collective self-defense (shall not be “impair(ed) to respond against) an armed attack.”

In other words, armed force is a legitimate form of self-defense as distinguished from “acts of international terrorism,” especially by one state against another or any group, organization, or individual. Israel refuses to accept this. It continues an illegal occupation, calls armed resistance “terrorism,” and imposes its will oppressively and illegally.

World leaders “continue to justify the negation of popular sovereignty under the rubric of (fighting terrorism), criminalizing not only resistance but also humanitarian assistance to a besieged (and beleaguered) people. Under international law, (Palestinian freedom-fighters) constitute a national liberation movement. Recognition of (them) is consequently a right, (an obligation, and) not an option.” World leaders have a duty to hold Israel accountable under the law and no longer support its crimes.

Palestine “cannot recover lasting stability, unity and territorial integrity until its sovereignty is (recognized, affirmed,) guaranteed,” and enforced by the world international community.

“If (world leaders) and (Israel want) peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine), they should accept that only the (Palestinian) resistance – armed, civil and political – can achieve these by securing the interests of (their) people. (Their) first demand….is the unconditional withdrawal of (Israeli forces) illegally occupying” their land.

Palestinians are the only legitimate force to secure their own security and rights under international law. “All laws, contracts (and other occupation-related) agreements….are unequivocally null and void. According to international law and the will of the (Palestinian) people, total sovereignty” over Palestine, its resources, culture, and all else (past, present, and future) rests in (their own) hands.

Further, international law demands that full “compensation….be paid” to compensate for what Israel plundered and destroyed. Palestinians want self-determination and “long-term peace” and security. They have every right to expect it. “We appeal to all peace loving people in the world to work to support” their struggle. Regional “peace, democracy, progress” and justice depend on it. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is committed to work toward this end. Nothing short of it is acceptable.

Stephen Lendman is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization. He lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net.

American Jewish groups must speak up over Gaza

April 20, 2009

It is a sensitive subject, but the movement for Gaza accountability needs full Jewish participation

Richard Silverstein

guardian.co.uk, Monday 20 April 2009 09.00 BS

    When Israeli forces left Gaza in January, they left behind 1,400 Palestinian dead, 4,000 homes destroyed, universities and government buildings flattened, and tens of thousands homeless. The Israeli and world press documented IDF atrocities including the indiscriminate use of white phosphorus in densely populated urban areas, the assault on United Nations humanitarian facilities, the shelling of civilian homes, and the shooting in cold blood of unarmed civilians.

    Israeli human rights groups have called for war crimes investigations of IDF actions. In the last few weeks, on-the-ground reports supported by eyewitness testimony have become available. They paint an even more damning picture. The attacks on UN facilities spurred the Palestinian Authority to call for a security council investigation. Officials announced they are investigating whether the international body has jurisdiction, but it seems likely that US opposition will doom such an avenue of redress.

    The UN human rights council has just appointed a distinguished jurist, Richard Goldstone, to head an investigation of both IDF and Palestinian actions in Gaza. The council made a wise choice in Goldstone, who served as chief prosecutor of the international criminal tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda: he has an impeccable record in his field and can be expected to issue a fair, balanced and thorough report.

    Last week, Judge Balthazar Garzon announced the investigation of six Bush-era officials for devising a scheme that justified torture of terror suspects. With this development, it became clear there was a new method to hold violators accountable for their alleged crimes, and I am certain activists are already preparing dossiers for submission. Earlier this month, an international assemblage of individuals announced the formation of the Russell tribunal on Palestine. Modelled on the Russell tribunal on war crimes in Vietnam, and named after philosopher and peace campaigner Bertrand Russell, it aims to bring to bear international law as a force for adjudicating and resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The tribunal will hear a legal case prepared by volunteer experts from around the world. A jury of respected individuals will hear evidence from both sides and announce its finding of guilt or innocence to the world.

    There is one important consideration that should encourage Israel to participate. If it truly believes Palestinian rocket attacks constitute war crimes, then it should vigorously make this point. The tribunal has already taken pains to point out that this is a part of its mandate: “Do the means of resistance used by the Palestinians violate international law?” However, I would imagine that Israel will not participate.

    While Israel’s savage assault against Hezbollah in Lebanon during the 2006 war generated an uproar, one wonders whether the massacres that occurred in Gaza crossed a moral threshhold. Can an effort to end Israeli impunity have real impact, both in terms of influencing world opinion and of impacting on Israeli behaviour? Israel has become an expert at wearing down its opponents, honing such skills during 40 years of occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. The question is: what, if anything, can the peace community do differently this time?

    Each time the world witnesses another humanitarian tragedy resulting from Israeli military action, the outcry is louder. For example, the UN has never before entertained the possibility of investigating Israeli war crimes. The EU has informally made known that it intends to freeze a planned upgrade in relations with Israel and cancel of visit of Israel’s prime minister as an indirect result. American universities such as Hampshire College and church denominations such as the Presbyterians contemplate ever more seriously the issue of divestment. Gaza crossed a red line. Now, new methods of protest and new means of ensuring accountability must be devised.

    Horrors such as the Gaza war also breathe new life into movements like the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions initiative. Recently, Naomi Klein and Rabbi Arthur Waskow engaged in a provocative debate at In These Times about BDS. The Gaza war made Klein a believer. Recently, Rabbi Brant Rosen wrote words that many in the American Jewish community might find heretical, that BDS could be a legitimate expression “of a weaker, dispossessed, disempowered people”.

    There can be no doubt that horrors such as Gaza serve as moral ice-breakers in the psyche of diaspora Jews. Ideas that hitherto might have been taboo or “anti-Israel” become suddenly legitimate. As Israel drifts farther to the right, American Jews are challenged to respond morally. In this context, the forbidden becomes acceptable. Boycotts, divestment, sactions and war crimes investigations now appear tools through which to try to draw Israel back from the brink.

    No major American-Jewish peace group has called for a Gaza war crimes investigation. It is a sensitive subject among diaspora Jews. But if Israeli human rights organisations can make such a call, there is no reason why Americans should be afraid to do so. The movement for Gaza accountability needs full Jewish participation.

    My motivation in writing this is not to avenge the deaths of innocent Palestinians. Nor is it for pure justice. It is rather to bring Israel back from the brink. Like one of the slogans of the Israeli military during the Gaza war – “baal habayit hishtageya” (“the boss has lost it”) – Israel’s policy has verged on madness. Nor has it achieved its objective of pacifying Gaza or toppling Hamas. And isn’t one of the definitions of madness to repeat a behaviour even after it has failed, with the conviction that it will succeed the next time? When you see a loved one or family member descending into self-destruction, you reach out and help. My goal is to turn Israel away from the path of madness.


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