UN’s Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Occupied Palestine

UN’s Assessment of Human Rights Violations in Occupied Palestine

by Stephen Lendman

John Dugard is The UN Human Rights Council’s Special
Rapporteur on Palestine and a rare public official. In
January 2008, he assessed the situation in Occupied
Palestine (OPT). It was detailed, inclusive and
honest. This article discusses his findings in-depth.
Most of them have been widely reported, but they bear
repeating nonetheless. It’s because, in this instance,
they’re from an agency of the 192 member states world
body. It’s hoped that source highlights their
importance and adds to their credibility.

From September 25 to October 1, 2007, Dugard visited
Gaza, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Jericho, Nablus,
Qalqiliya and the Jordan valley and held extensive
meetings with: Palestinian and Israeli NGOs, UN
agencies, Palestinian and Jordanian officials,
academics, businessmen, and independent interlocutors.
He also went to Gazan factories and West Bank
checkpoints and settlements and saw firsthand the
situation on the ground.

For his efforts, Dugard is both praised and
criticized. Extremists even condemn him. It’s the
price he and others pay for assessing conditions
honestly. He addressed his critics and what they cite:

—that his reports are repetitious; he agrees because
Israel repeats the same human rights and humanitarian
law violations and has done it for over 40 years of
occupation. They feature: “(Illegal) settlements,
checkpoints, demolition of houses, torture, closure of
crossings and military incursions….” More recently,
add the separation wall (since 2003), “sonic booms,
(stepped up) targeted killings, (using) Palestinians
as human shields, and the humanitarian crisis” in Gaza
since Hamas was democratically elected in January
2006.

—that he fails to address “terrorism;” he calls it a
“scourge” with violations by both sides but with a
huge disproportionate difference; for their part,
Palestinians are conducting a national liberation
struggle “against colonialism, apartheid (and)
military occupation.” He doesn’t condone rocket
attacks or suicide bombings but compares them
historically to earlier “acts of terror” under
military occupation - against the Nazis, South Africa
in Namibia and in pre-1948 Mandate Palestine by Jewish
terrorist groups in which two future Israeli prime
ministers were leaders. Violence will continue as long
as the Territories are occupied and Israel treats the
population repressively; Israel understands this, yet
continues its harshness, and does so for strategic
reasons.

—that he fails to address Palestinian human rights
violations; he cites the occupation that causes them
on both sides and stopping them requires it “be
brought to a speedy end;” further, his Special
Rapporteur mandate is to report on the occupier’s
violations, not the people occupied, and he’s doing
his job.

Forty Years of Occupation

For Palestinians, occupation is their core issue and
the reason violence continues. In its 2004 Advisory
Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction
of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the
International Court of Justice (ICJ or World Court)
held the following: that Palestine (including East
Jerusalem) “remain occupied territories and Israel has
continued to have the status of occupying Power.” This
requires its government to adhere to the Fourth Geneva
Convention protection of civilians in time of war, and
to the International Covenants on Civil and Political
Rights and on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
It’s further argued that 40 years in charge increased
Israel’s obligations. Its occupation now is more
unlawful because it’s continued to violate
international laws all this time.

The Occupation of Gaza

Dugard assessed conditions in Gaza in its earliest
days under siege, excluding the intensified harshness
in recent months.

He discounted the notion that Ariel Sharon’s 2005
“evacuation” changed anything. On September 19, 2007,
however, it changed plenty when Israel declared Gaza a
“hostile territory,” Secretary of State Rice
concurred, and fuel, electricity and other essential
supplies and services were severely cut.

Under international law, Dugard asserts that
“effective control” determines whether a territory is
occupied, not a physical presence on the ground.
International law also requires an occupier to
guarantee the civilian population’s welfare. By this
standard, Israel violates its obligation, Gaza’s
occupation never ended, and pretending otherwise is a
charade. The following factors reflect conditions on
the ground:

—Israel maintains control of Gaza’s six land
crossings - Erez into Israel; Rafah into Egypt in
violation of the November 2005 negotiated Agreement on
Movement and Access between the Palestinian Authority
(PA) and Israel - brokered by the US, EU and the
international community’s envoy for Gaza’s
disengagement; Karmi that’s the main access for goods
into the Territory; Karem Shalom and Sufa for goods as
well and one other; the effects on Gazans have been
“disastrous;”

—Israeli control through military incursions,
“rocket attacks and sonic booms,” and declaring
sections of Gaza “no-go” zones where residents
entering will be shot;

—control of Gaza’s airspace and territorial waters;
and

—control of the Palestinian Population Registry; it
allows Israel to decide through a system of identity
cards - who’s a Palestinian, who resides in Gaza and
the West Bank, and who may or may not enter or leave
either Territory.

Israeli Actions Against Gaza and Their Consequences

Since dismantling Gaza’s settlements in 2005, Israel
undertook a number of actions that are repressive and
violate international law:

A. Military action

—even before the latest invasion and mass-killings,
Dugard reported through late last year - 290 Gaza
killings of which at least one-third were civilians;
on September 26 when he was in Gaza, IDF missiles
killed 12 Palestinians; after the November 27
Annapolis meeting, over 70 Palestinians were killed
(up to an unmentioned date), including eight in a
“major military operation in southern Gaza” the day
before the Annapolis session began.

—Dugard noted the frequency of targeted killings and
other IDF international law violations; he further
stated that Israeli security forces killed 668
Palestinians in Gaza in the “past two years (2006 and
2007)” and over half of them (359) were uninvolved in
hostilities; 126 were minors; 361 were by missile
attacks; and 29 were targeted killings; during the
same period, Palestinian rockets killed four Israeli
civilians and injured “hundreds;” four Israeli
security forces were also killed.

B. Closure of crossings

An additional effect was to strand 6000 Palestinians
on the Egyptian side with inadequate accommodations
and facilities; they were denied their right to return
home, and, as a result, 30 people died from neglect or
inability to treat illness.

C. Reducing fuel and electricity

This action followed the September 19 declaration of
Gaza as a “hostile territory;” ten Israeli and
Palestinian NGOs petitioned Israel’s High Court to
halt the action on humanitarian grounds and because it
constitutes collective punishment against innocent
civilians; nonetheless, the Israeli Supreme Court
upheld the action, and by last October, supplies were
cut by more than half; since then, they continue being
drastically reduced.

D. Terminating banking facilities

After September 19, the two Israeli commercial banks
in Gaza (Bank Hapoalim and Discount Bank) suspended
operations in the Territory; henceforth, they refused
to clear checks, handle cash transfers or supply
Israeli shekels that’s the official Occupied Territory
(OPT) currency; it effectively halted Gaza’s monetary
system.

E. Gaza’s humanitarian crisis

All the above actions produced a devastating
humanitarian crisis, Dugard covered it through late
last year, and conditions continue deteriorating:

1. Food

As of last year, over 80% of Gazans needed food aid -
from the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine
Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the World Food
Program (WFP); what’s available is very basic and
excludes fruits, vegetables, meat and fish; the aid is
vital but extremely inadequate.

2. Unemployment and poverty

Border closures prevent exports and imports; the
result is Gazan factories closed, construction halted
and farm output was also affected; farmers have no
income, 65,000 factory jobs were lost as well as
121,000 in construction-related projects; the
Palestinian Federation of Industries reported 95% of
Gaza’s industry was shuttered; Israel also banned
coastal fishing throwing Palestinian fishermen out of
work and cutting off a vital food source; in addition,
without resources, Gaza City’s municipal employees
haven’t been paid since March 2007; over 80% of Gazans
live below the official poverty line, and conditions
are dire and worsening.

3. Health care

Here, too, the situation is dire; everything is in
short supply or unavailable, including 91 “key” drugs;
seriously ill patients are prohibited from leaving the
Territory (with few exceptions) for care unavailable
inside; the World Health Organization said that
restrictions caused an increasing number of patients
to die; the Israeli NGO, Physicians for Human Rights,
reported 44 deaths since June 2007, and in November
alone, 13 Palestinians died; also in November, Gazan
hospitals couldn’t perform surgery because Israel
prevented the importation of anesthetics.

4. Education

Gazan children in UNRWA schools “lag behind refugee
children elsewhere;” in addition, students are
prevented from studying abroad, and in November 670 of
them were denied permission for foreign study,
including six Fulbright scholars.

5. Fuel, energy and water

Gaza depends largely on Israel for supply; with
restrictions, power outages are frequent, and basic
facilities like hospitals are severely hampered;
insufficient power for pumping also affects the water
supply; as a result, 210,000 people only have access
to it one or two hours a day; sewage is also a major
problem; facilities are in disrepair and overflows are
frequent and cause severe potential health problems;
Dugard called the situation “catastrophic” under
Israel-imposed restrictions.

F. Legal consequences of Israel’s actions

Israel calls its attacks defensive, but it’s not how
Dugard sees them; he questions their proportionality,
the IDF’s failure to distinguish between military and
civilian targets, and their directly attacking
civilians to inflict collective punishment; he further
states: “It is highly arguable that Israel has
violated the most fundamental rules of international
humanitarian law, which constitutes war crimes in
terms of Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention
and Article 85 of the Protocol Additional to the
Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949….relating to
the Protection of Victims of International Armed
Conflicts.”

Further, the siege “violates a whole range of
obligations under both human rights and humanitarian
law,” including the right of everyone to “an adequate
standard of living for himself and his family (that
includes) adequate food, clothing and housing;” above
all, “Israel has violated the prohibition on
collective punishment of an occupied people” as
covered in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention;
its government is guilty of using “indiscriminate and
excessive….force against civilians and civilian
objects” as well as denying all sorts of freedoms and
essential needs.

Gaza is “no ordinary state;” It’s “occupied territory
in whose well-being all States have an interest….are
required to promote (and are obliged) to ensure
compliance by Israel (in accordance with)
international humanitarian law….;” failure to do so
makes other states complicit in the siege; they and
Israel also violate international law.

Human Rights in the West Bank and Jerusalem

In the Fatah-controlled West Bank, Israel made “some
(modest) gestures of rapprochement,” but did nothing
to dismantle the occupation’s infrastructure. On the
contrary, it continues to expand “the instruments that
most seriously violate human rights - military
incursions, settlements, the separation wall, (free
movement) restrictions, the Judaization of Jerusalem,
and the demolition of houses.”

A. Military incursions

Since June 2007, they’ve intensified in the West Bank;
in November alone, the IDF conducted 786 raids, killed
one person (plus at least two others he didn’t
report), injured 67 others and made 398 arrests; in
addition, public and private properties were damaged;
curfews were imposed, and “countless innocent
civilians” were terrorized by security forces and
dogs; in all cases, these actions violate
international laws that prohibit them.

B. Settlements and settlers

By Dugard’s count, there are 149 settlements in the
West Bank and East Jerusalem, and despite promises to
freeze their growth, the settler population increased
by 63% since 1993 to its present (year end) size of
460,000. In addition, by late last year, new
construction was under way in 88 settlements, and
their average growth is 4.5% compared to 1.5% inside
Israel. An additional 105 “outposts” are also in place
- informal structures that precede new settlement
activity that are unauthorized but still funded by
government ministries. In the so-called “road map,”
Israel indicated it would dismantle all outposts but
never did, and at year end more than 38% of the West
Bank consisted of settlements, outposts, military
areas, nature reserves off limits to Palestinians, and
connecting roads for Jews only.

In addition, under Article 49, paragraph 6 of the
Fourth Geneva Convention, settlements are illegal. The
International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) Advisory
Opinion on the construction of the separation wall
affirmed it. Dugard refers to “Israel’s contempt for
international law,” and its actions confirm it. In
December, shortly after the Annapolis meeting, Tel
Aviv announced plans for 307 new apartments in the Har
Homa settlement, but there’s more as well - an
extensive new “E1” project with 3500 apartments, 10
hotels and an industrial park for 14,500 settlers near
Maale Adumin. To complete it, Israel expropriated
Palestinian land in Abu Dis, Sawareh, Nabi Moussa and
al-Khan al-Ahmar for an alternate Palestinian road to
Jericho that frees the area for “E1.”

The road is devious. It’s part of a larger scheme to
replace territorial contiguity with “transportational
contiguity” that will work like this - two alternate
road and tunnel networks will be constructed, one
connecting Palestinian cantons, the other for Jews
only, and expropriated Palestinian land will be used
for the project.

C. Checkpoints, roadblocks and permits that obstruct
free movement

Dugard calls their existence “disastrous….for both
personal life and the (Palestinian) economy.” In the
West Bank, he cites 561 “obstacles to (free)
movement.” They comprise over 80 manned checkpoints
and much more:

—476 unmanned locked gates;

—earth mounds;

—concrete blocks;

—ditches; and

—thousands of temporary checkpoints, called flying
checkpoints, for limited periods that are sometimes
only hours. In November 2007, there were 429 of them
in the West Bank.

Palestinian travel is also restricted or prohibited
with permits (like South Africa’s “pass laws”)
required for transit between the West Bank and East
Jerusalem. These restrictions violate Article 12 of
the International Covenant on Civil and Political
Rights, and the ICJ held that Israel is bound by this
law in the OPT. Israel, however, cites “security” for
having them, but Dugard states this “is difficult to
accept.” A more likely reason is they “serve the
convenience of settlers, to facilitate (their) travel
and to impress upon the Palestinian people the power
and presence of the occupier.”

Checkpoints humiliate Palestinians on their own land.
They deepen hostility, and “do more to create
insecurity than to achieve security.” Further, Yedioth
Ahronoth (Israel’s largest circulation newspaper)
reports that one-fourth or more of all IDF soldiers
say they witnessed abuse against Palestinian civilians
at checkpoints.

D. The wall

Dugard bluntly states that: “The wall that Israel
is….building….is clearly illegal.” The ICJ
affirmed it and ruled that Israel is obligated to
discontinue construction and dismantle sections
already built. Israel ignores the ruling but
“abandoned its claim that the wall is (for) security.”
It now concedes that one of its main purposes is to
“include settlements within Israel.”

Its planned length is 721 kilometers. Ten percent or
more of it is on confiscated Palestinian land. Through
late last year, 59% was completed, 200 kilometers were
built after the ICJ ruling, and when construction is
finished around “60,000 West Bank Palestinians (in) 42
villages and towns will reside in the closed zone
between the wall and the Green Line” separating Israel
from Palestine. Moreover, its route may be altered to
include up to 13% of Palestinian land, including “many
of the West Bank’s valuable water resources and its
richest agricultural lands.”

The consequences for Palestinians are devastating.
They’re cut off from work, schools, universities,
medical facilities, and their overall “community life
is seriously fragmented.” Most often, farmers on the
wrong side of the wall can’t get permits to reach
their land, harvest their crops or graze their
animals.

In addition, the opening and closing of gates (in the
wall) is “highly restrictive.” The UN’s Office for the
Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) surveyed
67 communities near its location. It showed only 19
gates were open to Palestinians for daily or year
round use, but it’s worse than that. Thousands of
Palestinians have been displaced, and the IDF abuses
and humiliates Palestinians able to enter or leave the
closed zone.

Dugard cites the village of Jayyus. He was there on
September 30 and saw what their people endure:

—the wall separates its 3200 residents from their
farmland;

—68% of the village’s agricultural land and its six
wells are in the closed zone between the wall and the
Green Line and are off limits without a visitor’s
permit;

—scores of greenhouses are in the closed zone; they
produce tomatoes, cucumbers and sweet peppers that
need daily irrigation; and

—only 40% of Jayyus’ residents have permits to
access their farms, and gate opening times are limited
and arbitrary; as a result, by August 2004 (one year
after the wall’s construction) local fruit and
vegetable production fell from seven to four million
kilograms. Since then, things have deteriorated
further.

Within the Jerusalem Governorate (one of 16
Palestinian Governorates in the West Bank), the wall
covers 168 kilometers. In the Jerusalem municipality,
many Palestinian villages are outside the wall and
separated from the city. In places like Abu Dis and
elsewhere, the wall runs through Palestinian
communities, separating neighbors and families.
Overall, it cuts off about 25% of the 253,000 East
Jerusalem Palestinians. They can only enter the city
through checkpoints and are thus impeded from
accessing hospitals, schools, universities, work and
holy sites, including the Al Aqsa Mosque.

E. House demolitions

Home demolitions are a “regular feature” of Israel’s
occupation for the following claimed reasons -
military necessity, punishment, and failure to obtain
a building permit. Dugard condemns them as
“discriminatory” actions “to demonstrate the power of
the occupier over the occupied,” and here’s what
Palestinians are up against.

In East Jerusalem and Area C of the West Bank
(comprising 60% of the Territory), permits must be
obtained for construction. But they’re hard to get,
bureaucratic procedures for them are cumbersome, and
in practice few are granted. Palestinians need homes,
so they build them anyway, and it gets them in
trouble. Throughout the Territory, Arab structures are
demolished but not Jewish ones, and what’s affected
are homes, schools, clinics and mosques on the grounds
that permits weren’t obtained.

The numbers are revealing. For the two year period up
to May 2007, 354 Palestinian structures were destroyed
as well as those of Bedouin communities. One was the
Jordan Valley Al Hadidiya village that’s regularly
targeted for removal with a committed aim - to cleanse
the area for expanded Roi, Bega’ot and Hamda Jewish
settlements at the expense of its Arab residents. In
September 2007, the IDF hit it hard. It destroyed the
structures of about 200 families in violation of
Article 53 of the Fourth Geneva Convention that
prohibits the destruction of personal property “except
where such destruction is rendered absolutely
necessary by military operations.” That wasn’t the
case in this instance. Nor was it when homes were
destroyed in the Qalqiliya Naqar neighborhood the
previous month, or in nearly every other case of
indiscriminate demolition.

F. Humanitarian situation

Dugard cites the dire effects on “the economy, health,
education, family life and (overall) standard of
living (from) the wall (construction), expansion of
settlements, restrictions on (free) movement, house
demolitions and (repeated) military incursions.” And
since Hamas’ 2006 election, the situation seriously
deteriorated. Through year end 2007, West Bank
humanitarian conditions showed no material improvement
even under Fatah control. Palestinian resources are
inadequate; the occupation continues; human rights
violations are commonplace; poverty and unemployment
“are at their highest levels ever;” military
incursions undermine health, education and general
welfare; the wall and checkpoints are repressive; and
the overall “social fabric of society is threatened.”

G. Conclusion

The situation in the West Bank isn’t as dire as in
Gaza, but it’s just “a matter of degree” under
conditions of collective punishment. Throughout the
OPT, Israel violates international law, and it must be
held accountable for its actions.

Israel’s Treatment of Arrested Persons and Convicted
Prisoners

Dugard estimates since 1967 over 700,000 Palestinians
have been imprisoned. Through year end 2007, Israelis
held 11,000 or more prisoners, including “376
children, 118 women, (and) 44 Palestinian Legislative
Council (PLC) members.” In addition, there are “some
800 (or more) ‘administrative detainees’ ” (other
estimates place the figure much higher) against whom
no charges were made and who are held for renewable
six month periods. Israel calls them “terrorists.”
Palestinians say they’re “political prisoners who have
committed crimes against” an illegal occupation.

A. Arrested and detained persons

Prisoners are subjected to “humiliating and degrading
treatment.” They’re stripped, interrogated, beaten,
tortured and deprived of their basic needs. The
treatment of children is equally disturbing, according
to the Palestine Section of Defence for Children
International. It states that children are detained
for between eight to 21 days before being brought to
court. They’re denied the presence of a parent or
lawyer during interrogation, cursed, threatened,
beaten and kept in solitary confinement throughout
their ordeal. This type treatment terrifies adults.
Imagine what it does to young children.

B. Convicted prisoners and administrative detainees

Prison conditions are harsh. Many prisoners are housed
in tents that are extremely hot in summer and cold in
winter. Overcrowding is serious, food is poor and
anaemia among prisoners is common. This violates the
letter and spirit of various Fourth Geneva Convention
provisions that govern how an Occupying Power must
treat prisoners.

The role of prison medical doctors must also be
questioned. They witness inhumane treatment - wounds,
swollen limbs, signs of violence - but remain silent
and ignore the torture taking place. This raises
serious ethical questions about their behavior.

Self-Determination

This is a legal and humanitarian right that’s
recognized by the Security Council, General Assembly,
ICJ and even Israel. It applies to everyone, but for
nearly 60 years, it’s been denied in Occupied
Palestine. It’s even worse since the West Bank and
Gaza were separated and are under different
authorities.

Dugard stated that it’s “a matter of deep concern (to
him that he sees) no immediate prospect of
reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah.” He said it
should also concern the Quartet (the US, Russia, EU
and UN) and other international institutions, but what
matters most is how they show support. It should not
be for one faction over another. It should reconcile
differences between both sides and unite them for
self-determination within the West Bank, Gaza and East
Jerusalem. So far, however, no efforts are being made,
and divisive policies are being pursued that support
one side while isolating the other.

International Law, the International Court of Justice,
the Quartet and the UN

On December 8, 2003, the General Assembly asked the
ICJ for an advisory opinion on Israel’s separation
wall. The Court’s ruling “answered many legal
questions that have been raised over the past 40
years.” Principally, they were as follows:

—Palestinians are entitled to self-determination;
the wall’s construction violates it;

—Israel is legally required to comply with Fourth
Geneva Convention provisions;

—under Geneva’s Article 49 (6), settlements are
illegal;

—Israel is required to abide by international human
rights law in the OPT;

—Israel’s closed zone (between the wall and Green
Line) violates Palestinians’ free movement rights and
their right to work, health, education and an adequate
standard of living;

—destroying property for the wall’s construction
(including in and around East Jerusalem) violates
international law; Israel must halt construction,
dismantle portions built and make reparations for the
damage done;

—all UN member states are legally obliged to
recognize Israel’s non-compliance with Fourth Geneva
Convention provisions;

—the UN (especially General Assembly and Security
Council) should address actions required to end the
illegal situation resulting from the wall’s
construction;

—on July 20, 2004, the General Assembly
overwhelmingly adopted Resolution ES-10/15; it called
for Israel to comply with the ICJ’s Advisory Opinion;

—since 2004, the Security Council ignored the
Advisory Opinion while the General Assembly and Human
Rights Council affirmed it; inaction by the Security
Council is because the US continues to block it in
support of Israel and also prevents the Quartet from
implementing the Opinion; as a result, the Quartet
never acknowledged it ;

—the ICJ’s Advisory Opinion is “an authoritative
statement of the applicable law,” but it’s not legally
binding on States; however, the ICJ is the UN’s
judicial organ, and the General Assembly
overwhelmingly approved the Opinion; it’s thus now UN
law and the Secretary-General or his representative is
obliged to enforce it - to ensure that member States
are in compliance; and

—for over 40 years, UN member States, its political
organs and individuals have accused Israel of
“consistent, systematic and gross violations of human
rights and humanitarian law in the OPT;” in 2004, the
ICJ agreed; it stated these violations can’t be
justified on grounds of self-defense or necessity; the
UN is obligated to act; failure to do so “brings the
very commitment of the United Nations to human rights
into question.”

Peace Talks

Dugard noted that it’s not within his mandate to
address what’s “essentially a political process,”
except as it relates to human rights. On that basis,
he stated that Oslo failed the Palestinian people by
paying inadequate attention to international law and
human rights issues. He hoped the Annapolis process
would correct this, but early indications suggest
otherwise.

A joint November 27 statement highlighted the problem.
It said participants would negotiate on the 2003 “road
map,” not on the ICJ’s Advisory Opinion that detailed
Israel’s human rights violations. Any hope for peace,
however, requires they be addressed and resolved, but
so far they’re being ignored.

Dugard calls the “road map” inappropriate and
unhelpful for the following reasons:

—it’s outdated: it ignores ICJ’s Advisory Opinion;
doesn’t recognize Hamas’ democratic election; doesn’t
address Israel’s Gaza withdrawal; or the June 2007
Gaza and West Bank separation;

—Israel attached 14 reservations to the “road map”
that call into question its commitment; and

—Israel’s language shows a further lack of
commitment by stating the initiative is “a
performance-based and goal driven roadmap.”

International law under Article 47 of the Fourth
Geneva Convention is one of many serious matters at
issue. It affirms that persons under occupation retain
their legal rights under any agreement “between the
authorities of the occupied territories and the
Occupying Power (and) any annexation by the latter of
the whole or part of the occupied territory.” This
means that any recognition of Israeli settlements in
Occupied Palestine is illegal under international law.
It also highlights the dangers of negotiations between
unequals with Israelis controlling everything and
Palestinians at their mercy.

An equitable agreement is impossible under these
conditions, and Dugard states the only way
negotiations should proceed. They must take place
“within a normative framework, with the guiding norms
to be found in international law, particularly
international humanitarian and human rights law, the
(ICJ) Advisory Opinion, and Security Council
resolutions.” The effort cannot proceed as an exercise
in “political horse-trading.” Doing so guarantees
failure, but more is at stake as well.

Creating a Palestinian state won’t heal 60 years of
conflict that’s gone all Israel’s way and inflicted
great harm and suffering on the Palestinian people. At
some point, real peace is only possible if a supreme
effort is made toward true reconciliation between the
two sides. That entails addressing events, actions and
past sufferings fully and honestly. Dugard suggests a
South African-style Truth and Reconciliation
Commission for an open airing by both sides. Unless it
happens in good faith, tensions will remain and peace
won’t be possible. Up to now, it appears Israel wants
it that way.

A Final Comment

Ahead of Israel’s 60th anniversary and worldwide
commemoration events, the Canada - Palestine Support
Network (CanPalNet) will run one or more full-page ads
in protest. It’s headlined: “We Cannot Celebrate,” and
below is the text.

“Around the world, plans are being made to mount major
celebrations of the 60th anniversary of the founding
of the state of Israel. But this year also marks 60
years since 750,000 Palestinians were brutally
expelled from their homeland in what they refer to as
the Nakba or “catastrophe.” Given this history, and
the deepening conflict in the region today, we believe
there are no grounds for celebration.

We cannot celebrate
while Israel starves and bombs the people of Gaza.

We cannot celebrate
while Israel extends its apartheid wall.

We cannot celebrate
while Israel builds Jewish only settlements on roads
on stolen Palestinian lands.

We cannot celebrate
while Israel continues to violate United Nations
Resolution 194, refusing to let Palestinians return to
their homes.

We cannot celebrate
while Israel continues to promote wars and expand its
nuclear arsenal.

We cannot celebrate
as long as the policies of Israel’s leaders fuel a
conflict in which innocent lives on both sides are
lost.

We can and will continue our efforts to end these
injustices, upholding international law, human rights
and United Nations resolutions. This is the only road
map to peace.”

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at
.(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Also visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and
listen to The Global Research News Hour on
RepublicBroadcasting.org Mondays from 11AM to 1PM US
Central time for cutting-edge discussions of world and
national topics with distinguished guests.


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