Archive for May 12th, 2012
RAMALLAH, West Bank
(Reuters) – Israel and the Palestinian Authority issued a rare joint statement on Saturday, saying they were committed to peace after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dispatched an envoy to meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
The envoy carried a letter from Netanyahu replying to one he received last month from Abbas, in which the Palestinian leader stated his grievances over the collapse of peace talks in 2010 and laid out his parameters for a resumption of negotiations.
Details of Netanyahu’s letter were not released, but Israeli officials said last week that they did not expect him to accept a key Palestinian demand to halt all settlement building in the occupied territories before reopening any talks.
Netanyahu’s office issued a joint statement with the Palestinians after envoy Isaac Molcho met Abbas in Ramallah — the Palestinian Authority’s administrative capital.
“Israel and the Palestinian Authority are committed to achieving peace and the sides hope that the exchange of letters between President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu will further this goal,” the statement said.
Abbas’s letter had demanded a halt to Israeli settlement construction on West Bank land captured in the 1967 Middle East war and accused Israel of showing a lack of commitment to the decades-old peace process, officials said.
Netanyahu has repeatedly called on Abbas to return to talks without any pre-conditions and promised that Israel was ready to make concessions, if the Palestinians would also compromise.
FLICKER OF HOPE
Few diplomats expect any breakthrough ahead of U.S. presidential elections in November, however the surprise formation of a national unity government in Israel last week has provided a slight flicker of hope.
Netanyahu stunned the political establishment on May 8 by hooking up with the main opposition group, the centrist Kadima party, to form one of the biggest coalitions in Israeli history.
The head of Kadima, Shaul Mofaz, has long blamed Netanyahu for the failure of the peace talks and told reporters last week that entering new negotiations “was an iron condition for forming the unity government”.
The Palestine Liberation Organization’s executive committee is set to convene on Sunday to review Netanyahu’s letter.
“Tomorrow (Sunday) the PLO executive committee will meet to discuss what Netanyahu said in his letter and what steps we are going to take,” the PLO’s Wasel Abu Yusef told Reuters.
Before Abbas met Molcho, he received a call from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to discuss regional issues, Abbas’s office said. Clinton also spoke to Netanyahu mid-week to urge a resumption in negotiations.
U.S.-sponsored peace talks froze in 2010 after Netanyahu rejected Palestinian demands that he extend a partial settlement construction freeze he had introduced at Washington’s behest.
About 500,000 Israeli settlers and 2.5 million Palestinians live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem — territory the Palestinians want for an independent state.
The settlements are considered illegal by the International Court of Justice, the highest U.N. legal body for disputes. Israel cites historical and Biblical links to the land and says the status of settlements should only be decided in peace talks.
(www.reuters.com / 12.05.2012)
في اليوم 28 من اضراب الاسرى الفلسطينين عن الطعام
En defensa de la dignidad humana
La Fédération Generale des Syndicats Indépendants en Palestine font appel à tous les Palestiniens et ceux qui sont solidaire avec leur cause autour du monde d’arrêter tout ce qu’ils sont en train de faire pendant 10 minutes à midi horaire de Jerusalem (10 GMT +1) ce Lundi, 14 Mai 2012, pour le 28ème jour de la grève de la faim des Prisonniers Palestiniens dans les prisons Israéliennes, et de quitter leurs maisons, leurs voitures, et leurs travail pour montrer leurs solidarité avec les grévistes de la faim.
by Francis Boyle Professor of International Law
At the Brussels’ Palace of Justice on March 6, 2002, Souad Srour El Meri, one of 28 Palestinians filing war crimes charges against Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for the 1982 massacre of Sabra-Shatila, shows a photo of Arab children killed by Sharon’s proxies. A Brussels appeals’ court is considering putting Sharon on trial for war crimes he perpetrated in Lebanon.
The International Laws of Belligerent Occupation
Belligerent occupation is governed by The Hague Regulations of 1907, as well as by the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, and the customary laws of belligerent occupation. Security Council Resolution 1322 (2000), paragraph 3 continued: “Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in a Time of War of 12 August 1949;…” Again, the Security Council vote was 14 to 0, becoming obligatory international law.
The Fourth Geneva Convention applies to the West Bank, to the Gaza Strip, and to the entire City of Jerusalem, in order to protect the Palestinians living there. The Palestinian People living in this Palestinian Land are “protected persons” within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention. All of their rights are sacred under international law.
There are 149 substantive articles of the Fourth Geneva Convention that protect the rights of every one of these Palestinians living in occupied Palestine. The Israeli Government is currently violating, and has since 1967 been violating, almost each and every one of these sacred rights of the Palestinian People recognized by the Fourth Geneva Convention. Indeed, violations of the Fourth Geneva Convention are war crimes.
So this is not a symmetrical situation. As matters of fact and of law, the gross and repeated violations of Palestinian rights by the Israeli army and Israeli settlers living illegally in occupied Palestine constitute war crimes. Conversely, the Palestinian people are defending themselves and their land and their homes against Israeli war crimes and Israeli war criminals, both military and civilian.
The U.N. Human Rights Commission
Indeed, it is far more serious than that. On 19 October 2000 a Special Session of the U.N. Commission on Human Rights adopted a Resolution set forth in U.N. Document E/CN.4/S-5/L.2/Rev. 1, “Condemning the provocative visit to Al-Haram Al-Sharif on 28 September 2000 by Ariel Sharon, the Likud party leader, which triggered the tragic events that followed in occupied East Jerusalem and the other occupied Palestinian territories, resulting in a high number of deaths and injuries among Palestinian civilians.” The U.N. Human Rights Commission then said it was “[g]ravely concerned” about several different types of atrocities inflicted by Israel upon the Palestinian People, which it denominated “war crimes, flagrant violations of international humanitarian law and crimes against humanity.”
In operative paragraph 1 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission then: “Strongly condemns the disproportionate and indiscriminate use of force in violation of international humanitarian law by the Israeli occupying Power against innocent and unarmed Palestinian civilians…including many children, in the occupied territories, which constitutes a war crime and a crime against humanity…” And in paragraph 5 of its 19 October 2000 Resolution, the U.N. Human Rights Commission:”Also affirms that the deliberate and systematic killing of civilians and children by the Israeli occupying authorities constitutes a flagrant and grave violation of the right to life and also constitutes a crime against humanity;…” Article 68 of the United Nations Charter had expressly required the U.N.’s Economic and Social Council to “set up” this Commission “for the promotion of human rights.”
Israel’s War Crimes against Palestinians
We all have a general idea of what a war crime is, so I am not going to elaborate upon that term here. But there are different degrees of heinousness for war crimes. In particular are the more serious war crimes denominated “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Since the start of the Al Aqsa Intifada, the world has seen those inflicted every day by Israel against the Palestinian People living in occupied Palestine: e.g., willful killing of Palestinian civilians by the Israeli army and Israel’s illegal paramilitary settlers. These Israeli “grave breaches” of the Fourth Geneva Convention mandate universal prosecution for their perpetrators, whether military or civilian, as well as prosecution for their commanders, whether military or civilian, including Israel’s political leaders.
Israel’s Crimes Against Humanity
I want to focus for a moment on Israel’s “crime against humanity” against the Palestinian People — as determined by the U.N. Human Rights Commission itself, set up pursuant to the requirements of the United Nations Charter. What is a “crime against humanity”? This concept goes all the way back to the Nuremberg Charter of 1945 for the trial of the major Nazi war criminals. And in the Nuremberg Charter of 1945, drafted by the United States Government, there was created and inserted a new type of international crime specifically intended to deal with the Nazi persecution of the Jewish People.
The paradigmatic example of a “crime against humanity” is what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish People. This is where the concept of crime against humanity came from. And this is what the U.N. Human Rights Commission determined that Israel is currently doing to the Palestinian People: Crimes against humanity. Legally, just like what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jews.
The Precursor to Genocide
Moreover, a crime against humanity is the direct historical and legal precursor to the international crime of genocide as defined by the 1948 Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide. The theory here was that what Hitler and the Nazis did to the Jewish People required a special international treaty that would codify and universalize the Nuremberg concept of “crime against humanity.” And that treaty ultimately became the 1948 Genocide Convention.
In fairness, you will note that the U.N. Human Rights Commission did not go so far as to condemn Israel for committing genocide against the Palestinian People. But it has condemned Israel for committing crimes against humanity, which is the direct precursor to genocide. And I submit that if something is not done quite soon by the American people and the International Community to stop Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity (and) against the Palestinian people, it could very well degenerate into genocide, if Israel is not there already. And in this regard, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is what international lawyers call a genocidaire–one who has already committed genocide in the past.
(www.revisionisthistory.org / 12.05.2012)
Op 5 mei organiseerde het Amsterdamse 4 en 5 mei-comité overal in de stad “vrijheidsmaaltijden”, ook in het detentiecentrum Schiphol. Daar worden vluchtelingen gevangen gezet die via Schiphol naar Nederland komen, geen geldig paspoort of visum hebben en asiel willen aanvragen. VluchtelingenWerk-directeur Dorine Manson was door het comité uitgenodigd om samen met de opgesloten vluchtelingen een “vrijheidsmaaltijd” te nuttigen. Maar ze mocht van de Dienst Justitiële Inrichtingen (DJI), de beheerder van de gevangenis, geen kritiek leveren op hun opsluiting. Omdat de overheid haar op Bevrijdingsdag de mond dreigde te snoeren, zag Manson zich genoodzaakt om de uitnodiging af te slaan.
“Op 5 mei viert Nederland de vrijheid. Maar terwijl wij de vrijheid vieren, worden mensen die hun eigen land ontvlucht zijn, op zoek naar vrijheid en veiligheid, hier aan de grens vastgehouden”, aldus VluchtelingenWerk in een bericht over de staatscensuur. “Zij moeten hun asielprocedure achter gesloten deuren doorlopen en zitten weken, soms wel maanden vast.” De steunorganisatie greep daarom afgelopen zaterdag de gelegenheid aan voor een oproep om grensdetentie voor vluchtelingen af te schaffen. “Asiel zoeken is een recht, geen misdrijf.” Maar de DJI verbood de organisatie om die oproep te doen in de gevangenis waar de vluchtelingen worden opgesloten.
Uiteraard is het schandalig dat vluchtelingen bij aankomst in Nederland meteen worden vastgezet, vlak voor of na hun asielaanvraag. Het is volkomen terecht dat VluchtelingenWerk daar stelling tegen neemt. Het zegt veel over het repressieve klimaat tegen vluchtelingen en hun belangenorganisaties dat zelfs een uiterst brave club als VluchtelingenWerk het zwijgen wordt opgelegd. In grote lijnen onderschrijft de organisatie de fundamenten van het asielbeleid. Men schikt zich in de politiek van migratiebeheersing, die een keiharde selectie aanbrengt tussen zogenaamd “ongeloofwaardige” en zogenaamd “echte” vluchtelingen en tussen zogenaamd “economische” en “politieke” vluchtelingen. Ook hanteert VluchtelingenWerk dezelfde begrippen als de overheid: tijdens de asielprocedure noemt men de aanvrager “asielzoeker” en pas na goedkeuring door de overheid gaat men hem opwaarderen tot “vluchteling”. Daar komt bij dat VluchtelingenWerk “de terugkeerplicht” van afgewezen vluchtelingen in haar eigen beleid steeds centraler is gaan zetten. In het algemeen kunnen illegaal gemaakte vluchtelingen niet rekenen op ondersteuning van de organisatie, uitzonderingen daargelaten. Niettemin acht de overheid het blijkbaar nodig om de organisatie nog meer aan de ketting te leggen, getuige het spreekverbod. De vrijheid om op Bevrijdingsdag een mening te mogen uiten geldt blijkbaar niet voor critici van het asielbeleid.
(www.doorbraak.eu / 12.05.2012)
The group said in a statement the new Israeli coalition government will not advance the cause of peace, but only increase extremism and settlement building.
It condemned settlements as a “war of ethnic cleansing and apartheid,” saying the original inhabitants of Jerusalem are being silently expelled from their land.
An estimated 1,600 to 2,000 Palestinian prisoners began an open-ended hunger strike on April 17 to protest against Israel’s administrative detention policy, solitary confinement, maltreatment of sick detainees, and difficulty in securing family visits and strip searches that are imposed on visitors.
The protest came two days after another demonstration outside UN offices in Ramallah in the West Bank, in which protesters called for the release of jailed activists.
According to a recent report published by the non-governmental Palestinian prisoner support and human rights association, Addameer, at least 4,610 “political” Palestinian prisoners are held in Israeli jails.
Addameer figures show 322 of the Palestinian prisoners are administrative detainees.
12/05/2012 22:39:52 Hunger-striker Bilal Diab writes will to family
12/05/2012 22:17:48 Residents: US drone strike kills 5 militants in Yemen
12/05/2012 19:42:00 Blair says urged Israel to prevent prisoner tragedy
12/05/2012 19:41:43 Syria says US allied to `terrorists` in country
12/05/2012 19:17:39 Saudi king sacks cleric who attacked social reform
12/05/2012 18:18:45 Egyptian security: Gaza man killed Egyptian in border town
12/05/2012 18:18:37 Fragmented Syrian opposition debates leadership
12/05/2012 18:18:10 Egypt seizes unlicensed fuel in north Sinai
12/05/2012 18:15:58 Libya minister warns Italy on clandestine immigration
12/05/2012 15:06:02 EU observers: Algeria vote a step towards reform
12/05/2012 14:59:54 PLO official: Netanyahu to issue Abbas letter response
12/05/2012 14:01:04 Video: Militant group claims deadly Syrian blasts
12/05/2012 14:00:51 Iran wins release of Turkish journalists in Syria
12/05/2012 10:55:20 PA: Talks ongoing to resolve hunger strike demands
12/05/2012 10:55:08 Egyptians in West Bank, Gaza to cast presidential vote
12/05/2012 10:54:57 38,000 people sit teacher exams to fill 1,400 vacant positions
12/05/2012 10:54:20 Earthquake felt across the eastern Mediterranean
Envoy Yitzhak Molcho met Palestinian officials in Ramallah on Saturday evening to deliver the reply, Ofer Gendelman, spokesman to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said.
Official PA news agency Wafa released images of the meeting with President Abbas and negotiations official Saeb Erekat, but Palestinian officials were unavailable for comment late Saturday.
Gendelman said Netanyahu’s office would shortly release an official statement on the meeting.
PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat and Palestinian intelligence chief Majed Faraj met Israel’s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on April 17 and handed over a letter from the president outlining his position on the peace process.
The missive included references to the two-state solution based on the 1967 borders, a settlement freeze and the release of Palestinians detained since before the Oslo Accords.
ROME (Reuters) — The Syrian National Council, a fractious umbrella group opposed to President Bashar Assad, gathered on Saturday for three days of talks aimed at deciding on its own leadership and shoring up its credibility at home and abroad.
The Paris-based academic has been criticized for being out of touch with the opposition inside Syria and for failing to unify the SNC, which has yet to win full international recognition as the Syrian people’s legitimate representative.
“We are in heated discussions over the presidency … We are against an extension or a renewal of Burhan Ghalioun’s term,” said Nashar, a member of the Damascus Declaration, a faction within the SNC.
“We are in favor of transition because it gives all the various Syrian political components a chance in the post,” Nashar told Reuters in Rome, where the SNC was meeting.
Nashar, who left Syria after an initial arrest in Aleppo in 2006, said he favored Sabra to lead the SNC “for many reasons, mainly because he is an opposition member from inside Syria”.
Interviewed separately, Sabra declined to say if he was a candidate, but advocated radical reforms for a group that has been prone to political wrangling and a lack of transparency.
“We have to change the way decisions are made between people, between the establishments of the SNC, between the components of the SNC,” he said, without elaborating.
Sabra spent years in prison under Assad’s rule and that of his father and predecessor Hafez al-Assad before fleeing to France last year. He has acted as a spokesman for the SNC.
“We need so many things to be changed,” he said. “We have a plan, we have a committee that did something good … but we have to reach the end of these (reforms).”
Nashar is among those who argue that putting Sabra, a Christian, at the head of the SNC would help reassure Syrian minorities wary of the largely Sunni Muslim revolt that their rights would be respected if Assad, whose minority Alawite sect dominates power, is overthrown.
Assad’s supporters say minorities would be at risk if the revolt succeeded. They denounce the Muslim Brotherhood, long repressed in Syria and now a driving force of the SNC.
“The SNC wants to send a clear message to all components of the Syrian community, Alawite, Christians, Druze and all the minorities, that the SNC is not a council for Muslims only as the regime seeks to portray it,” said Nashar.
The United Nations says Syrian state forces have killed more than 9,000 people during the 14-month-old revolt. Damascus says “armed terrorist groups” have killed 2,600 security personnel.