Archive for the ‘Opinion others’ Category
Today is 8th March, International Women’s Day, and as I sit here in my comfortable home with 24/7 electricity & clean water on tap, my thoughts are with the women of Gaza, women I was supposed to be with on this day.
As part of a delegation of 100 women from around the world, this day was earmarked as a day we would meet with our sisters in Gaza – women who have little. Women who endure ongoing hardship and lack of services and support due to the blockade imposed by Israel.
I was to keep a daily blog on our activities and experiences.
The idea was to meet ordinary Palestinians and listen to their stories; visit fishermen, university students & various other organisations and as a gesture deliver solar lamps so they may have light during the darkness.
Our delegation ‘Women against the Gaza blockade’ is a collection of women from around the world. Women who see the injustice of the blockade, and who’s mission it is to bring attention to what life is really like as a Palestinian under Israeli rule.
Initiated and coordinated by CAPJO – EuroPalestine & CodePink, a broad selection of women answered the call including Irish activist & Nobel Peace laureate, Mairead Maguire & Algerian activist 79 year old Djamila Bouhired as well as many others. I was just a small cog in a much larger machine.
Wanting to do everything by the book and to coordinate with the Egyptian government, a list was sent with the names and details of all the women participating – including passport details, to everyone’s respective Egyptian embassies as required, including details of where we were going and why – a full month before our travel date. No objection was lodged by Egypt.
March 4th - on the eve of my departure, news arrived that Medea Benjamin, one of the founders of CodePink had been detained at Cairo Airport but Col Ann Wright had made it through ok. What was going on? As time ticked by more confusion reigned. Medea was able to message from what she termed her ‘dorm’ room (holding cell) complete with pictures. In the ensuing hours several more delegates passed through ok but Medea was deported for apparently being on a ‘black list’.
The harrowing account of her ordeal can be found here.
In the ensuing hours three more women were deported and 3 more allowed through. There didn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to any of it. All I could do was arrive and take my chances, after all, I have been to Egypt before and had never caused any trouble either there or anywhere else, however, I was on THAT list!
March 5th my departure was uneventful. News was coming through sporadically regarding the other delegate’s departures so I was characteristically optimistic. With suitcase packed to bulging with ‘goodies’ such as rechargeable lamps, Turkish delight, decorative Turkish scarves etc… all meant as gifts for Gaza’s women I set off. Destination Gaza!
4:40pm my arrival at Cairo International airport was uneventfully – Cautious optimism crept in.
Visa? Check! Customs/Security stamp? Check! Access into Cairo? DENIED!
Once my Visa was stamped, the lady at customs made a call. The next thing I knew a man was ushering me to go and sit down, minus my passport. Optimism diminishing.
Once seated, I noticed several other women together at the other end. I decided not to approach them; my reasoning was that if they were part of the delegation I might lesson my chances of getting in if I was seen cohorting – at that point I figured being seen as a solitary ordinary tourist would do the trick. Good try!
The next wave of delegates arrived approximately 30 minutes after me. Resistance was futile. By now it was clear that nothing was going to happen particularly fast. Security seemed to be picking off anyone they suspected as being part of the delegation – list or no list. I had a lovely conversation with a young Syrian girl who was studying in Cairo and I suspect they thought of as a delegate. She was held for about an hour then let through leaving me with a ‘good luck’ key ring.
Minutes turned to hours very quickly and soon there were approximately forty of us. Predominantly from the French CAPJO – EuroPalestine , the rest consisted of Americans from CodePink, myself and ladies from Belgium, (I think) I never got to meet them.
During the course of the night people were madly texting and talking on their phones trying anything to get messages out, passports back and as hopeless as it seems now, entry into Egypt.
My luggage was nowhere to be seen and every time I enquired about it, I was told “Don’t worry”.
Eventually I called my husband and asked him to get a hold of the British embassy. Predominantly to get my passport back, but also to notify the Egyptians that officials knew where I was and would be watching.
Time was marching on and by now the French part of the delegation had set up camp in the middle of the arrival hall much to the chagrin of the officials. I think it was becoming clear on both sides that this was a stalemate that would not be ending anytime soon.
Banners were unfurled; ‘check-point’ signs erected and anti-Israel songs were being sung. As it became apparent that we would not be entering Egypt, items that were meant for the women of Gaza were unpacked and displayed as a show of defiance to the Egyptian officials who were obstructing our mission and thereby denying the women of Palestine.
In all of this, I have to say Olivier Zemor is my new hero. Her spirit and fight for justice knows no bounds. She worked long into the night and the next day, negotiating with delegates, Egyptian & French officials and anyone else who might have been able to help. She was the strength that kept us all going and is one lady I would never want to cross.
As hours rolled by the Egyptian officials were clearly trying to divide and conquer. At one point they convinced some of the women that if they wanted to leave they could but it would have to be NOW!
We found out the next day that ‘now’ was a ploy and they were still being held, hours later in another part of the airport. Clearly our trump card was to remain as a group – strength in numbers.
I still did not have my passport or luggage and no one, save the British Embassy had approached me for alternatives. I eventually got my luggage back after I told an official I needed my medication which was in my luggage. Hours had gone by and I was praying that it was not still revolving on the conveyer belt. Fortunately, it had been checked in at lost & found and after several guarded marches back and forth we were reunited.
During all of this it was clear that we had to make our presence felt and make the most of any publicity that we could get. There was a reporter and photographer travelling with us but we needed to get the word out there as loud and fast as possible. Not just for our current plight, but for the original reason were there. If we couldn’t got to Gaza then were would bring Gaza to the people, much to the bemusement and frustration of the Egyptian officials.
During the twenty six hours we were held, many songs were sung, dances danced and protest chants uttered. The reaction was mixed. Most people were bemused, some irritated, but many still cheered. People wanted to take pictures but were stopped for the most part by security. The security men themselves, tired of having to constantly video our disruption installed a permanent video camera in the hall facing the group. It shall be forever known as the ‘Women against the Gaza blockade’s’ camera. Look for it at the top right hand side of the security gate when next you arrive in Cairo.
The Egyptian attitude to Gaza surprised me. I expected a ‘brother in arms’ type of attitude, instead what I saw was contempt and no interest for the most part as to the plight of the Palestinians, mainly because they associate Palestine with Hamas; as does the rest of the world, which is a shame because while Hamas is the main focus and excuse for Israel’s abhorrent behavior towards the Palestinians, the ordinary citizens of Gaza suffer and die.
I did however see some hope in the attitudes and comments from several of our airport ‘minders’ once their colleagues were out of ear shot. Thanking us for what we were trying to do and wishing us well. At one point even a passing pilot gave us the thumbs up in full public view – all is not in vain.
And so now I am home, thanks to my very supportive husband and British Embassy staff who did a great job speaking with the Egyptians & coordinating my exit.
As I left, the ladies from CAPJO – EuroPalestine were still in high spirits. Still pressing for their release, both for themselves and the people of Gaza. I, who was already unwell, had developed a chest infection during the long air-conditioned confinement that stopped me from most of the singing and dancing but not dampening the enthusiasm that comes from meeting such incredibly courageous and strong women.
If anyone is in any doubt regarding the hardships of Palestinians, ask yourself these questions. What other country or territory in the world can you be barred from visiting by a neighboring country? What other country in the world has sway over other completely independent nations to the point of stopping people even boarding their planes on their way to visiting another country?
And so it is with a solemn disposition that I spent March 8th – International women’s day.
Reflecting on what I was supposed to be doing today with wonderfully inspiring and courageous women from around the world and reading reports of how Israel treated Palestinian women on this their day.
De failliete juweliersketen Siebel wordt overgenomen door het Russische bedrijfMoscow Jewelry Factory,zo meldden de Nederlandse media donderdag. De Russen zouden Siebel binnen drie jaar willen uitbreiden tot een keten van 60 winkels.
Curator Marinus Pannevis sprak van “een serieuze partij met grootse plannen. Ze hebben ervaring in de detailhandel, want in Rusland hebben ze al 280 winkels. Ook zitten ze in de goud- en diamantenhandel”, aldus Pannevis. Moscow Jewelry Factory zou een van de oudste bedrijven in de juwelenindustrie in Rusland zijn en het bedrijf maakte ook de medailles voor de Olympische Spelen in Sotsji.
Vreemd genoeg echter maakte bijna geen enkel medium er melding van wie de man achter de Moscow Jewelry Factory is. De uitzonderingen waren RTL 4, dat meldde dat het een Israeli is met de naam Lev Leviev, en het blad van de postdoctorale journalisten opleiding van de Erasmus-universiteit, dat wist te melden dat de Israelische, in Oezbekistan geboren miljardair Leviev betrokken is en was bij de handel in bloeddiamanten in Angola, dat NGO als Oxfam en dergelijke niet veel goeds over hem te melden hebben, en dat hij destijds via zijn associé Arkady Gaydamak ook berokken was bij wapenhandel tijdens de Angolese burgeroorlog.
Hulde voor die Erasmus-mensen, want daar was niets teveel aan gezegd. Volgens de Palestijns-Israelischemensenrechtenorganisatie Adalah begon Leviev destijds bij het Zuidafrikaanse bedrijf De Beers en steunde hij toen de apartheid. Later werd hij de grootste concurrent van De Beers, nam hij de firma Israel Africa over en bracht hij het tot ‘s werelds grootste verwerker en slijper van diamanten, terwijl hij betrokken was en is bij de winning van diamanten in Angola, Namibië en Rusland. Zijn activiteiten op dit gebied in Angola zijn verweven met verhalen van grove schendingen van de mensenrechten. In New York zou hij betrokken zijn in bouwprojecten waarin arbeiders worden onderbetaald en en mensen met lage en middeninkomen uit hun woningen worden verdreven. De Moscow Jewelry Factory is onderdeel van zijn bedrijf Ruis Group, dat activiteiten als mijnbouw, het kloven en slijpen van diamanten en de verkoop van juwelen onder zich heeft.
Via Africa Israel, en de dochter daarvan Danya Cebus, is Leviev ook al jaren betrokken bij diverse bouwprojecten in de nederzettingen op de Westelijke Jordaanoever. Africa Israel en Danya Cebus zijn daarom ook namen die bij de recente desinvesteringsmanoeuvres van pensioenfondsen en banken, waaronder PGGM, het Noorse overheidspensioenfonds en Danske Bank, steeds opduiken als bedrijven waaruit investeringen worden teruggetrokken. De bedrijven in kwestie zijn volgens Adalah, ondanks beweringen van het tegendeel, nog steeds actief op dit gebied. Tussen 2000 en 2008 bouwde Danya Cebus in de nederzettingen Har Homa, Adam, Male Adumim en Mattiyahu op het land van het dorp Bi’lin, terwijl een andere maatschappij van Leviev, Leader Management, de nederzetting Zufim uitbreidde op het land van het dorp Jayyous. Op dit moment is Danya Cebus nog bezig een bouwproject af te ronden in de nederzetting Gilo bij Jeruzalem.
Het is voor de 170 werknemers van Siebel ongetwijfeld prettig te weten dat hun banen wellicht zijn gered. Maar of zij – en wij als Nederlandse burgers – nu blij moeten zijn met de entree van deze meneer Leviev op de Nederlandse markt, is toch weer een vraag van een andere orde, lijkt mij. Ik zou zeggen: boycotten die winkels van Siebel.
(Source / 02.03.2014)
SodaStream is een bedrijf met een belangrijke productiefaciliteit in de volgens het internationaal recht, illegale nederzetting Ma’ale Adumim. De Hollywoodster koos er voor om uiteindelijk een punt te zetten achter haar ‘post’ als ambassadeur van Oxfam. De samenwerking met Oxfam eindigde na een intensieve campagne van BDS-activisten (Boycot, Desinvesteringen en Sancties), die op de onverenigbaarheid wezen met de standpunten en het werk van de humanitaire organisatie.
De zaak kreeg veel aandacht in de wereldpers. Hier en daar lieten respectabele ‘business’kranten als The Financial Times (31/01/14) zich, voor hun doen, zelfs behoorlijk kritisch uit over zowel Johansson als SodaStream. Het bedrijf kreeg daarop ook te maken met een daling van 3,3 procent op de beurs van New York.
De Amerikaanse minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, John Kerry, waarschuwde Israël vanop de Veiligheidsconferentie in München (1/02/2014) voor de ‘delegitimiseringscampagnes’ zoals “oproepen tot boycot”. Hij zei dat het land wel eens “te maken kan krijgen met grotere isolatie en economische druk wanneer de vredesgesprekken falen en de nederzettingen groeien”.
In een commentaar op de gedaalde aandelenkoersen van SodaStream, bevestigde David Kaplan, een beursanalist van Barclays Plc, vanuit Tel Aviv de vrees van investeerders voor economische schade als gevolg van de boycotcampagnes en sancties. “De aandelen zullen naar beneden gaan tot SodaStream een weg vindt om het vertrouwen te herstellen”.
De BDS-beweging heeft de wind in de zeilen. Dat was ooit anders. Toen Palestijnse organisaties in 2005 de BDS-oproep lanceerden, waren het vooral grassroots activisten die er de boer mee opgingen. Grote organisaties kozen er liever voor om veilig afstand te nemen van een campagne die als veel te controversieel werd ervaren.
De wereldwijde pro-Israëllobby ging immers van meet af aan in de tegenaanval en speelde in op de welbekende historische gevoeligheden. In België voerde het Actieplatform Palestina, een platform van derdewereld- en vredesorganisaties, al heel vroeg campagne voor een boycot van Israëlische landbouwproducten.
Veel van de ingevoerde landbouwproducten zijn afkomstig uit landbouwnederzettingen in de Palestijnse bezette gebieden die onder het label ‘made in Israel’ op de Europese markt komen. Oxfam Solidariteit was een van de partners van de campagne. Toen dit het Simon Wiesental-centrum ter ore kwam, organiseerde het een grote briefschrijfcampagne die Oxfam in de VS viseerde waarbij de BDS-oproep vergeleken werd met de Nazi-campagne ‘Kauft nicht bei Juden’.
Hoewel BDS-campagnes de Israëlische inbreuken op het internationaal recht en de Palestijnse mensenrechten willen aanklagen, raakte de pro-Israëlische lobby met geregeld succes een gevoelige snaar door ze te associëren met antisemitisme. De zaak zorgde toen voor discussie binnen Oxfam Internationaal. De Belgische tak zag zich verplicht om zich terug te trekken uit de campagne. Uiteindelijk zou zelfs het hele Actieplatform Palestina aan interne verdeeldheid daarover ten onder gaan.
BDS en ‘panikerende’ Israëlische regering
Die tijden lijken voorbij. De BDS-campagne, die deels geïnspireerd is op de acties van de anti-Apartheidsbeweging tegen het racistische Zuid-Afrika, lijkt effect te resorteren. Op 9 februari bracht de Israëlische krant Haaretz een artikel onder de kop: “Netanyahu roept ministers bij elkaar om te discussiëren over de groeiende boycotdreigingen tegen Israël”. Uit het artikel blijkt dat de Israëlische regering zich behoorlijk zorgen maakt over de uitbreiding die de BDS-campagne neemt.
Nog volgens Haaretz bestaan er binnen de regering grote onenigheden over de te volgen strategie, om de BDS-beweging het hoofd te bieden. De minister van Strategische Zaken, Yuval Steinitz, schoof een plan naar voor dat voorbereid was door zijn diensten, de Mossad (Buitenlandse Veiligheid) en Shin Bet (binnenlandse veiligheid).
Het plan stelt dat Israël ‘substantiële middelen’ moet investeren in een publieke campagne, waarin “PR-materiaal en agressieve wettelijke en mediacampagnes worden ingezet tegen pro-boycotorganisaties”. Volgens minister van Buitenlandse Zaken, Avigdor Lieberman, zou dit evenwel het omgekeerde effect veroorzaken.
Andere ideeën die op de kabinetsbijeenkomst werden besproken gaan erg ver zoals het aanspannen van “rechtszaken in Europese en Noord-Amerikaanse rechtbanken tegen (pro-BDS) organisaties”; “wettelijke maatregelen tegen financiële instellingen die nederzettingen boycotten en (medeplichtige) Israëlische bedrijven”; “aanmoedigen van anti-boycotwetgeving in bevriende hoofdsteden in de wereld” en“activeren van de pro-Israellobby in de VS”.
Nu al zijn er rechtzaken en wetgevende initiatieven om Boycot-oproepen te sanctioneren. In de senaat in New York is er zo’n wet in behandeling. Dat naar aanleiding van de American Studies Association, een belangrijk academisch platform, besliste om Israël te boycotten en niet langer samen te werken met Israëlische universiteiten wegens hun nauwe band met de bezettingspolitiek of de militaire industrie.
In Israël is er al sinds de zomer van 2011 een anti-boycotwet van kracht die personen of organisaties die oproepen tot een boycot, tot het betalen van schadevergoedingen kan verplichten of kan onderwerpen aan financiële sancties. De wet kreeg heel wat kritiek in binnen- en buitenland omdat het om een ernstige inbreuk van de vrije meningsuiting gaat.
Inmiddels spanden verschillende Israëlische organisaties die zich geviseerd voelen, een rechtsgeding tegen de wet aan voor het Israëlische Hooggerechtshof. De zaak is nog in behandeling.
Golf van desinvesteringen
Deze paniekerige initiatieven zijn een gevolg van het feit dat het al lang niet meer gaat om enkele activisten die oproepen om geen Israëlische of producten uit nederzettingen in bezet gebied te kopen. De jongste maanden zijn er verschillende financiële instellingen en bedrijven die hebben aangekondigd hun investeringen in de Israëlische nederzettingen op bezet gebied, op te schorten.
De Deutsche Bank, de grootste Duitse financiële instelling, plaatste de Israëlische Hapoalim Bank op een lijst met bedrijven die ethisch problematisch zijn voor investeringen omwille van hun activiteiten in de nederzettingen. Nordea, een belangrijke Noorse bank, kondigde aan dat het Cemex uit zijn investeringsportfolio haalt omdat het niet-hernieuwbare grondstoffen in bezet gebied ontgint.
Veel van deze ‘desinvesteringen’ zijn een gevolg van de schade die bedrijven oplopen als gevolg van hun activiteiten in de bezette gebieden. De Franse multinational Veolia kondigde een paar maanden geleden aan dat het niet langer operator wil zijn van de buslijnen voor kolonisten in de bezette Westelijke Jordaanoever, nadat bleek dat de onderneming daardoor contracten verloor in Europa en de VS.
Enkele universiteiten in Noorwegen en het Verenigd Koninkrijk besloten om geen beveiligingscontacten toe te kennen aan G4S omwille van de rol van het veiligheidsbedrijf in de Israëlische gevangenissen (met Palestijnse gevangen) en de nederzettingen. Het zijn slechts enkele voorbeelden, maar het lijstje groeit wekelijks aan.
EU start met eerste sancties
Ook de Europese Unie lijkt zich in toenemende mate te storen aan de bouw van steeds maar nieuwe nederzettingen in bezet gebied. De EU heeft herhaaldelijk verklaard dat de nederzettingen illegaal zijn en een obstakel vormen voor de vrede, maar gaf daar verder geen gevolg aan. Integendeel, Israël kon al die tijd rekenen op een voorkeursbehandeling – zoals o.a. bleek uit de ‘upgrade’ die Israël kreeg toegekend van de Europese Raad in zijn politieke en economische relaties met de EU.
Israël is ook de belangrijkste niet-EU-partner in de Europese onderzoeksprogramma’s, waardoor Israëlische bedrijven en instellingen reeds miljoenen aan Europees subsidiegeld ontvingen. Maar de intensiteit waarmee de huidige regering Netanyahu de ene bouw van nieuwe nederzettingen na de andere aankondigt is blijkbaar toch een stap te ver.
Na verschillende keren te hebben aangedrongen en een ongewoonkritisch rapport van de EU-missie in Jeruzalem, nam de EU in juli 2013 nieuwe richtsnoeren aan. Deze richtsnoeren bepalen dat Israëlische instellingen die gevestigd zijn in bezet gebied niet langer in aanmerking kunnen komen voor Europese subsidies, giften of financiële instrumenten. Het is een van de eerste keren dat de EU Israël aan een, zij het vooralsnog bescheiden, sanctieregime onderwerpt.
Eerder zetten een aantal individuele landen zoals Spanje, Zweden, Noorwegen of Nieuw-Zeeland de toon door overheidsmiddelen voor Israëlische instellingen in de bezette gebieden te blokkeren.
Verbod op import van producten uit nederzettingen
In zijn jongste rapport (eind februari 2014) vraagt de Speciale Rapporteur van de VN voor Mensenrechten in de Palestijnse gebieden, Richard Falk, dat het Internationaal Gerechtshof in Den Haag onderzoekt of er sprake is van Apartheid en etnische zuivering. Hij dringt er bij de VN op aan om een onderzoek te starten naar de “bedrijven die profiteren van onwettige Israëlische activiteiten.” In zijn rapport beveelt hij de VN-lidstaten ook aan om een ban te overwegen op de import van producten uit Israëlische nederzettingen.
Het rapport komt net op het moment dat er een nieuwe campagne van Belgische mensenrechten-, ontwikkelings- en vredesorganisaties (waaronder ook Vrede vzw) wordt gelanceerd, “Made in Illegality”. Volgens de campagne is het verbod op import van producten uit nederzettingen geen vrijblijvende zaak, maar een verplichting die voortvloeit uit het internationaal recht om geen economische of commerciële relaties met Israëlische nederzettingen aan te gaan.
Ze baseren zich op de uitvoerige juridische argumentatie van een rapport van professor Dubuisson van de ULB. “De organisaties willen met deze campagne België en de Europese Unie aanzetten tot concrete actie opdat Israël zijn nederzettingenbeleid in de Palestijnse gebieden staakt. Concrete actie betekent in de eerste plaats de onmiddellijke stopzetting van alle economische- en handelsrelaties met de Israëlische nederzettingen”
(Source / 27.02.2014)
It pleases me, however, when I see a group of Israelis visit the West Bank. They get to see the realities of Palestinian life, the markets, and the human face of the Palestinian people.
President Abbas’ meeting with the Israeli students was important because the young generation of Israelis needs to know that there are serious efforts on the Palestinian side to reach a final peace agreement. They need to know that Palestinians are tired of the conflict and that we are eager to take up opportunities that the current era of entrepreneurship and technology has to offer, and to live in our own state in dignity and freedom.
Abbas, as usual, appeared confident and honest. Indeed, he insisted on that when he told his guests: “I speak the same language with everyone.” His determination throughout the negotiations process has allowed him to counter Israeli government propaganda and accusations from the Israeli side that he is not a real partner for peace.
Throughout his career, he has not given the Israeli right wing any tangible excuse to present him as an extremist — which of course they would do even if Palestinians were led by Gandhi himself.
Many outsiders, however, might not be fully aware of the major criticism he faces on the Palestinian side for his positions. Following the meeting with his Israeli guests, for example, he was criticized by many Palestinians — especially Palestinian refugees — for saying that he seeks a “just and agreed” solution to the refugee issue with Israel according to the Arab Peace Initiative, which he described as the most “historical and important” document in Arab history since 1948. According to the initiative, any decision regarding the refugee issue has to be agreed on by both the Palestinian and Israeli sides.
Although this sounds politically ideal, for many Palestinian refugees this means giving up their right to return to the homes they were forced to leave in 1948, a right that they have insisted on for the past 65 years. Many Palestinian refugees have expressed frustration and disagreement about Abbas’ perspective. But Abbas has on many occasions stressed that any agreement will be accompanied by a public referendum.
Abbas is certainly honest with both the Israeli and Palestinian publics, and he has been brave in putting forth and clearly stating his positions. But the question that many Palestinians are asking now is — what will be the end gain?
There are two problems facing the Palestinians that the meeting between president Abbas and the Israeli students brings to the fore. The first problem lies in the criticism-oriented reaction of the Palestinian public. This should not be surprising given the difficult political and physical realities that the Israeli occupation has imposed on our lives. But if we want to criticize President Abbas’ approach and position, we need to remind ourselves of the difficult position he is in.
Of course we should be free to criticize our president, but if want to raise the ceiling of our political position — especially if the negotiations fail — we need to ask ourselves if we as Palestinians can sit together for a frank and constructive dialogue in order to formulate and agree on a national strategy that will unite us to continue the struggle against occupation. We need to ask ourselves if we will be ready for the tough consequences of any hardline position that some expect President Abbas to take — namely, a decline in US aid as punishment.
Amongst Abbas’ responsibilities is ensuring the provision of civil servants’ salaries, for example. The funds for these salaries come from the United States and the European Union, and their provision is directly tied to our political stance. This funding is an essential component of the Palestinian economy. Given the high levels of public borrowing from banks and the division between Hamas and Fatah, I doubt to what to extent at the present we could realistically find an alternative to this funding.
The second problem is on the side of the Israeli government. Israeli leaders continue to view any deal with the Palestinians through a pessimistic lens, repeatedly criticizing and accusing president Abbas of lacking the support of the Palestinian public, especially in light of the Fatah-Hamas political division. Israeli leaders continually ignore the courage and diplomatic determination of president Abbas throughout the negotiations process.
But the failure to reach a peace agreement will be a message by the Israeli government to anyone who might replace Abbas not to take a moderate stand on any issue related to the conflict. Indeed, Israel and the rest of the world should not be surprised if extremism increases should negotiations fail, and if public support for moderates more generally declines.
Abbas assured his Israeli guests that violence will not be a choice on the table if negotiations fail. That position was based on his own assessment, but it was also an exaggeration. Violence — even if we disagree with it — should be expected given the fact that the occupation will continue and economic pressure on Palestinians will continue mounting if talks fail.
Uprisings have never asked for permission from politicians; they usually catch them by surprise. US Secretary of State John Kerry himself even warned in a TV interview of the possibility of a third Palestinian uprising if a deal is not reached.
President Abbas’ meeting with Israeli youths, and his emphasis on the importance of creating a safe and prosperous future for the younger generations more broadly, demands a similar dialogue with Palestinian youth as well. This dialogue would allow him to explain his positions, listen to their reservations and concerns, and reach out for their suggestions.
The creation of such a mechanism would strengthen president Abbas’ position in addressing any audience on behalf of Palestinian youths, and it will allow him to ensure the support of a wider spectrum of the most energetic and dynamic group of Palestinian society. If the negotiations succeed, youths will enrich the vision of post-occupation Palestine.
But if the negotiations fail, youths will empower a national strategy to face what will certainly be tougher economic and political realities.
In order for this to happen, direct dialogue between the president and the youths of the country is necessary.
This should not come as a surprise to anyone: the ruling coalition represents the political platform of the majority of its members, who are staunchly and outspokenly against the concept of a sovereign Palestinian state in any part of historical Palestine.
Intensified settlement activity in the occupied West Bank, one of a whole host of other violations of international law, speaks for itself. If Israel’s actions on the ground are not loud enough, the statements of numerous high-ranking Israeli officials on the subject of the two-state solution certainly are.
Less apparent, however, are the diversionary tactics being used to stall the negotiations process and prevent the internationally-endorsed end goal, allowing Israel time to further entrench its occupation and colonization of Palestine.
There are six final status issues in negotiations. Rather than genuinely trying to reach an agreement on these issues, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu is attempting to bring two non-issues to the table.
These are issues which divert attention from the core questions. They are designed to appease a government that is by, for and of the settlers. And they are issues that the Israeli government knows that no Palestinian negotiator could ever accept, giving Israel the opportunity to stall the negotiations process while attempting to blame the Palestinian side for its failure.
The first non-issue is the new Israeli proposal to effectively annex the Jordan Valley under the pretext of “security.” The Jordan Valley is an integral part of the occupied state of Palestine. It is deep within the Green Line, constitutes almost a third of the occupied West Bank and can never be a part of the state of Israel within the framework of the two-state solution.
It has never been discussed at any point during the past twenty plus years of negotiations. It is an absolute non-starter that would deny Palestine’s sovereignty over its own natural resources.
In terms of demands for an Israeli military presence, Israeli military experts have clearly stated that in this age of modern warfare, the Jordan Valley has no security value. A few tanks in the Jordan Valley will not make Israel safe.
Nevertheless, Palestinian officials have repeatedly stated that they are willing to accept a third party presence, which directly addresses any security claim, whether genuine or not.
The second new issue, which Netanyahu and his colleagues have succeeded in bringing to the fore, is the idea that Palestine should recognize Israel as a “Jewish State.” Again, this is a non-issue. Palestine recognized the State of Israel in 1988, just as any other country has recognized Israel. In fact, even Israel’s president Shimon Peres has reportedly called the recognition of a Jewish state “unnecessary.”
The simple truth is clear: this is a government that does not want the internationally-endorsed two-state solution. The statements made by Israeli minister Moshe Yaalon against Secretary Kerry should not be considered a mere personal opinion: they are a reflection of the Israeli government’s true attitude towards the peace process.
This is a government whose main political agenda is to replace occupation by force with occupation by invitation. Israeli officials talk as if the vast majority of settlements in the occupied state of Palestine will be kept by Israel under any agreement. Netanyahu’s slogan that “there is no difference between Tel Aviv and (the settlement of) Maale Adumim,” has set the tone for the failure of any negotiations process.
The Palestinian position is clear, an independent sovereign Palestinian state is impossible while Israeli military and settler presence remains. The international community knows this well.
Israel’s settlement policy has earned it widespread condemnation. Most recently, Israeli ambassadors were summoned in Rome, Madrid, London and Paris about the continued settlement activity. Israel’s Foreign Minister, Mr. Lieberman, complained that these actions were “one sided.”
But there are no two sides when it comes to violations of international law. Illegal is illegal.
We continue to negotiate in good faith, knowing that peace will benefit no one more than us, the occupied people. But at the same time, and in the face of the Israeli government’s willful sabotage of any effort towards peace, Palestine must press on with its international endeavors in order to hold Israel accountable for its severe and repeated violations of international law.
We owe it to our people to take every legitimate step towards fulfilling their rights and the international community has a duty to help us attain those rights, through every forum to which we are entitled under international law.
Netanyahu’s placation of the settlers, including coalition partners, is short-sighted and dangerous.
He now has two options: he can either choose to make peace and take the necessary steps which that entails — beginning by dropping these non-issues and pre-conditions and using the next three months to work on the real core issues — or he can continue on the path he has chosen and make history as the Israeli PM who consolidated apartheid in Palestine.
I, for one, hope that wisdom and justice will prevail.
For quite some time we have been fighting for the people’s right to know what is going on in the country yet we have recently discovered that we possess exaggerated aspirations and that we must humble ourselves in light of the new regime for it is not our right to demand the people’s rights if the government itself does not know what those rights are. At least this is what we are told in light of interim Prime Minister, Dr Hazem Beblawi’s resignation, which not only took us by surprise but also surprised ministers and possibly even the president as well.
On Monday morning, February 24, Prime Minister Beblawi announced his resignation just hours after the Egypt Independent published an article on its front page entitled “Beblawi: No consultations for rearranging parliament until now”.
Under this title, the article claimed “Dr Hazem Beblawi emphasised that there has yet to be any parliamentary changes until this point and that, in reality, what exist are two vacant parliaments, one that pushes for military action and another that works towards international cooperation.
“Beblawi also stressed that it is highly likely that a third ministry will soon become vacant [the Ministry of Defence in the event that General Al-Sisi is nominated for the presidency].”
The newspaper published exclusive comments made by Beblawi stating that the government has worked in an on-going basis and that it has made amendments to certain laws that will have a positive impact on economic investments very soon.
The information provided by Beblawi came in light of what we all thought to be true in the last few weeks, in that he was supposed to fill his post until the upcoming elections (most likely to be held in April) and that any amendments to the government would come in the form of filling empty vacancies including the presidency.
What happened to Beblawi was much like what happened to the Constitution of 2013 in that the roadmap indicated a few constitutional changes only for us to learn later that the constitution had been replaced with a new constitution entirely.
Beblawi had been confident that he would remain in his post, which is evidenced by the fact that his agenda for this week included a trip that was scheduled for today to Nigeria. Beblawi had intentions to attend the African Peace and Security Conference (the trip was arranged and a delegation travelled just hours before his resignation). Due to the fact that this planned trip was scheduled at the same time as the weekly meeting of the ministry council, the meeting was convened earlier than initially planned on Monday.
The meeting, which normally begins by announcing the points on the agenda, was instead opened by a speech given by Beblawi, in which he emphasised that the on-going emergency conditions facing the country call for the ministry’s collective resignation.
His speech took everyone by surprise because, not only was there no prior mention of indicators suggesting the need for such actions, but he also did not explain the nature of these emergency conditions to his fellow ministers.
Because Beblawi’s speech intended to inform the ministry of this need to resign and not to negotiate or discuss the issue, the meeting did not last more than 15 minutes. Ministers later returned to their desks in order to collect their papers.
This decision not only surprised the ministers but also surprised all those concerned with this matter. No one expected that, with the article published that morning about parliamentary changes and the scheduled trip to Nigeria, everything would change by noon, without any explanation or justification.
People have been trying to guess what happened since the news broke out and no one can quite figure things, which has opened the way for several interpretations. As far as I know, the situation was decided upon in a meeting on Sunday evening between interim President Adly Mansour and Beblawi.
As for what happened in that meeting, it remains an absolute mystery, which would be impossible to interpret at this point. There are doubts as to whether Beblawi truly resigned or whether he was removed from his post. According to a televised discussion, which was broadcast that evening, suspicions are leaning towards the belief that Beblawi was removed from his post as opposed to resigning.
The surprises did not stop there. In fact, we noticed that a new prime minister was announced hours after the government resigned and that no nominations or considerations were previously announced concerning this matter. This means that Beblawi and his government, like us, were among the last people to be informed of this sudden change.
What has happened has led us to note the three following points:
- The entire political scene was a mystery to us and because of this we are in dire need for transparency, which sanctifies society’s role in the decision-making process. We do not know who issued this decision nor are we aware of the emergency circumstances that necessitated its execution. We do not even know what and how the consultations took place. All we know is that this decision was made in secret and that this plot was agreed upon at the beginning of the week. The issue that raises more than one question is that we are not sure who is currently running the state and to what degree the parallel state and the deep-rooted security state will be fused into one.
- What we are currently witnessing are changing faces in the government and not changing policies. The government was forced to resign after an increase in labour strikes and after it was made clear that it had ordered for prisoners be tortured and abused. There are no indications that new policies will soon be underway and this is evidenced by the fact that the minister of interior has maintained his post and more importantly none of his men were replaced despite the amount of violations and blood that was spilt during his time in office.
- What has occurred is a re-declaration of journalism’s death in Egypt after the news became limited to leaked information from the security sector. The Egyptian media in its entirety was surprised to learn of the resignation, despite its prideful boasts that it is supposedly able to penetrate the most confidential circles to acquire news.
Egyptian society has returned to post-revolutionary politics (politics after January 25); however, it is the return of one party only, because we have learnt that politics no longer has anything to do with society.
(Source / 26.02.2014)
A 2011 Palestinian truckers’ protest against Israeli closures on the Gaza Strip. Israel controls almost all medical supplies that enter Gaza.
In a new briefing document published last week, Corporate Watch details its conclusions based on a recent research trip to Gaza. The Electronic Intifada published an interview with the team while they were there.
Gaza is a “captive market” for Israeli pharmaceutical companies, the report says, based on interviews with Palestinian health professionals there.
Palestinians are effectively forced to buy Israeli products, since Israel dictates almost all the products that enter.
In addition, the terms of the Paris protocol of 1994 opened the floodgates for Israeli products – tax free. In practice, Palestinian exports are heavily curtailed, as well as imports from other countries.
Israel bans many medicines from entering Gaza, and shortages abound. “We have a shortage of drugs, especially for chronic illness,” one doctor from the Union of Health Work Committees told Corporate Watch. A Ministry of Health spokesperson told the researchers that 141 out of a list of 470 essential drugs cannot be found in Gaza.
A complex system of Israeli “coordination” and hurdles means that basic medicines and medical equipment can be delayed for months. For example:
When health services in Gaza purchase drugs from the international market they come into Israel through the port of Ashdod but are not permitted to travel the 35 km to Karam Abu Salem [crossing, in the south] directly. Instead they are transported [80 km] to the Bitunia checkpoint into the West Bank and stored inRamallah, where a permit is applied for to transport them to Gaza, significantly increasing the length and expense of the journey.
In addition, transport and storage costs with Israeli companies also have to be paid for – increasing the profits to Israeli companies.
Egypt’s military regime has been a junior partner in the siege, intensifying its involvement since the military coup of July 2013. Not long after, it destroyed many tunnels under the Egypt-Gaza border, which had been a vital lifeline.
The Ministry of Health in Gaza told Corporate Watch that 30 percent of its medicines used to be brought in via the tunnels.
Boycotting where possible
Despite all this, Palestinian health workers in Gaza told Corporate Watch they “were uniformly enthusiastic about the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel … All of the health workers that we spoke to told us that their organizations had a policy of boycotting Israeli medicines except where they needed that medicine in order to protect life and were not able to procure it from another source.”
The Palestinian heath workers suggested action that could feasibly be taken by those outside Palestine. These ideas included boycotting the Israeli Medical Association. “If they see that there is a growing campaign in Europe maybe they will think twice about launching new military operations in Gaza,” explained Dr. Bassem Zaqout of the Palestine Medical Relief Service.
Another idea was for Europeans in general, and British citizens in particular to work on a boycott of Teva, a giant Israeli drug corporation – the largest company on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange.
Corporate Watch says Teva is the world’s largest supplier of generic drugs. As such, it would be safe to ethically advocate a boycott of Teva, since its products can easily be replaced, the group argues. Palestinian professionals they interviewed were in favor of a boycott of Teva.
You can read the whole report on the Corporate Occupation website.
(Source / 24.02.2014)
Humanitarian workers habitually find themselves unwelcome, detained or turned back at Israeli-controlled border crossings.
The Israeli detention of and denial of entry Western activists, academics and humanitarian workers sympathetic to Palestinians has received particular attention in recent years, following the targeting of high-profile figures including Richard Falk, Norman Finkelsteinand Noam Chomsky.
During the first week in February, I was on the receiving end of Israeli detention practices myself when I attempted to enter the occupied West Bank from neighboring Jordan via theAllenby Bridge border crossing.
Once on the Israeli-controlled side of the crossing, I was detained and interrogated for 12 hours before being denied entry and sent back to Amman. I have been given a five-year ban on entering Israel, the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip.
The Israeli authorities also detained and interrogated my friend and fellow traveler, who had never previously visited the region.
For those who follow events and developments in Palestine, my experience will be unsurprising; stories of random and unexplained clampdowns are depressingly familiar.
The opacity, lack of due process and disregard for human rights that characterize Israeli detention practices also typify the occupation authorities’ actions in the West Bank (including occupied East Jerusalem) and Gaza.
If the Israeli government will openly flout countless UN resolutions, it is hardly going to care about a traveler’s right to privacy.
Nevertheless, the nature and manner in which I was detained and interrogated remain of value for what they reveal about the Israeli occupation and how it continues to operate in 2014.
Most fundamentally, the Israeli detention of “undesirable” travelers provides a terrifying insight into the daily lives of millions of Palestinians, who go without the protections of a Western passport.
For all the fear and horror of my experience, I ultimately knew that the worst thing the Israeli authorities could do was detain and eventually deport me.
Palestinians have no such guarantee.
Moreover, during my detention and multiple interrogations I came face-to-face with the impunity and unaccountability of the system, maintained by way of total opacity.
On a superficial but symbolic note, all the Israeli occupation personnel wore badges with information in Hebrew only — a language which the majority of detainees and travelers through this crossing will not be able to read. We were given no information or explanations as to what was happening.
When I was eventually informed that I had been denied entry, one reason given was “some information we found.” My request for further details was denied.
As anyone who has passed through a checkpoint in the West Bank will know, this impunity and arbitrariness is a central part of how the occupation works, and how it continues to exert power.
The time one has to wait, and whether or not one is allowed through, can all too often depend on the mood and character of whoever is on duty.
Entry can be denied with no reason and if this happens, there is no recourse.
My detention was also indicative of Israel’s increased targeting of non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
My interrogators questioned me about this work at length, fixating particularly on pushing me to provide the names and contact details of Palestinians I knew in the West Bank (disappointingly for the Israeli staff, I was unable to oblige as nearly all the Palestinians I know are in the diaspora).
They were also interested in my journalistic work, asking me about the articles I have previously written for The Electronic Intifada.
While I had thought that a state facing a supposedly serious security threat might have a better use for its resources than interrogating a London-based humanitarian worker, it was interesting to discover just how gravely any work with Palestinians is regarded.
Unsurprisingly, my current employment with a poverty-relief organization that operates in sub-Saharan Africa was of little interest.
On a similar note, the detention of international humanitarian workers is part of a strategic clampdown on non-violent activism. It was clear from how I was treated that the border staff did not believe I posed a physical threat.
I was frisked but not strip-searched and my belongings only went through the normal security checks. Although I was detained, interrogated and watched, I was not closely physically guarded.
Most of the time I was able to walk around the “waiting room” and go to the bathrooms without a guard accompanying me. My friend, who was also interrogated, was not searched at all throughout the detention period.
After 12 hours the Israelis announced that she was allowed to enter, although she chose to return to Jordan too.
This treatment is inconsistent if the border staff genuinely believed that I might pose a physical threat. It would appear that the intellectual threat is of greater concern.
Finally, the behavior of the Israeli border staff towards Westerners of Arab descent can be seen as a microcosm of the broader disregard with which Israel now routinely treats its international relations.
As a UK citizen, I remember the controversy that hit the headlines four years ago when it emerged that members of Mossad had carried out assassinations in Dubai on British passports, using identities stolen from people traveling through Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv (“Britons queued at Ben Gurion airport as Israeli officials cloned passports,” The Guardian, 24 March 2010).
The incident sparked unprecedented fury, with the then foreign secretary David Miliband issuing a strongly-worded statement and expelling an Israeli diplomat from London (“Britain expels Israeli diplomat over Dubai passport row,” BBC News, 23 March 2010).
After this, the Foreign Office issued new guidelines advising Britons not to part with their passports when entering through Israeli-controlled frontiers (“Don’t hand passport to officials, FCO tells Britons travelling to Israel,” The Guardian, 24 March 2010).
Notwithstanding the diplomatic row with a supposed ally, identical policies continue to operate in Israel.
Despite the ostensible show of strength that is central to detention practices, what my experience has ultimately revealed is the insecurity that lies at the heart of the Israeli state.
Robust democracies do not just tolerate criticism; they welcome it as a part of freedom of expression.
We are all used to hearing that Israel is “the only democracy in the Middle East,” according to a whole range of definitions. For now at least, those definitions continue to be stretched to the point of being unrecognizable.
(Source / 24.02.2014)
Gerald Kaufman MP believes only an international boycott campaign supported by governments will stop Israel from taking the Middle East into yet more wars.
Gerald Kaufman MP, speaking in the British parliament on 5 February 2014.
I once led a delegation of 60 parliamentarians from 13 European Parliaments to Gaza. I could no longer do that today because Gaza is practically inaccessible.
The Israelis try to lay the responsibility on the Egyptians, but although the Egyptians’ closing of the tunnels has caused great hardship, it is the Israelis who have imposed the blockade and are the occupying power.
The culpability of the Israelis was demonstrated in the report to the UN by Richard Goldstone following Operation Cast Lead. After his report, he was harassed by Jewish organisations. At the end of a meeting I had with him in New York, his wife said to me, “It is good to meet another self-hating Jew.”
Again and again, Israel seeks to justify the vile injustices that it imposes on the people of Gaza and the west bank on the grounds of the holocaust. Last week, we commemorated the holocaust; 1.7 million Palestinians in Gaza are being penalised with that as the justification. That is unacceptable.
The statistics are appalling. There is fresh water for a few hours every five days. Fishing boats are not allowed to go out—in any case, what is the point, because the waters are so filthy that no fish they catch can be eaten?
The Israelis are victimising the children above all. Half the population of this country is under the voting age. What is being done to those children—the lack of nutrition—is damaging not only their bodies and brains; it will go on for generation after generation.
It is totally unacceptable that the Israelis should behave in such a way, but they do not care. Go to Tel Aviv, as I did not long ago, and watch them sitting complacently outside their pavement cafés. They do not give a damn about their fellow human beings perhaps half an hour away.
The Prime Minister says that Gaza is a prison camp. It is all very well for him to say that, as he did, in Turkey—he was visiting a Muslim country—but what is he doing about it? Nothing, nothing, nothing!
The time when we could condemn and think that that was enough has long passed. The Israelis do not care about condemnation. They are self-righteous and complacent. We must now take action against them.
We must impose sanctions. If the spineless Obama will not do it, we must do it—even unilaterally. We must press the European community for it to be done. These people cannot be persuaded. We cannot appeal to their better nature when they do not have one.
It is all very well saying, “Wicked, wicked Hamas.” Hamas is dreadful. I have met people from Hamas, but nothing it has done justifies punishing children, women and the sick as the Israelis are doing now. They must be stopped.
As has been pointed out, there is a time limit for what we are talking about. The idea that things can go on, while we wait for a two-state solution, is gone. Sooner or later, the Palestinians will say, “We are dying anyhow, so let us die for something.”
Let us stop that: I do not want a war. I do not want violent action, but the action that the international community takes must be imposed, otherwise hell will break loose.
(Source / 23.02.2014)
An Israeli settlement near the Palestinian neighborhood of Ras al-Amud, in the occupied West Bank, east of Jerusalem.
In January 2014, Dutch pension fund PGGM announced that it would divest from five Israeli banks on the basis that these banks were involved in financing illegal settlement activities in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Since this announcement by PGGM, Dutch pension fund ABP has been under pressure to also divest from the financing of illegal settlement activities.
So far, ABP has resisted pressure from nearly one thousand pension holders to divest, continuing to not only violate Dutch and international laws, but also taking a major economic risk.
The position of ABP is especially surprising in light of a number of recent and well-publicized decisions by other Dutch companies and investors to withdraw from their business activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
There are, of course, numerous additional moral and political arguments that could be raised to object to ABP’s involvement in settlement construction. But this is not our point here.
In 2013, the Dutch engineering concern Royal Hasköning withdrew from projects inoccupied East Jerusalem. Also in 2013, the Dutch water company Vitens announced its withdrawal from several collaborative projects in the occupied West Bank.
PGGM followed shortly thereafter, announcing their reasons for divesting in five Israeli banks, namely “their involvement in financing Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories. This was a concern, as the settlements in these occupied territories are considered illegal under international humanitarian law.”
It is notable that, in all three cases, the companies pointed to international law as justification for their decision to suspend their business activities, which were clearly also perceived as an economic risk. The Dutch ASN bank had earlier set a precedent by divesting from Veolia corporation on the grounds that the activities of that company violated United Nations Security Council resolutions.
Investments violate laws
ABP has acknowledged in a letter to us that its investment in Israeli banks and companies doing business in the occupied territories “is politically a very sensitive issue.” However, they do not acknowledge that these business activities are illegal.
To the contrary, ABP claims: “we have recently considered the facts again and concluded that these banks are not acting in violation of international laws and regulations and that there are no court rulings that could lead to exclusion.”
This is an ill-informed position. In fact, ABP’s investments in Israeli banks, the multinational security and imprisonment firm G4S and other companies are in violation of several different laws.
First, ABP’s investments enable violations of international law to continue. In its 2004 advisory opinion, the International Court of Justice confirmed key existing obligations in international law, including that the Israeli settlements breach international law; the Geneva Conventions (international humanitarian law) are fully binding on Israel, and must govern all Israeli actions in the occupied Palestinian territories; and that Israel’s occupation practices violate not only the Geneva Conventions, but also international human rights law.
Most importantly, the court concluded that states must not only refuse to directly contribute to these violations, but must “consider further actions” to try and bring about an end to this illegal situation. Politicians, social advocates and prominent legal commentators such as John Dugard and John Reynolds have described it as a situation of apartheid.
Second, ABP’s investments violate Dutch criminal law. In 2013, the Dutch public prosecutor referred explicitly to the advisory opinion, noting that: “The International Court of Justice found that the construction of the settlements and the barrier on the Israeli-occupied West Bank, constitute a violation of these rules of international law,” which was further confirmed by the United Nations General Assembly.
Accordingly, the Dutch prosecutor confirmed that: “involvement in these violations of International Humanitarian Law is a crime according to Dutch law pursuant to Article 5 of the International Crimes Act.”
In our opinion, ABP should feel especially compelled to respect international law due to the fact that it manages the pensions of all public officials in the Netherlands, at the local, provincial and national level.
ABP has acknowledged its obligations to individual pension holders to invest in a sustainable and socially responsible manner. However, as a consequence of investing in the illegal activities of Israeli banks, G4S, Veolia and other companies complicit in Israel’s violations of international law, ABP is taking a major economic risk.
More specifically, the economic consequences of investing in an illegal situation directly contributes to a situation of social and political instability, which could ultimately result in confiscation of assets and/or forced divestment as the result of an eventual political settlement, or as the outcome of a global boycott.
We recall a similar situation in South Africa. In 1986, companies such as Hewlett-Packard, Barclays Bank and General Motors were forced to suspend their activities and withdraw their investments in South Africa.
These actions followed a citizen-led campaign to boycott banks and corporations’ complicity with the South African apartheid regime and numerous violations of human rights in that country.
Convinced of this growing economic risk, an increasing number of Dutch investors, such as PGGM and ASN Bank as well as Danske Bank, the government pension fund ofNorway and others have withdrawn their investments that relate to Israel’s business activities in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO), in a recent report, has noted that many pension funds and investors “fail to adequately apply guidelines on international law and human rights” with respect to investments linked to the occupied Palestinian territories (“Dutch Institutional Investors and Investments related to the Occupation of the Palestinian Territories,” February 2014 [PDF]).
ABP’s investments in Israeli banks, G4S and other companies involved in settlement construction in the West Bank, or related activities, are not only illegal (incurring possible criminal charges) but also very risky investments. Especially in the current economic climate, investors should not be taking such business risks.
(Source / 18.02.2014)