Sunday,17 December, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013
Sunday,17 December, 2017
Issue 1144, 18 - 24 April 2013

Ahram Weekly

Blocking the road to Middle East peace

With the Israeli-Palestinian peace process now dead, what is needed is a true-justice process supported by international law, writes Stuart Littlewood

Al-Ahram Weekly

Last Friday, the G8 foreign ministers meeting in London issued the following statement on the British government’s website: “G8 foreign ministers confirmed their commitment to a just, lasting, and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. They agreed on the urgent need to make progress on the Middle East peace process towards this goal and underscored the need for a major international effort, involving all relevant parties, including the Quartet, to drive the peace process forward.”

“The ministers welcomed President Obama’s visit to the region and his statement that peace between Israelis and Palestinians is necessary, just and possible. They urged both sides to show the bold political leadership needed to achieve peace, to take the necessary steps to build trust and to work towards the resumption of negotiations without preconditions.”

“The ministers stressed that a long term solution to this conflict can be achieved only through direct negotiations, taking note of the 23 September 2011 statement of the Middle East Quartet. Ministers called on parties to refrain from unilateral actions and to create an atmosphere conducive to peace. They strongly reaffirmed that unilateral actions by either party cannot prejudge the outcome of negotiations.”

“Ministers expressed grave concerns about the poor state of the Palestinian economy, and the impact this has on Palestinian state-building efforts. Ministers affirmed their support for the Palestinian Authority and encouraged Arab countries, as well as emerging economies, to extend the fullest assistance possible to revitalising the Palestinian economy.”

“The ministers welcomed the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire of 21 November 2012 which ended hostilities in Gaza and southern Israel, condemned rocket attacks in contravention of this and urged all sides to uphold their commitments.”

What a drivelling way to mark 65 years since the massacre at the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin near Jerusalem. This slaughter set the pattern for the reign of terror that was to engulf hundreds of other Palestinian towns and villages in the Israelis’ bid to grab as much territory at gunpoint as they could.

The village had signed a non-aggression pact, yet Jewish terror groups the Lehi and Irgun, the latter headed by Israeli prime minister-to-be Menachem Begin, exterminated over 100 men, women and children, who were either stood against walls and shot or shredded by hand-grenades thrown into their homes, which were then looted.

The atrocity was committed weeks before the state of Israel was declared. Under the 1947 UN partition plan Deir Yassin was to be part of the Jerusalem corpus separatum and not in the future Jewish state.

As Palestinian politician Mustafa Barghouti says, “the same ethnic cleansing is going on today but in a different way. In 1948, they used direct massacres; now they use air-strikes in Gaza and shoot young Palestinians in the West Bank... the form has changed but the content is the same.”

Indeed, the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) reports weekly the alarming details of Israel’s systematic attacks against Palestinian civilians and property in the occupied Palestinian territories in flagrant violation of international law and international humanitarian law.

Last Christmas, the Palestinian embassy in London said that if the UN Security Council didn’t act against Israeli settlements Palestine would “consider complaining to the International Criminal Court, an option made available by Palestine’s admission as a non-member state to the UN in November.”

Since 1967, the Security Council has taken no action whatsoever to stop Israel’s illegal settlement building. By action we mean, of course, deeds not empty words. We mean sanctions and the implementing of all those inconvenient UN resolutions ordering the Israelis back behind their pre-1967 lines.

Why should there be any hesitation in taking Israel’s heinous crimes to the International Criminal Court (ICC)? This has jurisdiction over genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes committed by nationals of a State Party or on the territory of a State Party since 1 July, 2002, the date the Rome Statute came into effect. Palestinians have potentially a huge backlog of business to put before the Court, although they may not be permitted to bring cases going all the way back to 2002.

Palestine declared its voluntary acceptance of the ICC’s jurisdiction in 2009, but was unable to pursue legal remedies until the question of whether it could be regarded as a state in accordance with Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute was resolved. Last year, ICC prosecutor-general Luis Moreno-Ocampo declared that the General Assembly of the UN first needed to accept Palestine as an observer state. “As soon as this is done, we can proceed” he said.

Well, it’s been taken care of as from 29 November, 2012. 193 member states of the United Nations now recognise the State of Palestine. Writer John V. Whitbeck in an interesting article in the Palestine Chronicle, reports that Fatou Bensouda, the new prosecutor of the International Criminal Court, said recently that since the UN General Assembly had made its determination that Palestine was a state “the ball is now in the court of Palestine... Palestine has to come back,” and “we are waiting for them.”

Why have Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his administration done nothing to bring matters forward over the past five months, while the Israelis continue to establish more “irreversible” facts on the ground designed to make their occupation permanent? Why does he think all those nations gave Palestine its new status?

His foot-dragging is explained by a report on ReliefWeb.int a few days ago, which said that Abbas would hold off from unilateral action against Israel in order to give the stalled US-brokered peace talks a chance to resume. “Abbas and the Palestinian leadership have decided to give a sufficient chance for [US Secretary of State John] Kerry’s efforts to succeed,” said an official.

The Palestinians’ success in securing upgraded status at the UN late last year is said to have angered Israel and the United States. So for another two months the Palestinian leadership will refrain from taking Israel to the International Criminal Court while Kerry tries to re-start the bogus peace negotiations. Since this ploy is in no-one’s interest except Israel’s, the question is why.

Right now, Abbas, the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organisation should have their tails up and be setting the pace and setting the agenda. And this shouldn’t include being pushed into more talks that lead nowhere.

As the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions (ICAHD)’s Jeff Halper points out in a recent newsletter, for a “two-state solution to be considered, these fundamental requirements would have to be met: (1) ending Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands and dismantling the Wall; (2) recognising the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and (3) respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.”

Israel won’t willingly agree to any of this. Therefore, Halper says, “with the US and Europe unwilling to force Israel out of the Occupied Territories, the two-state solution exists on paper only.”

Furthermore, he says (and I think these words ought to be showcased in neon lights and shoved under the G8’s noses), “the manner in which Israel’s warehousing of the Palestinians has been allowed to progress unfettered by the US and Europe demonstrates a key fact of international politics: as long as any situation can be quieted to the point where it ceases to disrupt the world system, it can be tolerated.” “And since governments will take the course of least resistance, preferring repressed injustice to the difficulties of pursuing true justice, it is up to us, the international civil society led by Palestinians and critical Israeli Jews, to formulate and promote a just solution.”

Justice must be done, and Palestinians should not be bullied into pleading or bargaining with a brutal occupier for their freedom. This is the 21st century, and political preachers and sermonisers in the West need to understand that the dishonest, arm-twisting, lopsided peace process is dead. What is needed is a no-nonsense true-justice process driven by the rule of international law.

 

The author’s book Radio Free Palestine can be read on the Internet at www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk.

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