Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
Opinion Editorials, December 2015
UK Activists' Clarion Call to Civil Societies Around the World to Expel Apartheid Israel from the UN
By Stuart Littlewood
Al-Jazeerah, CCUN, December 30, 2015
At least some people are determined to kick off the New Year on a positive note. A motion to expel Israel from the United Nations is to be put to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s (PSC) Annual General Meeting (AGM). It reads as follows:
And many will be saying: “About time too”. Israel has enjoyed impunity for its criminal acts for 67 years. And each year the international community’s failure to take disciplinary action has made the Israeli regime more aggressive, more arrogant, more brutal and more loathsome.
Israel’s endless defiance of civilised rules of behaviour
When drafting the motion it would have done no harm, I think, to mention the important ruling by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that Israel’s separation wall is illegal and must come down, and the Palestinians affected properly compensated. The 400-miles-long barrier known to all as the Apartheid Wall bites deep into the Palestinian West Bank, dividing and isolating communities and stealing their lands and water.
If the wall was simply for security, as Israel claims, it would have been built along the 1949 Armistice “Green Line”. But the wall’s purpose is plainly to annex plum Palestinian land and water sources for illegal Israeli settlements, and to that end closely follows the line of the Western Aquifer. It is a crude attempt to change the “facts on the ground” in order to expand Israeli territory and greatly reduce the viability of a future Palestinian state.
While Israelis fill their swimming pools, wash their cars and sprinkle their golf courses the Palestinians, who would normally be self-sufficient, now have to pay Israel’s grossly inflated price for a mere trickle of their own water, or go without.
In 2004 the ICJ at The Hague ruled that construction of the wall was “contrary to international law” and Israel must dismantle it and make reparation. The ICJ also ruled that “all states are under an obligation not to recognise the illegal situation resulting from the construction of the wall and not to render aid or assistance in maintaining the situation created by such construction”.
Eleven years later Israel, contemptuous of international law, continues to build its hideous wall with American tax dollars and protected by America’s veto. While Israelis fill their swimming pools, wash their cars and sprinkle their golf courses the Palestinians, who would normally be self-sufficient, now have to pay Israel’s grossly inflated price for a mere trickle of their own water, or go without.
Perhaps the motion should also note how Israel continues to defy the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, an important set of undertakings to which Israel itself and 136 other states are signed up.
Article 1 states that “all peoples have the right of self-determination… In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.” Israel should not be interfering, for example, with fishing in Gaza’s territorial waters, Gaza’s off-shore gas resources or the West Bank’s water. Furthermore, “the states that are party to the covenant… shall promote the realisation of the right of self-determination, and shall respect that right, in conformity with the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations”.
Article 2 requires all states to guarantee that the rights enshrined in the covenant will be exercised without discrimination of any kind.
Article 6 says that states recognise the right of everyone to gain a living from work of their own choosing and will take appropriate steps to safeguard this right. But for Palestinians it is impossible until the siege on Gaza is lifted and free, unfettered access to the outside world restored. The same goes for the West Bank and East Jerusalem which are also blockaded by Israel’s military and strangulated by Israel’s matrix of control.
Despite many calls to suspend the [Israel-EU Association ]Agreement, the EU has instead upgraded the relationship and enhanced the benefits.
What about the threat Israel poses not just to the region but to the rest of the world? According to the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, Israel has a nuclear arsenal numbering in the hundreds and is the only state in the region not to have signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Nor has it signed the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. It has signed but not ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty, similarly the Chemical Weapons Convention. Perhaps the facts about Israel being a lethal misfit ought to have been noted in the PSC motion.
Also worth adding, as justification for launching the motion, is how the Israeli regime enjoys preferential treatment under the European Union-Israel Association Agreement of 1995 but fails to observe its terms. These require adherence to the principles of the United Nations Charter, and Article 2 says that “respect for human rights and democratic principle constitute an essential element of this agreement”. Israel has never complied but continues to enjoy association benefits. Despite many calls to suspend the Agreement, the EU has instead upgraded the relationship and enhanced the benefits. In Israel’s breaches of legal and human rights obligations are rewarded not punished.
Will the whole world take up the call to expel?
The PSC motion’s originator, Blake Alcott, provides a useful “Long Dossier” on the need for Israel’s expulsion. He writes:
The time not ripe after more than six decades of Palestinian suffering during which the situation has gone from disgraceful to intolerable? Baroness Morris, President of Medical Aid for Palestinians, reminds us in her Christmas message:
Such inhumanity defies all understanding and reason. And still the international community turns a blind eye to the evil of a small Zionist gang who have somehow managed to grab the Western political élite by the balls.
The patience of decent folk is finally exhausted. Civil society now must set the pace, make the running and oust their compromised leaders. In the coming weeks the PSC has an opportunity to strike a spark that starts a worldwide civil society eruption, with the aim of amplifying the expulsion message, overriding current political inertia and speaking firmly from the grassroots to governments across the globe.
It would help too if the churches in the West found the backbone to take an orchestrated stand against Israel’s seizure of the Holy Land and the threat posed to the very wellspring of the Christian faith. They should be outraged by the regime’s persecution of Christian communities – as well as their Muslim brothers and sisters – residing in the place where Christianity was born.
Perhaps then the UN will sit up, take notice and make amends for its lamentable record.
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