Tag Archives: Israel

Gaza Interview

20 Aug

(Prefatory Note: I have had several requests to post an interview published in CounterPunch on the Gaza crisis; it covers a wide range of issues, but is not up to date in relation to a rapidly changing situation in which adversaries are engaged in a misleading blame game while the bodies and rubble continue to pile up on the Gaza side of the border)

 

An Interview with Richard Falk on the Crisis in Gaza

by KEN KLIPPENSTEIN

 

Richard Falk is an American professor Emeritus of International Law at Princeton University. He just completed a six-year term as United Nations Special Rapporteur on Palestinian human rights. He was appointed to this role by the UN Human Rights Council, in 2008.

Ken Klippenstein: Could you describe Sisi’s [Egypt’s new leader] relationship with Hamas?

Richard Falk: The [Sisi] government is determined to destroy the Muslim Brotherhood and they view Hamas as an extension of the Brotherhood. So they’re, in a certain way, on the same side as Israel on this particular confrontation.

KK: Has the aerial bombardment campaign adopted by Israel done anything to decrease the rocket fire coming from Gaza?

RF: There’s no evidence that it has. It certainly has caused some damage and some deaths to those involved in either making or deploying and firing the rockets. But there’s no discernable effect in stopping Hamas’ and other militias’—it’s not only Hamas, there are other militias, some of which Hamas doesn’t control—that have engaged in this kind of rocket fire. The only alternative to using these rockets for defenseless people like those living in Gaza is to absolutely do nothing—to be completely passive. They have no military capability to resist Israel on the ground or in the air or from the sea. So it’s a very one-sided war; and one-sided wars are, in my view, by their very nature unlawful and constitute crimes against humanity.

KK: Since Palestine lacks statehood, does that deny them recourse to the protections afforded by international law?

RF: The UN General Assembly on Nov. 29, 2012 passed a resolution recognizing the statehood of Palestine as a non-member observer state of the UN. That has been interpreted as giving Palestine the status of being a state in international society for most purposes. They have joined UNESCO, for instance, as a member state, and they’ve adhered to more than 15 international treaties open only to states. They’re recognized by, I think, 130 governments as a state. They could at this point seek redress at the International Criminal Court, a step that Israel and the United States have declared would be very provocative from their point of view and would lead to adverse consequences.

In effect, the United States and Israel are saying it’s not acceptable to use international criminal law to uphold your legal rights.

KK: What is the US role in the aerial bombardment campaign?

RF: The US is definitely complicit and legally accountable, at least in theory, in that this weaponry is not supposed to be used except in accordance with international law; and if the whole undertaking is a violation of international law, then the United States is responsible, and should diplomatically have been seeking to restrain and censure Israel, rather than to lend its support.

Beyond that, there is the sense that Congress itself—again at least theoretically—restricts military assistance to foreign countries in a way that is supposed to be compatible with international law and the UN Charter. So by the guidelines that are embedded in American law itself, this is an unlawful and unacceptable policy that the US government has been pursuing.

KK: Could you talk about the legality of the siege of Gaza?

RF: The siege of Gaza is clearly a form of collective punishment that is prohibited by Article 33 of the 4th Geneva Convention, which unconditionally prohibits any recourse to collective punishment. A blockade that has been maintained since the middle of 2007 is directed at the entire civilian population of Gaza. It includes many items that are needed for health, subsistence, and minimum requirements of a decent life. So in my view, Israel—as the occupying power (under international law) of Gaza—is supposed to protect the civilian population, rather than subject it to a punitive blockade of the sort that’s been in existence these past 7 years.

KK: Israel sometimes phones warnings ahead of time before bombing buildings. Do you believe that this constitutes a serious effort to minimize civilian deaths?

RF: One would have to look carefully at each context. My impression is that Gaza is a place where there’s no real opportunity to escape from impending attacks. There may have been some lives saved as a result of these warnings. My impression is they’re not given consistently and comprehensively; and furthermore, that in the wider context of Gaza, there’s no opportunity for people to become refugees or to even move from points of danger to points of relative safety. It’s unusual in a wartime situation where almost always there is an option of crossing borders during a period of combat and finding some sort of sanctuary. Israel again, as the occupying power, has an obligation to see to it that the civilian population [of Gaza] is protected. They deny any kind of exit right to Palestinians living in Gaza, except those holding foreign passports (there are about 800 Palestinians with dual passports who have been allowed to cross the border into Israel). 150 of those have American citizenship and the US consulate has been facilitating their departure if those people want to.

But in general, for the 1,700,000 Gazans, they are denied the option of becoming refugees or even of becoming internally displaced persons. And therefore they cannot escape from the fire zone that Israel has created. And even if they’re not direct casualties being killed or injured, they are living under the cloud of state terrorism maintained day and night over this period, in a way that psychiatrists and psychologists and mental health experts say is inducing mass trauma on the part of the Palestinian people, particularly among the children.

Even before this attack there exists a highly anxious atmosphere because there are Israeli planes flying over all the time; and it’s never clear when they will do something that is hostile. People of Gaza, as I’ve been saying, are completely vulnerable. They have no way of fighting back. They are at the mercy of the Israelis. And the Israelis show very little mercy.

KK: What is Israel’s legal rationale for denying Gazans the displaced persons status that you mentioned before?

RF: As far as I know, they haven’t articulated any justification for this policy. They just close the borders and the international community has by and large been scandalously silent; and has remained so up to this time.

KK: What is the US role in blocking a UN resolution condemning Israeli violence in Gaza?

RF: As I understand it, the US did indicate its readiness to veto any resolution that blamed Israel, and there was support for such a resolution on the part of the majority of the members of the Security Council. What the UN ended up doing was issuing a statement that called for a ceasefire but it is a statement that has no binding legal effect and did not in any way censure Israel for its role.

KK: Do you believe the Security Council should be reformed in any way, given the US’ propensity for vetoing otherwise unanimous Security Council resolutions?

RF: I think it would be a helpful move from the perspective of global justice and the implementation of international law; but as matters now stand, it’s a very impractical step because no amendment to the UN charter can be made without the consensus of the 5 permanent members of the Security Council, each of whom has a veto. The United States and probably Russia and maybe China would veto any effort to deprive them of their veto rights. So it’s more or less gridlocked with respect to reform.

KK: Would you support a call for an arms embargo on Israel?

RF: Yes I would. I think it would be an appropriate move at this point. Israel has consistently defied international law in many different ways. It shows no sign of respecting the wishes of the international community, at this time, for an immediate ceasefire. So I think that the only way the world can show that it’s at all serious about protecting vulnerable peoples—in this case the Palestinians—would be to impose an arms embargo.

Of course Israel has a very robust arms industry itself. It’s one of the ten leading exporters of arms. And it’s of course inconceivable that, at this stage, the US and several of the West European countries would respect such an embargo. Nevertheless, it would be an important symbolic step in the direction of delegitimizing the kind of behavior that Israel has been engaged in.

KK: In the case of Israeli kidnappings and murder of Palestinians in Palestinian territory, can the perpetrators be brought before a Palestinian court or must Palestinians simply accept an Israeli court? 

RF: At this point they would have to accept the formal authority of the Israeli courts because the crime was committed in an area under Israeli legal administration. And the accused are in the possession of the Israelis and therefore they have the authority under international law to prosecute.

If there’s not a serious assessment of the crime, it could be questioned as an evasion of the obligation to prosecute; and if found guilty, punish those that engage in this kind of behavior. Remembering that, as far as we know, this was purely private criminal activity. It was not something that the government can be shown to have authorized—although the background of incitement after the kidnapping of the 3 Israeli teenagers on Jun 12th is part of the broader context in which this crime occurred.

KK: Are allegations of Hamas using human shields credible?

RF: There hasn’t been, as far as I know, serious evidence that this has taken place. In fact there is evidence that the Israelis used Palestinians as human shields when they mounted the ground offensive back in 2008-2009. And even if the Palestinians did do this, it would still not vindicate Israelis shooting directly at civilians, unless there was some kind of argument of absolute military necessity, which is pretty remote from this situation.

KK: Do you believe that Israel has been committing war crimes in Gaza?

RF: Yeah. I think certainly there’s the basis for alleging war crimes. It requires a formal legal judgment to reach the conclusion that there have been war crimes committed. There is a presumption of innocence until proven guilty—that’s important to maintain. But certainly the evidence that I’m aware of suggests the commission of serious crimes against humanity and war crimes in the course of this operation.

KK: Could you discuss the background of the crisis? Western media’s accounts usually begin with the kidnapping and murder of the three Israeli boys, omitting important contexts: the siege of Gaza, for instance.

RF: The timeline for these justifications that are made by Israel is very self-serving and not very convincing. Of course, you have a complex pattern of interaction. On the other hand, Israel is the occupying power, and has the international responsibility to protect the civilian population [of Gaza]. And in the case of the kidnapping on Jun 12, they had the opportunity to limit the response to an enforcement action that was done in a reasonable way. Instead they used it as a pretext for seeking to destroy Hamas as a political actor present in the West Bank; and then extending that anti-Hamas policy to the attack on Gaza. So it was clearly a way of using this initial criminal act as a means to pursue a much wider political agenda that focuses on Israel’s national ambition to control the West Bank—at least most of the West Bank, where the settlements are—and to eliminate from that reality the only viable Palestinian opposition force (because the Palestinian Authority that is nominally in control on behalf of the Palestinians of the West Bank, is in a semi-collaborationist relationship with Israel). So the attempt to get rid of Hamas as a political influence on the West Bank particularly, and to punish it severely in Gaza where it’s in control of the governing process, is a crime.

KK: Why did Netanyahu not take Abbas up on his offer to cooperate with the investigation into the kidnapping and killing of the three Israeli boys?

RF: I think it’s part of Netanyahu’s political escalation of the Israeli approach at this point. They repudiated the direct negotiations—which didn’t make much sense in the first place—but they repudiated them as a way of stating that they would no longer seriously engage in diplomacy but would impose their own solution on the conflict. And that solution involves consolidating control over the whole of Jerusalem and taking all or the most valuable parts of the West Bank and in effect annexing them to Israel.

KK: Under the Arms Control Act of 1976, governments that receive weapons from the US are required to use them for legitimate self-defense. Does the US’ arms aid to Israel violate that law?

RF: Yes, definitely. From everything I’ve been saying, there’s no legal, political or moral argument that would uphold the claim that Israel is acting in legitimate self-defense. There’s been no armed attack by Hamas or Gaza; in any event, Gaza from an international law point of view, is not a foreign state but an occupied territory. It’s not clear that you can exercise self-defense in relation to a territory that you are responsible for administering in accordance with international humanitarian law.

Ken Klippenstein is a journalist based in Madison, Wisconsin, USA. He can be reached via twitter @kenklippenstein or email: kenneth.klippenstein@gmail.com

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Strange Regional Alignments in the Gaza Massacre

11 Aug

Neighborly Crimes of Complicity in Gaza

 

[Prefatory Note: my post below, an earlier version of which was published in AlJazeera English as an opinion piece. It was written before I had the opportunity to read an illuminating assessment of the regional and global turmoil that culminated for now in the massacre carried out by Israeli armed forces in Gaza. I highly recommend “The Tragedy of Great Power: The Massacre of Gaza and the Inevitable Failure of the Arab Spring” written by the learned Islamic jurist and scholar, Khaled Abou El Fadl, a distinguished professor at UCLA School of Law, with the link to the article below:

http://www.abc.net.au/religion/articles/2014/08/08/4064106.htm

 What makes Professor El Fadl profound essay particularly valuable is his ability to fit the regional pieces together in a convincing manner, showing how and why governments that rule in Saudi Arabia and the UAE, encouraged the overthrow of Egypt’s elected government headed by Mohamed Morsi in mid-2013 and more recently encouraged Israel to destroy Hamas. He also shows that Hamas is not accurately perceived as a byproduct of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, but has its own “very distinct pedagogies, objectives and methodologies.” In depicting the forces of resistance and transformation as opposed to the geopolitics of counterrevolution as constituting the core struggle taking place throughout the region it becomes clear why the alignments in the Middle East are assuming their current configurations.

 It is telling and provocative for Professor El Fadl to situate the Palestinian Liberation Organization (and by implication, the Palestinian Authority) as de facto allies of Sisi’s Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE as well as being existential partners of the United States and Israel in subjugating the region to Western goals. What has developed further since the end of the Cold War rivalry that long dominated the region should be considered a geopolitical protection racket that gained political salience in the aftermath of the Arab Spring. The upheavals of 2011 shook the foundations of the old order, and led to renewals throughout the region of Faustian Bargains by which various authoritarian regimes receive protection, including help with the destruction of any political actor, whether Islamic or not, that dares to challenge this established order composed of ultra-rich native elites claiming dynastic privileges conferred by colonial powers then seeking native collaborators to manage exploited and oppressed populations. While these elites appease Israel, the masses in the same political space remain passionately and symbolically dedicated to the Palestinian struggle as became evident in the September 9, 2011 attack by several thousand Egyptians on the Israeli Embassy shortly while the heroic memories of the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak were still fresh.]

 

Of all the complexities surrounding the reaction of the world to the horrifying spectacle of Israel’s severe criminality in Gaza none is more perplexing than the complicity of most governments throughout the Arab world. What makes their political posture particularly bewildering is the degree of ethnic, religious, cultural, and historical commonality that creates such close ties of identity among the peoples of the region. And no single issue has been as unifying over the decades for these people than has their long intensely felt opposition to the injustice, suffering, and exploitation that the Palestinian people have endured for the past century as a result of the encroachments of the Zionist movement on their lands. It should be recalled that at earlier stages of the Palestinian ordeal, the governments of the neighboring Arab countries did exhibit strong, if ineffectual, solidarity with the Palestinian struggle. Several Arab states jointly attacked Israel, initially in 1948 to prevent the establishment of Israel, and later in the failed wars of 1967 and 1973 that challenged Israel’s existence. These defeats together with Egypt’s accommodation via the peace treaty of 1979 was a defining moment at which the Arab neighbors of Israel abandoned the Palestinians politically, but not yet diplomatically or economically. At this time any tangible form solidarity at the level of Arab governments is now a distant and ironic memory, and has been supplanted in the main by active hostility to Palestinian aspirations and implicit sympathy with, or at least acquiescence in Israel’s regional ambitions in conjunction with U.S. grand strategy in the region .

 

Some official formal hostility to Israel and sympathy for the Palestinian struggle persists at rhetorical levels, but rings hollow. It is true that many Arab countries to this day refuse entry to anyone with an Israeli entry or exit stamp in their passport. Anwar Sadat’s assassination in 1981 was widely interpreted at the time as a populist response in Egypt to his willingness to sign a peace treaty with Israel without simultaneously securing justice for the Palestinians, thereby crossing what was then a red line of betrayal. It was observed by the Western media that few Egyptians bothered to leave their apartments as a show of respect as Sadat’s funeral procession as it passed through the streets of Cairo because the slain leader was so reviled for shamelessly appeasing the enemy of the Palestinian people.

 

Above all, the ongoing struggle for Palestinian self-determination is understood by the peoples of the Middle East, and indeed the world over, as a struggle for the empowerment and liberation of the Palestinian people in the face of severe injustices done unto them over a long period of time, and involving such crimes against humanity as apartheid and massacre, verging on genocide. Increasingly, and never more than in reaction to this recent Gaza horror show, the Palestinian struggle will have to be waged not only against Israel, and its American and European allies, but also against the Arab collaborationist governments in the region that have betrayed their own larger religious and cultural identities, and more revealingly, the most fundamental ideas of justice and compassion associated with ideals of humanity and the ethical underpinnings of Islamic unity.

 

It is notable that only non-Arab Turkey and Qatar have acted responsibly in response to the Israeli attacks that commenced on July under the IDF code name of Protective Edge. The Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, has spoken movingly, without hiding his condemnation of Israeli behavior behind the euphemisms of diplomacy, in characterizing Israel’s behavior in Gaza as criminal. Even a group of distant Latin American countries, including Brazil and Chile, have at least shown the depth of their disapproval of Israel’s conduct by withdrawing their ambassadors from Israel. This symbolic expression of disapproval is something that not one government in Europe or North America, the self-proclaimed centers of world civilization, has yet done. The countries of the South have by and large also turned their backs to the Palestinians and the confrontation in Gaza, with the exception of South Africa.

 

Taken together these considerations make it morally distressing and politically mystifying to observe that almost every Arab governments has seemed either to be flashing a green light in Israel’s direction or pointedly looking away. Given the criminality of the Israeli attack and the tragic suffering inflicted on the Palestinian people, complicity by way of such diplomatic endorsements, or even stony silent acquiescence, is at the very least a breach in Arab and Islamic identity, and worse, seems to be an unimaginable case of aiding and abetting genocidal political violence directed at the Palestinian people. Such a diplomacy of indifference is especially notable as expressed toward Gaza, which is governed by a Moslem-oriented leadership. Israel’s persistence in a massacre mode despite the near universal calls for a responsibly negotiated ceasefire was widely attributed to the fact that the Netanyahu government was being encouraged behind the scenes by Egypt and Saudi Arabia ‘to finish the job,’ not of the tunnels and rockets that served as the security pretext, but of Hamas itself as ‘the head of the snake,’ the one Palestinian actor that continued to believe in a politics of resistance. For these Arab governments to act so opportunistically, particularly given the frequency and magnitude of Israeli atrocities is shocking to all but the most numbed of political imaginations.

 

To be sure, the behavior of these Arab governments as mystifying, legally and morally unacceptable, and politically self-destructive warrants condemnation, but it also needs to be understood and explained as clearly as possible. What quirks of political realism led these Arab regimes to so calculate their future?

           

The Enemy of my Enemy

 

The core explanation of Arab complicity (excepting Qatar) has to do with the Arab governments hating and fearing the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) far more than they resent Israel. This logic is then extended to Hamas, which is misleadingly treated as nothing other than a branch of this supposedly poisonous tree. This hostility to an Islamic movement authenticated from below overshadows Israel’s encroachment on their region, and even its appropriation and control of Muslim sacred places in Jerusalem. In effect what is going on in these top heavy monarchies is a passionate search for protection from possible uprisings by their own populations, which are feared as potential adversaries. Such an initial assessment pushes the question one step further but it does not give us any insight into why this should be so.

 

What are the sources of this hatred of the MB? The MB is perceived as the essential expression in the Arab world of bottom up political Islam that is viewed as toxic by the established order because of its grassroots legitimacy. This reality has induced panic among these Arab regimes that goes back at least as far as the explosive regional reverberations unleashed by the revolution that overthrew the Shah’s supposedly secure imperial rule in Iran (1979). This revolutionary process caused high intensity tremors, especially throughout the Arab world, and especially among the monarchies nurturing privileged and unscrupulous elites that have long kept their populations cruelly repressed and in backward conditions of mass misery. These regimes, generally aligned with the United States, remain obsessed with the maintaining stability of their own rule, and seem to feel that stifling all voices calling for change is a vital ingredient of their own survival.

 

Hamas as an active resistance movement is in this sense perceived as an acute threat to the kind of future that these Arab governments are intent of achieving no matter what the costs in lives and societal wellbeing. First of all, Has has historical ties to the Egyptian MB, the older organization of Muslim activists that has kept the flame of political Islam burning despite enduring harsh suppression dating back to decades before Israel came into existence. Secondly, Hamas demonstrated its legitimacy, and credibility as a voice of the Palestinians living in Gaza by its electoral victory in 2006, and more recently by its resilience (sumud) and resistance to Israeli tactics of aggression and massacre. Thirdly, Sunni Hamas crossed sectarian boundaries by having its closest political ties with Shiite Iran and Hezbollah, and the Alawite regime in Syria, and although these relationships have grown weaker as a result of recent regional developments, their very existence further alarms the Sunni supremacists in Riyadh whose second source of anxiety is associated with a sectarian/nationalist struggle that pits Saudi Arabia and its allies against Iran and its allies. The terrible carnage in Syria is one expression of this sectarian dimension of the regional struggle that complements efforts to crush any expression of political Islam with a strong societal base of support.

 

Egypt’s Betrayal

 

Of course, in the foreground is the experience of the Arab anti-authoritarian upheavals in 2011, especially the dislodging of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, followed by expressions of far greater popular electoral support for the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafi candidates throughout Egypt than had been expected by the anti-Mubarak liberals and progressive youth who had earlier dominated the crowds in Tahrir Square. The Gulf countries made no secret of their disappointment with Washington’s refusal to do more to beat back this populist tide that swept over the Mubarak regime, who like the Shah in Iran 30 years earlier, had seemed to offer leaders of these Arab monarchies a model of invulnerability in relation to popular upheavals.

 

And so two years later in 2013 when the chance came, as it did during the faltering presidential term of Mohamed Morsi, it is no secret that the counterrevolutionary coup led by General Ahmed Fattah el-Sisi was most warmly welcomed by Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Sisi coup won immediate aid bestowed in huge quantities (at least $8 billion) from Saudi Arabia and the UAE, hoping that such a large infusion of cash would create a soft economic landing for the new regime, and set up a contrast with the economic failures of the Morsi government. It was hoped that a rapid economic recovery would reassure the majority of Egyptians that they were experiencing a change for the better even if there was little effort by the new leaders to hide the return to the methods and style of the previously despised Mubarak rule that had prompted the earlier upheaval. What is startling is that these Arab supporters never blinked in the face of the crimes of Sisi’s military leadership in Cairo, which featured a bloody crackdowns of anti-government demonstrations in Cario, including even the killing of many MB members while they were at prayer. Sisi proceeded to move against the MB as an organization, having it criminalized and defined legally as ‘a terrorist organization,’ encouraging judicial action that included imposing mass death sentences on many of its members, and generally engaging in state crime on a scale that far exceeded the abuses of the Mubarak period. Even Washington was embarrassed by these excesses, although it maintained a pragmatic silence that overlooked the tensions between its calls for democracy and its actual strategic goal of restoring the regionalstability of the pre-Arab Spring status quo.

 

 

 

Iran Explodes the Myth of Regional Stability

 

Until this pattern became evident I didn’t appreciate the relevance of some remarks made to me by Ayatollah Khomeini while in Paris just as he was about to return to Iran from exile to lead the new Islamic Republic in January 1979. This austere religious leader was very clear about rejecting the then prevailing idea that a national revolution was taking place in Iran. He said again and again during the meeting, “This is an Islamic revolution, not an Iranian revolution.” He went on to observe that the dynastic regime in Saudi Arabia was decadent and oriented toward the West. In his view it was as illegitimate a source of governance as was the Shah’s regime that had just been overthrown in Iran, and a justifiable target for further political initiatives by those societal forces that were infused with Islamic values.

 

The revolution in Iran, whether understood as a national or ideological phenomenon, was deeply threatening to political stability of the region. It was a political movement from below that shattered a monarchic power structure in Iran that was viewed in the region and by the West as invulnerable to internal challenge, once described by Kissinger “as that rarest of things, an unconditional ally.” In other words, it was not just that the foundations of the status quo gave way in Iran, but that their crumbling was brought about by populist tremors that enjoyed widespread cultural legitimacy. It was this cultural legitimacy that again surfaced in the immediate aftermath of the Arab upheavals in 2011, and sent tremors of fear throughout the region, and could not be dismissed on sectarian grounds.

 

The explosive emergence of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS) reinforces Ayatollah Khomeini’s central message. Its proclamation of a new caliphate is precisely in line with this type of thinking. The whole carving up of the Arab world into a series of sovereign states is seen from these perspectives as an imposition of European civilization, destroying and destabilizing the only true political community, that of the Islamic uma.

 

Israel’s Parallel Universe

 

Israeli strategists over the years have been divided about their regional priorities, but agreed on the general contour of principal goals. Israel’s preferred Middle East would consist of governments that were both friendly and stable, which made Iran a favorite until it unexpectedly fell apart in 1978-79. Next best, were governments that were formally cool, or even hostile, but remained mostly on the sidelines in relation to the conflict of with the Palestinians, such as King Hussein’s Jordan, Mubarak’s Egypt, and the Gulf states, especially Saudi Arabia. If such stability was not attainable, then strife in a country that was politically hostile was viewed as next best, which is the story of Syria, and to a degree Iraq, in recent years. In other words, Israel could live with regional actors that were rhetorically hostile, as with passport exclusions or UN speeches, but not with states that were politically hostile, and perceived as allies of Palestinian resistance struggle. In that sense, Israel pushed behind the scenes for the American attack on Iraq after 2001 and has done its best to push the United States into a belligerent encounter with Iran in recent years.

 

When it comes to Gaza, and Hamas, the convergence of the Israeli approach and the Arab governmental consensus is an invaluable political blessing for Tel Aviv. It gives Israel unlimited space to push its militarist agenda, however great the carnage and devastation, and even if much the rest of the world may lament the assault upon international law and morality. Even the United States, and its ‘subaltern’ UN Secretary General, have felt the pressure to use their influence to establish a ceasefire, although without daring to lift a critical finger in Israel’s direction and following an Egyptian-oriented peremptory diplomacy that seems more concerned about PR dimensions than achieving an end to the violence. This skeptical reflection was confirmed by the initial ceasefire proposal that was presented to Hamas on a take it or leave it basis, and quite incredibly, that its leaders were informed about only through its media publication. The newer ceasefire approach, based on a sequence of 72 hour truces, follows the same pattern with Israeli and American negotiators refusing to sit at the same table as the representative of Hamas, and yet claiming to seek an agreement that would end the violence.

 

While Israel talks about rockets and tunnels, its massive military operation is being increasingly interpreted by knowledgeable commentators as punitive, and directed not only at Hamas but at Palestinians generally. Some Israeli leaders and their prominent supporters seem to believe that Gazans deserve to die because they voted for Hamas back in 2006, although many Gazans who are dying didn’t back Hamas then or now, and certainly not the Palestinian children who were not even born when Hamas won the elections. A second punitive motivation, and more explicitly endorsed, is a punishment directed at Palestinians in general for daring to form a unity government back in early June, thus challenging ever so slightly the illusion that Israelis had successfully crushed Palestinian political ambition to pursue self-determination by any means other than the futile charade of periodic spurts of diplomacy. Crushing Hamas is seen as a way to make Palestinians submit to the permanence of occupation, the annexation of most of the West Bank, the realities of apartheid administrative and detention policies, and the burial of any prospect of an independent Palestinian state. The Palestinian Authority had been awkwardly docile until it timidly went forward with the unity government, and now must be disciplined by Israel for getting out of line, being taught a lesson once and for all that if it has any future it is to collaborate with Israel, as it had done in the past, with the suppression of Palestinian resistance, above all Hamas, as a telltale sign of its political outlook.

 

A Concluding Word

 

More than anything else, these terrible happenings in Gaza should lead to a realization that the future of the Palestinian people and of the region as a whole depends on finding a just solution of the conflict. The abysmal failure of the Kerry induced talks showed definitively that Israel has lost all interest in a diplomacy that promises the Palestinians a viable and independent sovereign state at the end of the road. With a show of self-confidence the Knesset made clear its own rejection of the two-state diversion by choosing an ardent Likud one-stater, Reuven Rivlin, to replace Shimon Peres, as President of Israel. It is past time for the peoples of the world to wake up to the real nature of the challenge and support a more militant international campaign of solidarity with the Palestinian struggle, and insist on boycott and divestment in all venues, working to support arms embargoes and sanctions on the part of as many governments as possible.

Joint Declaration on International Law & Gaza & Final List of Endorsers

2 Aug

Final Text of Joint Declaration on International Law & List of Endorsers

 

(Prefatory Note: with only a voluntary effort the Joint Declaration on International Law in relation to the Gaza Attacks by Israel has elicited an encouraging response from legal experts from around the world, including some of our most distinguished colleagues. Others without formal legal credentials have also indicated their support, and expressed their desire to endorse the Joint Declaration. The original drafting group agreed that formal endorsers should be limited to those with a law background, although we have recorded all others in a second list that will be made public when an appropriate occasion arises. We thank all of you who have contributed to this initiative by indicating support.

 As might be expected the dissemination of this text also generated critical reactions from those who argued that we had understated Israel’s rights under international law and understated Hamas’ violations. There were other more vituperative denunciations of such an initiative and its endorsers that expressed anger and hostility toward anyone who dares criticizes Israel, and even encouraged Israel to persist in its military onslaught in Gaza, and do whatever its leaders think necessary.

 With this posting we are formally closing the endorsing process, but we will continue to do our best to insist on the relevance of international law to the behavior of Israel and the other parties in this conflict along the lines of the analysis contained in the Joint Declaration. We discourage pro and con comments at this stage, although welcoming substantive discussion and suggestions for further dissemination)

 

 

The International Community Must End Israel’s Collective Punishment of the Civilian Population in the Gaza Strip

As international and criminal law scholars, human rights defenders, legal experts and individuals who firmly believe in the rule of law and in the necessity for its respect in times of peace and more so in times of war, we feel the intellectual and moral duty to denounce the grave violations, mystification and disrespect for the most basic principles of the laws of armed conflict and of the fundamental human rights of the entire Palestinian population committed during the ongoing Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip. We also condemn the launch of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as every indiscriminate attack against civilians, regardless of the identity of the perpetrators, is not only illegal under international law but also morally intolerable. However, as also implicitly noted by the UN Human Rights Council in its Resolution of 23 July 2014, the two parties to the conflict cannot be considered equal, and their actions – once again – appear to be of incomparable magnitude.

Once again it is the unarmed civilian population, the ‘protected persons’ under International humanitarian law (IHL), who is in the eye of the storm. Gaza’s civilian population has been victimized in the name of a falsely construed right to self-defence, in the midst of an escalation of violence provoked in the face of the entire international community. The so-called Operation Protective Edge erupted during an ongoing armed conflict, in the context of a prolonged belligerent occupation that commenced in 1967. In the course of this ongoing conflict thousands of Palestinians have been killed and injured in the Gaza Strip during recurrent and ostensible ‘ceasefire’ periods since 2005, after Israel’s unilateral ‘disengagement’ from the Gaza Strip. The deaths caused by Israel’s provocative actions in the Gaza Strip prior to the latest escalation of hostilities must not be ignored as well.

According to UN sources, over the last three weeks, at least 1,373 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed and 8,265, including 2,502 children and 1,626 women, have been injured. Several independent sources indicate that only 15 per cent of the casualties were combatants. Entire families have been murdered. Hospitals, clinics, as well as a rehabilitation centre for disabled persons have been targeted and severely damaged. During one single day, on Sunday 20th July, more than 100 Palestinian civilians were killed in Shuga’iya, a residential neighbourhood of Gaza City. This was one of the bloodiest and most aggressive operations ever conducted by Israel in the Gaza Strip, a form of urban violence constituting a total disrespect of civilian innocence. Sadly, this was followed only a couple of days later by an equally destructive attack on Khuza’a, East of Khan Younis.

Additionally, the offensive has already caused widespread destruction of buildings and infrastructure: according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, over 3,300 houses have been targeted resulting in their destruction or severe damage.

As denounced by the UN Fact-Finding Mission (FFM) on the Gaza conflict in the aftermath of Israel’s ‘Operation Cast Lead’ in 2008-2009: “While the Israeli Government has sought to portray its operations as essentially a response to rocket attacks in the exercise of its right to self defence, the Mission considers the plan to have been directed, at least in part, at a different target: The people of Gaza as a whole” (A/HRC/12/48, par. 1883). The same can be said for the current Israeli offensive.

The civilian population in the Gaza Strip is under direct attack and many are forced to leave their homes. What was already a refugee and humanitarian crisis has worsened with a new wave of mass displacement of civilians: the number of IDPs has reached more than 457,000, many of whom have obtained shelter in overcrowded UNRWA schools, which unfortunately are no safe areas as demonstrated by the repeated attacks on the UNRWA school in Beit Hanoun. Everyone in Gaza is traumatized and living in a state of constant terror. This result is intentional, as Israel is again relying on the ‘Dahiya doctrine’, which deliberately has recourse to disproportionate force to inflict suffering on the civilian population in order to achieve political (to exert pressure on the Hamas Government) rather than military goals.

In so doing, Israel is repeatedly and flagrantly violating the law of armed conflict, which establishes that combatants and military objectives may be targeted, i.e. ‘those objects which by their nature, location, purpose or use make an effective contribution to military action and whose total or partial destruction, capture or neutralization, in the circumstances ruling at the time, offers a definite military advantage.’ Most of the recent heavy bombings in Gaza lack an acceptable military justification and, instead, appear to be designed to terrorize the civilian population. As the ICRC clarifies, deliberately causing terror is unequivocally illegal under customary international law.

 

In its Advisory Opinion in the Nuclear Weapons case, the ICJ stated that the principle of distinction, which requires belligerent States to distinguish between civilians and combatants, is one of the “cardinal principles” of international humanitarian law and one of the “intransgressible principles of international customary law”.

 

The principle of distinction is codified in Articles 48, 51(2) and 52(2) of the Additional Protocol I of 1977 to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, to which no reservations have been made. According to Additional Protocol I, “attacks” refer to “acts of violence against the adversary, whether in offence or in defence” (Article 49). Under both customary international law and treaty law, the prohibition on directing attacks against the civilian population or civilian objects is absolute. There is no discretion available to invoke military necessity as a justification.

 

Contrary to Israel’s claims, mistakes resulting in civilian casualties cannot be justified: in case of doubt as to the nature of the target, the law clearly establishes that an object which is normally dedicated to civilian purposes (such as schools, houses, places of worship and medical facilities), is presumed as not being used for military purposes. During these past weeks, UN officials and representatives have repeatedly called on Israel to strictly abide by the principle of precaution in carrying out attacks in the Gaza Strip, where risks are greatly aggravated by the very high population density, and maximum restraint must be exercised to avoid civilian casualties. HRW has noted that these rules exist to minimize mistakes and “when such mistakes are repeated, it raises the concern of whether the rules are being disregarded.”

 

Moreover, even when targeting clear military objectives, Israel consistently violates the principle of proportionality: this is particularly evident with regard to the hundreds of civilian houses destroyed by the Israeli army during the current military operation in Gaza. With the declared intention to target a single member of Hamas, Israeli forces have bombed and destroyed houses although occupied as residencies by dozens of civilians, including women, children, and entire families.

 

It is inherently illegal under customary international law to intentionally target civilian objects, and the violation of such a fundamental tenet of law can amount to a war crime. Issuing a ‘warning’ – such as Israel’s so-called roof knocking technique, or sending an SMS five minutes before the attack – does not mitigate this: it remains illegal to wilfully attack a civilian home without a demonstration of military necessity as it amounts to a violation of the principle of proportionality. Moreover, not only are these ‘warnings’ generally ineffective, and can even result in further fatalities, they appear to be a pre-fabricated excuse by Israel to portray people who remain in their homes as ‘human shields’.

 

The indiscriminate and disproportionate attacks, the targeting of objectives providing no effective military advantage, and the intentional targeting of civilians and civilian houses have been persistent features of Israel’s long-standing policy of punishing the entire population of the Gaza Strip, which, for over seven years, has been virtually imprisoned by an Israeli imposed closure. Such a regime amounts to a form of collective punishment, which violates the unconditional prohibition set forth in Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva Convention and has been internationally condemned for its illegality. However, far from being effectively opposed by international actors, Israel’s illegal policy of absolute closure imposed on the Gaza Strip has relentlessly continued, under the complicit gaze of the international community of States.

 

***

As affirmed in 2009 by the UN Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict: “Justice and respect for the rule of law are the indispensable basis for peace. The prolonged situation has created a justice crisis in the Occupied Palestinian Territory that warrants action” (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1958) Indeed: “long-standing impunity has been a key factor in the perpetuation of violence in the region and in the reoccurrence of violations, as well as in the erosion of confidence among Palestinians and many Israelis concerning prospects for justice and a peaceful solution to the conflict”. (A/HRC/12/48, para. 1964)

Therefore,

 

  • We welcome the Resolution adopted on 23 July 2014 by the UN Human Rights Council, in which an independent, international commission of inquiry was established to investigate all violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

 

  • We call upon the United Nations, the Arab League, the European Union, individual States, in particular the United States of America, and the international community in its entirety and with its collective power to take action in the spirit of the utmost urgency to put an end to the escalation of violence against the civilian population of the Gaza Strip, and to activate procedures to hold accountable all those responsible for violations of international law, including political leaders and military commanders. In particular:
  • All regional and international actors should support the immediate conclusion of a durable, comprehensive, and mutually agreed ceasefire agreement, which must secure the rapid facilitation and access of humanitarian aid and the opening of borders to and from Gaza;
  • All High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Conventions must be urgently and unconditionally called upon to comply with their fundamental obligations, binding at all times, and to act under common Article 1, to take all measures necessary for the suppression of grave breaches, as clearly imposed by Article 146 and Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention; these rules are applicable by all interested parties as well;
  • Moreover, we denounce the shameful political pressures exerted by several UN Member States and the UN on President Mahmoud Abbas, to discourage recourse to the International Criminal Court (ICC), and we urge the Governmental leaders of Palestine to invoke the jurisdiction of the ICC, by ratifying the ICC treaty and in the interim by resubmitting the declaration under Article 12(3) of the Rome Statute, in order to investigate and prosecute the serious international crimes committed on the Palestinian territory by all parties to the conflict; and
  • The UN Security Council must finally exercise its responsibilities in relation to peace and justice by referring the situation in Palestine to the Prosecutor of the ICC.

 

 

***

 

Please note that institutional affiliations are for identification purposes only.

 

  1. John Dugard, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  2. Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
  3. Alain Pellet, Professor of Public International Law, University Paris Ouest, former Member of the United Nations International Law Commission, France
  4. Georges Abi-Saab, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Former Judge on the ICTY
  5. Vera Gowlland-Debbas, Emeritus Professor of International Law, Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, Geneva, Switzerland
  6. Chantal Meloni, Adjunct Professor of International Criminal Law, University of Milan, Italy (Rapporteur)

 

  1. Roy Abbott, Consultant in International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, Australia
  2. Lama Abu-Odeh, Law Professor, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  3. Taris Ahmad, Solicitor at Jones Day, London, UK
  4. Kasim Akbaş, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  5. Susan M. Akram, Clinical Professor and supervising attorney, International Human rights Program, Boston University School of Law, USA
  6. Maria Anagnostaki, PhD candidate, Law School University of Athens, Greece
  7. Antony Anghie, Professor of Law, University of Utah, USA
  8. Javier Ansuátegui-Roig, Director, Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas, Charles III University of Madrid, Spain
  9. Ayman Atef, LLM Ain Shams University, Egypt
  10. Ufuk Aydin, Dean, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  11. Nizar Ayoub, Director, Al-Marsad, Arab Human Rights Centre in Golan Heights
  12. Valentina Azarov, Lecturer in Human Rights and International Law, Al Quds Bard College, Palestine
  13. Ammar Bajboj, Lecturer in Law, University of Damascus, Syria
  14. Samia Bano, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  15. Asli Ü Bali, Professor of Law, UCLA School of Law, USA
  16. Jakub Micha³ Baranowski, Phd Candidate, Universita’ degli Studi Roma Tre, Italy
  17. Frank Barat, Russell Tribunal on Palestine
  18. Marzia Barbera, Professor of Law, University of Brescia, Italy
  19. Emma Bell, Coordinator of the European Group for the Study of Deviance and Social Control, Université de Savoie, France
  20. Barbara Giovanna Bello, Post-doc Fellow, University of Milan, Italy
  21. Brenna Bhandar, Senior lecturer in Law, SOAS School of Law, London, UK
  22. George Bisharat, Professor of Law, UC Hastings College of Law, USA
  23. Marta Bitorsoli, LLM, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Trial Clerk ICTY, The Hague, The Netherlands
  24. Barbara Blok, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  25. John Braithwaite, Professor of Criminology, Australian National University, Australia
  26. Michelle Burgis-Kasthala, lecturer in international law, University of Edinburgh, UK
  27. Eddie Bruce-Jones, Lecturer in Law, University of London, Birkbeck College, UK
  28. Sandy Camlann, LLM Candidate, Université Paris Ouest Nanterre La Défense, France
  29. Grazia Careccia, Human Rights Advocate, London, UK
  30. Baris Cayli, Impact Fellow, University of Stirling, UK
  31. Antonio Cavaliere, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  32. Kathleen Cavanaugh, Senior Lecturer, Irish Center for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland
  33. Elizabeth Chadwick, Reader in International Law, Nottingham, UK
  34. Donna R. Cline, Attorney at Law, USA
  35. Karen Corteen, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, University of Chester, UK
  36. Andrew Dahdal, Lecturer, Faculty of Business and Economics, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
  37. Teresa Dagenhardt, Reader in Criminology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  38. Luigi Daniele, PhD candidate in Law, Italy
  39. Alessandro De Giorgi, Professor of Justice Studies, San Josè State University, USA
  40. Cristina de la Serna-Sandoval, lawyer and human rights consultant, Spain
  41. Javier De Lucas, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  42. Paul de Waart, Professor Emeritus of International Law, VU University, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  43. Gabriele della Morte, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  44. Max du Plessis, Professor of Law, University of Kwazulu-Natal, and Barrister, South Africa and London, UK
  45. Isabel Düsterhöft, LL.M., Utrecht, M.A. Hamburg, Germany
  46. Noura Erakat, Georgetown University, USA
  47. Mohammad Fadel, Associate Professor of Law, University of Toronto Faculty of Law, Canada
  48. Mireille Fanon-Mendés France, Independent Expert UNO, Frantz Fanon Foundation, France
  49. Michelle Farrell, lecturer in law, School of Law and Social Justice, University of Liverpool, UK
  50. Daniel Feierstein, Professor and President International Association of Genocide Scholars (IAGS), Argentina
  51. Eleonor Fernández Muñoz, Costa Rica
  52. Tenny Fernando, Attorney at Law, Sri Lanka
  53. Amelia Festa, LLM Candidate, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  54. Katherine Franke, Professor of Law, Columbia Law School, USA
  55. Jacques Gaillot, Bishop in partibus of Partenia
  56. Katherine Gallagher, Vice President FIDH, senior attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  57. Avo Sevag Garabet, LLM, University of Groningen, the Netherlands
  58. Jose Garcia Anon, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Valencia, Spain
  59. Cristina Garcia-Pascual, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  60. Jose Antonio García-Saez, International Law Researcher, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  61. Andrés Gascón-Cuenca, PhD candidate, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  62. Irene Gasparini, PhD candidate, Universitá Cattolica, Milan, Italy
  63. Stratos Georgoulas, Assistant Professor, University of the Aegean, Greece
  64. Haluk Gerger, Professor, Turkey
  65. Hedda Giersten, Professor, Universitet I Oslo, Norway
  66. Javier Giraldo, Director Banco de Datos CINEP, Colombia
  67. Carmen G. Gonzales, Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  68. Penny Green, Professor of Law and Criminology, Director of the State Crime Initiative, King’s College London, UK
  69. Katy Hayward, Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  70. Andrew Henley, PhD candidate, Keele University, UK
  71. Christiane Hessel, Paris, France
  72. Paddy Hillyard, Professor Emeritus, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  73. Ata Hindi, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  74. Francois Houtart, Professor, National Institute of Higher Studies, Quito, Ecuador
  75. Deena R. Hurwitz, Professor, General Faculty, Director International Human Rights Law Clinic, University of Virginia School of Law, USA
  76. Perfecto Andrés Ibánes, Magistrado Tribunal Supremo de Espagna, Spain
  77. Franco Ippolito, President of the Permanent People’s Tribunal, Italy
  78. Ruth Jamieson, Honorary Lecturer, School of Law, Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland
  79. Helen Jarvis, former member Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC), member of IAGS, Cambodia
  80. Ioannis Kalpouzos, Lecturer in Law, City Law School, London, UK
  81. Victor Kattan, post-doctoral fellow, Law Faculty, National University of Singapore
  82. Michael Kearney, PhD, Lecturer in Law, University of Sussex, UK
  83. Yousuf Syed Khan, USA
  84. Tarik Kochi, Senior Lecturer in Law, School of Law, Politics and Sociology, University of Sussex, UK
  85. Anna Koppel, MSt Candidate in International Human Rights Law, University of Oxford, UK
  86. Azra Kuci, legal advisor TRIAL (track impunity always), Bosnia and Herzegovina
  87. Karim Lahidji, President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) and lawyer
  88. Giulia Lanza, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Verona, Italy
  89. Massimo La Torre, Professor of Law, University of Hull (UK), Catanzaro University (Italy)
  90. Daniel Machover, solicitor, Hickman & Rose, London, UK
  91. Tayyab Mahmud, Professor of Law, Director of the Centre for Global Justice, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  92. Maria C. LaHood, Senior Staff Attorney, CCR, New York, USA
  93. Louise Mallinder, Reader in Human Rights and International Law, University of Ulster, UK
  94. Triestino Mariniello, Lecturer in International Criminal Law, Edge Hill University, UK
  95. Mazen Masri, Lecturer in Law, The City Law School, City University, London, UK
  96. Siobhan McAlister, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  97. Liam McCann, Principal Lecturer in Criminology, University of Lincoln, UK
  98. Jude McCulloch, Professor of Criminology, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
  99. David McQuoid-Mason, Director, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa
  100. Yvonne McDermott Rees, Lecturer in Law, University of Bangor, UK
  101. Cahal McLaughlin, Professor, School of Creative Arts, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  102. Araks Melkonyan, LLM Candidate, University of Essex, UK
  103. Antonio Menna, PhD Candidate, Second University of Naples, Caserta, Italy
  104. Naomi Mezey, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center, USA
  105. Michele Miravalle, PhD candidate, University of Torino, Italy
  106. Sergio Moccia, Professor of Criminal Law, University Federico II, Naples, Italy
  107. Kerry Moore, Lecturer, Cardiff University
  108. Giuseppe Mosconi, Professor of Sociology, University of Padova, Italy
  109. Usha Natarajan, Assistant Professor, Department of Law & Centre for Migration and Refugee Studies, The American University in Cairo, Egypt
  110. Miren Odriozola Gurrutxaga, PhD Candidate, University of the Basque Country, Donostia – San Sebastián, Spain
  111. Georgios Papanicolaou, Reader in Criminology, Teesside University, UK
  112. Marco Pertile, Senior Lecturer in International Law,
    Faculty of Law, University of Trento, Italy
  113. Andreas Philippopoulos-Mihalopoulos, Professor of Law and Theory, LLM, The Westminster Law and Theory Centre, UK
  114. Carli Pierson, Attorney at Law, USA
  115. Antoni Pigrau Solé, Universitat Rovira i Virgili de Tarragona, Spain
  116. Joseph Powderly, Assistant Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, The Netherlands
  117. Tony Platt, Visiting Professor of Justice Studies, San Jose State University, USA
  118. Scott Poynting, Professor in Criminology, University of Auckland, New Zeeland
  119. Chris Powell, Professor of Criminology, University S.Maine, USA
  120. Bill Quigley, Professor, Loyola University, New Orleans College of Law, USA
  121. John Quigley, Professor of Law, Ohio State University
  122. Zouhair Racheha, PhD Candidate, University Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France
  123. Laura Raymond, International Human Rights Advocacy Program Manager, CCR, New York, USA
  124. Véronique Rocheleau-Brosseau, LLM candidate, Laval University, Canada
  125. David Rodríguez Goyes, Lecturer, Antonio Nariño and Santo Tomás Universities, Colombia
  126. Alessandro Rosanò, PhD Candidate, Università degli Studi di Padova, Italy
  127. Jamil Salem, Director Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  128. Mahmood Salimi, LLM Candidate, Moofid University, Iran
  129. Nahed Samour, doctoral fellow, Humboldt University, Faculty of Law, Berlin, Germany
  130. Iain GM Scobbie, Professor of Public International Law, University of Manchester, UK
  131. David Scott, Senior Lecturer in Criminology, Liverpool John Moores University, UK
  132. Phil Scraton, Professor of Criminology, Belfast, Ireland
  133. Rachel Seoighe, PhD Candidate, Legal Consultant, King’s College London, UK
  134. Tanya Serisier, School of Sociology, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  135. Mohammad Shahabuddin, PdD, Visiting researcher, Graduate School of International Social Sciences, Yokohama National University, Japan
  136. Angeles Solanes-Corella, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  137. Dean Spade, Seattle University School of Law, USA
  138. Per Stadig, lawyer, Sweden
  139. Chantal Thomas, Professor of Law, Cornell University, USA
  140. Kendall Thomas, Nash Professor of Law, Columbia University, USA
  141. Gianni Tognoni, Lelio Basso Foundation, Rome, Italy
  142. Steve Tombs, Professor of Criminology, The Open University, UK
  143. Paul Troop, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, UK
  144. Valeria Verdolini, Reader in Sociology, University of Milan, Italy
  145. Francesca Vianello, University of Padova, Italy
  146. Lydia Vicente-Márquez, Executive Director, Rights International Spain
  147. Aimilia Voulvouli, Assistant Professor of Sociology, Fatih University, Turkey
  148. Namita Wahi, Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, Dharma Marg, Chanakyapuri, New Delhi, India
  149. Sharon Weill, PhD, Science Po, Paris/ CERAH, Geneva, Switzerland
  150. Peter Weiss, Vice President of Centre for Constitutional Rights (CCR), New York, USA
  151. David Whyte, Reader in Sociology, University of Liverpool, UK
  152. Jeanne M. Woods, Henry F. Bonura, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law, Loyola University College of Law, New Orleans, USA
  153. William Thomas Worster, Lecturer, International Law, The Hague University of Applied Sciences, The Netherlands
  154. Maung Zarni, Judge, PPT on Sri Lanka and Visiting Fellow, London School of Economics and Political Science

 

After July 28th

 

  1. Lindsay Adams, Barrister, London, U.K
  2. Kasim Akbaş, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  3. Nidal al-Azza, lecturer in Refugee Law, Al-Quds University, Director of Badil Resource Center for Residency and Refugee Rights, Palestine
  4. Reem Al-Botmeh, Institute of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  5. Rouba Al-Salem, PhD candidate, faculty of Law, Montreal University, Canada
  6. Koorosh Ameli, Former Judge, Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, The Hague, Netherlands
  7. Rinad Abdulla, Lecturer in Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law, Birzeit University, Palestin Claims Tribunal
  8. Mojgan Amrollahi Biuki, Human Rights Lawyer in Tehran, PhD candidate, Freiburg University, Freiburg i.Br., Germany
  9. Alessandra Annoni, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University of Catanzaro, Italy
  10. Javier Ansuátegui-Roig, Director, Human Rights Institute Bartolomé de las Casas, Charles III University of Madrid, Spain
  11. Alicia Araujo Mendonca, Lawyer, London, UK
  12. Maria Aristodemou, School of Law, Birkbeck College, USA
  13. Huwaida Arraf, Attorney and Human Rights Advocate, New York, USA
  14. Ayman Atef, LLM Ain Shams University, Egypt
  15. Ufuk Aydin, Dean, Professor of Law, Anadolu Üniversitesi, Eskişehir,Turkey
  16. Irene Baghoomians, Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Sydney, Australia
  17. Ajamu Baraka, human rights activist and former director of the U.S. Human
  18. Marzia Barbera, Professor of Law, University of Brescia, Italy, Rights Network (USHRN), USA
  19. Faisal Bhabha, Assistant Professor, Osgoode Hall Law School of York University Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  20. Onder Bakircioglu, Lecturer in Law, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland
  21. Alonso Barros, PhD, Attorney at Law, Indigenous Peoples’ Human Rights Advocate, Chile
  22. Asmaa Bassouri, PhD Candidate, Cadi Ayyad University, Marrakech, Morocco
  23. Jinan Bastaki, Law PhD candidate, School of Oriental and African Studies, London, UK
  24. Paolo Bertoli, Professor of International Law, University of Insubria, Como-Varese, Italy
  25. Marta Bitorsoli, LLM, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Trial Clerk ICTY, The Hague, The Netherlands
  26. Tessa Boeykens, Legal Researcher in Transitional Justice, Ghent University, Belgium
  27. Audrey Bomse, Co-Chair, National Lawyers Guild Palestine Subcommittee, USA
  28. Giorgio Bonamassa,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Lawyer
  29. Marco Borraccetti, senior Lecturer in European Union Law, Alma Mater Studiorum-University of Bologna, Italy
  30. Fatma Bouraoui, Lawyer, Tunisia
  31. Bill Bowring, Barrister, Professor, Director of the LLM/MA in Human Rights, School of Law, Birkbeck, University of London, London, UK
  32. John Burroughs, Executive Director, Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, New York City, USA
  33. Valentina Cadelo, Researcher, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Geneva, Switzerland
  34. Andrea Caligiuri, Senior Lecturer in International Law, University of Macerata, Italy
  35. Alejandra Castillo Ara, Lawyer, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i.Br., Germany
  36. Giovanni Cellamare, Professore of International Law, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bari, Italy
  37. Emanuele Cimiotta, Assistant Professor of International Law, Law Faculty, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  38. Maivan Clech Lam, Professor Emerita, City University of New York Graduate Center, USA
  39. Ziyad Clot, Lawyer, University of Paris II Assas and Sciences Po Paris, France
  40. Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and former president, National Lawyers Guild, USA
  41. Nicola Colacino, Associate Professor of International Law, University Niccolò Cusano, Rome, Italy
  42. Judith Cole, Adjunct Professor of International Law, International University in Geneva (IUG), Geneva, Switzerland
  43. Luigi Condorelli, Professor of International Law, University of Florence, Honorary Professor, University of Geneva, Switzerland/Italy
  44. Aoife Corcoran, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL Human Rights graduate), London, United Kingdom
  45. Francesco Costamagna, Assistant Professor of EU Law, University of Turin, Italy
  46. Jamil Dakwar, International Human Rights Lawyer, New York, USA
  47. Fredrik Danelius, LLM, former lecturer in international law, Lund University, Sweden, Oslo University, Norway, former editor-in-chief of Nordic Journal of International Law
  48. Shane Darcy, lecturer, Irish Centre for Human Rights, National University of Ireland, Galway, Northern Ireland
  49. Nasrin Dashty, Barrister, Associate Special Assistant, ICC, The Hague, The Netherlands
  50. Birju M. Dattani, Barrister and PhD Student in International Law, SOAS University of London, UK
  51. Gail Davidson, Director, Lawyers against the War, USA
  52. Mark de Barros, Lecturer in Law, Université Paris II Panthéon, Assas/Attorney at Law, New York Bar, France/USA
  53. Emanuele De Franco, Lecturer in Criminal Law, University Federico II, Solicitor, Naples, Italy
  54. Javier De Lucas, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  55. Fanny Declercq, LLM, Leiden University, The Hague, The Netherlands
  56. Géraud de La Pradelle, Emeritus Professor International Law, France
  57. Adele Del Guercio, Researcher in International Law, University L’Orientale, Naples, Italy
  58. Cristina de la Serna-Sandoval, lawyer and human rights consultant, Spain
  59. Francesca De Vittor, Researcher in International Law, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore, Milan, Italy
  60. Saverio Di Benedetto, Senior Lecturer of International Law, Università del Salento, Italy
  61. Mahmoud Dodeen, Lawyer and Professor of Law, Birzeit University, Palestine
  62. Linn Döring, Lawyer, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  63. Pierre-Emmanuel Dupont, Member of the Hague Center for Law and Arbitration, Senior Lecturer at the Free Faculty of Law, Economics and Management, Paris, France
  64. Isabel Düsterhöft, LL.M., Utrecht, M.A. Hamburg, Germany
  65. Penelope Ehrhardt, MSt in International Human Rights Law Candidate, University of Oxford, UK
  66. Lena El-Malak, PhD in Public International Law SOAS, Legal Counsel, UAE
  67. Ali Ercan, Researcher and Intern at the OIC Mission to the United Nations, New York, USA
  68. Siavash Eshghi, PhD candidate, SOAS University, London, UK
  69. Marco Fasciglione, Researcher in International Law, International Institute for Legal Studies, Naples, Italian National Research Council, Italy
  70. Matteo Fornari, Researcher in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Milan-Bicocca, Italy
  71. Francisco Forrest Martin, Former Ariel F. Sallows Professor of Human Rights, University of Saskatchewan, College of Law, Canada
  72. Fabrizio Forte, PhD Candidate, University Federico II, Solicitor, Naples, Italy
  73. Micaela Frulli, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Florence, Italy
  74. Domenico Gallo, Judge, Italian Supreme Court, Rome, Italy
  75. Cristina Garcia-Pascual, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  76. Jose Antonio García-Saez, International Law Researcher, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  77. Andrés Gascón-Cuenca, PhD candidate, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain.
  78. Francesco M. Genovesi, Attorney at Law, Milan, Italy
  79. Andrea Giardina, Emeritus Professor of International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  80. Jérémie Gilbert, Reader in Law, University of East London, School of Law and Social Sciences, London, UK
  81. Andrés Felipe Gómez Ariza, Colombia, Public International Law LLM candidate, University of Leicester, UK
  82. Henning Grosse Ruse, PhD, Khan, King’s College, Faculty of Law, University of Cambridge, UK
  83. Kelly L. Grotke, PhD, Affiliate Research Fellow, Erik Castrén Institute of International Law and Human Rights, University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law, Iceland
  84. Kumaravadivel Guruparan, Lecturer, Department of Law, University of Jaffna, Sri Lanka
  85. Mateenah Hunter, LLB (Wits), LLM Public Interest Law and Policy (UCLA), Attorney, South Africa
  86. Ivan Ingravallo, Associate Professor of International Law, University of Bari, Italy
  87. Issaaf Ben Khalifa, Lawyer, University of Carthage, Tunisia
  88. Urfan Khaliq, Professor of International Law, Cardiff University, UK
  89. Ahmed Amine Khamlichi, Investigator at the CNRS, France
  90. Adilur Rahman Khan, Senior Advocate at Supreme Court of Bangladesh
  91. Shoaib M. Khan, Solicitor, Human Rights activist, London, UK
  92. Daniela Kravetz, International Criminal Justice and Gender Expert, The Hague, The Netherlands
  93. Azra Kuci, Human Rights Lawyer, LLM Graduate, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Bosnia and Herzegovina
  94. Massimo La Torre, Professor of Law, University of Hull (UK), Catanzaro University, Italy
  95. Roberto Lamacchia, Lawyer, President, Association Democratic Jurists, Turin, Italy
  96. Michelle Landy, Solicitor, London, UK
  97. Federico Lenzerini, Assistant Professor of International Law, University of Siena, Italy
  98. Afsaneh Lotfizadeh, Human Rights Researcher (UCL LLM graduate), London, United Kingdom
  99. Michael Lynk, Professor, Faculty of Law, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada
  100. Osama Malik, Advocate, Islamabad High Court Bar Association, Pakistan
  101. Marina Mancini, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Mediterranean University of Reggio Calabria, Italy
  102. Ana Manero Salvador, Associate Professor of Public International Law, University Carlos III, Madrid, Spain
  103. Fabio Marcelli, Research Director, Institute for International Legal Studies of the National Research Council, Rome, Bureau Member of IADL, Italy
  104. GIlberto Pagani, Avvocato, Legal Team Italia,
  105. Antonio Martínez Puñal, Professor of Public International Law, Universidade de Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  106. Mari Matsuda Professor, William S. Richardson School of Law, USA
  107. David McQuoid-Mason, Director, Centre for Socio-Legal Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban, South Africa.
  108. Maeve McMahon, Associate Professor, Law and Legal Studies, Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada
  109. Ladan Mehranvar, PhD candidate in International Law, Faculty of Law, University of Toronto, Canada
  110. Ezio Menzione,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  111. Ruth Mestre, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  112. Lies Michielsen, Lawyer Antwerp, Belgium
  113. Jeanne Mirer, President, International Association of Democratic Lawyers
  114. Bela Mongia, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL Human Rights student), London, United Kingdom
  115. Lavinia Monti, PhD candidate in International Law and Human Rights, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  116. Gloria M. Moran, Professor of Law, Religion and Public Policy, UDC, Spain/USA
  117. Giuseppe Morgese, Senior Lecturer in European Uninion Law, University of Bari, Italy
  118. Raffaella Multedo,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  119. Raymond Murphy, Professor of Law and Human Rights, Irish Centre for Human Rights, Galway, Northern Ireland
  120. Francesca Mussi, PhD candidate in International Law, University of Milan- Bicocca, Italy
  121. Egeria Nalin, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Faculty of Political Science, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Italy
  122. Nina Navid, Human Rights Researcher, (UCL MA Human Rights graduate), London, U.K.
  123. Mary Nazzal-Batayneh, Barrister, Palestine Legal Aid Fund, Amman, Jordan
  124. Dorothy-Jean O’Donnell, Lawyer, Hope, British Columbia, Canada
  125. Maria Irene Papa, Senior Lecturer in International Law, Faculty of Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
    Facoltà di Giurisprudenza
  126. Brad Parker, Attorney, Defence for Children International Palestine, USA
  127. Gilberto Pagani, Lawyer, Milan, Italy
  128. Brunilda Pali, Researcher, KU Leuven Institute of Criminology, Leuven, Belgium
  129. Paolo Picone, Emeritus Professor of International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Member of Institut de Droit International, Member of Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, Italy
  130. Enrique Pochat, profesor de Derechos Humanos en la Universidad Nacional de Quilmes, Argentina
  131. Giuseppe Puma – PhD, International Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  132. Antonio Martínez Puñal, Professor of Public International Law, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  133. Micòl Savia, human rights lawyer, permanent representative of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL) at the UN, Italy
  134. Chiara Ragni, Senior Researcher and Assistant Professor of International Law, University of Milan, Italy
  135. Michael Ratner, President Emeritus, Center for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA
  136. Edel Reagan, LLM, Irish Center for Human Rights, Galway, Northern Ireland
  137. Clara Rigoni, PhD Candidate, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  138. Sunčana Roksandić Vidlička, assistent lecturer Faculty of Law, University of Zagreb, PhD Candidate Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg, Germany
  139. Yashvir Roopun, Barrister at Law, UK
  140. Itziar Ruiz-Gimenez Arrieta, Lecturer of International Relations, University Autónoma of Madrid, Spain
  141. Simeon A. Sahaydachny, LL.M in International Law, New Jersey, USA
  142. Francesco Saluzzo, PhD candidate in International Law, University of Palermo, Italy
  143. Laura Salvadego, research Fellow in International Law, University of Ferrara, Italy
  144. Stephanie Schlickewei, Research Associate in Public International Law, University of Kiel, Germany
  145. Smita Shah, Barrister, Garden Court Chambers, London, UK
  146. Rasha Sharkia, Media Advisor, Israel/Palestine,UCL MA Human Rights graduate, London, UK.
  147. Francesco Sindico, Reader in International Environmental Law, University of Strathclyde Law School, Glasgow, UK
  148. Francisco Soberon, Director Fundador, Asociacion Pro Derechos Humanos (APRODEH), Lima, Peru
  149. Angeles Solanes-Corella, Professor of Law, Human Rights Institute, University of Valencia, Spain
  150. Mihira Sood, Human Rights Lawyer, Supreme Court of India, India
  151. Marta Sosa Navarro, Lawyer and International Criminal Law researcher, PhD in International Criminal Law, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, Spain
  152. Pamela Spees, Senior Staff Attorney, Centre for Constitutional Rights, New York, USA
  153. Euan Sutherland, CB, Barrister and Parliamentary Draftsman, London, UK
  154. Patrice Tacita, Lawyer, Member of LKP, Guadeloupe
  155. Dennis Töllborg, Professor in Legal Science, STIAS Fellow, University of Gothenburg, Sweden
  156. Seline Trevisanut, Assistant Professor in International Law, University of Utrecht, The Netherlands.
  157. Maïa Trujillo, Senior Programme Officer for International Law and Human Rights, The Hague, The Netherlands
  158. Lydia Vicente-Márquez, Executive Director, Rights International Spain
  159. Luisa Vierucci, Lecturer in International Law, university of Florence, Italy
  160. Gianluca Vitale,  Lawyer, Legal Team Italia, Italy
  161. Daniela Vitiello, PhD, International Law and EU Law, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy
  162. Benjamin Vogel, Senior Researcher, Max Planck Institute for Foreign and International Criminal Law, Freiburg i. Br., Germany
  163. B.J. Walker, Professor, University of Victoria, Canada, and PUC-Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  164. Burns H Weston, Bessie Dutton Murray Distinguished Professor of Law Emeritus and Senior Scholar, UI Center for Human Rights, The University of Iowa, USA
  165. Laura Westra, PhD, University of Windsor, Canada – International Law
    University Bicocca, Milan, Italy
  166. John Whitbeck, Expert on International Law, former legal advisor, Palestinian Negotiation Team
  167. Richard Wild, Lecturer, School of Law, University of Greenwich, UK
  168. Pål Wrange, Professor of International Law, Stockholm University, Sweden

 

 

 

  1. Selma Abdel Qader, LLM, SciencesPo, PSIA, Paris, France
  2. Jacqueline Alsaid, LLM, freelance writer and Human Rights Activist, UK
  3. Soumaya Ben Dhaou, PhD, Assistant Professor Nipissing University, ON, Canada
  4. Francisco Bernete, Universidad Complutense de Madrid, Spain
  5. Carla Biavati, Members of the IPRI – Institute for Peace Research, Italian branch
  6. Linda Bimbi, International Section of the Lelio and Lisli Basso Foundation, Rome
  7. Robert Bourque, Professor of Philosophy and Political Science, College de Thetford and UMCE University, Canada
  8. Elpidio Capasso, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  9. Joseph Chiume, Barrister, Malawi
  10. Elena Coccia, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  11. Esmeralda Colombo, Legal Practitioner, (LLM, College d’Europe), Milan, Italy
  12. Antonio Crocetta, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  13. Maurizio Cucci, Member of the IPRI – Institute for Peace Research, Italian branch
  14. Simon Dalby, professor, Wilfrid Laurier University, USA
  15. Luigi De Magistris, Mayor of Naples and former Judge, Italy
  16. Silvia De Michelis, PhD candidate, University of Bradford, Department of Peace Studies, Bradford, UK
  17. Gennaro Esposito, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  18. Roja Fazaeli, Lecturer in Islamic Studies, Department of Near and Middle Eastern Studies, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland
  19. Andrea Florence, Master in International Law (IHEID), Brazil
  20. Alejandro Forero, Researcher, Observatory on Penal System and Human Rights University of Barcelona, Spain
  21. César Alejandro González Carrillo, Master in law
    Universidad de Guadalajara, Guadalajara, Jalisco, México
  22. Héctor Grad, Associate Professor, Social Anthropology, University Autónoma, Madrid, Spain
  23. Cristina Greco, PhD in Semiotics, Department of Communication and Social Research, Rome University Sapienza, Italy
  24. Sondra Hale, Research Professor and Professor Emerita, Anthropology and Gender Studies, UCLA; and Coordinator, California Scholars for Academic Freedom, USA
  25. Remzi Halil, LLB, UK
  26. Naomi Head, Lecturer in Politics, University of Glasgow, UK
  27. Carlo Iannello, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  28. Mahmood M. Jaludi, Rutgers University, Newark, New Jersey, USA
  29. Rabania Khan, LLB, UK
  30. Ronald C. Kramer, Professor of Sociology and Criminology, Western Michigan University, USA
  31. Charles H. Manekin, Professor of Philosophy, University of Maryland, USA
  32. Sarah Maranlou, Independent Legal Researcher, UK
  33. Lloyd K. Marbet, Executive Director, Oregon Conservancy Foundation, USA
  34. Miriam McColgan, Solicitor (Lawyer), Dublin, Ireland
  35. Giuseppe Nesi, Dean of the Law School, University of Trento, Italy
  36. Alba Nogueira López, Associate Professor of Administrative Law, University of Santiago de Compostela, Spain
  37. Francis Oeser, Poet, London, UK
  38. Sarah Pallesen, MA Social Anthropology of Development, School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London, UK
  39. Daniele Perissi, LL.M Graduate, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, Italy
  40. Raffaele Porta, Professor, Chemical Sciences, University Federico II, Naples Italy
  41. Nicola Quatrano, Judge, OSSIN – International Observatory on Human Rights, Italy
  42. Minhaj Quazi, B.Com(Hons) M.Com, LL.B.
  43. Rezaur Rahman Lenin, Executive Director, Law Life Culture, Bangladesh
  44. Jale Reshat, Solicitor, UK
  45. Dario Rossi, Lawyer, Italy
  46. Marco Russo, Member of Naples City Council and lawyer, Italy
  47. Ghassan Shahrour, MD
  48. Lloyd Schneider, Retired Minister, United Church of Christ, Delegate to General Synod 2015, Tuolumne, California, USA
  49. Gene, Schulman, Former senior editor, Overseas American Academy, Geneva, Switzerland
  50. Salvatore Talia, graduate in law, Università degli Sudi di Milano, Italy
  51. Carlo Tagliacozzo, Human Rights Activist, Turin, Italy
  52. Jeanne Theoharis, Distinguished Professor of Political Science, Co-Founder of Educators for Civil Liberties , Brooklyn College of CUNY, New York, USA
  53. Ismail Waheed, Lecturer, Institute of Islamic Studies, Maldives
  54. Paul Wapner, Professor, School of International Service, American University, USA
  55. Saïd Zulficar, Network for Colonial Freedom

Cruelties of Ceasefire Diplomacy

27 Jul

[Prefatory Note: the post below is a revised text of an article published in AlJazeera America on July 26, 2014. Devastation and violence has continued in Gaza, with Palestinians deaths now numbering over 1000 (overwhelmingly civilians) and Israeli deaths latest reported at being 43 (almost all military personnel). Such casualty figures and disparities raise questions of state terrorism in a stark manner. Also, it should be appreciated that if Israel were to do what it is required by international law to do there would be no rockets directed at its population centers--lift the blockade, negotiate peace on the basis of the 2002 Arab proposals and Security Council 242. Yet this would require Israel to give up once and for all its expansionist vision embedded in the settlement phenomenon and the version of Zionism embraced by its leaders and reigning political parties. The best that the UN has been able to do is to call for an "immediate and unconditional ceasefire" to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council; such an unseemly balancing act is not what the UN Charter had in mind by aligning the international community in opposition to states that break the peace and act aggressively in disregard of international law; a victimized people deserves protection, not some sort of display of deforming geopolitical symmetry.]

 

So far, the diplomatic effort to end the violence in Gaza has failed miserably, most recently with Israel’s cabinet rejecting a ceasefire proposal from U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry. This attempt by Washington is representative of the overall failure of American policy toward the Israel-Palestine conflict, only on this occasion the consequences can be measured in the growing pile of dead bodies and the widespread devastation that includes numerous homes, public buildings and even artillery damage to several United Nations schools sheltering Palestinian civilians.

 

The U.S. approach fails because it exhibits extreme partisanship in a setting where trust, credibility and reciprocity are crucial if the proclaimed aim of ending the violence is the true objective of this exhibition of statecraft. Kerry is undoubtedly dedicated to achieving a cease-fire, just as he demonstrated for most of the past year a sincerity of commitment in pushing so hard for a negotiated peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. Yet throughout the failed peace process the United States exhibited all along this discrediting extreme partisanship, never more blatantly than when it designated Martin Indyk, a former staff member of the America Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) and former ambassador to Israel, to serve as the U.S. special envoy throughout the peace talks.

 

The U.S. approach up to this point to achieving a ceasefire in Gaza has been undertaken in a manner that is either woefully ignorant of the real constraints or callously cynical about their relevance. This is especially clear from the initial attempt to bring about a cease-fire by consulting only one side, Israel — the party bearing the major responsibility for causing massive casualties and damage — and leaving Hamas out in the cold. Even if this is a unavoidable consequence of Hamas being treated as “a terrorist entity,” it still makes no sense in the midst of such carnage to handle diplomacy in such a reckless manner when lives were daily at stake. When Israel itself has wanted to deal with Hamas in the past, it had no trouble doing so — for instance, when it arranged the prisoner exchange that led to the release of the single captured Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit back in 2011.

 

The basic facts seem so calculated to end in diplomatic failure that it is difficult to explain how they could have happened: The U.S. relied on Egypt as the broker of a proposal it vetted, supposedly with the approved text delivered personally by Tony Blair to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in Cairo, secreted endorsed by the Netanyahu government, and then publicly announced on July 15 via the media as a ceasefire proposal accepted by Israel, without Hamas having been consulted, or even previously informed. It’s a diplomatic analogue to the theater of the absurd. Last July, then-General Sisi was the Egyptian mastermind of a coup that brutally cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood and criminalized the entire organization. The Sisi government has made no secret of its unrelenting hostility to Hamas, which it views as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood and alleged responsibility for insurgent violence in the Sinai. Egypt destroyed the extensive tunnel network connecting Gaza with the outside world created to circumvent the punitive Israeli blockade that has been maintained since 2007. Was there ever any reason for Hamas to accept such a humiliating ceasefire arrangement? As some respected Israeli commentators have suggested, most prominently Amira Hass, the “normalization” of the occupation is what the Israeli military operation Protective Edge is all about. What Hass suggests is that Israel is seeking a compliant Palestinian response to an occupation that has for all intents and purposes become permanent, and seems to believe that such periodic shows of force will finally break once and for all the will to resist, symbolized by Hamas and its rockets, and now its tunnels. In this respect, the recent move to establish a unity government reconciling the Palestinian Authority with Hamas was a setback for the normalization policy, especially suggesting that even the PA could no longer be taken for granted as an acceptably compliant ‘partner,’ not for peace, but for occupation.

 

Whatever ambiguity might surround the Kerry diplomacy, the fact that the cease-fire’s terms were communicated to Hamas via the media, made the proposal a “take it or leave it” clearly designed to show the world that Hamas would never be treated as a political actor with grievances of its own. Such a way of proceeding also ignored the reasonable conditions Hamas had posited as the basis of a cease-fire it could accept. These conditions included an unwavering insistence on ending the unlawful seven-year siege of Gaza, releasing prisoners arrested in the anti-Hamas campaign in the West Bank prior to launching the military operation on July 8, and stopping interference with the unity government that brought Hamas and the Palestinian Authority together on June 3. Kerry, by contrast, was urging both sides to restore the cease-fire text that had been accepted in November 2012 after the previous major Israeli military attack upon Gaza, but relevantly, had never been fully implemented producing continuous tensions.

 

Hamas’ chief leader, Khaled Meshaal, has been called “defiant” by Kerry because he would not go along with this tilted diplomacy. “Everyone wanted us to accept a ceasefire and then negotiate for our rights,” Meshaal said. This was tried by Hamas in 2012 and didn’t work. As soon as the violence ceased, Israel refused to follow through on the cease-fire agreement that had promised negotiations seeking an end of the blockade and an immediate expansion of Gazan fishing rights.

 

In the aftermath of Protective Edge is it not reasonable, even mandatory, for Hamas to demand a firm commitment to end the siege of Gaza, which has been flagrantly unlawful since it was first imposed in mid-2007? Israel as the occupying power has an obligation under the Geneva Conventions to protect the civilian population of an occupied people. Israel claims that its “disengagement” in 2005, involving the withdrawal of security forces and the dismantling of settlements, ended such obligations. Such a position is legally (and morally) unacceptable, a view almost universally shared in the international community, since the persistence of effective Israeli control of entry and exit, as well as air and sea, and violent incursions amounts to a shift in the form of occupation — not its end. Israel is certainly justified in complaining about the rockets, but the maintenance of an oppressive regime of collective punishment on the civilians of Gaza is an ongoing crime. And it should be appreciated that more often than not, Israel provokes the rockets by recourse to aggressive policies of one sort or another or that most primitive rockets are fired by breakaway militia groups that Hamas struggles to control. A full and unbiased account of the interaction of violence across the Gaza border would not find that Israel was innocent and only Hamas was at fault. The story is far more complicated, and not an occasion for judging which side is entitled to be seen as acting in self-defense.

 

In “Turkey Can Teach Israel How to End Terror,” an insightful July 23 article in The New York Times, the influential Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol drew from the experience of his country in ending decades of violent struggle between the insurgent Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Turkish state. Akyol “congratulated” Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan (while taking critical note of his “growing authoritarianism”) for ending the violence in Turkey two years ago by agreeing with the imprisoned PKK leader, Abdullah Ocalan, to initiate conflict-resolving negotiations in good faith and abandon the “terrorist” label. Some years ago I heard former British Prime Minister John Major say that he made progress toward peace in Northern Ireland only when he stopped treating the Irish Republican Army as a terrorist organization and began dealing with it as a political actor with genuine grievances. If a secure peace were ever to become Israel’s true objective, this is a lesson to be learned and imitated.

 

Just as with the peace process itself, the time has surely come for a credible ceasefire to take account of the views and interests of both sides, and bring this sustained surge of barbaric violence to an end. International law and balanced diplomacy are available to do this if the political will were to emerge on the Israeli side, which seems all but impossible without the combination of continuing Palestinian resistance and mounting pressure from outside by way of the BDS campaign and the tactics of a militant, nonviolent global solidarity movement.

 

 

When BBC Calls, Don’t Expect Love

25 Jul

[Prefatory Note: A slight rethinking of an earlier post, with a different assessment of what to do. Spurning BBC, however much we deplore their bias and malignant spins, is not sensible; we live in this media framed global space, for better and mainly worse, and to spurn it as I earlier proposed is immature posturing. The alternative of being possibly a dissident whisper in the wind is only slightly to be preferred, but as long as we are breathing such noxious media fumes, do we really have a choice?]

 

 

When BBC Calls, Should you Answer?

 

That is, don’t expect love, if you are a certified critic of Israeli policies and practices,  and prepare yourself for rejection.

 

The siren lure of big time media is partly a romancing of the ego, partly a rare moment to intrude a moment or two of truthfulness into the endless spinning of the Israel’s narrative that stresses its extravagantly humane response to Hamas flurries of rockets and alleged human shield tactics.

 

Four times in the past week I have received invitations to be a guest on BBC programs dealing with Israel’s military operations in Gaza. Each time the female producer, with charming British intonation, expressed her strong interest in arranging my participation at such and such a time. And each time I agreed, although my presence in a Turkish village with limited Internet access made it logistically awkward to do so, yet far from impossible to make the necessary arrangements, usually with the kind cooperation of a neighbor with superior digital facilities.

 

Each time I was ready at the appointed hour, and each time I was given a last minute explanation for why my appearance was cancelled—a couple of times I was told that I was a casualty of ‘breaking news,’ and the other two times, there was no embellishment, merely “we apologize, but we have to cancel today’s appearance.” And on each occasion, as if part of how producers are trained, I was told that those in charge of planning the program were eager to have me appear as soon as possible, and that I would hear in a day or so. On the basis of my past experience on the few occasions when such last minute news altered programming, I was shifted to later in the program or rescheduled for the next day. My BBC experience in this respect was ‘terminal’ as in disease.

 

Needless to say, the phone lines have been quiet since each of these ‘dumping’ incidents. I wonder about this pattern of invitation and cancellation. I am quite sure that these was quite separate programming for each of the invitations with no coordination among them. Was there some master censor at the BBC that reviewed the guest list just prior to the scheduled broadcast, somewhat in the manner that an ethical submarine commander might review the manifest of an enemy passenger ship wartime? Perhaps, BBC was rightly concerned that there might be a faint and ugly stain of balance that would tarnish their unsullied reputation of pro-Israeli partisanship. I will probably be forever reliant on such conjectures unless a BBC Snowden steps out of the shadows of deception and into the sunlight of disclosure.

 

I feel self-conscious relating this little saga at a time when so many in Gaza are dying and bleeding, and all of us should be grieving. As I write I feel humble, not arrogant. It seems that somewhere buried in these trivial rejections there is occasion for concern that the media claim of objectivity in liberal societies is above all else a sham. That even powerful players such as BBC are secretly captive, and its reportage and commentary qualifies less as news than as Hasbara, at least when it comes to Israel-Palestine.

 

In any event, my advice to the media savvy, is that if you have caller ID, and you can tell that it is BBC calling, don’t bother answering. I hope I have the good sense to follow my own advice should the phone ever ring again!

But I am not even sure I should prolong such childish pique! How can we turn our backs on the opportunity, however slim, to weigh in for a minute or two on the side of those being so cruelly victimized? So more soberly considered, I hope that I will have the maturity to answer the BBC call, and even keep showing up however many times I am brushed off at the last minute. By the way, I have yet to be put to the test.  Maybe in the interval BBC staffers have been handed a blacklist to avoid the slight tremors of embarrassment associated with last minute cancellations. I am not vain enough to suppose that my earlier post was passed around as a negative guideline on how to avoid inviting the wrong people to appear on news programs dealing with the Middle East.

Gaza Interview- Truthout

24 Jul

 

[Prefatory note: This is an interview with a knowledgeable Greek journalist covering a range of issues associated with the Gaza ordeal]

 

“Blood on American Hands”: Richard Falk on Palestine

Monday, 21 July 2014 13:03

By CJ Polychroniou, Truthout | Interview

 

A man holds the body of a child during a burial for a family of seven people killed yesterday in an Israeli attack in the Shajaiya neighborhood of Gaza City, July 21, 2014. As the bloody conflict entered its 14th day amid diplomatic pressure for a cease-fire, the Palestinian death toll reached 500, and thousands of people streamed toward Gaza City from the north Monday. (Photo: Tyler Hicks / The New York Times)

For over 20 years, Israel and the United States have been working to separate Gaza from the West Bank, in violation of the Oslo Accords they had just signed declaring them to be an indivisible territorial unity. The latest carnage in Gaza is part of an ongoing Israeli imperial policy which, as Noam Chomsky wrote to me just a couple of days ago, seeks “to take over what’s of value ‘in the land of Israel,’ reduce the population to marginal existence (with the usual neocolonial exception: an enclave for the rich and Westernized sectors in Ramallah), and if they leave, so much the better.” But, as Richard Falk, Albert G. Milbank professor emeritus of international law at Princeton University, former UN special rapporteur for Occupied Palestine, and author of the forthcoming book Palestine: The Legitimacy of Hope, which will be published in October by Just World Books, underscores in this exclusive interview, Israel always claims that its attacks against Palestinians are provoked by the Palestinians themselves.

  1. J. Polychroniou: Professor Falk, here we go again: Israel, one of the world’s mightiest military powers, has launched yet another ground offensive into the Gaza Strip on the rather bogus proposition that Hamas provoked Israel to attack Gaza. What is Israel’s real purpose in attacking Gaza this time around?

Richard Falk: I believe that Israel periodically “mows the grass” in Gaza as one right-wing Israeli advisor to Sharon distastefully expressed the goal of Israel policy toward Gaza several years ago. There were factors present in the context of this Israeli attack that help explain why now. The main two factors in my view were the unwelcome establishment of an interim “unity government” on June 2 by the leadership of Fatah and Hamas, which undermined the Israeli approach of keeping the governing authorities in the West Bank and Gaza as divided as possible. The second element was Israel’s strong incentive to weaken Hamas in the West Bank so that Israel could justify its moves in April to end direct negotiations with the Palestinian Authority and move ever closer to incorporating the West Bank, or most of it into Israel, and fulfill the expansionist Zionist dream to move beyond the 1967 borders.

The June 12 kidnapping incident involving the three teenage settler children from the Gush Etzion settlement near Jerusalem provided the Netanyahu government with the pretext it needed to mount an anti-Hamas campaign that started as a supposed hunt for the perpetrators, detaining up to 500 suspected of a Hamas connection and generally imposing a variety of oppressive measures, including house demolition, lockdowns of Palestinian towns, and random violence that led to six Palestinian deaths. As has been shown, the incident was manipulated in a most cynical fashion by the government pretending to search for the kidnapped youth, while knowing that they were already dead, using public anxiety and anger to incite the Israeli citizenry to justify the oppressive tactics of the government and to create an atmosphere of vigilante vengeance.

Having denied any involvement in the kidnapping incident, it is hardly surprising that in retaliation for Israel’s provocations that Hamas in retaliation began firing rockets at Israeli towns. Israel used its formidable propaganda machine to tell the world that its third major military assault on defenseless Gaza in the last five years (2008-09, 2012, 2014) was a defensive response to unprovoked rocket attacks. With mock innocence, Netanyahu told the world that Israel needed to act to protect its citizens from the rockets, without any mention, of course, of the prior anti-Hamas rampage that included ugly Israeli racist slurs directed at the Palestinians and revenge attacks on Palestinian children.

Why did the ceasefire negotiations in Cairo fail?

The ceasefire failed for several reasons. Hamas was excluded from the process leading up to the proposed ceasefire, and was informed only by the public media. Beyond this, the previously announced Hamas conditions for agreeing to a ceasefire were ignored: release of Palestinians who had been part of the Gilad Shalit prisoner exchange three years ago (in which a single captured IDF soldier was released in exchange for the agreed Israeli release of 1,027 Palestinian prisoners) and were rearrested in recent weeks as part of the crackdown on Hamas; lifting the blockade and opening the crossings; cease interference with the unity government; restore the 2012 ceasefire. Also, Sisi’s Egypt is hardly a suitable or trustworthy intermediary from Hamas’ perspective. Not far in the background is the brutal repression of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and related hostility to Hamas, which is regarded by the Sisi government as an offshoot.

Would Israel have launched an attack if the new Egyptian government was not also bent on seeing Hamas destroyed?

This is a very speculative issue. Israel did initiate a major attack on Gaza in November 2012 while Mohamed Morsi was president despite his affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood, and did then accept a ceasefire arranged under Cairo’s diplomatic auspices. Having General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi as president of Egypt is certainly a favorable development from Israel’s perspective. Sisi has substantially destroyed the extensive tunnel network on which Hamas depended to receive needed supplies as well as to collect tax revenues required to administer Gaza. Egypt in recent months has been cooperating with Israel and the United States, including in relation to control of the passage through the Rafah crossing to Egypt, which is the only escape route available to the people of Gaza, including those needing medical attention only available in Cairo. I believe that the Israeli attack occurred at this time principally for reasons of Israeli state policy, and would have taken place without regard to the attitudes of the leadership in Cairo.

With 1.8 million people trapped in an overcrowded war zone, it should be obvious that the Israeli jets’ attacks constitute a blatant violation of international humanitarian law. Yet, once again, Israel is allowed to get away with murder because it enjoys US diplomatic backing as well as US military and financial support. As such, doesn’t this make the United States just as complicit in crimes against humanity as Israel itself?

I do agree that the United States for the reasons you give is definitely complicit in relation to the criminal nature of the Israeli attack. Whether this kind of complicity involves legal culpability, as well as moral and political complicity is an open question. The United States is not, so far as is known, directly involved in planning and carrying out this “aggression” against Gaza and “collective punishment” against its people. Giving military assistance or providing military equipment to a foreign government does not by itself constitute a sufficient connection with the attack as to satisfy legal tests of complicity.

What is clear is that the continuing and unconditional diplomatic support given by the US to Israel, including shielding Israel from formal censure at the UN, and the failure to discourage war crimes being committed, results in much blood on American hands. Activist opponents of this American policy are now more committed to calling upon churches and universities to divest from corporations doing business with the settlements or facilitating Israeli militarism, and there are increasing national and international calls for an arms embargo on Israel, which would be of mainly symbolic force, given Israel’s robust arms industry, which is supplying weapons to many countries, with the grotesque selling point that they have been “field-tested,” that is, used, in Gaza.

Hamas has been faced with a similar situation before, yet, every time it gets into a military confrontation with Israel, it seems to be emerging stronger than before. Should we expect things to be any different this time around?

It is difficult at this point to say. What the encounter did reveal was that Hamas and other militias in Gaza have a considerable supply of longer-range missiles able to strike any city in Israel, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It also seems that Israel’s reliance on air attacks and naval shelling was not able to curtail the numbers of rockets being fired. True, despite firing more than 1,000 rockets, no Israeli has yet been killed by a Palestinian rocket (apparently the only Israeli so far killed died from a mortar shell fired from Gaza while he was rushing to a shelter, an option Gazans do not have) [as of interview conducted on July 19]. At the same time, the psychological and political effects of being unable to stop the launch of rockets has damaged Israeli prestige, and may push it to pursue more ambitious goals than destroying tunnels into Israel from Gaza, the stated objective of Operation Protective Edge, the code name Israel has given for its military operation. The high proportion of civilians among the Palestinian casualties (75 to 80 percent) also suggests that Hamas has become more sophisticated in protecting its militants from Israeli firepower as compared to the results of the two earlier attacks.

Of course, to the extent that Israel is politically weaker, Hamas emerges stronger, withstanding the mighty Israeli military onslaught, demonstrating resilience under the most difficult circumstance, and mounting stubborn resistance that frustrates Israel’s announced war goals.

Has Israel become a “fundamentalist” state, betraying all dreams and aspirations that led to its original founding?

I think Israel has definitely moved gradually in the direction of a maximalist understanding of the Zionist project, which is now quite clearly intended to exercise permanent sovereign control over “Judea and Samaria,” what the world knows as “the West Bank.” The new president of Israel, Reuven Rivlin, due to take over very soon from Shimon Peres, belongs to the right wing of Netanyahu’s Likud Party. He is an undisguised advocate of an enlarged Israel that claims the whole of biblical Palestine and repudiates all diplomacy associated with establishing peace on the basis of a Palestinian state, in effect, a one-state approach with Palestinians as permanent minority. Additionally, the Israel of today has moved far to the right; many Israelis have developed a consumerist mentality, and the conflict with Palestine, except during crises as at present, has posed serious threats in recent years to the stability and serenity of the country. Also, due to high fertility rates and the importance of the settler movement, religious Judaism has been playing a larger role, and injects a certain measure of religious extremism and ethnic intolerance into Israeli political and social life.

The two-state solution, long proposed by supporters of the Palestinian cause, including the late Edward Said, seems to be a dead end – at least in my own eyes. Do you agree with this assessment, and, if so, what is the alternative for securing lasting peace among Israelis and Palestinians?

To clarify Edward Said’s position: He did favor for a time in the late 1980s, as did the PLO, the two-state solution, but in the last years of his life he strongly endorsed a single, secular bi-national state as the only workable arrangement allowing the two peoples to live together in peace and dignity. Said rejected the idea of an ethnic state for either people, and believed that Zionist claims to have a Jewish state in historic Palestine would never result in a just and sustainable peace that acknowledged Palestinian rights under international law, including the right of return and equality for the Palestinian minority living in Israel.

I share Said’s latter assessment, and believe that the scale and resolve of the settlers is such as to make their removal politically impossible. For this reason, I have opposed the sort of direct negotiations that the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, pushed so hard a year ago as creating false expectations and artificial pressures. The political preconditions for two states with equal sovereign rights living side by side definitely do not presently exist, and may never have existed. To negotiate with that awareness of futility is to play Israel’s game of endless talks, while the building cranes in the settlements continue their unlawful work at an accelerated pace. Time has never been kind to the Palestinians. Their territorial prospects have been continuously diminished and have now reached the point of a virtual zero. Recall that the UN partition plan in 1947 seemed unfair to the Palestinians when it offered them only 45 percent of Palestine, which then was reduced to 22 percent by the outcome of the 1948 war, and related expulsion of the Palestinians, and still further by “the facts on the ground” (settlements, wall, settler only roads) steadily created since 1967.

The best hope of the Palestine national movement at this time is to proceed via a unity government, also engaging the refugee and exile community of 7 million, by working together with the global solidarity movement that is growing rapidly. In other words Palestinian prospects in the future will depend on the continued mobilization of global civil society to support nonviolent coercive action on a worldwide scale. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) campaign has been growing at a rapid rate recently, with analogies to the anti-apartheid struggle that toppled a racist regime in South Africa against all odds and expectations becoming more relevant. This shift in Palestinian tactics in the direction of what I have called “waging a legitimacy war” seems reinforced in its plausibility by the growing global outrage in response to Israel tactics, especially in callous disregard of Palestinian civilian innocence.

Copyright, Truthout. May not be reprinted without permission.

 

CJ POLYCHRONIOU

C.J. Polychroniou is a research associate and policy fellow at the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College and a columnist for a Greek daily national newspaper. His main research interests are in European economic integration, globalization, the political economy of the United States and the deconstruction of neoliberalism’s politico-economic project. He has taught for many years at universities in the United States and Europe and is a regular contributor to Truthout as well as a member of Truthout’s Public Intellectual Project. He has published several books and his articles have appeared in a variety of journals and magazines. Many of his publications have been translated into several foreign languages, including Greek, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian.

The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent those of the Levy Economics Institute or those of its board members.

 

Palestinian Recourse to the International Criminal Court: The Time has Come

21 Jul

[Prefatory Note: “Palestine’s Dilemma: To Go or Not to Go to the International Criminal Court” was published on July 13, 2014 on the website of Middle East Eye, a site I strong recommend to all those with an interest in Middle East issues; this post represents a somewhat revised text, but within the framework of the original; the political plausibility of invoking the Inteernational Criminal Court to investigate allegations of criminality directed at Israel increases with each passing day.)

 

 

 

Ever since this latest Israeli major military operation against Gaza started on July 8, there have been frequent suggestions that Israel is guilty of war crimes, and that Palestine should do its best to activate the International Criminal Court (ICC) on its behalf. The evidence overwhelmingly supports basic Palestinian allegations—Israel is guilty either of aggression in violation of the UN Charter or is in flagrant violation of its obligations as the Occupying Power under the Geneva Convention to protect the civilian population of an Occupied People; Israel seems guilty of using excessive and disproportionate force against a defenseless society in the Gaza Strip; and Israel, among an array of other offenses, seems guilty of committing Crimes Against Humanity in the form of imposing an apartheid regime in the West Bank and through the transfer of population to an occupied territory as it has proceeded with its massive settlement project.

 

Considering this background of apparent Israeli criminality it would seem a no brainer for the Palestinian Authority to seek the help of the ICC in waging its struggle to win over world public opinion to their side. After all, the Palestinians are without military or diplomatic capabilities to oppose Israel, and it is on law, global solidarity, and their own creative and brave resistance that the Palestinian people must rest their hopes for eventually realizing their rights, particularly the right of self-determination and the right of return. Palestinian demonstrators in the West Bank are demanding that their leaders in the Palestinian Authority adhere to the Rome Statute, and become members of the ICC without further delay. It has become part of the message of Palestinian street politics that the Palestinians are being criminally victimized, and that the Palestinian Authority if it wants to retain the slightest shred of respect as representatives of the Palestinian people must join in this understanding of the Palestinian plight and stop ‘playing nice’ with Israeli authorities.

 

Such reasoning from a Palestinian perspective is reinforced by the May 8th letter sent by 17 respected human rights NGOs to President Mahmoud Abbas urging Palestine to become a member of the ICC, and act to end Israel’s impunity. This was not a grandstanding gesture dreamed up on the irresponsible political margins of liberal Western society. Among the signatories were such human rights stalwarts as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Al Haq, and the International Commission of Jurists, entities known for their temporizing prudence in relation to the powers that be.

 

Adding further credence to the idea that the ICC option should be explored was the intense opposition by Israel and United States, ominously threatening the PA with dire consequences if it tried to join the ICC, much less to seek justice through its activating its investigative procedures. The American ambassador to the UN, Samantha Power, herself long ago prominent as a human rights advocate, revealed Washington’s nervous hand when she confessed that the ICC “is something that really poses a profound threat to Israel.” I am not sure that Power would like to live with the idea that because Israel is so vulnerable to mounting a legal challenge that its impunity must be upheld whatever the embarrassment to Washington of doing so. France and Germany have been more circumspect, saying absurdly that recourse to the ICC by Palestine should be avoided because it would disrupt ‘the final status negotiations,’ as if this pseudo-diplomacy was ever of any of value, a chimera if there ever was one, in the elusive quest for a just peace.

 

In a better world, the PA would not hesitate to invoke the authority of the ICC, but in the world as it is, the decision is not so simple. To begin with, is the question of access, which is limited to states. Back in 2009, the PA tried to adhere to the Rome Statute, which is the treaty governing the ICC, and was rebuffed by the prosecutor who turned the issue over to the Security Council, claiming a lack of authority to determine whether the PA represented a ‘state.’ Subsequently, on November 29, 2012 the UN General Assembly overwhelmingly recognized Palestine as ‘a nonmember observer state.’ Luis Moreno–Ocampo who had acted in 2009 for the ICC, and now speaking as the former prosecutor, asserted that in his opinion Palestine would now in view of the General Assembly action qualify as a state enjoying the option of becoming an ICC member. Normally, ICC jurisdiction is limited to crimes committed after the state becomes a member, but there is a provision that enables a declaration to be made accepting jurisdiction for crimes committed at any date in its territory so long as it is after the ICC itself was established in 2002.

 

Is this enough? Israel has never become a party to the Rome Statute setting up the ICC, and would certainly refuse to cooperate with a prosecutor who sought to investigate war crimes charges with the possible intention of prosecution. In this regard, recourse to ICC might appear to be futile as even if arrest warrants were to be issued by the court, as was done in relation to Qaddafi and his son in 2011, there would be no prospect that the accused Israeli political and military figures would be handed over, and without the presence of such defendants in the court at The Hague, a criminal trial cannot go forward. This illustrates a basic problem with the enforcement of international criminal law. It has been effective only against the losers in wars fought against the interests of the West and, to some extent, against those whose crimes are in countries located in sub-Saharan Africa. This biased form of international criminal law implementation has been the pattern since the first major effort was made after World War II at Nuremberg and Tokyo. Surviving German and Japanese leaders were prosecuted for their crimes while exempting the winners, despite Allied responsibility for the systematic bombing of civilian populations by way of strategic bombing and the American responsibility for dropping atomic bombs on the heavily populated cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

 

Unfortunately, up to this time the ICC has not been able to get rid of this legacy of ‘victors’ justice,’ which has harmed its credibility and reputation. All ICC cases so far have involved accused from sub-Saharan African countries. The refusal of the ICC to investigate allegations of war crimes of the aggressors in relation the Iraq War of 2003 is a dramatic confirmation that leading states, especially the United States, possess a geopolitical veto over what the ICC can do. The ICC failure to investigate the crimes of Bush and Blair, as well as their entourage of complicit top officials, vividly shows the operations of double standards. Perhaps, the climate of opinion has evolved to the point where there would be an impulse to investigate the charges against Israel even if procedural obstacles preventing the case from being carried to completion. Any serious attempt to investigate the criminal accountability of Israeli political and military leaders would add legitimacy to the Palestinian struggle, and might have a positive spillover effect on the global solidarity movement and the intensifying BDS campaign.

 

Yet there are other roadblocks. First of all, the PA would definitely have to be prepared to deal with the wrath of Israel, undoubtedly supported by the United States and more blandly by several European countries. The push back could go in either of two directions: Israel formally annexing most or all of the West Bank, which it seems determined to do in any event, or more likely in the short run, withholding the transfer of funds needed by the PA to support its governmental operations. The U.S. Congress would be certain to follow the lead of Tel Aviv even if the Obama presidency might be more inclined to limit its opposition to a diplomatic slap on the PA wrist as it did recently in reacting to the June formation of the interim unity government, an important step toward reconciling Fatah and Hamas, and overcoming the fragmentation that has hampered Palestinian representation in international venues in recent years.

 

A second potential obstacle concerns the jurisdictional authority of the ICC, which extends to all war crimes committed on the territory of a treaty member, which means that leaders of Hamas would also likely be investigated and indicted for their reliance on indiscriminate rockets aimed in the direction of Israeli civilian targets.There is even speculation that given the politics of the ICC such that crimes alleged against Hamas might be exclusively pursued.

 

If we assume that these obstacles have been considered, and Palestine still wants to go ahead with efforts to activate the investigation of war crimes in Gaza, but also in the rest of occupied Palestine, what then? And assume further, that the ICC reacts responsibly, and gives the bulk of its attention to the allegations directed against Israel, the political actor that controls most aspects of the relationship. There are several major crimes against humanity enumerated in Articles 5-9 of the Rome Statute for which there exists abundant evidence as to make indictment and conviction of Israeli leaders all but inevitable if Palestine uses its privilege to activate an investigation and somehow is able to produce the defendants to face trial: reliance on excessive force, imposing an apartheid regime, collective punishment, population transfers in relations to settlements, maintenance of the separation wall in Palestine.

 

The underlying criminality of the recent aggression associated with Protective Edge (Israel’s name for its 2014 attack on Gaza) cannot be investigated at this point by the ICC, and this seriously limits its authority. It was only in 2010 that an amendment was adopted by the required 2/3 majority of the 122 treaty members on an agreed definition of aggression, but it will not become operative until 2017. In this respect, there is a big hole in the coverage of war crimes currently under the authority of the ICC.

 

Despite all these problems, recourse to the ICC remains a valuable trump card in the thin PA deck, and playing it might begin to change the balance of forces bearing on the conflict that has for decades now denied the Palestinian people their basic rights under international law. If this should happen, it would also be a great challenge to and opportunity for the ICC finally to override the geopolitical veto that has so far kept criminal accountability within the tight circle of ‘victors’ justice’ and hence only accorded the peoples of the world a very power-laden and biased experience of justice.

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