G8 and Abbas still block road to Middle East peace

Mahmoud Abbas - buying time for Israel

Wanted: a “true justice” process – and enforcement

By Stuart Littlewood

On 11 April the G8 foreign ministers’ meeting in London issued the following statement on the British government’s website:

Middle East peace process

G8 foreign ministers confirmed their commitment to a just, lasting and comprehensive peace in the Middle East. They agreed on the urgent need to make progress on the Middle East peace process towards this goal and underscored the need for a major international effort, involving all relevant parties, including the Quartet, to drive the peace process forward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Palestinian leader still busy buying time for the enemy

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

Since1967 the Security Council has taken no action whatsoever to stop Israel’s illegal settlement building. By action we mean, of course, deeds not empty words. We mean sanctions and the implementing of all those inconvenient UN resolutions ordering the Israelis back behind their pre-1967 lines.

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

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

For the last five months why the blazes have President Mahmoud Abbas and his administration done nothing to bring matters forward [at the International Criminal Court] while the Israelis continue to establish more “irreversible” facts on the ground designed to make their occupation permanent?

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

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

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

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

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

As Jeff Halper of the Israeli Committee against House Demolitions points out in his latest newsletter, for a “two-state solution” to be considered, these fundamental requirements would have to be met:

  1. Ending Israel’s occupation and colonization of all Arab lands and dismantling the [apartheid] wall;
  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN resolution 194.

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

Furthermore, he says (and I think these words ought to be showcased in neon lights and shoved under the G8’s noses):

The manner in which Israel’s warehousing of the Palestinians has been allowed to progress unfettered by the US and Europe demonstrates a key fact of international politics: as long as any situation can be quieted to the point where it ceases to disrupt the world system, it can be tolerated. And since governments will take the course of least resistance, preferring repressed injustice to the difficulties of pursuing true justice, it is up to us, the international civil society led by Palestinians and critical Israeli Jews, to formulate and promote a just solution.

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

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