Ambassador reveals Israel's preconditions
The 'peace process' has proved fruitless because it never was about justice. No people should be forced to negotiate their inalienable right to liberty and sovereignty with an oppressive and determinedly-occupying power.
Last Thursday, 138 nations voted in favour of a United Nations resolution giving non-member observer status to Palestine. The countries voting in favour of the resolution represent some 75% of the world's population. The Israeli Prime Minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, responded to news of the vote with the ominous comment that, "This is a meaningless decision that will not change anything on the ground", which was echoed by the Israeli Ambassador to New Zealand, Shemi Tzur, in his press release on Friday, 30 November.
Also on Friday, Netanyahu unilaterally ordered the establishment of 3000 new, illegal settler homes in the occupied West Bank and east Jerusalem, where the Israeli government is already attempting to lessen the proportion of Arab residents.
Shemi Tzur says in his press release, “The way to peace between Jerusalem and Ramallah is in direct negotiations, without preconditions, and not in one-sided UN decisions.”
Without preconditions? Shemi Tzur has admitted to one of Israel's most significant preconditions. In his “way to peace” comment he implies that Palestine's capital is to be Ramallah and, contrary to international law, that the whole of Jerusalem is Israel's capital! Indeed, we have Netanyahu's opinion that Jerusalem is “Israel's eternal and undivided capital”. So it is plain that what Israeli rhetoric means by the term “preconditions” is actually an objection to the provisions of international law.
Israel's actions are, and always have been, one-sided. Not only have they been one-sided, they have also been enforced by means of overwhelming military superiority. As a result, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) is having to respond to the needs of nearly five million Palestinian refugees. Most of the population of the grossly overcrowded Gaza Strip consists of refugees, and the annexation of yet more Palestinian homes and land for additional Israeli settlement can only compound the suffering. Annexation and settlement growth create further preconditions in the form of irreversible facts on the ground. That has been Israel's modus operandi ever since the Zionist state's inception and the world can see, in the succeeding maps of an ever-more fragmented Palestine, evidence of the result.
Israel's growing isolation
Israel and its supporters are outnumbered in world public opinion, and rightly so. Israel stands condemned by 65 UN resolutions, the Palestinians by none. Apart from dealing with the plight of refugees, these UN resolutions reflect the international community's abhorrence at Israel's continual violations of human rights and its refusal to abide by the UN Charter and the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons. The Palestinian people and the world have had enough of deportations, land theft, house demolitions, the destruction of olive trees and irrigation systems, night home invasions and economically-crippling restrictions of movement.
The people of Palestine are “protected persons” within the meaning of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The Convention applies to the West Bank, to the Gaza Strip, and to the whole of the City of Jerusalem. Security Council Resolution 1322 (2000), paragraph 3, for example, “Calls upon Israel, the occupying Power, to abide scrupulously by its legal obligations and its responsibilities under the Fourth Geneva Convention . . .” Israel believes that it can continue to act as it does, with impunity, because its allies will continue to give it unconditional support.
But the world wants to see restraint, at last, placed upon Israel. Times are changing and Israel now has to face the possibility of some serious reckoning. The customary, non-violent method of effecting change in the behaviour of states that violate international law is the imposition of UN sanctions. In addition to the possibility of facing sanctions, Israeli leaders may find themselves held personally to account.
The International Court of Justice
With the successful UN status vote Palestine can now join the Statute for the International Court of Justice (ICJ) with the opportunity to sue Israel at the World Court. The evidence of Israel's war crimes, when placed before ICJ, will mark a turning point, leading at last to a true appreciation of what pandering to the Zionist enterprise has meant, both in terms of Palestinian suffering and the poisoning of international relations.
The way to peace
The 'peace process' has proved fruitless because it never was about justice. No people should be forced to negotiate their inalienable right to liberty and sovereignty with an oppressive and determinedly-occupying power. Truth and openness are the pathways to justice and reconciliation. It is to be hoped that with the lessons learned, a new respect for hard-won international humanitarian law may be established. No ideology should ever again be allowed to usurp the human right to happiness and well being. Never, never again.