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Israel, Palestine and International Law

By Robert Fantina - Posted on 09 July 2014

           As this is being written, Israel is once again bombing the Gaza Strip. There are a few key points that the U.S. government, and the populace, seem to constantly overlook:

·         Palestine has no army, navy or air force.

·         All of the borders of the Gaza Strip are controlled by Israel. Only goods and people that Israel allows can cross those borders, and the restrictions are extreme.

·         In the West Bank, occupied by Israel illegally in the eyes of the international community, Israel-controlled internal check points make the simple task of going to the market an hours-long ordeal.

·         IDF (Israel Defense Forces) soldiers can enter any Palestinian home at any time of the day or night and arrest any and all of the people they find there, men, women and children, holding them without charge for months. They can and do destroy or steal Palestinian property with impunity.

·         The Israeli military receives foreign aid from the U.S. in the amount of $9,000,000.00 every day of the year. The non-existent Palestinian military receives nothing in foreign aid from the U.S.

·         Negotiations are not possible between Palestine and Israel. Negotiations can only take place between two parties, each of which has something the other wants, that it must surrender in order to get what it wants. Since Israel can take whatever it wants from Palestine with impunity, there can be no negotiations.

·         Palestinians are not allowed to drive on, or even drive across, roads that have been constructed in Palestine for Israeli-only use.

·         The American Israel Political Affairs Committee (AIPAC) funnels millions of dollars into the election and re-election campaigns of U.S. officials who vote the way it wants them to.

·         At least 750,000 Palestinians were driven from their homes in 1947-1948 to make room for the establishment of Israel. These Palestinians received no compensation for the loss of all their possessions. Most were forced to live in refugee camps, where many of them continue to reside.

          Yet Israel bombs the Gaza Strip, stating that its very existence, its ‘national security’ is at stake if it doesn’t.  How, one wonders, can a brutally occupied country, with no military, few imports and, high unemployment possibly threaten a powerful nation, the protégé of the United States?

          Hanan Ashrawi , a Palestinian legislator and activist, said in 2003: “We (Palestinians) are the only people on Earth asked to guarantee the security of our occupier, while Israel is the only country that calls for defense from its victim”.

          Since 2000, the United Nations has sent peacekeeping forces to the following areas, sometimes multiple times:

• Ethiopia and Eritrea
• East Timor
• Liberia
• Cote-d’Ivoire
• Haiti
• Burundi Sudan
• Timor-Leste
• Darfur
• Republic of Chad
• Democratic Republic of the Congo
• Abyei
• Republic of South Sudan
• Libya
• Syria

           One wonders why there are no peacekeeping forces sent to Palestine. Is not an occupied nation, occupied by the country the United Nations has issued more resolutions against than all other nations combined, not worthy of this support? What level of brutality, murder and genocide is required before the generally-ineffectual United Nations will take action? Certainly, a peacekeeping force led by the U.S. would be akin to the fox guarding the henhouse, but are there no other nations that could be relied on to ensure some sense of justice to the Palestinians?

International law, including the Geneva Conventions, forbids the following behaviors which Israel routinely performs:

·         Collective punishment of the occupied people.

·         Removing civilian populations from their lands.

·         Settling people from the occupying nation permanently on the occupied lands.

·         Compromising the dignity of the occupied people.

·         Not ensuring the safety of the occupied people.

         Yet all this seems to be just fine with the United States, and much of the international community which fears it.

          And now Israel is once again bombing the Gaza Strip. A report today says that Israel claims there are 10,000 rockets in Gaza, which could threaten Israel. One wonders first, how Palestinians, who are barely allowed to import basic supplies, have somehow managed to build 10,000 long range missiles. Secondly, if they have them, why haven’t they used them? This is simply a ploy by Israeli leaders, who assume the world believes whatever nonsense spews forth from their mouths, to justify, in their own minds, the indiscriminate bombing of the Gaza Strip.

         Where can the Palestinians look for redress? Certainly not to the U.S., which only cares about human rights if doing so is convenient. And it’s certainly not convenient for the U.S. to cross Israel. An election is approaching, and dollars from the various Israeli lobby groups, all under the umbrella of AIPAC, are needed. What have human rights to do with anything, when the almighty dollar is required?

        The United Nations has proven to be ineffectual. Countless resolutions criticizing or condemning Israel have been in vain. And in the last few years, the U.S. just vetoes them anyway.

        Palestine President Mahmoud Abbas is also tied to strings which are pulled by Israel. He dances to its tune, seldom defying Israel, although the change in status at the U.N. in 2012 was a major step for him. But he is more interested in appeasing Israel than in helping his own people. That is evidenced by his steadfast refusal to petition the International Criminal Court for assistance.

       However, people around the world are using social media to spread the word. Until the U.S. succeeds in controlling the internet, and heaven knows it’s trying its best to do so, the voice of the people cannot be silenced. And that is the best hope for justice for Palestine.

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