Monthly Archives: July 2015

Palestine, Israel and the Sea

There has long been controversy about Palestinian territorial waters. This issue was raised last year, during Israel’s genocidal assault on the Gaza Strip, wherein part of the so-called ‘cease-fire’ agreement included that Israel would respect international law relating to the sea. Now the issue is once again an area of international focus.

Within the next several days, the ‘Gaza Flotilla’, a group of at least three international ships, will attempt to breach the illegal blockade of the beleaguered Gaza Strip, and dock in Gaza. When this was last attempted, Israeli soldier-terrorists killed ten defenseless, unarmed people, causing international tensions between Gaza and Turkey, home to several of the victims.

As the Flotilla approaches Gaza, it is important to remember that the blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal under international law. Yet this does not prevent Israel from condemning the Flotilla as if it, and not Israel, was the law-breaker.

Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely, who has called for the complete annihilation of Palestine and Palestinians, said that the foreign ministry will prevent the Flotilla from reaching ‘Israel’s territorial waters’.

Perhaps Ms. Hotovely would benefit from a geography lesson, combined with one in international law.

The United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) states, in part, the following:

Each country’s sovereign territorial waters extend to a maximum of 12 nautical miles (22 km) beyond its coast.  Foreign vessels are granted the right of innocent passage through this zone.

The members of the Gaza Flotilla have no intention of, or interest in, approaching Israel’s territorial waters. The coastal state to which it is sailing is Palestine, not Israel. So any discussion of Israel’s ‘territorial waters’ is irrelevant in a discussion of the Flotilla; the foreign ministry of Israel has no legal authority over the coastal waters of Palestine.

Additionally, Palestine’s ‘sovereign territorial waters’, like those of every other coastal nation on the planet, extend 12 nautical miles off its coast. As a sovereign nation, Palestine is free to accept or reject any ship it so chooses, without interference from any other nation.

It is unlikely that the Gaza Flotilla will successfully enter Palestine’s territorial waters; Israel will attack the unarmed vessel before it gets even close. One hopes the loss of innocent life will be minimized, but when dealing with one of the most brutal and inhuman regimes in the world, one has little reason for optimism.

Basel Ghattas, a member of the Israeli parliament with the Joint Arab List, has now caused much consternation in Israel by announcing that he would be on one of the Flotilla’s ships. In a letter to Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu, he explained the purpose of the Flotilla: “,,,to end the siege by way of turning international attention to the situation of 1.8 million Palestinians living in disgraceful, prison-like conditions as a result of Israel’s military siege of both land and sea….” Mindful of the brutal response to the previous Flotilla, he concluded his letter thusly: “Taking over the ships and preventing them from arriving at their destination will entangle Israel in another difficult international crisis, the outcome of which will be the responsibility of you and your government.”

So, let us summarize a few salient points: 1) The Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip is illegal under international law; 2) A foreign nation has no right to regulate what ships enter or leave a foreign port not under its jurisdiction; 3) Any other nation so blatantly violating international law would be censured by the United Nations.

What does all this mean for Israel? For one thing, any attempt to stop the Gaza Flotilla from reaching Gaza will be a violation of international law.

Additionally, it shows that apartheid Israel violates international law each time its terrorists harass Palestinian fishermen fishing within that internationally-recognized territorial limit. IDF soldiers (Israeli Defense Forces, also known as terrorists), routinely shoot and kill fisherman and ‘confiscate’ their boats. For those fishermen lucky enough to escape with their lives, they lose their livelihood, becoming unable to support themselves and their families.

Can we, for a moment, gaze into our crystal ball and see the near future? As stated, in all likelihood Israel will violently prevent the Flotilla from reaching Palestine. The U.N. will say nothing of this. Any criticisms leveled against Israel will be denounced by the U.S. which will summon the holy mantra of the myth of Israel defending its national security. There will, however, be no mention of Palestine’s national security.

So will it be business as usual? The crystal ball is a bit foggy on this point, but indications are that Mr. Ghattas’s closing comment to Mr. Netanyahu will prove to be right on the mark. Few people outside of Israel and the disgraceful halls of the U.S. Congress will see a few unarmed boats sailing towards Palestine as anything but benign. As Israel screams that everyone around the world is trying to ‘delegitimize’ it, it will not recognize that it needs no one else to do so; it is doing a fine job of that all on its own.

So another attempt to hold Israel accountable for its atrocities will be thwarted, but at what price? All indications are that most of global society has had it up to here with Israel, and eventually the final straw will be applied, breaking the apartheid camel’s back. When that happens, not even Israel’s best friend and main financier, the United States, will be able to save it from itself.

First published in Counterpunch, June 26 – 28.

Palestine, Israel and the Sea

 

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Netanyahu: The Fantasy Grows

Early this month, Stephane Richards, the chairman of the telecommunications company Orange, announced that his company would cease its brand-licensing agreement with the Israeli company, Partner. At the time, he said this: “Our intention is to withdraw from Israel. It will take time. For sure we will do it… I am ready to do this tomorrow morning… but without exposing Orange to huge risks.”

Needless to say, this caused a major uproar in Israel, where the BDS (Boycott, Divest and Sanction) movement, along with international businesses being cautioned by their governments about doing business with Israeli companies illegally located in the occupied West Bank, is causing major concern. Even Israeli Prime Murderer Benjamin Netanyahu has spoken of this issue, calling the international boycott of Israel as bad as the Holocaust.

Following Mr. Richards’ announcement, his personal information was posted online by an Israeli hacker and militant Zionist, and Mr. Richards and those close to him received numerous death threats, and hundreds of menacing calls. Mr. Richards has filed suit against ‘persons unknown’ as a result.

Prior to the announcement of his lawsuit, but following the start of the harassment, Mr. Richards groveled before Mr. Netanyahu, saying he would never support a boycott of Israel. One finds the flow of events interesting: 1) Orange announces it will cease its partnership with an Israeli company; 2) Mr. Richards’ personal information is posted to a Zionist website; 3) Mr. Richards and those close to him receive hundreds of threatening calls; 4) Mr. Richards demeans himself before the Israeli Prime Murderer, ‘explaining’ that he never meant to support a boycott of Israel.

The meeting with Mr. Netanyahu was itself noteworthy. During that meeting, the Prime Murderer made these astounding statements: “Israel is the one country in the Middle East that guarantees full civic rights. It’s the one county in the Middle East where everyone is protected under the law equally. We seek a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbors….”

Let us break that remarkable statement down to its component parts, and see if we can possibly make any sense of it.

* “Israel is the one country in the Middle East that guarantees full civic rights.” This is most puzzling in view of many laws, but we will look at just two for the moment. In 2011, a law was passed that empowers hundreds of local Jewish communities to exclude applicants based on ethnicity or religion. It was upheld by the Supreme Court in September 2014.

Another law passed in 2011 seems to belie Mr. Netanyahu’s words. This law prohibits “anyone from calling for a boycott of Israel, its institutions, or any person because of their affiliation with Israel, including the settlements in the occupied territories.” So much for ‘full civic rights’. [1]

* “It’s the one county in the Middle East where everyone is protected under the law equally.”

A 1950 Law of Return stipulates that every Jewish person can immigrate to Israel. This “extends to the children and grandchildren of Jews, as well as their spouses, and the spouses of their children and grandchildren. The flip side of this is that the rights of Palestinians and others to enter the state and become citizens, even if they were born in the area that is now the State of Israel, are extremely restrictive.” [2]

The ‘ban on family unification’ law of 2003 prohibits citizens of Israel from reuniting with Palestinian spouses living in the West Bank or Gaza. There is a law that bans any political party that denies the existence of Israel as a “Jewish” state. Other laws establish separate educational systems which are then unequally administered. [3]

* “We seek a genuine and secure peace with our Palestinian neighbors.” As amazing as Mr. Netanyahu’s other statements may be, this one is the most astounding of all. During his campaign for re-election earlier this year, he said that there would never be an independent Palestine while he was prime minister. He has accelerated land theft in the West Bank and the expansion of settlements, which are illegal under international law and condemned around the world. Newly-appointed Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, responsible for ‘administering’ the occupied territories, said this in 2013: “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human.” The new Justice Minister, Ayelet Shaked, called Palestinian children ‘little snakes’. She further said that “the entire Palestinian people is the enemy” and called for the complete destruction of Palestine, “including its elderly and its women, its cities and its villages, its property and its infrastructure.” [4]

Additionally, Mr. Netanyahu says that peace will only come about through negotiations, and demands a completely demilitarized Palestine. This writer hesitates to point out once again that negotiations can only take place between two parties when each has something the other wants, that can only be obtained by surrendering something it has. Israel takes what it wants from Palestine with complete impunity, so negotiations cannot occur. Also, such ‘negotiations’ would be akin to a bank negotiating with a bank robber for the return of some of its money, with the police sponsoring the meetings. It makes no logical sense.

Further, Israel has one of the world’s most powerful military systems, provided by the United States. Why should a country adjacent to it, who has experienced decades-long violence from Israel, not be allowed to protect itself? Again, the idea of reason and logic is completely lacking.

Recent polling indicates that about two-thirds of Israelis feel that the world is against them. How long they have held that belief is unknown, but it is possible that today it is accurate. People around the world see the brutal, unspeakable oppression of the Palestinians, and actively oppose it, often by the boycotts that Mr. Netanyahu so despises.

But what is Israel’s response? If reason and logic were to apply, Israel would adhere to international law, remove its half-million-plus illegal settlers and all its terrorists (generally referred to by Israel as soldiers), end the blockade of the Gaza Strip, and recognize the nation of Palestine. But no, reality and Israel are only marginally acquainted, and their relationship is none too good. So instead, Israel does more of the same: flout international law, increase settlement construction, terrorize and oppress Palestinians, and basically flip the bird to the world.

There is an old cliché that says that insanity is doing the same thing repeatedly, but expecting a different result. Based on this, Israel is an insane society.

But it has its international devotees, mainly in the U.S., where AIPAC (American Israel Political Affairs Committee) funnels large sums of money into the campaign coffers of those politicians who do its bloody bidding. But it does appear that much of the rest of the world has grown tired of Israel’s murder of men, women and children; its bombing of hospitals, mosques and United Nations refugee centers; its brutal blockade of the Gaza Strip; the numerous internal checkpoints in the West Bank, the sole purpose of which is to demoralize the population, and the arrests and incarceration without charge of Palestinians, including children. The United States is happy to finance all this, as long as AIPAC continues its role of campaign benefactor. But increasingly, the U.S. is the outlier, the one other nation, along with Israel, that is blind to Israeli genocide.

The insanity may run deep, but it is not contagious. Around the world, people are demanding human rights for the Palestinians. Mr. Netanyahu’s nonsensical rantings, and the funding of the United States, will not silence them.

Robert Fantina’s latest book is Empire, Racism and Genocide: a History of US Foreign Policy (Red Pill Press).

Notes

[1]  See http://mondoweiss.net/2015/06/database-discriminatory-israel

[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4]  See https://electronicintifada.net/blogs/ali-abunimah/israeli-lawmakers-call-genocide-palestinians-gets-thousands-facebook-likes

 

Published in Counterpunch.org, June 19 – 21, 2015

Netanyahu: The Fantasy Grows

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