Israel Resource Review 26th June, 2005


Report of Israel Resource News Agency in the US Congress
Jewish Telegraphic Agency release

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has no intention of pursuing peace with Israel, researchers from a news agency told U.S. congressional staffers.

The leadership of the Jerusalem-based Israel Resource News Agency met with the staffers on Capitol Hill on Wednesday and argued that incitement in the Palestinian news media and anti-Semitic themes in Palestinian textbooks persist. "Abbas has no intention of implementing peaceful measures," IRNA bureau chief David Bedein told the staffers.

Arnon Groiss of Israel Radio's Arabic-language service informed participants that the new Palestinian textbooks depict Israel as the "source of evil" and promote nonrecognition and stereotypes about both Jews and Israel.

Steve Rodan, of Middle East Newsline, said that there is no distinction between Palestinian police and militant groups and that Hamas is strengthening itself in preparation for further attacks against Israel.

"Abbas is a technocrat rather than a polemicist" like Arafat, Bedein told the staffers, adding that this distinction makes Abbas more dangerous than his predecessor . . .

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US Will Respect Elections if Hamas Wins
Secretary Rice on CNN

Secretary Condoleezza Rice Brussels, Belgium June 22, 2005

SECRETARY RICE: . . . And, yes, we will stand with the Israelis for the principle that Israel should do nothing to try and prejudge final status. Because one way or another, at the time of final status, the boundaries of the new Palestinian state are going to have to be negotiated between the parties. So nothing that Israel does is going to prejudge that outcome.

The President has made clear that he believes that there have been certain realities that have changed since 1949 or since 1967, but that any changes in those boundaries are going to have to be mutually agreed and that will be the position of the United States at final status.

QUESTION: Is it still necessary, though, and is there anything the United States, I guess, can do to change Israel's mind about some of the checkpoints? There are checkpoints when you cross from Israeli territory into the Palestinian territories. But there are -- if you imagine this room as being within the Palestinian territories, there are sometimes checkpoints within this room, even though you are not stepping anywhere near Israel.

SECRETARY RICE: I do believe that there is more that Israel can do to allow freedom of movement for the Palestinians, and we've made that case. I also recognize that there are real security concerns here. You've seen incidents even very recently in the Gaza, and it's particularly problematic when you have groups like Palestinian Islamic Jihad, by the way, operating with offices in Damascus, who say that they're not going to respect the calm that President Abbas has tried to bring about.

But the way that we can move forward on this is that the Israelis are preparing to turn over whole cities to the Palestinians, and they should then really release the pressure around those cities so that Palestinians can move freely. They've released two and they've talked now about Bethlehem and Qalqilya. That should go forward. That will improve freedom of movement. When Israel leaves Gaza, starting in August, again if there is freedom of movement for Palestinians in a Gaza that is free of Israeli settlers and free of Israeli military forces, that is going to improve freedom of movement.

So we work at the micro level, kind of checkpoint by checkpoint. But we also look for these larger changes that will really improve freedom of movement for the Palestinians.

QUESTION: One of the groups that at least so far has honored the truce or cease fire, whatever you would call it, is Hamas. And we sat down with a Hamas leader who said that he could even see coexistence with Israel. Hamas politicians, as you know, are winning some of these local elections and the U.S. officials on the ground say they're waiting for the State Department essentially to make a decision as to whether, if the mayor of a Palestinian town is affiliated and aligned openly with Hamas, can he get U.S. money? Can U.S. money to go to that mayor to build roads and build schools, or is he a terrorist?

SECRETARY RICE: Well, Hamas is a terrorist organization. We've listed it as such. As far as I know, Hamas has not yet changed a very important part of its doctrine, which is the destruction of the state of Israel or the use of terror. It continues to be armed. And to our mind, this is a difficulty for an emergent democratic state that is, after all, going to have to have a monopoly on violence, so to speak, of the state.

We'll deal with the Palestinian Authority. I think that's our best approach. They have an elected government through President Abbas. He is someone who won with 62 percent of the vote. And he won, John, not on a platform that said, let's go for the destruction of Israel or I'll turn your children into suicide bombers but, rather, on a platform that said that it is time for the armed intifada to end, it's time to make peace with Israel. And I have to believe that that's going to be also a popular approach, a popular platform throughout the territories.

QUESTION: The President said that, you have just said it, the President said it once in the Rose Garden. But since the President said it, Hamas has been gaining strength on the ground. And their leaders say that it's hypocritical for the President of the United States to say, have a democracy, and then not respect the will of the Palestinian people if Hamas affiliated candidates are elected.

SECRETARY RICE: Well, there is an election to take place. And we have a policy that comes from a reality of what Hamas is and Hamas has done. The election will take place. It is going to be a Palestinian election with the Palestinians setting the rules for how that election takes place. And we'll respect that.

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Would Uprooting Jews Violate International Humanitarian Treaties?
Adv. David Singer

Plans by the Israeli Government to forcibly remove Jews from their homes in the West Bank and Gaza breach the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 1966 [Covenant] as well as the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 [Convention], to both of which Israel is a signatory.

Article 17 of the Covenant provides that:

1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.

2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 16 of the Convention expressly protects children and is a mirror image of Article 17.

The International Court of Justice determined last year that both the Covenant and the Convention are applicable in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel had disputed.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan however also advised the International Court that Israel recognises that the Convention is intended to protect its citizens from their own Government in times of peace.

Israel’s High Court of Justice acknowledged in its recent judgement on the disengagement law, that the forced evacuation of Israelis would undermine their human dignity.

The High Court nevertheless asserted that the disengagement law passed all constitutional tests because it "corresponds with the Zionist values of the State and is intended for a worthy purpose - the political, national and security purposes on which the disengagement is based are designed to realize a vital and substantial need."

This viewpoint could not be successfully raised to negate article 17 since Article 4.1 of the Covenant states:

“In time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin."

Israel’s forced removal of Jewish residents of Gaza and the West Bank obviously involves discrimination solely on the ground of race and/or religion and so could not be relied on by Israel to escape its international obligations under the Covenant or the Convention.

Jews living in the West Bank and Gaza are legally entitled to reside there pursuant to the provisions of the Mandate for Palestine and article 80 of the United Nations Charter in order to reconstitute the Jewish National Home in those areas as specifically stated in the Mandate document.

Many returned there after 1967 to reclaim land from which other Jews had been driven out in 1948 by six invading Arab armies.

Any attempt now to forcibly uproot Jews from their homes against their expressed will is therefore in breach of the inalienable rights conferred on them by the Covenant, the Convention, the Mandate and the United Nations Charter.

Choosing to stay will not be palatable to all 8000 Jews affected by the withdrawal of Israel’s army and they will have the option of accepting the compensation packages that are being offered by the Israeli Government to those who voluntarily leave.

But one thing is certain – the forced removal of Jews from the West Bank and Gaza is not permitted or authorised under international law and is in breach of international agreements in force since 1920 authorising Jews to live in those areas.

President Bush, President Putin, the European Union and the United Nations have publicly welcomed the forced uprooting, whilst Human Rights organisations are deafening in their silence toward such expulsions.

Would they all act differently if the Arabs residing in the West Bank and Gaza were subjected to such proposed action against their will?

Ariel Sharon needs to revise his thinking on this aspect of his proposed disengagement.

He should urgently seek the opinion of the High Court of Justice on this issue before embarking on a course of action that has the capacity to lead to the outbreak of civil insubordination and threatens to seriously undermine the ability of Israel to resist those who seek its’ total annihilation.

David Singer is a lawyer and Convenor of Jordan is Palestine International

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