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Waiting on ICC, Israeli war crimes suspects already fear arrest abroad

Over the last two weeks, two Israeli war crimes suspects entered the UK. One, former Israeli minister Tzipi Livni, received diplomatic immunityin dubious circumstances. A second, former Israeli army chief of staff Shaul Mofaz, visited for just 48 hours and left before the authorities acted. These visits have prompted three questions.

The first question is for the FCO. Livni, an opposition MK, came to London to speak at Fortune’s Most Powerful Women International Summit. Since this would have constituted a personal visit, rather than an official one, Livni arranged a meeting with Foreign Office (FCO) minister Tobias Ellwood. The FCO then duly granted the visit ‘special mission’ status, and thus gave Livni immunity from prosecution. Read more

Rumours of war, rumours of peace: Assessing Gaza’s uneasy status quo

Almost a year on from the beginning of Israel’s ‘Operation Protective Edge’ and the ceasefire that ended hostilities has largely held, albeit with dozens of Israeli attacks on Gaza civilians, the continued blockade, and some half a dozen rocket launches. While the Israeli army and Palestinian factions prepare themselves in the event of a new confrontation, recent developments suggest that Gaza stands between the deterioration of a tense stand-off and a more substantial truce. Read more

Bibi boosts BDS – Israel’s opposition proves it is necessary

In his speech to AIPAC last year, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu referred 18 times to the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign. A year on, and it is clear that for Bibi, BDS is the new public enemy number one. Denounced as an antisemitic “strategic threat,” the Palestinian-led, global campaign to pressure Israel into ending systematic rights violations is now very much in Tel Aviv’s cross-hairs.

Ironically, it is during Netanyahu’s time in office that BDS has made considerable headway. His ambiguity over Palestinian statehood (in public, veering between rejection and unreliable endorsement) is exacerbated by the unambiguous views of his hard-right ministers and coalition partners. Then there was the unprecedented bombardment of Gaza, also under Bibi’s watch, and a slew of anti-democratic, hyper-nationalist legislative initiatives. Read more

Israel intimidated by boycott threat to apartheid status quo

As Israeli politicians ramp up the rhetoric against the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, two reports have suggested that much worse is in store for the movement which advocates economic and cultural disengagement from Israel.

First came a secret, Israeli government report obtained by business newspaper Calcalist. The internal document looked at the potential future impact of BDS on the country’s economy – and the results are striking. Read more

Ban Ki-moon buckles – and Palestinian children will pay the price

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has overruled his colleagues’ recommendations and removed Israel from a list of parties guilty of grave violations of children’s rights, it was revealed Monday.

The decision to exclude Israel from the list, part of the Secretary-General’s annual report on children and armed conflict presented to the Security Council, was slammed by human rights groups, who accused Ban Ki-moon of buckling under pressure from Israel and the US. Read more

Netanyahu’s ‘death blow’ to Foreign Ministry risks leaving Israel vulnerable

The Israeli government’s foreign policy is currently being managed by seven senior officials, a division of responsibilities shaped by domestic political concerns – but with more serious, global implications.

Since forming his coalition government, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has himself retained the post of Foreign Minister. Likud’s Tzipi Hotovely was granted the position of deputy foreign minister, but has found her responsibilities reduced through other appointments. Read more

Israel’s obsession with hummus is about more than stealing Palestine’s food

When Israel expelled hundreds of thousands of Palestinians from their villages and homes in 1948, many left with little more than the clothes on their back. Food was left on the stove. Crops were left unharvested. But the land emptied of its inhabitants was soon occupied by new residents.

From 1948 to 1953, almost all new Jewish settlements were established on refugees’ property. The myth of making the desert bloom is belied by the facts: in mid-1949, two-thirds of all land sowed with grain in Israel was Palestinian land. In 1951, “abandoned” land accounted for nearly 95 per cent of all Israel’s olive groves and almost 10,000 acres of vineyards. Read more

Nakba Day is not just about remembering – it is about the Palestinians’ return

67 years ago, the ethnic cleansing of Palestine unfolded through expulsions, massacres, and demolitions. Hundreds of villages were emptied, then levelled; centres of Palestinian urban life and community disappeared; columns of refugees took flight at the barrel of a gun.

A society was dismembered and fragmented. In the months and years after 1948, the army of the State of Israel, formed from the militias who had occupied and ‘cleansed’ village after village, used bullets and landmines to keep out the refugees trying to return home. Read more

Disingenuous and dangerous: Israel attacks BDS as ‘antisemitic’

Critics of Israel’s policies and the ongoing colonial displacement of Palestinians are familiar with the antisemitism smear. Now, faced with a growing boycott and allies increasingly frustrated with its rejectionist, ultra/right-wing policies, Israel is preparing to up the ante in its attack on the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign.

This week, the Israeli government is convening the Global Forum for Combating Antisemitism (GFCA) in Jerusalem. The fifth event of its kind, the conference is billed as “the premier biennial gathering for assessing the state of antisemitism globally, and formulating effective forms of societal and governmental response.” Read more

When law is the target: Israel’s campaign will whitewash war crimes everywhere

In 2011, and in response to accusations of war crimes during the final months of conflict with the Tamil Tigers two years previously, the Sri Lankan government convened a conference where then-Minister of External Affairs G. L. Peiris declared that “the entire body of international law must be revisited.” Human Rights Watch called the event “a public relations exercise to whitewash abuses.”

This week, a new conference will take place in Israel on a familiar-sounding theme: “Towards a New Law of War.” According to conference organisers Shurat HaDin, the goal of the event “is to influence the direction of legal discourse concerning issues critical to Israel and her ability to defend herself.” Read more

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