The recent United States announcement that it no longer believes the establishment of Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank is “inconsistent with international law” provoked an immediate response internationally, including in Brussels.
Within hours of the US statement, European Union senior foreign affairs official Federica Mogherini issued a statement affirming that the EU’s position “is clear and remains unchanged: all [Israeli] settlement activity is illegal under international law and … erodes the viability of the two-state solution.” Read more
It is now over a week since an Israeli sniper shot and killed Palestinian journalist Yaser Murtaja, as he covered the ongoing “Great Return March” protests in the occupied Gaza Strip. Incredibly, at the time of writing, the Israeli military has still not offered any explanation of why he was shot.
The killing of Murtaja has prompted widespread condemnation. He is, however, just one of 35 Palestinians killed – including three children – by Israeli forces since 30 March, with a further 1,500 protesters shot by Israeli live fire (see these AP reports). Read more
Following a year of build-up, the Balfour Declaration centenary has now come and gone. After the campaigns, events, articles and protests, I want to take a moment to make a few observations about how the centenary was marked.
To my mind, there were two main aspects to the anniversary’s significance. Read more
Israeli soldier Elor Azaria was convicted yesterday of the manslaughter of Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sharif, a 21-year-old Palestinian killed by a shot to the head as he lay wounded and motionless after an alleged attack on uniformed occupation forces in Hebron in March 2016.
Azaria’s sentence has yet to be handed down – and his defence team could well appeal. Furthermore, a number of Israeli ministers have already demanded that Azaria be pardoned, a call supported by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu himself, and 70 per cent of the Israeli public. Read more
2017 must be the year that the international community finally toughens up its language and, most importantly, its actions, when it comes to Israel.
The case is well known and irrefutable. Israel is a serial human rights violator whose laws and policies contravene UN Security Council resolutions in addition to various other international humanitarian-law obligations and treaties. Read more
At a time when Israel’s most loyal defenders in the UK parliament pay lip service to a “two-state solution,” what does it mean in Westminster to support the Palestinians?
The question arises in light of a new campaign that the Labour Friends of Israel (LFI) is launching under the title “For Israel, For Palestine, For Peace,” a rebranding exercise announced during the Labour Party’s recent annual conference. Read more
The Conservative Party is fast cementing the British government’s reputation as one of Israel’s strongest allies, even as Benjamin Netanyahu’s hard-right coalition pursues settlement expansion, land expropriation and nationalist legislation.
While there has long been a disparity between the UK government’s position on international law and action (or lack of it) taken in response to Israeli breaches, under the current government, that gap is only getting wider.
In recent times, the Tories have pursued a foreign policy that opposes modest Palestinian attempts at accountability, and at home, have sought to intimidate and suppress Palestine solidarity activism. Read more
On Sunday, an undercover unit of Israel’s Border Police conducted an arrest raid in Shuafat refugee camp, an area of Occupied East Jerusalem locked behind the Separation Wall.
Encountering resistance from local residents, the undercover forces requested assistance, and a large number of uniformed Israeli forces entered the camp. The police, in order to “extract the undercover unit and the detainee”, deployed “tear gas, sponge-tipped bullets and stun grenades.”
Nafaz Damiri was shopping in Shuafat when the raid took place. As he stood taking shelter inside a supermarket, Israeli forces shot him in the face with a sponge bullet. The 55-year-old husband and father of one, who was born deaf and dumb, has now lost his right eye. Read more
Israel’s Supreme Court has long been held up as a resolute defender of liberal values. Recent decisions handed down by its judges, however, provide an important opportunity to revisit this claim, and to interrogate its past and present validity.
According to Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Supreme Court “upholds the rule of law and strengthens human rights.” (A note on terminology. Israel’s Supreme Court also sits as the High Court of Justice (HCJ) for constitutional matters and citizens’ petitions against government entities.)
This narrative is often reproduced by Israel’s defenders. In March 2012, for example, Time magazine’s Joe Klein hailed the Court as “one of the world’s great bastions of civilized legal contemplation” and “a precious monument to the rule of law.” Read more
In March, I debated the motion ‘This House Believes Israel is a Rogue State’ at the Cambridge Union. Opening proceedings, I suggested that the opposition might well “concede” that “Israel is not perfect”, intentionally missing the point about Israel’s rights violations being systematic.
Revealingly, president of the Board of Deputies of British Jews Vivian Wineman almost immediately did just that, telling the debating chamber: “We’re not arguing that Israel is perfect.”
Central to how Israel presents itself is the idea that while Israeli political leaders and military officials can and do make mistakes, there is a robust system of legal accountability that means such offenders are brought to book.
Last week has demonstrated how the reality is very different; that Israelis who commit atrocities against Palestinians benefit from a culture of impunity for civilian and soldier alike. Read more