Palestine Updates 8
Palestine Update begins with a tribute to the Late Greek Melkite Archbishop Hilarion Capucci who fought for Palestinian rights and died at 94. The Archbishop faced a lengthy prison term in the 1970s for allegedly supporting the armed struggle but was let off in two years. He, however, remained steadfast in his passion for justice and fought for Palestine liberation until the very end.
Hanan Ashrawi, PLO Executive Member described Capucci as a person who reminds us of an era when priests were actively engaged in political struggles, from opposition to the American War in Vietnam to leading liberation movements in Latin America. Speaking to Al Jazeera she said: “He embodied the activist church – spiritual leaders who were prepared to translate their principles into action and struggle against injustice. He became an icon to Palestinians.” She added: “The days of revolutionary priests are over…The church is no longer deeply immersed in active struggle. It is more hesitant and cautious. Today, priests are more likely to express their solidarity by being witnesses or advocates.”
This issue of Palestine Updates shows how Israel functions under a siege complex even under a non-violent resistance regime. Its need for undue self-protection has taken its politics to extremes. Israel’s political structures are rapidly spiraling into dysfunctionality.
It is in this context that Israel’s absolute control over American politics must be seen. As if to reinforce this awkward truth, three US senators have now launched a bill in Congress that would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv. This move flouts international positions and consensus on the Question of Palestine. It is a reckless and provocative move which will only retard the already complex situation between both sides.
In further evidence of dysfunctionality, Israel’s justice minister has recently declared plans to impose Israeli law to parts of the West Bank. Read, annexation. The implementation of this law will expose the true nature of Israel’s discriminatory regime.
More dysfunctionality on display! In disregard for a court order in an atypical case of justice served on an Israeli soldier who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian man after he was already disarmed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a pardon for the soldier. Palestinian political thinkers are warning people not to see this as a sign of things to come. This court victory retains only symbolic value when contrasted with the systemic oppression of Palestinians by Israel. Israelis are sharply divided but the weight is in favour of the soldier Elor Azaria. Even the media has jumped into the fray and the esteemed Jerusalem Post is running an opinion poll that asks the somewhat absurd question about a unashamed killer: “Should Elor Azaria be pardoned”?
The global Human Rights Watchdog group, Human Rights Watch (HRW) has censured Israel for prompting Israeli soldiers and police to ignore protocols when engaging with Palestinians who initiate attacks. Israeli soldiers and police are reported to break the law when engaging with Palestinians. The report is based on statements of senior Israeli politicians that run counter to both international law and Israeli rules of engagement.
In yet another challenge to Israel’s suppression of the freedom to protest, we notice how there is visibly a strenuous, official pro-Israeli campaign to crush BDS. Those in the BDS Movement are not surrendering their right to freedom of expression. They quote as precedent the campaign against apartheid South Africa in the 1980s, in particular. How is anyone expected to surrender the right to free speech – essentially a non-negotiable right? This explains why BDS groups have effectively safeguarded their work by claiming the right to freedom of expression.
For now, it may still look like ‘advantage Israel’ with power and backing from dominant and influential quarters. But its moral advantage is constantly being relegated and eroded among those who think and know. And this includes the vast numbers in the community of nations.
Archbishop who was “Icon of Resistance” to Palestinians dies at 94
A Greek Melkite Archbishop Hilarion Capucci who fought for Palestinian rights and was jailed for a term died at 94. Hilarion Capucci, who was appointed the Patriarchal Vicar of Jerusalem in 1965, was arrested by Israel nine years later and jailed for arms smuggling. He had a history of activism linked to Middle East conflicts. Israel convicted him in 1976 on charges of using his diplomatic status to smuggle arms to Palestinian militants in the occupied West Bank, has died. He was 94. Mgr Capucci served two years of the 12-year sentence in an Israeli prison for the conviction, then was released due to Vatican intervention and deported.
In a sign of how the Palestinian cause continued to motivate him, Capucci twice joined aid flotillas seeking to break Israel’s siege of Gaza, despite being in his late eighties. In 2010, he was among those on the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship when it was attacked by Israeli commandos in international waters. Nine of the activists on board were killed. He was arrested and briefly jailed in Beersheva prison, the first time he had set foot in Israel in 32 years. Ilan Pappe, an Israeli historian who met Capucci on several occasions, called him “a man of his time”.
US senators introduce bill to move embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem
Three US senators introduced a bill to congress on Wednesday that would recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and move the US embassy there from Tel Aviv, defying international stances on the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict resting on a two-state solution.
If implemented, the bill would give legitimacy to Israel’s illegal occupation of East Jerusalem since 1967, disregard Palestinian claims to the city, and possibly terminate a longstanding White House policy to perpetually defer a 1995 Congressional decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital and move the embassy there.
President-Elect Donald Trump pledged during his campaign that, if elected, he would ensure that the US embassy in Israel was moved to Jerusalem. Trump has also been a vocal supporter for the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian territory, which have been condemned by the international community as representing a clear violation of international law.
Earlier this month, outgoing US President Barack Obama renewed a presidential waiver that again delayed plans to relocate the embassy for another six months, citing “national security interests.”
Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Secretary-General Saeb Erekat warned that the PLO would revoke all previously signed agreements with Israel as well as the PLO’s 1993 recognition of Israel if Trump followed through on his pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The American bill’s introduction comes close on the heels of the international community’s rejection of Israeli settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory and restating its illegality under international law.
A number of Palestinian activists have criticized the two-state solution as unsustainable and unlikely to bring durable peace, proposing instead a bi-national state with equal rights for Israelis and Palestinians.
The incremental annexation of Palestine
Israel’s justice minister announces a plan to apply Israeli law to parts of the West Bank, or in other words, annexation. The implementation of this law will expose the true nature of Israel’s discriminatory regime. The annexation of Palestine seems imminent.
A Senior Israeli government minister announced that legislation would soon be introduced to aannex Israel’s third-largest settlement in the West Bank, Ma’ale Adumim, by the end of January. Can it be assumed that he also implies it will take place after the January 21 inauguration of Donald Trump. These ideas are neither new nor secret. The Israeli education minister has attempted shift the public discourse, in Israel and around the world, toward his annexationist aims through mass media interventions designed to gain support for his move.
For more on the story see +972 Mag
Further more also from +972 Mag
Conviction of one Israeli soldier should not distract attention from persistent Palestinian oppression
In a rare case of justice served an Israeli soldier who shot and killed a wounded Palestinian man after he was already disarmed and immobile was convicted of manslaughter on Wednesday. The news is a small victory in bringing greater accountability to the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). Observers warn it should not distract from the systemic oppression still continuing in Israel and Palestine. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called for a pardon for a soldier convicted of manslaughter for shooting dead a wounded Palestinian attacker as he lay on the ground.
The military trial has deeply divided Israel with right-wing politicians defending him despite top army brass condemning his actions.
View video from International Middle East Media centre
Read more from New York Times report
Read a perspective from Israel
Human Rights Watch censures Israel’s high level ‘Killing suspects policy’
A leading member of Human Rights Watch’s group said Israeli soldiers and police have been incited by some of the country’s top politicians to ignore protocols when engaging with Palestinians who initiate attacks.
Human Rights Watch’s Israel/Palestine Advocacy Director Sari Bashi said that Israeli soldiers and police were egged on by high-ranking politicians to break the law when engaging with Palestinians. The remarks came after the release of a new report by Human Rights Watch which claimed, in particular, that some top Israeli officials have been encouraging law enforcement officers to kill suspected Palestinian attackers whether it’s necessary or not. HRW came to this conclusion after documenting the statements of senior Israeli politicians that run counter to both international law and Israeli rules of engagement.
See report in the Far News
What we can legally do against the anti-BDS campaign
The right to freedom of expression
There is clearly a concerted, official pro-Israeli campaign to crush BDS. In response, the movement and its supporters have emphasized that BDS advocacy is protected by the right to freedom of expression, just as the campaign against apartheid South Africa was. Indeed, the right to free speech is an important legal foundation for the movement, which protects advocacy in support of its aims and the rights of persons to engage in boycotts of Israel. Thus, court cases against BDS have been successfully defended by asserting the right to freedom of expression.
Activists need a solid legal strategy to resist states succumbing to Israel pressure and imposing BDS bans.
Read more in article by Salma Karmi-Ayyoub from Al Jazeera