On whose side are you?

Palestine Update 382


On whose side are you?
Israel’s detractors have long labeled it an apartheid state to describe its occupation of Palestinian lands. Apartheid is ‘the hated word of the second half of the 20th century.’ In the case of Israel, the word apartheid is a self-inflicted judgment.

Apologists for Israel are inclined to grant Israel the benefit of the doubt. Those who cannot bring themselves to call a spade a spade when it comes to Israel’s racist-colonialist-apartheid structure are a contradiction to the pursuit of a just world.

In his wisdom (and courage) Archbishop Tutu had this to say: “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor. If an elephant has its foot on the tail of a mouse and you say that you are neutral, the mouse will not appreciate your neutrality.” As faith communities, and those who committed to justice, but may not necessarily subscribe to a particular religious belief, we are asked at this juncture of Palestinian history (and indeed in the case of all instances of human oppression), ‘On whose side are you’? The answer should really be quite clear-cut. But the response can be daunting when we’re faced with hard choices and the consequences are answers entails.

As people of faith and ideology, we cannot claim to be true to our convictions unless that claim is accompanied by the  willingness to surrender something that we find convenient to hold on to. The expression ‘costly discipleship’ demands that we be willing to give up all that matters to us personally in order that we can risk taking the side of justice.   

This Bible passage speaks strongly: I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:15-16)

Ranjan Solomon

Palestinian Baby Dies, Unable to Enter Israel

Omar Yaghi was 8 months old when he died, unable to travel from Gaza to Israel for life-saving heart surgery after Palestinian officials cut coordination with the Jewish state. The baby’s mother Raneen has been unable to speak or eat since losing her son last week. They are one of a number of families caught up in a high-level dispute, after the Palestinian Authority ended security coordination with Israel in May due to its plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank. The move has had a dramatic impact on scores of Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza, who need Israeli paperwork to get treatment not available at home.

“Omar was supposed to undergo major surgery on May 24, but they told us that our travel to Israel was prevented because coordination was stopped,” the infant’s uncle said. Several human rights organizations lobbied successfully for a new date for the operation, but Yaghi died on June 18 just three days before the planned surgery. Omar was born with complex heart problems and he started treatment at Israel’s Sheba Medical Center when he was 1 month old.  Having been unable to return for the surgery, Yaghi suffered heart failure on Wednesday and was resuscitated at a Gaza hospital.

In West Bank, Israeli settler leaders complicate annexation plan
In West Bank, Israeli settler leaders complicate annexation plan ...Jewish settler leaders who resist the creation of a Palestinian state are complicating Israel’s plans to annex scores of settlements in the occupied West Bank under U.S. President Donald Trump’s peace blueprint.  Netanyahu’s cabinet is due next month to discuss the annexation plan, under which Israel would apply sovereignty over 30% of the West Bank – in areas where most of its about 130 settlements are located.  The plan is opposed by the Palestinians, who seek a state in all of the West Bank, as well as in the Gaza Strip, with East Jerusalem as a capital. Most world powers agree.

The plan also faces resistance from settler leaders who oppose Trump’s calls for a future Palestinian state that would envelop at least 15 Jewish settlements – despite U.S. guarantees of protection for, and access to, the future “enclaves”…We’re talking about strangling a community,” said Hananel Elkayam, mayor of Itamar settlement, one of the 15 named in the plan. In misgivings echoed in the other 14, Elkayam predicted residents would be unable to commute to jobs through territory that would be in a new Palestinian state, would by denied construction and would be at greater risk of attack than now.  “I would tell (Trump): Thanks very much for the plan, thanks very much for the great affection for the Jewish people (but) we’ll set our own destiny,” Elkayam said.

Ensure updating of OPT Settlement Business Database
Settlements are at the root of serious, systematic violations of Palestinian rights, undermining their livelihoods and economy. Transfer of an occupying power’s civilian population to an occupied territory violates the Fourth Geneva Convention and is a war crime. Business activities in the settlements contribute to entrenching them–and the serious rights abuses and the severe discriminatory system that they embody.

The database helps to bring transparency to business activities and encourages companies to comply with their human rights responsibilities, by ending their contribution to rights abuses. It has already had impact on the ground: several companies contacted by the High Commissioner’s Office responded by ceasing their settlement activities, thereby ending complicity in rights abuse in compliance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Companies listed that now similarly cease contributing to rights abuse are entitled to be removed from the database.  The Human Rights Council has already decided that the database is to be updated annually and should act to ensure appropriate resourcing and clear timeframes for further reporting. We look forward to further updates by the High Commissioner on the database as mandated by resolution 31/36.

Recent moves to expand settlements underscore the urgency of ensuring that this important work continues. These developments also highlight the need for ongoing scrutiny by human rights groups and the International Criminal Court (ICC) . The Israeli government, which deported Human Rights Watch’s country director six months ago, has now also banned an Amnesty International campaigner from leaving the West Bank. In addition, the ICC has come under attack following the Prosecutor’s determination in December that “all statutory criteria” to proceed with a formal investigation in Palestine have been met. We encourage states to speak out in defense of the independent oversight provided by rights groups and the ICC.

Israeli annexation plan draws South Africa apartheid comparisons
Israel annexation plan in West Bank condemned by UN human rights ...

“For years, Israel has been labelled an apartheid state by detractors who used the term to describe its rule over Palestinians, who were denied basic rights in occupied areas. Israel has pushed back against the fraught word. But as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu nears launching his annexation moves – long-discussed but given new impetus by a so-called ‘Middle East plan’ proposed by US President Donald Trump and condemned by many around the world – the term ‘apartheid’ is increasingly becoming part of Israel’s political conversation. Mainstream politicians who oppose annexation have begun to use the word. Disillusioned former military men bounce it around. Israel’s most popular political satire show, Wonderful Country, recently ran a spoof advertisement for a fictitious drone company that lifts Palestinians and flies them away from annexed land. The drone’s name: ‘Apart-High’. ‘When you start doing these unilateral actions, you actually put yourself on a very slippery slope,’ said Gadi Shamni, a retired Israeli general who once commanded Israeli forces present in the West Bank. Inevitably, Palestinians in annexed areas will demand the rights of citizens, including the right to vote, which will ‘eventually create some kind of apartheid’, he warned.”