“NOTHING can justify these abductions and murders, which we again condemn. Those responsible must be brought to justice ... but justice will not be served by Israel seeking revenge by imposing collective punishment, or committing other violations of Palestinians’ rights.”
Thus said Philip Luther of Amnesty International in response to the murder of three Israeli settlers in Palestine. However, retribution is very much the order of the day, as has been widely reported around the world.
Palestinian residents in Shuafat, an Arab suburb of Jerusalem, told Reuters they had seen a teenager forced into a vehicle outside a supermarket on Tuesday night. They identified him as 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khudir.
A few hours later his body, partly burned and bearing marks of violence was found abandoned on the outskirts of the city. In response to this, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on all sides not to take the law into their own hands.
A strange choice of words as TV screens all around the globe showed the bombing and burning of Gaza in Israeli air strikes supposedly targeting Hamas positions, despite having no evidence that Hamas had been involved in the abduction of the teenagers.
Netanyahu calls for respect for the rule of law while his government indulges in collective punishment and has been condemned as such in respect of the Geneva Conventions for past incursions and bombings in Gaza.
Mazin Qumsiyeh emailed his human rights letter from Palestine on June 30. It said: “A sadly familiar scene over the past two weeks here in occupied Palestine: 10 Palestinians (including a seven- and 15-year-old) and three settlers (16-19-year-old) were killed.
“Dozens of Palestinian homes were demolished in the past two weeks, and more than 6,000 abductees languishing in Israeli gulags/prisons. 1,500 Palestinian homes invaded without due process. Twelve million native Palestinians still await their freedom from colonial occupation and displacement. And Israeli leaders are promising to ‘do more’ (genocidal mayhem?).
“But the question remains — when will this insanity end? Can it end by negotiations between occupied and occupier, negotiations that have been going on for 22 years while Israel gets $12 billion profit every year from its occupation? (That is not counting the billions from US taxpayers).”
There was a time when the possibility of a two-state solution was a real one, when settlement building in the West Bank had been limited and the concept of a Palestinian state in Gaza and the West Bank was just about viable.
Twenty years of mushrooming settlements, the theft of land and water supplies, and construction of settler-only roads shows that the Israeli state has no wish whatsoever to bring about peace, only to steal more land and drive more Palestinian families into destitution and despair.
It’s a very strange relationship between Israel and the US that both the US president and vice-president have retreated from once calling for an end to all settlements to demanding no new settlement building, and in the face of Israeli objections to these concepts, asking for a slowing down of the rate of expansion of Israeli settlements — without ever challenging the principle that settlement building is illegal and wrong.
Even the British government has expressed consistent criticism of settlement building and made some noises about settlement-produced goods.
In observing the renewed horrors that the Palestinians are now going through, Netanyahu seems remarkably unconcerned for the Palestinian people and their rights. However when it comes to the Kurds, it’s a different story.
He made an interesting speech last Sunday night to Tel Aviv University’s INSS think tank.
Dwelling on the subject of the collapse of Iraq, Netanyahu decided to give his opinion on the future of the Kurdish people in the region, saying that Kurds are “fighting people who have proved their political moderation and deserve political independence.”
A number of issues quickly arise here, the most obvious being the blatant hypocrisy of Netanyahu and the Israeli government to claim concern for the rights of Kurdish people while they illegally occupy Palestinian land, imprison children and elected parliamentarians and engage in acts of collective punishment of the Palestinian people.
The real motive of Israel is, of course, access to oil from the massive Irbil and Kirkuk oil fields in the Kurdish area of Iraq.
The Kurdish people were initially recognised after the Treaty of Versailles but their putative state was obliterated in 1923 with the establishment of modern Turkey.
The Palestinian people too were recognised at the end of WWI and for the last 50 years their existence has been denied by the zionist policies of Israel.
As Iraq implodes from a decade of US and British occupation, accompanied by religious sectarian government and the destruction of all of the functions of the state during the desperate days when Paul Bremner was the occupying governor, yet another new force has arisen.
The establishment of the Islamic State in the region, previously called the Islamic State of Syria and the Levant, is a direct consequence of this policy. Once again Western arms are flooding in to fight wars in Syria and Iraq in which thousands more civilians will die.
It’s worth asking some very big questions.
As we commemorate the centenary of the first world war, the fundamental instability of the borders that were drawn up at the conference tables of Versailles is now fully exposed.
Those borders were built on the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 in which Britain and France assumed ultimate victory in WWI and, with the destruction of the Ottoman empire, created colonies throughout the region.
Western interests in the region have never been in peace, justice or human rights but only their own military advantage and, of course, control of the huge oil resources there.
Immediately, the Palestinian people are the ones in the firing line. As John Wight wrote on the Russia Today website: “No state and no people, regardless of their history, can be given an opt-out when it comes to international law and human rights.
“Justice and security are two sides of the same coin. Israel’s security can never be an excuse for denying justice to the Palestinian people.”
But this view runs directly counter to the policy of the US administration.
Keep a close watch on websites such as the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and Stop the War for an update on activities related to the current situation in Palestine.
Jeremy Corbyn is Labour MP for Islington North.
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