The ICC intends to violate the decision of the Security Council and try Bachar el-Assad

Everyone believed it to be impossible for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to try the Syrians, since China and Russia exercised their vetos against a Western draft resolution to do so. But no! A piece of legal sleight of hand may make it possible to dodge the decision of the Security Council. The Court hopes to incriminate President Bachar el-Assad, not for the murder of Rafic Hariri (that lie fizzled out some time ago), but for « crimes against humanity ».

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In 1998, the United Nations convened the Conference of Rome, which created the International Criminal Court (ICC). Of course, the aim was not to to create a super-Tribunal which would legislate, on behalf of the member-states, in the name of humanity, but to possess a tool capable of judging criminals at the end of a war, when the institutions of the vanquished are diminished or destroyed.

Thus the statutes of the Court emphasise that it may only accept a case with the agreement of the local Justice system. But these same statutes also state
- that it may take on the case of a crime committed by a citizen of a non-member country, inside a member country, in place of the victim country;
- as well as a crime committed by anyone, anywhere, as long as it is handled by the Security Council of the United Nations.

In both cases, the Rome Statute, developed within the UNO and signed by a few States, may apply to all States, even that of non-members.

This why the three greatest world States – China, the United States and Russia – refused to ratify it. They saw in it – quite rightly – a violation of the principle of sovereignty, formulated in the 18th century by the legal expert Emer de Vattel, and voted into action by the 1969 Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties [1].

Last September, the ICC declared admissible a complaint against the authorities of Myanmar, despite the fact that it is a non-member, because it was said to have committed atrocities which provoked the exodus of the Rohingyas. The Court considered itself competent because the victims fled to Bangladesh, which is a signatory of the Rome Statute [2].

On this model, a family of the Muslim Brotherhood recently filed a complaint against President Bachar el-Assad and the Syrian representatives, although the Syrian Arab Republic is not a member of the Court. The family claims to have witnessed various atrocities and was obliged to flee to Jordan. The Court would have to ignore the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood is the heart of Islamist terrorism and that it is listed as a terrorist organisation in many countries. Logically, though, it could declare itself competent, since Jordan is a signatory of the Rome Statute.

However, on 22 May 2014, when the Western powers and their Gulf allies sought to engage the ICC via the Security Council in the context of the events in Syria, both China and Russia exercised their veto [3].

However, it makes no difference – the Court has acquired autonomy. It no longer pretends to help states render Justice, but has proclaimed itself the defender of humanity against states.

It is important to understand what is happening – over the last few years, the ICC has mainly been financed by the European Union, and has drawn up its own Code. Until 2016, it tried only African defendants under its own laws, and found them all guilty [4]. After a vote by its Parliament, Burundi then decided to withdraw from the Rome Statute, on the motive that the ICC had become « an instrument of pressure on the governments of poor countries, or a means of destabilising them according to the desires of the great powers ». Three other states then followed – Gambia, the Philippines and South Africa. However, South Africa and Gambia changed their minds after Gambian Fatou Bensouda was named as the new Prosecutor General for the Court.

Nonetheless, until the nomination of Madame Bensouda, the ICC offered none of the guarantees expected from an impartial legal system. Thus, during NATO’s attack on Libya in violation of the Security Council’s mandate, the « proof » tabled by the General Prosecutor, Argentinian Luis Moreno Ocampo, against Mouamar Kadhafi, his son Saïf el Islam and his brother-in-law Abdallah Al-Senoussi, was limited entirely to Press cuttings from the invading states. Worse – when NATO bombed Tripoli, the prosecutor declared that Saïf el-Islam Kadhafi had been arrested by the Western powers and that his bureau was organising his deferment to The Hague. By doing so, he was guilty of a bare-faced lie, and demoralised the Libyans to the point where they no longer resisted the aggression of NATO. In reality, Saïf el-Islam was safe and sound in the cellars of the Hotel Rixos, where I was myself.

The same Luis Moreno Ocampo raped a female journalist in his Court office, but escaped Justice only by his immunity as an international prosecutor [5]. Corrupt, he demanded secret payments for prosecuting individuals who were marked for elimination [6]. The Prosecutor’s secret bank accounts were later revealed by journalistic investigations in Panama and the Virgin Islands [7]. Luis Moreno Ocampo has never had to answer to these charges.

Certainly, his successor, Fatou Bensouda, is more presentable. But the structure has not changed. The magistrates of the Court are so aware of this that on 15 January 2019, they revolted and acquitted Laurent Gbagbo and Charles Ble Goude – two defendants whose alleged « crimes against humanity » had served to justify the « régime change » imposed by France in the Ivory Coast. It was the first time that the ICC abandoned the political role with which the Europeans had tasked them.

On 29 July 2015, the Western powers attempted to pass a resolution at the Security Council intended to divest the Ukrainian Justice of the destruction of flight MH17 and transfer the affair to the ICC. This was a strategy aimed at preparing the indictment of President Vladimir Putin, although Russia is not a signatory of the Rome Statute. The question here is not to determine who destroyed the plane, but to observe the political manipulation operated by the international penal Justice system. Russia exercised its veto against the Western resolution.

The Syrian President, Bachar el-Assad, will therefore probably be tried in absentia by the ICC. He will appear in abstensia with other Syrian representatives whose names have not yet been released. He is used to this. In 2005, he was accused of ordering the assassination of ex-Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri, this time with the complicity of Lebanese President Emile Lahoud. An international enquiry was led by a German/ Israeli team [8]. Then a pseudo-tribunal was created on the initiative of the US ambassador US to Beirut, Jeffrey Feltman. A treaty was signed by General Secretary of the UNO – with the approbation of the Security Council – and by the new Lebanese Prime Minister – without the authorisation of either the government or the Parliament.

At that time, the West had persuaded itself of the guilt of the accused. Alas! After a year of sensational accusations, Prosecutor Detlev Mehlis resigned in the midst of a shattering scandal – the witnesses on whom he relied were imposters paid by his friends. The Special Tribunal for Lebanon pursued its malicious work by accusing Hezbollah this time, although this organisation published recordings of an Israëli drone over the site of the assassination. The Tribunal persisted in pretending that Rafic Hariri had been killed by the explosion of a van, despite the fact that the forensic records were formal – this was impossible [9]. They spent millions of dollars reproducing the scene and attempting to validate their theory, but in vain. They are therefore working on a thesis that everyone knows is false.

The Syrian Arab Republic fought for eight years in order to preserve its sovereignty. It should therefore not allow its representatives to go to The Hague. But it can still contest the validity of the procedure.

It was initiated by the British lawyer for the plaintiffs, Rodney Dixon, known for also being the lawyer for Qatar against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. He had a long experience of « international Justice » since he had been one of the councillors for Canadian Louise Arbour, the General Prosecutor for international Justice for ex-Yugoslavia and Rwanda – two institutions which failed to find the truth about the crimes with which they were tasked.

Mr. Dixon had already declared that he intended to pursue the Syrian leaders for « crimes against humanity ». He based his case on the Caesar Report [10]; a document made public by Qatar, via the London cabinet Carter-Ruck, on 20 January 2014, two days before the peace negotiations of Geneva 2. The report was a collection of 55,000 photographs of torture victims taken by a photographer of the Syrian Arab Army. According to the accusation, they represented the victims of the « régime », while according to the Syrian government, they were on the contrary photos of the the victims of the jihadists. The report was authenticated against Syria by three international prosecutors with a shameful past, since they had worked at the Special Court for Sierra Leone and the Penal Tribunal for ex-Yugoslavia.

- Sir Desmond Lorenz de Silva is the author of a report ordered by the British Prime Minister concerning the death of an Irish lawyer, qualified as « shameful » by the victim’s family. He recognised the responsibility of the authorities, which no-one could hide any longer, but blurred the proof against the Crown.
- Sir Geoffrey Nice made himself famous by pursuing Slobodan Milošević for two years, without ever managing to find the slightest proof of crimes against humanity. The trial ended with the death of the prisoner, who, according to Russia, was assassinated in prison.
- David M. Crane is an ex-representative of the CIA and the DIA who, since the beginning of the war against Syria, has been running a programme designed to drag Bachar el-Assad in front of any special international court at all for any reason at all.

In September 2012, the US State Department, on an idea by ambassador Jeffrey Feltman who had become an assistant to the Secretary of State, created an association, the Syria Justice and Accountability Centre (SJAC), tasked with collecting proof of the crimes of the Syrian government. He financed it to the tune of 5 million dollars annually, the rest being at the charge of the « Friends of Syria », especially Morocco. Two years later, Washington ended their use of this tool. However, ambassador Jeffrey Feltman, who had since become the Director of Political Affairs for the UNO, relaunched the SJAC, this time with European funds.

There exists no control of the ICC, even when its general prosecutor is a corrupt criminal. The Court is reserved exclusively for the service of those who pay for it – the European Union.

In the past, war was considered as a means of conquest or defence. Today, on the contrary, we like to pretend that it is an illegal act in itself, even in legitimate defence. Thus, the party that decides on war must not declare it, but establish the proof a posteriori that by committing the crime of war, it is defending Good. Which the victor can always claim.

Translation
Pete Kimberley

Source
Mint Press News (USA)

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International law under threat

Source

John Bolton

By Lawrence Davidson

Several recent events suggest that global warming is not the only thing threatening our future. As if they are running on parallel tracks, some of the modern institutions that help make for stable societies – the ones that hold back the rise of barbarism – are being weakened even as the atmosphere is heating up and the oceans swell. In pursuit of short-term state or personal interests, some national leaders are violating or ignoring international law and, by doing so, putting us all at long-term risk.

Example 1: Subverting the International Criminal Court

One of the most hopeful developments to follow the catastrophe that was World War II—the war that brought the world the holocaust, the blitzkrieg, the carpet bombing of Europe, and the use of nuclear bombs against large cities – was the extension and strengthening of international law. In 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations, seeking to give such laws real force, called for the establishment of an international criminal court. That call triggered resistance because such a court would necessarily impinge on nation-state sovereignty. It took 54 years before the court was finally convened in order to enforce laws against the committing of war crimes and other evils, such as genocide.

Still, there are some nations that refuse to recognise the court’s jurisdiction. Often these are the states most addicted to the barbaric behaviour that came close to destroying a good part of the globe during the 20th century. These governments now threaten the very workability of the court. Thus, on 28 January 2019 it was reported that “a senior judge has resigned from one of the international courts in The Hague” due to interference and threats coming from both the US and Turkey. The judge’s name is Christoph Flügge.

In the case of the United States, the problem began when the International Criminal Court at the Hague decided to investigate allegations of war crimes, specifically the use of torture, committed by US forces in Afghanistan. At that point President Donald Trump’s national security adviser, John Bolton (who reminds one of a modern Savonarola when it comes to ideological enforcement), publicly threatened the court’s judges. “If these judges ever interfere in the domestic concerns of the US or investigate an American citizen,” he said, “the American government would do all it could to ensure that these judges would no longer be allowed to travel to the United States  and that they would perhaps even be criminally prosecuted.”

It must be said that (a) torturing Afghanis is not a “domestic concern of the US”, and, all too obviously, (b) Bolton is a deplorable one-dimensional thinker. Bound tightly by a life-long right-wing perspective, he has never been able to get past the concept of nation-state supremacy. This means his perspective is untouched by those lessons of history which have shown the nation-state to be a threat to civilisation itself. Thus, when in 2005, President George W. Bush appointed John Bolton ambassador to the United Nations, it was with the prior knowledge that the man felt nothing but contempt for this international organisation and would disparage it at every turn. At present Bolton has turned out to be just the kind of fellow who fits into the reactionary White House run by Donald Trump.

The leaders of the United States are not the only ones who can purposely undermine international courts. Christoph Flügge tells of another incident wherein the government of Turkey arrested one of its own nationals, Aydın Sefa Akay, who was a judge on the international court at The Hague. At the time, Akay had diplomatic immunity by virtue of his position, a fact that the increasingly statist government in Istanbul ignored. Akay’s crime was to be judged insufficiently loyal to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Flügge and his fellow judges strongly protested against the Turkish actions, but they were not supported by the present UN secretary-general, António Guterres (who himself is a former prime minister of Portugal). And, without that support, Akay lost his position as judge and was, so to speak, thrown to the dogs of nation-state arrogance.

Upon resigning, Judge Flügge had some seminal words of warning about the fate of international law. “Every incident in which judicial independence is breached is one too many.” The cases of Turkish and US interference with the International Criminal Court set a fatal precedent “and everyone can invoke it in the future. Everyone can say: ‘But you let Turkey get its way.’ This is an original sin. It can’t be fixed.” Commenting on the threat levelled by John Bolton, Flügge said, “the American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate… The judges on the court were stunned.” Yet, this behaviour was quite in accord with nation-state aggrandisement and American exceptionalism – national sovereignty stands above international law.

Example 2: Suborning of international police

It is not only the world’s international laws and international court that are being undermined, but also Interpol, the world’s international police force. Nation-state leaders, particularly the dictators who place their interests and preferences above even their own domestic law, now seek to suborn Interpol and use it as a weapon to silence their critics.

The latest example of this comes out of Bahrain. Bahrain is a wealthy monarchical dictatorship in the Persian Gulf. It is run by a Sunni elite minority which systematically represses the country’s Shi’i majority. By doing so, its major “achievement” to date has been to give the religion of Islam a bad name. It is also a staunch US ally, and the US Fifth Fleet is based in that country. If you want to know where much of the US naval forces supporting the Saudi destruction of Yemen come from, it is Bahrain.

So, how is the dictatorship in Bahrain corrupting the world’s international police force? One of the players on Bahrain’s national soccer team, Hakeem al-Araibi, vocally expressed his dissent over the way Bahrain is run. He was then framed for “vandalising a police station”, even though he was playing in a football match, broadcast on TV, at the time of the incident. He was arrested, beaten up in jail, yet still managed to escape to Australia, where he was granted asylum. At this point Bahrain managed to have Interpol issue a fraudulent arrest warrant. When Al-Araibi showed up in Thailand on his honeymoon, he was taken into custody and now awaits possible extradition back to Bahrain, where he may well face torture. By the way, it is a violation of international law to extradite someone to a country where he or she risks being tortured. So far Thailand has not taken advantage of this legal and moral reason to defy the Bahraini monarchy.

This is not an isolated problem. The watchdog organisation Fair Trials has documented multiple cases of the corruption and abuse of Interpol by governments which do not feel themselves bound by the rule of law.

Conclusion

There is little doubt that the 21st century has begun with an assault on both the climatic and legal atmosphere that underpins the world’s stability.

Before 1946 the world was a mess: one hot war after another, economic recessions and depressions, imperialism, colonialism, and racism galore. All of this was grounded in the nation state and its claim of sacred sovereignty. The world experienced a sort of climax to this horror show in the form of Nazi racism and the holocaust, the use of nuclear weapons, and Stalinist Russia’s purges, mass starvations and Gulag exiles.

After World War II, things got better in a slow sort of way. The trauma of the recent past spurred on the formation of international laws, international courts, a universal declaration of human rights, civil rights movements and the like. We also got the Cold War, which, for all its tensions, was a big improvement on hot wars.

Now things are falling apart again, and rest assured that US leaders and their less savoury allies abroad are doing their part in the devolution of peace and justice. Shall we name just a few US names? Well, there is President Trump and his minion John Bolton. They go gaga over thugs passing themselves off as presidents in such nation-states as Egypt, the Philippines and that pseudo-democracy, Israel. There is also Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, who has turned into the US version of Cardinal Richelieu when it comes to Washington’s South America foreign policy. He is the one pushing for the overthrow of the legitimate government in Venezuela while simultaneously calling for close relations with the new fascist president of Brazil.

And the list goes on. How do we do this to ourselves? Is it short memories of the wretched past or almost no historical memory at all? Is it some sort of perverse liking for group violence? This is an important question and a perennial one. But now, with global warming upon us and lifestyles soon to be under threat, things are going to get even more messy – and messy social and economic situations are usually good news for barbarians. More than ever, we are going to need uncorrupted international laws, courts and police.

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela — A Case of News-Suppression

February 07, 2019

by Eric Zuesse for The Saker Blog

What the Press Hides From You About Venezuela — A Case of News-Suppression

INTRODUCTION

This news-report is being submitted to all U.S. and allied news-media, and is being published by all honest ones, in order to inform you of crucial facts that the others — the dishonest ones, who hude such crucial facts — are hiding about Venezuela. These are facts that have received coverage only in one single British newspaper: the Independent, which published a summary account of them on January 26th. That newspaper’s account will be excerpted here at the end, but first will be highlights from its topic, the official report to the U.N. General Assembly in August of last year, which has been covered-up ever since. This is why that report’s author has now gone to the Independent, desperate to get the story out, finally, to the public:

THE COVERED-UP DOCUMENT

On 3 August 2018, the U.N.’s General Assembly received the report from the U.N.s Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, concerning his mission to Venezuela and Ecuador. His recent travel though both countries focused on “how best to enhance the enjoyment of all human rights by the populations of both countries.” He “noted the eradication of illiteracy, free education from primary school to university, and programmes to reduce extreme poverty, provide housing to the homeless and vulnerable, phase out privilege and discrimination, and extend medical care to everyone.” He noted “that the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, and Ecuador, both devote around 70 per cent of their national budgets to social services.” However (and here, key paragraphs from the report are now quoted):

22. Observers have identified errors committed by the Chávez and Maduro Governments, noting that there are too many ideologues and too few technocrats in public administration, resulting in government policies that lack coherence and professional management and discourage domestic investment, already crippled by inefficiency and corruption, which extend to government officials, transnational corporations and entrepreneurs. Critics warn about the undue influence of the military on government and on the running of enterprises like Petróleos de Venezuela. The lack of regular, publicly available data on nutrition, epidemiology and inflation are said to complicate efforts to provide humanitarian support.

23. Meanwhile, the Attorney General, Tarek Saab, has launched a vigorous anticorruption campaign, investigating the links between Venezuelan enterprises and tax havens, contracting scams, and deals by public officials with Odebrecht. It is estimated that corruption in the oil industry has cost the Government US$ 4.8 billion. The Attorney General’s Office informed the Independent Expert of pending investigations for embezzlement and extortion against 79 officials of Petróleos de Venezuela, including 22 senior managers. The Office also pointed to the arrest of two high-level oil executives, accused of money-laundering in Andorra. The Ministry of Justice estimates corruption losses at some US$ 15 billion. Other stakeholders, in contrast, assert that anti-corruption programmes are selective and have not sufficiently targeted State institutions, including the military. …

29. … Over the past sixty years, non-conventional economic wars have been waged against Cuba, Chile, Nicaragua, the Syrian Arab Republic and the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela in order to make their economies fail, facilitate regime change and impose a neo-liberal socioeconomic model. In order to discredit selected governments, failures in the field of human rights are maximized so as to make violent overthrow more palatable. Human rights are being “weaponized” against rivals. Yet, human rights are the heritage of every human being and should never be instrumentalized as weapons of demonization. …

30. The principles of non-intervention and non-interference in the internal affairs of sovereign States belong to customary international law and have been reaffirmed in General Assembly resolutions, notably [a list is supplied]. …

31. In its judgment of 27 June 1986 concerning Nicaragua v. United States, the International Court of Justice quoted from [U.N.] resolution 2625 (XXV): “no State shall organize, assist, foment, finance, incite or tolerate subversive, terrorist or armed activities directed towards the violent overthrow of the regime of another State, or interfere in civil strife in another State”. …

36. The effects of sanctions imposed by Presidents Obama and Trump and unilateral measures by Canada and the European Union have directly and indirectly aggravated the shortages in medicines such as insulin and anti-retroviral drugs. To the extent that economic sanctions have caused delays in distribution and thus contributed to many deaths, sanctions contravene the human rights obligations of the countries imposing them.Moreover, sanctions can amount to crimes against humanity under Article 7 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court. An investigation by that Court would be appropriate, but the geopolitical submissiveness of the Court may prevent this.

37. Modern-day economic sanctions and blockades are comparable with medieval sieges of towns with the intention of forcing them to surrender. Twenty-first century sanctions attempt to bring not just a town, but sovereign countries to their knees. A difference, perhaps, is that twenty-first century sanctions are accompanied by the manipulation of public opinion through “fake news”, aggressive public relations and a pseudo-human rights rhetoric so as to give the impression that a human rights “end” justifies the criminal means. …

39. Economic asphyxiation policies are comparable to those already practised in Chile, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Nicaragua and the Syrian Arab Republic. In January 2018, Middle East correspondent of The Financial Times and The Independent, Patrick Cockburn, wrote on the sanctions affecting Syria:

There is usually a pretence that foodstuffs and medical equipment are being allowed through freely and no mention is made of the financial and other regulatory obstacles making it impossible to deliver them. An example of this is the draconian sanctions imposed on Syria by the US and EU which were meant to target President Bashar al-Assad and help remove him from power. They have wholly failed to do this, but a UN internal report leaked in 2016 shows all too convincingly the effect of the embargo in stopping the delivery of aid by international aid agencies. They cannot import the aid despite waivers because banks and commercial companies dare not risk being penalised for having anything to do with Syria. The report quotes a European doctor working in Syria as saying that “the indirect effect of sanctions … makes the import of the medical instruments and other medical supplies immensely difficult, near impossible”. In short: economic sanctions kill. …

41. Bearing in mind that Venezuelan society is polarized, what is most needed is dialogue between the Government and the opposition, and it would be a noble task on the part of the Secretary-General of the United Nations to offer his good offices for such a dialogue. Yet, opposition leaders Antonio Ledezma and Julio Borges, during a trip through Europe to denounce the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called for further sanctions as well as a military “humanitarian intervention”. …

44. Although the situation in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela has not yet reached the humanitarian crisis threshold, there is hunger, malnutrition, anxiety, anguish and emigration. What is crucial is to study the causes of the crisis, including neglected factors of sanctions, sabotage, hoarding, black market activities, induced inflation and contraband in food and medicines.

45. The “crisis” in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela is an economic crisis, which cannot be compared with the humanitarian crises in Gaza, Yemen, Libya, the Syrian Arab Republic, Iraq, Haiti, Mali, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, Somalia, or Myanmar, among others. It is significant that when, in 2017, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela requested medical aid from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the plea was rejected, because it ”is still a high-income country … and as such is not eligible”. …

46. It is pertinent to recall the situation in the years prior to the election of Hugo Chávez. 118 Corruption was ubiquitous and in 1993, President Carlos Pérez was removed because of embezzlement. The Chávez election in 1998 reflected despair with the corruption and neo-liberal policies of the 1980s and 1990s, and rejection of the gulf between the super-rich and the abject poor.

47. Participatory democracy in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, called “protagónica”, is anchored in the Constitution of 1999 and relies on frequent elections and referendums. During the mission, the Independent Expert exchanged views with the Electoral Commission and learned that in the 19 years since Chávez, 25 elections and referendums had been conducted, 4 of them observed by the Carter Center. The Independent Expert met with the representative of the Carter Center in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, who recalled Carter’s positive assessment of the electoral system. They also discussed the constitutional objections raised by the opposition to the referendum held on 30 July 2017, resulting in the creation of a Constitutional Assembly. Over 8 million Venezuelans voted in the referendum, which was accompanied by international observers, including from the Council of Electoral Specialists of Latin America.

48. An atmosphere of intimidation accompanied the mission, attempting to pressure the Independent Expert into a predetermined matrix. He received letters from NGOs asking him not to proceed because he was not the “relevant” rapporteur, and almost dictating what should be in the report. Weeks before his arrival, some called the mission a “fake investigation”. Social media insults bordered on “hate speech” and “incitement”. Mobbing before, during and after the mission bore a resemblance to the experience of two American journalists who visited the country in July 2017. Utilizing platforms such as Facebook and Twitter, critics questioned the Independent Expert’s integrity and accused him of bias, demonstrating a culture of intransigence and refusal to accept the duty of an independent expert to be neutral, objective, dispassionate and to apply his expertise free of external pressures. …

67. The Independent Expert recommends that the General Assembly: (g) Invoke article 96 of the Charter of the United Nations and refer the following questions to the International Court of Justice: Can unilateral coercive measures be compatible with international law? Can unilateral coercive measures amount to crimes against humanity when a large number of persons perish because of scarcity of food and medicines? What reparations are due to the victims of sanctions? Do sanctions and currency manipulations constitute geopolitical crimes? (h) Adopt a resolution along the lines of the resolutions on the United States embargo against Cuba, declaring the sanctions against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela contrary to international law and human rights law. …

70. The Independent Expert recommends that the International Criminal Court investigate the problem of unilateral coercive measures that cause death from malnutrition, lack of medicines and medical equipment. …

72. The Independent Expert recommends that, until the International Court of Justice and the International Criminal Court address the lethal outcomes of economic wars and sanctions regimes, the Permanent Peoples Tribunal, the Russell Tribunal and the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission undertake the task so as to facilitate future judicial pronouncements.

On January 26th, Britain’s Independent headlined “Venezuela crisis: Former UN rapporteur says US sanctions are killing citizens”, and Michael Selby-Green reported that:

The first UN rapporteur to visit Venezuela for 21 years has told The Independent the US sanctions on the country are illegal and could amount to “crimes against humanity” under international law.

Former special rapporteur Alfred de Zayas, who finished his term at the UN in March, has criticized the US for engaging in “economic warfare” against Venezuela which he said is hurting the economy and killing Venezuelans.

The comments come amid worsening tensions in the country after the US and UK have backed Juan Guaido, who appointed himself “interim president” of Venezuela as hundreds of thousands marched to support him. …

The US Treasury has not responded to a request for comment on Mr de Zayas’s allegations of the effects of the sanctions programme.

US sanctions prohibit dealing in currencies issued by the Venezuelan government. They also target individuals, and stop US-based companies or people from buying and selling new debt issued by PDVSA or the government.

The US has previously defended its sanctions on Venezuela, with a senior US official saying in 2018: “The fact is that the greatest sanction on Venezuelan oil and oil production is called Nicolas Maduro, and PDVSA’s inefficiencies,” referring to the state-run oil body, Petroleos de Venezuela, SA.

Mr De Zayas’s findings are based on his late-2017 mission to the country and interviews with 12 Venezuelan government minsters, opposition politicians, 35 NGOs working in the country, academics, church officials, activists, chambers of commerce and regional UN agencies.

The US imposed new sanctions against Venezuela on 9 March 2015, when President Barack Obama issued executive order 13692, declaring the country a threat to national security.

The sanctions have since intensified under Donald Trump, who has also threatened military invasion and discussed a coup. …

Despite being the first UN official to visit and report from Venezuela in 21 years, Mr de Zayas said his research into the causes of the country’s economic crisis has so far largely been ignored by the UN and the media, and caused little debate within the Human Rights Council.

He believes his report has been ignored because it goes against the popular narrative that Venezuela needs regime change. …

The then UN high commissioner, Zeid Raad Al Hussein, reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit, and the Venezuela desk of the UN Human Rights Council also declined to help with his work after his return despite being obliged to do so, Mr de Zayas claimed. …

Ivan Briscoe, Latin America and Caribbean programme director for Crisis Group, an international NGO, told The Independent that Venezuela is a polarising subject. … Briscoe is critical of Mr de Zayas’s report because it highlights US economic warfare but in his view neglects to mention the impact of a difficult business environment in the country. … Briscoe acknowledged rising tensions and the likely presence of US personnel operating covertly in the country. …

Eugenia Russian, president of FUNDALATIN, one of the oldest human rights NGOs in Venezuela, founded in 1978 before the Chavez and Maduro governments and with special consultative status at the UN, spoke to The Independent on the significance of the sanctions.

In contact with the popular communities, we consider that one of the fundamental causes of the economic crisis in the country is the effect that the unilateral coercive sanctions that are applied in the economy, especially by the government of the United States,” Ms Russian said.

She said there may also be causes from internal errors, but said probably few countries in the world have suffered an “economic siege” like the one Venezuelans are living under. …

In his report, Mr de Zayas expressed concern that those calling the situation a “humanitarian crisis” are trying to justify regime change and that human rights are being “weaponised” to discredit the government and make violent overthrow more “palatable”….

Venezuela has the largest oil reserves in the world and an abundance of other natural resources including gold, bauxite and coltan. But under the Maduro government they’re not easily accessible to US and transnational corporations.

US oil companies had large investments in Venezuela in the early 20th century but were locked out after Venezuelans voted to nationalise the industry in 1973.

Other than readers of that single newspaper, where has the public been able to find these facts? If the public can have these facts hidden from them, then how much trust should the public reasonably have in the government, and in the news-media?

(NOTE: Zeid Raad Al Hussein, who “reportedly refused to meet Mr de Zayas after the visit,” is Prince Zeid Raad Al Hussein, a Jordanian Prince. Jordan is a vassal-state in the U.S. empire. But Prince Hussein is a Jordanian diplomat who served as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 — hardly an unbiased or independent person in such a supposedly nonpartisan role.)

(NOTE: Here is the garbage that a reader comes to, who is trying to find online Mr. de Zayas’s report on this matter: https://documents-dds-ny.un.. As intended, the document remains effectively hidden to the present day. Perhaps the U.N. needs to be replaced and located in Venezuela, Iran, or some other country that’s targeted for take-over by the people who effectively own the United States Government and control the U.N.’s bureaucracy. The hiding of this document was done not only by the press but by the U.N. itself.)

(NOTE: On January 23rd, Germany’s Die Zeit headlined

“Christoph Flügge: ‘I am deeply disturbed’: The U.N. International Criminal Court Judge Christoph Flügge Accuses Western Nations of Threatening the Independence of the Judges”. Flügge especially cited U.S. President Trump’s agent, John Bolton. That same day, the Democratic Party and Labour Party organ, Britain’s Guardian, bannered “International criminal court: UN court judge quits The Hague citing political interference”. This news-report said that, “A senior judge has resigned from one of the UN’s international courts in The Hague citing ‘shocking’ political interference from the White House and Turkey.” The judge especially criticised Bolton: “The American security adviser held his speech at a time when The Hague was planning preliminary investigations into American soldiers who had been accused of torturing people in Afghanistan. The American threats against international judges clearly show the new political climate. It is shocking. I had never heard such a threat.” Flügge said that the judges on the court had been “stunned” that “the US would roll out such heavy artillery”. Flügge told the Guardian: “It is consistent with the new American line: ‘We are No 1 and we stand above the law’.”)

—————

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of  CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity.

 

israel (apartheid state) is Afraid of Khalida Jarrar because She Shatters Its False Democratic Image

Israel is Afraid of Khalida Jarrar because She Shatters Its False Democratic Image

Israel renewed administrative detention of Khalida Jarrar. (Photo: via MEMO)

By Ramzy Baroud

When Israeli troops stormed the house of Palestinian parliamentarian and lawyer Khalida Jarrar on April 2, 2015, she was engrossed in her research. For months, she had been leading a Palestinian effort to take Israel to the International Criminal Court (ICC). Her research on that very evening was related directly to the kind of behavior that allows a group of soldiers to handcuff a respected Palestinian intellectual, throw her in jail with no trial and have no accountability for their action.

Jarrar was released in June 2016 after spending more than a year in jail, only to be arrested once more, on 2 July last year. She remains in an Israeli prison to this day. On 28 October, her “administrative detention” was renewed for the fourth time.

There are thousands of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, most of them held outside the militarily-occupied Palestinian territories, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Nearly 500 of these Palestinians are held with neither charge nor trial and detained for six-month periods that are renewed, sometimes indefinitely, by Israeli military courts with no legal justification whatsoever. Jarrar is one of those “administrative detainees”.

The parliamentarian is not pleading with her jailers for her freedom. Instead, she is keeping herself busy, educating her fellow prisoners about international law, offering classes and issuing statements to the outside world that reflect not only her refined intellect but also her resolve and strength of character.

Jarrar is relentless. Despite her failing health — she suffers from multiple ischemic infarctions and hypercholesterolemia, and was hospitalized due to severe bleeding resulting from epistaxis — her commitment to the cause of her people has not, in any way, weakened or faltered.

The 55-year-old lawyer has championed a political discourse that is largely missing amid the ongoing feud between the Palestinian Authority’s largest faction, Fatah, in the occupied West Bank, and Hamas in besieged Gaza. As a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) and an active member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), Jarrar has advocated the kind of politics that is not disconnected from the people and, especially, from the women who she strongly and uncompromisingly represents.

According to Jarrar, no Palestinian official should engage in any form of dialogue with Israel, because such engagement helps to legitimize a state that is founded on genocide and ethnic cleansing; a state that is currently carrying out various types of war crimes, the very crimes that Jarrar tried to expose before the ICC. As such, she rejects the so-called “peace process”, a futile exercise that has no intention or mechanism aimed at “implementing international resolutions related to the Palestinian cause and recognizing the fundamental rights of the Palestinians.”

It goes without saying that a woman with such an astute, strong position vehemently rejects the “security coordination” between the PA and Israel. She sees such action as a betrayal of the struggle and sacrifices of the Palestinian people.

While PA officials continue to enjoy the perks of “leadership”, desperately breathing life into a dead political discourse called the “peace process” and the “two-state solution”, Jarrar, a female Palestinian leader with genuine vision, subsists in HaSharon Prison. There, along with dozens of other Palestinian women, she experiences daily humiliation, denial of rights and various other Israeli tactics intended to break her spirit.

Jarrar, though, is as experienced in resisting Israel as she is in her knowledge of law and human rights. In August 2014, as Israel was carrying out one of its most heinous acts of genocide in Gaza — killing and wounding thousands in its so-called “Operation Protective Edge” military offensive — Jarrar received an unwelcome visit by Israeli soldiers.

Fully aware of her work and credibility as a Palestinian lawyer with an international outreach — she is the Palestine representative in the Council of Europe — the Israeli government unleashed their campaign of harassment, which ended in her imprisonment. The soldiers delivered a military edict ordering her to leave her home in Al-Bireh, near Ramallah, and go to Jericho.

The Israelis failed to silence her, so she was arrested in April the following year. Thus began an episode of suffering, as well as resistance, which is yet to end.

When the Israeli army came for Jarrar, its soldiers surrounded her home in great numbers, as if the well-spoken Palestinian activist was Israel’s greatest security threat. The scene was surreal and revealed what Israel’s real fear is: Palestinians, like Khalida Jarrar, who are able to communicate an articulate message that exposes Israel and its crimes to the rest of the world.

Indeed, the whole set-up was reminiscent of the opening sentence of Franz Kafka’s novel, The Trial: “Somebody must have made a false accusation against Joseph K., for he was arrested one morning without having done anything wrong.”

Administrative detention in Israel is the recreation of that Kafkaesque scene over and over again. Joseph K. is Khalida Jarrar and thousands of other Palestinians who are paying a high price merely for calling for the legitimate rights and freedom of their people.

Under international pressure, Israel was forced to put Jarrar on trial, levying against her twelve charges that included visiting a released prisoner and participating in a book fair. Her other arrest and the four renewals of her detention is a testament not just to Israel’s lack of any real evidence against her, but also to its moral bankruptcy.

Why is Israel afraid of Khalida Jarrar? The truth is that Jarrar, like many other Palestinian women, represents the antidote to the fabricated narrative which promotes Israel relentlessly as an oasis of freedom, democracy, and human rights, juxtaposed with a Palestinian society that purportedly represents the opposite of what Israel stands for.

As a lawyer, human rights activist, prominent politician, and advocate for women, Jarrar and her eloquence, courage and deep understanding of her rights and the rights of her people, demolish this Israeli house of lies. She is the quintessential feminist; her feminism, however, is not mere identity politics, a surface ideology, evoking empty rights meant to strike a chord with western audiences. Instead, Khalida Jarrar fights for Palestinian women, their freedom and their right to receive a proper education, to seek work opportunities and to better their lives, while facing tremendous obstacles like Israel’s military occupation, prison, and social pressures.

In Arabic, Khalida means “immortal”. It is a most fitting designation for a true fighter who represents the legacy of generations of strong Palestinian women whose “sumoud” — steadfastness — shall always inspire an entire nation.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist, author and editor of Palestine Chronicle. His forthcoming book is ‘The Last Earth: A Palestinian Story’ (Pluto Press, London). Baroud has a Ph.D. in Palestine Studies from the University of Exeter and is a Non-Resident Scholar at Orfalea Center for Global and International Studies, University of California Santa Barbara. His website is www.ramzybaroud.net.

Khan Al-Ahmar Exposes the Misplaced Priorities of the PA and the International Community

Residents of Khan al-Ahmar block Israeli bulldozers to stop the demolition of their village. (Photo: Oren Ziv, Activestills.org)

October 20, 2018

By Ramona Wadi

The Palestinian Authority and the international community made a PR spectacle out of Khan Al-Ahmar and its impending demolition. Suffice to say that when facing human rights violations which are listed as war crimes, protocol is given precedence and the media follows suit. Two recent statements testify to this collective experimentation upon the Palestinian people.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) prosecutor warned that Khan Al-Ahmar’s demolition would constitute a war crime under the Rome Statute. Fatou Bensouda will, she added, “continue to keep a close eye on the developments on the ground.” It is worth noting that the situation in Palestine has been under preliminary investigation at the ICC since 2015 and the rhetoric remains stagnant in concordance with the bureaucratic procedures that allow war crimes to be committed rather than prevented.

Meanwhile, PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah paid a so-called “solidarity visit” to the threatened village in which verbal distinction between the people and the politicians was blurred.  “Our presence here today in Khan Al-Ahmar carries a message that says we are going to fight to defeat the deal of the century,” Hamdallah declared.

Whose presence was he referring to? The PA’s presence is a symbol devoid of any symbolism, diplomatic or otherwise; it’s an authority without authority. There will be no official PA presence in Khan Al-Ahmar when the Israeli bulldozers roll in and rhetoric about fighting the deal of the century will be spouted forth at another opportune time and place.

While the fate of the Bedouin village has indeed attracted international attention, there is a constant failure to note that all such forced displacements from 1948 onwards are part of Israel’s plan to colonize all of historic Palestine. The insistence on framing this eviction as detrimental only to the two-state compromise is not only inaccurate but also dangerous.

To what extent is Khan Al-Ahmar important to the international community? Is it because there is a commitment to uphold human rights — if so, why are they not being upheld? — or is there some value to be derived from maintaining the clearly obsolete two-state rhetoric? It is not difficult to guess that human rights have little to do with what is happening. This should prompt collective outrage at the international community’s own abuse and exploitation of Palestinian rights depending on whether they concur with the accepted paradigm.

The PA and the international community have tethered Palestinians to future hypothetical support. Furthermore, there is an adamant refusal to view Khan Al-Ahmar’s demolition as another macabre chapter in a long history of forced displacement of the Palestinian people. Historically, the villagers’ struggle is not unique, yet we are forced to view it as an isolated incident.

The difference lies beneath the perception. Palestinian communities targeted with forced displacement are aware of their solitary predicament in relation to the political unraveling of their cause. The PA’s alignment to Israel and the international community, on the other hand, leaves it with little choice other than to continue the charade of allegedly protecting Palestinian rights while failing, more than ever, to find a foothold for its survival beyond what is dictated to, and implemented by, itself as an institution created to defend Israel. Like the international community, PA officials have attempted to tie Khan Al-Ahmar to the two-state delusion in vain, while the community has persisted in its resistance within the framework of historic Palestine.

– Ramona Wadi is a staff writer for Middle East Monitor, where this article was originally published. She contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.

Related Videos

UNO : birth of the post-Western world

Thierry Meyssan

Thierry MeyssanPolitical consultant, President-founder of the Réseau Voltaire (Voltaire Network). Latest work in French – Sous nos Yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump (Right Before our Eyes. From 9/11 to Donald Trump).

DAMASCUS (SYRIA)
The administration of the UNO had been hoping for a clash between the pro- and anti-Trump factions during the General Assembly. What actually happened was very different. While several States, including France, denounced the methods of the resident of the White House, Russia undertook an analysis of the Western alliance. According to Moscow, most of our current problems are due to the desire of the old colonial powers to conserve their domination of the rest of the world – at whatever the cost. In order to overtake them, a formidable coalition has been born.
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The hearing of the 73rd session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Despite appearances, the procession of the heads of State and government, or Ministers for Foreign Affairs, at the General Assembly of the United Nation was not without purpose. It’s true that most of them, having little to say, addressed their interior public opinions by blaming UNO incompetence and calling for a respect for the law. But many of their interventions went straight to the heart of the matter – how to resolve the disputes between States and guarantee peace?

The first three days were marked by the speech by Donald Trump (United States) and the responses by Emmanuel Macron (France) and Hassan Rohani (Iran). But all these complications were shattered on the fourth day with the intervention by Sergueï Lavrov (Russia), when he presented the map of the post-Western world.

World collapse according to Donald Trump

President Trump, whose speeches are usually extremely disorganised, had on this occasion prepared a finely structured text [1]. Distinguishing himself from his predecessors, he affirmed that he gave privilege to « independence and cooperation », rather than « governance, control and international domination » (in other words, his national interests rather than those of the « American Empire »). He followed by enumerating the readjustments of the system he had set in motion.

- The USA has not declared commercial war on China, but is in the process of re-establishing its balance of payments. Simultaneously, the US is trying to restore an international market founded on free market competition, as demonstrated by their position in the energy sector. The US has become a major exporters of hydrocarbons, and would therefore benefit from high prices, but it opposes the existence of an intergovernmental cartel, the OPEC, and is calling for lower prices.
- It is opposed to the structures and treaties of globalisation (that is to say, from the point of view of the White House, transnational financial imperialism), notably the UN Human Rights Council, the International Criminal Court, and UNRWA. Of course, this is not a claim for torture (which was legitimised by George Bush Jr. in his day) nor crime, nor starving the Palestinians, but the destruction of the organisations which instrumentalise their object in order to achieve other goals.
- Concerning the migrations from Latin America to the United States, and also within the interior of the South American continent itself, the US intends to end them by treating the problem at its roots. For the White House, the problem results from the rules imposed by globalist Treaties, notably NAFTA. President Trump has therefore negotiated a new agreement with Mexico which links exports to respect for the social rights of Mexican workers. He intends to return to the original Monroe doctrine – meaning that the multinationals will no longer be able to interfere in the governing of the continent.

The reference to the Monroe doctrine merits an explanation, since the expression suggests US colonialism at the beginning of the 20th century. Donald Trump is an admirer of the foreign policies of two very controversial personalities, Presidents Andew Jackson (1829-1837) and Richard Nixon (1969-74). The Monroe doctrine (1823) was elaborated during the intervention of a man who at that time was no more than General Jackson in the Spanish colony of Florida. At that time, James Monroe wanted to protect the American continent from European imperialism. It was the « era of good feelings ». He therefore pledged that the United States would not intervene in Europe if Europe stopped intervening in the Americas. It was only three quarters of a century later, notably with Theodore Roosevelt (1901-1909), that the Monroe doctrine would be used as a screen to hide US imperialism in Latin America.

The defence of the old world by Emmanuel Macron and Hassan Rohani

In a strange inversion of roles, French President Emmanuel Macron presented himself as the European Barack Obama facing up to the US Charles De Gaulle, as played by Donald Trump. Macron symbolically declared war, stating: « Let us sign no more commercial agreements with powers which do not respect the Paris Agreement » (which means no more agreements with the United States) – an odd way to defend multilateralism!

The French President began with Donald Trump’s implicit assessment – the crisis of the current « liberal Westphalian order » [2]. This means the crisis of nation-States who are badly shaken by economic globalisation. But this strategy was only intended to more efficiently oppose the solution proposed by the White House, which he qualified as the « law of the strongest ». He therefore described the French solution, « based around three principles – the first is the respect for sovereignty, the very foundation of our charter; the second is the reinforcement of our regional cooperation; and the third is the implementation of more robust international guarantees ».

But then his speech zoomed off into the stratosphere to end in a lyrical exaltation, during which Emmanuel Macron allowed himself a moment of juvenile hypocrisy reaching to the limits of schizophrenia.

- As an example of « the respect for sovereignty », he called for a refusal to « substitute oneself for the Syrian people » when we decide who will become their leader… while at the same time forbidding President el-Assad to present himself for election by his compatriots.

- Concerning the « reinforcement of regional cooperation », he mentioned the support offered by the African Union to the French anti-terrorist operation in the Sahel. But this operation was in reality only the land-based wing of a larger plan directed by AfriCom, for which the US army supplied the airborne wing. The African Union itself has no real army as such, and acts only to legalise a colonial operation. Similarly, the sums invested for the development of the Sahel – which the French President quoted not in Euros, but in dollars – mixes true African projects with foreign aid for development. The impotence of this endeavour has long been clear to all.

- Concerning « the implementation of more robust international guarantees », he announced the struggle against inequalities which should be addressed by the G7 summit in Biarritz. This was simply a way of affirming, once again, Western leadership over the rest of the world, Russia and China included. He claimed that « the time when a club of rich countries could alone define the balance of the world is long over », and promised to … present a report of the decisions taken by the major Western powers before the next General Assembly. Again, he proclaimed that the « G7 should be the motor » of the struggle against inequality undertaken by the UNO.

Speaking in his turn, Iranian President Cheikh Hassan Rohani described in detail the way in which the White House is destroying, one by one, the principles of international Law [3].

He reminded us that the 5+1 agreement (JCPoA) had been validated by the Security Council, which had called upon numerous institutions for their support (resolution 2231), and that Donald Trump’s USA had withdrawn from the agreement, negating the signature of his predecessor and the principle of the continuity of state. He emphasised that, as attested by twelve consecutive AIEA reports, Iran has conformed and is still conforming to its obligations. He expressed his indignation at President Trump’s call to disobey the UNO resolution and the threat he has addressed against those who respect it.

He finished by recalling a few facts – Iran fought Saddam Hussein, the Taliban and Daesh before the United States (which was at that time supporting them) – one way of emphasising the fact that for a long time, the about-faces by the USA do not correspond to the logic of Law, but to the logic of its own hidden interests.

Sergueï Lavrov presents the post-Western world

This debate, not for or against the United States, but for or against Donald Trump, was organised around two main arguments:
- The White House is destroying the system which has so well benefited the international financial elites (Macron).
- The White House is no longer even pretending to respect international Law (Rohani).

For the Russian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Sergueï Lavrov, this debate hides a problem which goes even deeper. « On one hand, we see the reinforcement of the polycentric principles of the world order , (…) the aspiration of the people to preserve their sovereignty and work with models of development which are compatible with their national, cultural and religious identities. On the other, we see the desire of several Western states to preserve their self-proclaimed status as “world leaders” and to hinder the objective and irreversible process of the establishment of multipolarity », he stated [4].

From that point, it is no longer pertinent for Moscow to argue with President Trump, nor even the United States, but with the Westerners in general. Sergueï Lavrov went as far as drawing a parallel with the Munich Agreements of 1938. At that time, France and the United Kingdom signed an alliance with Germany and Italy. It’s true that this event is remembered today in Western Europe as an act of cowardice on the part of France and Britain faced with the demands of the Nazis, but it remains engraved in Russian memory as the decisive step which triggered the Second World War. While Western historians seek to decide who took this decision and who followed the movement, Russian historians note only one thing – that none of the Western Europeans assumed their responsibilities.

Extending his study, Sergueï Lavrov no longer denounced the infringements to the Law, but to international structures. He observed that the Westerners attempt to force the people to enter into military alliances against their will, and threaten certain States who wish to chose their partners themselves. Alluding to the Jeffrey Feltman affair [5], he denounced the attempts to control the administration of the UNO, and force it to assume the role which should be played by the member-States, and finally, to use the General Secretariat to manipulate them.

He noted the desperate nature of these attempts, observing, for example, the inefficiency of fifty years of the US blockade of Cuba. He stigmatised the British desire to judge and condemn without trial by using their rhetoric of « highly probable ».

Sergueï Lavrov concluded by emphasising that all this Western disorder did not prevent the rest of the world from cooperating and developing. He recalled the « Greater Eurasian Partnership », mentioned at the Valdaï Forum in 2016 by President Putin to complete President Xi’s « Belt and Road Initiative ». This vast initiative, which was at first given a chilly reception by China, is now supported by the Collective Security Treaty, the Eurasian Economic Union, the Commonwealth of Independent States, BRICS, and the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation. Counter-propositions by Australia, Japan and the European Union were still-born.

While Western representatives have the habit of announcing their projects in advance, and discussing them, Russian diplomats only speak of them when they are already under way and are sure to succeed.

To sum up, the strategy of the containment of Russia and China, dreamed up by British deputy Halford J. Mackinder [6] and clarified by US National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzeziński [7], has failed. The world’s centre of gravity is being displaced to the East, not against the Westerners, but by their fault [8].

Drawing the first practical conclusions from these analyses, Syrian Vice-Prime Minister, Walid al-Moallem, demanded on the following day at the tribune of the General Assembly the immediate withdrawal of the occupying troops of the United States, France and Turkey [9].

Translation
Pete Kimberley

[1] “Remarks by Donald Trump to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, by Donald Trump, Voltaire Network, 25 September 2018.

[2] « Discours d’Emmanuel Macron devant la 73e séance de l’Assemblée générale des Nations unies », par Emmanuel Macron, Réseau Voltaire, 25 septembre 2018.

[3] “Remarks by Hassan Rohani to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, by Hassan Rohani, Voltaire Network, 25 September 2018.

[4] “Remarks by Sergey Lavrov to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, by Sergey Lavrov, Voltaire Network, 28 September 2018.

[5] “Germany and the UNO against Syria”, “How the administration of the UNO is organising the war”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Voltaire Network, 28 January 2016 and 5 September 2018.

[6] “The geographical pivot of history”, Halford J. Mackinder, The Geographical Journal, 1904, 23, pp. 421–37.

[7The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzeziński, Basic Books. 1997.

[8] “The Geopolitics of American Global Decline”, by Alfred McCoy, Tom Dispatch (USA) , Voltaire Network, 22 June 2015.

[9] “Remarks by Walid Al-Moualem to the 73rd Session of the United Nations General Assembly”, by Walid Al-Moualem, Voltaire Network, 29 September 2018.

israel (apartheid state) imagines it’s above International Law and will have no excuses when other nations assume the same

Israel Says It Is Entitled To Violate Sovereignty of Foreign Countries

The Israeli government has recently claimed that it can “legislate anywhere in the world”, that it is “entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries”, and that “is allowed to ignore the directives of international law in any field it desires”. This was written in an official response letter to the Supreme Court last month.

On the face of it, these are audacious claims. Is it really that bad? I would say that it’s even worse. The background to these statements is a new law from last year, which legalizes outright theft of Palestinian land.

Several Palestinian human rights organizations have challenged the law in court. The plaintiffs are Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC), and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights (Gaza) on behalf of 17 local Palestinian authorities in the West Bank. The Israeli government was represented by a private lawyer, Harel Arnon, because Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit refused to defend the law in court, since he deemed it illegal by international law already when it was first passed.

The Settlement Regularization Law was passed in February last year, in order to retroactively legalize thousands of settler homes and structures built on Palestinian private land, to avert the possibility that the Supreme Court might one day sanction their removal. Before the law was passed, Israeli law still considered such structures illegal, even though under international law, absolutely all the settlements are a flagrant violation of international law, be they located on private land or not.

It was not only Haaretz that called the law a “theft law” – it was also longtime Likudniks such as lawmaker Benny Begin; Former Likud minister Dan Meridor called it “evil and dangerous”; even Prime Minister Netanyahu was warning that passing it may end up getting Israeli officials to the International Criminal Court in The Hague; attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s stated refusal to defend the law in court was met with reassurance by Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked that the state could simply get a private attorney (which it did). The contentious matter was not only the theft itself – but the application of Israeli law enacted directly by the Knesset (rather than by the Military occupation authority), that was seen as a precedence leading to de-facto annexation. As Dan Meridor wrote in his Haaretz opinion piece just ahead of the final vote on the law: 

“The Knesset has never enacted legislation regulating Arabs’ property ownership in Judea and Samaria. The Knesset was elected by Israelis and legislates for them. The Arabs of Judea and Samaria did not vote for the Knesset, and it has no authority to legislate for them. These are basic principles of democracy and Israeli law. As a rule, elected officials legislate for their constituents and those within the area of their jurisdiction, not others. No government in Israel has applied its sovereignty to the West Bank – not former Likud prime ministers Menachem Begin or Yitzhak Shamir. They understood the obvious: If you want to pass legislation for the West Bank, you have to extend your sovereignty and allow the residents of Judea and Samaria the right to become citizens and vote in Knesset elections. And the meaning is clear.”

I should add a critical note here about Meridor’s central claim – that it is in fact erroneous regarding the West Bank, in that East Jerusalem is by international law a part of the West Bank, and Israel has applied its sovereignty unilaterally upon it (de facto since 1967, and in quasi-constitutional basic law in 1980, in defiance of international law and UNSC resolutions). The fact that Meridor simply considers East Jerusalem a part of Israel, and now goes to admonish Israel for basically doing the same (de facto annexation) regarding the rest of the West Bank, only goes to show that this is a case of the blind leading the blind.

But let us now return to the recent ‘theft law’ legislation from last year: The pressure to legitimize Israel’s own crimes became too great to oppose even from the right. The looming ‘danger’ that Meridor mentioned, of enacting de-facto annexation and possibly having to extend Palestinians the right to become citizens, was overweighed by the greed for the land. Israel’s famous equation of “maximum Jews, maximum territory, minimum Palestinians” came this time to mean that Israel would risk enacting state legislation in an area where Jews were still generally not a majority, in the hope that it would help them become it. Thus the law was passed by 60-52, and the land-grab was made legal by the Israeli Knesset. It was estimated that the law would retroactively legalize about 4,000 settler homes.

In the recent court case, the plaintiffs challenging the law pointed to the obvious illegality:

“Adalah and fellow petitioners argued that the Knesset is not permitted to enact and impose laws on territory occupied by the State of Israel. Thus, the Knesset cannot enact laws that annex the West Bank or that violate the rights of Palestinian residents of the West Bank.”

The State of Israel, in the recent response letter (Hebrew) to the court (filed August 7th), claimed in its defense that:

[1] ‘The Knesset has no limitation which prevents it from legislating extra-territorially anywhere in the world, including the area [‘Judea and Samaria’]’.

Having made that statement, the Israeli government goes on to rebuff the plaintiffs’ claim that it cannot legislate there and goes further to suggest that it is not at all subject to the directives of international law:

[4] ‘…Although the Knesset can legislate [concerning] any place in the world, although it is entitled to violate the sovereignty of foreign countries through legislation that would be applied to events occurring in their territories […], although it is within the authority of the Government of Israel to annex any territory […], although the Knesset may ignore directives of international law in any area it pleases […] despite all these, the plaintiffs seek to define a “rule” by which precisely in Judea and Samaria the Knesset is prohibited from legislating anything, and that precisely there, and nowhere else in the world, it is subject to the directives of international law’. 

Adalah Attorneys Suhad Bishara and Myssana Morany, were in disbelief:

“The Israeli government’s extremist response has no parallel anywhere in the world. It stands in gross violation of international law and of the United Nations Charter which obligates member states to refrain from threatening or using force against the territorial integrity of other states – including occupied territories. The Israeli government’s extremist position is, in fact, a declaration of its intention to proceed with its annexation of the West Bank.”

Adalah has posted about this and provided some quotes from the above. You would think that such proclamations by the Israeli government would really hit the mainstream news cycle, yet it seems to have so far gone relatively unnoticed.

Several of my contacts have responded to this little-reported news with a certain disbelief – could it really be that Israel is openly stating that it is above international law?

Indeed, as I had mentioned above, it is not exactly a secret that Israel is now acting in brazen defiance of international law. Its own highest legal authorities are completely aware of it. But what we also need to see is that it has been doing this for a very long time, in fact, since its inception. As I had mentioned at the time of the passing of the Regularization Law, legalizing the theft of Palestinian land has been Israeli policy since day 1. Attorney Harel Arnon was using this notion as precedence in defense of the recent law, noting (in pt. 4):

“The honourable court has never passed legal critique upon central legislation of the Knesset also in cases where it contradicted, by the method of the plaintiffs, the directives of international law in cases which were more clear (the enactment of Israeli legislation in the Golan Heights and East Jerusalem)”… 

That’s a very valid point. Israel’s unilateral annexations of the Syrian Golan and East Jerusalem are direct violations of international law, and they are condemned very clearly in United Nations Security Council resolutions. If the Israeli court approved it then, why should it not approve it now?

Attorney Arnon used a Supreme Court quote from an earlier case (pt. 12), where the court opined that “the mere enactment of a random Israeli norm upon an anonymous place outside the country, does not necessarily make that anonymous place a part of Israel”.  This was relating to the West Bank, where Israel indeed enacts Israeli law upon settlers, even in places where it has not annexed territory. 

See, this is part of the basis by which Arnon claims that “Israel can legislate anywhere in the world”. The essence of this is “if we could do it before, why cant we do it now”?

This point should be taken very seriously. The Israeli Supreme Court has often been perceived as a tool of the Israeli occupation. Thus even in very clear cases such as the 2004 International Court of Justice Advisory Opinion on Israel’s ‘security barrier’, where the ICJ deemed it wholly illegal (because it was mostly built on Palestinian, not Israeli, territory), the Supreme Court still managed to deflect this and claim that international law did not apply to Israel in this way. The Supreme Court has repeatedly managed to avoid and deflect these bigger issues and allow for Israel’s continued creeping annexation. This is a current, ongoing issue. Israel is preparing to demolish the Palestinian West Bank village of Khan al Ahmar, with the approval and sanction of the Supreme Court. B’Tselem:

“On Thursday, 24 May 2018, three Israeli Supreme Court justices – Noam Sohlberg, Anat Baron and Yael Willner – ruled that the state may demolish the homes of the community of Khan al-Ahmar, transfer the residents from their homes and relocate them. This ruling removes the last stumbling block in Israel’s way in the matter, lifting the impediment which had thus far served to defer the transfer of the community, a war crime under international law”;  

“The Israeli Supreme Court in the Service of the Occupation: In their ruling, Justices Amit, Meltzer, and Baron described an imaginary world with an egalitarian planning system that takes into account the needs of the Palestinians, as if there had never been an occupation. The reality is diametrically opposed to this fantasy: Palestinians cannot build legally and are excluded from the decision-making mechanisms that determine how their lives will look. The planning systems are intended solely for the benefit of the settlers. This ruling shows once again that those under occupation cannot seek justice in the occupier’s courts. If the demolition of the community of Khan al-Ahmar goes ahead, the Supreme Court Justices will be among those who will bear responsibility for this war crime” (my emphasis).

Attorney Arnon brought up the Adolf Eichmann case in the response letter:

“The Court further implemented this doctrine in the famous Eichmann (1962) case, regarding ex post facto penal legislation: ‘[W]here [there is a conflict between the provisions of domestic law and a rule of international law], it is the duty of the court to give preference to and apply the laws of the local legislature`”.  

It is smart to bring up the Holocaust in Israel. There’s often a particularly soft spot for that, and that can spill over to melt the ‘pedantic’ limitations of customary law. Eichmann was indeed kidnapped by Mossad in Argentina, 1960. He was given the death sentence in Israel and hanged in 1962. This is extra-territorial spy activity and extra-territorial enactment of jurisdiction. As it involved the Holocaust, few would dare challenge it. This lines up with Golda Meir’s claim that “after the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything”.

And so Israel’s private attorney Harel Arnon is essentially saying: if we could do it to Eichmann, why can’t we do it to the West Bank?

Arnon is not directly implying that Palestinians are Nazis, although such comparisons do occasionally feature in opinions of leading pundits in Israel, such as those of Yoaz Hendel, former director of communications and public diplomacy for Prime Minister Netanyahu.

All this may go to explain the relative media silence there has been about the proclamations made in this letter. The world knows it has allowed Israel to get away with so much criminality, and the West knows that a lot of that has had to do with its own Holocaust guilt. That made it weak and reduced its willingness to take Israel to task for its violations. And maybe people are feeling that they shouldn’t be throwing stones in a glass house. But we must see what is happening – Israel is overtly legalizing theft. The brazen proclamations saying that international law does not apply to Israel should have been shocking – but sadly, they are not. Because we know it has been the policy for so long. And since the reaction has been weak, Israel, like a spoiled brat, has learned that it can get away with it, and that it can become ever more obnoxious without it suffering any cost.

Indeed, one is left to wonder, who will stop the Jewish State? After all, international law does not have the automatic enforcement mechanisms as domestic law, and the international bodies that were meant to hold Israel accountable to international law, have so far largely failed to do so, at least where Palestinians are concerned. In a time when the American superpower stands firmly on Israel’s side in violation of international law, as with the moving of the embassy to Jerusalem and the endorsement of Israel’s unilateral annexation of East Jerusalem, it is hard to see why Israel would or should believe that international law applies to it at all. This is the light in which we may understand the language in that letter. It’s so brazen, because there is not even a sense of need to portray any semblance of respect towards international law. Israel is now undertaking a bonanza of theft in broad daylight, with a chauvinist sense that nothing will stop it. That’s what really transpires from the language of that letter.

It’s OK to drop a jaw at this. The language in that letter should serve as a wake-up call. But then we must also collect ourselves and remind ourselves that it is up to grassroots pressure to change this situation and protect the Palestinians from the unhindered Israeli military and legislative colonialist onslaught, enacted by the ‘eternal victims’

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