Netanyahu/Gantz White House Invitation to Discuss Trump Regime’s No-Peace/Peace Plan

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Leaked information shows Trump’s so-called deal of the century is a one-sided scam, favoring Israel at the expense of fundamental Palestinian rights.

The so-called peace process is the greatest hoax in modern times, along with the US war OF terror worldwide, not on it.

Israeli/Palestinian no-peace/peace plans have been around since the 1970s — a near-half century of failure to reach accommodation proof positive of US/Israeli unwillingness to respect Palestinian rights.

If both countries wanted conflict resolution resolution with Palestinians, it would have happened long ago.

Former Israeli prime minister Yitzhak Shamir explained why not. He and his predecessors wanted forever talks accomplishing nothing – giving Israel time to steal all valued Palestinian land.

His successors to the present day followed the same strategy.

Since Israel seized control of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza in 1967, colonizing and developing the most valued Palestinian land for exclusive Jewish use became official state policy — explained by Yigal Allon’s regional scheme, its elements including:

• permanent militarized occupation;

• maximum land for Jews with minimum Arabs;

• dispossessing Palestinians from areas Israel wants for exclusive Jewish development and use;

• annexing all valued parts of Judea and Sumaria;

• controlling Jerusalem as Israel’s exclusive capital;

• establishing settlements, military bases, free-fire zones, commercial locations, tourist sites, nature reserves, no-go areas, Jews-only roads, checkpoints, other barriers, and other exclusive Jewish areas — non-Jews excluded from them;

• stealing Palestinian resources; and

• cracking down hard on resisters. 

The above policies make peace, stability, equity and justice for Palestinians unattainable.

Achieving them defeats the US/Israeli agenda — dependent on endless regional conflicts and instability.

It’s why decades of peace plans when unveiled were dead on arrival, Trump’s let em eat cake deal of the century dead before arrival.

Partly introduced last June at a so-called “Peace to Prosperity Workshop” in Bahrain, the Trump regime’s dog and pony PR show was boycotted by Palestinians.

Deceptively billed as “a vision to empower the Palestinian people to build a prosperous and vibrant Palestinian society,” the economic plan has nothing to do with peace, equity and justice for long-suffering Palestinians — everything to do with one-sidedly serving US/Israeli interests. 

Based on what’s known so far, subject to fine-tuning, Trump’s overall scheme ignores fundamental final status issues, especially real Palestinian self-determination free from Israeli occupation and control, Israeli land theft, air and water rights, other resources, the right of diaspora Palestinians to return to their homeland, and East Jerusalem as exclusive Palestinian capital. 

He illegally recognized Jerusalem (a UN-established international city) as Israel’s exclusive capital, moved the US embassy there, abandoned a legitimate two-state solution, recognized Israel’s unlawful Golan annexation, and no longer considers illegal settlements occupied territory.

Trump and hardliners surrounding him are no friends of Palestinians or ordinary people anywhere, not at home or abroad.

Information leaked last month about his no-peace/peace plan revealed it excludes 70% or more of West Bank land controlled by Israel, including the Jordan Valley, closed military zones, exclusive Jewish commercial areas, tourist sites, no-go areas, and illegal settlements on stolen Palestinian land. 

Jerusalem is to remain undivided, the city “shared between Israel and New Palestine” — Israel maintaining exclusive control, the way it’s been for over half a century.

On July 30, 1980, the Knesset Jerusalem Law officially annexed the city as Israel’s exclusive capital — breaching Security Council Res. 465 (March 1980).

It declared actions taken by Israel “to change the physical character, demographic composition, institutional structure or status of the Palestinian and other Arab territories occupied since 1967, including Jerusalem, or any part thereof, have no legal validity…”

In July 2004,  the International Court of Justice (ICJ) ruled that “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territory, including East Jerusalem, are illegal and an obstacle to peace and to economic and social development (and) have been established in breach of international law.”

Time and again, the US and Israel breach Security Council resolutions and other international laws.

Trump’s no-peace/peace plan is all about serving US and Israeli interests at the expense of regional peace, stability, and fundamental Palestinian rights.

According to Mike Pence on Thursday, Netanyahu and his chief political rival Benny Gantz will meet with Trump in the White House next week to discuss regional issues and what PA official Saeb Erekat called Trump’s “deal of the next century,” a conspiracy against Palestinian rights.

Reuters reported that the Trump regime will release his no-peace/peace plan ahead of the January 28 meeting with Netanyahu and Gantz.

DJT calling it “a great plan” defies reality. PA spokesman Nabil Abu Rudeineh reaffirmed the Palestinian demand for an independent state within June 1967 borders — free from Israeli occupation and control.

On Thursday, Israel’s Channel 12, citing unnamed Netanyahu regime sources, said Trump’s plan includes exclusive Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem, illegal settlements, and the Jordan Valley adding:

It supports the illusion of Palestinian self-determination, demanding a demilitarized Hamas, along with Palestinian recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Jerusalem its capital.

It also reportedly stipulates that if Palestinians reject the so-called plan, the Trump regime will support Israeli annexation of illegal settlements unilaterally.

According to the Wafa PA news site, Rudeineh said the following:

“If the announcement of this deal, with these unacceptable formulas, is made, the (PA) leadership will announce a series of measures to preserve our legitimate rights, and we will call on Israel to assume its responsibilities as an occupying power,” adding:

“We warn (the Netanyahu and Trump regimes) to not cross the red lines.”

Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassim said “any deal or project that does not contain our people’s full rights in our land and holy sites will not stand,” adding:

“All the attempts to make this deal come to pass will be squashed by our people’s resistance and steadfastness.” 

“Our Palestinian people will determine its fate by way of its ongoing revolution, legitimate struggle and absolute belief in the justness of its cause.”

On Thursday, Trump tweeted:

“Reports about details and timing of our closely-held peace plan are purely speculative.”

If its provisions resemble what’s discussed above, it’ll clearly be rejected by the PA, Hamas, and the Palestinian street.

Israel Preparing for War on Iran?

By Stephen Lendman

Source

Israel’s longtime goal is unchallenged Middle East dominance partnered with Washington.

Achieving it depends on transforming independent regional nations into US/Israeli vassal states by war or other hostile means, Iran most of all.

Along with Turkey, it’s the only regional country able to challenge Israel militarily if attacked.

On Wednesday, IDF chief of staff General Aviv Kochavi claimed Jewish state friction with Iran may increase next year, perhaps leading to war.

Fact: Nonbelligerent Iran threatens no one. Along with the US and NATO, Israel threatens world peace, stability and security.

Kochavi falsely called Iran Israel’s main threat, stressing that close ties to Washington is its key strategic asset.

He ignored Jewish state undeclared war on Palestinians and Syria, time and again terror-bombing Gaza and the Syrian Arab Republic with impunity, the world community ignoring its high crimes of war, against humanity, and slow-motion genocide against long-suffering Palestinians.

Nuclear armed and dangerous Israel falsely claims nonbelligerent Iran poses a nuclear threat.

Its legitimate program has no military component, repeatedly confirmed by the IAEA, its inspectors banned from illegal Israeli nuclear sites, Iran’s legal ones the world’s most heavily monitored.

According to Kochavi, Israel is preparing for war on Iran. If launched, it’ll be preemptive by the Jewish state, possibly together with the US, not the other way around by a nation that hasn’t attacked another one in centuries, what Israel and Washington do repeatedly.

“We will not allow Iran to entrench itself in Syria, or in Iraq,” said Kochavi, failing to explain that Tehran works cooperatively with these nations and others, its military advisors alone in Syria, helping Damascus combat US/Israeli supported terrorists.

Kochavi falsely accused Iran of “smuggl(ing) advanced weapons (into Iraq) on a monthly basis, and we can’t allow that.”

Responding, Iraqi parliamentarian Hassan al-Kaabi called his remarks “incorrect and politically motivated,” bent on “creating sedition and finding an excuse to infiltrate into the Iraqi territory.”

Along with the US, Israel is likely involved in stoking violence, vandalism and chaos in Iraq.

The Jewish state terror-bombed Iraqi sites several times, the Pentagon reportedly providing air support.

According to Kochavi: “In the coming war (with Iran, Syria, Lebanon or Gaza), we will have to attack with great force in populated areas and also target the state structure of the entity that allows terrorism to act against us (sic).”

“Israel will target everything that helps in combat operations, such as electricity, fuel, bridges,” and other targets at its discretion.

Israel considers civilians legitimate targets, striking residential areas indiscriminately in all its wars of aggression, the policy stated earlier by future IDF chief General Gadi Eisenkot, saying:

“We will apply disproportionate force at the heart of the enemy’s weak spot (civilians) and cause great damage and destruction.” 

“From our standpoint, these are not civilian villages (towns or cities). They are military bases. This is not a recommendation. This is a plan. And it has been approved.”

Retired General Giora Eiland earlier said Israel’s war strategy is all about destroying “the national infrastructure (of enemies) and (inflicting) intense suffering among the population.”

This strategy reflects core Israeli policy — to cause maximum casualties, destruction, displacement and human suffering, grave international law breaches.

In November, former Israeli envoy to Washington Michael Oren said the Jewish state is preparing for war with “Iranian proxies,” falsely accusing Tehran of “provocations,” adding:

Senior Israeli officials met “to discuss the possibility of open war with Iran…Israeli troops, especially in the north, have been placed on war footing.” 

“Israel is girding for the worst and acting on the assumption that fighting could break out at any time.”

Zionist ideologue Oren once arrogantly said: “We expect the world to stand with us.”

He’s a polarizing figure. Brandeis University students earlier strongly protested against his choice as commencement speaker by university officials.

A letter signed by scores of students slammed his “far-right positions” and marginalization of growing numbers of US Jews who disagree with him.

What’s coming in the new year may be more war at a time when the world community should prioritize ending ongoing ones.

On the Road to Gaza: The Freedom Flotilla Will Sail Again

By Ramzy Baroud

Source

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What is Gaza to us but an Israeli missile, a rudimentary rocket, a demolished home, an injured child being whisked away by his peers under a hail of bullets? On a daily basis, Gaza is conveyed to us as a bloody image or a dramatic video, none of which can truly capture the everyday reality of the Strip – its formidable steadfastness, the everyday acts of resistance, and the type of suffering that can never be really understood through a customary glance at a social media post.

At long last, the chief prosecutor of the International Court of Justice (ICC), Fatou Bensouda, has declared her ‘satisfaction’ that “war crimes have been – or are being –  committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip”. As soon as the ICC statement was made on December 20, pro-Palestinian groups felt a rare moment of relief. Finally, Israel will stand accused, potentially paying for its recurring bloodbath in the isolated and besieged Gaza Strip, its military occupation and apartheid in the West Bank, and much more.

However, it could take years for the ICC to initiate its legal proceedings and render its verdict. Moreover, there are no political guarantees that an ICC decision indicting Israel would ever be respected, let alone implemented.

Meanwhile, the siege on Gaza persists, only to be interrupted by a massive war, like the one of 2014, or a less destructive one, similar to the latest Israeli onslaught in November. And with every war, more dismal statistics are produced, more lives shattered, and more painful stories are told and retold.

For years, civil society groups across the world labored to destabilize this horrific status quo. They organized, held vigils, wrote letters to their political representatives and so on. To no avail. Frustrated by government inaction, a small group of activists sailed to Gaza in a small boat in August 2008, succeeding in doing what the United Nations has failed to do: they broke, however fleetingly, the Israeli siege on the impoverished Strip.

This symbolic action of the Free Gaza movement had a tremendous impact. It sent a clear message to Palestinians in occupied Palestine, that their fate is not only determined by the Israeli government and military machine; that there are other actors who are capable of challenging the dreadful silence of the international community; that not all Westerners are as complicit as their governments in the prolonged suffering of the Palestinian people.

Since then, many more solidarity missions have attempted to follow suit, coming across the sea atop flotillas or in large caravans through the Sinai desert. Some have successfully reached Gaza, delivering medical aid and other supplies. The majority, however, were sent back or had their boats hijacked in international waters by the Israeli navy.

The outcome of all of this has been the writing of a new chapter of solidarity with the Palestinian people that went beyond the occasional demonstration and the typical signing of a petition.

The second Palestinian Intifada, the uprising of 2002, had already redefined the role of the “activist” in Palestine. The formation of the International Solidarity Movement (ISM) allowed thousands of international activists from around the world to participate in “direct action” in Palestine – thus fulfilling, however symbolically, a role that is typically played by a United Nations protective force.

ISM activists, however, employed non-violent means of registering civil society’s rejection of the Israeli occupation. Expectedly, Israel did not honor the fact that many of these activists came from countries deemed “friendly” by Tel Aviv’s standards. The killing of US and British nationals Rachel Corrie and Tom Hurndall in Gaza in 2003 and 2004 respectively, was just the precursor of Israeli violence that was to follow.

In May 2010, the Israeli navy attacked the Freedom Flotilla consisting of the Turkish-owned ship ‘MV Mavi Marmara’ and others, killing ten unarmed humanitarian workers and wounding at least 50 more. As was the case with the murder of Rachel and Tom, there was no real accountability for the Israeli attack on the solidarity boats.

It must be understood that Israeli violence is not random nor is just a reflection of Israel’s notoriety and disregard of international and humanitarian law. With every violent episode, Israel hopes to dissuade outside actors from getting involved in “Israeli affairs”. Yet, time and again, the solidarity movement returns with a defiant message, insisting that no country, not even Israel, has the right to commit war crimes with impunity.

Following a recent meeting in the Dutch city of Rotterdam, the International Coalition of the Freedom Flotilla, which consists of many international groups, has decided to, once more, sail to Gaza. The solidarity mission is scheduled for the summer of 2020, and, like most of the 35 previous attempts, the Flotilla is likely to be intercepted by the Israeli navy. Yet, another attempt will likely follow, and many more, until the Gaza siege is completely lifted. It has become clear that the purpose of these humanitarian missions is not to deliver a few medical supplies to the nearly two million besieged Gazans, but to challenge the Israeli narrative that has turned the occupation and isolation of Palestinians to a status quo ante, to an “Israeli affair”.

According to the United Nations Office in Occupied Palestine, the poverty rate in Gaza seems to be increasing at an alarming speed of 2% per year. By the end of 2017, 53% of Gaza’s population lived in poverty, two-thirds of them living in “deep poverty”. This terrible number includes over 400,000 children.

An image, a video, a chart or a social media post can never convey the pain of 400,000 children, who experience real hunger every single day of their lives so that the Israeli government may achieve its military and political designs in Gaza. Indeed, Gaza is not just an Israeli missile, a demolished home, and an injured child. It is an entire nation that is suffering and resisting, in near-complete isolation from the rest of the world.

True solidarity should aim at forcing Israel to end the protracted occupation and siege on the Palestinian people, sailing the high seas, if necessary. Thankfully, the good activists of the Freedom Flotilla are doing just that.

Netanyahu says ICC has ‘NO JURISDICTION’ to probe Israeli ‘war crimes’ in Palestine

FILE PHOTO. © Reuters / Nir Elias

20 Dec, 2019 

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The International Criminal Court (ICC) has decided it will launch a full-fledged probe into alleged war crimes in the Palestinian lands by Israel. In response, Tel Aviv has declared the court’s jurisdiction there null and void.

The looming probe was announced by the ICC’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda on Friday. A preliminary investigation – opened back in 2015 – has concluded that there is enough data to open a full-scale one.

“I am satisfied that there is a reasonable basis to proceed with an investigation into the situation in Palestine,” Bensouda said in a statement. “I am satisfied that… war crimes have been, or are being, committed in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip.”

The announcement caused an explosive reaction in Tel Aviv, with the top politicians rushing to condemn it. Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu – himself entangled in several domestic probes into alleged corruption – called the ICC move “a dark day for truth and justice.”

PM of Israel@IsraeliPM

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu:
“This is a dark day for truth and justice.
The ICC prosecutor has decided not to dismiss outright the Palestinian claim against the State of Israel. It is a baseless and outrageous decision.5476:53 PM – Dec 20, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy242 people are talking about this

“The ICC prosecutor has decided not to dismiss outright the Palestinian claim against the State of Israel. It is a baseless and outrageous decision,” Netanyahu said in a statement, arguing that the court cannot probe alleged war crimes in Palestine altogether.

The court has no jurisdiction in this case. The ICC only has jurisdiction over petitions submitted by sovereign states. But there has never been a Palestinian state.

ALSO ON RT.COMTop IDF lawyer tells The Hague to back off, says Israel can probe own alleged war crimes

A similar opinion was expressed by Israel’s Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who also said the ICC was only for “sovereign states” and accused Palestinians of playing political games.

Israel has valid legal claims over the same territory in relation to which the Palestinians are seeking to submit to the Court’s jurisdiction.

The fact that the Palestinian authority is a member of the ICC, while Israel is not, makes the jurisdiction issues very complicated. The ICC prosecutors appear to be well aware of that as Bensouda has explicitly stated that she will seek additional confirmation form the courts Pre-Trial Chamber to what territories exactly its jurisdiction extends to before launching the full-scale probe.

Israel has been repeatedly accused of partaking in activities, amounting to war crimes, namely the demolition of Palestinians’ homes, forcible relocation of civilians, killing peaceful protesters and so on. The Palestinian Foreign Ministry formally reached the ICC early in 2018, asking it to investigate Israel’s alleged “crimes against humanity” and its active – and illegal – settlement policies in the West Bank.

Are We on the Path to War? – Middle East Heats Up While Viewers Watch the Impeachment

By Philip Giraldi

Source

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Americans and also much of the rest of the world have been watching or otherwise following the impeachment proceedings in Washington and not paying much attention to developments in the Middle East that could be setting the stage for a new war.

It should surprise no one to learn that Washington has no actual policy to finish what it is doing and get out so it is allowing itself to be led by its so-called allies in the region. There has been what amounts to a nearly complete reversal of the early October decision by President Donald Trump to deescalate in the region by pulling U.S. troops out of northern Syria. After occupying the Syrian oil fields in the immediate wake of that decision and declaring that American soldiers would shoot-to-kill Russian and Syrian soldiers who tried to retake that bit of sovereign Syrian territory, one now learns that U.S. troops are again operating hand-in-hand with Kurdish militias to attack what have been claimed to be ISIS remnants.

Defenders of Donald Trump continue to insist that he does not want a war and is serious about disengaging from “senseless” conflicts, but it would be hard to come to that judgement based on what the president and his staff of pathological miscreants actually do. In fact, one might reasonably argue that the administration is planning for war on multiple fronts.

Russia has long been a target of an ignorant Trump’s neoconnish foreign policy, to include the refusal to renew several admirable treaties that have limited the spread of certain types of weapons. Also, lethal military aid to gallant little Ukraine, much in the news of late, is actually a dangerous misstep on the part of Washington as Russia regards its border with that country as a vital interest while defending Kiev is in reality no national security interest for the United States at all.

And there is more in the pipeline. Discussions are underway with new NATO ally Bulgaria to create a Black Sea Coordination Center in Varna. The United States is considering a ten-year roadmap for defense cooperation with Bulgaria and is eager to provide Sofia broader access to its high-end military technologies. The advanced technologies would include surveillance capabilities specifically targeting Russia.

There is also a fundamental second level of stupidity in basing such an effort in Bulgaria as the Turks, also frequently at odds with Washington, control the door to the Black Sea through the Bosporus and Dardanelles. If relations really do go sour and if demands to kick Turkey out of NATO ever do bear fruit, Ankara can make it very difficult for NATO warships transiting into the Black Sea.

As ever, however, the most troubled and most interfered-in-by-Washington foreign region continues to be the Middle East and more specifically the Persian Gulf where there have been a number of relatively minor developments that, when assembled, comprise a serious threat that war could break out either deliberately or by accident.

The basic line-up for what is going on in the Persian Gulf region runs something like this: Israel, the Saudis and most of the Gulf States are keen on attacking Iran, which, on its side, has lined up as friends and allies Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Those seeking war with Iran, would like to see the United States do the heavy lifting as it alone can use its strategic bombers to take out military targets deep underground or otherwise heavily protected. The Trump administration has so far stopped short of war with the Iranians, though it has done everything it can otherwise to punish them, including the shortsighted withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) which limited Tehran’s nuclear development program. The White House has also initiated a heavy dose of sanctions that are explicitly intended to cause suffering among the ordinary people and are clearly creating considerable disruption in the country. The U.S. intention is to starve the Iranian people into rebelling against their government, but the unrest is also reportedly being fueled by Saudi paid agents provocateurs as well as a flood of media and social network propaganda that is as well being supported and organized by Riyadh.

One recent incident that has attracted remarkably little media coverage is an Israeli attack on Syria that took place on November 19th. It reportedly destroyed two Iranian Revolutionary Guard headquarters, one of which was at Damascus International Airport, possibly killing twenty-three, sixteen of whom were likely Iranians. The attack was in response to an unsubstantiated Israeli claim that four rockets were fired its way from a site controlled by Iran inside Syria, though they were intercepted by Iron Dome and caused no damage. The overwhelming and disproportionate response by Israel suggests that Tel Aviv would like to have produced a commensurate response from the Iranians which could then escalate, but in this case, Tehran opted not to strike back, possibly because it understood that it was likely being set up.

There have also been a number of key meetings in the region that suggest that something big is coming. In an odd move, the U.S. and France have agreed to take steps to increase security in the Gulf region by enhancing defensive systems in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia. The move is ostensibly a response to the devastating drone attack on the Saudi oil refinery in September, which has been blamed on the Iranians, though without any evidence being provided. In the past, increasing security has often been a prelude to attacks by western powers in the Gulf region.

Other recent visitors have included CIA Director Gina Haspel meeting with the Saudi King Salman on November 7th to discuss “topics of interest,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo visiting the United Arab Emirates to talk about Iran and other regional issues, and Vice President Mike Pence staging a surprise visit to the Kurds in Syria. Pence assured the Kurds that they were not forgotten and would be protected by the U.S.

General Kenneth A. McKenzie, who heads America’s Central Command, which has responsibility for the Middle East, also warned last week that even with the 14,000 additional military personnel that Trump sent to the region earlier this year, the forces available would not be enough to deter an Iranian attack on Saudi Arabia or one of the Gulf States. McKenzie was speaking at a conference in Bahrain, home of the U.S. Fifth Fleet. Comic relief at the conference was provided by American under secretary of defense John C. Rood who said that “Iran has made clear its intent to pursue a pattern of aggressive behavior that is destabilizing,” conveniently forgetting that it is Washington that has completely destabilized the entire region since it invaded Iraq in 2003.

Iran for its part has been stung by the recent violent protests and has declared itself prepared to deal with both the Saudis and the presumed CIA and Israeli Mossad assets that have been stirring things up. The rioting has been serious with numerous deaths reported and Iran is fully capable of using its missile arsenal to hit targets both in Saudi Arabia and in Israel.

So, the conventional wisdom that a serious war is too dangerous to contemplate in the confined spaces of the Middle East might be naïve in the extreme as representatives of a number of nations consider just how to fight each other and how to win. One misstep, or even a false flag provocation, is all it would take to engulf the region in flames. It would be a conflict in which many would die and no one could really come out a winner, and the real tragedy is that it is avoidable as no one has a genuine vital interest at stake that could actually be resolved by war with its neighbors.

Dangerous Drivel from Pompeo Confirms America Is No Peace Broker

By Stuart Littlewood

Source

Pretence not to understand 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention perpetuates Israel’s impunity

Pompeo visits the Western Wall and Tunnel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu edfc9

Before our American friends run away with the idea that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has authority to say that planting Israeli civilian settlements in Occupied Palestine “is not, per se, inconsistent with international law”, and that the Trump Administration is only recognizing the reality on the ground, they might like to hear the authoritative opinion of John McHugo, International lawyer and Balfour Project trustee:

Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 provides that “The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

Article 49(6) was considered by the International Court of Justice in its Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory in 2004. It stated, at para. 120 of the Advisory Opinion, that Article 49(6) “prohibits not only deportations or forced transfers of population…but also any measures taken by an occupying Power in order to organize or encourage transfers of parts of its own population into the occupied territory.”

All judges of the court subscribed to this with the sole exception of Judge Buergenthal, the American judge, who is a Holocaust survivor and who lost toes to frostbite as a child in Auschwitz and Sachsenhausen concentration camps. He took the view that the Court should have declined to exercise its jurisdiction. Yet he issued his own Separate Declaration to the Advisory Opinion in which he expressly stated at Para. 9: “I agree that [Article 49(6)] applies to the Israeli settlements in the West Bank and that their existence violates Article 49, paragraph 6”. The view that Israeli civilian settlements violated Article 49(6) was thus the unanimous view of the judges.

More recently, the fact that this is the law was reiterated by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2334 of 23 December 2016 at operative paragraph 1: “The Security Council Reaffirms that the establishment by Israel of settlements in the Palestinian territory occupied in 1967, including East Jerusalem, has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law and a major obstacle to the achievement of the two-State solution and a just, lasting and comprehensive peace.”

It is not for any State, however mighty and powerful, to rewrite the rules of international law. Realities on the ground are subject to the rule of law, just as all other realities are.

For good measure Article 85(4)(a) of the 1977 Additional Protocol I provides that “the transfer by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” is a grave breach of the Protocol. And under Article 8(2)(b)(viii) of the 1998 ICC Statute “the transfer, directly or indirectly, by the Occupying Power of parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” constitutes a war crime in international armed conflicts.

And, by the way, in 1992, in its final report to Congress on the conduct of the Gulf War, the US Department of Defence declared that it regarded the transfer of the Iraqi population into occupied Kuwait in violation of Article 49 of the 1949 Geneva Convention IV as a war crime. So, happy with the Convention then.

As usual, the US and its allies (including the UK), will observe international law when it suits them. But not if it upsets their bosom-pals in Israel.

Pompeo’s two cents’ worth follows Trump’s presidential declaration earlier this year recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria. When will Washington understand that Trump’s capricious shifts in policy don’t alter international law, don’t impress other nations, and endanger world peace?

As a product of Harvard Law School Pompeo should be ashamed of his fatuous pronouncement.

McHugo points out that British government policy is to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state “when it best serves the interests of peace”. In view of Pompeo’s and Trump’s dangerous remarks that moment is now.

Norman Finkelstein: Fatou Bensouda Has Done Everything in Her Power to Prevent an Investigation of the Israeli Crimes by the ICC

By Slava Zilber

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Slava Zilber: I would like to interview you about your new book. Could you please explain the title: “I Accuse!: Herewith A Proof Beyond Reasonable Doubt That ICC Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda Whitewashed Israel

Norman Finkelstein: As you know, Israel has been occupying Gaza since 1967, which is more now than a half-century. Israel has imposed an illegal, immoral, and inhumane blockade on Gaza since January 2006, and Gaza is rapidly becoming – it might have already become – physically an unlivable space. Now, it’s important to keep in mind that the population of Gaza is more than half children. And 70 percent of the population consists of refugees and children of refugees and successive generations of refugees.

So you have a population more than half of which is children, 70 percent of which is refugees and successive generations which for more than half a century has been living under a brutal Israeli occupation and since 2006 has been living under an illegal, an immoral, an inhuman blockade that has rendered Gaza, in effect, physicallyunlivable.

Now, in the course of the occupation and the blockade, there have been several incidents as they are called in international law jargon. They have been referred to the International Criminal Court, the ICC. And the chief prosecutor is named Fatou Bensouda. And Fatou Bensouda has been desperately trying to quash these complaints – the technical term is referrals – to the ICC.

And on one of the two complaints, there have been proceedings that have gone on since 2013, which is more than six years ago now. A complaint was filed with her office. And Bensouda has repeatedly declared that she will not launch an investigation of the complaint filed with the ICC. And the case is closed. She said that twice now. But there are forces within the ICC which have been pushing back against her clear whitewash of Israel. And so she declares the case closed, then other forces say ‘not so fast,’ and other forces within the ICC say Bensouda has to reopen the case. And it has been going back and forth. Now, there is supposed to be an important intervention by Bensouda on December 2nd. And I wrote the book with one, very specific purpose in mind and that is to expose Bensouda’s lies, her falsifications, her fabrications, her misrepresentations in this systematic and methodical whitewash of Israel and to force her to either investigate Israeli crimes which to date she refuses to do or to step down from office.

Why does the International Criminal Court whitewash these crimes? To what extent is it about Bensouda? You have spoken very critically about her predecessor, Mr. Luis Moreno-Ocampo. To what extent is it about the ICC? Has there been outside influence? You spoke about the retraction of the Goldstone Report.

Richard Goldstone was the South African judge who was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity after Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9. After Goldstone issued a devastating report on Israel’s crimes during Operation Cast Lead, he came under a vicious attack by Israel and its apologists. And, for reasons which aren’t entirely clear, he then was forced to retract the report, whether he succumbed to the pressures that were exerted on him or he was blackmailed. I am inclined to believe the latter. Whether it was external pressures or internal blackmail, he succumbed. At that point, a lot of the human rights community got very nervous that, if you attack Israel, the Mossad and various other Israeli agencies are going to dig deep into your closet in order to find skeletons that can tarnish and, worse, destroy your reputation. So I think part of the reason Bensouda has been lying, fabricating, falsifying is the fear that she will become the target of the very same agencies that brought down Richard Goldstone. And also the US has made plain under the Trump administration – they have said literally, in no subtle language: If the ICC investigates the United States or Israel, the US will destroy the ICC.

So there are both personal motives, the fear that the many skeletons in Bensouda’s closet will be exposed to public view, and the institutional fear that the ICC itself will be under attack. On both those grounds, she has done everything in her power to prevent an investigation of the Israeli crimes by the ICC.

Recently, there has been a scandal regarding the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons. There was an official report and then another report [an engineering assessment] was leaked. And now two whistleblowers have come forward. 

Is there an organization that still has integrity on the issue of Israel/Palestine, which is not just a puppet of outside powers and can be objectively trusted to report on the human rights abuses?

It’s a question of degrees and gradations. Amnesty International can be very good, but it can be very bad. Human Rights Watch can be very bad, but occasionally it can be quite good. B’Tselem under its previous leadership – the executive director was Jessica Montell – was quite bad, but under its current leadership, [Hagai] ElAd, the Israeli physicist, its record has been very good. So these kinds of organizations are subject to – always – a lot of external pressure. Sometimes they resist, and sometimes they succumb.

Have you contacted the people involved in this process at the International Criminal Court? Can people write petitions? Can people reach out and make a plea?

I have tried to contact a few of the individuals, not many. However, we have an expression in English: “The proof of the pudding is in the eating.” And I rather then see the finished product. Quite a few of them are serious. They don’t just read the cover and the blurb. And so I am hoping once they read the book, they will be convinced that I’ve made an overwhelming case and then hopefully will act on it. So it is a little bit premature to expect any action. They have to read my argument. And then we will see what they say. And we will see what they do.     

What would the symbolic and the practical value of the indictment be?

It depends. Sometimes, symbolism can have a real, material impact. If the prosecutor is sufficiently embarrassed that she has to press ahead with an investigation, then a diplomatic conflict will erupt, and then we will have to wait and see what comes of it. The US, along with Israel, will push hard against the ICC. And then we’ll have to see how hard the ICC pushes back or whether it succumbs. It’s a battle, but it’s a battle about to cast light on Israeli crimes against Gaza. And that would be a good thing.

Is there a realistic prospect of somebody being put on trial and possibly convicted?

No, it’s not a realistic prospect. A realistic prospect is [that] pressure will be exerted on Israel to lift the blockade in order to avoid an investigation. It will be quiet backroom discussions: ‘You know, this guy makes a big case. A lot of people are very angry. They are calling me a liar. They are calling me a whitewasher. So maybe you can just lift the blockade so we can avoid this mess because I really don’t want to investigate you, you know. I don’t really have a choice now.’ So maybe it’ll put pressure on Israel to lift the blockade. But no indictments. That’s not possible. The ICC only indicts Africans. That’s why they call it the International Caucasian Court.

One could argue that this whitewashing by Ms. Bensouda and her predecessors is basically the function of this court. It’s fulfilling its function as International Caucasian Court.

I know a very good jurist, one of the leading international law jurists in the world. He is very respected. And I talk to him privately. He says the ICC is not a court; it’s a joke. It’s so corrupt. It’s so contemptible, just put into power to prosecute war criminals, for sure, but criminals in the great scheme of things who don’t really compare to, say, a Tony Blair, a George Bush or any of the others who are culpable for massive war crimes and crimes against humanity.

In recent years and now during the presidential election, do you see a shift when it comes to discourse about Israel and Palestine and the issue you address in your book? Are reactions different now?

We could see of the leading candidates it is pretty much down the middle. Two candidates, Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg, are of the old world, 100 percent support for Israel, basically abetters and appeasers of war crimes. And two candidates, Elizabeth Warren and in particular Bernie Sanders, have adopted a much more critical approach towards Israel. Elizabeth Warren is still pretty weak, but she issued a good statement on the recent Israeli massacres in Gaza. Bernie Sanders has, in general, been very decent.

So you see within the leading presidential candidates a manifestation in their statements of the split within the Democratic Party between the old guard, blind supporters of Israel, and the new constituencies in the Democratic Party which are more willing to out the Israeli criminality.

What is next for you, Prof. Finkelstein?

I don’t know. It depends on what happens in the world. For the moment, I am focused on the Bernie Sanders candidacy. If he wins, it’s a game changer. We will be living in a new country. I should amend that. We will be living in a country in which the left will have the potential to exercise serious institutional power and that would be a very good change. So let’s wait and see what happens.

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