Israel punishes Palestinians after Norway, Spain, Ireland recognize State of Palestine

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Original article by Al-Ittihad republished from People’s World under

Finance Minister and West Bank colonial governor Bezalel Smotrich, left, with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Smotrich is vowing to punish Palestinians with more Jewish settlements on Palestinian land after Norway, Ireland, and Spain announced their intention to recognize the State of Palestine. | Pool photo via AP

HAIFA—On Wednesday, Israel’s extremist Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to take “immediate punitive measures” against the Palestinian Authority in response to the decisions of Norway, Spain, and Ireland to recognize the State of Palestine.

Smotrich called for an immediate meeting of the Colonial Planning Council in the occupied West Bank, which he heads, to approve 10,000 new illegal settlement units to be prepared for occupancy by Israeli citizens.

He also called for the cabinet to approve on Thursday the establishment of a new Jewish settlement on Palestinian land for every single country that recognizes the Palestinian state. He instructed the directorate responsible for settlements to prepare a strategic plan to construct three entirely new settlements in response to the actions of the three countries in question—Norway, Spain, and Ireland.

Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre announced on Wednesday that his country will recognize the State of Palestine as of May 28. The decision to recognize Palestine as a state, under Article 28 of the Norwegian Constitution, requires the approval of the King in the Council of State. After the adoption of a royal decree next Friday, Palestine will be officially informed of the recognition through a verbal note.

This scene from Oct. 10, 2015, is a typical one in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian West Bank territory. Israeli police rough up a Palestinian man in the streets of Hebron. With Israel vowing to punish Palestinians after more countries recognized their statehood, many expect more deadly violence from the government and ultra-nationalist Jewish settlers. | Nasser Shiyoukhi / AP

Recognizing Palestine as a state means that Norway will consider Palestine an independent state with the rights and duties that result from that.

Later in the day Wednesday, Irish Prime Minister Simon Harris confirmed that his country also now recognizes a Palestinian state, saying, “We are confident that more countries will join us in the coming weeks.”

Harris added that it is a historic and important day for Ireland and Palestine, as both countries share a history of being colonized and subjected to imperialist violence. Ireland was the first member state of the European Union to recognize the “Palestine Liberation Organization” in 1980.

Rounding out the list, Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez also announced his country’s recognition of the State of Palestine. Sanchez stressed that his country’s declaration is in line with a foreign policy that respects international law in Palestine, and Spain’s vote in the United Nations for full membership of the State of Palestine was in support of this decision.

He continued: “We tell the innocent Palestinians that we are with them. Despite the destruction and siege, the State of Palestine will remain in our hearts.”

All three governments said the decision to recognize Palestine is intended to apply further pressure on Israel to end its genocidal war in Gaza, its oppressive occupation of Palestinian lands, and to negotiate a permanent ceasefire and lasting peace.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas welcomed the three declarations and said they are proof of the international support for the Palestinian people and their inalienable and legitimate rights in their land and homeland despite Israeli and U.S. obstinance on the issue.

Over 140 countries—most of the United Nations—already recognize the State of Palestine. The addition of Norway, Ireland, and Spain to the list shows the increasing isolation of Israel and the U.S., as they are now losing the backing of even their usual European allies.

Israel opposes a Palestinian state, while the U.S. government sticks to a policy of officially supporting the future creation of a Palestinian state but only as a result of negotiations and Israel’s approval.

Abbas said the list of countries that recognize Palestine will only continue to grow.

The leaders of three countries have announced their governments will join the list of nations recognizing the State of Palestine. Top: Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre. Bottom left: Irish Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Simon Harris. Bottom Right: Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez. | Photos: AP

“The right of peoples to self-determination is an established right recognized under international law,” he said, “and we renew our continuous call to countries that have not yet recognized the State of Palestine to stand up to their responsibilities and acknowledge the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and restore confidence in a global system based on…equal rules and rights for all peoples of the Earth.”

The Palestine Liberation Organization also welcomed the recognition of the State of Palestine by Spain, Norway, and Ireland. The secretary of the Executive Committee of the PLO, Hussein Al-Sheikh, said in a statement on the X platform:

“This is a historic moment in which the free world triumphs for truth and justice after long decades of Palestinian national struggle, suffering, pain, occupation, racism, murder, oppression, abuse, and destruction.”

He also expressed his thanks to the countries of the world that have recognized and will recognize the State of Palestine, stressing that “this is the path to stability, security, and peace in the region.”

As for the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, it summoned its ambassadors to Norway, Ireland, and Spain for “emergency consultations.” Foreign Minister Israel Katz accused the three countries of “award[ing] a gold medal to Hamas murderers and rapists.” He warned, “This hasty step will have serious repercussions.”

So far, though, it is Palestinians who are on the receiving end of the Israeli government’s anger.

In addition to his demands for new illegal settlements on Palestinian land, Smotrich also stated that he is working to cancel the “Norwegian path” that the cabinet approved a few months ago. Under that program, funds are transferred to a bank account in Norway for the use of the Palestinian Authority. Smotrich said he would order the transfers to stop and demand the return of all funds previously transferred.

He indicated that he would also demand the permanent cancellation of all VIP permits from Palestinian Authority officials for all checkpoints and impose additional financial fines on senior officials and their families.

Far-right National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, meanwhile, staged an intentionally provocative visit to the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, called the Temple Mount to Jews. Standing there, he declared, “We will not even allow a statement about a Palestinian state.”

Original article by Al-Ittihad republished from People’s World under

dizzy: Zionists collectively punishing Palestinians for actions that they are not responsible for and have no control over. These are the people ‘Genocide Joe’ Biden, Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer are supporting. Keir Starmer – has said “I support Zionism without qualification.” I think that means that he supports Zionism in all circumstances, whatever Zionists do. Doesn’t it?

Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel's Gaza genocide.
Zionist Keir Starmer supports Israel’s Gaza genocide.

Continue ReadingIsrael punishes Palestinians after Norway, Spain, Ireland recognize State of Palestine

‘War Crimes Are War Crimes’: Biden Rebuked for Decrying ICC Bid to Arrest Israeli Leaders

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Original article by BRETT WILKINS republiahed from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

International Criminal Court Prosecutor Karim Khan delivers an address before Venezuela’s National Assembly in Caracas on April 22, 2024.
 (Photo: Pedro Rances Mattey/Anadolu via Getty Images)

“Biden will feel he must attack the ICC because it directly implicates his own decision-making to repeatedly defend atrocities and their authors,” said one critic.

Human rights defenders around the world on Monday accused U.S. President Joe Biden of double standards and worse after he condemned a decision by the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor to pursue arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders for alleged crimes committed during the October 7 attacks and subsequent obliteration of Gaza.

Karim Khan, the ICC’s chief prosecutor, said the court has formally applied for arrest warrants targeting two Israeli and three Palestinian officials. Khan is seeking to arrest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant for alleged “crimes of causing extermination, causing starvation as a method of war, including the denial of humanitarian relief supplies, [and] deliberately targeting civilians in conflict.”

Khan said charges against Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Ismail Haniyeh, and Mohammed Deif include “extermination, murder, taking of hostages, rape, and sexual assault in detention.”

A panel of ICC judges will determine whether to issue arrest warrants for any of the suspects.

Biden blasted the effort to arrest Netanyahu and Gallant as “outrageous.”

“Let me be clear: Whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence—none—between Israel and Hamas,” the president said in a statement. “We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security.”

Secretary of State Antony Blinken condemned what he called the ICC’s “shameful… equivalence of Israel with Hamas.”

Critics were quick to pounce on what some called Biden’s hypocritically disparate responses to the ICC’s pursuit of arrest warrants for Israeli leaders and for Russian President Vladmir Putin over his invasion of Ukraine.

“What’s outrageous is Biden’s utter disregard for victims of war crimes,” said Mark Kersten, an assistant professor of international law at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford, British Columbia. “But let’s be clear: Biden will feel he must attack the ICC because it directly implicates his own decision-making to repeatedly defend atrocities and their authors.”

Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Democracy for the Arab World Now, said that “there’s certainly no quantitative equivalence between Hamas and Israeli officials in terms of the sheer number of war crimes and crimes against humanity, including humans murdered, homes demolished, hospitals bombarded, journalists executed, aid workers snuffed, land stolen, children starved, men tortured… I could go on and on.”

Furthermore, “‘equivalence’ between two actors has zero bearing on who should be arrested and prosecuted,” Whitson added. “The ICC has prosecuted individuals for a single offense irrespective of how it compares to other crimes committed by other actors at the same time.”

Former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis—who heads the leftist Democracy in Europe Movement 2025—said on social media that “Biden just declared the International Criminal Court null and void because it dared pursue Israel’s war crimes which Biden is actively and enthusiastically enabling.”

“In the tradition of George W. Bush, the U.S. president has declared the U.S. a rogue state,” he added.

According to Israeli officials, 1,139 Israeli soldiers and civilians and foreign nationals were killed during the Hamas-led attacks on October 7. An unknown number of the victims were killed by so-called “friendly fire.”

Israel’s retaliatory war on Gaza—which is the subject of a genocide case before the International Court of Justice (ICJ)—has killed at least 35,562 Palestinians, mostly women and children, while wounding nearly 80,000 others, according to Palestinian and international officials. At least 11,000 other Palestinians are missing and presumed dead and buried beneath the rubble of hundreds of thousands of damaged or destroyed homes and other buildings.

Approximately 2 million of Gaza’s 2.3 million people have been forcibly displaced and at least hundreds of thousands of others are facing growing famine in the northern strip and widespread starvation throughout the besieged coastal enclave as Israeli soldiers and settlers continue to block aid shipments and attack both humanitarian workers and Palestinians desperately trying to receive food, water, medicine, and other necessities. Nearly 1 million Palestinians have fled Rafah as Israeli forces invade and bombard Gaza’s southernmost city.

The United States—which provides Israel with billions of dollars in military aid and diplomatic cover—had reportedly been working with Israel on how to thwart the ICC’s effort to arrest Israeli leaders. Meanwhile, a dozen Republican U.S. senators earlier this month threatened retaliation against the tribunal if it issued arrest warrants for Israelis.

“Target Israel and we will target you,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter that drew rebuke from Khan’s office.

Under the American Service Members’ Protection Act—also known as the Hague Invasion Act—the president is authorized to use “all means necessary and appropriate” including military intervention to secure the release of American or allied personnel held by or on behalf of the ICC.

U.S. and Israeli officials often note that neither country is party to the Rome Treaty that established the ICC. However, the court “has jurisdiction in relation to crimes committed on the territory of Palestine, including Gaza,” as well as “over crimes committed by Palestinian nationals inside or outside Palestinian territory.”

Under then-Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, the ICC in 2021 launched a formal investigation into alleged Israeli war crimes and apartheid in the illegally occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza.

Israeli and Hamas officials reacted angrily on Monday to Khan’s move, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calling the application “absurd” and the “new antisemitism” and Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zuhri lamenting that it equates “the victim with the executioner.”

South Africa—which filed the ICJ case now joined by over 30 nations—welcomed Khan’s announcement, with President Cyril Ramaphosa asserting that “the law must be applied equally to all in order to uphold the international rule of law, ensure accountability for those that commit heinous crimes, and protect the rights of victims.”

Original article by BRETT WILKINS republiahed from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0).

Continue Reading‘War Crimes Are War Crimes’: Biden Rebuked for Decrying ICC Bid to Arrest Israeli Leaders

ICC applies for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant

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Original article republished from peoples’ dispatch under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

(Photo: Ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken)

ICC Chief Prosecutor Karim Khan issued warrants for the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister, as well as for three Hamas leaders

On May 20, International Criminal Court Chief Prosecutor, Karim Khan, issued arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. Netanyahu and Gallant stand accused of “war crimes and crimes against humanity,” including but not limited to “starvation of civilians as a method of warfare,” “wilfully causing great suffering, or serious injury to body or health,” and “intentionally directing attacks against a civilian population.” 

Khan also issued warrants for Hamas leaders Yahya Sinwar, Mohammed Al Dief, and Ismail Haniya. They also stand accused of crimes against humanity, including rape and sexual violence, extermination, murder, and taking hostages.

The move, though largely symbolic, has created an international stir. International forces supporting Israel have reacted with outrage, including US President Biden, who said in a statement that “The ICC prosecutor’s application for arrest warrants against Israeli leaders is outrageous.”

“Let me be clear: whatever this prosecutor might imply, there is no equivalence—none—between Israel and Hamas. We will always stand with Israel against threats to its security,” Biden said. 

The Palestinian resistance movements and largely movements for Palestinian liberation issued different reactions. Mustafa Barghouti, secretary-general of the Palestinian National Initiative, was largely positive in his reaction, stating, “We consider this to be the first step towards condemning the crimes of genocide committed by the rulers and army of Israel against the Palestinian people in Gaza and holding them accountable for committing these crimes according to international law and international humanitarian law.”

Hamas denounced the actions against its own leaders. “The Public Prosecutor should have arrest and detention orders against all officials from the occupation leaders who gave orders, and soldiers who participated in committing crimes,” the resistance organization stated. “The Hamas movement strongly denounces the attempts of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to equate the victim with the executioner by issuing arrest warrants against a number of Palestinian resistance leaders, without a legal basis, in violation of the international conventions and resolutions that gave the Palestinian people and all the peoples of the world under occupation the right to resist the occupation in all forms, including armed resistance, especially as stipulated in Article 51 of the United Nations Charter.”

Others have similarly criticized the move based on the equivalency Khan draws between Hamas and Israel, especially since many have pointed out inconsistencies in accusations made against Hamas forces of rape. Meanwhile, Israeli forces have many credible accusations of rape made against them. Khan has a history of siding with imperialist forces during his time as ICC prosecutor, including excluding US troops from a probe into war crimes in Afghanistan.

Original article republished from peoples’ dispatch under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

Continue ReadingICC applies for arrest warrants for Netanyahu and Gallant

UK High Court grants Julian Assange opportunity to appeal extradition

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Original article by Ana Vračar republished from peoples’ dispatch under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

Source: Official International Campaign to free Julian Assange

Julian Assange was granted another opportunity to appeal his extradition to the US after the UK High Court found US assurances of a fair trial inadequate

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange has been granted another opportunity to appeal his extradition to the United States by the UK High Court on Monday, May 20. This decision allows Assange and his legal team to contest US extradition efforts in court once again, with a new date yet to be set.

Today’s decision also offers a glimmer of hope in a case that could see Assange prosecuted on espionage charges and potentially sentenced to over 170 years in prison in the US.

The ruling was met with hope from Assange’s supporters outside the court, as well as relief from family members and organizations who have been advocating for an end to his persecution since WikiLeaks published thousands of documents exposing US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan. The campaign for his release has intensified since his imprisonment in Belmarsh prison five years ago.

Following the ruling, Assange’s supporters reiterated calls for the US to drop the case entirely, allowing him to go free. “In trying to imprison him, the US is sending the unambiguous message that they have no respect for freedom of expression, and that they wish to send a warning to journalists and publishers everywhere: that they too could be targeted, for receiving and publishing classified material — even if doing so is in the public interest,” said Simon Crowther, legal adviser at Amnesty International.

Caitlin Vogus, deputy director of advocacy at Freedom of the Press Foundation, also urged the court to refuse to extradite Assange. “But better yet, the Biden administration can and should end this case now. If Biden continues to pursue the Assange prosecution, he risks creating a precedent that could be used against any reporter who exposes government secrets, even if they reveal official crimes. If the Biden administration cares about press freedom, it must drop the Assange case immediately,” Vogus said.

The High Court ruling follows a deferral from March this year, when the British judiciary sought assurances from the US that Assange would receive a fair trial if extradited. Specifically, Assange’s legal team demanded guarantees that he would be granted First Amendment rights to free speech, be treated equally in court despite being an Australian national, and that the prosecution would not seek the death penalty.

In response, the US legal team provided a list of assurances, but today, the UK court found them unsatisfactory. Apart from the assurance that the death penalty would not be pursued, Assange’s current and former legal representatives described the US explanations as inconclusive, raising concerns that he would face cruel treatment if deported.

Original article by Ana Vračar republished from peoples’ dispatch under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 (CC BY-SA) license.

Continue ReadingUK High Court grants Julian Assange opportunity to appeal extradition

World Leaders Blasted Over ‘Grave’ Violations of International Law by Israel

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Original article by JON QUEALLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Palestinian who fled Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip ride with their belongings in the back of a truck, as they arrive to take shelter in Deir el-Balah in the central part of the Palestinian territory on May 12, 2024.  (Photo by AFP via Getty Images)

“The first step for Third States in upholding their own legal obligations to ensure [international humanitarian law] is respected is to stop the Rafah invasion, open all land crossings and lift internal barriers for humanitarian access,” said an international coalition.

While ordinary citizens from across the globe have expressed their condemnation of the ongoing carnage and suffering in Gaza, a coalition of 20 international human rights groups on Wednesday excoriated world leaders for standing idly by as Israel carries out “a grave violation of international humanitarian law” with its military assault on Rafah.

With the United Nations agencies reporting that as many as 450,000 people have already attempted to flee the encircled southern city where more than 1.4 million had sought refuge, a joint statement by the groups—including Amnesty International, Oxfam, Médecins du Monde International Network, and Mercy Corps—rebuked Israel’s evacuation orders as “unlawful” and chided third-party countries for violating their own obligations under international humanitarian law (IHL) by refusing to intervene.

“Third States have the responsibility to urgently act in bringing to an end, and pursue accountability for, the Grave Breaches of IHL taking place in Gaza,” said the groups. “The first step for Third States in upholding their own legal obligations to ensure IHL is respected is to stop the Rafah invasion, open all land crossings and lift internal barriers for humanitarian access.”

According to the statement, Israel’s ongoing violations are clear and obvious:

The Israeli military’s “evacuation orders” are unlawful and amount to forcible transfer, a grave violation of international humanitarian law (IHL). Israel has ordered hundreds of thousands of Palestinians to flee, without providing civilians and humanitarian actors clear information nor timeframe. IHL sets clear conditions for an evacuation to be lawful: the occupying power must ensure that these displacements are temporary and that displaced persons are provided with satisfactory conditions of hygiene, health, safety and nutrition, and members of the same family must not be separated. Israeli authorities have failed to meet any of these requirements.

With Wednesday marking the 76th anniversary of the Nakba, when Palestinians were forced to leave their homes en masse following the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948, a new wave of forced displacement is now upon the people of Gaza only served to heighten the harsh reality for those with nowhere safe to go.

Ilan Pappe, a scholar of Palestinian history at the University of Exeter, explained to Al-Jazeera that while some comparisons with the original Nakba make sense, what is happening now to the people of Gaza is “even worse” in many ways.

“What we see now are massacres which are part of the genocidal impulse, namely to kill people in order to downsize the number of people living in Gaza,” Pappe said. On Tuesday, a group of ultra-nationalist Israelis, including members of the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Cabinet, marched in the city of Sderot near the Gaza border as they called for resettlement of the enclave.

“Ethnic cleansing is a terrible crime against humanity but genocide is even worse,” said Pappe. “So I think we are seeing a transition from using ethnic cleansing as the main method of taking as much of Palestine as possible, with as few Palestinians in it as possible—we are moving into a far more lethal method, that of genocide.”

According to the joint declaration by rights groups on Wednesday, Israel’s military assault in Rafah is “disrupting the humanitarian response” of relief organizations and the United Nations, amounting to a “breach of the U.N. Security Council resolutions 2720 and 2728 as well as the International Court of Justice’s provisional measures ordering Israel to enable the provision of basic services and humanitarian assistance.”

In remarks Tuesday, U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres said Israel’s escalating military operations and evacuation orders in Rafah “are further impeding humanitarian access and worsening an already dire situation.”

“For people in Gaza,” said Guterres, “nowhere is safe now.”

Despite the concerns from U.N. agencies and international relief groups, the U.S. government under President Joe Biden on Tuesday said it was preparing a $1 billion weapons shipment for Israel to bolster its military capabilities.

Because of such military support, the human rights coalition argued in its Wednesday declaration that the U.S. “bears a significant responsibility” for Israel’s violations of international humanitarian law. “In addition to halting the transfer of high payload bombs, the U.S. should also use all its leverage to halt the ongoing military operation in Rafah,” the groups said.

Those in the human rights coalition said it is the Palestinian people paying the price for the failure of world leaders to meet their obligations to put a stop to the forced displacement of civilians in Gaza.

“We have been warning for months that Israel must be stopped from entering Rafah or Gaza would face an even greater humanitarian catastrophe” than it already has, said Florence Rigal, president of Médecins du Monde France. “The inaction of third countries is seen as a lack of concern for the consequences for the exhausted civilian population. It is unacceptable and immediate action must be taken to prevent further suffering.”

Original article by JON QUEALLY republished from Common Dreams under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). 

Continue ReadingWorld Leaders Blasted Over ‘Grave’ Violations of International Law by Israel