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Introduction

The Cross of Bethlehem

The Cross of Bethlehem II

Little Israel Banned

State of Palestine imposes sanctions on Israel

 

 

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"Shiver my timbers!" exclaimed American settler Itamar Marcus in Efrat, near Bethlehem, on January 31, 2013. His organization, Palestinian Media Watch (PMW), had just learned that the State of Palestine he lives in, had declared a commercial ban on "Little Israel." PMW studies Palestinian society by monitoring and analyzing its media and schoolbooks; it is closely related to the Israeli government, resembling the activities of "Kalanit," the open media section of IDF's Unit 8200. Considering this, it was surprising that it took them a few days to discover Ahmed Majdalani's public statement on Palestinian television. He had declared a ban on Israeli merchandise from Little Israel. Professor Majdalani is Secretary-General of the Palestinian Popular Struggle Front, is a former Palestinian government minister, and teaches at the Bir Zeit University. "Greater Israel" (Yisrael HaGdola) is the name reserved for Israel plus the Occupied Territories; accordingly, "Little Israel" (Yisrael HaKtana) refers to Israel within the 1967 borders. Following the incessant irregularities in Israel's transfers of Palestinian tax revenues to the Palestinian Authority, the latter announced a ban on products produced not only in the West Bank, but also in Tel Aviv, Haifa and elsewhere within Little Israel. International sanctions against Israel are on the way.

Boycott Israel by Latuff

Boycott Israel by Latuff
Voices from the Boycott

Not an Isolated Event

"A university professor said that, it carries no weight!" some would be tempted to respond to the paragraph above. PMW reacted along this line of reasoning, claiming that despite the statement having been formally made in the name of the Palestinian Authority, it is against the 1994 Paris Agreement which regularized the economic links between the Palestinian Authority and Israel. That agreement stipulates free movement of merchandise between the sides and that both parties will refrain from harming the industries of the other side. Yet, after operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Cloud and all other Israeli attacks on Palestine, including the periodical bans on the transfer of tax revenues, Israel cannot claim that the Palestinian boycott is unjustified.

Boycott Israel by Latuff

Boycott Israel by Latuff
Right to Ride: Streetcar Boycotts and African American Citizenship

Yet, it is not just about the justification of the State of Palestine's actions (following the recent UN decision, the Palestinian Authority has formally changed its name); the UN is getting increasingly involved. On October 16, 2009, the UN Human Rights Council accepted the Goldstone Report, which defines Israel as a terror inflicting entity. In an interview I gave shortly afterwards, the interviewer teased me claiming that also this time nothing will change. I argued that no such document had ever been issued until then and that there was no way of hiding it. These things take time, but eventually Justice is achieved, states cannot commit crimes claiming that they are sanctioned by their sovereignty. To the horror of criminal state cartels, there is no sovereignty to commit crimes.

The next benchmark on the issue took place on March 2012, when Israel decided to cut working relations with the UN Human Rights Council after the latter decided to investigate Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Then Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman, told Israeli envoy in Geneva not to cooperate with the council or with UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillay. Moreover, Israel prevented a UN team from entering Israel after the Human Rights Council voted by 36 to one, with 10 abstentions, to send an independent international fact-finding mission to the West Bank. Israel's official answer was, "While all over the Middle East human rights are violated in an unprecedented scale, the HRC ridicules itself by dedicating its time and resources to establish a superfluous and extravagant body." Lieberman didn't explain why the fact that somebody else breaks international law gives him the same right.

Boycott Israel by Latuff

Boycott Israel by Latuff | ... now including Little Israel

 

Unprecedented Steps

These events set up the crime scene. On January 29, 2013, Israel boycotted a regular review by the UN Human Rights Council, the first time any country has done so. Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Financial Times, "After a series of votes and statements and incidents we have decided to suspend our working relations with that body, I can confirm that there is no change in that policy." One may dismiss the entire event as another example of Israeli insolence, but it wasn't so. Israel understands that it had no way of defending its crimes, to the extent that a government minister recently acknowledged that sanctions against Israel are on the way.

Accordingly, two days afterwards, the Human Rights Council released its report (see it), which proves that Israeli settlements in the occupied territories violate Palestinian human rights in ways designed to drive them off their land. Quoting published statistics, the report claims that about 520,000 Israeli settlers reside in about 250 separate settlements in East Jerusalem and the rest of the West Bank. Some of the settlements were built without government authorization. Moreover, their growth rate is much higher than in Little Israel, this being the result of policies adopted by Netanyahu's government. "The transfer of Israeli citizens into the Occupied Palestinian Territories, prohibited under international humanitarian law and international criminal law, is a central feature of Israel's practices and policies," the report states, referring to the fact that the settlements violate the Fourth Geneva Convention, which prevents an occupying power from transferring its own population into occupied territory. It will take additional time, but unless the State of Israel stops violating people, it will see its discrimination wall dismantled, stone by stone, brick by brick, crime by crime, until a new, bright horizon will be enjoyed by us, the people.

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