[DEBATE] : National Association of Democratic Lawyers calls for boycott of Israel
vallys at epu.wits.ac.za
Wed Jul 19 14:55:08 BST 2006
NADEL CONDEMNS ISRAEL S FLAGRANT BREACH OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW
The National Association of Democratic Lawyers of South Africa condemns the
flagrant breaches of international humanitarian law and the violations of
the human rights of Palestinians further exacerbated by the latest attack by
Israel on the residents of Gaza in Palestine.
We must never forget that Israel was created by the United Nations in 1948
at a time when it consisted primarily of colonising countries and when most
of the present day developing world was still under the yoke of colonialism.
It was the atonement for the West s guilt for the Holocaust that two thirds
of Palestine was given to the one third that followed the Jewish faith.
Hundreds of thousands of Arab residents of Palestine (Moslems, Christians
and atheists) were ethnically cleansed from their lands and made into
refugees. Respect for human rights knows no geographic boundaries, ethnic
exclusions or religious bias.
The hollow justification of the capture of one Israeli soldier does not
legitimise the destruction of electricity generation plants, water
purification facilities, the bombing of schools and universities and the
imprisonment of half of the elected members of the Palestine Legislative
Assembly. Gaza is a huge refugee camp consisting of approximately 1.2
million people cramped into an area 45 km long, 5-12 km in width. Since
Israel s so called withdrawal from Gaza, it has been converted into a huge
open air prison with Israel controlling all its borders and airspace.
Israel has fired hundreds of artillery shells into the Gaza strip. It is an
uneven struggle of F16 jets, attack helicopters and tanks against persons
armed with AK 47s , RPGs and crude missiles. The captured Israeli soldier
was a serving member of an occupying army. Israel has imprisoned thousands
of Palestinians, including women and children. Some of them sentenced by so
called military courts and many in administrative detention.
We associate ourselves with the views expressed by our allies in the
struggle against apartheid, the South African Council of Churches and the
Congress of South African Trade Unions. We recognise the support of the
National Lawyers Guild during our struggle and applaud their continued fight
against oppression in Palestine. We remember that it was Israel that
welcomed the apartheid prime minister, John Vorster, on an official state
visit. Israel supplied arms to apartheid South Africa, sent military
advisers to occupied Namibia to assist the then SADF and collaborated with
the apartheid regime in the development of the nuclear bomb. It was the
Palestinian people who were our allies in the struggle. Our triumph over
apartheid gave them renewed hope for their own struggle. Atrocities are
being committed daily in Gaza, the continued building of the apartheid wall
has been condemned as illegal by the International Court of Justice,
marriages between Palestinians in the occupied territories and within Israel
are prohibited, (which brings back memories of our Prohibition of Mixed
Marriages Act), which prohibition was upheld by the Israeli Supreme Court
and the continued theft of Palestinian land. It is estimated that Israel
wants to annex over fifty percent of the remaining rump of Palestine. There
are roads in the occupied territories, which are reserved for Israelis only.
The Palestinians have different coloured number plates and their vehicles
are not permitted to use these roads or enter Israeli occupied areas such as
Jerusalem. Permits are required, and mostly denied, for travel between
towns in the occupied territories. Bethlehem, the birthplace of Christ, is a
fifteen-minute drive from Jerusalem. Yet there are residents of Bethlehem
who have never been to Jerusalem because they have been denied permits.
Bethlehem is completely hemmed in by the apartheid wall and Jewish
settlements. The last remaining forest has been replaced by an Israeli
Israeli apologists are very sensitive to comparisons with apartheid South
Africa, largely because the truth hurts. The present policy being applied in
the occupied territories is akin to our Bantustans. This is only a misnomer
in the sense that our Bantustans , believe it or not, were larger pieces of
contiguous territory. The Israelis have divided the occupied West Bank into
areas akin to our Black townships. Entrance and exit from these areas are at
the whim of teenage Israeli soldiers. This results in daily humiliation at
these checkpoints with children being stopped from going to school, students
to university, ill persons to hospital and the blocking of transport of
fresh produce to markets. Palestinians from the occupied territories are not
allowed to use the airport in Tel Aviv. The Israelis have destroyed the
airport in Gaza. Instead, provided they receive the requisite permits, they
must travel to Jordan, which involves a full days journey and an overnight
stay, and even then they may be denied permission to leave at the border.
This against a forty-five minute journey from Jerusalem. This daily
oppression and humiliation is combined with the daily killing of
Palestinians. Approximately 3000 civilians, not combatants, have been killed
in the last five years. A 2004 field study published in the British Medical
Journal reported that, in the previous four years, Two-thirds of the 621
children ... killed [by the Israelis] at checkpoints ... on the way to
school, in their homes, died from small arms fire, directed in over half the
cases to the head, neck and chest the sniper s wound .
Yet our national airline, SAA, has an agreement with El Al whereby you book
with SAA but EL Al flies you to the apartheid Tel Aviv airport. Our
democratic government has entered into business agreements and other deals
with Israel. How can this be ever justified? We must applaud the stance
taken by Minister Ronnie Kasrils and many other South Africans, including
persons of the Jewish faith. They remain true to the ideals we fought for.
The striving for justice for all is much more important than a retreat to a
People who say that both sides are equally to blame are simply wrong.
Unlike South Africa, where we demanded, fought for and eventually won a
unitary state, under the rule of law with constitutionally entrenched human
rights, the Palestinians are willing to settle for much less: The Oslo
Accords which the Israelis have sabotaged, and the two principal political
parties, Fatah and now Hamas (which has indicated a willingness) accept the
creation of a Palestinian state in the remaining one third of historic
Palestine which encompasses all the occupied territories along the 1967
border, a resolution of the issue of Palestinian refugees, preferably a
right to return as is guaranteed by international humanitarian law and the
sharing of Jerusalem. Distortions about offers made by Barak or that
Palestinians willingly left their homes are neither borne out by facts nor
do anything to take the process further. The Palestinians have the right to
basic human rights of statehood and sovereignty in a contiguous territory
like any other peoples. Either Israel should allow the creation of the
Palestinian state, or forego the two state approach for one democratic state
of Palestine/Israel. It cannot have it both ways. Forget about the
hypocrisy of the governments of the USA and the EU states. By virtue of our
history, we have an obligation to support the just struggle of the
Palestinian peoples right to self-determination.
Accordingly we support the following:
* The call on the South African government to immediately recall the
South African ambassador from Tel Aviv and to begin the process of ending
diplomatic relations with Israel.
* The call on all South Africans to establish a strong, forceful and
determined boycott and sanctions campaign against the Israeli apartheid
state until the end of the occupation.
* The call on South Africans to identify a national day of action in
solidarity with the Palestinian people and to observe it with rolling mass
action around the country.
* The call on the South African government to ensure that no South
African serves in any capacity in the Israeli Occupation Forces and that any
South African citizen doing so will be prosecuted under the Regulation of
Foreign Military Assistance Act;
* The demand that Israel immediately withdraws all Israeli Occupation
Forces from Gaza and ends the occupation of Palestinian lands;
* The demand that Israel abides by the provisions of international
humanitarian law and human rights law, and refrains from imposing collective
punishment on Palestinian civilians (as per the UN Human Rights Council
declaration issued on 6 July 2006);
* The call on Israel to release all detained Palestinian ministers and
legislators and to release all political prisoners including hundreds of
women and children;
* The call on the EU and the USA to stop the severe sanctions imposed
on the Palestinian Authority as a penalty for exercising their democratic
right and electing a government of their choice. This by itself is a brutal
intervention on behalf of the occupation
* The call on the United Nations to implement the advisory opinion of
the International Court of Justice on Israel s Apartheid wall;
* The call on the United Nations to ensure that Israel fulfils its
obligations in terms of international law.
* The demand that Israel immediately cease all military attacks and
lift the economic embargo imposed on Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza
* Strongly condemns Israel's actions designed to achieve its threat
that it "will not allow the Palestinian government to survive."
* The calls upon the international community to join in our strong
condemnation of Israel's belligerent crimes against humanity and gross
violations of international law, including Article 33 of the Fourth Geneva
Convention prohibiting collective punishment and Article 48 forbidding
military actions against civilian populations and infrastructure.
* Emphasizes the international community must continue to insist
Israel immediately implement other international laws including U.N.
* Stress that while condemnation of Israel's most recent crimes
against humanity is critical, the international community must look as a
whole at Israel's gross violations of international law since its inception.
Israel's unbroken pattern of crimes against humanity plainly uncovers the
following reality: for nearly six decades Israel has been engaged in well-
planned, systematic, and continuous campaign intended to destroy the
Palestinian people, culture, civil society and the infrastructure of life
* The call upon the international community to expose the myth that
Israel has "disengaged" from Gaza despite Israel's continued control of
Gaza's airspace, sea space, land borders, public services (including water,
sewage, electricity, and telecommunication networks).
* The call upon the international community to send immediate aid to
Palestinians, including food, water, and medicine.
* Urge the international community to step-up its efforts to
boycott, sanction, and disinvest from Israel.
We further call for an urgent dialogue with the South African Government to
determine a common approach between government and civil society on the
resolution of the Israel/Palestinian crisis.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF DEMOCRATIC LAWYERS
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