Occupation Map

Occupation Map

Friday, 17 December 2010

Government’s proposal could let war criminals ‘get away with murder’, Sir Gerald Kaufman says during debate on Bill

war criminals
In Parliament the Second Reading Commons’ debate was held for the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill. This contains the proposal (clause 151) to give the Director of Public Prosecutions a veto on whether or not a court can consider issuing an arrest warrant for war crimes.
The Bill was introduced by Theresa May from the government, with Ed Balls and Vernon Coaker, the Home Office Shadow team, leading the opposition. Unfortunately, clause 151 was one of the few areas they offered Labour’s support for, although they promised to ‘probe’ these aspects. However, their support was not echoed by a single speaker on the Opposition backbenches. Sir Gerald Kaufman launched a stinging attack, stating that this change in the law ‘would never have been proposed if it were not for the case of Tzipi Livni, the war criminal daughter of a terrorist father’. He catalogued some of the crimes of the Israeli state against the Palestinians including the assault on Gaza; their attack on the flotilla; holding political prisoners; abuse of prisoners, including children and reminded the House that a change in the law will mean that one of the few sanctions open will be removed and “Israeli politicians will be literally allowed to get away with murder.”
Ann Clwyd pointed out how rarely arrest warrants were made, how difficult it was to obtain one and set out that “nothing needs fixing, as nothing has been broken.”
Tom Brake was the only Liberal Democrat to make a speech covering the issue, and unfortunately was broadly supportive of the Government measures, but did raise that “sufficient resources need to be made available to the DPP to ensure that arrest warrant requests are dealt with speedily, and are not used as a means of ensuring that appropriate action is not taken.”
The Coalition Government predictably won the vote on the Second reading, and the Bill will now be heard by a committee of MPs selected by the Whips. The Bill will be debated again at its Report and Third Reading, which will take place after mid-February.
It is still not too late to press your MP to defend universal jurisdiction, and oppose war criminals being able to ‘get away with murder’. Please arrange to meet them at their constituency surgery in January. PSC has prepared detailed briefings.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Remembering Israel’s war on Gaza: END THE SIEGE ON GAZA

 Vigil outside the Israeli Embassy in London 27 December 2010, 1-3pm to mark the second year of the start of Operation Cast Lead. 
Gaza vigilBetween 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, over 1400 Palestinians were killed by Israel in a brutal and illegal attack on the Gaza Strip, destroying lives and infrastructure. Two years on, Gaza’s infrastructure has still not been repaired due to Israel’s blockade. Families are still living in tents. UN schools are unable to rebuild as Israel blocks concrete and building supplies. Join us, and bring family and friends, to send a clear message – END THE SIEGE ON GAZA! FREE PALESTINE!

Friday, 10 December 2010

Teather's Response to PSC lobby

Members of Brent PSC in Brent Central and local Lib Dem councillor Ann Hunter met Sarah Teather MP on Wednesday 8 December to raise various issues related to the Palestinian issue. Ms. Teather, who previously as the MP for Brent East had visited Gaza twice, said the impressions made on her during those visits made it hard for her to change her views and feelings of support on this issue. The meeting was part of the PSC’s annual lobby of MPs; however, it was not possible for campaigners and Ms. Teather to meet on 24 November and hence the December meeting instead.

One of the key issues campaigners wished to raise was s. 151 of the Police Reform and Social Responsibility Bill which is to introduce an amendment to the laws on universal jurisdiction in the UK, adding a political element to what should be wholly a judicial matter. Campaigners from the PSC and other NGOs do not believe the law needs amending; however, due to a misunderstanding, it was not possible for Ms. Teather to give her opinion on this matter during the meeting. We hope she is able to do so before this bill has its second reading (debate and vote) in the House of Commons on Monday 13 December.

Other issues raised were Israeli settlements, the labelling of goods from settlements and the siege of Gaza. Ms.Teather promised to take up these issues and we look forward to her response on these issues. It is encouraging that Ms.Teather, also Minister for Children and Families, is supportive of this issue. Nonetheless, she spoke of “horse trading” or bargaining to get support on these issues among parliamentarians and the government; concessions have to be made on some issues in order to make gains on others. It must, however, be pointed out that human life and human rights are not bargaining chips and all of the issues raised are of equal importance and are non-negotiable, largely under international law as well.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Lobby of Sarah Teather MP

We were unable to lobby Sarah Teather on the 24th November. 
If you are from Brent Central, you are welcome to join the lobby on the 8th December at 6pm at   the House of Commons, Westminster.   Sarah will meet you in the Central Lobby.

You need to allow 15 minutes to get through security.

If you wish to take part in the lobby please e-mail mafran@globalnet.co.uk
who will pass the information on to the lobby organisers. 

Saturday, 27 November 2010

Professor Richard Falk - The Israeli assault on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Wednesday 1st December, London 
Professor Richard Falk (United Nations Special Rapporteur for Palestinian Human Rights) will be giving a public lecture, co-hosted by The Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC),  and chaired by on the subject of "The Israeli assault on human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Event to be chaired by Michael Mansfield QC
Wednesday 1st December 2010, 6.30pm
University of London, Senate House, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HU
The lecture is open to the public and is free but registration is essential.
Please RSVP: events@memonitor.org.uk or 020 8838 0231     
Hosted by: Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC)

Friday, 26 November 2010

Barry Gardiner MP on Israel-Palestine

I summarise below the views expressed by Barry Gardiner MP for Brent North when I lobbied him on the Palestinian issue on November 24th 2010:
  • Supports lifting of siege of Gaza and has stated this publicly.
  • Has condemned Israel's action in Gaza and as ex-vice Chair of Labour Friends of Israel was criticised by some constituents for his condemnation.
  • Claims Marvi Marwara was not carrying aid and that those on board were seeking to provoke an Israeli response but says Israeli action was disproportionate.
  • Supports two state solution and pressed me to give personal/Brent PSC/National PSC position for or against.
  • Similarly supports Israel's right to exist as a Jewish state and pressed me for our position.
  • Won't sign EDM 124 on  European relations with Israel as issue too complex to be encapsulated in an EDM. Such EDMs do no one any favours.
  • Said Livni application under Universal Jurisdiction was not serious and done for publicity. Such appplications only need prima facie evidence and should need weightier evidence and be dealt with at a more senior legal level. Wouldn't support political decision on such applications but then noted politicians often also have a legal role. He awaits government proposals to form a view.
  • Question's democratic credentials of Hamas's election but thinks eventual negotiation with them is inevitable.
  • Condemns neighbouring Arab states' treatment of Palestinians within their borders and they way they have used them and their conditions as a stick with which to beat Israel. Several could have used their great wealth to help the Palestinians.
Sarah Teather MP (Brent Central) and Glenda Jackson (Hampstead and Kilburn) are also to be lobbied on the issue and we will post their views here.
 Martin Francis, Chair, Brent PSC

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Israeli assault 'Brutal and disproportionate"

The Israeli assault on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza had been “brutal and disproportionate” according to the UN Human Rights Council, Brent residents were told at a public meeting at Willesden Green library organised by Brent Palestine Solidarity Campaign.  Audrey Bomse, Legal Coordinator of the Free Gaza Movement detailed the various grave international humanitarian and human rights violations that Israel had committed.

The purpose of the meeting was to examine the relations between Israel and Palestine in the light of international and criminal law. The speakers, focused on the events of last May, when Israeli commandos intercepted a flotilla of vessels attempting to break the Israeli blockade and take humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Sarah Colbourne and Alex Lort Phillips, who had been on the Turkish vessel Mavi Marmara, which came under attack from the commandos, gave first hand accounts of the event to a shocked audience. Sarah and Alex said that the attack, in which nine civilians were killed, had led to a significant shift of opinion on the issue of Israeli’s illegal activities.

The meeting also heard about the attempts to revise the law on universal jurisdiction so that Israeli ministers, suspected of war crimes, would avoid arrest in the UK. Brent PSC is urging Brent residents to contact their MPs to ask them to vote against any weakening of the law and will be organising a lobby of MPs on the Palestine issue on November 24th.

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Veolia should be dumped by Brent

The Dump Veolia Campaign lead a demonstration outside the Natural History Museum on 23rd October 2010 to protest against Veolia's sponsorship of the Environment Wildlife Photographer of the Year Exhibition at the Natural History Museum.

Veolia is Brent Council's waste management contractor. Brent PSC believes that councillors should be aware of Veolia's activities in Israel before considering the renewal of its contract.

Veolia still holds shares in the Jerusalem Light Railway project which the UN Human Rights Council has declared is a "clear violation of international law", despite the recent announcement that it was selling its shares to Egged. The tram line runs across stolen Palestinian land connecting illegal Israel settlements and West Jerusalem thereby helping consolidating the occupation.

Veolia also runs bus services to the settlements on roads Palestinians are barred from using despite the fact that they are built on their land.

Veolia's shameful crimes in Palestine also include the Tovlan landfill site it operates in the occupied Jordan Valley where it helps Israel dump its toxic waste on to Palestinian land next to the Palestinian village of Abu Ajaj.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Mission accomplished: Convoy enters Gaza

The Viva Palestina convoy has entered Gaza, breaking the illegal siege imposed on the Palestinians there. The convoy has been met with jubilant scenes on the way to and in Gaza City itself.
Medicines and vehicles, including the PSC vehicle filled with aid bought by members, entered the Rafah crossing yesterday. The total aid is valued at $5million.
Although PSC's driver Amena Saleem was one of the 17 people not allowed in by Egypt, look out for a report of what happened in Gaza on our ‘PSC to Gaza' blog.
PSC EVENT: Gaza public meeting Eye-witness reports: Tuesday 2nd November, 7pm, House of Commons

Listen first hand about the situation in Gaza from members on the Viva Palestina convoy, MP's, architects and others.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Five Countries Boycott Jerusalem Tourism Conference

An OECD ‘High Level Roundtable’ on tourism due to take place in West Jerusalem has been thrown into chaos by the decision of five countries not to attend and the disclosure by several others that only low-level delegations will take part. 
Following attempts by Israel to use the conference to further its territorial claims on Jerusalem and concerns raised by Palestinian civil society and its international supporters that the conference serves to whitewash Israeli violations of international law, the UK, Sweden, Ireland, Turkey and South Africa announced that they would be not be taking part. Although the UK denied that its refusal to attend was politically motivated , Sweden and Turkey openly stated that their withdrawals are political in nature.

In a further blow to the credibility of the ‘high level’ conference at which ‘senior government officials’ were expected to discuss tourism policy , a number of countries will not send tourism ministers and instead low-ranking officials will represent member country governments. The Greek delegation to the OECD told campaigners during telephone calls that no officials from Athens will make the trip and instead a staff member from the Greek tourist information centre in Tel-Aviv will represent Greece. During other telephone calls to OECD offices, campaigners learnt that Denmark will only send a statistician and that Belgium and Norway are still considering what level of representation will attend. France will be represented at a “technical level” only. A number of countries are yet to decide whether Ministers should attend, campaigners understand.

The withdrawals come following comments made by Israeli tourism minister Stas Misezhnikov that the situating of the meeting in Jerusalem – the first OECD meeting hosted by Israel since it became a member in May and only the second time an OECD tourism conference has been held outside of Paris - was in effect recognition by OECD members of Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital. In a strongly worded letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, OECD General Secretary Angel Gurria called the comments “factually incorrect and quite unacceptable”.

Palestinian opposition to the tourism conference being held in Jerusalem has been consistent. In a letter to Mr Gurria last month, the Palestinian Boycott,Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a broad Palestinian civil society coalition, called upon the OECD to move the conference. “Organizing this tourism conference in Israel sends once again a strong signal that OECD members are perfectly willing to be complicit with Israel’s oppression of Palestinians and actively support Israel’s PR efforts to whitewash its colonial and apartheid policies,” the letter said. The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) both issued statements thanking UK and Turkey for boycotting the conference and calling on other countries follow suit.

“We warmly salute all of the countries who have decided not to attend this conference. We urge OECD member states to make a principled stand for justice, international law and human rights by refraining from attending the OECD Tourism Conference to be held in Jerusalem. We are also asking citizens of OECD member countries to put pressure on their governments not to attend” said Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a broad Palestinian civil society coalition.

“Israel is using its membership of the OECD to whitewash its violations of international law and further its processes of occupation, colonization and apartheid, just as Palestinian civil warned it would. Attending the conference can only be seen as a seal of approval for Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing policies in Jerusalem” she added.

Spain had originally been declared as boycotting the conference, but it has since emerged that a low-level delegation will attend.

Veolia to sell shares in Jerusalem Light Railway?

Veolia has signed a principled agreement to sell its shares in the Jerusalem Light Rail to the Israeli transportation cooperative Egged, reports TheMarker today (15 October). This sale marks a substantial victory for the Palestinian-led international campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel.

According to the agreement, Veolia will receive NIS 45 million (approximately EURO 9 million) for its shares, which will be gradually transferred to Egged over a five year period from the first day of the light rail's operation. This gradual transfer ensures compliance with conditions of the initial tender, which mandate that the light rail operator must have a minimum of five years experience in operations. Egged will also pay increasing percentages of the sale as the light rail becomes increasingly profitable.

The EUR 9 million to be received by Veolia is miniscule compared to the almost EUR 5 billion of contracts that Veolia has lost around the world due to the BDS movement in the past two years, most prominently a EUR 3 billion tender in Sweden.

Finalisation of the sale requires confirmation of various Israeli authorities and the other partners in the light rail. The biggest threat to finalization of the sale, however, was liable to come fromIsrael's anti-trust laws, as this sale would make Egged the monopoly holder of public transportation in Jerusalem. According to AIC economist Shir Hever, "It seems probable, however, that the Israeli Anti-Trust Authority signaled it would approve the sale, most likely due to Israeli concern over the detrimental impact of the BDS campaign on the rail's burgeoning costs and never-ending delays."

Veolia has been a target of the Palestinian-led international campaign for Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) against Israel until the latter recognizes Palestinian human and national rights and fulfills its obligations under international law. Veolia has been trying to find a buyer for two years already, as a result of the boycott pressure. This political pressure has caused numerous delays in operation of the rail, which was supposed to begin functioning in 2008 and now will not begin before 2011.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Viva Palestina Aid Convoy Cleared to Sail

After a tense ten day stand off in Syria, the Viva Palestina aid convoy to Gaza has now been cleared to sail. The convoy started out from London on Saturday 18th September and drove down through France, Italy, Greece and Turkey before arriving in the port of Latakia, Syria, on Saturday 2nd October. In Latakia, the convoy has been joined by two other convoys. One came from Morocco and Algeria, the other originated in Doha and came through the Gulf states and Jordan.

There are now 147 vehicles about to board two ships together with 380 people from some 30 countries stretching from New Zealand and Australia to Canada and the United States carrying aid worth some 5 million dollars. This includes 40 people who were on the Mavi Marmara flotilla which was attacked by Israeli commandos murdering ten human rights activists from Turkey.

Over the last ten days in Syria, the convoy has taken on medical supplies urgently needed in the besieged Gaza Strip. Simultaneously negotiations have been conducted with the Egyptian authorities to allow passage into the port of Al Arish and then on to the Rafah Crossing.

The support of the Syrian authorities and others has been vital in the successful negotiations. Last night word finally came through that the Egyptian authorities would allow the ships to dock, unload and passage through to the Rafah Crossing and Gaza would be guaranteed. The ships will now sail past the place where the Mavi Marmara was attacked and flowers will be laid in memory of the victims.

When the convoy reaches Gaza the soil from the graves of some of those who were murdered will be used to plant trees as a memorial to the Mavi Marmara victims. The convoy hopes to reach Gaza this Saturday or Sunday.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Lobby your MP - Britain must not become safe haven for war criminals

Following the issuing of an arrest warrant for Tzipi Livni last December, and the threat of arrest warrants against other Israelis accused of war crimes, the Conservative government responded to Israeli government pressure and made an election pledge to change the law on Universal Jurisdiction. 

In July, the Ministry of Justice announced that proposals would be brought forward to change the current legislation to give the Director of Public Prosecutions power over issuing private arrest warrants against alleged international criminals who visit Britain. 

Currently, for a magistrate to issue an arrest  warrant, serious  evidence must be presented against the person concerned. The proposed  change adds a political dimension to a legal decision and introduces a  source of delay when urgent action may be required to stop a suspect  escaping justice. Britain has a duty to seek out and prosecute those  responsible for war crimes – tell your MP not to allow Britain to become  a safe haven for war criminals. 

There are two things you can do today: 
  1. Check if your MP has signed EDM 108 Law and Human Rights – if not, ask them to*
  1. Arrange a meeting with your MP in your constituency at their next surgery in October – find out who your MP is and how to contact them via: http://findyourmp.parliament.uk/  (Look out for a briefing paper on PSC website next week).
*note: parliamentary convention means ministers do not sign EDM’s.

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Ahava closed temporarily by actvists

The central London branch of Israeli settlement company Ahava was occupied by Pro-Palestine activists from 11.30am until 3pm yesterday, shutting the shop for business for entire time.  Two activists managed to bring a concrete slab with tubing going through the middle into the shop and lock their arms together inside it, thus blockading the shop. The shop assistant attempted to remove them from the shop but gave up when she realised they had locked their arms inside.

The police arrived on the scene after 15 minutes and moved supporters carrying a banner outside the shop, where they proceeded to engage with a generally supportive  public about the Palestinian issue and the nature of Ahava’s business.
Instead of waiting for the trained lock on cutting team, at 2pm the police began to dismantle the lock on themselves with a hammer, risking injury to the activists whose arms were locked inside. Luckily no one was hurt and by 2.30pm they had removed the activists from the lock on and arrested them for aggravated trespass; committing trespass with the intent to stop a lawful activity. The aggravated trespass charge will of course be challenged by asserting that Ahava’s business is not lawful and so no lawful activity was halted.
When action supporters left the scene at 3pm the store was still closed, bringing the total closure time to at least 3.5 hours, over half of the trading time on the day on which Ahava generally receives the most business, Saturday.
Ahava sell beauty products from that are manufactured in the illegal Israeli West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, on the Dead Sea shore 6 miles north of the green line. Despite operating from a settlement Ahava label their goods ‘made in Israel’, and so are not only guilty of breaching international law by operating on occupied land, but are dodging British tax by taking advantage of tax breaks offered as part of Israel’s enhanced EU trading agreement, tax breaks that the European High Court confirmed in February do not apply to settlement goods after a case involving settlement company Soda Club Inc .
An international campaign has been growing against Ahava for the last three years. Actions have taken place in London, Tel Aviv, New York, Las Vegas, Paris, Washington DC, Santa Monica, Chicago, Los Angeles, Amsterdam, Austin, Montreal and the Czech Republic. The American protest group CODEPINK launched an official campaign against Ahava called ‘Stolen Beauty’ in July 2009.
Just in London three other direct actions have taken place against the company in the last two years, with the prosecution for the last two collapsing in August after the store manager failed to turn up for court, possibly afraid of having to defend the legality of her business in a court of law. A regular picket of the shop takes place every other Saturday, the next will take place again next Saturday (9th October) between 12 and 2 pm.
Message of support can be sent by posting comments on this WEBSITE

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

IDF used 'extreme brutality' on Jewish Boat takeover

Israel Defence Forces soldiers used excessive force while taking over a Gaza-bound aid ship organized by Jewish and Israeli activists, the boat’s passengers said Tuesday, countering the military’s official version
claiming that the takeover had been uneventful.

Earlier Tuesday the IDF reported that Israeli naval commandos peacefully boarded the Jewish aid boat attempting to break a naval blockade on Gaza, saying, “IDF naval forces recently boarded the yacht ‘Irene’, and it is currently being led to the Ashdod seaport along with its passengers.”

However, testimonies by passengers who were released from police questioning later in the day seemed to counter the IDF’s claims, with Israeli activist and former Israel Air Force pilot Yonatan Shapira saying
that there were “no words to describe what we went through during the takeover.”

Shapira said the activists, who he said displayed no violence, were met with extreme IDF brutality, adding that the soldiers “just jumped us, and hit us. I was hit with a taser gun.”

“Some of the soldiers treated us atrociously,” Shapira said, adding that he felt there was a “huge gap between what the IDF spokesman is saying happened and what really happened.”

The former IAF pilot said he and his fellow activists were “proud of the mission,” saying it was organized “for the sake of a statement – that the siege on Gaza is a crime, that it’s immoral, un-Jewish, and we have a moral
obligation to speak out. Anyone who stays silent as this crime is being committed is an accessory to a crime.”

Eli Usharov, a reporter for Israel’s Channel 10 affirmed Shapira’s version of the events, telling Haaretz that the takeover was executed with unnecessary brutality.

“They used a taser gun against Yonatan. He screamed and was dragged to the military boat,” Usharov said, adding that both Yonatan and his brother Itamar were handcuffed.

The Channel 10 reporter also said that the activists managed to have a serious heart-to-heart conversation with the troops once they were all placed on board the military vessel, and that “overall the atmosphere was

Reuben Moscowitz, a Holocaust survivor who took part in the mission, expressed his disbelief that “Israeli soldiers would treat nine Jews this way. They just hit people.”

“I as a Holocaust survivor cannot live with the fact that the State of Israel is imprisoning an entire people behind fences,” Moscowitz said, adding that “it’s just immoral.”

“What happened to me in the Holocaust wakes me up every night and I hope we don’t do the same thing to our neighbors,” Moscowitz said, adding that he was comparing “what I went through during the Holocaust to what the besieged Palestinian children are going through.”

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Jewish Boat Sets Sail to Gaza

A boat carrying aid for Gaza's population and organized by Jewish groups worldwide has set sail from Cyprus today at 13:32 local time .

The boat, Irene, is sailing under a British flag and is carrying ten passengers and crew, including Jews from the US, the UK, Germany and Israel as well as two British journalists.

At crisis point in peace talks, Jews, Israelis, call to lift the siege on Gaza, and to end the occupation.

The boat's cargo includes symbolic aid in the form of children's toys and musical instruments, textbooks, fishing nets for Gaza's fishing communities and prosthetic limbs for orthopaedic medical care in Gaza's hospitals.

The receiving organization in Gaza is the Gaza Community Mental Health Programme, directed by Gaza psychiatrist Dr. Eyad Sarraj.

The boat will attempt to reach the coast of Gaza and unload its aid cargo in a nonviolent, symbolic act of solidarity and protest - and call for the siege to be lifted to enable free passage of goods and people to and from the Gaza Strip.

The boat will fly multicolored peace flags carrying the names of dozens of Jews who have expressed their support for this action, as a symbol of the widespread support for the boat by Jews worldwide.

Speaking from London, a member of the organizing group, Richard Kuper of Jews for Justice for Palestinians, said today that the Jewish Boat to Gaza is a symbolic act of protest against the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian territories and the siege of Gaza, and a message of solidarity to Palestinians and Israelis who seek peace and justice.

'Israeli government policies are not supported by all Jews,' said Kuper. 'We call on all governments and people around the world to speak and act against the occupation and the siege.'

Regarding the threat of interception by the Israeli navy, Kuper said 'This is a nonviolent action. We aim to reach Gaza, but our activists will not engage in any physical confrontation and will therefore not present the Israelis with any reason or excuse to use physical force or assault them.'

Passenger Reuven Moskovitz, 82, said that his life's mission has been to turn foes into friends. "We are two peoples, but we have one future", he said.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Israel may ignore this - British Government Cannot

Palestine Solidarity Campaign welcomes the findings of the UN Human Rights Council investigation into Israel's attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla - accusing Israel's military of using ‘disproportionate levels of totally unnecessary and incredible violence' during their raid on the aid flotilla that left nine Turkish peace activists dead and over 50 injured.

The UN probe also found "clear evidence to support prosecutions" against Israel for wilful killing. The report concludes that Israel violated international humanitarian and human rights law.

Betty Hunter, General Secretary of PSC, said, "Israel may choose to ignore this report in favour of its own inquiry being undertaken by handpicked supporters of the Israeli state, but the international community is growing weary of Israel's increasing aggression accompanied by expectations of impunity. It is time for governments worldwide to recognise that sanctions against Israel are the only way to achieve a just solution for all Palestinians and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state."

PSC calls on the British government to take heed of the evidence found in the UN report and eye-witness statements of British citizens on board the Mavi Marmara and to bring pressure on Israel to end the illegal siege of Gaza. The suspension of the Israel/EU trade agreement should be the first step in imposing economic sanctions on Israel as a means of pressuring it to end its continuing violations of international law.

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

TUC Motion on Palestine

Trades unions are increasingly take up the issue of Palestine.  This is the text of a resolution to be discussed by the TUC Conference:

Congress condemns the Israeli blockades of the Palestinian territories, particularly the Gaza strip where there is a severe and ongoing deterioration in the living conditions of those living there.
The actions of the Israeli military, under the orders of their Government, in mounting a deadly assault on activists on the Mavi Marmara and other ships seeking to take humanitarian aid to Gaza, is particularly condemned.
Congress furthermore condemns the Histadrut statement of 31 May which sought to justify the Israeli action and the failure of the Histadrut to condemn settlement construction. Congress endorses the 3 June 2010 statement of the Palestine General Federation of Trade Unions, criticising the Histadrut and calling for an immediate end to the military blockade on Gaza and for a full independent inquiry into the attack on the Mavi Marmara.
Congress believes that the effective annexation of massive swathes of land by Israel in defiance of international law, using walls and checkpoints and destroying Palestinian homes in the process, is a deliberate strategy to undermine the viability of the West Bank and thereby the potential for an independent Palestinian state.
Congress calls on the UK Government and the EU to take much stronger political steps to ensure Israel abides by UN resolutions.
Congress instructs the General Council to work closely with the Palestine Solidarity Campaign to actively encourage affiliates, employers and pension funds to disinvest from, and boycott the goods of, companies who profit from illegal settlements, the Occupation and the construction of the Wall.
Congress instructs the General Council to bring to Congress a report on the impact of the boycott and investment withdrawal strategy, together with the outcome of the PGFTU/Histadrut discussions recently facilitated by the ITUC and TUC. Congress agrees to join unions around the world for maximum coordination internationally for active solidarity to end the siege of Gaza and for a free Palestine.

Friday, 10 September 2010

Help Fundraise for the convoy to Gaza

PSC breaking the siege  
In just a few weeks, a Viva Palestina aid convoy, supported by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, will leave London and travel through Europe, Turkey, Syria and Egypt to reach Gaza.

We broke Israel's brutal and illegal blockade of Gaza in January and, with your help, we can break it again.
The Palestinians in Gaza need everything from baby milk formula, to feed desperately malnourished babies, to cement, to rebuild homes, schools and hospitals reduced to rubble during Operation Cast Lead. They also need the world's attention to remain focused on them and the inhuman siege that Israel has kept them under for the last four years - sending convoys to break the blockade is an effective way of doing this and showing Gaza's plight to the world.

You can help break the siege on Gaza

Brent Palestine Solidarity Campaign will be making a donation from our recent fundraising garden party held with Brent Stop the War. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign needs to raise £10,000 towards the cost of buying a PSC-sponsored vehicle and filling it with aid, as well as covering the cost of driving it to Gaza. Please help us reach our target.

If you would like to make an individual contribution donate today by sending a cheque, made payable to PSC, to PSC, BOX BM PSA, London, WC1N 3XX or by calling 020 7700 6192 to donate by card.
Please write ‘For Gaza aid convoy' on the back of your cheque, and let PSC know you are donating to the PSC aid vehicle when you call.

Strong restrictions on Palestine during Eid Al-Fitr

 Israel has imposed strong restriction on Palestine, closing all crossings with West Bank during Eid Al-Fitr.

Similar restrictions were imposed on the West Bank during Israeli holidays in the past.

Israeli army said that all crossings would be closed over the "Jewish New Year", according to Maan News Agency. The Muslim holiday Eid Al-Fitr coincides this year with the Jewish holiday Rosh Hashanah.

Crossings will close between midnight on 7 September and midnight on 11 September, an Israeli military statement was quoted as saying.

Eid greetings to all our Muslim supporters.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Gazan Farmers Forced to Farm in No Man's Land

The Gaza Strip is narrow, elongated, and densely populated. One of the main agricultural areas in the Gaza Strip runs along the eastern border with Israel, adjacent to the perimeter fence. In recent years, B’Tselem has gathered testimonies indicating that the Israeli security forces have defined broad swaths of these areas as no-go zones, where the open-fire regulations permit live fire at anyone who enters, even persons who pose no danger. This clip was filmed by Muhammad Sabah and Khaled ‘Azayzeh, B’Tselem.

Monday, 6 September 2010

East Jerusalem schooling apartheid?

As the Palestine solidarity movement presses for an 'anti-apartheid' style campaign it is worth remembering that discrimination in education played a major part in engaging the public in the struggle.  At the time the enormity of the gap between the money spent on pupils in black and white schools outraged many.

A report, Failed Grade, by the Association of Civil Rights in Israel and Ir Amim  LINK found that almost half of Palestinian children in East Jerusalem have to attend private or unofficial schools because of a lack of facilities. It states that East Jerusalem school's are estimated to be short of about 1,000 classrooms: "The result is that...the families of thousands of Palestinian children will have to pay large sums of money to get the education they should have been getting free."

According to the Guardian in May 2001 the Israel High Court ruled that the education ministry and the miniciplaity of Jerusalem were obliged to pprovide education for every Palestinian child in the city. Despite repeated legal petitions the problem has not been confronted and Knesset representative Jamal Zahalka says that East Jeruslaem provision is worse than anywhere in the Palestinian territories, including Gaza. The result is low academic achievement and a high drop-out rate: 50% for Palestinians in East Jerusalem and 11.8% for Jewish pupils.

As with South Africa in the apartheid era, the figures reveal the inequality. East Jerusalem's education budget in 2008-9 showed an average of 2,372 shekels was spent on each pupil in Jewish elementary schools compared with 577 shekels on each Arab pupil.

Robert Del Naja of Massive Attack boycotting Israel

"After Israel's deadly raid on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May this year, a number of leading artists, including the Pixies, Elvis Costello and Gorillaz, cancelled concerts in Israel. In August, 150 Irish visual artists also pledged not to exhibit in Israel, but it is musicians who have been the most prominent international supporters of the boycott."

Robert Del Maja tells the News Statesman why he is joining the cultural boycott of Israel HERE

Saturday, 4 September 2010

Boycotts Hitting Home

This report from ynetnews.com shows that boycotts are making an impact

The decision by Norway's oil fund to withdraw its investment from Africa-Israel and Danya Cebus citing their involvement in settlement construction is the latest step in an ever expanding list of European private and governmental companies boycotting Israeli firms for political reasons. Most of the cases pertain to claims of products being manufactured outside the Green Line and therefore in "occupied territory." Some of the cases serve as political protest against Israel's policy towards the Palestinians. Yet, one point is uncontested: Recent months have seen a climb in the scope of the boycott of Israeli products imposed for political reasons.
"Since the Palestinians declared a boycott of settlement goods, there has been a 40% drop in production," Avi Ben Zvi, owner of the Plastco glass factory in Ariel said. "Export to Europe has ceased in its entirety and traders from the territories have stopped working with us. The damage is huge," he added.
According to Ariel Mayor Ron Nachman, the region's factories have taken a massive hit. "We need to initiate a wide-scale governmental campaign threatening the boycotting countries they will not participate in the political process," he said.
Last March, a large Swedish pension fund decided to boycott Elbit Systems for its part in the construction of the separation fence. The fund declared it had sold its Elbit holdings after its ethics committee recommended pulling out investment from companies involved in a violation of international treaties.
In September, Norway's governmental pension fund made a similiar move and divested from Elbit.  
Last May, Germany's Deutsche Bank announced it had sold all its Elbit stocks, apparently after being pressured by anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian organizations.
Two years ago, Swedish giant Assa Abloy, owner of the Israeli company Mul-T-Lock Ltd., issued an apology for the fact that its factory in the Barkan Industrial Park was located outside the Green Line. The company promised to move the plant into "Israeli territory" following pressure from a Swedish-Christian human rights group.

Isolated events?

Shraga Brosh, president of the Manufacturers Association, said Tuesday that "from time to time, organizations, mainly Scandinavian, boycott certain Israeli bodies. At the end of the day, these are isolated occurrences which do not affect the whole trade with Israel."

Soda Club was also hit by boycott: The city of Paris was forced to deny the Israeli company's participation in a large-scale fair for the promotion of tap water after receiving threats from pro-Palestinian elements.

On July, it was reported that the French transport firm Veolia, which operated the light rail project in Jerusalem had decided to sell its shares in the project without citing any motives. The decision may well be connected to the fact that several months earlier a French court agreed to discuss a lawsuit against Veolia and its involvement in the rail's construction in east Jerusalem.

Africa-Israel said in response: "Africa and the companies have not been involved in real estate development or residential construction in the West Bank for a long while. Therefore the claims are baseless."

Navit Zomer and Ofer Petersburg contributed to this report

Donate to the next Viva Palesina Aid Convoy

In just a few weeks, a Viva Palestina aid convoy, supported by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, will leave London and travel through Europe, Turkey, Syria and Egypt to reach Gaza.
We broke Israel’s brutal and illegal blockade of Gaza in January and, with your help, we can break it again.
The Palestinians in Gaza need everything from baby milk formula, to feed desperately malnourished babies, to cement, to rebuild homes, schools and hospitals reduced to rubble during Operation Cast Lead. They also need the world’s attention to remain focused on them and the inhuman siege that Israel has kept them under for the last four years — sending convoys to break the blockade is an effective way of doing this and showing Gaza’s plight to the world.

You can help break the siege on Gaza
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign needs to raise £10,000 towards the cost of buying a PSC-sponsored vehicle and filling it with aid, as well as covering the cost of driving it to Gaza. All the aid that will be taken has been requested by our contacts in Gaza and will be put to good use.Please help us reach our target. Donate today by sending a cheque, made payable to PSC, to PSC, BOX BM PSA, London, WC1N 3XX or by calling 020 7700 6192 to donate by card.

Please write ‘For Gaza aid convoy’ on the back of your cheque, and let us know you’re donating to the PSC aid vehicle when you call.

Friday, 27 August 2010

Israeli's trained to think Palestinians are not human - Levy

Gideon Levy and Jon Snow 
How ordinary Israeli citizens live with the knowledge of their country's occupation of Palestine is a question that vexes Gideon Levy on most days.

Levy is an Israeli journalist who has served in the IDF as a writer and editor for the Israel Army radio and as an aide to Shimon Peres, when the latter was leader of the country's Labour Party. He now writes for the Israeli newspaper, Ha'aretz.

On Tuesday (24 August) he was in conversation with Channel 4 News presenter Jon Snow in London, at a meeting organised by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) and Jews for Justice for Palestinians.
He attempted to answer his own question: ‘We [Israelis] have been trained to think that we're very moral and we uphold human rights, but to also think that the Palestinians aren't human beings - at least, not human beings like us. This dehumanisation of Palestinians is the only way that enables us to maintain the Occupation and even feel good about ourselves.'

The Israeli media, he said, are culpable in this process of dehumanisation. He cited an example of two dogs killed in rocket fire on two separate days in Israel during the time of Operation Cast Lead. ‘The dogs got front page coverage in Israeli newspapers, with pictures of their funerals and interviews with their owners,' Levy told the packed audience. ‘Tens of Palestinians were killed on those same days, but there was only a brief mention on page 15 or 16, with no names and no pictures.'

The message, said Levy, was clear: ‘The lives of two Israeli dogs are worth more than the lives of 100s of Palestinians. This is just one example of the systematic brainwashing that teaches us again and again that we are moral, that not only are we victims, but we are the only victims, and that what we are doing to other people is acceptable and can be done by the most moral army in the world.'

He added: ‘This is the first occupation in history where the occupier claims to be the victim. It's unprecedented in history.'

Levy's latest book, The Punishment of Gaza, has just been published by Verso. Like all other Israeli journalists, Levy has been banned from entering Gaza since October 2006.

He described Israel's three week attack on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) in 2008/9, as ‘probably the most brutal assault launched by Israel'. However, he declared the three week massacre, which killed 1,400 Palestinians, ‘backfired' on Israel, acting as a turning point in Europe and possibly the United States.
‘After Cast Lead, the world became less tolerant about Israeli violence and aggression,' said Levy. ‘The [Gaza Freedom] Flotilla became a huge international story because part of the world is sick and tired. Israel demonstrated with the flotilla that it hadn't learned anything from Cast Lead. It just played the same game - its belief that force is the first option, the feeling that it has the right to do whatever it wants, wherever it wants, while defining any opposition as anti-Semitic.'

But he claims this attitude is harming, not benefiting Israelis. He recalls one Saturday during Cast Lead: ‘I couldn't enter Gaza to report on what was happening there, so I drove into the country. I saw lots of families taking their children to the hills to see the bombs falling on Gaza, the black and white smoke, and at this point I realised that there's something very sick about this society, a society that takes its children to see Gaza burning.'

He compared Israel to a junkie, needing to be forcibly led away from occupation, refusing to go, but thanking you for it later. ‘Israel is occupation-addicted,' he said. ‘It needs someone to shake it, and this someone unfortunately has to come from the outside. It won't come from the inside.'

Change can't come from within Israel, according to Levy, because Israeli society has ‘gone into a coma'. It is like ‘a baby with glazed eyes, who has stopped crying and needs to be taken to A&E...In 1982, 4,000 people came out in Tel Aviv to protest against the massacres in Sabra and Shatilla,' said Levy. ‘Today, there wouldn't be 400.'

Levy also spoke of the systematic discrimination practiced against Israeli Palestinians, who are ‘less separatist than the Basques and have yet to boycott the state', who are treated as second-class citizens and cannot even call themselves Palestinian. They are presented as a demographic threat, said Levy, unable to even mention their past - the Nakba - and made to feel uncom fortable if they speak their own language.

AHAVA Protest this Saturday

Demonstrate outside AHAVA
Saturday 28 August
12 – 2pm, Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, London

The next fortnightly demonstration outside the Ahava beauty shop in Covent Garden, London, takes place this Saturday (28 August) from 12 - 2pmpm.

The campaign against Ahava, not just in England, but worldwide, is moving forward rapidly with London’s fortnightly demonstrations leading the way.

Why Ahava? Ahava is an Israeli company which profits from Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian land. Its factory is based on land stolen from the Palestinians - in the illegal West Bank settlement of Mitzpe Shalem - and its products use mud from the Dead Sea, illegally exploiting the West Bank’s natural resources. Ahava’s presence in Mitzpe Shalem secures the financial viability of this settlement, and helps to cement the Occupation.

Why this Saturday? The fortnightly demonstrations have become a target for the racist English Defence League. This far-right organisation has teamed up with the Zionist Federation to counter-demonstrate outside Ahava, and will be present again this Saturday. Bring Palestinian flags, banners, whistles and drums and drown out the voices of racism and fascism.

Oppose fascism - Support the Palestinians - Close down Ahava - PROTEST THIS SATURDAY

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Veolia contracts under scrutiny

Edinburgh City Council is debating today whether to sever ties with the Veolia waste company.
Green Party Councillor Maggie Chapman has submitted a motion calling for a boycott of any environmental services contracts for the French company Veolia, and has demanded that its current contracts are not renewed. She is supported by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, and some other Opposition councillors, including Labour’s Angela Blacklock - who submitted a second motion on the same issue.

Veolia is involved with the development of Jerusalem’s controversial light railway project that links Jerusalem with some West Bank settlements and is due to open in spring 2011. It also operates two bus services for Israeli settlers in the West Bank and a landfill site.

Veolia holds the waste contract for the London Borough of Brent. It is due for renewal in 2014. Background information on Pages on this site

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Protest over BBC bias in 'Death in the Med'

Last night, the BBC broadcast a Panorama programme entitled ‘Death on the Med’.
It claimed to reveal ‘what really happened’ when Israeli commandoes boarded the Mavi Marmara on 31 May 2010.

The programme was extremely biased, portraying the activists on board as violent terrorists who set out to kill Israeli soldiers.

Please write to the BBC asking the following questions:

  • Why was Israel’s ‘right’ to board the ship presumed throughout the programme?
  • Why did the programme completely fail to mention that Israel’s siege of Gaza has been declared illegal by the UN? The assumption was made that Israel has the right to blockade Gaza, while the motives of those attempting to break an illegal blockade were questioned.
  • Why did Jane Corbin not mention the bombs, rockets and white phosphorus dropped on Gaza by Israel during Operation Cast Lead over a three week period in 2008/9, killing 1,400 people? She did, however, mention the ‘thousands of rockets’ fired from Gaza into Israel, but did not say over what time period.
  • Why was the Israeli evidence of how and when they killed the activists unquestioned? Activists who were on the top deck of the ship say the first person was killed – shot from a helicopter – before any Israeli had even landed on the deck. However, none of these activists were interviewed.
  • Activists shot footage of the Israeli attack, but their cameras, laptops and other recording equipment was taken by the Israelis and has not been returned. Why was this point not raised during the programme, or put to the Israeli spokespeople?
  • Why were the autopsy reports – which reveal that each victim was shot several times at close range, in a way that can’t constitute self-defence – not used, or even mentioned?
  • Why was there no footage of the Israeli assaults on the activists – which led to nine deaths?
  • Jane Corbin never questions the use of the word ‘terrorists’ to describe the activists, or their alleged willingness to attack the commandoes. Why does she then fail to examine why there were no fatalities or serious injuries among the Israeli commandoes, when these ‘terrorists’ were so willing to attack?
  • Why were there no interviews with any of the British activists on board the ship, or with any of the journalists who were on board?
  • Why was it not pointed out that the IDF has admitted doctoring the audio footage used in the programme, that the BBC claims was broadcast from the captain's deck?
You can find more points to make on the PSC website at www.palestinecampaign.org and http://t.co/wxcKyPH

Where to send your complaint:

Online: BBC complaints link: Follow the link and fill out the online form: https://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/forms/
Ring: BBC complaint line number: 03700 100 212
Write: BBC Panorama, MC4A1, Media Centre, Media Village, 201 Wood Lane, London, W12 7TQ.

Monday, 16 August 2010

150 Irish artists launch cultural boycott of Israel

A CULTURAL boycott of Israel was launched last week, with more than 150 Irish artists announcing that they intend not to perform or exhibit in Israel, or to accept any funding from institutions linked to the Israeli government.

The Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) said it was in protest at Israel’s “treatment of the Palestinian people”.

Raymond Deane of the IPSC cited a statement from the Israeli Foreign Ministry in 2005 saying they considered culture a propaganda tool.

He said: “Artists who perform there are backing it [the Israeli government] whether they like it or not.”
The pledge signed by the artists states the boycott would continue, “until such time as Israel complies with international law and universal principles of human rights”. Mr Deane said: “You can’t really pin this down”, but it means, “at least an end of the occupation of Palestine; dismantling or at least stopping the settlements; and Israel negotiating in good faith with the Palestinians”.

An Israeli embassy spokesman said the boycott “was regrettable and ill-advised” and that “vilifying and ostracising Israel and promoting a lose-lose programme of boycotts is not the way to secure legitimate Palestinian rights”.

Singer and songwriter Damien Dempsey hoped the boycott would encourage young people in Israel who disagreed with the government to “speak out”.

He said that the military were running the show in Israel and that they needed the world to stand up against them.

Musician Donal Lunny said he was taking part to “express solidarity with the Palestinian people”.
When asked about the boycott’s chances for success, Eoin Dillon, a performer with Irish and world music band Kila, said: “It worked in South Africa.”

Sunday, 15 August 2010

Brave demonstration against the apartheid wall

Bil'in Demo Friday August 13th [-The Bil'in Popular Committee Against the Wall yet again led the weekly civilian demonstration against the apartheid wall, after local Palestinians prayed Jummah on the first Friday of Ramadan. Fifty international supporters along with Israeli activists joined non-violent Palestinian demonstrators to protest the Israeli occupation. Together, they marched with Palestinian flags and posters of political prisoners from the village, many arrested through night raids. These prisoners have mostly been arrested for the sole "crime" of being active organizers in the non-violent popular struggle.

As the demonstrators marched towards the apartheid fence, they chanted phrases to stop the construction of the wall that is annexing land from Bi'iln in order for Israel to build illegal settlements. When the demonstrators reached the apartheid fence, large numbers of Israeli soldiers were waiting armed with weapon and riot gear. After protestors and the Israeli army met face to face, the soldiers began shooting tear gas and sound bombs into the crowd. They continued to shoot tear gas up on the hill where spectators thought they were in safe range. Eventually, the IDF ran into part of the crowd and began shooting rubber coated steel bullets. One Israeli woman was hit by a tear gas canister in her leg. Dozens suffered from tear gas inhalation as soldiers attempted to arrest demonstrators. However, nobody was arrested. The demonstration lasted about two hours, and was a huge success considering many protestors were fasting for Ramadan.

EDL join Zionist Federation Protest

The EDL (English Defence League) joined the Zionist Federation to oppose pro-Palestine demonstrators at the fortnightly Ahava picket this weekend.

Friday, 13 August 2010

International Transport Federation calls for Action on Illegal Israeli Settlements

The International Transport Federation (ITF) passed a resolution at its 42ndMexico meeting, calling on transport workers to stop ‘providing services’ to illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The resolution calls on ITF to ‘take action against multinational companies providing transportation to settlements’.
The ITF represents 759 unions, with over 4,600,000 transport workers in 155 countries.
The resolution was tabled by the Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions (PGFTU) and seconded by the RMT - the National Union of Rail, Maritime and Transport Workers.
RMT General Secretary and PSC patron, Bob Crow, said the vote was unanimous, with full support from all represented unions including railway and shipping unions.

AHAVA activists acquitted Protest continues tomorrow

Four activists charged with aggravated trespass for blockading the Israeli-owned cosmetics shop, Ahava, in Covent Garden, London, in 2009, have been acquitted of all charges against them.

The four - Bruce Levy, Tom Ellis, Jo Crouch and Taherali Gulamhussein, all from London - had locked themselves to concrete-filled oil drums inside the shop, closing it down for a day each time in September and December 2009.  
They appeared at Highbury Corner Magistrates Court, London, this week, and were acquitted this afternoon when the primary witness for the prosecution, Ahava's store manager, refused to attend court to testify, despite courts summons and threats of an arrest warrant.

Protest outside Ahava: Saturday 14 August 2010, 12-2pm, 39 Monmouth Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9DD