Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Inconvenient Truth - Curtis Doebbler

Al Ahram Weekly, Cairo, January 14, 2009 - But despite these clear legal truths, and despite the fact that the world is once again witnessing the horrific crime of genocide, there is no international outcry to have the International Criminal Court investigate the many Israelis involved in these actions and the many other international officials who have been complacent in allowing -- sometimes supporting -- these actions.....Why is there no such action against Israel? Why doesn't the UN General Assembly at least form a body to investigate Israel's crimes, as it is entitled to do under Article 22 of the UN Charter?

Even the Western news media seems to ignore the truth provided by the rules of international law, often feigning ignorance of the law -- as if that is a defence for them -- or sometimes merely claiming, arrogantly, that the law is irrelevant, despite the fact that these rules have the consensual agreement of the international community and have been tried and tested over hundreds of years. ...

Sometimes in war the truth is also inconvenient. This is likely why not only the Western press but even the Arab press has shied away from obvious signs indicating that Arabs and even Palestinians themselves have contributed to Israel's inhumane rampage of violence through Gaza. Few Palestinians -- or knowledgeable observers of any persuasion -- could imagine that Israel could attack Gaza in the midst of negotiations with the Palestinian government represented by Fatah without the knowledge and consent of senior Fatah officials. While Fatah's official line, right to the top where President Mahmoud Abbas sits, has been that it opposes the Israeli invasion of Gaza, it has done little to stop it. One Palestinian diplomat asked what would be done deferred the matter until after the holidays.

From the Palestinian Permanent Mission to the United Nations in Geneva -- where the UN's main human rights bodies sit -- has come an ominous silence. The Mission did not even respond to requests for any statement they might have made in relation to the situation in Gaza, and none could be publicly found a week into the Israeli aggression. A week into the worst aggression ever carried out against the Palestinian people in such a short period of time there was no call for a special session of the Human Rights Council, no harsh condemnation of Israel's actions. The diplomats in Geneva were possibly busy enjoying the holidays. Meanwhile, the Palestinian Permanent Mission in New York has pushed for UN Security Council action, but that is all. Informed observers within the UN have wondered out loud why the Palestinians have not pushed for quick General Assembly action. Even the newest ambassadors to UN headquarters know that the US will block any action against Israel as they have done in the past in relation to Israel's use of force against US assets.

....President Abbas seems to be more concerned with how he might reassert Fatah authority over Gaza.

First, Abbas ironically, in the midst of the attack on Gaza, issued an invitation to Hamas to negotiate a national unity government. He did this despite still not having replied to a Hamas proposal to form a unity government delivered to him six months ago. When a politically independent Gaza City resident was told about this proposal he asked if Abbas's offer had been delivered among the propaganda leaflets that Israel is dropping from planes over besieged Gaza.

Second, although lauding himself as the elected Palestinian president, according to a Lebanese newspaper Abbas has ordered 2000 Fatah militants to the border with Gaza, apparently with Israeli and Egyptian permission, to overrun the elected government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh in Gaza. One might even speculate that Mohamed Dahlan, whose failed coup attempt against Hamas in Gaza precipitated many of the current events, might be at the head of this "fifth column".

That Western powers ignore the will of the Palestinian people as expressed through elections for which Western observers vouched is not surprising, but that Fatah will go to the length of cooperating with Israel to displace the elected Hamas officials who they have already confined to Gaza is extraordinary. Can the Fatah leadership really believe that Palestinians will want to be governed by people who support the occupier's killings of Palestinians? If this is not what Fatah is doing, it certainly looks that way to many Palestinians and informed international observers. And if we are all wrong, why doesn't Fatah do something to change -- or at least denounce -- this impression. Instead it has made meaningless statements of support for the Palestinian people while taking little action and even blocking others' actions to protect the Palestinian people.

The writer is an international human rights lawyer and professor of law at An-Najah National University, Nablus, Palestine

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