Friday, December 9, 2016

Israeli bill to legalise settler homes 'unequivocally illegal': UN

The UN human rights chief on Thursday slammed a bill in Israel that would legalise some 4,000 settler homes in the occupied West Bank, saying it would clearly violate international law.
Israeli lawmakers voted Wednesday to advance the bill, which would retroactively legalise settler homes built on private Palestinian land.
"I strongly urge lawmakers to reconsider their support for this bill, which if enacted, would have far-reaching consequences and would seriously damage the reputation of Israel around the world," said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein.
He pointed out that "in enabling the use of land privately-owned by Palestinians for Israeli settlements without the owners' consent, this legislation would violate international law.
"Israel as the occupying power, must respect the private property of Palestinians, regardless of whether or not compensation is provided," he said in a statement.
Some 400,000 Israeli settlers currently live in the West Bank, excluding annexed east Jerusalem, along with 2.6 million Palestinians.
The United States, UN officials and the European Union have warned that continued settlement building is eating away at the possibility of a two-state solution to the conflict.
All Israeli settlements are viewed as illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Israel differentiates between those it has authorised and those it has not. The bill would legalise nearly 4,000 settler homes built on private Palestinian land, according to settlement watchdog Peace Now.
"All Israeli settlements -- whether outposts built without formal approval but often with the support of the Israeli authorities and which are currently illegal under Israeli law, or settlements approved by Israel -- are clearly and unequivocally illegal under international law and constitute one of the main obstacles to peace," Zeid said.
"They are also the principal cause of a wide range of human rights violations inside the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem," he said.
Fifty-seven members of the parliament, or Knesset, voted Wednesday to approve the draft legislation in the first of three readings, while 51 were against it.
Key figures in Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, considered the most right-wing in Israeli history, openly oppose a Palestinian state.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett, the bill's main backer, has advocated annexing most of the West Bank, like other Israeli religious nationalists who point to the Jewish connection to the land from biblical times.

Israel and South Africa conducted nuclear test in 1979

37 years after a mysterious double flash was detected in the South Atlantic Ocean, newly declassified American documents suggest that Israel cooperated with the Apartheid regime; the sources that leaked the information were a former Israeli MK and a senior missile engineer.
At the break of dawn on September 22, 1979, an American VELA spy satellite detected a double flash of light over the South Atlantic Ocean. The mysterious flash caused panic in the White House and President Jimmy Carter was immediately briefed on it.
To read the full text of the news, click here.

Israeli Army Admits Tweeted Hezbollah Map Actually Fake

The news below is from
Having passed it around to foreign diplomats as a real thing, and tweeted it on Tuesday with the claim it proved Hezbollah’s “war crimes,” the Israeli military today was forced to admit that a map of “Hezbollah positions” around southern Lebanon was actually totally fabricated by the military itself, and not based on any intelligence.
The tweeted image claimed to have been “declassified,” and was hyped as proving Israel’s massive intelligence-gathering capabilities in southern Lebanon, in anticipation of Israel’s next invasion. Officials also say it was presented to foreign diplomats as proof Hezbollah poses a threat to Israeli territory.
This isn’t the first time the Israeli military made stuff up to hype the Hezbollah “threat.” In 2013 the military published a fake Facebook page which they declared would be what Hezbollah’s Facebook page would look like if they had one.
Officials dismissed complaints about them making things up, insisting that the map was illustrative of the sort of thing Hezbollah might well being doing, and that they put it out to underscore just how little intelligence the world has on Hezbollah’s operations.

US May Be Complicit in Saudi War Crimes in Yemen

With the Obama Administration announcing more plans to sell more weapons to Saudi Arabia, Human Rights Watch has become the latest human rights group to issue a statement urging the USto immediately suspend all such sales, warning that they make the US complicit in Saudi war crimes.
To read Jason Ditz's full article, click here.

An Appeal on Kashmir

Appeal by the Concerned Citizens Collective for support for a Humanitarian Intervention in Jammu and Kashmir in response to plight of civilians, in particular children, facing a serious medical crisis

We are aware that during past five months, in the stone pelting by agitators and counter fire by security forces in Kashmir, many children have suffered serious injuries from pellets and shelling in Kashmir. A large number of minors are suffering extensive injuries, including disfigurement, eye injuries and some blinded for life. Children and their families are suffering from psycho-social trauma in a context where the very limited psychiatric facilities are already strained.

According to the report of an all India fact finding team consisting twenty-five citizens representing people's movements, women’s organisations, trade unions, human rights groups, journalists, writers and filmmakers, who visited Kashmir from 11 to 20 November 2016,

"In the last 135 days, over 102 unarmed civilians have been killed; more than 15,000 people have been injured in pellet firing and shelling, of which around 7,000 are cases of severe injury. A majority of those who have been injured are young and many are minors."

Local groups and organisations are already engaged in health care work and have conducted medical camps at Tral, Shopian, Anantnag, Kulgam, Pulwama, Old-town Baramulla, Sopore, and Palhalan. According to their assessment, the entire medical infrastructure of J & K is under severe stress in coping with both the extensive injuries, disfigurements, and blindings, as well as other medical needs such cardiac, pulmonary, and pediatric complications.

This is an urgent appeal for experts in ophthalmology, cardiology, pulmonology, endocrinology, pediatrics, orthopedics, and psychiatry to offer their services for as much time as they can to supplement the meagre facilities available in J&K.

Donations of medicines and equipment (jaw plates, antibiotics, anti-allergic, antidepressants, pain relievers, cough syrups, hypertensive drugs, penicillin, mutli-vitamins, iron and folic acid pills, gastro-intestinal medicines, general medicines related to BP and diabetes) would also be greatly welcome.

Efforts are being made to diagnose gaps and remedies for the ophthalmological infrastructure of the state. Also to be determined is the appropriate design for a community based psycho-social care intervention. A humanitarian delegation will be visiting the Kashmir valley in early December to map the human cost borne particularly by children, youth and women, and to develop the scope of an appropriate medically oriented humanitarian response. 

Dr Srinivas Murthy, an experienced conflict counselor formerly associated with WHO, has kindly agreed to help with this initiative. Dr. Mathew Verghese, formerly Director of St Stephen’s Hospital Delhi and Dr. Shobna Sonpar, a clinical psychologist with experience in conflict related trauma, have indicated their support for this effort. We have also received encouraging response from doctors from different states including senior doctors in government service who have indicated their willingness to participate in this initiative in their personal capacity.

We appeal to you to contribute in cash and kind as well as volunteer for providing the urgently needed medical, mental health and social support to the beleaguered people in Kashmir.

Please send your contributions to:

Aman Biradari Trust

A/C No. 010104000156950


1/6 Siri Fort Institutional Area

Khel Gaon Marg

New Delhi 110049

IFSC Code: IBKL0000010

For more details and offers of assistance, please contact urgently: [Harsh Mander, Aman Biradari,; Dunu Roy, Sanchal Foundation,; Tapan Bose, South Asia Forum for Human]

Joint statement from western diplomats

Western diplomats have issued a joint statement requesting humanitarian access to northern part of Arakan (Rakhine state) of Myanmar. I find the statement very weak. In my opinion, such a mellowed response to serious charges of genocide perpetrated by Myanmar regime will do nothing to change the horrendous conditions of the Rohingyas of Arakan, who by the way are not even named. The western diplomats were too keen on not rocking the boat with Suu Kyi's government, esp. since lifting of all previous sanctions against the government, than calling a spade a spade.
Statement by the Diplomatic Missions of Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark,
Finland, France, Greece, Ireland, the Netherlands, Poland, Spain, Sweden, Turkey and the United States
on Humanitarian Access to northern part of Rakhine State
December 9, 2016
As friends of Myanmar, we are deeply concerned by the humanitarian situation in northern part of Rakhine State.  We have welcomed the Government’s agreement to allow a resumption of humanitarian assistance and initial deliveries to some villages, but we are concerned by delays and urge all Myanmar authorities to overcome the obstacles that have so far prevented a full resumption, noting that tens of thousands of people who need humanitarian aid, including children with acute malnutrition, have been without it now for nearly two months.
This assistance is desperately needed to address serious humanitarian needs but also to begin to restore the confidence and hope‎ that are essential to a restoration of peace and stability.  Full and unfettered access is essential for humanitarian agencies to conduct a comprehensive assessment of current humanitarian needs in support of the Government’s humanitarian response.  The re-establishment of access to markets and livelihoods is also very important.
We continue to discuss with the Government the many other issues associated with the situation in Rakhine State, including the need to restore peace in the area after the attacks against security personnel, the allegations of abuse in the subsequent security operations, as well as the importance of enhanced communication. Security forces must ensure protection of all civilians.  The recent creation of the Investigation Commission offers an opportunity to investigate these incidents and allegations objectively and transparently, as well as expose all acts of violence and abuse.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0

Here below is an article by
The Senate just renewed the Iran Sanctions Act of 1996 for another ten years. President Obama has indicated that he will not veto the bill, as the margin of 99-0 makes the resolution veto proof.  The extension of the H. R. 6297 comes at the heels of Trump’s election; he has already declared in no uncertain terms that he will repeal the Iran Nuclear Deal.
Since the Iranian revolution of 1979, successive U.S. administrations, Democrat and Republican, have imposed different forms of sanctions against the Iranian government. While sanctions remain constant, their justifications have changed over the years. The official rationale of this policy is the promotion of democracy, containment of Iran’s nuclear program and their regional ambitions, and checking their support for terrorist organizations in the region and around the globe. I do not want to engage whether these allegations are true or not. Rather, I want to argue here that these justifications are merely smokescreens for promotion of war and instability in the Middle East.
I do not believe that successive governments in the United States intended to foster peace and stability, but implemented “misguided” policies that resulted in war and carnage in the Middle East.  The steady rise of the significance of military-industrial complex since early 1980s and the privatization of the war machine have reconstituted American economy and redirected it toward a war-dependent regime
of production.  This form of “disaster capitalism,” as Naomi Klein puts it, is invested in perpetual war and reconstruction after the war.  This became quite evident when Senator Rand Paul raised moral objections to arming the Saudis and financing their slaughter of civilians in Yemen.  The conversation in the House quickly turned to the question of jobs in the U.S. Even the CNN news anchor Wolf Blitzer asked the senator to weigh his moral considerations against jobs in the U. S.  “So for you this is a moral issue,” he told the Kentucky Republican’s appearance on CNN. “Because you know, there’s a lot of jobs at stake. Certainly if a lot of these defense contractors stop selling war planes, other sophisticated equipment to Saudi Arabia, there’s going to be a significant loss of jobs, of revenue here in the United States. That’s secondary from your standpoint?”
In relation to Iran, the U.S. government has repeatedly followed policies that embolden and strengthen the factions in the Iranian government that thrive on open hostility toward American and its European allies. A majority of experts of Iranian affairs have warned year after year that the imposition of a regime of sanctions against the Iranian government would result in the further suppression of civil liberties in Iran, the deepening of economic hardship on the populace, and the creation of a informal crony economy controlled by those the sanctions intend to target. Although there is convincing evidence that the sanctions indeed work against their stated objectives, the U.S. continues to pursue the same policies. Are the Americans slow learners, or the pursuit of peace and stability is not in reality the aim of these policies?
This is not the first time that the warmongers in the U.S. have tried to torpedo a multilateral agreement on the Iranian nuclear technology.  In August 2003, Iran reached an agreement with the EU3, France-Germany-Great Britain, in Paris to sign an Additional Protocol with the IAEA.  The Paris agreement required Iran to suspend voluntarily its enrichment activities and accept an intrusive regime of “snap inspections.”  Furthermore, Iran agreed to the IAEA demand to install recording cameras in all its nuclear facilities.  In return the EU3 guaranteed to recognize Iran’s inalienable right to nuclear technology under the NPT and work on technological assistance and economic incentives to assure the peaceful nature of the Iranian nuclear ambitions.
After three years of inspections, even of military facilities that were not included in the original agreement, the IAEA found no evidence of a military component in the Iranian nuclear program.  Indeed in January 31, 2006, the IAEA Updated Brief stated: “Iran has continued to facilitate access under its Safeguards Agreement as requested by the Agency, and has acted as if the Additional Protocol is in force, including by providing in a timely manner the requisite declarations and access locations.”  Four days later, on February 4, the IAEA board approved the referral of Iran to the UN Security Council.  The board argued that Iran has failed to show the peaceful nature of its nuclear program.  Under pressure of the US government, the IAEA board changed the main objective of the Additional Protocol from finding evidence of “any diversion of nuclear material to nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices,” which it had found none, to “finding proof of its exclusive civilian use.”
These actions have devastating effects on Iranian domestic politics. When the original agreement was signed 2003 by the reformist Iranian president, Mohammad Khatami, the Americans knew that the reformists’ credibility was contingent upon a successful ratification of Iran-EU3 treaty. Despite the Iranian compliance, the U.S. undermined the Khatami administration and paved the road for the electoral victory of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. This time, the Iranian president, Hasan Rouhani, heads an executive branch that promotes a policy of rapprochement. His government has invested its entire political capital in reaching a nuclear agreement with the EU, Russia, and the United States, hoping to end the cycle of regimes of sanctions in Iran.  This has been achieved despite massive opposition of those who benefitted from the sanctions, both politically as well as economically.  There are those in Iran who celebrated Trump’s election as a divine intervention in rescinding the nuclear agreement. They believe without the nuclear agreement the reformists almost certainly would lose the next presidential election in June 2017.
Does the U.S. strategic interest in the Middle East rest in having a reformist-stabilizing or a hostile-erratic government in Iran? I think it is the latter. I am no longer baffled by policies that clearly work against their stated justification.  The American Empire needs war. It needs a perpetual cycle of war and reconstruction to turn the wheel of its economy.  The warmongers of the world are celebrating. Their allies won 99-0 on U.S. soil.