By Peter Koenig
Israel’s PM Netanyahu is a war criminal and should be held accountable for war crimes throughout his PM-ship of Israel, according to the 1945 / 1946 Nuremberg trials criteria. His crimes against humanity, against a defenseless Palestine are comparable to the Holocaust.
In 2016 Mr. Benjamin Netanyahu had been indicted on charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The trial is ongoing but has temporarily been “suspended”. Netanyahu has dismissed the charges as hypocritical and acts as if they didn’t exist. Even though he lacks the majority to form a government, he acts with impunity, because he can – he can because he has the backing of the United States.
More importantly, Israel has been accused before the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague for crimes against humanity and war crimes against Palestine. The prosecutor of the ICC, Ms. Fatou Bensouda, said on 3 March 2021 that she has launched an investigation into alleged crimes in the Palestinian territories. She added the probe will look into “crimes within the jurisdiction of the Court that are alleged to have been committed” since June 13, 2014, and that the investigation will be conducted “independently, impartially and objectively, without fear or favor.”
In a quick response, PM Netanyahu accused the Court of hypocrisy and anti-Semitism. Of course, the quickest and often most effective defense and counter-attack is calling any accusation, no matter how rightful it is, as anti-Semitism. Calling someone an anti-Semite shuts most people up, no matter whether the accusation is true or false. That explains in part why nobody dares to even come forward with the truth about crimes committed by Israel.
Imagine, Jews were the chief victims of the German Third Reich – a Nazi Regime, and today the descendants of these very Jews, persecuted and slaughtered in Nazi-concentration camps, allowed the transformation of Israel into a Zionist Fourth Reich, executing Palestinians Holocaust-style. They have done this with impunity for the last 73 years, with the current massacres reaching unheard-of proportions.
Pro-Palestine protests take place around the world – and especially now, finally, throughout Europe. Workers and young people joined protests across Europe on Saturday, 15 May, including in London, Paris, Berlin and Madrid, to oppose Israel’s bombardment of the Palestinian population in Gaza. The demonstrations coincided with the Palestinian Nakba (Catastrophe Day, 14 May 1948)—marking the founding of the state of Israel, through the forced expulsion of 760,000 Palestinians from their villages.
Here is what one protester, Khalid, in Manchester, UK, had to say. Khalid held a placard reading “Lift the siege of Palestine-Stop bombing Palestine”. He said, “Israel should know better. They know how it feels to be exterminated. They had no homeland and came to Palestine as guests and now they have taken the Palestinians’ homes and are trying to throw them out. The Palestinians have no water, they have no food. You have got people like [UK Prime Minister] Boris Johnson and presidents colluding with Israel and giving them money to destroy human life” – http://www.defenddemocracy.press/protests-across-europe-against-israeli-war-on-gaza/
Israeli war crimes, crimes against humanity, always take place with the unwavering support of the United States. No US presidential candidate has a chance of being “elected” to the empire’s highest chair, the Presidency, without having proven his or her unquestioned support for Zionist-Israel. Without that western support, Israel’s war against and oppression of Palestine would soon be over.
Palestine could start breathing again and become a free country, an autonomous, sovereign, self-sustained country, what they were before the forced UN Partition Plan for Palestine, and as was foreseen by UN Resolution 181 II of 1947. This genocidal conflict situation has lasted almost three quarters of a century – and has little chance to abate under the current geopolitical constellation of the Middle East and the world, where obedient submission to US-Israeli command and atrocities is the name of the game.
The conflict started basically with the creation of Israel. The UK, since the end of WWI and the Dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, occupier of the Palestine Peninsula (Palestine and Transjordan, see map), proposed to the UN as a condition for UK withdrawal, the creation of Israel in the western part of what was then known as Palestine and Transjordan. The so-called UN Partitian Plan for Palestine, was voted on 29 November 1947 by the UN General Assembly, as Resolution 181 (II). The then 57 UN members voted 33 (72%) for, 13 against the resolution, with 10 abstentions, and one absent. The Palestinian Authority was never consulted on this proposal. Therefore, for many scholars the UN Partition Plan’s legality remains questionable.
The Plan sought to resolve the conflicting objectives and claims of two competing movements, Palestinian nationalism and Jewish nationalism, or Zionism. The Plan also called for an Economic Union between the proposed two states, and for the protection of religious and minority rights.
However, immediately after adoption of the Resolution by the General Assembly, a civil war broke out and the plan was not implemented. The remnants of this civil war, the non-acceptance by Palestine of this UN Resolution 181, for which the historic owners of the land were not consulted, are lingering on as of this day.
After the fall of the Ottoman Empire, the British administration was formalized by the League of Nations under the Palestine Mandate in 1923, as part of the Partitioning of the Ottoman Empire following World War I. The Mandate reaffirmed the 1917 British commitment to the Balfour Declaration, for the establishment in Palestine of a “National Home” for the Jewish people, with the prerogative to carry it out.
The Balfour Declaration was a public statement issued by the British government in 1917 during the First World War, announcing support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine, then an Ottoman region with a small minority Jewish population. The declaration was contained in a letter dated 2 November 1917 from the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Rothschild, a leader of the British Jewish community, for transmission to the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland. The question is still asked today: How legitimate was that declaration in terms of international law? Many academics see this declaration still today as a unilateral move and a breach of international law, as no consultation of the Palestine Authority ever took place.
In the November 1947 UN General Assembly vote, the US was among the 33 countries voting FOR the Partition Plan. Interestingly, though, President Truman later noted, “The facts were that not only were there pressure movements around the United Nations unlike anything that had been seen there before, but that the White House, too, was subjected to a constant barrage. I do not think I ever had as much pressure and propaganda aimed at the White House as I had in this instance. The persistence of a few of the extreme Zionist leaders—actuated by political motives and engaging in political threats—disturbed and annoyed me.” – This Zionist pressure was to set the bar for what was to follow – up to this day.
David Ben-Gurion, Zionist statesman and political leader, was the first Prime Minister (1948–53, 1955–63) and defense minister (1948–53; 1955–63) of Israel. In a letter to his son in October 1937, Ben-Gurion explained that partition would be a first step to “possession of the land as a whole” (emphasis added by author).
As of today, seventy-three years later and counting, the conflict is not resolved. To the contrary. It has become the longest lasting war, or aggression rather, in recent human history. A war it isn’t really, because a sheer oppression and literal slaughter against a perceived enemy, like Palestine that has no weapons to speak of, being bombarded and shot with the most sophisticated US-sponsored weapons systems, cannot be called a war. It is sheer genocide. The Palestinian weapons of choice are mostly rocks; rocks thrown by Palestinians at the Israeli IDF invaders, who then mow them down with machine guns, mostly civilians, women and children.
The Israel armed-to-the-teeth Defense Forces (IDF), invade Gaza and Palestinian West Bank areas with the most sophisticated machine guns, bombs, white phosphorus, practicing indiscriminate killing. The IDF destroys Palestinian living quarters, administration buildings, schools, shops, the little manufacturing industries that makes up their economy – destroying a people already teetering at the edge of extreme poverty and despair. No mercy. What does one call people who are committing such unspeakable crimes?
What does one call this style of aggression? – Literally killing hundreds, thousands of people without defense, in the world’s largest open prison – Gaza – home to more than 2 million people, living in misery, housing and infrastructure constantly destroyed, painfully partially rebuilt – just to be destroyed and bombed to pieces again. Those who don’t die from Israeli direct aggressions, may die from the indirect effects – famine, misery, disease and suicide – of this constant, abject hostility perpetuated upon what was supposed to be, according to the UN Partition Plan, an autonomous Palestine home of the Palestine people.
It is an ongoing – seemingly never-ending conflict, ever since the first Intifada beginning in December 1987 (Intifada in the context of the Israeli-Palestine conflict is a concerted Palestinian attempt to shake off Israeli power and gain independence).
The Oslo Accords I and II are a pair of agreements between the Government of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), of 1993 and 1995, respectively, sponsored by Norway in an attempt to achieve peace between the two parties. The Oslo Accords failed bitterly, over the issue of Jerusalem that was to become the religious capital for both countries, but Israel refused, claiming Jerusalem as her own, making the holy city to Israel’s capital. The first foreign leader recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, was US President Donald Trump on 6 December 2017.
There was, however, another, less talked-about but equally important issue – an issue of survival – within the Oslo Accords: The fair sharing of the water resources. Israel never agreed, as about 85% of all water resources of what used to be the Palestinian Land, falls currently within the borders of what was defined by the Partitian Plan as Palestine. This is based on a World Bank study, in which I participated. On the insistence of Israel, the US vetoed publication of the study. Hence, the report was never officially published and publicly available.
Subsequent, so-called Peace processes, mostly US-sponsored, failed as of this day, because both Israel and the US have no interest in finding a peaceful solution. Neither one of the two nations have an interest in a Peace Accord, as the US needs the conflict to keep control over the Middle East, while Israel has no intentions to give up (slave)-control over Palestine, as her wellbeing depends on the overall control of what used to be Arab-Palestinian territory, and especially Palestine’s water resources. Without them, Israel would be a dry and unproductive desert.
There is a purpose behind these illegal, but ever-growing number of Israeli settlements on Palestine territories: Control over water. The settlements are usually over or near underground water resources. This is one way of controlling Palestine’s water. This happens not only in the so-called West Bank, but also in Gaza, where water resources are really scarce. Gaza is the world’s per capita water-scarcest area. The few Gaza water tables are super-posed by Israeli settlements.
This totally illegal and often UN-condemned Israeli Settlements strategy – also totally ignored by Israel – gradually reduces Palestine land and increases Israel’s control over crucial Palestinian water resources.
The impediment of being able to manage their own water resources, therefore increasing their food self-sufficiency through their own agriculture, makes out of Palestine an Israeli slave-state.
In addition, Israel has a handle on opening or closing the Gaza border, letting at will minimal food, medication and other life-essentials into Gaza, as well as allowing exactly the number needed of low-paid Palestinians (literally slave-labor) cross the border in the morning to work in Israel, and having to return at night to their Palestine homes. It is sheer Apartheid exploitation. Furthermore, Israel does not recognize Gaza’s territorial Mediterranean waters which would be a means towards Palestinians self-sustention and economic industrial activity.
According to an OECD report of 2016, Israel ranks as the nation with the highest poverty rate among OECD countries, i.e. 21% of Israelis are living under the poverty line. This is more than Mexico, Turkey and Chile. The OECD average is about 11%. This figure (21%) may be slightly exaggerated, given the relatively large informal sector and transfer payments to Israel from Jews abroad, as well as from international Jewish organizations.
Nevertheless, it is clear that Israel is economically not autonomous and needs Palestine to survive, both in terms of confiscated Palestinian water resources, as well as Palestinian slave labor. Therefore, there is hardly any hope for the UN-planned two-state solution to eventually materialize. There is little hope that this situation will change under the current geopolitical conditions. The US wants to dominate the Middle East and needs Israel as a garrison state that will be armed to the teeth for the US – to eventually grow and become Washington’s proxy ruler of the Middle East.
A question that is rarely asked, if ever: What is Hamas’ role in this never-ending Israeli-Palestine conflict? Since 2007 Hamas is officially governing the 2-million-plus population of the 363 square kilometer Gaza Strip. Hamas is also the Palestine paramilitary or defense organization. Hamas is said to be funded largely by Iran. Is it true? And if so, is Iran the only funder of Hamas?
It is odd, however, that ever so often, Hamas attacks Israel by launching unsophisticated rockets at Israeli cities, rockets that most often are intercepted by the IDF defense system, or cause minimal damage. But they cause, predictably minimal damage against an IDF which is US-equipped with the latest technology weapons- and defense systems.
Yet, a Hamas attack on Israel prompts regularly a ferocious retaliation; bombardments, not so much aiming at Hamas, as Netanyahu intimidates, “We would exact a very heavy price from Hamas and other terror groups…” , but at the civilian populations. The heaviest casualties are civilian Gaza citizens, many women and children among them, after an Israeli “self-defense” retaliation. This is of course no self-defense. The Hamas attacks usually follows an Israeli provocation.
Why would Hamas hit back, knowing that they won’t wreak any damage on Israel, yet they will trigger each time a deadly massacre on the Gaza population? – At the outset, Israeli provocations look like “false flags”. Could they be false flags with the willing participation of Hamas? If so, with whom does Hamas collaborate?
These are questions which certainly do not have an immediate answer. But the 14-year pattern of repeatedly similar events begs the question – is there another (Hamas) agenda behind what meets the eye?
What is nearly as criminal as the IDF’s aggressions, is the almost complete silence of the west, and the world at large, vis-à-vis Israel’s atrocities committed on the Palestinian population. It is an unspoken tolerance for the carnages Israel inflicts on Palestine, especially in the Gaza Strip, the world’s largest open-air prison.
For example, the political UN body, despite hundreds of Resolutions, condemning and flagging Israel’s illegal actions against Palestine, including the ever-increasing number of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestine territories, seems to be hapless against Israel. Weak condemnations of Israel, calling both parties to reason – leaves Israel totally cold and undisturbed. There is no punishment whatsoever, not from the UN system, not from the western allies, most of whom are Washington and NATO vassals.
The Biden Administration has taken the usual imperialist position of cynical neutrality, like it was an uninvolved disinterested player, while painting up Israel as being some kind of victim instead of the brutal Zionist apartheid state that it is. It is important to remember that the creation of Israel was so that the US had a garrison state to protect her interests in the Middle East.
Take the UN Secretary General. Instead of condemning Israeli ruthlessness and demanding accountability, the spokesman for UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, merely called on the Netanyahu regime to “exercise maximum restraint and respect the right to freedom of peaceful assembly.”
The Secretary General himself reiterates his commitment, including through the Middle East Quartet, “to supporting Palestinians and Israelis to resolve the conflict on the basis of relevant United Nations resolutions, international law and bilateral agreements.” The Quartet, set up in 2002, consists of the United Nations, the European Union, the United States and Russia. Its mandate is to help mediate Middle East peace. As of this day they have not achieved any tangible results.
Because they do NOT WANT to achieve any peace. For the reasons mentioned before, Peace is not in the interest of Israel, nor in the interest of the West, led by the United States. To keep the conflict burning, sacrificing hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of Palestinian lives is not important. It’s just a collateral damage of a larger agenda – control over the Middle East and her riches, a step towards controlling the entire world.
Time and again, Guterres disgraced himself and the office he holds by failing to denounce US/NATO/Israeli aggression and demand accountability for high crimes too serious to ignore.
If the UN is incapable or unwilling of assuming the responsibility of reigning in Israel, perhaps the Group of 77 (by now more than 120 UN member countries) should take a joint stand, exerting pressure on Israel, asking as an intermediary for outright negotiating with Israel and Palestine to reach a sustainable peace settlement, including the original two-state solution, back to the pre-1967 Israeli-Palestine borders. Let us, the UN, become pro-active in seeking and finding a permanent solution for the stressed-to-death, starving and tortured Palestinians, especially those from the Gaza Strip.
Peter Koenig is a geopolitical analyst and a former Senior Economist at the World Bank and the World Health Organization (WHO), where he has worked for over 30 years on water and environment around the world.
19 May 2021