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Developments in Palestine

From the International Report delivered to the CPGB-ML’s central committee on 1 October

The United Nations published a report on 2 September (the Palmer Report) finding that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza is legal and that the Israeli commandoes who boarded the Mavi Marmara had a perfect right to defend themselves against the “organised and violent resistance” which it claimed a group of passengers had put up.

It is not clear how the universally unarmed passengers, shot from the air before the commandos had even landed, had been able to put up organised and violent resistance, and this was not explained. The report did, however, admit that the force used by the Israelis was “excessive and unreasonable”. Nevertheless the report put blame on the flotilla for “recklessly” running the blockade, and on Turkey for not persuading them to keep away.

The finding that the blockade of Gaza by Israel was a legitimate security measure designed merely to prevent armaments being supplied to Palestinians, rather than a deliberate collective punishment of the people of Gaza that is contrary to the Geneva conventions, is also outrageous. There are plenty of ways Israel could monitor the cargoes of ships headed for Gaza without actually blockading the Strip and preventing any ship from entering or leaving, even those carrying only humanitarian aid.

This hugely biased report has of course infuriated Turkey, which has expelled the Israeli ambassador and announced that it is freezing military ties with Israel until Israel both apologises and compensates the victims. Obviously, there is no chance of that happening any time soon! Furthermore, Turkey has announced that it will be providing future aid convoys to Gaza with naval escorts to guarantee their safety.

The bias in the report is readily understood by observing a number of factors. Three of the four members of the Palmer enquiry team were appointed only on Israel approving them. They included that arch violator of human rights Alvaro Uribe, former president of Colombia.

Moreover, the team heard no evidence at all from the survivors of the attack. It took for granted that the Mavi Marmara carried weapons when in fact it was well established that it did not. As to suggesting that the boarding of the Mava Marmara was legal because of the threat it posed to Israel, this argument would have been completely inappropriate even if it had been true, since even then it would not have been legal under international law to board a ship in international waters, as happened in this case.

In truth, the Palmer Report makes a mockery of justice – and of the United Nations as a credible international organisation.

Meanwhile, the Palestinian bid to be recognised as a state by the UN has caused major upheavals. Israel has been backed 100 percent by Barack Obama in its opposition to such recognition, which cannot have failed to open the eyes of those who had pinned all their hopes of justice for the Palestinian people on his sense of fair play.

Threats and bribes were proffered to try to persuade Abbas to withdraw the bid, but his hands were tied by the fact that his followers, against a background of mushrooming jewish settlements all over the West Bank at the cost of Palestinian homes and livelihoods, would simply not allow him to abandon, compromise or postpone this basic demand and entitlement of the Palestinian people.

It is clear that the US can and almost certainly will exercise its veto in the UN Security Council to prevent full recognition of Palestinian as a state within the pre-1967 boundaries. What they will have much more difficulty with is preventing the Palestinian Authority from having its status elevated by the General Assembly of the UN from non-voting ‘observer entity’ to ‘observer state’, a status equal to that of the Vatican.

This status would give the Palestinians not only the right to observe but also to submit resolutions and join other United Nations bodies and conventions. It would also give them status to pursue legal cases in the International Criminal Court, something that alarms Israel and the United States in particular.

For the moment, the issue has been postponed insofar as it is tabled to be discussed by the Security Council some time next spring. Only after the Security Council reaches its decision will the General Assembly have the chance to cast its votes. Between now and then one can expect heavy US pressure on various UN members – pressure that has already commenced – to vote as directed by the US or else face various highly pernicious and damaging unilateral sanctions.

For the moment, even France has broken ranks with its co-imperialists to express support for recognition by the General Assembly of the Palestinian state, as has Russia.

Finally, the High Court in the UK has ruled that British government’s detention of Sheikh Raed Salah was illegal and that he is entitled to damages in respect of this illegal detention.

Evidence before the court showed that the detention was prompted by pressure put by the notorious lobbyist for zionism, the so-called ‘Community Security Trust’. This outfit made all kinds of unfounded allegations against Sheikh Salah, which the Home Secretary took just 17 minutes to investigate. The zionists’ aim, in which they were successful, was to prevent Sheikh Salah attending and speaking at a meeting scheduled to be held in the House of Commons.

Sheikh Salah’s appeal against the deportation order that was made against him is still pending.

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