Israeli-Palestinian security: the surest guarantee

In June last year, Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met Pope Francis at the Vatican to pray for peace. Christian, Jewish and Muslim prayers were said in the Vatican gardens and an olive tree was planted.

pope israeli palestinian presidents

Reports in the New York Times and the Financial Times summarised:              

The Vatican said on Wednesday that it had concluded a treaty to recognize Palestinian statehood, before a visit by Mahmoud Abbas, Palestinian president, to the Vatican on Saturday. It is concerned about the situation of Christians living in the region and Christian holy sites in the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories,

There has been increasing international acceptance of Palestine as a state since the United Nations upgraded the Palestinian delegation’s status in 2012 to that of a non-member observer state, after a vote in the General Assembly.

Pope Francis has long expressed a wish for a Palestinian state and of late the Vatican Year Book has referred to the Palestinian envoy to the Holy See as representing the “State of Palestine”. The pope also used the words “state of Palestine” on the visit to the Holy Land in 2014, when he prayed at the Israeli wall, three storeys high, that runs through Bethlehem.

the wall

An Israeli diplomatic source is reported to have said: “We are disappointed by the use of the term ‘State of Palestine’. It does nothing to advance the cause of peace. In fact the opposite — it further distances the Palestinians from returning to negotiations.

Some 138 countries now recognise Palestine as a state, and governments in Britain, Ireland, France and Spain held ‘symbolic’ [non-binding] votes calling on their leaders to follow the example of Sweden. The European Parliament has voted to recognise the state of Palestine “in principle”, describing it as key to the advancement of peace talks in the region.

palestinian recognised mapSource: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/palestine-recognised-as-a-state-in-principle-by-european-parliament-in-symbolic-vote-9930981.html

This treaty is the latest sign of Pope Francis’ constructive foreign policy, following an earlier encyclical on climate change and human ecology and his recent meeting with Cuban president Raúl Castro; according to President Obama, this helped to broker the easing of diplomatic relations between Havana and Washington.

Not swords but ploughshares:

“Israel should have nothing to fear. The surest guarantee of its security is peaceful coexistence with a Palestinian state”: Philip Stephens, associate editor of the Financial Times (16.9.14).

As Girish Kotwal from Louisville, Kentucky commented [New York Times], we hope this will serve as “a catalyst for permanent peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians and an end to all violence, rockets and bombardment. Shalom and Salaam”.

Sources include:

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/14/world/middleeast/vatican-to-recognize-palestinian-state-in-new-treaty.html?emc=edit_na_20150513

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/156c5ed8-f994-11e4-ae65-00144feab7de.html#ixzz3a5byPJkM

http://www.eurekastreet.com.au/article.aspx?aeid=3791#.VVRPp_CGPh4

Inspired by Martin Niemöller

First a bomb irradiated Hiroshima, and we did not speak out – because we were not living in Japan;.

hiroshima bomb

  • then people in Guantanamo were imprisoned and tortured, and we did not speak out – because our sons were safe;
  • then drones bombed civilians in Pakistan, and we did not speak out – because we were far away in Britain;
  • then Britain’s Tornado and Reaper drones dropped over 200 bombs or other missiles on Iraqi targets, and we did not speak out – because it was kept secret;
  • then our allies bombed and blockaded Yemen, and we did not speak out – because we were not threatened;.

yemen search 4 survivorsPeople search for survivors.

Then they came for us – and there was no one left to help us

Peacemaking effort in Ramallah

elders 2010

Alison Williams of UNGA-LINK having read a previous post – referred the writer to the work of the Elders and added a link.The Elders (above) is an independent group of global leaders, chaired by Kofi Annan. They were brought together in 2007 by Nelson Mandela to work together for peace and human rights. Archbishop Desmond Tutu served for six years as Chair before stepping down in May 2013, and remains an Honorary Elder. The Burmese pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi was also an Honorary Elder, until her election to the Burmese parliament in April 2012.

John Reed recently reported for the Financial Times that former US president Jimmy Carter has been visiting Jerusalem. He was in the region on a three-day mission sponsored by The Elders and was joined by Norway’s former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland.

Mr Carter presided over the Camp David Accords in 1978, when Egypt and Israel concluded a peace treaty, the first between an Arab country and the Jewish state. He has since angered many Israelis with sharp criticism of Israel, including in his 2006 book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid”. Last year, during Israel’s military operation in the Gaza Strip, Mr Carter said there was no justification in the world for what Israel is doing.

abbas brundtand carter gaza

Mr Carter and Ms Brundtland said they were not able to visit Gaza because of security concerns but met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. The Elders are trying to break a political deadlock between Hamas and Fatah, which — despite a reconciliation agreement last year — is still not working as a joint government to rebuild Gaza after last summer’s war.

gaza-ceasefire return home2

Public officials in Gaza, who have not been paid since the spring, insisted that their salaries be paid before they would authorise the release of building materials. Ban ki Moon’s spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the U.N. had assisted in the delivery of a humanitarian assistance payment to civil servants in Gaza and thanked Qatar for providing the funds.

The Elders secured an agreement from President Abbas to convene the Interim Leadership Framework, which would include both the Palestine Liberation Organisation and representatives of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, Gaza’s two main militant factions.

When asked whether Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, which collapsed a year ago, might be revived, Mr Carter said that Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations are a “dead issue” because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is unwilling to accept a Palestinian state: “This is the end of it during the Netanyahu regime in my opinion”.

“I think the United States’ influence now in Jerusalem and Ramallah is at a very low ebb,” he said in an interview with the Financial Times and Germany’s Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung.

Some European Union members promoting Palestinian rights and peace

Mr Carter’s belief and hope is that the European Union members will play a strong and active role in promoting Palestinian rights. Several European parliaments have held symbolic votes calling for the recognition of Palestine in recent months, in April, the Government of Italy announced a €1.0 million contribution to support East Jerusalem, the EU-Palestinian Joint Committee met in Ramallah and France is leading efforts to draft a UN Security Council resolution that would set parameters for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Media in Japan and the United Arab Emirates report the UN Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

At a time when the future of Trident is an election issue in Britain, it is difficult to get news of this event. The writer was alerted by the mother of one of the delegates to the conference taking place now in New York. She had described the march through the city and only technical reasons have prevented the transmission of a picture taken on the spot.

Atomic bomb survivors and peace campaigners take part in a march through New York last Sunday ahead of the U.N. conference to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation that was to start Monday. | KYODO

Atomic bomb survivors and peace campaigners take part in a march through New York last Sunday ahead of the U.N. conference to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation that was to start Monday. | KYODO

Around 7,500 people carrying banners and signs chanted “No nukes!”, “No more Hiroshima!” and other slogans as they walked about 3 km toward the United Nations,

An account and picture of the march was published in Japan which has experienced the horror of nuclear attacks by America.

At a rally held ahead of the parade, Yuko Nakamura, who survived the atomic bombing of Hiroshima in August 1945, recalled that more than 200 students at her school died when the United States dropped the bomb. She was 13 years old at the time.

Toward the end of the event, more than 7 million signatures on petitions from Japan and other countries seeking negotiations to eliminate the world’s nuclear arsenals were submitted to Taous Feroukhi, the Algerian ambassador who will chair the NPT review conference, and Angela Kane, top U.N. official for disarmament affairs. The conference will continue through May 22.

gov uk logoIt was good to find a statement on GOV.UK, a public sector information website, created by the government’s Digital Service. Baroness Anelay, the Minister of State at the UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office, is attending the UN 2015 Review Conference of the Treaty on Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons. It opens:

baroness anelay“The United Kingdom remains committed to the Non Proliferation Treaty. It has played an unparalleled role, keeping the world safe and curtailing the nuclear arms race. It is at the centre of international efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons, to create a nuclear weapon free world, and to enable access to the peaceful use of nuclear energy”.

And closes: “The United Kingdom will therefore play its part to reach an outcome that best benefits our collective rights to undiminished security, whilst taking us closer to our goal of a world free from nuclear weapons”.

dr al jabarThe only national media report found on the first page of a Google search was by the UEA’s The National: the Emirates’ Minister of State, Dr Sultan Al Jaber, said that the UAE was committed to ensuring global peace and security:

“The UAE attaches high importance to the NPT. It supports the right of countries’ peaceful use of nuclear energy with transparency and abiding by the highest standards of security and safety.”

He cited the UAE’s peaceful nuclear programme as a role model on how non-nuclear countries can utilise the international framework of cooperation, as provided for by the treaty.

Dr Al Jaber made a welcome call for the elimination of nuclear weapons worldwide, urging nuclear states to abide by their commitments: “[We] need to adopt practical steps to declare the Middle East as a nuclear weapons free zone”.

Is the answer to the professor’s three questions, ‘for the profit of the few’?

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Alexander McCall Smith, a British writer and Emeritus Professor of Medical Law at the University of Edinburgh, who became an expert on medical law and bioethics, has expressed the feelings of the civilised ‘ninety-nine percent’.

99%-3

 One of his characters in peaceful Botswana, asks:

“How could people sleep if they knew that somebody, in their name, was dropping bombs on other people, or breaking into their homes and taking them away somewhere?

“Why did they do it?

“Why was it necessary to kill and maim other people, when the other people would be just the same as yourself – people who wanted to live with their families and go to work in the morning and have enough to eat at the end of the day?

“That was not much to ask of the world, even if for many the world could not grant even that one small request”.

George Farebrother: in memoriam

george farebrotherThe late George Farebrother, who received the Civilisation 3000 alerts was, as his close colleague described him, “a deeply committed member of the global anti-nuclear movement who was intricately involved in moves to mount legal actions against governments that possess nuclear weapons”.

That colleague, Commander Robert Green Royal Navy (Ret’d) – from the Disarmament & Security Centre in New Zealand – wrote George’s obituary for the Guardian.

He records that from 1991 to 2004, they worked together as secretary and chair, respectively, of the UK affiliate of the World Court Project, an initiative that used the International Court of Justice at the Hague to challenge the legality of nuclear weapons. After the court confirmed in 1996 that the threat or use of nuclear weapons should generally be regarded as illegal, George sustained the project virtually single-handedly until his death.

From the moment he learned about the World Court Project in 1991 he took early retirement and dedicated the rest of his life to its activities. Applying his Quaker beliefs and teaching experience, he came up with the idea of collecting individual “declarations of public conscience” against nuclear weapons, which were accepted by the International Court of Justice as “citizens’ evidence”. This characteristically inventive concept was taken up all over the world, especially in Japan, and George helped present nearly four million declarations to the Court before its historic judgment.

He never gave up trying to engage with decision-makers and their advisers, and became a familiar figure in the corridors of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, the Ministry of Defence, parliament and London embassies. His cogent writing, networking flair and grass roots appeal brought in enough funds to allow him to travel to key United Nations events in New York and Geneva. Constantly devising fresh ways of using the law to mobilise against nuclear weapons, he became adept at producing computerised publicity material.

In the Friend [15.4.05], George reported that one hundred and eighty eight states had ratified the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) which obliged them to negotiate their abolition. Individuals who wanted to see the nuclear­-armed states honour their legal obligations and abolish these outrageous weapons forever signed personal declarations which were presented at UN HQ in New York during the NPT Review Conference in May. The declarations also demanded the start of negotiations leading to the abolition of nuclear weapons under strict and effective international control.

The writer, who had not seen George in person for several years, was very pleased to hear news about his work at second hand from a friend, whose daughter Roslyn (below) worked closely with George during his latter years.

roslyn cook world court project

Roslyn thus gained vital experience that has enabled her to continue his work for the abolition of nuclear weapons and a treaty to ban them, as readers may see here: https://twitter.com/roslyncook.

She attended the NPT Review Conference in 2010 with George and will be attending again in April as part of the CND delegation. Currently she is involved in a project to bring 80000 voices together next year to sing for peace and freedom from nuclear weapons.

George had also been secretary of the Sussex Peace Alliance, treasurer of Peacerights, Secretary of Eastbourne for Peace and Liberty, treasurer of the Institute for Law and Peace and a member of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

‘Civilization has no place for drones’

Read the words of Professor Joel Andreas here: https://dronewarfare.wordpress.com/2015/04/12/civilization-has-no-place-for-drones/