The Launching of a New International Campaign of Sanctions Against Israel
Summary of Press conference with Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi
October 20, 2004
As Set Forth by Solidarity Movements in the EU Social Forum in order to End the Illegal Occupation of the Palestinian Territories And Enforce International Humanitarian Law and Relevant ICJ Resolutions.
The aim of this press conference is to inform the public about the latest developments in the international movement to bring sanctions against Israel in order to end its aggressive policies and bring peace to the region. There are five factors pushing us to begin this campaign:
1. Continued Israeli occupation and endless attacks, which now comprise the longest military occupation in modern history (37 years to date). In the past three weeks alone, more than 135 Palestinians have been killed, at least 31 of them children under the age of 17. Palestinian houses, land, and infrastructure have been damaged and destroyed continuously for four years.
2. Israel’s development of an Apartheid system, including colonial settlements and the Apartheid Wall, which expropriate Palestinian lands. The International Court of Justice decision that the Apartheid Wall is unlawful and must be removed has been ignored by Israel. It is unacceptable that Israel should violate the Fourth Geneva Convention and international human rights law and impose illegal ‘facts on the ground’ in Jerusalem and elsewhere. The decision of the ICJ calls on all States Parties to the Fourth Geneva Convention to take immediate action to end these violations.
3. Sharon’s deliberate destruction of the “peace process” and the discovery, in light of public statements by Sharon’s bureau chief Dov Weisglass, that Sharon’s ‘Gaza Disengagement Plan’ is only a ploy that hopes to accomplish “the freezing of the peace process.” Weisglass stated that “effectively the whole package called a Palestinian state has been removed indefinitely from our agenda.” It is clear from this and other statements that Sharon’s plan is to stall for time so he can finish building the Apartheid Wall, which will destroy the possibility of a viable Palestinian state and any prospects for peace in the region. Israeli government policy is a threat to the peace and security of both Palestinians and Israelis.
4. The attitude among Israeli rulers that Israel is above international law and unaccountable to the international community. Because Israel enjoys unqualified American support, it believes it can act with impunity and without consideration of human rights, humanitarian concerns or the rule of law.
5. Israeli intervention in Palestinian elections. Israeli occupation forces have attacked and closed election centers in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Hebron, in an attempt to destroy prospects for legitimate and democratic Palestinian self-rule.
More than 150 human rights organizations and North American solidarity groups met at the UN building in New York on 13-14 September in an International Conference of Civil Society in Support of the Palestinian People as mandated by UN resolutions 58/18 and 58/19. In London the European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on the Question of Palestine, including groups from Britain, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, Greece, Cyprus, Austria, Holland, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Scandinavia, came together and adopted a unified policy of sanctions against Israel. The results of the meetings were presented to and adopted by the European Social Forum, in which thousands of people from all over Europe participated.
Anglican and Presbyterian Churches in America have also called for divestment campaigns, modeled on the popular sanctions against Apartheid South Africa, which eventually brought that country into line with International Court of Justice rulings.
The international community confirmed that these decisions are not targeted at Jewish or Israeli people. Sanctions will specifically target the Israeli government, whose policies are destroying any prospect for a two-state solution and the possibility of peace, stability, and security in the region. Jonathan Shapiro, a former pilot in the Israeli Air Force and current leader of Israeli refuseniks, publicly called for the sanctions at the European Social Forum in the hopes that they might end the aggressive policies of his government and bring peace and stability to his homeland for both the Israeli and Palestinian people.
The campaign includes popular grassroots activity to pressure governments into imposing the following types of sanctions on Israel:
1. Suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, which Israel signed to on condition that it respected human rights and international law. Because Israel is in grave breach of human rights and international law, the Agreement must be suspended.
2. Ending of all military cooperation with Israel, especially the import and export of weapons.
3. Divestment from Israeli companies and sanctions against purchasing and selling Israeli products.
4. Governmental academic non-cooperation with Israel.
The campaign also calls for Palestinian non-cooperation with the Israeli government, especially regarding the ‘Gaza Disengagement Plan,’ which only serves to turn Gaza into a giant prison while settlements are expanded in the West Bank, until there is a true and real peace process.
December 11 is already set aside by the UN to honor international human rights, and this year it will also be a day to call in a unified voice for sanctions against the Israeli government in order to enforce implementation of the ICJ decisions and other Human Rights laws adopted by the General Assembly of the UN. It will be a day to show solidarity with the Palestinian people in Europe and throughout the world.
In the wake of the ICJ decisions, the international community has a tremendous opportunity to put the Palestinian issue at the center of the humanitarian movement for freedom, equality, and justice. If Palestinians have strong international support, they will have reason to believe in the effectiveness of non-violent resistance. Such a campaign can show Israelis and Palestinians, and the world at large, that non-violent peaceful popular struggle is a viable option and a better option than violence. By using moral force to level the balance of power between Israel and Palestine, a strong statement can be made that a globalized, enlightened world will no longer tolerate the abuses of raw power politics.
With this regime of sanctions against an aggressive Israeli government, we hope to end the moral and physical suffering of the Israeli and Palestinian people.