John Brennan: UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, East Jerusalem & Israel

Jun 26, 2022
Palestinian loss of land 1946 2010 map
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The United Nations Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, and Israel, issues first report – June, 2022……..A WAY FORWARD. “The question, I believe, is not to devise a means for persisting on trying to separate them, but to see whether it is possible for them to live together as fairly and peacefully as possible” Edward Said, 1935-2003, born in the British protectorate of Mandatory Palestine; public intellectual, Professor of Literature and founder of the academic field of Postcolonial Studies.

The key finding of the report is that “ending the continued Israeli occupation and discrimination against Palestinians is essential to stopping the conflict and halting the persistent cycle of violence, while a culture ‘of impunity’ feeds resentment and fuels recurrent tensions, instability, and protraction of conflict.”

Chair of the Commission, Navanethem Pillay, said “the findings and recommendations relevant to the underlying root causes were overwhelmingly directed towards Israel, which we have taken as an indicator of the asymmetrical nature of the conflict and the reality of one State occupying the other.” Ms Pillay also noted that the numerous recommendations of Commissions previously undertaken had not been implemented by Israel, that there was clear evidence that Israel has no intention of ending the occupation, dispossession and the persistent discrimination and violence against Palestinians.

Commissioner Chris Sidoti added that “Israel has established clear policies to ensure complete permanent control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This includes altering the demography of these territories through the maintenance of a repressive environment for Palestinians and a favourable environment for Israelis.” Added to this is the numerous acts of Parliament and the Nation State Laws actively discriminating against Palestinians in the occupied territories.

The report also noted that the Palestinian Authority (PA) frequently uses the occupation to justify its own human rights violations and failure to uphold international humanitarian law. In addition, the failure of the PA to hold legislative and presidential elections since 2006 renders it illegitimate and therefore unable to represent the Palestinian people.

In conclusion the report lays out that the Commission will conduct investigations and legal analysis into alleged violations and abuses, and will work with judicial accountability mechanisms toward ensuring individual, State and corporate responsibility and will carefully assess the responsibilities of third-party States and those private actors in the continued policies of the occupation.

Historical Aspects of the Zionist Agenda

There has never been a legitimate and transparent Two State solution or any real peace process. Since the successful Zionist creation of the Jewish Israeli State, afforded by the UN in 1948, the Jews, believing that God had given them the status as his chosen people, therefore reasoned that Palestine was exclusively theirs. This, strangely, was in contrast to the long period before Mandatory Palestine where Jews, Palestinian and other Arabs, Christians and other faiths lived harmoniously.

What has followed for the past 74 years has been the occupation of Palestine which was completed in toto following the capture and control of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, Gaza, the Golan Heights (from Syria) and the Sinai Peninsula (from Egypt) in the 1967 war. Israel effectively doubled in size. Despite claimed compromises emanating out of Israeli governments, there has never been as demanded by the present and past owners and the United Nations, for Israeli withdrawal of its illegal occupying forces.

Israeli ‘exclusive possession’ began with Theodor Hertzl’s (the father of political Zionism) statement in 1895, “Both the process of expropriation and the removal of the poor (Palestinians) must be carried out discreetly and circumspectly. It goes without saying that we shall respectfully tolerate persons of other faiths and protect their property, their honour, and their freedom with the harshest means of coercion.”

David Ben-Gurion, the first Prime Minister said in 1947 “we must expel the Arabs and take their place.” He also told the Zionist executive that, “after the formation of a large army in the wake of the establishment of the State, we will abolish partition and expand to the whole of Palestine.” Berl Katznelson, a close ally of Ben Gurion and a leading intellectual force among the early Zionists put the point bluntly, “the Zionist enterprise is an enterprise of conquest.”

The remarkably powerful American Jewish Lobby has, over the decades, has put paid to any Palestinian hope for independent statehood. This was achieved by two effective strategies, one being Henry Kissinger’s ‘Stalemate Policy’ rolled out with Prime Minister Ehud Barak’s offer at Camp David in 2000 giving Palestinians a disarmed and dismembered State under de facto Israeli control! Former Foreign Minister to Barak, Shlomo Ben Ami who was a key participant at Camp David later told an interviewer, “If I were Palestinian, I would have rejected Camp David as well.” The second strategy was to create an Arab-centric, pro Muslim political movement called Hamas as a bulwark against the PLO ‘terrorist’ movement. Hamas was the ‘permanent enemy’ that could be blamed for denying Israel’s right to exist, for killing Israelis with un-guided missiles and throwing sticks and stones at police and soldiers of the IDF and to reject ‘peaceful overtures’ from Israeli and American presidents.

Israel’s failure to conform to international laws and abide by universal standards of human rights also stems from it being a major military power vastly superior to all surrounding Arab countries. It regularly bombs its neighbours, particularly Syria, Gaza and Lebanon demonstrating its domination and supremacy – even without the unqualified support of the global sheriff – the USA.

During the second Netanyahu era (2009-2021), the mood in Israel appeared to move further to the right. It may have been the coincidental influence of major sponsor and casino magnate, Sheldon Adelson, who also funded Trump and was rewarded with the US Embassy being relocated from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. Netanyahu’s hatred of the Palestinians was summed up when he said the present strategy was to “beat them up so much that it hurts so badly, until it is unbearable.” Under Netanyahu violence toward Palestinians grew sharply with increased evictions, destruction of farms and orchards, settler attacks and killings. The present regime has manifestly broadened the Apartheid state of affairs with further evictions from Sheikh Jarrah where Palestinian families have lived since the 1950’s (with complicit co-operation from the corrupt Israeli courts). Al Jazeera reported Feb 16 that Israeli forces fired rubber-coated steel bullets, tear gas, stun grenades and chemically enhanced sewage water (marketed by the Israeli manufacturer as Skunk Water due to its putrid smell which can last for days) at residents staging a sit-in to protect property. On May 16 Israel’s highest court ruled that 1300 Palestinians be forcibly removed from their homes in Masafer Yatta which the Israeli army wish to develop as a firing range.

On Jerusalem Day 2022, (celebrated May 28-29) Orthodox Jews violated Palestinian custom and visitation rules when 70,000 + men and boys waving flags and wearing t-shirts emblazoned with the Star of David stormed through the route used by Palestinians to enter the old city of Jerusalem. Protected by armed police, the mob celebrated the 1967 War shouting slogans ‘may your villages burn’ and ‘death to Arabs’.

Another tragic event was the recent murder by an Israeli Defence Force sniper of Palestinian/American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh – one of more than 50 journalists killed since 2001. To add insult to injury, police attacked the funeral march beating mourners with batons and stun grenades almost causing the injured pallbearers to drop the coffin. The Israeli government denied involvement in her death.

The sadism and sheer cruelty of the IDF is also evident in Army snipers’ knee-capping Palestinians leaving survivors permanently maimed. One sniper bragged to The New Arab that he had 42 hits in one day on the Israeli border with Gaza. Several media outlets including Al Jazeera and Middle East Eye have been reporting for some years, raids by IDF soldiers terrorising Palestinian youth by arresting boys as young as 11 in their homes in the middle of the night. The boys are cuffed and detained often simply accused of throwing stones or ‘planning a future offence’.

Peter Beinhart, a self-described ‘cultural Zionist’, journalist and commentator has said that it is likely that one third to half the Jewish population would gladly be rid of Palestinians altogether presumably evicted by force.

The Imperative for International Intervention

The creation of the State of Israel has been a catastrophic failure now recognised by all but a handful of compliant states and its protector and agent the US. A Two State solution was always an absurd proposition for such a tiny country and today a non-contiguous set of Palestinian locales is not feasible.

Intervention, under the auspices of the United Nations acting with the full support of member countries is now called for. This could be undertaken by the proposed reform of the UN to provide a critical response role. There can be no power of veto by powerful states, simply a majority vote of the membership.

The solution lies in the development of a binational democratic State where Jews and Palestinian peoples live together. The governing authority must be secular, not sectarian. Religious differences have no role to play as obsessive views and pointless disputes lead to loathing and hatred.

Autonomy is an imperative where cultures and practices differ – for example in religious practice and facilities and in schools and cultural centres. Achieving reconciliation demands compromise where each side guarantees the security and safety of the other – unconditionally. Some Jews still see today as an alarming time given the rise in anti-semitism. This also arises from the years of persecution in Europe and through the Holocaust lens creating a heartfelt feeling of Jewish ‘victimhood’. Reconciliation must also recognise the right of return for Palestinians illegally exiled and compensation afforded. Third parties having been involved in the systemic inequalities meted out must also be liable for restitution.

Like-minded progressives from both sides need to come together to form new leadership teams unfettered by the existing corruption, the inbred hatreds and the denial of the universal right of self-determination, allowing Jews and Palestinians to develop together in the image of their Gods. As Jewish historian Yuval Noah Harari reminds us in his great work “21 Lessons for the 21st Century” the success and survival of Homo Sapiens is due to the remarkable ability for humans to co-operate. This is how the dark age in Palestine will be ended.

For more than 40 years, John Brennan’s project management consulting spanned landscape architecture, forestry, horticulture and environmental research and development. Alongside his career he began pursuing his passion for environmental issues and social justice in the 1970’s when he and a small group of scientists established the Western Chapter of the Australian Conservation Foundation.

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