Follow UNISPAL Twitter RSS
On 6 and 7 October 2012, took place in New York City (USA) the fourth session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine1 which focused on the responsibility of the United States of America (US) and the United Nations (UN) regarding the Israeli breaches of international law towards Palestine and Palestinians. There is now a situation in which Israel has achieved a status of immunity and impunity, facilitated by the US, despite its complete disregard for the norms and standards of international law.
The Tribunal has reached the following conclusions.2
Israel’s violations of international law
As recalled by the Tribunal during its previous sessions, various well-documented acts committed by Israel constitute violations of several basic rules of international law to be found in international customary law, treaties, resolutions of the political organs of the UN, and the Advisory Opinion on the Legal Consequences of the Construction of a Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (ICJ decision on the Wall – A/ES-10/273).
US complicity in Israel’s violations of international law
The Tribunal finds that Israel’s ongoing colonial settlement expansion, its racial separatist policies, as well as its violent militarism would not be possible without the US’s unequivocal support. Following World War II, especially in the context of the Cold War, and since then, the US has demonstrated a commitment to Israel’s establishment and viability as an exclusionary and militarized Jewish state at the expense of Palestinian human rights. While US Administrations initially offered moral support, since the Six Day War in 1967, the US has provided unequivocal economic, military, and diplomatic support to Israel in order to establish and maintain a qualitative military superiority over its Arab neighbors in violation of its own domestic law:
The US’s unconditional support for an internationally recognized occupying power has made Israel the largest recipient of US foreign aid since 1976 and the largest cumulative recipient since World War II in the amount of approximately $115 billion. Significantly, the US provided its economic aid to Israel as a lump sum early in the fiscal year, and in the form of forgivable loans thereby making it exceptional among all of its foreign beneficiary counterparts. Aid to Israel has averaged about 25% of all U.S. foreign aid.
Between 1972 and 2012, the US has been the lone veto of UN resolutions critical of Israel forty-three times. Of those, thirty concerned the Occupied Territory. In the General Assembly, despite the lack of a veto, US pressure is often brought to bear on Member States to prevent efforts to pass or enforce resolutions holding Israel accountable. As a result, the international impunity Israel enjoys for its consistent violations of the Geneva Conventions is largely attributable to external protection that its special relationship with the US affords.
Israel receives 60% of the US Foreign Military Financing (FMF) funding making it the largest recipient of US military funding. It now ranks as one of the top ten arms suppliers globally, and is the only recipient of US military aid allowed to invest up to 25% of that aid money in its own R&D and military production industry. Israel also receives funds from annual defense appropriation bills for joint US-Israeli missile defense programs that can exceed $100 million. None of these are subject to rigorous US law including the Arms Export Control Act, the Foreign Assistance Act, and the Mutual Bilateral Agreement between Israel and the US (1952). US government policy and specific laws passed by Congress require the US to maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge in the region. These collaborations with US military producers have helped fuel a continuing arms race in the region.
It is therefore the opinion of the Russell Tribunal that the US has committed the following violations of international and US law:
The statehood bid, as it is more commonly known, raises some controversy amongst Palestinians as well because of its failure to represent the collective will of a national body, two-thirds of whom live beyond the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
The accession of Palestine to a status of “non-member State observer”8 afford Palestine jurisdiction within the International Criminal Court and consequently access to measures for accountability.9
The Russell Tribunal condemns this cynical conduct on the part of the United States and reiterates the need for criminal accountability for the abuses committed in Gaza in addition to the ongoing settlement enterprise, and the forced population transfer of Palestinians…
Due to the length constraints, we are unable to present the full document.10
1www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com - The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) is a court of the people, a Tribunal of conscience created in reaction to injustices and violations of international law that are not dealt with by existing international jurisdictions, or that are recognized but continue with complete impunity due to the lack of political will of the international community.
2Invitations were extended to the US and Israel, both of whom failed to respond.
3The Tribunal notes that the Occupied Palestinian Territory refers to the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, as well as the Gaza Strip since Israel’s 2005 withdrawal did not end the occupation of the 360 square-mile territory. This appears from the fact that Israel still maintains effective control, per Article 42 of the Hague Regulation, of all air and maritime spaces of the Gaza Strip, as well as control along the land border and inside the Gaza Strip, a 300 m wide buffer zone (600 and 1500 m wide in some places) which is a no-go zone depriving Gaza of 35 % of its cultivable areas.
4Israeli settlements, inhumane treatment, torture, indiscriminate attacks, home demolitions, forced population transfer, collective punishment, 1996 ILC Draft Code of crimes against the peace and security of mankind, Art. 20; 4th GC, Art. 147, Rome Statute, Art. 8.
5Persecution defined by the International Criminal Court (ICC) Statute cited here as expression of international custom, Art. 7.
61973 UN Convention, Art. 1; on Apartheid and persecution, see 2011 Cape Town findings of this Tribunal.
7The US made it clear that it would veto this application in the Security Council notwithstanding its long-standing support for a two-state solution. To avoid the embarrassment of contradicting its own policy by using its veto power, the US lobbied other member states of the Security Council to oppose the Palestinian application for admission, explaining that the solution to the Palestinian-Israel conflict is not a matter of international law or multilateral resolution, but instead a matter of politics. As a result the Palestine application for admission to the UN lapsed.
8On 29th November 2012, Palestine acceded to the status of “Observer State – Non member of the UN” following the adoption of a resolution by the UN General Assembly by 138 votes in favour, 41 abstentions and 9 against (Canada, Czech Republic, Israel, Marshall Island, Micronesia, Nauru, Palau, Panama and USA).
9The US opposed this move principally because it will permit the ICC to exercise criminal jurisdiction over those Israeli politicians and generals responsible for war crimes and crimes against humanity in the course of Operation Cast Lead.
10In particular a section dedicated to the UN’s responsibility for the failure to prevent Israel’s violations of international law and the section dedicated to the question of “Sociocide”. The full document can be consulted at http://www.russelltribunalonpalestine.com/en/sessions/future-sessions/new-yorksession-summary-of-findings.