July 12, 2011

Rachel Corrie’s family claim Israel hid evidence of Rachel’s death

Posted in General Gaza Updates tagged , , , , , , , at 10:54 am by Alexia

The Guardian has a piece of the latest information coming from the civil suit that the Corrie family are pursuing in Israel.  The family claim that evidence has been withheld and misleading information was provided to the US officials at the time of her death.  The hearing has been taking place since March 2010 and finally completed last weekend.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/11/corries-accuse-israelis-death

In March last year the Corrie family launched a civil case, accusing the military of either unlawfully or intentionally killing Rachel or of gross negligence. Hearings in the case ended on Sunday and a verdict is due to be delivered next April.

“After more than a year of hearings, we are at this moment in much the same place as we were when they began – up against a wall of Israeli officials determined to protect the state at all costs, including at the expense of truth,” said Cindy Corrie, Rachel’s mother.

“We came seeking accountability. We demand justice,” said Craig Corrie

 Right up to the end of the hearings, the Israeli military sought to discredit the work of the volunteers there trying to prevent the human rights abuses being perpetrated by the Israeli military. 

 The final witness in the case, Colonel Pinhas Zuaretz, told the court in Haifa that Rafah was a war zone in 2003 and “reasonable people would not be there unless they had aims of attacking our forces”. Members of the International Solidarity Movement, such as Rachel Corrie, were aiding “Palestinian terrorists”, he said.

because of course an unarmed civillian with nothing more than a finger to wag or a camera to document the attacks on civillians is obviously a grievous threat to those heavily armoured tanks the military were permanently ensconced in and those “Palestinian terrorists” who were actually the unarmed homeowners who suffered sustained attacks on their homes by members of the military which usually led to the household abandoning the home and becoming refugees, then the military subsequently demolishing it were also grievous threats.

As the Israeli government has recently shown with its open pressuring of foreign governments to stop the flotilla and tacitly supporting at least one group that behaved in criminal behaviour to try to stop some of the flotilla boats leaving in Greece, it is unlikely that this will cause them to display integrity and admit responsibility for the behaviour of its armed forces.  Will the courts see it differently and judge that the military did distort the truth to hide its culpability in the death of Rachel?  We’ll know next April.

 

June 29, 2011

Why do unarmed civillian protesters scare Israel so much?

Posted in General Gaza Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 11:27 am by Alexia

The boats involved in the Freedom Flotilla II have started to set sail for Gaza.  Last year this peaceful protest against Israel’s behaviour in Palestine resulted in the deaths of 9 civillians after Israel illegally boarded the ships in international waters.  This year Israel is trying more insidious means to stop the flotilla before it physically stops them.

This time, as Freedom Flotilla II sets sail over the next week, with 10 ships carrying many of the same activists who travelled last year, including Swedish writer Henning Mankell, American human rights campaigner Hedy Epstein, and writer and academic Alice Walker, the Israeli government’s response will be closely watched.

This week Ron Prosor, Israel’s ambassador to the UN, wrote a letter saying: “Israel calls on the international community to do everything in their ability in order to prevent the flotilla and warn citizens … of the risks of participating in this type of provocation.” The purpose of the flotilla, he said, is “to provoke and aid a radical political agenda”. He later added: “We are very determined to defend ourselves and to assert our right to a naval blockade on Gaza.”

“The threats of violence won’t deter us,” says Huwaida Arraf, one of the flotilla organisers. “Nobody is going in to this lightly, but we feel it has to be done. Israel has to realise its violence against us is not going to stop our growing civilian effort to challenge its illegal policies. The size of this flotilla, the number of people involved in organising it, even after Israel killed nine of our colleagues last year, is testament to that.”

She says half a million people applied for the few hundred places: depending on how many of the 10 boats are seaworthy in time, there should be around 400 people on the flotilla.

Israel started with the letter to the UN, since then it has threatened any journalist who joins the flotilla with deportation and a 10 year ban from israel which was only revoked after an international outcry and now an Israeli group has now resorted to attempting to delay the sailings through a group in Greece by complaining to the greek authorities that boats are not seaworthy which then requires the authorities to hold the boats and investigate.  There has also been an allegation of sabotage against the boats in Greece, a claim that is not being denied by the Israeli authorities

Israel and its allies have been working hard to head off the planned flotilla, which is hoping to enter the waters off Gazain the next week. Col.. (ret) Ann Wright, who’s organizing a US vessel named the Audacity of Hope for the flotilla, says her ship has been detained in Athens on spurious charges that it’s not seaworthy. She says that charge was made by an Israeli legal group.

Now the Juliano is held up. Mikael Löfgren, a spokesman for Ship to Gaza Sweden, says the damage was discovered at 6:30 in the eveningAthens time today, and that divers probably cut the propeller in the past 24 hours.

“The reports I’m receiving is that it’s certain that it was sabotage,” says Mr. Löfgren, reached by phone inSweden. “The propeller and [propeller shaft] has been cut and we have divers that have filmed the damages. Experts have said there’s no doubt” that the damage was deliberate.

He says that repairing the damage will take a few days. As to who is responsible, he declined to speculate. “We simply don’t know who did it, but it’s obviously a hostile act,” says Löfgren.

So how can a couple of  hundred people who are unarmed and carrying supplies through international waters be such a threat? Perhaps because shining a light to expose the truth of the brutality of Israel towards the people of the land they have occupied and to those who try to support them may finally trigger an outcry that will force Israel to loosen its stranglehold on the people of Palestine.

We can only hope.

Below is an approximate list of the Freedom Flotilla II – Stay Human participants

Spain- Gernicka, 30 passengers

France – Louise Michel, 24 passengers, 6 journalists

France- Dignity, 10 passengers, 1 journalist

Australia/Belgium/Canada/Denmark/Germany – Tahrir, 48 passengers, 9 journalists

Italy/Netherlands/Germany/Switzerland/Malaysia – Stefano Chiarim, 65 passengers, 5 journalists

Ireland- Saoirse, 20 passengers, 2 journalists

European Campaign to End the Siege on Gaza- Freedom for All, 15 passengers

Greece/Sweden/Norway – Juliano, 25 passengers, 4 journalists

Greece/Sweden/Norway – Methimus #2 cargo boat, 15 passengers

United States- The Audacity of Hope, 40 passengers, 10 journalists

For more information on the flotilla and its progress you can read about it at freegaza.org or at Witnessgaza.com, Tahrir.ca and FreedomFlotilla.eu and join them on twitter and Facebook or donate to help.

April 26, 2011

ISM COMMITTED TO STAYING IN GAZA

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , at 3:29 pm by Alexia

PRESS RELEASE: ISM COMMITTED TO STAYING IN GAZA

ISM GAZA

Following the murder of our comrade and friend Vittorio, we, activists
of the International Solidarity Movement, reiterate our commitment to
remaining in Gaza.  We will continue to work with and live among the
Palestinian population as we continue the work to which Vik was so
committed.

In these days of mourning, Palestinians have organized numerous
memorials for Vik; they constantly remind us how sorry they are to
have lost him, of how they loved him, his closeness, his affection,
and his indignation at what is happening here in Gaza.  We know that
the group that perpetrated this horrible crime does not in any way
represent Palestinian society.  The Palestinians of Gaza are our
friends, our colleagues, and our reason for being here; we will
continue to stand by their side.

As we had done when Vittorio was with us, we will continue to stand
alongside the Palestinian people, we will continue to struggle against
the occupation, we will continue to accompany farmers to their lands
along the border, we will continue to participate in demonstrations,
and we will continue to tell the world what happens here in the Gaza
Strip, Palestine.  We think that Vik would agree with Che Guevara when
he said, “Don’t cry for me if I die, do what I was doing and I will
live on in you.”  The best way to honor Vik is to continue the work
that he was doing.  In particular we will soon begin crewing a boat
whose mission is to monitor the violation of human rights in
Palestinian waters.  This boat will have its maiden voyage on April
20: Vik had strongly backed this project and he had enthusiastically
participated in its realization.

Vik has been an inspiration to all of us, we all hope to live up to
his example.  In a documentary about him, Vik said he would have liked
to be remembered by Nelson Mandela’s quote; “A victor is merely a
dreamer who never stops dreaming.”  Your dreams are our dreams; we
will never forget you, Vik.

 

 


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April 15, 2011

ISM Activist Killed

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , at 1:34 pm by Alexia

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/apr/15/italian-peace-activist-murdered-gaza

Arrigoni’s death comes just over a week after a gunman shot dead Juliano Mer-Khamis, an Israeli actor who ran a theatre in the West Bank city of Jenin. It is not clear why Mer-Khamis was shot but his views about freedom of expression had generated some opposition in Jenin.

Arrigoni, known as Vik, lived in an apartment that he rented separately from his fellow volunteers for the International Solidarity Movement (ISM). The first anyone knew of his abduction was when video was posted on YouTube in which Arrigoni appeared blindfolded with a bruised face.

The accompanying Arabic text said: “The Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption.” It described Italy as “the infidel state”.

On the day he was abducted, Arrigoni had written three posts on his Guerilla Radio blog: a report on the deaths of four men in the south of Gaza in a collapsed tunnel and comments on Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister, and Hosni Mubarak, the former Egyptian president.

He was last seen at a Gaza City gym on Wednesday and from there he ordered food by telephone but never arrived at the restaurant to pick it up.

Nathan Stuckey, a volunteer from the United States, said Arrigoni spent most of his time working as a journalist but was also involved in promoting the rights of Gazan fishermen to fish freely without hindrance from the Israeli navy.

“At the moment, he was particularly focused on the launch of our new boat, which we will use to monitor the navy’s violations of the rights of the fishermen. He often said that he now felt more at home in Gaza than in Italy and he was strongly committed to the Palestinian cause,” Stuckey said.

Foreigners and outsiders are normally warmly welcomed in Palestinian communities, who regard them as allies against Israel. Previously the greatest risk for foreigners was seen to be from the Israeli army. Rachel Corrie from the US and Tom Hurndall from London were killed by Israeli forces in Gaza in 2003 and 2004 while volunteering for the ISM.

Here’s a video report.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/video/2011/apr/15/italian-activist-vittorio-arrigoni-gaza-video

My thoughts are with his family and all those who are affected by this.

April 2, 2011

ISM calling for experienced activists to come to Gaza

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , at 12:12 am by Alexia

**please circulate widely**

The International Solidarity Movement is appealing for activists to join our team in the besieged Gaza Strip.

In recent months numerous people have managed to cross into Gaza through Egypt, so at present, there is a small window of opportunity to enter. ISM Gaza was reinstated in August 2008, when volunteers traveled aboard the historic, siege-breaking voyage of the first FreeGaza Movement boat. ISM has maintained a constant presence in Gaza since that time, for over two years of Israel’s crippling siege. ISM volunteers refused to leave when Israel began bombing Gaza in December 2009. During the devastating 23-day assault, activists accompanied ambulances and provided vital testimony to the international media.

Daily life in Gaza is a harrowing struggle. Israel’s siege has made rebuilding bombed structures virtually impossible, and thousands of Gazans continue to live in tents. The siege deeply restricts Gaza’s food supply, but Israel also prohibits Gazans from producing their own food. In stark violation of international law, Israel enforces a three-nautical-mile fishing blockade. The Israeli-imposed ‘buffer zone’ swallows up a third of Gaza’s farmland, which lies along the Israeli border. Farmers are routinely shot and killed simply for working their land well inside Gaza’s borders.

ISM Gaza volunteers accompany farmers and demonstrators in the ‘buffer zone’, as well as working to strengthen the link between Gazan students and the international Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit http://www.palsolidarity.org/main/category/gaza/  to watch videos and read reports by ISM Gaza. As the international community becomes more critical of Israel’s policies, it is vital to have individuals on the ground that can attest to the conditions inside the open-air prison of Gaza. Their voices lend strength to efforts abroad, as BDS campaigns gain momentum and freedom flotillas become pandemic.

Those interested in joining the ISM Gaza team are required to attend a preliminary training in their home country and have communicate with the volunteers in Gaza prior to arrival. Entering Gaza is an arduous process that requires some time to be spent in Egypt.

Also recommended:

– Previous experience with organizing/ activism, preferably in the Middle-East

– A historical understanding of the Palestine and some knowledge of the current political situation

– Arabic language skills – respect for Palestinian traditions and values

– Ability to stay in Gaza for an extended period of time (over a month)

For more information about where to attend a preliminary training or other questions, please email gazaism@gmail.com

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January 26, 2011

Countries are starting to recognise the State of Palestine

Posted in ! My Articles tagged , , , , , at 3:16 pm by Alexia

The good news that seems to be escaping the attention of the mainstream media is that more countries around the world are recognising the State of Palestine. 

South America is currently at the forefront of this wave of recognition.  The Arab world has ( along with the Chinese) been making a concerted push to improve trade and strengthen cultural ties and it is culminating in recognition for Palestine ahead of the third Arab/South American Summit (ASPA), hosted in Peru in February.

Of course Israel and the US aren’t particularly happy about this and have been making noises of disapproval

Israel warned that South America’s rush to recognition was “highly damaging interference” by countries that were never part of the Middle East peace process.

The US has lobbied the region to say recognition is premature. That argument has fallen flat with conservative and left-wing governments but Washington will be pleased that Peru, like Chile, hedged its position on Palestinian claims for borders that existed before 1967, encompassing the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

  The US seems to be concerned enough about the encroachment of the Chinese and the Arabs into their “sphere of influence” that they’re taking steps to try to neutralise it.  It even warranted recognition in the State of the Union speech by President Obama on 25 Jan 2011.

This is just a part of how we are shaping a world that favours peace and prosperity. With our European allies, we revitalized NATO, and increased our cooperation on everything from counter-terrorism to missile defence. We have reset our relationship with Russia, strengthened Asian alliances, and built new partnerships with nations like India. This March, I will travel to Brazil, Chile, and El Salvador to forge new alliances for progress in the Americas.

The release of the documents by Al Jazeera, which confirms that Israel has been mainly responsible for the stalling of the peace process and just how much the US favours Israel in the negotiations, combined with the recognition of the State of Palestine will strengthen the Palestinian position and enable some headway to be made.

I haven’t been so optimistic in years.

Here’s the current list of countries who fully or partially recognise Palestine.

February 9, 2010

Court Victory for ISM Activists

Posted in ISM Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 10:19 pm by Alexia

APPEAL Such legal challenges are important for the Palestinian non-violent resistance as it can determine whether or not Israeli occupation forces continue to use particular oppressive practices. But legal work is also quite expensive.

The ISM is asking its supporters to throw fund-raising events to raise money to support the work of the ISM’s solidarity with the Palestinian movement against apartheid. You can donate by check, or online (via Paypal) see http://palsolidarity.org/donate for details.

REPORT A legal victory for ISM activists On Monday, February 8, 2010, the Israeli Supreme Court ordered the release on bail of the two activists who were arrested on Sunday during a pre-dawn raid on the Ramallah media office of the International Solidarity Movement. Ariadna Jove Marti, a Spanish journalist, and Bridgette Chappell, an Australian student at Beir Zeit university have now been banned from the occupied territories. During the hearing for Ariadna and Bridget, the State Prosecutor admitted that it was illegal for the Immigration Police to receive custody of the two in the Occupied Territories, where it has no legal authority.

The illegality of the detention of Marti and Chappell by the Immigration Police is now undisputed. According to Marti and Chappell, they were questioned primarily about their overstayed visas. The Army, however, alleges that their arrests were security driven, despite the fact that the State Prosecutor could provide no evidence to support this claim. The judges have ordered the state to file depositions, if any exist, implicating the two as security threats for a review of the legality of their detention. In response to the accusation that she is a “security risk, Chappell said, “Our ‘weapons’ were not like the ones the Israeli soldiers waved about wildly after barging into our apartment, they were our cameras. These let the world see the violence that the occupiers visit upon the Palestinians and they were quite dangerous to Israel’s institutionalized domination.” “I hope that our presence makes the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestine that much more difficult. In light of the illegal raid that led to our incarceration, it seems that the ‘security’ of the Israeli army means that their injustices are securely hidden from the world,” said Marti.

The Oslo Accords between Israel and the PLO clearly forbid any Israeli incursion into Area A, which includes the major Palestinian cities in the West Bank, for reasons not directly and urgently related to security, even in “hot pursuit.” In practice however the Israeli military continues to exercise full control on the entire West Bank and Gaza Strip. The overall legality of the raid (under Israeli law) remains contested and should be reviewed by the Supreme Court in the continuation of the court case.

In the mean time the court has ordered the release of the two on a NIS 3,000 bail each, and on the condition that they will not enter the Occupied Territories pending final decision in the case.

The latest raids are part of a recent crackdown on the growing non-violent Palestinian movement of resistance to Israeli apartheid. Leaders of the popular Palestinian struggle are being taken from their homes in night military raids. Abdullah Abu Rahme coordinator of the Bil’in popular committee, Wa’el Faqueeh the coordinator of the Nablus popular committee, and Ibrahim Amiraa coordinator of the Naalin popular committee, all arrested from their homes, remain incarcerated.

In addition dozens of Palestinian activists who have participated in the demonstrations are in prison. Mohammed Khatib, coordinator of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee said, “The popular struggle is spreading. More and more Palestinians are turning to nonviolent resistance, the boycott, divestment, and sanctions movement is growing here and internationally and Israeli war criminals are being challenged by courts around the world. These night raids show that Israel has panicked, deluding itself that by arresting Palestinian and international activists it can stop the movement and hide its crimes from the world.” Khatib was also arrested recently in a military raid at his home, and is now free on bail.

The raids are continuing. On Monday, February 8, 2010,Israeli soldiers raided the Ramallah offices of Stop the Wall and the Peoples Party stole computers, media equipment and documents from the office. Jamal Juma, the coordinator of Stop the Wall, a Palestinian campaign at the forefront of the global movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israeli apartheid, and Mohammad Othman, a Stop the Wall activist, were recently released with no charges after being imprisoned by Israeli forces.

Israel is also targeting the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), arresting ISM activists working in support of the popular campaign against the wall. Over the last ten months, the “Oz” immigration unit illegally arrested and attempted to deport four other international activists.

Eva Nováková, a Czech national and ISM media coordinator, was arrested in Ramallah on January 11, 2010, and deported the next day, before the deportation could be appealed. She too was arrested by the Immigration Police. Nováková’s lawyer is currently in the process of preparing an appeal to the Israeli Supreme Court to challenge the legality of her arrest.

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June 27, 2009

PSC Actions and Events – 25 th July 2009

Posted in PSC Updates tagged , , , , at 4:42 pm by Alexia

PSC Actions and Events
 1. 11 July – national conference in Birmingham ­
Justice for the Palestinians ­ the moral issue of our time
A one-off opportunity to discuss with internationally-renowned speakers ­ including Dr Rita Giacaman, who has pioneered work on Palestinian health and resistance to occupation. She is from the Institute of Community and Public Health at Birzeit University, and played a central role in the Lancet’s recent study.
The conference will be discussing 1948 and after ­ the refugee question with Karma Nabulsi and Haim Bresheeth; looking at the reality of Israeli occupation with Prof Manuel Hassassian, Samia Botmeh and Rita Giacaman; and lessons from the Anti-Apartheid Movement with Victoria Brittain.
The final session will focus on taking action ­ with Daniel Machover talking on war crimes, and building boycott, divestment and sanctions with Betty Hunter, Hugh Lanning and Salma Yaqoob.
Book your place NOW! For more details: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index9b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=3&l2_id=62&Content_ID=557

 2.  3-5 July ­ PSC Sponsored Walk in Dartmoor

Your chance to meet other activists, get fit and raise money for the PSC! For more details: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index9b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=3&l2_id=62&Content_ID=577

 

3. Get involved in your local branch ­ for branch information, go to http://www.palestinecampaign.org/Index5b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=13&l2_id=56.
If contact details for your branch aren’t there, please email psc.admin@palestinecampaign.org.
And if you are happy for your details to be passed to a local branch, please email psc.admin@palestinecampaign.org and tell us.

 4. Make sure your MP has put their name to Early Day Motions calling for peace and justice ­

 for more details http://www.palestinecampaign.org/Index5b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=51&l2_id=54

 5. Volunteers needed!

PSC is only able to carry out its vital campaigning work thanks to its volunteers.

If you’d like to volunteer your time over the summer, helping out with the priority campaigns of the PSC, supporting our activities, events or our magazine, Palestine News, contact denis.fernando@palestinecampaign.org or psc.admin@palestinecampaign.org.

=====================================

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people. PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law.

PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK.

Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Box BM PSA

London

WC1N 3XX

Tel:   020 7700 6192

Fax:  020 7609 7779

Email: info@palestinecampaign.org Web: www.palestinecampaign.org

PSC weekly update 26 June 2009

Posted in PSC Updates tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:35 pm by Alexia

  

  1. Israeli government defies Obama, continues settlement expansion…
  2. Whilst house demolitions continue apace
  3. Scottish TUC says ‘Foreign Secretary out of step with trade unions on boycott of Israel
  4. New! PSC factsheet on Netanyahu’s speech
  5. 40 aid agencies condemn blockade on Gaza
  6. Free Gaza boats – update
  7. Court case in Canada against settlement companies
  8. PLC speaker released from Israeli jail
  9. Doctors demand Yoram Blachar resign over Israeli torture
  10. Israeli group issues report on torture of Palestinians
  11. Israel sells Palestinian refugee properties
  12. B’Tselem’s documentation of Israeli human rights violations wins award

 

1. Israeli government defies Obama, continues settlement expansion

Israel plans to allocate $250 million over the next two years for settlements http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index7b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=4&l2_id=24&Content_ID=698

 Israel’s defence ministry has proposed legalising 60 existing homes at a Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank, and building another 240 homes at the site, despite US calls for a halt to settlement growth.’… http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/23/israel-palestine-construction-farmers-obama

Israeli government officials then denied this: http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2009/06/200962319400811215.html

The Guardian editorial covered this issue: ‘It would indeed be a victory for Netanyahu if, in return for freezing a few extra flats, Obama let himself be manoeuvred into accepting that the existing settlements are “facts on the ground” that can never be changed. Settlements can be abandoned, or assigned to the sovereignty of another state, and many of them will have to be if a fair peace is ever to be obtained. http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jun/25/israel-us-settlements-editorial

 Tony Judt in the New York Times: ‘If Israel is drunk on settlements, the United States has long been its enabler. Were Israel not the leading beneficiary of American foreign aid — averaging $2.8 billion a year from 2003 to 2007, and scheduled to reach $3.1 billion by 2013 — houses in West Bank settlements would not be so cheap: often less than half the price of equivalent homes in Israel proper. http://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/22/opinion/22judt.html?_r=2&pagewanted=all

 2. …Whilst house demolitions continue apace

The Israeli military has issued demolition orders to thirty two different family housing groups this month, saying that they will demolish the homes of 304 Palestinians in the Jordan Valley, in the eastern West Bank, before the end of June. http://www.imemc.org/article/60931

 3. Scottish TUC says ‘Foreign Secretary out of step with trade unions on boycott of Israel

The STUC has ‘rejected the Foreign Office’s “dismay” at trade union’s supporting boycotts of Israel, and suggested this is an indication that the UK Government is out of step with the views of workers on this matter. http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index7b.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=4&l2_id=25&Content_ID=701

 4. New! PSC factsheet on Netanyahu’s speech

A detailed analysis from PSC on the truth behind the rhetoric: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index7b-2.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=5&l2_id=27&content_ID=702

 5. 40 aid agencies condemn blockade on Gaza

 Forty international aid agencies and non-governmental organizations have released a joint statement condemning Israel’s blockade of Gaza, to mark the second anniversary of the coastal territory being hermetically sealed off from the outside world. http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10613.shtml

 6. Free Gaza boats – update

 On 25 June, the Free Gaza movement issued a press release: ‘our ships were not given permission to leave today due to concerns about our welfare and safety. Our friends in Cyprus tell us that the voyage to Gaza is too dangerous, and they are worried we will be harmed at sea. http://www.freegaza.org/en/home/hope-fleet-news/956-public-advisory-we-did-not-leave-cyprus-today

 7. Court case in Canada against settlement companies

 From 22-24 June, Quebec Superior Court heard a court case by the village of Bil’in against Green Park International and Green Mount International, two companies registered in Quebec who are constructing illegal Israeli settlements on Bil’in lands. http://www.tadamon.ca/post/3903

 8. PLC speaker released from Israeli jail

From the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR): ‘On Tuesday, 23 June 2009, Israeli Occupation Forces (IOF) released Dr. Aziz al-Dwaik, Speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), following three years of arbitrary detention in Israeli jails. PCHR also called ‘upon the international community to exert pressure on IOF to release all Palestinian prisoners, including the approximately 40 PLC Members who are currently detained in Israeli jails. http://www.pchrgaza.org/files/PressR/English/2008/81-2009.html

 9. Doctors demand Yoram Blachar resign over Israeli torture

More than 700 doctors from 43 countries have written a letter of protest to their governing ethical body, the World Medical Association, alleging that its recently appointed Israeli president has turned a blind eye to the involvement of medical staff in torture, and calling for his removal. http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/jun/21/doctors-israeli-torture-yoram-blachar-resign

 10. Israeli group issues report on torture of Palestinians

 A major new report by the Public Committee Against Torture in Israel shows that ‘various security agencies in Israel, chief among them the IDF and the GSS, shackle detainees in painful and humiliating manners that in a number of instances rise to the level of torture in violation of domestic law, High Court of Justice judgments, international law and accepted international standards of practice’ http://www.stoptorture.org.il/files/eng_report.pdf

 11. Israel sells Palestinian refugee properties

For an account of the problems caused by Israel’s decision to sell the property of Palestinian refugees ­ see: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYuxeFcOgpk

 12. B’Tselem’s documentation of Israeli human rights violations wins award

 B’Tselem won the One World Media award for its project, which provides video cameras to Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip for them to use to document human rights violations. http://www.btselem.org/english/press_releases/20090623.asp

 And ‘Midweek’ on Wednesday 24 June featured a campaigner from B’Tselem talking about the project (the discussion starts about half way through the podcast). http://www.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/series/midweek

 =====================================

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people.

PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law.

PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK.

Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Box BM PSA London WC1N 3XX

Tel: 020 7700 6192

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June 8, 2009

PSC: Veolia Victory

Posted in PSC Updates tagged , , , , , , , at 3:31 pm by Alexia

From Omar Barghouti

In the first smashing and convincing victory of the global BDS movement in the field of corporate responsibility and ethical compliance, Veolia is reportedly abandoning the Jerusalem Light Rail project, an illegal project that aims at connecting Israeli colonies built on occupied Palestinian territory to the city of Jerusalem. As the Haaretz article below admits, the BDS campaign’s success in costing Veolia some $7 billion worth of contracts is the key behind this decision by the troubled company to pull out of the project.

It is worth mentioning that Le Monde has recently published an expose, revealing to French readers and, crucially, to Veolia’s stock holders the fact that the company is losing a lot of money because of its complicity in a project that constitutes a major violation of international law, if not a war crime.

This great victory came as a result of years of hard, principled, meticulous and persistent work by French solidarity groups, particularly AFPS; by the growing French BDS movement which was instrumental in making Veolia lose a huge contract in Bordeaux; by Dutch activists who achieved the first success in convincing a Dutch bank to divest from Veolia and applied pressure on other banks to follow suit; by Swedish peace and justice groups, mainly connected to the Church of Sweden, particularly Diakonia, and Swedish Palestine solidarity groups who cost Veolia the heaviest, $4.5 billion contract in running the Stockholm metro; by British solidarity groups and activists, particularly affiliated with PSC, who contributed tremendously to excluding Veolia from a lucrative contract in the West Midlands; and of course by the Palestinian BDS National Committee, BNC, which partnered with all the above in the now famous Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign to pressure the company to abandon this illegal project.

The Derail Veolia and Alstom campaign, which involves activists and groups in many countries all working to pressure the two French giants to quit the JLR project, was officially launched at the Bilbao Initiative conference in the Basque city last November. Now is the time to pressure Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iran, Gulf states, among others, to kick Alstom out due to its complicity in this illegal project. Solidarity with Palestine means almost nothing if it cannot be translated into BDS action that can truly cost the Israeli occupation and apartheid regime dearly.

This is the time to DERAIL ALSTOM!

Omar http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1091186.html  

Jerusalem rail operator jumps ship, Tel Aviv group isn’t even responding The light rail projects for Jerusalem and Tel Aviv are both facing difficulties. In a body-blow to the future Jerusalem light rail, the French company Veolia, which was supposed to run the train system after its construction, is abandoning the project. Moving on to Tel Aviv, the city can’t even get a response to the compromise it offered MTS, the consortium supposed to build an urban train system, in order to settle issues in dispute.

It’s waited a month and gotten no answer, causing not a little consternation in government circles. As for the Jerusalem system, Veolia not only wants out of running the future train; it’s trying to sell its 5% stake in Citypass, the light rail consortium. In recent days Veolia has been sending feelers to the Egged or Dan bus consortiums, to potentially replace it as project operator.

Any change in the ownership structure of Citypass, or in the identity of the project operator, requires the permission of the state. Also, the attempt to add Egged to the consortium could arouse opposition at the Antitrust Authority. Veolia has had to contend not only with the delays and difficulties in building the light rail project itself, but with political pressure at home as well.

Two months ago a French court heard a lawsuit by a pro-Palestinian group, demanding that the light rail project be halted. The organization based itself on an article in French law that allows the court to void business agreements, signed by French companies, that violate international law. The political pressure on Veolia has been mounting in another direction.

According to various reports abroad, the French firm had been losing major projects in Europe because of its involvement in the Jerusalem job. Observers claim that’s the real reason Veolia opted out.

Also, for two years the Jerusalem project has been held up by battles between Citypass, the city of Jerusalem and various ministries. (The disputes even include whose fault the delays are.)

Last week the spat between Citypass and the state reached a new low, after the group admitted it couldn’t meet the new deadline for the Jerusalem light rail project. It expects to run nine months behind schedule, the consortium said. The state then accused the business consortium of deliberately dragging its feet and of effecting “a hostile takeover of the streets of Jerusalem.” Sources in Israel’s transportation sector called Citypass’s announcement “chutzpah,” on the grounds that it and the state had agreed on a new schedule only a year earlier. And that was a month after an arbitration process during which the new schedule was ratified.

In response to Citypass’ announcement, the state contacted the arbitrators accompanying the process, asking them to enforce the franchise agreement and force Citypass to finish the works as set in the new schedule, by September 2010, “finally restoring normalcy to Jerusalem.” The state also asked for permission to stop paying Citypass, including the upcoming installment of NIS 32.5 million. Citypass can meet the agreed-on schedule, the state insists: “This isn’t inability to complete the project on time. At most it’s a crude attempt to squeeze more money from the state,” wrote the state in its letter to the arbitrators. “[Citypass] already advised the state and the arbitrators that it doesn’t intend to finish the works on time, but it doesn’t settle for words: It is making sure to work at a pace that assures it won’t meet the agreed-on deadline for completion.”

In summation, the state accuses Citypass of making life in Jerusalem intolerable. Citypass denies the allegations, which it called “absurd,” and claims the state is indulging in baseless legal gambits in response to the lawsuit Citypass filed against it because of the delays.

Sources in the know suspect that the delays ruined the project’s business model. The cost of the works grew, and there were delays in the transfer of state funding for the companies involved in the project, while the companies needed the money to return their own loans.

The upshot, if so, was heightened tensions between the partners in Citypass, mainly between equipment provider Alstom, operator Veolia and the Israeli contractor Ashtrom. After some changes, the partners in Citypass are Ashtrom (27.5%), Alstom (20%), Polar Investments (17.5%), Israel Infrastructures Fund (10%) and Veolia (5%).

The Jerusalem project involves building eight lines. Only the first one has passed the tender process, which Citypass won. The line is supposed to start in Pisgat Zeev, pass along Jaffa Street and end at Mount Herzl. The cost of that line alone is projected at NIS 2.4 billion. The state is providing NIS 1.4 billion.

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The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to raise public awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the struggle of the Palestinian people.

PSC seek to bring pressure on both the British and Israeli government to bring their policies in line with international law.

PSC is an independent, non-governmental and non-party political organisation with members from communities across the UK. Join PSC today!

Palestine Solidarity Campaign

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