Recognising Palestine?

If historical precedents in Lebanon and Syria are any indication, the declaration of statehood by the Palestinian Authority will have little effect, despite what Palestinian prime minister Salam Fayyad might say [GALLO/GETTY]

What do you do if your decades-long campaign to bring about an independent Palestinian state on those fractions of historic Palestine known as the West Bank and Gaza Strip have resulted in total failure?

The answer seems to be, if you are the Western-sponsored Palestinian Authority (PA) in Israeli-occupied Ramallah, to pretend you have a Palestinian state anyway, and to get as many other countries to join in this charade as possible.

This appears to be the essence of the PA strategy to gain admittance for the “State of Palestine” to the UN General Assembly by September.

Already, the PA is lobbying hard for countries to support the move, and in recent months a number of states, particularly in Latin America, have extended full diplomatic recognition to the Ramallah authority. The New York Times cited diplomats who say that if brought to a vote in the UN General Assembly, the measure would likely pass.

A fantasy ‘state’

The PA’s push for recognition of a Palestinian state is the diplomatic counterpart to its much-touted “institution-building” and “economic development” efforts which are supposed to create the infrastructure for a future state.

But the institution-building program is nothing more than a mirage, boosted by public relations tricks and good press.

In fact, the main “institutions” the PA has built are the police-state and militia apparatuses used to repress political opposition to the PA and any form of resistance to Israeli occupation. Meanwhile the economy of the West Bank, and the PA itself, remain completely dependent on foreign aid.

UN recognition of a Palestinian make-believe state would be no more meaningful than this fantasy “institution-building”, and could push Palestinians even further away from real liberation and self-determination.

Figures from the Ramallah-based PA have justified their UN recognition strategy as a way to bring international pressure to bear on Israel.

“Such recognition would create political and legal pressure on Israel to withdraw its forces from the land of another state that is recognised with the [1967] borders,” Ramallah ‘foreign minister’ Riyad al-Malki told reporters in January.

Similarly, Nabil Shaath, a top Fatah official, explained to the New York Times that if a Palestinian state were recognised by the UN: “Israel would then be in daily violation of the rights of a fellow member state and diplomatic and legal consequences could follow, all of which would be painful for Israel.”

But can anyone who has seen how the “international community” functions when it comes to Israel believe such delusional expectations?

Lebanon has been a member state of the United Nations since 1945 and yet this did not prevent Israel from occupying southern Lebanon from 1978 until 2000. Israel’s occupation of Lebanon ended not because of any international pressure, but only because the Lebanese resistance drove Israel and its collaborating militias out.

Since its massive bombardment of Lebanon in 2006, Israel has violated Lebanon’s sovereignty thousands of times – according to the UN itself. But its constant overflights of Lebanese airspace and kidnapping of Lebanese citizens among other violations has never prompted “diplomatic and legal consequences” to hold Israel accountable.

Similarly, since 1967 Israel has occupied the Golan Heights, which belong to Syria (also a UN member since 1945). There has been virtually no armed resistance on the Golan Heights nor has there been any international pressure for Israel to withdraw or for Syrian refugees to return to their homes.

Even after Israel illegally annexed the territory in 1981 – a move condemned by the UN Security Council – the international community’s silence has allowed Israel’s colonisation of the Golan Heights to continue unabated.

Why would the situation in the “State of Palestine” be any different?

‘Paper’ victories

The effort to seek diplomatic recognition for an imaginary Palestinian state on a fraction of historic Palestine is a strategy of desperation from a Palestinian leadership that has run out of options, lost its legitimacy, and become a serious obstacle in the way of Palestinians regaining their rights.

Relying heavily on diplomatic forums and the good will of the “international community” has also been tried before and produced no results. Recall that in 2004, the PA expended enormous efforts to obtain an advisory ruling from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) in The Hague that Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank is illegal and must be torn down.

But beyond obtaining the ruling, the PA had absolutely no strategy to mobilise Palestinians and their allies to pressure the world to actually implement the decision. It was a paper victory that resulted in no change on the ground.

Indeed, there is significant evidence that while the PA’s diplomatic corps and negotiators were busy in The Hague, the leadership sought to stifle attempts by Palestinian civil society organisations in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to organise around and bring attention to the ICJ ruling, almost certainly due to pressure by Israel and the United States.

Would the government of an “independent Palestine” still under Israeli occupation and reliant on aid from the US and EU be able to stand similar pressure in the future? The PA’s record to date offers no basis for optimism.

In spite of these efforts, the ICJ opinion did have one important consequence. It was not the PA or the defunct Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) that began to mobilise.

Rather, amid the inaction from world governments to enforce the ICJ ruling, Palestinian civil society independently issued the 2005 Palestinian Call for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS).

This campaign seeks to isolate Israel and pressure it to respect Palestinian rights and international law, through popular boycotts similar to those that helped end apartheid in South Africa.

Rather than fetishising “statehood”, the BDS campaign focuses on rights and realities: it calls for an end to Israel’s occupation and colonisation of all Arab lands conquered in 1967; full equality for Palestinian citizens of Israel; and respect for and implementation of the rights of Palestinian refugees. These demands are all fully consistent with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and international law.

The PA has never endorsed this campaign, and in fact has sought to distract from and undermine it by calling only for a half-hearted boycott of Israeli settlement goods while actively promoting trade with Israel in violation of the BDS call.

Reduxing the bantustans

Many have accurately likened the Palestinian “state” envisaged by the PA and its sponsors to the “bantustans” of apartheid South Africa.

The bantustans were nominally independent states set up by the apartheid regime to grant “citizenship” to blacks, as a way to derail demands for true equality.

World governments did not fall for the trick, and refused to recognise the bantustans because they understood that diplomatic recognition for these entities would actually set back the struggle to end South African apartheid.

Not coincidentally, the only country to have had extensive dealings with the bantustans – allowing them to open diplomatic missions and frequently receiving their leaders – was Israel. Israel saw the bantustans as a model for how it would one day manage the Palestinians.

Recognition of a Palestinian “state” under Israeli occupation would certainly solidify and perpetuate the privileges and positions of unelected PA officials, while doing nothing to change the conditions or restore the rights of millions of Palestinians, not just in the territories occupied in the June 1967 war, but within Israel, and in the diaspora.

Far from increasing international pressure on Israel, it may even allow states that have utterly failed in their duty to hold Israel accountable to international law to wash their hands of the question of Palestine, under the mantro of “we recognised Palestine, what more do you want from us?”

Palestinians and their allies should not be distracted by this international theatre of the absurd, but should focus on building wider and deeper BDS campaigns to end Israeli apartheid everywhere that it exists, once and for all.

(english.aljazeera.net / 13.04.2011)

From Gaza to the outer world This I have to say

Gaza, April 13, Its amazing how we consider it a good day in Gaza if Israel is not continuously bombing killing civilians, children and women yet we are still suffering from complete shortages in everything which ignited a humanitarian crisis in the strip after major shortages in Medicine, cooking gas, fuel and electricity.

It seems like we got used to these crisis to the extent that they became our daily routine. Israel finally opened Gaza’s crossings today but honestly that made us feel nothing, they barely let in what Gaza needs so they wont make up for the week of closure but life goes on and so do we.

I don’t know how to describe what you feel and how you cope while living in Gaza, its like you are automatically programmed to deal with any sudden tragedies, events, bombing, crisis or any related matter.

Sometimes I get so overwhelmed by Gaza that I forget West Bank exists or the world exists. We are bound to be tracking the news, politics, on-ground events and daily recaps because this is the way it is and this is the way our lives are formatted.

What do you expect from us when we live in such a besieged coastal enclave? We live in the biggest open air prison. As for the mental siege, Israel cuts our electric power, supplies, fuel & air if they could to keep us isolated and alone. In Gaza, every house has a story of tragedy whether directly affected by it or happened to a neighbor, loved one, relative, or friend. If Gazans aren’t participating in the funeral of a martyr they would be visiting injured people in the hospitals or helping the disabled or maybe running to the UNRWA to get some supplies or maybe trying to make a living by collecting gravels and stones near Gaza’s border putting their lives in total danger. Numerous kids, men and workers get shot by Israeli armed towers and they die or face serious injury while trying to make a living. People here are so swamped into our strange lifestyle that we seriously forget there is a world out there.

Its like we don’t have the time to be happy, live a normal life or have fun. We cant afford fun, we can afford only tragedies and miseries. We try to steal little moments so we can do something we like yet we do feel guilty inside thinking that maybe its not the time of luxury.

It’s a unique atmosphere of resilience and will power here in Gaza, something that I would have missed if I stayed in Cyprus Island where I was born and raised. You get this power and immunity towards every bad thing that might happen. Israel will bomb the hell out of us at night yet in the morning life goes on, children walk to their schools under heavy shooting and bombs, people leave for work, sun will shine and Gaza will never die. It gives every instinct inside of you a 10 times push and a huge kick where you can face anything in this world including death itself since your life and the life of your loved ones are in constant non-stop danger.

We also connect to all uprisings across the Arab world. We put the fundamentals of revolting back in 1948 by igniting a powerful intifada like no other which inspired the whole world and made it to the global dictionary. So we cant help but keep tracking uprisings everywhere and support it in every way possible. Ofcourse the global media outlets take different stands towards these uprisings digging deep to find a flaw in each and every one, but we don’t care. We support the people everywhere and believe in people-power. Palestinians become one in times of tragedy and become 1 with their fellow arabs in times of their tragedies too because simply we care.

We stood with Iraq and Lebanon during America’s and Israel’s animalistic war against them. We stood with Tunisians while they raised their voice against tyranny. We stood with Egyptians while they transformed tahrir (Liberation) sq. into a true solid meaning of Liberation, Egypt uprising was slightly different because we are tracking them non-stop, we didn’t sleep and we were very attached to them perhaps because Egypt is very linked to Palestine –Especially Gaza- and we felt like we are 1 with our fellow Egyptians. We stood with Libyans against the violent lunacy of Gaddafi. We stood with the brave souls of Bahrain while they revolted. We stood with Yemenis while they hit the streets for freedom. We stood with Syrians while they demanded some changes. We stood with Jordanians while they gathered to ask for reforms.

I get angry when I read or watch news claiming that Arab revolts are paid for, driven, controlled, directed, maneuvered, blah blah blah! You cant control a whole population and drive them to endager their lives for freedom. The sole of their uprisings is standing against tyranny so quit the biased BS.

We stood united to demand the end of our Palestinian shameful division, thousands of Gazans hit the street in parallel with Palestinians in the West Bank who revolted for the same demand. We both faced local Oppression by Hamas supports and the PA supporters in Ramallah but we tried to hang on. In Gaza, March 15 brave souls decided to stop after numerous attempts failed and ended with detention and violence. While some Palestinians in the west Bank are still on a hunger strike demanding the end of the division, George Hale (4m Maan News Network English Edition) wrote an article describing their situation today and the PA unjust and illegal orders of detention to some of them, read article here:

http://beth.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=378063

We also keep tracking the world and the changes that happen: Obama’s fake affection towards Libyan civilians demanding a no-fly zone to protect the pricy oil fields in Libya, Japan’s ongoing crisis and the recent shameful acts by France when they banned Niqab+Burqa to show a real face of racism against Islam.

That’s why Gazans become political experts and analysts at such young age because every minute of their lives include either local, national or global politics.

I would like to send a message to Obama: You are such a fake façade, you launched a campaign for change yet Americans saw no change and we saw nothing. You rushed to deplore the Israeli school bus incident yet you never cared enough to deplore any of Israelis brutal massacres against the children of Gaza. You Appeared on TV acting like the mother Teresa saying you cant stand civilians being killed in Libya and ordered an immediate no-fly zone on Libya when the real reason behind it was to protect the oil fields just like the war on Iraq to steal everything therewith false allegations on non-existing weapons of mass destruction. WE DEMAND A NO-FLY ZONE OVER GAZA, GATHER A WESTERN COALITION AND COME BOMB HELL OUT OF ISRAEL OR JUST SHUT UP AND DON’T SPEW CRAP.

Gazans are excited to hear that The European Campaign to End the Sige on Gaza didnt give up on us and decided to send a second freedom flotilla towards Gaza despite the sad events that occurred on Mavi Marmara on the May of 2010. Israel attacked the Humanitarian and civilian activists on baord killing 9 and injuring many others. We are just praying we wont witness similar events to those devastating ones that happened last year and that they actually make it to Gaza safe and sound this time.

Also recently been hearing endless speculations about a second+near brutal Israeli attack on Gaza similar to 2008-2009 bloody assaults that left 1600 martyr and thousands of injured. Well we don’t care, we can survive everything and we already have allot on our plate to deal with.

The top 3 topics discussed on daily basis in Gaza:

1- Palestinian shameful division & the reconciliation between Green and Yellow Ooops I mean Hamas and Fatah Oops again I mean Gaza and the West Bank.

2- True=Cease fire between Israel and Hamas (I want to say Palestinian resistance in Gaza but usually Hamas takes the shots), endless cease fires and they always are violated by Israel.

3- Israeli continuous attacks on Gaza.

We used to talk about Gaza’s siege long ago but not anymore, we are very used to it by now.

I just want to say that my only connection to the outer world is my Pro-Palestinian friends who are scattered across the globe. Facebook and twitter are my only venues to stay intouch with them and keep them updated about Gaza’s events (mainly bad, rarely good).

When you live in Gaza: You learn not to make futuristic plans because you cant guarantee you might make it till tomorrow, or plan any futuristic traveling intentions because passing Rafah is like passing the Bar-Lev line. Bottom line: while living in Gaza you learn to live day-by-day without any plans.

Long Live Gaza, Long Live Palestine, Long live the Arab nation (not governments, Arab gov.s are disappointing, they never took action against Israeli continuous assaults on Gaza, they thought its enough to deplore them, yet Saudi army rushed to oppress Bahraini protesters), Long Live all pro-Palestinian people+nations+countries, long Live Peace+love+tolerance and Long Live Revolution.

(Facebook / 13.04.2011)

Rode Kruis organiseert een benefietmiddag voor kinderen in Gaza

Leuke workshops en gezellige activiteiten
Datum: zaterdag 16 April 2011
Tijdstip: 12.30 uur – 17.00 uur
Locatie: Het Vlot van basisschool Het Schateiland, Oosthoef 3-7 te Gouda
District Midden Holland van het Rode Kruis organiseert op zaterdag 16 april een benefietactie in Gouda. De opbrengst is bedoeld voor traumaverwerking van kinderen in de Open Studio in Khan Younis in de Gazastrook door middel van creatieve expressie.
De Open Studio is een centrum voor gehandicapte en getraumatiseerde kinderen in de Gazastrook. Deze kinderen, die opgroeien in een conflictsituatie, krijgen niet de kans om zich gezond te ontwikkelen. In de Open Studio worden de kinderen geholpen om door middel van creatieve activiteiten hun verbeelding te gebruiken. Hiermee leren zij de moeilijke leefomstandigheden waarin zij verkeren, het hoofd te bieden
Tijdens deze middag kunt u deelnemen aan diverse workshops, zoals schilderen, rappen, sushi maken, wijnproeven, visagie, dans en zang. Hiernaast is er een programma voor de kleintjes: spelletjes, schminken, springkussen, henna versiering en filmvertoning. De Palestijnse luitspeler Nizar Rohana zal een bijzonder optreden verzorgen!

Voor meer informatie over het volledige programma, kunt u mailen naar benefiet.openstudio@gmail.com

Fayyad to request $5 billion to launch Palestinian state

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad says donors have ‘welcomed’ his plan to launch the state, and will officially present the plan at a pledging conference in June.

Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad will meet with Western representatives in Brussels on Wednesday and request nearly 5 billion dollars in investment to launch a Palestinian state.

The Palestinian Authority’s three-year development plan, obtained by Reuters, requires 1.467 billion dollars this year, 1.754 billion dollars in 2012 and 1.596 billion dollars for 2013.

“We have distributed the plan to the donors and they have welcomed it,” Palestinian Planning Minister Ali al-Jarbawi said

The plan will be presented formally to donor countries at a pledging conference in June, he said.

Palestinian leaders plan to ask the United Nations General Assembly in September to recognize a Palestinian state in all the lands Israel occupied in 1967.

Israel has warned that unilateral moves cannot replace a negotiated peace agreement, but the Palestinians say nearly two decades of talks have failed to give them a state.

The United Nations, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have praised Fayyad’s drive over the past two years to establish the institutions and attributes of a modern state in time for the General Assembly meeting in September.

“The journey has been long and arduous, but the end is now in sight. We are now in home stretch to freedom,” Fayyad says in the introduction to the plan. “Now it is time for us to be the masters of our own destiny in a state of our own.”

The plan says “the next three years will witness a transformation in the nature of external aid from ‘life support’ to real investment in the future of Palestine”.

It calls for an economy led by the private sector, reducing government’s recurrent expenditure while increasing development spending.

It says GDP growth is expected to reach nine percent this year, rising to 10 percent in 2012 and 12 percent in 2013. Unemployment is projected to decline from 25 percent in 2009 to 15 percent in 2013.

The fiscal framework projects 16 percent annualized growth in revenue over the three years, with total net revenues exceeding 2 billion dollars in 2011 and well above 3 billion dollars in 2013, due to an increase in tax revenues.

The development plan’s inclusion of the Gaza Strip ignores the fact that it is currently under the control of Hamas. The Islamist movement took over the strip in 2007, and refuses to recognize the existence of the State of Israel.

Hamas and the more moderate West Bank-based PA have not cooperated in the past, however, some steps have been taken in recent months to increase dialogue between the two groups. No concrete progress has been reported as of yet, and Prime Minister Netanyahu has made it clear that Israel will not negotiate with a joint PA-Hamas government.

The document called for a withdrawal of Israel from the West Bank, saying “development of vast areas of West Bank land, isolated and damaged by the occupation, will also require sustained effort and investment for many years to come”

Israel has said that only a negotiated treaty to establish a Palestinian state living in peace with Israelis can resolve the Middle East conflict. However, talks hit a standstill in September after Israel resumed building in the West Bank after a 9 month settlement freeze.

(ww.haaretz.com / 13.04.2011)

US public supports Palestine statehood

The Israeli government is so frightened by the prospect of a Palestinian declaration of statehood that it is considering withdrawing its troops from the West Bank [Reuters]

It becomes clearer every day that Binyamin Netanyahu’s government is terrified by the prospect that the Palestinians are planning to unilaterally declare a state later this year. In fact, it is safe to say that no other proposed Palestinian action has ever shaken up any Israeli government the way that the idea of a unilateral declaration has.

According to Haaretz, Prime Minister Netanyahu is so frightened at the prospect of a Palestinian declaration that he is considering withdrawing Israeli forces (not settlers, of course) from the West Bank as an inducement to prevent the Palestinians from acting:

Netanyahu is weighing a withdrawal of Israel Defence Forces troops from the West Bank and a series of other measures to block the “diplomatic tsunami” that may follow international recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders at the United Nations General Assembly in September.

Netanyahu’s fear is well-placed. Here is Haaretz newspaper columnist Ari Shavit describing what would follow a unilateral Palestinian declaration:

At that moment, every Israeli apartment in Jerusalem’s French Hill neighbourhood will become illegal. Every military base in the West Bank will be contravening the sovereignty of an independent UN member state. The Palestinians will not be obligated to accept demilitarisation and peace and to recognise the occupation.

That is true. But it is also true that an internationally recognised Palestinian state, with a flag flying at the United Nations, would level the playing field for negotiations.

Ever since Israeli-Palestinian negotiations began in 1993, they have been fundamentally unbalanced. On one side is the most powerful military force in the Middle East, backed to the hilt by the United States. On the other is a stateless people who control no territory, have no military, and are barely surviving economically.

That would change once a Palestinian state is declared. Of course, that new state would be weak and vulnerable, but it would have international law on its side, just as Israel does within the pre-1967 borders.

Diplomatically, the two sides would finally be equal; negotiations between the two sides would be government-to-government, not between a powerful state and a supplicant.

Negotiations would have to take place simply because a Palestinian declaration does not, in and of itself, resolve such issues as mutual security, refugees, Jerusalem, and the rest. It simply ensures that such negotiations would, at long last, be serious.

Of course, a September declaration is no done deal. The Palestinians will first need to achieve unity so that the Palestinian state includes both the West Bank and Gaza.

Although the International Monetary Fund now says that the West Bank alone already could constitute a viable Palestinian state, that is true only economically and not politically. A viable Palestinian state must include Gaza and be contiguous.

Palestinian unity will be difficult to achieve for many reasons, including the deep personal animosity between the leaders of Hamas and Fatah, the two rival Palestinian factions.

An important first step toward unity would be for Hamas to adhere to a full cease-fire with Israel starting now (the last thing the Palestinian Authority wants is to declare a state that is at war with Israel).

In fact, during the past week Hamas has been sending feelers to Israel about ending the violence between the two sides, which Israel has ignored.

It is not that Israel wants the strikes and counter-strikes to continue, it is that Netanyahu and company understand that a permanent cease-fire will foster the Palestinian unity necessary for a declaration of statehood.

In fact, it is beginning to appear that preventing a unilateral declaration is Israel’s primary diplomatic goal, one that informs all its policies relating to Palestinians. (For their part, Palestinians view Israel’s nervousness about the prospect of a declaration as confirmation that it is precisely the right strategy to achieve a state and peace with Israel.)

Of course, the Obama administration is likely to do everything it can to thwart the Palestinians’ plans. AIPAC is already working on congressional letters calling on Obama to stop the declaration and, no doubt, an overwhelming majority of the House and Senate will sign on. (The 2012 election is looming and candidates and incumbents are highly focused on fundraising.)

The good news is that the United States cannot use its veto to prevent Palestinian recognition by the United Nations. For Palestine, as for Israel in 1947, it is the General Assembly that confers statehood and not the Security Council. The administration would have to use the other tools in its kit to thwart the declaration; it has no veto.

On the other hand, maybe, just maybe, the administration will recognise that a unilateral declaration of statehood could be the one device that would achieve its oft-stated goal in the Middle East: “two states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side in peace and security”.

American support for Palestinian state

The American people seem to be getting it. According to a poll released on Monday by the right-wing Israel Project, only 51 per cent of Americans oppose a unilateral Palestinian declaration of independence. Fifty four per cent favour a Palestinian state achieved through negotiations.

For those familiar with polling on matters relating to Israelis and Palestinians, the results are startling. The percentage of support for the Israeli position is usually in the high 70s, while support for the Palestinians is in the teens. Suddenly there is a major shift, and this in a poll sponsored by an organisation that clearly did not want to see findings like these.

Perhaps the Obama administration will come around too.

The United States should support the unilateral declaration of a Palestinian state, followed by serious negotiations. The alternative has been tried over and over again and it always fails.

Why not try something that may actually achieve peace and security for two peoples who, like everyone else, are entitled to it?

It is time for President Obama to deliver on the promise he made in Cairo to use his authority not to defend the deadly status quo but to end it.

(english.aljazeera.net / 13.04.2011)

EU grants Palestinian produce duty-free access

EU foreign policy chief Ashton announces deal during Brussels meeting with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Fayyad.

The European Union announced Wednesday it would grant duty-free access to produce from the West Bank and the Gaza strip in a bid to support Palestinian state building.

The deal was announced during a visit by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was in Brussels for a meeting with international donors.

“Facilitating Palestinian trade is a crucial element of the state building process which the EU is supporting both politically and financially,” EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said in a statement.

The EU said the agreement would be valid immediately and would apply for 10 years to “all agricultural products, processed agricultural products and fish and fishery products” except fruit and vegetables, which would be subject to a duty if their price was below a set level.

(www.haaretz.com / 13.04.2011)

Swiss court: Ban on anti-Israel signs violates free speech

Swiss train service is ordered to allow signs that claim ‘Israel was established with violence on Palestinian land’

A Swiss court has ordered the state’s national train service, the SBB, to allow a pro-Palestinian group to hang anti-Israeli posters in Zurich’s central train station, the Swiss newspaper Tages Anzeiger reported on Tuesday.

Members of the Palestine Solidarity Action first attempted to hang controversial posters in several locations within the station in 2009, but were ordered by the station’s management to take them down after three days.

The posters appeared to argue against Israel’s right to exist. “Sixty-one years of Israel, 61 years of injustice,” the sign read.

“A country without a people did not exist in the Middle East for the people without a country,” it claimed. “Israel was established with violence on Palestinian land. The injustice demands resistance!”

After being banned from hanging up their materials, the group appealed to the Federal Administrative Court in Berne, claiming that the measure violates their freedom of speech.

Sensitive issue

Tages Atnzeir reported that the court has sided with the plaintiff in the case, and ordered the train service to allow the movement to distribute their materials. The SBB can appeal the ruling, but it is unclear whether it will do so.

According to the report, The Swiss train service argued in court that its policy prohibits the distribution of materials on sensitive foreign affairs issues. The court rejected the claim, stating that a train station is a public place and as such, it is a place for the exchange of opinions. By banning the posters, the judges asserted, the station prevented the citizens from being exposed to different opinions on international affairs.

Moreover, the court concluded that the content of the signs does not endanger the public, does not include graphic pictures, and does not incite to violence or other illegal activity. “Resistance does not mean violence,” they said.

The judges further determined that the posters were removed after hanging for three days, during which demonstrations did not erupt and the trains service was not disrupted.

(www.ynetnews.com / 13.04.2011)