Belgian Trade Delegation to Israel Cancelled

The trade mission would have taken place from the 8th to the 11th of December, will not go forward, due to criticism from the political opposition and several activist organizations, leading to its discontinuation, the Palestine News Network (PNN) reported.

The delegation would have consisted of representatives from the Walloon and Brussels governments, which are separate political entities in Belgium, and numerous companies from the respective regions.

The Walloon government had already withdrawn from the delegation at an earlier stage, but now the Brussels government has done the same, effectively leaving the rest of the mission without political representation.

In the last couple of weeks, the general criticism towards the trade mission has grown. Specifically Israel’s disregard for international agreements concerning the blockade of the Gaza Strip, sparked the opposition’s distaste for the mission.

“We’re talking about participating in the Israeli colonization policy,”

said Stéphanie Koplowicz, member of the Flemish left-wing PVDA-party.

“The UN Human Rights Comittee has complained that over 200 companies do business in these illegal settlements. Does the government want to encourage Brussels’ companies to participate in this?”

Violations of the Geneva Convention

Former Belgian prime minister, Elio Di Rupo, of the Walloon socialist Party stated that the reason for the withdrawal from the trade mission was

“the lack of progress in the peace process, the lack of progress on the ground and the violations of important parts of the Geneva Convention by Israel”.

The Brussels government is now following this line of reasoning.

Joel Rubinfeld, a former leader of Belgian Jewry and president of the Belgian League Against Anti-Semitism, said the move was discriminatory in light of Belgium’s trade relations with nations accused of major human rights violations, including Iran and China.

Companies who were going to partake in the mission can still travel to the Middle-East on their own, however, they will have to cover their own expenses.

(Source / 07.12.2019)

International support growing for BDS Movement, supporting Palestine

PALESTINOW.COM — European Union (EU) countries’ are taking steps towards boycotting the Israeli apartheid system, using its legal, legislative and parliamentary institutions to oppose the occupation, Palestine News Network reported.

The EU condemned the Trump administration’s positions and policies carried out in the Palestinian Territories, occupied by Israel since 1967, especially in Jerusalem regarding the Israeli settlements, and the two-state solution.

Within this context, the EU’s Supreme Court has approved labeling Israeli goods produced in settlements built in the Palestinian territories, and exported to the EU. It should also be noted that the EU always asserts that settlements are “illegal, and are an obstacle for achieving peace.”

At the international level, events and activities highlighted the growing international determination to end the Israeli occupation, condemning its ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people, as well as its denial of their legitimate rights recognized by many UN resolutions.

Within the framework, Harvard Law School students left a conference hall in New York soon after the Israeli Consul, Danny Dayan, started his speech about the legality of the Israeli settlements.

A video was aired showing the students leaving the hall, but the students went on their stand of solidarity outside the hall, holding up banners that read “Israeli settlements are illegal”, and “settlements are war crimes.”

In Canada, scores of students and demonstrators, in solidarity with Palestinian, protested at the York University Campus in Toronto, as it hosted Israeli Occupation Army’s reservist soldiers, who came to talk about their experiences while serving in the Army. They also organized campaign anti-hosting such soldiers, and chanted slogans such as “no for hosting killers,” and “Free Palestine.”

In Switzerland, the Algerian National Deaf Team withdrew from the International Futsal Championship, held in Switzerland vis-a-vis the Israeli Occupation National Team, stressing that Algerians reject normalization of relations with Israel.

In Turkey, former UN rapporteur in Palestine, Richard Falk announced the formation of an international coalition to encounter and dismantle the Israeli apartheid system in the Palestinian Territories, using all possible legal means, including boycott activities.

In the Netherlands, the Dutch government announced in Parliament that it would continue to carry out the European policy of labeling the Israeli settlements’ goods, in line with the Luxemburg Court of Justice’s resolution.

In Sweden, the new Foreign Minister, Anne Linda, said that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement is a legitimate movement, and that her country’s government “doesn’t see a similarity between its activities and any other activities of anti-Semitism.” Stating that BDS is a non-violent movement concerned with human rights, democracy, freedom of expression, and ending occupation.

In the US, 107 lawmakers of the democratic members at the US House of Representatives signed a petition calling on Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo to reverse the decision to legalize Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

The petition came days after Pompeo’s announcement that his country no longer considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank to violate the International Law.
Lawmakers expressed their strong rejection of the State Department’s decision.

Within the same context, 5 EU countries rejected the new American position on Israeli settlements; France, Germany, Britain, Belgium and Poland in a joint statement, made it clear that “every settlement activity is illegal under international law, undermining the possibility of a two-state solution, and the prospect of lasting peace. Thus, we call on Israel to ban all settlement activities.”

Moreover, a recent poll on the BDS movement showed that, most democrats view it as a legitimate movement, with aims to pressure Israel to comply with international resolutions and laws, to stop settlements and end the Israeli occupation of Palestine.

Israeli Authorities deported director of Human Rights Watch, Omar Shaker from Israel and the Palestinian territories, claiming that he is pro-BDS and participates in its anti-Israel activities.

In Palestine, the Luxembourg Court of Justice’s resolution to label Israeli settlements’ goods, was considered to be a victory to be added to a series of moral attitudes that support the legitimate national rights of the Palestinian people, and dismiss the Israeli claims.

In its weekly report, the National Bureau for Defending the Land and Resisting Settlements welcomed the Luxembourg Court of Justice’s resolution on the legality of the labeling Israeli settlements’ goods, which were established in the Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in 1967.

The Bureau described the resolutions as a long-awaited moral victory, as a result of hard-work and formidable efforts, led by BDS in the EU countries to isolate the Israeli apartheid system in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

Likewise, the Palestinian National Boycott Committee and BDS’ leadership worldwide welcomed the decision approved by the newly elected Oslo City’s Council led by the Socialist Left Party -SV- and the Labor and Green parties, to ban Israeli settlement goods and services.

(Source / 06.12.2019)

‘Israel’ to “economically” target intl pro-Palestine activists

Occupied Palestine (QNN)- New Israeli Minister of war, Naftali Bennet, ordered on Tuesday to “economically” target international pro-Palestine activists under the pretext of supporting the resistance, according to Israeli Channel 12.

According to a statement published on the Israeli channel, several international human rights activists, who are allegedly working for the resistance, will be targeted and prevented from using their properties in occupied Palestine and other countries.

Bennet said the decision is the first of a series of other future decisions that aim at sanctioning the activists. The occupation state will soon publish a list of the targeted activists.

Among the targeted activists, Muhammad Heresh, leader of the Arab Organisation for Human Rights (AOHR UK) in UK, who was expelled by the Israelis to Lebanon in 1992 then he moved to the United Kingdom. The Israelis claim that Heresh is Hamas member and that his NGO serves the interests of Hamas.

(Source / 03.12.2019)

Israel is concerned about potential EU court’s ruling to label settlement products

A tourist photographs a sign painted on a wall in the West Bank biblical town of Bethlehem on June 5, 2015, calling to boycott Israeli products coming from Jewish settlements [THOMAS COEX/AFP/Getty Images]

A tourist photographs a sign painted on a wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on 5 June 2015, calling to boycott Israeli products coming from Jewish settlements

Israel is worried about the potential European Court of Justice’s (ECJ) binding ruling to label products of illegal Israeli settlements built in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Golan HeightsIsrael Hayom reported on Friday.

According to the Israeli newspaper, the ECJ is expected to issue its final ruling on a request from France’s top tribunal on the issue, on 12 November.

The Israeli newspaper disclosed that the ECJ is likely to rule that goods imported from Israeli settlements must be labelled as such, noting that the ruling would be non-appealable and would be legally binding for all EU member states.

In order to fight this measure, the newspaper reported officials from the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that it had ordered Israeli diplomats in Europe to increase their diplomatic efforts against this potential ruling.

According to an Israeli official, “this ruling will be a boon for BDS. We know that they are following this with great interest.”

Meanwhile, the newspaper revealed that the Israeli ambassadors and consuls were asked to reiterate that labelling settlement goods “will do nothing to promote the Israeli-Palestinian peace process,”  and is a move likely to encourage consumer boycotts.

While, the Israeli Foreign Ministry sent a memo to its diplomats in Europe, stating that “any ECJ ruling to that effect will be morally and ethically wrong.”

The memo also stressed that a ruling of this kind “would undermine the EU’s own policy that only direct negotiations [between Israel and the Palestinians] will lead to a mutually agreed and viable solution.”

It warned that this ruling would “encourage those who are undermining Israel’s legitimacy and promoting boycotts against it,” adding that implementing this ruling “will have a negative effect on Israel’s relations with the EU and its member states.”

The newspaper also reported an Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs source stating that Israel is waiting for the final decision “because the wording itself could have serious and important implications.”

“If it has a general wording that does not specify exactly how the product labelling directive should be enforced, then we will have some leeway,” the source affirmed. “If the guidelines are detailed, this will be a serious blow as all EU member-states are bound by it,” he explained.

(Source / 09.11.2019) 

Israel allocates $575,000 to organisations fighting BDS

This is part of initiative launched last year by the ministry to donate NIS6 million ($1,719,789) to fight BDS all over the world

Israeli ministry for strategic affairs announced on Wednesday it would allocate NIS2 million ($575,000) to fund organisations active in the fight against BDS.

The funds will be used to produce and promote viral videos on social media to help increase familiarity with the Israeli occupation state, defame the BDS and mobilise other pro-Israel activists to fight those who boycott it.

According to Israeli media, the videos will be produced in English, French, Spanish, Portuguese, German and several other languages.

“This is another important step to assist Israeli advocacy in the world,” Minister for Strategic Affairs Gilad Erdan said in a statement.

“We will continue to present the just truth about Israel, and fight the lies and incitement of BDS organisations,” Erdan added.

The move is part of an initiative launched last year by the ministry of strategic affairs to donate NIS 6 million ($1,719,789) to pro-Israel organisations which fight BDS all over the world.

(Source / 07.11.2019) 


Occupied Palestine (QNN)- The Israeli Supreme Court upheld the expulsion of Human Rights Watch representative in the occupation state and Palestine, Omar Shakir, accused by the Israelis of supporting the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, on Tuesday.

The unanimous three-judge decision supporting the Israeli government’s move ruled that the interior minister did not err in deciding not to renew the activist’s residency.

It will now be up to the Israeli government whether to follow through and deport Shakir, who brands the move a bid by ‘Israel’ to silence and delegitimise critics of its treatment of Palestinians.

“If it proceeds, I have 20 days to leave and it’ll join ranks of Iran, North Korea & Egypt in blocking access for HRW official,” Shakir tweeted after the decision was announced, referring to ‘Israel’, which has sought to expel him for more than a year.

Omar Shakir @OmarSShakir  

Breaking: Israeli Supreme Court upholds my deportation over my rights advocacy. Decision now shifts back to Israeli gov; if it proceeds, I have 20 days to leave & it’ll join ranks of Iran, N Korea & Egypt in blocking access for @hrw official. We wont stop. And we wont be the last …Human Rights Watch @hrw 

Countries like Sudan, Iran, North Korea, and Egypt have barred @HRW. Is this a club that Israel wants to join?

Former Israeli diplomats, rabbis, activists, and members of Congress have asked Israel not to deport @omarsshakir … #DeportingRights

Embedded video

77210:50 AM – Nov 5, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy

Michael Sfard, one of Shakir’s attorneys, said of the decision: “Today, the State of Israel joined the list of countries like Syria, Iran and North Korea, which have expelled Human Rights Watch representatives in an attempt to silence criticism of human rights violations taking place within their borders.”

The Israeli Interior Minister Arye Dery, for his part, said he welcomed the court’s decision, saying that “anyone who works against the state should know that we will not allow him to live or work here.”

The Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor condemned the decision and the Israeli policy targeting human rights activists and organizations

Euro-Med Monitor @EuroMedHR  

Moments ago, Israel’s Supreme Court decided to uphold the deportation of @OmarSShakir, @HRW‘s Israel and Palestine Director.

We strongly condemn #Israel‘s systematic policy of cracking down on Human Right’s activists and institutions whose vital role should rather be commended.

View image on Twitter

812:04 PM – Nov 5, 2019Twitter Ads info and privacy

This would be the first expulsion of its kind under a 2017 law allowing the deportation of foreigners who support boycotting Israel, though there have been cases of people being denied entry under the measure.

The BDS movement – Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions – calls for a boycott of Israel over its treatment of Palestinians.

‘Israel’ sees the movement as a strategic threat as it supports Palestinian refugees’ right to go back to their homeland, which the occupation state deems an existential threat.

(Source / 05.11.2019) 

Norway’s capital Oslo bans Israel settlement goods, services

Oslo City Council building

Oslo’s newly installed City Council is banning Israeli settlement goods and services from public contracts, reported the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) National Committee.

Norway’s capital and largest city has become the sixth Norwegian municipality to ban settlement goods and services, along with one county council.

In their 2019-2023 plan, the Socialist Left, Green and Labour parties commit to ensuring that public procurement does not include “goods and services produced on territory occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power.”

The ban on settlement products and services does not distinguish between Israeli and international corporations that operate in Israel’s illegal settlements.

The resolution called on Israel to “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including Ease Jerusalem, and that it fully respects all of its legal obligations in this regard.”

READ: Israel’s top court rejects petition seeking disclosure over government’s anti-BDS efforts

Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip in the Six-Day War in 1967.

Last week, the UN independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories, Michael Lynk, called for an international ban on all Israeli settlement products, as a step towards ending Israel’s 52-year-old illegal occupation.

Sunniva Eidsvoll, leader of the Oslo chapter of the Socialist Left Party, said: “The Palestinian people, who have to deal with the illegal occupation of their territory every single day, deserve international attention and support.”

“It is a shared global responsibility to help ensure that human rights and international law are not violated. I am proud that the Oslo City Council is now taking steps to prevent goods and services purchased by the city from supporting an illegal occupation of Palestine or other territories.”

The Socialist Left Party of Norway has been a long-time supporter of the BDS movement.

The recent ban on Israeli settlement products came with a declaration by the Oslo City Council that it is committed to “investigating the scope of action in the procurement regulations to not trade goods and services produces on territory occupied in violation of international law by companies operating under the permission of the occupying power.”

READ: Episcopal Church in America boycotts pro-Israeli companies

(Source / 29.10.2019) 


By Ben Jamal

Recently, Israel announced that it intends to revoke the residency rights of Omar Barghouti – a Palestinian human rights defender and co-founder of the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. The lack of international response speaks to the extent to which Israel’s violation of fundamental democratic norms has become normalised and not led to any re-evaluation of its standard characterisation as a functioning liberal democracy.

Omar Barghouti has enjoyed permanent residency status in Israel since 1993. Since he came to prominence in 2005 as a co-founder of the BDS movement he has had his rights and freedoms routinely denied. In 2016 Israel’s intelligence minister threatened him with “targeted civil elimination”, a statement described by Amnesty International as alarming. Since then he has been subjected to regular restrictions to his freedom of movement including in Autumn 2018 when he was denied permission to travel to Amman to attend his late mother’s funeral.

These attacks are just one manifestation of Israel’s intensifying war on BDS. The BDS movement seeks to apply non-violent tactics against the Israeli state until it complies with international law by ending the occupation, recognising the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel and upholding Palestinian refugees’ fundamental right to return to the homes from which they were expelled. Ever since its inception, the Israeli state has sought to delegitimise and even criminalise the movement.

Internally, this has meant the passing of Israel’s “Anti-Boycott Law” in 2011, which means that individuals or organisations who endorse a call to use BDS tactics against Israel are liable to have legal action brought against them. It also stipulates that Israeli businesses that publicly choose not to purchase goods from occupied Palestinian land are liable to have their state-sponsored benefits revoked.

In 2015 the Israeli government branded BDS a “strategic threat” to the state, and appointed Gilad Erdan as Minister of Strategic Affairs with a brief to coordinate global efforts to oppose BDS. Since then, the Netanyahu regime has significantly ramped up its attempts to suppress the movement. This has included passing a law in 2017 barring supporters of BDS from entering the country, with Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s then chair Hugh Lanning being the first to be denied entry under the legislation. The law was controversially used against US Congresswomen Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib in August of this year.

On top of a repressive domestic agenda, Israel has invested resources into developing “lawfare” strategy whereby global allies can be persuaded to introduce repressive anti BDS laws. More than 20 US states have passed bills and orders that penalise support for BDS. In France in 2010 the Justice Minister issued an instruction to state authorities to consider calls for boycott illegal, citing an obscure law passed in 1881. This has led to more than 30 activists being charged with criminal activity for participating in BDS actions. Here in the UK in 2017 the UK government passed regulations that prevented Local Government Pension Schemes from divesting from companies complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses; regulations that Palestine Solidarity Campaign has challenged in the courts with a final determination to be reached by the Supreme Court in November.

A key tactic in this global campaign has been to seek to define BDS as an inherently antisemitic enterprise. Earlier this year, the German Parliament passed a resolution defining BDS in this way, a move which was applauded by the UK’s Foreign Secretary. Citing the resolution, the German city of Dortmund a few weeks ago withdrew its decision to award Pakistani British author Kamila Shamsie a literature prize, after finding out that the writer has supported BDS – a move which drew outrage and condemnation across the world.

Israel’s use of antidemocratic measures to silence dissent is not only directed at those advocating BDS. It has more broadly targeted human rights defenders; restricting their freedom of movement and deploying tactics of violence and intimidation.

A recent UN survey of global treatment of human rights defenders found that Israel “regularly bars activists, journalists, and protestors from travelling into Israel and the OPT, limiting the ability of local defenders from participating in the global discussion of human rights. The administrative detention that is often associated with restricting (and ultimately deporting) defenders has been described by defenders as amounting to cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment”. Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch have had staff refused entry or ordered to leave Israel in the past two years. Last month staff at the Palestinian NGO Addameer, which advocates for Palestinian prisoners, were subjected to an unannounced overnight office raid by Israeli forces, described by Amnesty International as “chilling” and a demonstration of Israel’s “determination to crush peaceful activism”.

Furthermore, in 2016 Israel introduced the controversial “NGO Transparency Law”. This law requires NGOs registered in Israel that receive 50% or more of their funding from foreign government entities to report to the NGO registrar and to mention such funding in all their official letters and publications, with failure to do so resulting in large fines. The International Federation for Human Rights argued at the time that this law would “in effect discriminatingly target non-governmental organisations (NGOs) critical of government policy and in particular human rights NGOs, which receive a majority of their funding from foreign governments”.

By all of these measures Israel fails crucial tests of a liberal democracy. The call for BDS is at its core a response to this reality that Israel, far from being a state upholding liberal democratic norms, is a state employing increasingly repressive laws within the context of an institutionalised system of discrimination.

Such states must be held to account – not enabled – by the international community, yet the UK government is in fact lending its support to the crackdown on human rights campaigners. Last month, UK Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick wrote that he would not tolerate local authority approved BDS campaigns in the UK. Just a few days later, it was reported that the UK Home Office had unjustifiably delayed Omar Barghouti’s travel visa to the UK, thus preventing him from speaking at fringe events of Labour Party Conference.

Omar Barghouti has now belatedly been granted his visa, and Palestine Solidarity Campaign will host him in the New Year including at meetings in the UK Parliament. His key message will be that which is at the heart of the BDS call – that it is incumbent upon international bodies, including governments, not to be complicit in supporting Israel’s ongoing denial of Palestinian collective rights. These include the right to bring the facts of their oppression into the public domain and to campaign for non violent resistance to the injustices to which they are subject.

Israel’s war against BDS and all of those defending Palestinian rights draws upon a strategy of delegitimisation. Israel believes it can persuade the world that the BDS movement is an attempt to undermine a liberal democracy from motivations rooted in bigotry. To win this argument it needs to persuade progressive world opinion of its own democratic credentials. But given its authoritarian approach to those who seek to reveal its human rights abuses, it will and must ultimately fail.

(Source / 29.10.2019) 


Cairo (QNN)- The Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement in Egypt said today that activist Muhammad Jaber Masri, who has been forcibly disappeared for 20 days, appeared among dozens of journalists and political activists before the Egyptian Public Prosecutor, who accused him of publishing false News.

Masri was kidnapped from his workplace following anti-regime protests last month. He was forcibly hidden in violation of the Egyptian and international laws.

The BDS movement in Egypt called on the Egyptian authorities to immediately release Masri and drop all the groundless charges, which were fabricated for him.

“We hold the Ministry of Interior responsible for the safety of Muhammad Masri, who has been defending the Palestinian cause and his beliefs with all his might”.

Masri is the second BDS activist to be arrested by the Sisi regime. In last June, the Egyptian authorities kidnapped Rami Shaath, BDS coordinator, from his house in Cairo without any legal document or charges.

Shaath’s wife, French national, was deported from the country while the authorities continue to hold Shaath without any charges.

(Source / 28.10.219) 


United Nations (QNN)- The UN independent expert on human rights in the Palestinian territories has called for an international ban on all products made in Israeli settlements as a step to potentially ending Israel’s illegal occupation.

Michael Lynk told the General Assembly’s human rights committee that the international community should also issue a “clarion call to the United Nations” to complete and release a database “on businesses engaged in activities related to the illegal settlements.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry declined to comment.

Lynk said the international community has a responsibility and a legal obligation to compel Israel to completely end its occupation and remove barriers to self-determination for the Palestinians.

Israel opposes the Palestinian-led international boycott movement, which it views as an attack on its existence.

Supporters of the boycott say it is a non-violent way of protesting against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians.

Lynk also pointed to the severe humanitarian crisis in Gaza, which he called “a human-made catastrophe” and “an injustice that should be near the top of the world’s agenda to end”.

Lynk said the economic situation there “continues to move from dire to acute to unimaginable”, with over half of Gaza’s population “food insecure”, the unemployment rate over 50 percent, and 70 percent of Gazans younger than 30 without work.

He also noted that hundreds of Palestinian peaceful protesters were killed while 33,000 were wounded in the weekly protests. Even so, the occupation state continues to kill and maim Palestinians due to the lack of accountability.

“Israel has demonstrated virtually no accountability to address these actions,” Lynk said.

Lynk, who is a Canadian law professor, said Israel’s occupation of territory the Palestinians want for their own state has been characterised by numerous and serious violations of international law, but “the international community has displayed great unwillingness to impose any meaningful accountability on Israel”.

“No occupation in the modern world,” Lnyk said, “has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the occupier’s obvious and well-signalled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well-informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it to employ the tangible and plentiful legal and political tools at its disposal to end the injustice.”

He called for “bold measures and the determination to enforce accountability,” starting with an international agreement on “a complete ban on the export of all products made in the illegal Israeli settlements in the world market”.

“Accountability is the key to unlocking the titanium cage that is the endless occupation,” he said. “Now is the time for the international community to turn the key,” he added.

(Source / 26.10.2019)