How Greece abandoned Palestine

Once a champion of Palestinian rights, Greece is now being protested for thwarting the Freedom Flotilla II.

When Andreas Papandreou died in 1996, The New York Times noted that he often left Western governments “befuddled or exasperated” as he took positions “diametrically opposed to theirs.” Citing examples of his “maverick” behavior, the paper’s obituary referred to how the Greek prime minister granted diplomatic status to the Palestine Liberation Organization in 1981, the year he first took office (“Andreas Papandreou, Greek leftist who admired and annoyed US dies at 77,” 24 June 1996).

Like most political leaders, Papandreou was a man of contradictions. He professed to despise American imperialism, while allowing the United States retain military bases on Greek soil. Yet he deserves some posthumous acclaim for saluting the PLO when it was still a genuine resistance movement and for criticizing Israel more trenchantly than any of his counterparts in the then European Community.

In recent times, the current Greek premier George Papandreou has acted as if he wishes to totally negate his father’s legacy. No doubt, Greece’s refusal to allow the Freedom Flotilla II to set sail for Gaza was partly the result of pressure — and possibly even financial blackmail — from the US and Israel. Nonetheless, it was not an isolated occurrence but the logical consequence of a process that was already underway.

Greece-Israel relations thaw

In July 2010, Papandreou junior visited Israel barely one month after the assault on the Mavi Marmara, in which nine Turkish peace activists (one also a US citizen) were murdered by Israeli forces. As an immediate response to that massacre, Greece called a halt to a joint military training exercise then being undertaken with Israel off the island of Crete (“World in shock at deadly Gaza ship raid,” Ynet, 31 May 2010). But Papandreou had no qualms about going ahead with his trip to Israel as planned.

Israel was swift to reciprocate. In August last year, Benjamin Netanyahu became the first Israeli prime minister to visit Greece. Netanyahu reportedly used the occasion to recommend that the two countries be connected by a gas pipeline (““Netanyahu offers natural gas to Greece,” Haaretz, 29 August 2010).

It is not known whether the two men discussed how the Leviathan gas field — the source of the energy on Netanyahu’s radar screen at the time — is located off the Lebanese coast and how Israel’s exploitation of its reserves could spark a new conflict with Lebanon (“Gas field threatens fresh Lebanon-Israel dispute,” The Financial Times, 16 July 2010).

It is known, however, that both Israel and Greece continue to strengthen their military cooperation. The operation that was stopped at the time of the Mavi Marmara bloodbath, codenamed Minoas 2010, was in fact resumed in October last year. US-manufactured Apache and Black Hawk helicopters were used in the exercise, which tested out landing and take-off procedures in mountainous areas and under several different weather conditions (“Greece, Israel wind up military exercise,” Huerriyet, 15 October 2010).

In December, Flight International stated that there had been at least four such exercises between Greece and Israel over the preceding few months (“Israel steps up Greek training activities,” Flight International, 6 December 2010). This year, Greece joined Noble Dina, a decade-old US-Israeli anti-submarine exercise for the first time. The exercise took place between the island of Megisti and Haifa, a port city in Israel with a considerable Palestinian population (see note from US Navy’s Military Sealift Command, June 2011).

Friction between Greece’s historic foe Turkey and Israel have almost certainly helped the Netanyahu-Papandreou relationship to blossom. Papandreou is surely an astute enough politician to have scented an opportunity for Greece to replace Turkey as Israel’s most valued ally in the Mediterranean. The similarities in the men’s backgrounds could well be another factor. Both were educated at highly-regarded universities in the US (Papandreou at Harvard, Netanyahu at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology) and despite heading parties that are nominally different in ethos, both are heavily influenced by US politics and culture.

NATO exercises bring Greece, Israel together

Perhaps more significantly, the recent intensification of relations has followed several years where the two countries have worked alongside each other under the umbrella of NATO. That US-dominated alliance has formed a ring around the entire Mediterranean. Almost every country bordering that sea is either a full member of NATO or has signed up to its Orwellian-titled Partnership for Peace.

Even though there appears to be no imminent prospect of Israel joining NATO, its ties to the alliance have grown exponentially over the past decade. An Israeli-NATO agreement on sharing intelligence was signed in April 2001. Five years later, Israel reached agreement on implementing an “individual cooperation program” with NATO. Updated in December 2008, the agreement paved the way for a high number of joint operations between it and the alliance. Greece has been involved too in most, if not all, of these operations. In 2007, for example, Greek warships took part in drills in Eilat, a port in Israel on the Red Sea (“Israel: Global NATO’s 29th Member,” OpEdNews, 22 January 2010).

Both Greece and Israel are also participating in Active Endeavor, a NATO-coordinated exercise under which ships patrol the Mediterranean. That operation was, according to the official narrative, launched in response to the 11 September 2001 atrocities in the US. But in practice its remit has expanded beyond keeping a watch out for potential “terrorist” activity on the waves. In particular, it has been used as part of a repressive agenda of helping prevent foreigners who seek to flee poverty from reaching Europe (“Active Endeavor ships assist Greece in illegal immigration operation,” NATO statement, 25 March 2006).

In March, Active Endeavor’s scope was further broadened during preparations for the war against Libya. A 24-hour airborne surveillance system was put in place as part of the ongoing operation (“NATO increases airborne surveillance in the Mediterranean,” NATO statement, 9 March 2011). Despite its severe economic problems, Greece has provided a number of warplanes and ships to that war effort, in which NATO has availed of at least seven Greek airfields (“NATO Operation Unified Protector against Libya making use of Greek Bases in Crete, the Peloponnese,” BalkanAnalysis, 31 March 2011).

Meanwhile, the solidity of Israel’s links to NATO were underscored shortly before Gabi Ashkenazi stepped down as head of the Israeli military in February. Ashkenazi — who oversaw Operation Cast Lead in winter 2008-09, during which more than 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza were killed — advised NATO strategists on what tactics should be used against Afghanistan. He was also treated to a farewell dinner in his honor at the Brussels residence of Giampaolo Di Paolo, chairman of NATO’s military committee (“Security challenges to be addressed by Lt Gen Ashkenazi at NATO conference,” Israeli military statement, 25 January 2011).

On a proportionate basis, Greece is one of Europe’s largest spenders on the military, although this expenditure is being cut as part of a wider austerity drive that mainly affects vital public services. In 2009, Greece allocated 2.54 percent of its gross domestic product to military spending, the highest level in the European Union. Britain was next at 2.53 percent (“Defense spending of EDA participating states in 2009,” European Defense Agency, 31 March 2011).

Greece is known to have concluded deals with several Israeli weapons makers, although it has not published comprehensive details on such deals. In February, Evangelos Venizelos, the Greek defense minister, confirmed that “precision-guided” weapon kits known as SPICES (Smart Precise Impact and Cost Effective) were being bought from the Israeli company Rafael (“Greece adds SPICE to air force,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 10 February 2011). Elisra, a subsidiary of the leading Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit, has also supplied electronic warfare systems to the Greek air force over the past decade (“Greece to buy Elisra EW systems,” Globes, 6 January 2003).

It is true that Greece has combined its ever-tightening embrace of Israel with calls for the blockade of Gaza to be lifted (“Foreign ministry announcement regarding the intention of Greek citizens to participate in a flotilla that will attempt to break the Gaza blockade,” statement from Greek Ministry for Foreign Affairs, 22 June 2011). But it is impossible to take those calls seriously now that the Athens government has assisted Israel in hindering protest against the very same blockade.

Andreas Papandreou’s championing of Palestinian rights might have had some moral weight in the early 1980s. Three decades on, his son George has become a craven accomplice in maintaining the Israeli occupation.

(http://ht.ly/5DNEf / 14.07.2011)

Oproep manifestatie

Tijd
zondag 17 juli · 14:00 – 17:00

Locatie
Laander Nederlaandenstraat

Gemaakt door:

Beste mensen, 12 juli 2011
Değerli canlar,
Zoals u allen wellicht weten is Ihsan Gurz dood aangetroffen in zijn cel. Zijn
lichaam is afgegeven aan de familie.
Aan dit gebeurtenis is wereldwijd aandacht aan besteed door de media.
Hak-Der Alevitische Federatie heeft een manifestatie georganiseerd voor a.s.
zondag (17 juli 2011) 14.00-16.30 uur in Beverwijk.
Het adres is Laander Nederlaandenstr., Foreestpad, Willem
Alexanderplantsoen. Postcode 1945 AC Beverwijk
Het programma ziet als volgt eruit:
1) Toespraak namens fam. Gurz
2) Toespraak door Hak-Der voorzitter
3) Toespraak door comité BehakDer Beverwijk
4) 5 minuten toespraken van andere instellingen/verenigingen/​federaties
5) Rouwmuziek en klaaglied (treurzang)
6) Slot
Wij hopen dat u wilt deelnemen aan deze manifestatie!
Mochten er veranderingen plaats vinden zullen we u dit tijdig laten weten.
Met vriendelijke groet,
Secretaris Hak-Der
Recai Varli
M.Cengiz, voorzitter Hakder 06-53208121
İsmail İlhan, penningmeester Hakder 06-53986257
R.Varlı, Secretaris Hakder 06-41954124
Cantact e mail: sekreter@hakder.n

Arab League backs Palestinian bid for UN membership

Arab ministers pledge to ‘take all necessary measures’ to secure recognition of Palestinian state via appeal to security council

The Arab League has endorsed a Palestinian plan to seek full membership at the United Nations, in a move likely to lead to a confrontation with the US in the UN security council.

Negotiations with Israel on the terms of Palestinian statehood have been frozen since 2008. As an alternative the Palestinians have decided to seek UN recognition of an independent “Palestine” in the West Bank, Gaza and east Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in the 1967 six-day war.

Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Doha said they would support the Palestinian bid.

The ministers pledged in a statement to “take all necessary measures and to rally needed support of all world countries, starting with members of the security council, to recognise the state of Palestine … and to win full membership of the United Nations”.

There was no immediate official reaction from Israel or the US to the decision. However the US, one of the five permanent members of the security council, has strongly hinted it would veto a Palestinian membership request. As an alternative the Palestinians could go to the general assembly and seek recognition there as a non-member observer state, a largely symbolic nod. After Thursday’s announcement Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said the Palestinians would appeal to both bodies, beginning with the security council. “We hope the United States will not use its veto against this decision,” he said.

Taking on the US is potentially risky for the Palestinians, since Washington is the main Middle East mediator. There is already a move in Congress to cut off millions of dollars in aid if an emerging Palestinian unity government includes Hamas.

The Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, opposes a full withdrawal from the West Bank, where 300,000 Israelis have settled since 1967, and says Israel will never relinquish east Jerusalem, which he considers an integral part of the country’s capital. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005 but continues to control the territory’s borders, sea and air space.

Israel and the US say a Palestinian state should be formed through a peace deal with Israel. The latest significant round of peace talks broke down in late 2008. At the time Netanyahu’s predecessor, Ehud Olmert, and the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, had agreed on the principle of swapping some West Bank land for Israeli territory but the leaders were far apart on the extent of such a swap and other key disputes, including the fate of Jerusalem.

The Palestinians have said they will not resume talks unless Israel agrees to freeze settlement construction and accepts the pre-1967 lines as the basis of a peace deal.

(www.guardian.co.uk / 14.07.2011)

VS: Israëlische anti-boycotwet in strijd met fundamentele rechten

De nieuwe Israelische anti-boycotwet, die sancties mogelijk maken tegen mensen die oproepen tot boycots van Israël en nederzettingen op de Westbank, is in strijd met fundamentele democratische rechten.

Dat heeft het Amerikaanse ministerie van Buitenlandse Zaken in een reactie laten weten, meldt de Israëlische krant Ha’aretz. Het ministerie benadrukt echter wel dat het hier gaat om een interne Israëlische kwestie.

De wet werd gisteren met een ruime meerderheid aangenomen in de Knesset, het Israëlische parlement. De wet maakt het mogelijk dat iedere persoon of organisatie die oproept tot een boycot van Israël, dus ook de nederzettingen, aangeklaagd kunnen worden door de doelwitten van deze boycots, zonder dat de gegriefde partijen hoeven aan te tonen dat zij schade hebben opgelopen. De rechter bepaalt vervolgens of en hoeveel compensatie betaald moet worden. Personen of organisatie die een boycot hebben uitgeroepen zijn bovendien uitgesloten van opdrachten voor de Israëlische overheid.

Ook binnen Israël kan de anti-boycotwet op veel kritiek rekenen. De Israëlische burgerrechtenorganisatie de Anti-Defamation League spreekt van een beperking op de vrijheid van meningsuiting en ook verschillende politici hebben laten weten dat de wet Israël in de internationale gemeenschap in verlegenheid brengt of zelfs isoleert. In Tel Aviv demonstreerden activisten van Peace Now tegen de nieuwe wet door een boycot af te kondigen voor producten uit Israëlische nederzettingen.

(www.nrc.nl / 14.07.2011)

In West Bank, settler violence seen on the rise

HUWARA, West Bank, July 14 (Reuters) – Scorched hillsides and charred olive groves near Nablus pinpoint the latest acts of arson by hardline Jewish settlers against Palestinians who say they are ever more the victims of such attacks in the West Bank.

“The olive tree is the only source of income for farmers,” said Mohammad Zeban, a Palestinian farmer, lamenting the damage inflicted on hundreds of olive trees by a recent fire near the village of Huwara. “They want to annihilate us.”

Settler-related incidents resulting in Palestinian injuries and damage to property are up by 57 percent this year, according to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, which documents violence in the Palestinian territories.

Palestinian officials say that is a worrying sign of deepening hostility which they fear could trigger wider violence as hardline settlers increasingly appear to be a law unto themselves and frustration grows over the evaporating prospects for peace.

For Palestinians around Nablus, confrontations with ideologically-driven Israelis who have settled the area since the early 1980s have become routine in recent years. But this year has been worse than normal, say villagers.

They talk of greater numbers of settlers, more organised than before, descending from their hilltop enclaves to hurl rocks at their homes and vandalise their agricultural land.

The Palestinians usually respond with rocks, with people getting injured on both sides.

The World Court has ruled Israeli settlements in occupied territory illegal and Palestinians say the enclaves could deny them a viable state.

Among the most ideological in the West Bank, the settlers around Nablus represent a minority on the fringe of Israeli society. They are a fraction of the 500,000 settlers who today live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, occupied by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.

They see themselves as pioneers exercising a biblical birthright to the West Bank, which together with the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem is the land where Palestinians want to establish a state alongside Israel.

Often reluctant to talk to the media, they have in the past complained about attacks by Palestinians on their property.

The killing of a Jewish couple and three of their children in March at a settlement near Nablus has likely helped fuel the recent wave of attacks on Palestinians. Two Palestinian teenagers have been charged with the killings.

 

MORE PALESTINIANS INJURED THIS YEAR

Settlers also mount attacks against Palestinians in response to Israeli government measures which they deem contrary to their interests, such as the removal of West Bank outposts built without official permission.

To Palestinians, the increasing frequency and audacity of settler attacks is an inevitable result of the support their movement enjoys from a right-wing Israeli government whose foreign minister is himself a settler.

“This is a government of settlers and its programme is one of settlement. This, naturally, encourages this arrogance and these attacks,” said Maher Ghoneim, the Palestinian Authority minister who monitors Israeli settlement activities.

Palestinians have been injured by settlers this year at double the rate of 2010, he said. So far this year, 178 Palestinians have been stoned, run down or shot at by settlers, compared to a total of 176 for the whole of 2010. Three Palestinians have been killed by settlers this year.

The Israeli police and army, which control security in most of the West Bank, including all the land in and around the settlements, did not provide information requested by Reuters about the scale of violence involving settlers.

The role of Israeli security forces in dealing with settler violence is the focus of controversy.

 

LENIENCY

The Israeli human rights organisation B’Tselem says the army often does little or nothing to protect Palestinians and their property from settlers. If arrested, settlers are treated leniently by the Israeli justice system.

In footage captured by a Palestinian earlier this month with a camera provide by B’Tselem, soldiers appear to do very little to stop settlers pelting the village of Asira with rocks.

“When the village’s residents arrived and threw stones back at the settlers, the soldiers can be seen firing teargas at the Palestinians,” said Sarit Michaeli, spokeswoman for B’Tselem.

More footage captured by a Palestinian in the nearby village of Burin on June 30 shows a settler setting alight a field.

The blaze quickly spreads, tearing through wild grass dried out by the summer sun and helping to start what Palestinians said was the area’s biggest fire in more than five years. It reached adjacent Huwara.

Responding to a question from Reuters about violence that day, the Israeli army said dozens of Israeli civilians had approached Huwara, hurling rocks at security forces, confronting Palestinian villagers and lighting a number of fires.

“(Israeli army) forces began separating between the skirmishers in an attempt to prevent further clashes,” the army said in a statement. “The forces began to remove those involved from the area, and contacted the firefighting service in order to extinguish the fires in the area.”

Four Israelis and a Palestinian were detained and handed over to the police, it said.

Zeban, the Palestinian farmer, disputes the army’s account and said the security forces stopped locals from fighting the flames. He estimated his losses that day at 100 olive trees.

“What did this olive tree ever do to them?” said Zeban, as he inspected one burnt tree. A carpet of charred olive pits beneath its dead branches indicated what it would have yielded come harvest time.

“It took 20 years to grow. It will take another 20 to recover,” he said.

(www.trust.org / 14.07.2011)

Flotilla 2 : Het argument dat de blokkade legaal zou zijn is gebaseerd op de “Verklaring betreffende het zeeoorlogsrecht”

1. De bekende Amerikaanse jurist Alan Dershowitz, een fanatiek pleitbezorger van Israël heeft botweg gesteld dat “de Israëlische zeeblokkade van Gaza legaal is onder het Internationaal Recht, en dat iedereen die de blokkade probeert te doorbreken gearresteerd en vervolgd kan worden”. Dershowitz is natuurlijk geen expert Internationaal Recht. Hij heeft naam gemaakt als advocaat van moordenaars en ander gespuis (en dat maakt hem natuurlijk uitermate geschikt om voor Israël te pleiten). Dat gezegd hebbende: waarop baseert hij zijn boude beweringen?

2.Het argument dat de blokkade legaal zou zijn is gebaseerd op de “Verklaring betreffende het zeeoorlogsrecht” (Londen, 1909) en de Handleiding van San Remo over het internationaal recht dat van toepassing is op gewapende conflicten op zee (1994). Beide zijn onderdeel van een verzameling van internationale verdragen die de bepalingen van een groot deel van het Internationaal Recht herbergen. Volgens deze twee documenten mogen landen die met elkaar in oorlog zijn om militaire redenen elkaars toegang tot de zee blokkeren. Echter, elke blokkade verliest zijn legitimiteit wanneer “schade voor de burgerbevolking excessief is of zal kunnen zijn in vergelijking met het directe militaire voordeel dat van de blokkade verwacht kan worden.” Zij die de daden van Israël proberen rechtvaardigen, zoals Dershowitz, lezen de genoemde documenten meest slechts diagonaal en redeneren dat Israël in een gewapend conflict met Hamas verwikkeld is, en dat de blokkade van Gaza legaal is omdat men probeert wapenleveranties aan het getto teen te houden.

3. De gaten in deze redenering zijn groot genoeg om meerdere hulpkonvooien doorheen te laten varen (als die niet op bevel van de Zionisten vast zouden liggen in een Griekse haven). Israël ziet zichzelf namelijk niet in gewapend conflict met een andere staat. Wie daaraan twijfelt mag elk lid van de huidige Israëlische regering eens vragen of men Palestina – inclusief Gaza – kan definiëren als een staat. In werkelijkheid is de juiste definitie van Israëls aanwezigheid op de Westelijke Jordaanoever en Gaza die van een koloniale bezettingsmacht wiens beleid en activiteiten een grove schending zijn van de Conventies van Geneve. Bovenop de kolonisering van het land van Palestina en de wijze waarop de rechtmatige eigenaren van het gekoloniseerde land worden behandeld is de aanwezigheid van de Israëliërs buiten de grenzen van 1967 illegaal (en men kan zelfs debatteren of de aanwezigheid binnen de grenzen van 1967 legaal is). Degenen met wie Israël zogenaamd in een gewapend conflict is verzetten zich slechts tegen de boosaardige bezetting van hun land. Er is geen enkele internationale wet die het in vrijwel alle facetten onwettige Israël het recht geeft he, die zich rechtmatig verzetten te blokkeren. De verzetsstrijders eenzijdig bestempelen als terroristen verandert niets aan de illegaliteit van de blokkade.

4. Zoals hierboven reeds gezegd dienen ‘legale’ blokkades een militair doel te dienen en mogen ze de burgerbevolking geen overdreven schade berokkenen. Er zijn echter voldoende aanwijzingen dat het de doelstelling is van Israël om precies dat te bereiken wat de internationale verdragen verbieden: de blokkade dient geen enkel militair doel en is voornamelijk gericht op het zoveel mogelijk schade berokkenen aan de burgerbevolking. De blokkade van Gaza werd niet ingesteld uit angst voor wapensmokkel of aanvoer van verzetsstrijders, maar is een bewuste daad van economische oorlogsvoering tegen de inwoners van Gaza omdat ze zo brutaal waren om in vrije en eerlijke verkiezingen op Hamas te stemmen.

Er is vastgelegd bewijs voor deze interpretatie. In 2006 zei Dov Weisglass, een adviseur van de toenmalige Israëlische minister-president Ehud Olmert, in het openbaar dat het doel van het Israëlische beleid in Gaza was om “de Palestijnen op dieet te zetten, zonder ze te laten omkomen van de honger”. In juni 2010 publiceerden de McClatchy-kranten Israëlische regeringsdocumenten die bevestigden dat Tel Aviv de blokkade voornamelijk zag als een daad van economische oorlogsvoering en niet als een veiligheidsmaatregel. Daaraan kan toegevoegd worden dat Israëlische kanonneerboten vrijwel dagelijks Palestijnse vissersboten beschieten, vissersboten die niets anders doen dan vissen. We hebben het hier dus over de collectieve bestraffing van 1½ miljoen Palestijnen. Dat alleen is al illegaal en een schending van de Conventies van Geneve. VN-Secretaris-Generaal Ban Ki-Moon, over het algemeen zo gehoorzaam aan de Amerikaanse eisen, ging in 2009 heel even zijn eigen gang en riep de Israëliërs in zijn jaarrapport uit 2009 op de illegale blokkade van Gaza te beëindigen. Hij werd genegeerd.

Dus m.a.w.de Nederlandse Minister van Buitenlandse Zaken Rosentahl heeft het absoluut mis!

(Facebook /J.Jansen / 14.07.2011)