The UK government has published guidance warning businesses about the problems and risks associated with doing business with illegal Israeli settlements and related activities in occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem.
Published on the Israel page of the British Department of Trade and Industry website, the guidance warns that there are “clear risks related to economic and financial activities in the settlements, and we do not encourage or offer support to such activity”.
The document urges firms to take legal advice and consider “possible abuses of the rights of individuals” involved in doing business with illegal Israeli settlements.
Welcoming this guidance as a step in the right direction, the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, called for more practical measures to bring about British compliance with its obligations under international law.
Many major UK retailers purchase fresh fruit and vegetables from Israeli firms operating in illegal Israeli settlements. Other British firms, such as construction equipment manufacturer JCB, have extensive business involvement in Israel’s illegal settlements, whether in the construction of settlements, settlement roads and Israeli occupation-related installations and facilities.
“The UK government has realized that its condemnations of illegal settlements are falling on deaf ears and has started to address the huge amount of economic support that the illegal settlements receive from UK businesses,” said Rafeef Ziadah, a BNC spokesperson.
“The government should now make it absolutely clear to companies like G4S that it is unacceptable to participate in Israel’s illegal settlements or in Israel’s other human rights abuses,” Ziadah added.
British security company G4S provides equipment to Israeli military checkpoints and to private businesses in illegal Israeli settlements and to prisons at which Palestinian political prisoners are held without trial and tortured. The company has lost contracts with universities in the UK and Norway over its involvement in Israel’s occupation of Palestine.
The BDS movement urges a boycott of Israel and practical, gradual measures, including sanctions, by world governments to end their complicity in maintaining Israel’s regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid against the Palestinian people.
The UK move follows steps by the government in Netherlands to actively discourage Dutch businesses from maintaining links with the illegal Israeli settlement enterprise. The Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans has intervened to dissuade engineering firm Royal Haskoning DHV from participating in a sewage treatment project with the Israeli municipality in occupied East Jerusalem.
“It isn’t enough to simply warn businesses about the economic and legal risks of doing business with settlements. The UK government and all EU member states have a duty to take a proactive approach to preventing businesses from contributing to Israeli violations of international law and Palestinian human rights,” Ziadah said.
Under international law, signatories to the Geneva Convention such as the UK are obliged not to provide assistance or recognition to Israeli violations of international law and are obliged to take action to end trade and other economic relations with illegal Israeli settlements.
The government has published the advice for businesses following calls to do so by MPs and Palestinian and UK human rights groups. A 2012 report by EU diplomats in Jerusalem called for steps to address the contribution by business to the expansion of illegal settlements.
A report published by Palestinian agricultural organisations in February shows that many illegal settlements are only economically viable because the Israeli companies operating in them are able to export their fresh produce to European supermarkets.
The Co-Operative supermarket chain in the UK has pledged not to source produce from Israeli companies that operate in settlements such as Mehadrin, Israel’s largest fresh produce exporter. Campaigners are now calling on Sainsbury’s and other UK supermarkets to follow suit.
The European Union published new rules regarding Israel’s participation in EU projects in June. The new guidelines prohibit projects in illegal settlements from receiving EU grants and any Israeli entity with operations in settlements from receiving EU loans.
“The European Union and its member states are finally starting to address some aspects of their complicity with Israel’s system of colonization, occupation and apartheid over the Palestinian people. European governments must take further action to limit economic support for settlements and stop halt their military relations with Israeli, including arms exports and joint research and development,” said Ziadah.
1. The full guidance is published online at http://www.ukti.gov.uk/export/countries/asiapacific/neareast/israel/overseasbusinessrisk.html
and has been reposted at http://opentoexport.com/article/overseas-business-risk-israel/ (the UKTI website seems to be having some general technical problems as of Monday morning)
2. For details of calls by EU diplomats and the UN Human Rights Council for action to tackle the contribution of businesses to illegal Israeli settlements, see
We mourn the passing of Nelson Mandela. Humanity at large has lost a great freedom fighter against apartheid and for human dignity; Palestine has lost a true friend.
Resolute in his belief in freedom, justice and equality and the importance of mass struggle and with the determination of his and his comrades’ resistance and the strength of his spirit, Nelson Mandela will always be a great source of inspiration to Palestinians and to our struggle for our rights.
Nelson Mandela recognised the similarities between apartheid South Africa and Israeli regime of oppression against the Palestinian people; and he never forgot the pivotal role that Israel played in supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa and in undermining the global boycott against it. Once he became president, Mandela frequently sought to urge the world to address Israel’s oppression of the Palestinian people.
As a key figure in the South African liberation movement that used boycotts and sanctions, among other forms of struggle, to undermine the apartheid regime, Nelson Mandela helped to establish many of the principles that today guide and inspire the Palestinian-led, global boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement for Palestinian rights.
Speaking to mark the occasion of the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People in 1997, Mandela said:
“We can easily be enticed to read reconciliation and fairness as meaning parity between justice and injustice. Having achieved our own freedom, we can fall into the trap of washing our hands of difficulties that others face. Yet we would be less than human if we did so. It behooves all South Africans, themselves erstwhile beneficiaries of generous international support, to stand up and be counted among those contributing actively to the cause of freedom and justice.”
In this spirit, many in South Africa’s leadership, mass movements, churches and civil society, as well as among Mandela’s close associates Ahmed Kathrada and Ronnie Kasrils, today recognize Israel’s regime against the Palestinians as constituting occupation, colonization and apartheid and accordingly support BDS against Israel.
Let us honour the memory of Nelson Mandela by embodying his humanity and spirit in our own actions and by continuing our own struggles for freedom, justice and equality.
Palestinian civil society calls on Dutch government to respect its obligations under international law by excluding relations with Israeli companies involved in settlements
- Dutch government must consistently exclude all Israeli and other companies involved in Israel’s settlements from Israel-Netherlands business forum
- Governments across the world should take steps to end corporate complicity with Israeli violations of international law
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition of Palestinian civil society unions, parties and organisations, calls on the Dutch government to be consistent with its stated position opposing the Israeli occupation and illegal settlements by ending all relations with companies – Dutch, Israeli or other – that are involved in this occupation and particularly in settlements.
While reiterating our position that all economic relations between the Netherlands and Israel help to perpetuate its regime of occupation and apartheid against the Palestinian people, we specifically call on the Dutch government to, at the very least, exclude Israeli companies with operations in illegal settlements from the upcoming Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum.
As PLO Executive Committee member Dr. Hanan Ashrawi has stated: “The official policy of the Dutch government is to discourage economic relations of Dutch companies with settlements. How can the Dutch government establish a cooperation forum with Israel which facilitates these relations and effectively supports the settlement economy?”
One proposed participant in the Netherlands-Israel Cooperation Forum, Mekorot, participates directly in the illegal appropriation of Palestinian water and has extensive operations in illegal Israeli settlements. We therefore call on Lillianne Ploumen, the Dutch minister for Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, to cancel her proposed meeting with Mekorot.
Another participant, Magal S3, provides security systems along 150km of Israel’s illegal Wall and provides equipment to at least 8 illegal Israeli settlements. Many of the other proposed Israeli participants export goods produced in illegal Israeli settlements.
We urge the Dutch government to respect its obligations under international law and to fully and consistently implement its stated policy of discouraging economic relations with illegal Israeli settlements by ensuring that the upcoming business forum will not result in furthering or giving cover to cooperation between Dutch companies and Israeli businesses with illegal operations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
In a written statement to Parliament in May 2013, the Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans indicated that the Dutch government discourages financial relationships with illegal Israeli settlements. He said:
“Although not prohibited, economic relations between Dutch companies and companies in the settlements in the occupied territories are discouraged by the Dutch government.”
The Dutch government has since reiterated its position and put it into action by discouraging engineering firm Royal Haskoning DHV from participating in a sewage treatment project with the Israeli municipality in occupied East Jerusalem. The company heeded the Dutch government’s advice and withdrew from the project.
We welcome these positions and urge the Dutch government to uphold its policy of discouraging financial relationships with illegal Israeli settlements.
Palestinian civil society urges other governments across the world to meet their legal obligation to refrain from providing assistance in maintaining the illegal situation that has resulted from Israel’s occupation by prohibiting all economic relations with Israeli companies and entities that operate in illegal Israeli settlements or otherwise profit from the occupation. As a first step, governments should take similar steps to those currently being implemented by the Dutch government.
Palestinians living in the West Bank live under a brutal occupation and are governed by Israeli military law, while illegal settlers receive generous state subsidies and are governed by Israeli civilian law. Palestinians in Gaza live under a medieval siege, a form of collective punishment that remains a stain on the conscience of the world. Inside Israel, the Palestinians that make up 20% of the population face systematic discrimination – there are more than 50 laws that discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
While we welcome the steps that European and other governments are slowly starting to take to end some aspects of their complicity with Israel’s persistent violations of international law, we also wish to remind those governments that Israel continues to implement new apartheid policies and forcibly displace Palestinians from their land, as evidenced in the Prawer Plan. For how much longer will European governments stand by while these grave Israeli violations of international law are implemented before they consider suspending all cooperation with Israel, as was done against apartheid South Africa?
Palestinian BDS National Committee
http://www.eccpalestine.org/the-contribution-of-european-businesses-to-the-existence-and-expansion-of-illegal-israeli-settlements/  http://adalah.org/eng/Israeli-Discriminatory-Law-Database  http://www.bdsmovement.net/2013/bnc-prawer-nov30-11450
Palestinian civil society calls for escalating BDS to Stop Israel’s racist Prawer Plan, urges Inter-Parliamentary Union to suspend Knesset’s membership
The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society, strongly endorses the demonstrations taking place today across Palestinian cities and around the world today to oppose Israel’s racist and colonial Prawer Plan.
Already official Israeli government policy and approved by the Israeli parliament (Knesset), the Prawer Plan aims to achieve the ethnic cleansing of up to 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins from their ancestral land in the Naqab (Negev) desert in the south of the state of Israel that they have owned for generations. The plan would also lead to the wholesale demolition of their homes and communities in order to make way for Jewish-only settlements in the area.
Tens of thousands of Palestinian Bedouins live in villages that predate the Israeli state but are still “unrecognized” by the state and accordingly denied basic health, water, electric, educational and sanitation services.
A calculated and premeditated plan to sever the historical ties that bind Bedouin Palestinian communities to their land, the Prawer Plan reveals once again the colonial nature of Zionism and the apartheid character of the Israeli state. Israel today insists on maintaining an exclusionary “Jewish identity”, affording indigenous Palestinians living in Israel an inferior status and subjecting them to systematic discrimination, racist laws and forced population transfer.
Just as Apartheid South Africa sought to strip black South Africans of their lands and concentrate them into Bantustans, Israel today hopes to concentrate the Palestinian Bedouin into government-approved poverty-stricken townships.
The Prawer Plan is in clear violation of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. It constitutes forced population transfer, which is defined as a crime against humanity and as an inhuman act of apartheid under the 2002 Rome Statue of the International Criminal Court.
We salute those taking part in today’s Day of Rage and demonstrating across historical Palestine today to resist this latest wave of Israel’s ongoing Nakba (catastrophe) against the Palestinians. We also warmly greet those international campaigners that are holding solidarity demonstrations across more than 15 countries.
Israel’s willful system of colonisation and apartheid is implemented by the Israeli government and approved by the Israeli parliament (Knesset). Given the refusal of the Israel to heed the condemnations of the Prawer Plan and its countless other violations of basic Palestinian rights, we urge governments and parliaments across the world to take effective punitive measures against Israel and its complicit institutions, similar to those applied to apartheid South Africa, as a non-violent means to pressure Israel to comply with basic standards of human rights and international law.
We urge the Inter-Parliamentary Union to suspend the membership of the Knesset until it repeals all of Israel’s racist, discriminatory laws and until it votes to oppose the Prawer Plan. Through its approval and support for the Prawer Plan, the Knesset has once again shown that its actions are inconsistent with the objectives of the United Nations and the Inter-Parliamentary Union principles that uphold equality and human rights.
The global grassroots movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) is becoming increasingly well supported and effective in challenging the international support upon which Israeli impunity hinges. We urge civil society organisations and people of conscience to join us in building the international boycott of Israel, in a context-sensitive, gradual and sustainable manner, as the appropriate, moral and effective response to Israel’s on-going system of apartheid, occupation and colonisation.
 Rome Statute, Art. 7.2 (d) and (h). For an explanation of how the Prawer Plan violates the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples see http://www.bdsmovement.net/files/2013/07/BNC-Statement-Prawer-Plan-9-Jul-2013.pdf
 The Prawer Plan has been condemned by the European Parliament, United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination and the UN Office for Human Rights, among numerous others
Palestine solidarity activists in France are celebrating a victory in the country’s highest criminal appeals court this week, affirming the earlier acquittal of an activist in a case stemming from protests calling for the boycott of Israeli goods.
The ruling strikes a severe blow to efforts – supported by the government – to use legal repression to outlaw boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns in France.
The court victory comes as France’s Left Party became the first political party in the country to openly endorse BDS.
The case dates back to a July 2009 protest in a Carrefour supermarket in Évry, a suburb of Paris.
As the video of the protest above shows, activists wearing t-shirts saying “Boycott Apartheid Israel” sang, danced and chanted slogans calling on shoppers not to buy Israeli goods.
One protestor declared in English, “By these products you are supporting the Israeli army in order to kill the children of the Palestinians, so everyone needs to boycott Israel … If you are supporting peace, if you are supporting justice, you need to boycott these products.”Charged with incitement for posting video
After the video was posted on the website of the group CAPJPO-EuroPalestine, the group’s director, Olivia Zémor, was charged by prosecutors with “incitement to discrimination, hatred or violence toward a group of persons due to their belonging to the Israeli nation.”
Zémor was acquitted by two lower courts. However, under the French justice system, the case did not end there.
Four pro-Israel groups – France-Israel Chamber of Commerce, Avocats sans Frontières (Lawyers without borders), Association France-Israel and the Simon Wiesenthal Center-affiliated Bureau National de Vigilance Contre l’Antisemitisme (National Bureau for Vigilance Against Anti-Semitism) – appealed to the Court of Cassation against the acquittals.Final ruling
In a 19 November judgment, the Court of Cassation – the highest criminal court of appeal – affirmed the acquittals and ruled that the pro-Israel groups had no standing to bring an action.Implications
“The lack of standing of the France-Israel Chamber of Commerce has been confirmed, at least for all the current cases,” CAPJPO-EuroPalestine said in a statement lauding the court’s decision.
Several other cases against activists are still making their way through lower courts in several cities.
The ruling, moreover, “confirms the legality of the boycott Israel campaign as long as this state, its government and its army trample on the most elementary rights of the Palestinian people,” the statement adds.Solidarity was crucial
Olivia Zémor stressed that “national and international solidarity have played a very important part in this victory.”
The French “government is watching the fact that repression not only does not stop our BDS actions, but that people that were not involved before are joining us,” Zémor wrote in an email to The Electronic Intifada.
Zémor thanked in particular “our British comrades demonstrating in front of the French embassy and consulate.”
France’s president François Hollande, who made a high-profile visit to Israel this week,had publicly opposed BDS and claimed that boycotting Israeli goods – even from West Bank settlements – is “illegal.”
The Court of Cassation has proved him wrong.Left Party endorses BDS
Coinciding with Hollande’s visit to Israel, France’s Left Party (Parti de Gauche)announced on 18 November its endorsement of BDS as a tactic.
The party called on Hollande to demand that Israel free all Palestinian political prisoners, freeze and dismantle settlements on Palestinian land, end the siege of Gaza and “recognize a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders.”
Its statement adds:
Given the escalation of the Israeli government’s policy of repression toward all Palestinians, the national bureau of the Left Party, meeting on 16 November, decided to engage the party in the support of the campaigns of BDS France … Everyone can act, notably by boycotting Israeli goods and insisting that French companies do not participate in the colonization and apartheid policies of the Israeli government, and by demanding that the president and government apply real sanctions on Israel. Peace cannot come except by obliging Israel to respect the Palestinians and their universal rights.
Left Party leader Jean-Luc Mélenchon won a respectable 11 percent, or almost four million votes, in the first round of the 2012 presidential election.
While the Left Party currently holds no seats in the National Assembly, Mélenchon holds a seat in the European Parliament and the party has several dozen regional and local elected officials.
Zémor said the party’s endorsement was “psychologically” significant in a country where no major institution, union or university had yet joined the BDS campaign.
Such endorsements, Zémor said, would raise the profile of BDS activism and make it “more difficult to repress with trials.”
Note: An earlier version of this post stated that several activists had been charged in relation to the July 2009 protest at the Carrefour in Évry. It has been changed to reflect that Olivia Zémor was the only person charged – and ultimately acquitted – for posting the video online.
The We Divest coalition joins workers, environmentalists, and corporate accountability organizations in congratulating pension fund giant TIAA-CREF for removing Veolia Environnement SA stock (VIE:EN Paris) from its Social Choice Funds portfolio. In July 2013, TIAA-CREF’s website showed over $1.2 million in Veolia shares for its Social Choice Funds. Today it shows zero. TIAA-CREF still holds Veolia stock in its regular accounts.
“Some of us in the socially responsible investment community are asking the question: does it make sense to own stock in a corporation that is violating international law in Palestine and committing so many environmental abuses around the world?” said Lincoln Pain, a Certified Financial Planner practitioner, specializing in socially responsible investments for over 27 years.
“TIAA-CREF made the right decision,” said Rabbi Alissa Wise, Director of Campaigns at Jewish Voice for Peace and National Coordinator of the We Divest Campaign. “Veolia cannot seriously be considered socially responsible given its infamous anti-labor practices, privatization of public resources, disastrous environmental practices, and ongoing servicing of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied Palestinian West Bank land.”
“As the largest private operator of municipal water and sewer systems in the United States, Veolia Water North America has an atrocious track-record and was kicked out of six different cities and towns in the US last year alone,” said Matt Ohloff, organizer with Food & Water Watch. “Water privatization is not socially responsible, nor is Veolia.”
“It is no coincidence that Veolia has a poor record on labor and environmental issues given its violations of international humanitarian law in Palestine. The complicity of multinationals in illegal projects in such a contested conflict zone reflects poor governance and risk management, and is often related to other corporate abuses. These companies have no place on any socially responsible investment portfolio,” said Dalit Baum, Middle East Program Director for the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC).
Veolia has been the target of boycott and divestment campaigns worldwide by Palestine solidarity activists. Veolia was invested in bus lines on segregated West Bank roads until recently, when it ended the practice under intense worldwide pressure. However, Veolia continues its controversial support of illegal Israeli settlements. A United Nations report warned last year that that the engagement of Veolia and similar companies in the West Bank could cause “damage to a company’s public image and impact on shareholder decisions and share price, and could result in employees being criminally responsible for rights abuses.”
Following public campaigns spanning four continents, Veolia has lost or failed to secure contracts totaling more than $18 billion worldwide. Last month, a diverse coalition of environmental, labor, Palestinian rights, and social justice activists in St. Louis, Missouri forced the multinational to withdraw from bidding on a city water contract. In Boston, Massachusetts, a broad coalition of labor and community groups are fighting Veolia’s union-busting tactics since it took over a school bus contract. In the San Francisco Bay Area, Veolia is known for the role its attorney played in opposing BART unions, and others have been protesting against Veolia subcontractors’ poor labor practices. Additional campaigns in Sonoma County CA; Los Angeles, CA; Seattle, WA; California statewide; Boston, MA; Baltimore, MD; Washington, DC; and beyond have cast light on Veolia’s controversial practices.
A total of 114 members of the European Parliament signed and delivered an open letter to European Union foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton Thursday to ensure she implements the EU guidelines on Israeli settlements, scheduled to take effect next month, January 2014.
The guidelines stipulate that any Israeli entity that wants to receive funding and loans, participate in a project or compete for grants or awards given by foundations or agencies of the EU will have to submit a statement declaring that they have no direct link to the West Bank, East Jerusalem or the Golan Heights – all territories Israel occupied in 1967 and which the EU does not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over.
While it was originally understood that this meant the EU would require Israel to stop all operations beyond the Green Line if it wanted to continue to benefit from cooperation, it became clear that the guidelines are trying to make sure that specific European grants and prizes are not part of projects in the occupied territories.
Since the guidelines were announced in July, Israeli government officials have been scrambling to combat the effort, negotiating with EU representatives to try and find a “compromise” – essentially a way to get around the restrictions. Israel is specifically concerned about its ability to join the Horizon 2020 program – an $80 billion research program that just passed in European Parliament today (Thursday) – that would provide Israeli institutions with around 600 million euro over the next seven years for various technology and research projects.
As Noam Sheizaf reported here last month, Israel is trying to find a way so that as long as an Israeli entity is headquartered behind the Green Line, it will still get EU funding, even if it has operations in the occupied West Bank. This is exactly what the EU members who signed on to this letter are trying to prevent.
According to an adviser in the EU parliament who prefers to remain nameless, Israeli negotiators have already succeeded in removing any mention of the guidelines in the Memorandum of Understanding being negotiated right now, potentially undermining the entire purpose of the guidelines.
“If EU funds end up in settlements EU loses. Plain and simple. If Israel manages to continue business as usual despite the guidelines and settlements continue to receive EU funds, then EU leaders look very weak. Yet again.”
Here is a portion of the letter sent today to Ashton (the full letter is below):
Dear High Representative,
We are writing to call your attention to certain serious concerns regarding the arrangements about to be concluded that will determine the terms of Israel’s participation in a range of EU programmes, including Horizon 2020. We wish to call on you to take the steps that remain necessary to ensure that no form of EU-funded support is provided to Israeli entities established in the settlements, which are illegal under international law, or to activities or operations of Israeli entities taking place in those settlements under any of these programmes.
As an ENP country, Israel is entitled to participate in a range of EU programmes, including Horizon 2020. The Guidelines published by the Commission on 19th July 2013 should apply to all these programmes, current and future.
In all cases, the EU must respect its own positions and commitments in conformity with international law on the non-recognition by the Union of Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied since June 1967. In all cases, no EU-funded support of any kind may be provided to Israeli entities established in Israeli settlements or to settlement-based activities. (Emphasis mine).
MEP Margrete Auken, a member of the Greens in in the EP and vice-chair of the Delegation to the Palestinian Legislative Council, described the impetus for the letter to +972: “When we noticed the potential legal loophole we decided to send an open letter to Catherine Ashton who must take action to ensure that EU funds don’t end up in settlements.
“Israeli negotiators are tough and clever, said Auken, “and Catherine Ashton needs to know she has the support from the European Parliament to hold her own and stay alert. The world community again and again declares Israeli settlements illegal. Now we need action behind the words so Israel feels the consequences of breaking international law time and again.”
In effect, these members of parliament are asking the EU to simply follow through on a policy that has been their formal position for decades – just like the U.S.
The following is a translation of a statement by the Parti de Gauche in which they announce their support for BDS
During his visit to Israel, François Hollande declared before the most prominent Israeli political representatives: “Till today, you have never yielded when it comes to democracy, diversity, and human rights”.
One must bear in mind that the State of Israel has consistently defied international law. Even now, the Gaza Strip is under an illegal blockade and is an open-air prison for its 1.5 million inhabitants. Israel continues to detain thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, and the recent release of 26 of them has changed nothing: following their release, four more Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army. The Prawer plan, designed to judaize the Negev, continues in conniving the forced transfer of almost 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins – citizens of Israel – into reserves. The colonisation of the West Bank is being pursued unrelentingly: even while the US Secretary of State John Kerry – visibly embarrassed by the conduct of the Israeli government – was visiting the country, the Israeli authorities announced new authorisations to build 5,000 more homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. And the Israeli government has no intention of respecting the borders of a hypothetical Palestinian State. It has openly declared that it will maintain a military presence in the Jordan Valley, together with its planned “security barrier” between the West Bank and Jordan, which will be built once the barrier between Israel and the Egyptian Sinai is completed.
After its vote at the United Nations General Assembly in favour of Palestine as an Observer Member, France must bilaterally recognise the State of Palestine. It is high time to move forward to go from speeches and declarations to action. This can only be done by imposing real sanctions on the Israeli government in order to force it to respect the dozens of UN resolutions relating to Israel.
The Left Party calls upon François Hollande to demand of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government that it free all the Palestinian political prisoners, freeze and dismantle the colonies, lift the siege of Gaza, and recognise the State of Palestine within the 1967 borders. It calls upon the citizens of France to act in favour of the rights of all the Palestinians: their right to live in a viable and fully sovereign State within the 1967 borders, as well as the right to equality for all the citizens of Israel. In view of the Israeli government’s reinforced oppression of the Palestinians, at the 16th November meeting of the National Bureau, the Left Party decided to lend its support to the various campaigns for Boycott Divestment, Sanctions waged by BDS France. We can all join in this action, notably by boycotting Israeli products, by demanding that French firms not participate in Israel’s policies of colonisation and apartheid, and by asking the President and government of France to apply real sanctions on Israel. Peace can only be achieved by obliging Israel to respect the Palestinians and their universal rights.
After being approached by the Palestine solidarity and human rights organisation, BDS South Africa, the renowned Cape Town based “Trauma Centre” has terminated their ties and contract with the controversial security company G4S. James Taylor, the Chairperson of the Trauma Centre, in an official statement posted online, explains the organisation’s decision:
“The Trauma Centre is committed to creating a society free from violence and torture and committed to a culture of human rights…we therefore note with great concern the serious allegations levelled against the security company G4S of complicity in the illegal incarceration and torture of Palestinians in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. …such acts would violate the very principles which form the basis of our existence as a human rights organisation. It is because of these serious concerns, which violate our fundamental values, that the Board of the Trauma Centre has decided to terminate our organisation’s relationship with G4S.”
In the statement, Taylor also adds that the board of The Trauma Centre considered G4S recent complicity in torture at the Mangaung correctional centre in its decision.
The “Trauma Centre” was founded 20 years ago in 1993 by the well-known clergyman, Father Michael Lapsley (who, due to a letter bomb sent by Apartheid South Africa, lost both his hands and the sight in one of his eyes). The Trauma Centre played a crucial role in South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) and is arguably one of the most well known human rights trauma organisations in the country. The Trauma Centre is backed by eminent patrons includingArchbishop Desmond Tutu; wife of Nelson Mandela, Graca Machel; former South African Judge, Justice Richard Goldstone; Anglican bishop and a former Robben Island prisoner, Njongonkulu Ndungane; Chairman of the South African Institute of International Affairs and Director at Standard Bank, Fred Phaswana; and anti-apartheid struggle icon, Ahmed Kathrada.
Welcoming the decision by The Trauma Centre, Kwara Kekana of BDS South Africa commented: ”That a South African organisation with such a history and importance as the Trauma Centre has taken the principled decision to terminate relations with G4S due to the company’s complicity in Israeli prisons and human rights abuses should set an example and precedent for all South African organisations, businesses, universities and other entities that have contracts with G4S. We are calling on, in particular, the Airports Company of South Africa, the South African Post Office, and the Universities of Cape Town and Stellenbosch –who all have contracts with G4S– to immediately end their relations with the company.”
G4S, the world largest security company, has been the target of several successful international boycott actions and campaigns in recent years due to its complicity in Israel’s illegal detentions and torture of Palestinian political prisoners. The termination by The Trauma Centre is the first South African victory for the Palestinian BDS/boycott of G4S campaign.
INTERNATIONAL BOYCOTT CAMPAIGN AGAINST G4S
In a significant victory from earlier this month the University of Bergen in Norway decided not to award its security contract to G4S even though the company presented the lowest priced offer in the security tender. The Norwegian university added an estimated loss of 2,5 million NOK (4,1 million rands) related to potential reputational damage the University would suffer if they chose to award their security contract to G4S due to the involvement of G4S in Israel’s illegal detention facilities, torture centres and prisons.
Last month in October the Norwegian trade union, Industri Energi, terminated its contract with G4S as “an act of solidarity with the struggle of the Palestinian people.” This was followed in the UK, by the East London Teachers Association (ELTA) which passed a motion condemning G4S’s complicity in Israel’s prison system, “unlawful detention and torture [of Palestinians]“ which it termed as “profoundly unethical”. The University of Oslo, Dundee University Student Union, the UK energy company Good Energy, several businesses, various human rights organizations and the European Union itself have all recently also cut ties with G4S due to the company’s complicity in Israel’s illegal settlements, detention of Palestinians and torture of Palestinian political prisoners.
ABOUT G4S AND ISRAELI PRISONS
In 2007 G4S was contracted to provide and maintain Israeli prisons, torture centres and detention facilities. Although initially claiming that it intends to terminate its Israeli contracts, G4S still operates in Israel and with the Israeli regime. G4S also provides equipment and services to Israeli checkpoints and Israel’s illegal Jewish-only settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank (click here to download the United Nations Special Rapporteur report with details of G4S and its illegal activities in Israel [Pages 15 & 16]). Due to this Israeli involvement, in 2012, Palestinian prisoners and prisoner support organisations called for an international boycott of G4S as part of the global Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel campaign.
Over 750 000 Palestinians (roughly 40% of Palestinian men) have been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time. About 100 000 Palestinians have been held by Israel in “administrative detention” (the equivalent of Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention without trial”). Similar to the experience of Black families under Apartheid, almost every Palestinian family has been affected by the Israeli imprisonment of a relative.
In the last 11 years alone, more than 7500 Palestinian children have been detained in Israeli prisons and detention facilities (including being held in solitary confinement) with Muhammad Daoud Dirbas, at the age of six, being the youngest Palestinian child to have been detained by Israeli soldiers. Currently, there are over 5000 Palestinians imprisoned by Israel; 134 of them are being held under Israel’s “administrative detention” (Apartheid South Africa’s “Detention Without Trial”) and 195 of them are children. Last month, on the 27th of October, BDS South Africa was part of a Palestinian political prisoner campaign launch that took place at South Africa’s historic Robben Island with Ahmed Kathrada and others.
Kwara Kekana noted that: ”This is the first South African BDS/boycott victory against G4S since the Robben Island Palestinian political prisoner launch. Given the role during the anti-apartheid struggle of Cowley House (where The Trauma Centre is currently housed) which served as a shelter for families visiting Robben Island detainees makes this victory all the more important.”
On 24th of June, the Israeli Knesset approved the Prawer-Begin plan, which if implemented will result in the destruction of more than 35 unrecognized villages in Al-Naqab and the forced expulsion and confinement of more than 70,000 Palestinian Bedouins. The Prawer plan is the largest Israeli land-grab since 1948. It epitomizes the nature of Israel’s policy; Israeli-Jewish demographic expansion and Palestinian-Arab demographic containment.
The International community has repeatedly called on Israel to halt the implementation of the Prawer Plan due to its discriminatory nature and the severe infringement it causes on the rights of Palestinian Bedouins in Al-Naqab. The UN committee on the elimination of Racial Discrimination called on Israel to withdraw the proposed legislation of the Prawer Plan. Also, in 2012, the European Parliament passed a resolution calling on Israel to stop the Prawer plan and its policies of forced displacement and dispossession.
Injustice, humiliation and forced displacement are a recurring theme in Palestine’s history. This is lesson that we as a group of youth take to the heart. We will oppose, resist and work against the continuous assault that our communities, across Palestine face. Therefore, we launched the “Prawer will not pass” campaign with an eye to preventing this plan to be yet another chapter in Palestine’s long and tragic history.
Opposing the Prawer Plan is to oppose ethnic cleansing, displacement and confinement in the 21st century.
Join us by organizing marches, protests, sending letters to those with positions of influence in your country or community, by doing whatever you can, in order to force Israel to stop the Prawer plan.
Join us on the 30th of Nov. in saying “Prawer shall not Pass”.
For more information, please contact us on:
This call is available in other languages from https://www.oximity.com/article/Stop-Prawer-Plan-Call-to-action-on-Nov-1
Check PDF Fact Sheet: https://d23ya87silh7sb.cloudfront.net/pdf/000/000/144/940_425926177.pdf
In July, the European Union proposed a ban on providing financial assistance to Israeli organizations in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip—a move Secretary of State John Kerry urged the E.U. to postpone. Last month, the Palestinan Authority reached out to 50 countries around the world to apply economic pressure to companies with business dealings in Israeli settlements.
On Saturday, hacktivist collective hosted its most successful tweetstorm to date, #OpBOYCOTTIsrael, in which it provided “70 tweets with images and articles that promote boycott and divestment, expose Israeli war crimes and crimes against Palestinian children, and call out companies who profit off Israeli apartheid.”
By flooding a given Twitter hashtag, Anonymous makes its point of focus trend globally, helping raise awareness through sheer ubiquity and curiosity. This particular tweetstorm was nearly a week in the making. A Pastebin document detailing the objective was released Nov. 4.
The long-term goal is to encourage citizens everywhere to use the so-called BDS techniques—boycotts, divestment, and sanctions—to to “undermine the cash that bankrolls Palestinian oppression.” It’s an ambitious aim, but BDS techniques have been successful in the past.
“A growing number of religious and political projects across the planet are embracing disinvestment as a form of economic pressure against Israeli occupation of Palestinian land,” reads a second, much more extensive Pastebin document. “Disinvestment works – the strategy played a potent role in dismantling apartheid in South Africa and it can work to dismantle Israeli apartheid in Palestine, too.”
The second Pastebin document also contains resources for Palestinians in Gaza who have had their Internet cut off in the past (remember #OpIsrael?), including links to a dialup supplier of choice in emergency situations and a guide to dealing with the media and generating coverage.
The tweetstorm was unusually disciplined and launched massively. The hashtag clocked up 22,301 tweets in its period of activity. The hashtag trended worldwide briefly, and the related #FreePalestine trended for several hours.
View the Tweets here: https://twitter.com/OpBOYCOTTisrael
The boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) movement, a thriving Palestinian-led initiative that attacks institutional links to Israel’s illegal settlements, has been gaining in popularity. In Australia, the movement has been slowly growing as Israel continues to defy international law – and it now faces one of its greatest opportunities in the court of public opinion.
Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center is an Israel-based organisation that claims to be a civil group “fighting for rights of hundreds of terror victims”. It is currently taking Jake Lynch, head of Sydney University’sCentre for Peace and Conflict Studies (CPACS), to the Australian federal court. They assert that Lynch has allegedly breached the 1975 racial discrimination act by refusing to sponsor a fellowship application by Israeli academic Dan Avnon. Lynch and CPACS support BDS, and since Avnon works at Hebrew University – a key intellectual hub which istargeted by boycotters for allegedly being complicit in the establishment of illegal settlements – Lynch declined to be named as a reference.
The story has been largely ignored. Fairfax Media has not touched it, and ABC TV’s 7.30 only briefly addressed it last week. Instead, it is Rupert Murdoch’s The Australian which has been driving the debate on the issue, publishing countless stories that deliberately conflatesantisemitism and support for the BDS movement.
Just last week, after the horrific bashing of Jewish men in Sydney, the paper featured a Holocaust survivor on its front page condemning the attack. Within the article was the rhetorical device of inserting comment about BDS – as if physically assaulting Jewish people was on the same spectrum as a peaceful, non-violent attempt to force Israel to abide by international law. Bizarrely, an op-ed published by Newscorp’s The Telegraph also said that the best response to the assaults was to support Max Brenner – the chocolate shop whose parent company, the Strauss Group, has been a target of BDS protestors for supporting the Israeli Defence Force.
Countless letters have since been published in The Australian reinforcing a correlation between antisemitism and the boycott – following this logic, Lynch and his backers are a threat to public order. This also ignores the nearly 2,000 signatories of a public petition backing Lynch (which a number of academics, including the co-founder of Independent Australian Jewish Voices, Peter Slezak, signed).
Last week, The Australian ran an editorial which implied that Lynch blocked Avnon’s academic credentials simply because he was an Israeli. Another front page story in the paper last week claimed that Hebrew University is a bastion of Jewish and Arab co-operation, yet ignored the litany of examples of the institution repressing Palestinian rights.
Lynch tells me that Shurat HaDin have deliberately skewed his BDS stance. He denies, despite the group’s Australian lawyer Andrew Hamilton said on ABC TV last week, having “admitted” that he boycotted Avnon because he was Israeli. He told me:
I have made it abundantly clear from the start that the policy is aimed at institutional links. If the Hebrew University is anything like the University of Sydney, then it probably employs academics from various backgrounds in terms of religious affiliation and country of origin. It would not make any difference to my or the CPACS’ policy if the applicant was originally from Belgium, Botswana or Bolivia – I believe the University of Sydney should revoke its part in the Sir Zelman Cowen and Technion fellowship schemes, and I reserve my right not to collaborate with them. Andrew Hamilton has clearly not paid serious attention to our policy, or to what I have actually done in pursuit of it.
It’s worth noting that Avnon, endlessly praised in the Australian media as a humanist who believes in co-operation between Israelis and Palestinians, sits on Israeli group Metzilah’s General Assembly. This is a group that put out a report explicitly rejecting the Palestinian right of return to lands stolen by Israel, and claims that a Jewish state discriminating against equal rights for Palestinians is not problematic. It is worth noting that the Palestinian right of return is a requirement in international law.
Largely missing from the ferocious media coverage has been any information about the real agenda of Shurat HaDin. The organisation, according to Wikileaks documents, has strong links to Israeli intelligence and Mossad, just one of the many groups that now prosecutes Israel’s argument for the Jewish state. The law firm tried to sue Twitter for daring to host Hizbollah tweets, and former US President Jimmy Carter for criticising Israel. They also called on Stephen Hawking, who damned the Israeli occupation, to “pull out his Intel Core i7 from his tablet” because the chip was designed by a Israeli lab.
Even the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, a leading Zionist lobby,refuses to endorse Shurat HaDin’s case against Lynch, pointing out that attempts to suppress the campaign through litigation are inappropriate.
Also absent from the debate is the reason BDS exists. It is growing due to a complete lack of faith in US-led peace talks. American journalist Max Blumenthal recently published a book, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, which shows in forensic detail the reality of the Israeli mainstream’s embrace blatant racism against Arabs and Africans. This isn’t what the Israel Shurat HaDin and its fellow travellers want the world to see. Indeed, Australian Israel lobby AIJAC responded to the latest BDS case against Lynch by completely ignoring illegal settlements altogether. This week Dean Sherr, a young lobbyist, wrote an entire column in The Australian about BDS without mentioning their existence.
The fear of BDS is reflected in the massive amount of money and resources Israel is spending to stop it. Instead of moving towards a democratic state for all its citizens, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to demolish Palestinian homes and build illegal colonies on Palestinian land.
Shurat HaDin’s Australian lawyer, Andrew Hamilton, told Haaretz last week that BDS “does nothing to help Palestinians and indeed harms them. It is merely an excuse for the vilest public antisemitic campaign the western world has seen since the Holocaust.” With such a statement, which essentially compares Jake Lynch to a Nazi, it’s no wonder Zionist advocates are losing the public relations battle globally.
For some of us on the left, using the racial discrimination act as a tool to silence views we find distasteful is deeply worrying – I write this as somebody who opposed the legal case against News Limited columnist Andrew Bolt in 2011. A real democracy is a place where any individual has the right to vehemently oppose colluding with an overseas university institution that disputes equal rights for Jews and Arabs.
I look forward to Australia’s leading public backers of free speech, such as Bolt, Miranda Devine and the Institute of Public Affairs, loudly backing Lynch. Somehow I think I’ll be waiting a while for these brave advocates to find their voice.
• This article was amended on 11 November 2013, 09.12am AEST. The piece originally incorrectly stated that the Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center threatened to sue Stephen Hawkins. It is now amended.
Right now, Artur Mas, the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya along with Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias and the Minister of Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell are on an official visit to the state of Israel.
Right now, Artur Mas, the President of the Generalitat de Catalunya along with Mayor of Barcelona, Xavier Trias and the Minister of Economy and Knowledge, Andreu Mas-Colell are on an official visit to the state of Israel. We are extremely worried that these government figures are presenting Israel as a “model” and a “reference for Catalonia. Equally worrisome is that they are using agreements between universities and research associations, among others, as a tool intended to forge an alliance with Israel.
In light of this we want to highlight five points:
The visit and the words of Artur Mas demonstrate the unequivocal position of the Government of the Convergència i Unió (CiU) in favor of the state of Israel and against the rights of Palestinians. This implies, among other things, support for the illegal military occupation which is contrary to International Law [1-4]
The strengthening of relations with Israel goes against the 2005 call of Palestinian civil society to the international community to implement a campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) until Israel respects the rights of the Palestinian people and International Law 
The line adopted by the Government goes against the trends of the international community. One recent example illustrates this clearly. Just last week, the government of South Africa (which emerged from the struggles against the apartheid regime in South Africa) announced that it was going to reduce to a minimum its institutional relationships with Israel while Palestinian rights are not respected . During the final years of apartheid South Africa, several Western governments stood out for their support of that racist regime. We do not wish for the government of Catalonia to play this role in the future in the case of Israel (and we are certain that the people of Catalonia will not permit it)
The Government has not demonstrated any interest in knowing the reality that Palestinians face during its visit. This invisibilizing of a people who live under a regime that perpetrates apartheid and military occupation is an insult to the suffering of millions of people
Finally, the agreements signed with Israeli universities and research institutes are also against the momentum of this time. The European Union recently decided that it would not collaborate with organizations and institutions that have branches in Israeli colonies in the occupied territories of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. This news, which has gone virtually unmentioned in the mainstream media, is hugely significant and has infuriated the government of Benjamin Netanyahu [7, 8]. We must add that all Israeli universities maintain strong ties with the army, the arms industry and the occupation
In light of this, we not only lift up our voices in protest of this visit, but we are resuming the campaign to collect signatures supporting an academic boycott of Israel. In this, we have already gathered more than 500 signatures from the academic world across the entire state of Spain and we are sure this will gain even more momentum in the coming weeks.
Here you can sign in case you have not already:
One year after the Israeli military campaign “Defensive Pillar,” which lasted from the 14th through the 21st of November of 2012 and resulted in more than 139 people killed in the Gaza Strip according to the UN General Secretary , we wish to reiterate the 2005 call by more than 170 Palestinian organizations for global civil society to take up campaigns of Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) against Israel. In the meantime as the occupation continues and Israel continues to practice systematic apartheid targeting the Palestinian population, we ask our government to break any accords with Israel; be they academic, commercial, cultural, or any other.
Occupation, colonization and apartheid are not our model for Catalonia.
We ask you to distribute this across your social and friend networks.
Junts (Associació Catalana de Jueus i Palestins)
Comissió Universitària Catalana per Palestina (CUNCAP)
Dones en Rebel·lia
IJAN (International Jewish Antizionist Network)
Red Solidaria contra la Ocupación de Palestina (RESCOP)
Ítaca (Organització Internacionalista dels Països Catalans)
Revolta Global-Esquerra Anticapitalista
BDS País Valencià
Plataforma Aturem la Guerra
Taula Palestina (Mallorca)
Col·lectiu Antimilitarista de Sant Cugat (CASC)
Federació d’Associacions Catalanes Amigues del Poble Saharauí
Endavant (Organització Socialista d’Alliberament Nacional)
Rumbo a Gaza
Esquerra Unida i Alternativa-EUiA
Campaign Shows the Power of Local BDS Efforts
In a dramatic conclusion to nearly one year of effort and vigilance by the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee (PSC) and coalition partners, the St. Louis mayor’s office announced on October 29, 2013 that Veolia Water North America was withdrawing itself from consideration for a contract to consult with the St. Louis Water Division. Veolia is a major, global target of the Boycott, Sanctions and Divestment (BDS) movement because of its complicity in Israeli violations of Palestinian human rights. Veolia profits from Israel’s occupation of the West Bank by providing services, such as trash collection, water services and, until recently, bus lines, to illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land.
When the contract came to light, the PSC helped form a local coalition to “Dump Veolia.” The Coalition included a wide spectrum of the St. Louis community, as well as national organizations. The broad based opposition caused Veolia to withdraw from our city, reportedly deciding St. Louis “is not worth it. It is not worth the damage to [Veolia’s] business.”
The St. Louis Dump Veolia campaign shows the effectiveness of local BDS campaigns. The efforts against the Veolia contract brought Palestine to the St. Louis mayoral campaign last spring as the two leading candidates — the incumbent, Mayor Francis Slay, and his challenger and the head of the Board of Alderman (St. Louis’ equivalent to a city council), Lewis Reed — staked out opposite sides in the Veolia debate. Mayor Slay, a proponent of the Veolia contract, was forced to admit in a press release in February that Palestinians find Veolia’s involvement with Israel’s occupation objectionable.
The issue of the proposed Veolia water contract was the top requested question at the second mayoral debate. St. Louis Public Radio and the St. Louis Beacon covered the issue as part of their debate coverage. Palestine activists bird-dogged Mayor Slay during a fundraising event demanding answers on why he supported human rights violations in Palestine through his advocacy for Veolia. Anti-Veolia flyers sponsored by candidate Reed and his supporters in the St. Louis Carpenters’ Union were mailed to every household in St. Louis during the campaign.Global Water Intelligence credited BDS in St. Louis with thwarting Veolia’s ambitions for securing public sector work in the United States.
While Mayor Slay handily won the mayoral election, the Dump Veolia campaign put his office and Veolia on the defensive and forced both to expend considerable political clout and resources. In June, a public hearing on the Veolia contract was called by the Board of Alderman Public Utilities Committee. Over two sessions, the hearing lasted six hours. At the second session, well over 150 concerned citizens attended to voice their opposition to the proposed contract. The only testimonies in support of the contract were from either Veolia representatives or others who would directly benefit as a subcontractor from the proposed deal. The only pro-Israel opposition to our efforts came in the form of a statement from the St. Louis Jewish Community Relations Council that did not support Veolia — a seemingly untenable position — but asked the City to not factor BDS demands into their decision-making process.
At the hearing, several PSC members made statements focusing on Veolia’s operation of bus lines on segregated roads in the West Bank, drawing comparisons to St. Louis’ racist practices and to the Board of Aldermen’s strong stance against Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. Veolia representatives were flustered by the testimony about the segregated buses and attempted to deny the allegations. However, PSC testimony had been heard, and it was members of the Board of Aldermen who refuted the Veolia spokesperson’s inadequate defense. In September, Veolia Transdev sold off all bus lines operating in Palestine/Israel, showing the power of BDS.
For more than three years, Veolia attempted to secure a contract with St. Louis, defying the will of the local community through aggressive lobbying, bullying, political interference, back-door deals, and outright contempt for democratic involvement. When public opposition denied Veolia the necessary votes to pass the contract through normal channels, the mayor attempted to circumvent the democratic checks and balances by claiming the contract did not need approval through traditional means and threatened to sue the city comptroller if she did not sign it.
However, public outrage overwhelmed the St. Louis Board of Aldermen who introduced a resolution to remove funds allocated for Veolia in the city’s budget — the straw that finally broke the camel’s back, prompting Veolia to withdraw. The proposed Board Bill 216 may be the first city resolution in North America targeting Veolia in response to a BDS campaign.
As the St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee celebrates this victory over occupation profiteer Veolia, we wish to thank the many coalition partners and St. Louis citizens who supported the Dump Veolia campaign. While we came to this issue because of Palestine, we soon learned of the many troubling aspects of Veolia’s business practices including privatization of public resources, labor abuses, corruption, environmental degradation and interference in democratic processes. This is a huge win for BDS in North America and a triumph for the people of St. Louis.
An independent United Nations human rights expert today warned that financial institutions and real estate companies involved with housing settlements in occupied Palestinian territory – which are considered illegal under international law – may be held criminally accountable.
Addressing journalists at UN Headquarters, the Special Rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Richard Falk, reiterated that the settlements are unlawful according to the Fourth Geneva Convention.
He said that his office has been trying to inform companies, among them the European banking group Dexia and the United States-based real estate company Re/Max, that continuing their practices in the territories could be “problematic.”
It was essential, Mr. Falk stressed, to encourage corporations to withdraw their profit-making activities from the settlements.
He noted that the Government of the Netherlands has discouraged investments by Dutch companies in or servicing the settlements in the West Bank, and it does not provide assistance to Dutch companies that want to engage in settlement activities.
In this context, the engineering firm Royal HaskoningDH recently terminated a project in East Jerusalem.
The move by the Government is a “real breakthrough,” Mr. Falk said, in trying to build consensus around the conclusion that it is inappropriate to continue to be involved in illegal settlement-related activities in the occupied territory.
The concept was among three main points that Mr. Falk made yesterday during his briefing to the General Assembly’s Third Committee, which deals with social, humanitarian and cultural issues.
In his report, Mr. Falk also outlined a model of legal analysis to assess the probability of liability, including international criminal liability, for corporate complicity in breaches of international law related to illegal settlements.
“I encourage Member States and civil society to use this model as a template to examine other companies engaged in similar activities related to the illegal settlement enterprise,” he said in a news release.
The question of corporate complicity addressed in the Special Rapporteur’s report follows on from the call he made last year at the General Assembly for Member States as well as civil society to boycott Israeli and international businesses profiting from Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine.
“I strongly encourage all business to use the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights as a guide for how to conduct their business, and to exercise due diligence to ensure they do not contribute to human rights violations and abuse, and in order to avoid responsibility for complicity in breaches of international law,” he said.
Among other issues, Mr. Falk recommended that the General Assembly seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) as to the status and general legality of prolonged occupation.
He noted that while there were no expectations that Israel would comply with such an advisory opinion, or that it would automatically qualify for enforcement by the UN Security Council, it would be a genuine determination with careful legal reasoning from some of the best legal minds in the world.
“It should be treated as authoritative guidance on the nature of international laws bearing on a situation of this sort,” Mr. Falk said.
Independent experts, or special rapporteurs, are appointed by the Human Rights Council to examine and report back on a country situation or a specific human rights theme. The positions are honorary and the experts are not UN staff, nor are they paid for their work.
With 7 votes against and 5 in favor, the UCLA Undergraduate Students Association Council voted last night to defeat a resolution that threatened the ability for students to pursue divestment from companies tied to the Israeli occupation.
The resolution, entitled “A Resolution In Support of Positive Steps Towards an Israeli-Palestinian Peace” framed divestment as a source of tension on campus, while also calling for “positive investment” in a basket of companies loosely affiliated with both Israelis and Palestinians.
Over a hundred students attended the hearings, which lasted until 3am on October 23rd. Over the course of two and a half hours of public comment, over 40 students from a variety of campus communities spoke against the bill, arguing that its claims to support community engagement were hypocritical given the exclusion of SJP from the bill’s writing process; wide ranging criticism by Palestinians of “positive investment,” and criticism of the attempt to bar divestment from public debate. Two council members admitted to having taken free trips to Israel sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, which has actively opposed divestment bills at the University of California system and campaigned against SJPs.
Council members responded by systematically removing clauses that spoke on behalf of Palestinians or limited their ability to engage in divestment activism. Eventually the bill lost support and failed when put to a vote. Students for Justice in Palestine board member Angélica Becerra commented “I am very happy with tonight’s outcome. It shows great resiliency on the part of SJP and that our community support is very strong.”
Members of SJP expressed hope that efforts to prevent debate around divestment would continue to be unsuccessful, while the statewide campaign against efforts to remove university investments from companies enabling the occupation would continue to gain momentum across the state.
Students for Justice in Palestine at UCLA was founded in 2005 and is a coalition of students working in solidarity with the Palestinian struggle.
A law firm targeting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement has close links to Israeli intelligence, US government cables leaked by Wikileaks show.
Shurat HaDin—Israel Law Center (ILC) made a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission last month against Jake Lynch, the director of the Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies at Sydney University, over Lynch’s support for BDS.
The ILC, set up in 2003, claims to be ‘a fully independent non-profit organization, unaffiliated with any political party or governmental body.’
However, the organisation’s director, Nitsana Darshan-Leitner, has privately admitted to taking direction from the Israeli government over which cases to pursue and relying on Israeli intelligence contacts for witnesses and evidence.
Darshan-Leitner made the comments in 2007 to diplomats from the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, who reported the conversation in a cable leaked by Wikileaks four years later. It states:
Leitner said that in many of her cases she receives evidence from GOI officials, and added that in its early years ILC took direction from the GOI [Government of Israel] on which cases to pursue.
‘The National Security Council (NSC) legal office saw the use of civil courts as a way to do things that they are not authorized to do,’ claimed Leitner. Among her contacts, Leitner listed Udi Levy at the NSC and Uzi Beshaya at the Mossad, both key Embassy contacts on anti-terrorist finance cooperation. Leitner offered a case against Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) as example of ILC’s close cooperation with the GOI. After obtaining a judgment against PIJ for NIS 100 million (USD 25 million), ILC requested a lien for that amount against the Abu Akker Trading Company as a third party defendant.
At the time, Abu Akker was one of the largest Palestinian importing companies, and Leitner said the Mossad provided her with the intelligence (similar to information provided to USG officials in a classified briefing) to prove that the company was funneling money to PIJ. According to Leitner, the ILC now decides its cases independently, but continues to receive evidence and witnesses from Israeli intelligence.
The US cable goes on to comment that:
While the ILC’s mission dovetails with GOI objectives of putting financial pressure on Israel’s adversaries, the often uncompromising approach of ILC’s attorneys seems to overreach official GOI policy goals. ILC’s relentless litigation has proven to be an obstacle to the GOI’s releasing of all customs revenues previously withheld from the PA [Palestinian Authority].
ILC has engaged in a wide variety of other actions in the US, Australia, Israel itself and in Egypt as well as targeting Iran, Syria, North Korea and the Palestinian Authority. Amongst its targets have been financial institutions including UBS, American Express Bank and the Lebanese-Canadian Bank, President Jimmy Carter, World Vision Australia (a Christian aid agency) and, most notably, the largely successful attempt to stop the second Free Gaza Flotilla. This involved a blizzard of legal threats against insurance companies port authorities and satellite firms. They were informed that they would open themselves to criminal liability for “aiding and abetting” a “terrorist” organisation or would become”legally liable” for any future attacks by Hamas.
The Bank of China Affair
Further details of the ILC’s links with Israeli intelligence have emerged amid fallout from a case brought by the firm against the Bank of China. According to accounts in the Israeli press, officials from the National Security Council approached Darshan-Leitner, after identifying the bank as a conduit for Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
Darshan-Leitner found a suitable plaintiff to bring the case in the family of Daniel Wultz, a 16-year-old American citizen killed in a suicide bombing in Tel Aviv in 2006. Yediot Ahronot reported,
In her discussions with the intelligence agents, Darshan Leitner insisted that she receives massive assistance from the government. She demanded convicting information on the bank activities, affidavits from authorized people and a commitment to provide for the trial an authorized witness that will say that the Chinese knew about the nature of the accounts and refused to close them. The consent was given – orally. In 2009, a lawsuit was filed to the NY Federal court.
This arrangement began to collapse in the face of Chinese Government pressure ahead of a visit to Beijing by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year.
The Wultz family has accused the Israeli Government of sabotaging the case, by failing to provide the documents it promised at the outset. The standoff is particularly embarrassing, because Daniel Wultz’s mother, Sheryl Cantor Wultz, is a cousin of Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader in the US Congress.
Among the key documents at the centre of the case is an affidavit by Uzi Shaya, who may be the same person as ‘Uzi Beshaya’, the Israeli security official named in the 2007 cable as a contact of both Shurat Hadin and the US Embassy.
Another US cable describes Shaya as an officer of Israel’s Shin Bet service, working in the Counter Terror Finance Bureau of the Israeli National Security Council alongside Udi Levi, Darshan-Leitner’s other intelligence contact.
Meir Dagan’s Lawfare programme
The National Security Council appears to be the central node in the Israeli Government’s attempts to use deniable civil actions against alleged terrorist financing. According to veteran Haaretz intelligence correspondent Yossi Melman, this strategy was initiated by Meir Dagan when he headed the NSC in the late 1990s, before becoming chief of the Mossad.
In a 2007 article, Melman went on to suggest that Israeli intelligence was connected to a lawsuit brought against the Arab Bank, one of the largest financial institutions in the Middle East.
The law firm which brought the Arab Bank case, Mann Mairone, moved into terrorism litigation around 2001, having previously specialised in taxation and commercial law. In the process, it acquired a roster of researchers and advisors drawn largely from Shin Bet and Israeli military intelligence.
Wikileaks cables show that the Arab Bank was a frequent subject of discussions between Israeli NSC officials and US diplomats during the case.
At one such meeting with US Treasury officials in 2005, ILC contacts Udi Levi and Uzi Shaya were prominent in defending the litigation, although vague as to the justification for it:
Levi said the bank had stopped all transactions to the territories after it was sued in U.S. court. He cautioned, however, that the bank is ‘playing with evidence, cleaning the records, and deleting accounts’ to cover its tracks. Shaya said that the GOI has unspecified proof that the Arab Bank is still dealing with Hizballah in Lebanon.
Levi went on to suggest further litigation:
Levi called INTERPAL and other European groups that channel funds to Hamas ‘a problem we do not know how to solve,’ but added that lawsuits similar to the ones filed against the Arab Bank might help. He suggested that another option to restrict funding would be to prevent INTERPAL from clearing dollar donations through New York.
Interpal, a British charity focused on Palestine, had been a source of friction between the Israeli and British governments for several years. The Israeli daily Haaretz reported in 2004that Foreign Minister Jack Straw had refused a request from his Israeli counterpart Silvan Shalom to put an end to Interpal’s activities. Significantly, Haaretz noted that even if the Israeli intelligence on Interpal were made public, it would not necessarily meet the threshold for banning a UK charity and that, ‘it is therefore not at all certain that even if the evidence were to be revealed, it would lead to a curbing of Interpal in Britain’.
In 2007 Interpal had its account closed by Natwest, as the bank sought to avoid potential liability in a civil case. Darshan-Leitner claimed in her 2007 comments that the ILC had been involved in the action, and that Natwest itself now consulted with Israeli intelligence on Islamic charity clients.
Interpal was also targeted in 2007 by a British think tank, the Centre for Social Cohesion, as chronicled in Spinwatch’s pamphlet, The Cold War on British Muslims. In their attack, the CSC cited ‘allegations made by Israel and the USA’, as well as a 2006 BBC Panorama documentary, which had also relied extensively on evidence provided by current and former Israeli security officials.
In 2009, an inquiry by the UK Charity Commission found that there was insufficient evidence to take action over claims that Interpal beneficiaries were supporting terrorism, because it could not verify ‘the provenance or accuracy’ of material provided by the Israeli government.
Udi Levi’s comments suggest that such developments are in line with the wider strategy being pursued by the National Security Council.
If a firm that has received covert support from the Israeli government is now targeting BDS activists, does this mean that the Israeli government has widened its use of lawfare in a bid to silence its critics?
As we have noted firms like the ILC are prepared to take on the Israeli government over issues like the Bank of China case. Yet that case itself illustrates the extent to which they are nevertheless dependent on a government which is prepared to use and then abandon terror victims for cynical political reasons.
The fact that the Israeli Government is prepared to support organisations whose hardline stances are at odds with its own public positions, must also create doubts about how sincerely held those positions are.
The targeting of the Palestinian Authority in particular, in cases largely dependent on official Israeli sources, is surely inconsistent with any commitment to a genuine peace process.
COSATU statement on the privatization of prisons
The Congress of South African Trade Unions is completely appalled to hear that the private security company, G4S, that is running the Mangaung Correctional Centre in the Free State, has mercilessly fired more than 300 Police and Prisons Civil Rights Union (POPCRU) members for staging a strike.
This had led to a spate of stabbings at the prison since the middle of September and this week the situation ended in a hostage drama where a senior female warden was taken hostage by four inmates.
What is even more astounding is that government has opted to privatize an institution that is ought to rehabilitate social delinquents. It ought to be a national scandal that private companies are being handed huge amounts of taxpayers’ money to profit from this rehabilitation process. It is even worse when these companies sack workers for raising issues regarding the conditions that they work under.
It is worrying that G4S, a British-Danish private security company that provides services and equipment to Israeli prisons, checkpoints, the Apartheid Wall and the Israeli police has now been courted by our government to milk tax payer’s money in order to finance its controversial operations in the apartheid state of Israel.
G4S’s modus operandi is indicative of two of the most worrying aspects of neoliberal capitalism and Israeli apartheid; the ideology of “security” and the increasing privatisation of what have been traditionally state run sectors. Security, in this context, does not imply security for everyone, but rather, when one looks at the major clients of G4S Security (banks, governments, corporations etc) it becomes evident that when G4S says it is “Securing your World”, as the company slogan goes, it is referring to a world of exploitation, repression, occupation and racism.
Those without money and power are evidently seen either as not worthy of security, or as the threats which G4S’s clients require to be secured against. Which is why G4S careless less about the prison conditions in South Africa, the security of the defenceless peace-loving people of Palestine.
We call on our government to cut ties with this company whose record for gross human rights violations speaks volumes.
We further call on the Department of Correctional Services to reinstate the dismissed workers with immediate effect!
Statement issued by Vusumuzi Bhengu, COSATU Shop Steward Editor, October 5 2013
On 28 September 2013, in Utrecht, the Dutch trade union ABVAKABO-FNV, together with the Dutch organisations Cordaid, A Different Jewish Voice, PalestineLink, Workgroup Palestine Kairos Netherlands, DocP and the Foundation XminY, organised a conference to generate additional momentum for the successful and growing Dutch and European movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it agrees to abide by international law.
Entitled “Conference for Peace in Palestine/Israel: Trade Unions and Citizens Together in Action Against the Occupation”, the conference was attended by more than 100 persons from among the trade union movement, from NGOs and from other associations.
Among the highlights were an opening speech by Rafeef Ziadah on behalf of PTUC-BDS (Palestine Trade Union Coalition for BDS) and a truly stirring closing speech by Cees Flinterman, professor of international law and member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee. In his closing remarks, Flinterman highlighted the general consensus among participants concerning the following six points (unofficial translation):
1. Companies that are involved in contracts with, or investments in business enterprises in the settlements, or that are involved in the construction of the wall, should be discouraged from pursuing these (illegal) business practices.
2. No business should be done with these companies involved in these business practices.
3. Pension funds should be compelled not to invest in companies involved in these business practices.
4. Members of associations, organisations and Dutch citizens in general should be informed about the activities of companies involved in these business practices, (i.e. as informed consumers). The government should be compelled to properly label products and/or to ban products that profit from business enterprises in the settlements.
5. The government (for example employer associations) should be compelled to exclude companies from (Dutch) public tenders that are involved in these business practices.
6. The government should be compelled to exclude settlements from bilateral co-operation agreements and instruments, including excluding organisations that finance settlement activities from benefitting from a preferential tax position and to prevent financial transitions that support the settlements and related enterprises.