Posts Tagged ‘Mavi Marmara’

Israel: Wieder ein Schrittchen weiter Richtung NATO-Vollmitgliedschaft

Montag, Dezember 24th, 2012

Turkey lifts veto on Israel’s NATO activities despite tensions: report

Monday, 24 December 2012

By AL ARABIYA

Turkey has reportedly agreed to Israeli participation in NATO activities in order to get Patriot missiles on its border with Syria, the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.

The Israeli newspaper said Israel will join a 2013 NATO military drill in Turkey, despite tense diplomatic ties between the two states.

“At the last minute – and I think it was dependent on the Patriots – it was approved,” an Israeli military official told the newspaper on condition of anonymity, referring to Turkey’s request to position the defensive missile batteries along its border with Syria.

However, there has been no “total solution” of the standoff between Ankara and Tel Aviv, the source added.

Turkey, a full NATO member, has repeatedly scrambled jets along the countries’ joint frontier and has responded in kind when shells from Syria came down inside its borders, fanning fears that the civil war could spread to destabilize the region.

On Sunday, NATO said in a statement that the deployment of Patriot air defense systems in Turkey will be defensive only and will not support a no-fly zone or any offensive operation.

“Its aim is to deter any threats to Turkey, to defend Turkey’s population and territory and to de-escalate the crisis on NATO’s south-eastern border,” the NATO statement added.

But ultimately, Turkey has previously opposed to increasing Israel’s participation within the military alliance as ties between the two countries deteriorated, according to NATO officials, notes the Post.

Turkish-Israeli relations took a hit after a Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010 that left several Turkish citizens dead after Israel Navy commandos boarded the ship trying to break the Gaza blockade.

Since then, NATO has pushed for the two states to reconcile and smooth over frictions.”

 

(Quelle: Al Arabiya News.)

UN: Verurteilung der “einzigen Demokratie des Nahen Ostens” wegen schweren Völkerrechtsbruchs

Montag, Oktober 11th, 2010

“Bericht der internationalen Kommission zur Untersuchung der Verstöße gegen das Völkerrecht, einschließlich des Kriegsrechts und der Menschenrechte, die bei den israelischen Angriffen auf die Flotte mit humanitären Hilfsgütern begangen wurden

Vorrede

Dieser Bericht wurde von der Untersuchungskommission erstellt, die der Menschenrechtsrat mit der Resolution 14/1 vom 2. Juni 2010 eingesetzt hat, mit dem Auftrag, die Verstöße gegen das Völkerrecht, einschließlich des Kriegsrechts und der Menschenrechte, zu untersuchen, die israelische Spezialkräfte am 31. Mai 2010 während des Kaperns der für Gaza bestimmten humanitären Hilfsflotte begangen haben, wobei neun Menschen getötet und viele andere verletzt wurden. Der Bericht untersucht die Ereignisse während des Kaperns der Flotte im Hinblick auf die einschlägigen Bestimmungen des Völkerrechts. Die Untersuchungskommission führte in Genf, London, Istanbul und Amman Befragungen von mehr als 100 Zeugen durch. Auf der Grundlage dieser Zeugenaussagen und anderer erhaltener Informationen war die Kommission imstande, ein Abbild der Vorfälle zu rekonstruieren, die sich während der Kaperung am 31. Mai 2010 und danach ereignet haben. Der Bericht ist eine sachliche Beschreibung der Ereignisse vor der Kaperung, während des Kaperns jedes der sechs Schiffe der Flotte (am 31. Mai) und während der Kaperung eines siebten Schiffes am 6. Juni 2010; außerdem werden die Vorfälle beschrieben, die zum Tod von neun Passagieren und zur Verletzung zahlreicher weiterer Passagiere führten und sich während der Inhaftierung von Passagieren in Israel und bei ihrer Abschiebung ereigneten. Der Bericht enthält eine juristische Einschätzung von Tatsachen, welche die Kommission in der Absicht vorgenommen hat, festzustellen, ob es zu Verstößen gegen das Völkerrecht, einschließlich des Kriegsrechts und der Menschenrechte, gekommen ist. Die Untersuchungsmission hat festgestellt, dass israelische Spezialkräfte während des Kaperns der Flotte, während der Inhaftierung von Passagieren und bei deren Abschiebung eine Reihe von Verstößen gegen das Völkerrecht, einschließlich des Kriegsrechts und der Menschenrechte, begangen haben. (…)

V. Schlussfolgerungen

260. Der Angriff auf die Flotte muss im Zusammenhang mit den andauernden Problemen zwischen der Regierung Israels, der Palästinensischen Autonomiebehörde und den Menschen gesehen werden. Bei der Durchführung ihrer Aufgabe, stellte die Kommission fest, dass beide Seiten zutiefst von der Richtigkeit ihrer jeweiligen Position überzeugt sind. Wenn nicht eine dramatische Veränderung der festgefahrenen gegenwärtigen Situation eintritt, wird es sehr wahrscheinlich wieder zu ähnlichen Katastrophen kommen. Man sollte sich daran erinnern, dass die Demonstration von Macht und Stärke eher akzeptiert wird, wenn sie mit einem Gefühl für Gerechtigkeit und Fairplay geschieht. Frieden und Rücksichtnahme müssen erarbeitet und können nicht aus dem Gegner herausgeprügelt werden. Ein unfairer Sieg hat noch niemals einen dauerhaften Frieden gebracht.

261. Die Kommission kam zu dem gesicherten Ergebnis, dass am 31. Mai 2010 in Gaza eine humanitäre Krise bestand. Ihr lagen aus zuverlässigen Quellen so unwiderlegbare Beweise vor, dass sie zu keiner anderen Einschätzung kommen konnte. Jede Leugnung dieses Ergebnisses ist mit rationalen Argumenten nicht zu rechtfertigen. Als eine der daraus zu ziehenden Konsequenzen ergibt sich, dass schon allein aus diesem Grund die Blockade (des Gaza-Streifens) illegal und rechtlich nicht zu begründen ist. Das gilt trotz der Begründung, mit der man (in Israel) die Rechtmäßigkeit der Blockade zu belegen versucht.

262. Diese Schlussfolgerung führt zu weiteren Feststellungen. Grundsätzlich war die Aktion der israelischen Streitkräfte zum Kapern der “Mavi Marmara” auf offenem Meer unter diesen Umständen und aus den angegebenen Gründen eindeutig illegal. Auch nach Artikel 51 der UN-Charta war die unter diesen Umständen vorgenommene Aktion nicht gerechtfertigt.

263. Israel versucht die Blockade aus Sicherheitsgründen zu rechtfertigen. Der Staat Israel hat Anspruch auf Frieden und Sicherheit wie jeder andere Staat. Das Abfeuern von Raketen und anderer Kriegsmunition vom Gaza-Streifen aus auf israelisches Territorium ist ein schwerer Verstoß gegen das Völkerrecht und das Kriegsrecht. Aber auch jede Vergeltungsaktion, die zur kollektiven Bestrafung der Zivilbevölkerung in Gaza führt, ist unter keinen Umständen mit dem Recht vereinbar.

264. Das Verhalten des israelischen Militärs und anderen Personen gegenüber den Passagieren der Flotte war in dieser Situation nicht nur unangemessen, sondern auch durch eine in diesem Ausmaß völlig unnötige, unglaubliche Gewaltanwendung gekennzeichnet. Die Brutalität erreichte ein inakzeptables Niveau. Ein solches Verhalten kann weder aus Sicherheitsgründen noch aus anderen Gründen gerechtfertigt oder entschuldigt werden. Es stellte eine schwere Verletzung der Menschenrechte und des Kriegsrechts dar.

265. Die Kommission ist der Meinung, dass mehrere Übertretungen und Straftaten begangen wurden. Sie findet es unbefriedigend, dass sie in der verfügbaren Zeit nicht imstande war, eine umfassende Liste aller Straftaten zu erstellen. Es liegen jedoch genug eindeutige Beweise vor, die nach Artikel 147 der Vierten Genfer Konvention eine Strafverfolgungen folgender Verbrechen erfordern:

Vorsätzlicher Mord

Folterung oder unmenschliche Behandlung

Vorsätzliche Verursachung großer Leiden oder schwere Beeinträchtigung der körperlichen Integrität oder der Gesundheit

Die Kommission ist auch der Meinung, dass Israel gegen eine Reihe von Verpflichtungen verstoßen hat, die ihm aus der Achtung der Menschenrechte erwachsen, und zwar gegen folgende Bestimmungen

• Recht auf Leben (Art. 6, International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights);

• Verbot der Folter und anderer grausamer, unmenschlicher oder erniedrigender Behandlung oder Bestrafung (Art. 7, International Covenant);

• Recht auf Freiheit und Sicherheit der Person und auf den Schutz vor willkürlicher Verhaftung oder Inhaftierung (Art. 9, International Convenant);

• Recht der Inhaftierten auf menschliche Behandlung und Achtung ihrer Menschenwürde (Art. 10, International Convenant)

• Redefreiheit (Art.9, International Convenant)

Auch das Recht von Verletzten auf eine wirksame Behandlung sollte garantiert sein. Die Kommission sollte nicht so verstanden werden, dass sie diese Liste für vollständig hält.

266. Die Kommission stellt fest, dass die Einbehaltung des von den israelischen Behörden unrechtmäßig konfiszierten Eigentums (von Passagieren) ein andauerndes Vergehen ist und ersucht Israel, dieses Eigentum unverzüglich zurückzugeben.

267. Da die Täter bei ihren schwereren Verbrechen maskiert waren, können sie nicht ohne Hilfe der israelischen Behörden identifiziert werden. Sie reagierten sehr gewalttätig, wenn sie glaubten, jemand versuche, sie zu identifizieren. Die Kommission hofft aufrichtig darauf, dass die israelische Regierung ihre Identifizierung ermöglicht, damit die Schuldigen verfolgt und die Verfahren zum Abschluss gebracht werden können.

268. Die Kommission ist sich bewusst, dass die Regierung Israels es nicht zum ersten Mal abgelehnt hat, bei einer Untersuchung von Ereignissen mitzuwirken, an denen Angehörige ihres Militärs beteiligt waren. Bei dieser Gelegenheit akzeptiert die Kommission die Versicherungen des Ständigen Vertreters Israels (bei der UNO), dass sich die Position, die er (im Auftrag seiner Regierung) zu vertreten hatte, nicht gegen die Mitglieder der Kommission persönlich richtete. Es ist dennoch bedauerlich, dass es die israelische Regierung erneut abgelehnt hat, sich an einer Untersuchung zu beteiligen, die nicht von ihr selbst durchgeführt wurde oder an der sie maßgeblichen Anteil hatte, die sich aber mit Ereignissen beschäftigte, bei denen Zivilisten durch israelische Militärs zu Tode kamen.

269. Die Kommission bedauert, dass die Ständige Vertretung Israels (bei der UNO) ihren Bitten um Informationen nicht nachgekommen ist. Als Grund wurde dafür gleich zu Beginn angegeben, die Regierung Israels habe ein eigenes unabhängiges Gremium von angesehenen Personen zur Untersuchung der Vorfälle auf der Flotte eingesetzt. Der Kommission wurde mitgeteilt, deshalb und weil der (UN-)Generalsekretär die Einsetzung eines weiteren erlesenen Gremiums mit einem ähnlichen Mandat angekündigt habe, sei “eine zusätzliche Initiative des Menschenrechtsrates unnötig und unproduktiv”.

270. Die Kommission stimmte nicht mit dieser Auffassung überein und schlug deshalb dem Ständigen Vertreter Israels vor, dass er nicht die Kommission, sondern den Menschenrechtsrat auffordern sollte, der Kommission zu gestatten, die Veröffentlichung ihres Berichtes aufzuschieben, damit sie weitere Untersuchungen anstellen und ihre Aufgabe vollenden könne. Die Kommission hat jedoch bis heute vom Menschenrechtsrat keine derartige Anweisung erhalten, möchte aber mitteilen, dass sie verpflichtet gewesen wäre, auf eine solche Direktive des Rates positiv zu reagieren.

271. Im Licht der Tatsache, dass das Turkel-Komitee (der israelischen Regierung) und das Gremium des Generalsekretärs ihre Arbeit noch nicht abgeschlossen haben, nimmt die Kommission Abstand von jedweden Bemerkungen, die den Eindruck erwecken könnten, sie wolle die genannten Gremien davon abbringen, ihre Untersuchungen “unbehindert von äußeren Einflüssen” zu vollenden. Die Kommission beschränkt sich auf die Feststellung, dass das Vertrauen der Öffentlichkeit in Untersuchungsverfahren zu den bekannten Umständen nicht größer wird, wenn das Subjekt einer Untersuchung entweder sich selbst untersucht oder eine maßgebende Rolle in dem Untersuchungsverfahren spielt.

272. An anderer Stelle dieses Berichts hat die Kommission auf die Tatsache hingewiesen, dass sie es als notwendig erachtete, ihr Mandat selbst zu interpretieren, weil es in der Resolution, mit der sie eingesetzt wurde, sehr allgemein formuliert worden war. Beim jetzigen Stand der Dinge ist es besonders wichtig, zu betonen, dass es keinerlei (Vorgaben oder) Vorverurteilungen gab. Die Kommission achtete besondere sorgfältig darauf, bei der ersten sich bietenden Gelegenheit mitzuteilen, dass sie ihr Mandat nach eigener Interpretation dazu verpflichtete, ihre Aufgabe ohne irgendwelche vorgefassten Meinungen oder Vorurteile anzugehen. Sie möchte allen Beteiligten versichern, dass sie sich strikt daran gehalten hat.

273. Alle an Bord der Schiffe der Hilfsflotte befindlichen Passagiere, die vor der Kommission erschienen, beeindruckten deren Mitglieder als Menschen, die sich dem Geist der Humanität verpflichtet fühlen und von einer tiefen und echten Anteilnahme am Wohlergehen der Bewohner des Gaza-Streifens beseelt waren. Die Kommission kann nur die Hoffnung ausdrücken, dass alle bestehenden Differenzen nicht auf lange, sondern auf möglichst kurze Sicht bereinigt werden können, damit in dieser Region endlich Frieden und Harmonie einkehren.

274. Neun Menschen verloren ihr Leben, und mehrere andere erlitten schwere Verletzungen. Nach den Beobachtungen der Kommission haben die traumatischen Erfahrungen nicht nur bei den Passagieren, sondern auch bei den verletzten Soldaten deutlich spürbare psychische Narben hinterlassen. Die Mitglieder der Kommission sprechen allen Betroffenen und vor allem den Familien der Verstorbenen ihr tiefes Mitgefühl aus.

275. Nicht nur die Kommission ist der Meinung, dass im Gaza-Streifen eine beklagenswerte Situation besteht, die als “unerträglich” zu charakterisieren ist. Dieser Zustand ist im 21. Jahrhundert völlig inakzeptabel und nicht länger hinzunehmen. Es ist völlig unverständlich, wie jemand die Bedingungen, unter denen die Menschen dort leben müssen, als “zufriedenstellend und die grundlegendsten Bedürfnisse der Menschen befriedigend” charakterisieren konnte. Die beteiligten Parteien und die internationale Gemeinschaft sind verpflichtet, eine Lösung zu finden, welche die berechtigten Sicherheitsinteressen sowohl Israels als auch des palästinensischen Volkes wahrt, denn beide sind dazu berechtigt “ihren Platz unter dem Himmel” zu haben. Die in diesem Fall offensichtliche Konkurrenz zwischen dem Recht auf Sicherheit und dem Recht auf ein menschenwürdiges Leben kann nur beseitigt werden, wenn alte Gegensätze einem (gemeinsamen) Streben nach Gerechtigkeit und Fairplay untergeordnet werden. Beide Seiten müssen die Kraft finden, die tief verwurzelten Vorbehalte aus ihrem Gedächtnis zu reißen und aufeinander zuzugehen.

276. Die Kommission hat auch über das Engagement humanitärer Organisationen nachgedacht, die bei langjährigen humanitären Krisen, in denen die internationale Gemeinschaft – aus welchen Gründen auch immer – untätig geblieben ist, intervenieren möchten. Zu häufig werden sie als lästig empfunden und schlimmstenfalls beschuldigt, Terroristen oder feindliche Agenten zu sein.

277. Man muss unterscheiden zwischen Aktionen, die unternommen werden, um den Menschen in Krisengebieten Erleichterung zu verschaffen, und Aktionen, die gegen die Verursacher der Krisen gerichtet sind. Die letztgenannte Aktionsform ist eine politische Aktion und deshalb unpassend für Gruppen, die ihr Anliegen als rein humanitär bezeichnen. Auf diesen Unterschied wird hingewiesen, weil einige der Passagiere ausschließlich den dringenden Bedarf der Menschen in Gaza decken wollten, während es anderen vor allem darum ging, die Aufmerksamkeit auf die Blockade zu lenken und deren Aufhebung als einzige Möglichkeit zur Beendigung der Krise zu propagieren. In einer Untersuchung sollte geprüft werden, was als rein humanitäre Hilfe und was als humanitäre Aktion zu definieren ist, damit man sich auf rechtmäßige Formen des Eingreifens bei humanitären Krisen verständigen kann.

278. Die Kommission hofft aufrichtig, dass denjenigen, die durch die illegalen Aktionen des israelischen Militärs Verluste erlitten haben, keine Hindernisse in den Weg gelegt werden und dass man sie angemessen und schnell entschädigt. Wir hoffen, dass die Regierung Israels deshalb umgehend aktiv wird. Es wird ein langer Weg sein, den Israel gehen muss um den schlechten Ruf loszuwerden, den dieses Land sich durch seine ungestrafte Unnachgiebigkeit in internationalen Angelegenheiten erworben hat. Das würde auch denen helfen, die aufrichtiges Verständnis für die Situation (der Betroffenen) haben, weil sie die dann unterstützen könnten, ohne selbst stigmatisiert zu werden.”

 

(Quelle: Luftpost.)

Hinweis:

Der vollständige, 66-seitige Original-UN-Bericht (in Englisch) ist hier als PDF erhältlich.

Iran’s Grüne Bewegung – ein Jahr danach

Freitag, Juni 11th, 2010

Iran’s Green Movement: One Year Later

How Israel’s Gaza Blockade and Washington’s Sanctions Policy Helped Keep the Hardliners in Power

By Juan Cole

Iran’s Green Movement is one year old this Sunday, the anniversary of its first massive demonstrations in the streets of Tehran. Greeted with great hope in much of the world, a year later it’s weaker, the country is more repressive, and its hardliners are in a far stronger position — and some of their success can be credited to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and sanctions hawks in the Obama administration.

If, in the past year, those hardliners successfully faced down major challenges within Iranian society and abroad, it was only in part thanks to the regime’s skill at repression and sidestepping international pressure. Above all, the ayatollahs benefited from Israeli intransigence and American hypocrisy on nuclear disarmament in the Middle East.

Iran’s case against Israel was bolstered by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s continued enthusiasm for the Gaza blockade, and by Tel Aviv’s recent arrogant dismissal of a conference of Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) signatories, which called on Israel to join a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. Nor has President Obama’s push for stronger sanctions on Iran at the United Nations Security Council hurt them.

And then, on Memorial Day in the United States, Israel’s Likud government handed Tehran its greatest recent propaganda victory by sending its commandos against a peace flotilla in international waters and so landing its men, guns blazing, on the deck of the USS Sanctions. Yesterday’s vote at the U.N. Security Council on punishing Iran produced a weak, much watered-down resolution targeting 40 companies, which lacked the all-important imprimatur of unanimity, insofar as Turkey and Brazil voted "no" and Lebanon abstained. There was no mention of an oil or gasoline boycott, and the language of the resolution did not even seem to make the new sanctions obligatory. It was at best a pyrrhic victory for those hawks who had pressed for "crippling" sanctions, and likely to be counterproductive rather than effective in ending Iran’s nuclear enrichment program. How we got here is a long, winding, sordid tale of the triumph of macho posturing over patient and effective policymaking.

Suppressing the Green Movement

From last summer through last winter, the hardliners of the Islamic Republic of Iran were powerfully challenged by reformists, who charged that the June 12, 2009, presidential election had been marked by extensive fraud. Street protests were so large, crowds so enthusiastic, and the opposition so steadfast that it seemed as if Iran were on the brink of a significant change in its way of doing business, possibly even internationally. The opposition — the most massive since the Islamic Revolution of 1978-79 — was dubbed the Green Movement, because green is the color of the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad, among whom losing presidential candidate Mirhossein Moussavi is counted. Although some movement supporters were secularists, many were religious, and so disarmingly capable of deploying the religious slogans and symbols of the Islamic Republic against the regime itself.

Where the regime put emphasis on the distant Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Levant, Green Movement activists chanted (during "Jerusalem Day" last September), "Not Gaza, not Lebanon. I die only for Iran." They took their cue from candidate Moussavi, who said he "liked" Palestine but thought waving its flag in Iran excessive. Moussavi likewise rejected Obama administration insinuations that his movement’s stance on Iran’s nuclear enrichment program was indistinguishable from that of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. He emphasized instead that he not only did not want a nuclear weapon for Iran, but understood international concerns about such a prospect. He seemed to suggest that, were he to come to power, he would be far more cooperative with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

The Israeli government liked what it was hearing; Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu even went on "Meet the Press" last summer to praise the Green Movement fulsomely. "I think something very deep, very fundamental is going on," he said, "and there’s an expression of a deep desire amid the people of Iran for freedom, certainly for greater freedom."

Popular unrest only became possible thanks to a split at the top among the civilian ruling elite of clerics and fundamentalists. When presidential candidates Moussavi, Mehdi Karroubi, and their clerical backers, including Grand Ayatollah Yousef Sanaei and wily former president and billionaire entrepreneur Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, began to challenge the country’s authoritarian methods of governance, its repression of personal liberties, and the quixotic foreign policy of President Ahmadinejad (whom Moussavi accused of making Iran a global laughingstock), it opened space below.

The reformers would be opposed by Iran’s supreme theocrat, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who defended the presidential election results as valid, even as he admitted to his preference for Ahmadinejad’s views. He was, in turn, supported by most senior clerics and politicians, the great merchants of the bazaar, and most significantly, the officer corps of the police, the basij(civilian militia), the regular army, and the Revolutionary Guards. Because there would be no significant splits among those armed to defend the regime, it retained an almost unbounded ability to crackdown relentlessly. In the process, the Revolutionary Guards, generally Ahmadinejad partisans, only grew in power.

A year later, it’s clear that the hardliners have won decisively through massive repression, deploying basij armed with clubs on motorcycles to curb crowds, jailing thousands of protesters, and torturing and executing some of them. The main arrow in the opposition’s quiver was flashmobs, relatively spontaneous mass urban demonstrations orchestrated through Twitter, cell phones, and Facebook. The regime gradually learned how to repress this tactic through the careful jamming of electronic media and domestic surveillance. (Apparently the Revolutionary Guards now even have a Facebook Espionage Division.) While the opposition can hope to keep itself alive as an underground civil rights movement, for the moment its chances for overt political change appear slim.

Nuclear Hypocrisy

Though few have noted this, the Green Movement actually threw a monkey wrench into President Obama’s hopes to jump-start direct negotiations with Iran over its nuclear enrichment program. His team could hardly sit down with representatives of Ayatollah Khamenei while the latter was summarily tossing protesters in filthy prisons to be mistreated and even killed. On October 1, 2009, however, with the masses no longer regularly in the streets, representatives of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany met directly with a representative of Khamenei in Geneva.

A potentially pathbreaking nuclear agreement was hammered out whereby Iran would ship the bulk of its already-produced low-enriched uranium (LEU) to another country. In return, it would receive enriched rods with which it could run its single small medical reactor, producing isotopes for treating cancer. That reactor had been given to the Shah’s Iran in 1969, and the last consignment of nuclear fuel purchased for it, from Argentina, was running out. The agreement appealed to the West, because it would deprive Iran of a couple of tons of LEU that, at some point, could theoretically be cycled back through its centrifuges and enriched from 3.5% to over 90%, or weapons grade, for the possible construction of nuclear warheads. There is no evidence that Iran has such a capability or intention, but the Security Council members agreed that safe was better than sorry.

With Khamenei’s representative back in Iran on October 2, the Iranians suddenly announced that they would take a timeout to study it. That timeout never ended, assumedly because Khamenei had gotten a case of cold feet. Though we can only speculate, perhaps nuclear hardliners argued that holding onto the country’s stock of LEU seemed to the hardliners like a crucial form of deterrence in itself, a signal to the world that Iran could turn to bomb-making activities if a war atmosphere built.

Given that nuclear latency — the ability to launch a successful bomb-making program — has geopolitical consequences nearly as important as the actual possession of a bomb, Washington, Tel Aviv, and the major Western European powers remain eager to forestall Iran from reaching that status. As the Geneva fiasco left the impression that the Iranian regime was not ready to negotiate in good faith, the Obama team evidently decided to respond by ratcheting up sanctions on Iran at the Security Council, evidently in hopes of forcing its nuclear negotiators back to the bargaining table. Meanwhile, Netanyahu was loudly demanding the imposition of "crippling" international sanctions on Tehran.

Washington, however, faced a problem: Russian Prime Minister and éminence grise Vladimir Putin initially opposed such sanctions, as did China’s leaders. As Putin observed, "Direct dialogue… is always more productive… than a policy of threats, sanctions, and all the more so a resolution to use force." Moreover, the non-permanent members of the Council included Turkey and Brazil, rising powers and potential leaders of the non-permanent bloc at the Council. Neither country was eager to see Iran put under international boycott for, from their point of view, simply having a civilian nuclear enrichment program. (Since such a program is permitted by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, any such Security Council sanctions on Iran represent, at best, arbitrary acts.)

By mid-May, Obama nonetheless appeared to have his ducks in a row for a vote in which Russia and China would support at least modest further financial restrictions on investments connected to Iran’s Revolutionary Guards. Many observers believed that such a move, guaranteed to fall far short of "crippling," would in fact prove wholly ineffectual.

Only Turkey and Brazil, lacking veto power in the Council, were proving problematic for Washington. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey leads the Justice and Development Party, which is mildly tinged with Muslim politics (unlike most previous strongly secular governments in Ankara). Viewing himself as a bridge between the Christian West and the Muslim world, he strongly opposes new sanctions on neighboring Iran. In part, he fears they might harm the Turkish economy; in part, he has pursued a policy of developing good relations with all his country’s direct neighbors.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has led a similar charge against any strengthened punishment of Iran. He has been motivated by a desire to alter the prevailing North-dominated system of international relations and trade. Popularly known as "Lula," the president has put more emphasis on encouraging South-South relations. His country gave up its nuclear weapons aspirations in 1980, but continued a civilian nuclear energy program and has recently committed to building a nuclear-powered submarine. Having the Security Council declare even peaceful nuclear enrichment illegal could be extremely inconvenient for Brasilia.

On May 15th, Erdogan and Lula met with Ahmadinejad in Tehran and announced a nuclear deal that much resembled the one to which Iran had briefly agreed in October. Turkey would now hold a majority of Iran’s LEU in escrow in return for which Iran would receive fuel rods enriched to 19.75% for its medical reactor. Critics pointed out that Iran had, by now, produced even more LEU, which meant that the proportion of fuel being sent abroad would be less damaging to any Iranian hopes for nuclear latency and therefore far less attractive to Washington and Tel Aviv. Washington promptly dismissed the agreement, irking the Turkish and Brazilian leaders.

Meanwhile, throughout May, a conference of signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was being held in New York to hammer out a consensus document that would, in the end, declare the Middle East a "nuclear free zone." Unexpectedly, they announced success. Since Israel is the only country in the Middle East with an actual nuclear arsenal (estimated at about 200 warheads, or similar to what the British possess), and not an NPT signatory, Tel Aviv thundered: "This resolution is deeply flawed and hypocritical… It singles out Israel, the Middle East’s only true democracy and the only country threatened with annihilation… Given the distorted nature of this resolution, Israel will not be able to take part in its implementation."

The hypocrisy in all this was visibly Washington’s and Israel’s. After all, both were demanding that a country without nuclear weapons "disarm" and the only country in the region to actually possess them be excused from the disarmament process entirely. This was, of course, their gift to Tehran. Like others involved in the process, Iran’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency immediately noted this and riposted, "The U.S.… is obliged to go along with the world’s request, which is that Israel must join the NPT and open its installations to IAEA inspectors."

A Windfall for the Hardliners: The Flotilla Assault

With the Tehran Agreement brokered by Turkey and Brazil — and signed by Ahmadinejad — and Israel’s rejection of the NPT conference document now public news, Obama’s sanctions program faced a new round of pushback from China. Then, on May 31st, Israeli commandos rappelled from helicopters onto the deck of the Mavi Marmara, a Turkish aid ship heading for Gaza. They threw stun grenades and fired rubber-jacketed metal bullets even before landing, enraging passengers, and leading to a fatal confrontation that left at least nine dead and some 30 wounded. An international uproarensued, putting Israel’s relations with Turkey under special strain.

The Mavi Marmara assault was more splendid news for Iran’s hardliners at the very moment when the Green movement was gearing up for demonstrations to mark the one-year anniversary of the contested presidential election. Around the Israeli assault on the aid flotilla and that country’s blockade of Gaza they were able to rally the public in solidarity with the theocratic government, long a trenchant critic of Israeli oppression of the stateless Palestinians. Green leaders, in turn, were forced to put out a statement condemning Israel, and Khamenei was then able to fill the streets of the capital with two million demonstrators commemorating the death of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.

The flotilla attack also gave the hardliners a foreign policy issue on which they could stand in solidarity with Turkey, Iraq, Syria, and the Arab world generally, reinforcing their cachet as champions of the Palestinians and bolstering the country’s regional influence. There was even talk of sending a new Gaza aid flotilla guarded by Iranian ships. Because Turkey, the aggrieved party, is at present a member of the Security Council, this fortuitous fillip for Iran has denied Obama the unanimity he sought on sanctions. Finally, the incident had the potential to push international concern over Tehran’s nuclear enrichment program and that country’s new assertiveness in the Middle East into the background, while foregrounding Israel’s brutality in Gaza, intransigence toward the peace process, and status as a nuclear outlaw.

In the end, President Obama got his watered-down, non-unanimous sanctions resolution. There is no doubt that Netanyahu’s reluctance to make a just peace with the Palestinians and his cowboy military tactics have enormously complicated Obama’s attempt to pressure Iran and deeply alienated Turkey, one of yesterday’s holdouts.

His election as prime minister in February 2009 turns out to have been the best gift the Israeli electorate could have given Iran. The Likud-led government continues its colonization of the West Bank and its blockade of the civilian population of Gaza, making the Iranian hawks who harp on injustices done to Palestinians look prescient. It refuses to join the NPT or allow U.N. inspections of its nuclear facilities, making Iran, by comparison, look like a model IAEA member state.

Juan Cole is the Richard P. Mitchell Collegiate Professor of History at the University of Michigan and director of its Center for South Asian Studies. He maintains the blog Informed Comment. His most recent book is Engaging the Muslim World (Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

Copyright 2010 Juan Cole”

(Quelle: Antiwar.com.)

Gaza: “Wie Kaffee ohne Koffein” – Skeptische Stimmen zur israelischen Untersuchungskommission

Mittwoch, Juni 9th, 2010

“Anger at Israel’s Gaza whitewash

By Vita Bekker, Foreign Correspondent

TEL AVIV // Israel’s internal inquiry into its attack on a Gaza aid flotilla in which nine people died will be a whitewash, legal experts said yesterday.

Days after flatly rejecting an international investigation, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, is expected to announce an inquiry panel comprising Israeli maritime law experts and two foreign observers.

It will have no legal authority, cannot require witnesses to appear and will not be able to question anyone who took part in the attack.

The Israeli legal scholar Amnon Rubinstein, who has been invited to serve on the panel, said: ‘There is coffee without caffeine and there is an investigative committee without an investigation. When you don’t investigate, it’s not an investigative committee.’

The United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon said the international community must be given a ‘credible’ role in the investigation. ‘Credible international involvement is crucial to a prompt, credible, impartial and transparent investigation,’ UN spokesman Farhan Haq said.

Vladimir Putin, the Russian prime minister, said last Monday’s botched commando attack in international waters off the coast of Gaza was ‘a crude violation of international law’, and he would raise it at the UN.

Mr Putin was speaking at a 22-nation security summit of Eurasian leaders in Turkey, adding weight to Ankara’s calls for an international investigation. Eight of those killed in the attack were Turkish and the ninth had dual Turkish-US citizenship.

Mr Putin’s backing for Turkey may make it more difficult for the US, Israel’s closest ally, to approve the limited investigation. The Obama administration has called for an inquiry but has dismissed demands for an international or UN-led investigation.

The Israeli inquiry will examine only whether the attack complied with international law, Benny Begin, a government minister and close confidant of Mr Netanyahu, said yesterday. Mr Begin, the son of Menachem Begin, a former Israeli premier, added that the legality of Israel’s three-year blockade of Gaza would also be reviewed.

Mr Begin’s comments suggest that the panel will not investigate what went wrong in the assault, or question the decisions made by political or military leaders. It will also dodge the question of whether politicians considered the heavy price the country would pay in its ties with Turkey and its international standing.

The inquiry proposal was condemned even by Israeli commentators who supported the attack.

Nahum Barnea, a senior correspondent for Yediot Ahronot, Israel’s biggest newspaper, wrote: ‘This is not aimed at being an investigative committee, nor an examination committee. In the best case, it’ll be an educated seminar on issues in international law.’

Mr Netanyahu seems set to avoid calling for a panel whose findings may cost him or other senior political and military officials their jobs, or at least stain their reputations.

Indeed, the conclusions by an Israeli-government appointed team that had the broader mandate of investigating Israel’s handling of its 2006 war with Lebanon’s Hizbollah militants – viewed by many Israelis as a failure – helped to force the resignations of the war-time military chief, Dan Halutz, and the defence minister, Amir Peretz. The so-called Winograd committee also prompted a plunge in popularity for Ehud Olmert, the prime minister at the time.

Mr Barnea wrote: ‘This won’t be Winograd 2. Netanyahu won’t be Olmert, [Defence Minister Ehud] Barak won’t be Amir Peretz and [Army chief Gaby] Ashkenazy won’t be Halutz. Who says that those in the government don’t learn any lessons?’

Israel’s military yesterday said that it will conduct its own separate investigation into the raid and produce its findings in less than a month, apparently in a bid to avoid having its soldiers and officers interrogated by an external panel.

But the credibility of the probe was immediately thrown into doubt after the army appointed Giora Eiland, the reserve major general, who said last week that the decision to launch the operation ‘was the right one as compared to the alternative…which was to allow the flotilla to reach Gaza undisturbed’.

Mr Eiland, who headed an army investigative committee into the 2006 kidnapping of an Israeli soldier by Gaza militants, may have been a convenient choice because he is known for avoiding assigning blame to specific officials even when he finds that operational faults occurred.

Israel has in the past also dodged international investigations into its actions. Most recently, it rejected cooperating with a United Nations-mandated commission headed by Richard Goldstone, a former South African judge, following its devastating three-week onslaught in the Gaza Strip that ended in January 2009. Mr Goldstone’s report had accused Israel, as well as Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic group that rules Gaza, of war crimes.

On Sunday, Israel’s ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, said the country dismisses ‘the idea of an international commission’ to investigate the flotilla raid. His statements were issued one day after Ban Ki-moon proposed such a probe, which would include Israeli, American and Turkish officials and be headed by Geoffrey Palmer, a former prime minister of New Zealand and a maritime law expert.”

(Quelle: The National.)

Gaza: Ilan Pappés Kommentar zum israelischen Überfall

Dienstag, Juni 8th, 2010

“Ilan Pappé: The deadly closing of the Israeli mind

The decline in Israel’s reputation since the brutal attack on the Gaza flotilla is unlikely to influence the country’s leaders

At the top of Israel’s political and military systems stand two men, Ehud Barak and Benjamin Netanyahu, who are behind the brutal attack on the Gaza flotilla that shocked the world but that seemed to be hailed as a pure act of self-defence by the Israeli public.

Although they come from the left (Defence minister Barak from the Labour Party) and the right (Prime Minister Netanyahu from Likkud) of Israeli politics, their thinking on Gaza in general and on the flotilla in particular is informed by the same history and identical worldview.

At one time, Ehud Barak was Benjamin Netanyahu’s commanding officer in the Israeli equivalent of the SAS. More precisely, they served in a similar unit to the one sent to assault the Turkish ship last week. Their perception of the reality in the Gaza Strip is shared by other leading members of the Israeli political and military elite, and is widely supported by the Jewish electorate at home

And it is a simple take on reality. Hamas, although the only government in the Arab world elected democratically by the people, has to be eliminated as a political as well as a military force. This is not only because it continues the struggle against the 40-year Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip by launching primitive missiles into Israel – more often than not in retaliation to an Israel killing of its activists in the West Bank. But it is mainly due to its political opposition for the kind of ‘peace’ Israel wants to impose on the Palestinians.

The forced peace is not negotiable as far as the Israeli political elite is concerned, and it offers the Palestinians a limited control and sovereignty in the Gaza Strip and in parts of the West Bank. The Palestinians are asked to give up their struggle for self-determination and liberation in return for the establishment of three small Bantustans under tight Israeli control and supervision.

The official thinking in Israel, therefore, is that Hamas is a formidable obstacle for the imposition of such a peace. And thus the declared strategy is straightforward: starving and strangulating into submission the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the densest space in the world.

The blockade imposed in 2006 is supposed to lead the Gazans to replace the current Palestinian government with one which would accept Israel’s dictate – or at least would be part of the more dormant Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. In the meantime,Hamas captured an Israeli soldier, Gilad Shalit, and so the blockade became tighter. It included a ban of the most elementary commodities without which human beings find it difficult to survive. For want of food and medicine, for want of cement and petrol, the people of Gaza live in conditions that international bodies and agencies described as catastrophic and criminal.

As in the case of the flotilla, there are alternative ways for releasing the captive soldier, such as swapping the thousands of political prisons Israel is holding with Shalit. Many of them are children, and quite a few are being held without trial. The Israelis have dragged their feet in negotiations over such a swap, which are not likely to bear fruit in the foreseeable future.

But Barak and Netanyahu, and those around them, know too well that the blockade on Gaza is not going to produce any change in the position of the Hamas and one should give credit to the Prime Minister, David Cameron, who remarked at Prime Minister’s Questions last week that the Israelis’ policy, in fact, strengthens, rather than weakens, the Hamas hold on Gaza. But this strategy, despite its declared aim, is not meant to succeed or at least no one is worried in Jerusalem if it continues to be fruitless and futile.

One would have thought that Israel’s drastic decline in international reputation would prompt new thinking by its leaders. But the responses to the attack on the flotilla in the past few days indicate clearly that there is no hope for any significant shift in the official position. A firm commitment to continue the blockade, and a heroes’ welcome to the soldiers who pirated the ship in the Mediterranean, show that the same politics would continue for a long time.

This is not surprising. The Barak-Netanyahu-Avigdor Lieberman government does not know any other way of responding to the reality in Palestine and Israel. The use of brutal force to impose your will and a hectic propaganda machine that describes it as self-defence, while demonising the half-starved people in Gaza and those who come to their aid as terrorists, is the only possible course for these politicians. The terrible consequences in human death and suffering of this determination do not concern them, nor does international condemnation.

The real, unlike the declared, strategy is to continue this state of affairs. As long as the international community is complacent, the Arab world impotent and Gaza contained, Israel can still have a thriving economy and an electorate that regards the dominance of the army in its life, the continued conflict and the oppression of the Palestinians as the exclusive past, the present and future reality of life in Israel. The US vice-president Joe Biden was humiliated by the Israelis recently when they announced the building of 1,600 new homes in the disputed Ramat Shlomo district of Jerusalem, on the day he arrived to try to freeze the settlement policy. But his unconditional support now for the latest Israeli action makes the leaders and their electorate feel vindicated.

It would be wrong, however, to assume that American support and a feeble European response to Israeli criminal policies such as one pursued in Gaza are the main reasons for the protracted blockade and strangulation of Gaza. What is probably most difficult to explain to readers around the world is how deeply these perceptions and attitudes are grounded in the Israeli psyche and mentality. And it is indeed difficult to comprehend how diametrically opposed are the common reactions in the UK, for instance, to such events to the emotions that it triggers inside the Israeli Jewish society.

The international response is based on the assumption that more forthcoming Palestinian concessions and a continued dialogue with the Israeli political elite will produce a new reality on the ground. The official discourse in the West is that a very reasonable and attainable solution is just around the corner if all sides would make one final effort: the two-state solution.

Nothing is further from the truth than this optimistic scenario. The only version of this solution that is acceptable to Israel is the one that both the tamed Palestine Authority in Ramallah and the more assertive Hamas in Gaza could never ever accept. It is an offer to imprison the Palestinians in stateless enclaves in return for ending their struggle.

Thus even before one discusses either an alternative solution – a single democratic state for all, which I support – or explores a more plausible, two-state settlement, one has to transform fundamentally the Israeli official and public mindset. This mentality is the principal barrier to a peaceful reconciliation in the torn land of Israel and Palestine.

Professor Ilan Pappé directs the European Centre for Palestine Studies at Exeter University and is the author of The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine”

(Quelle: The Independent.)

Gaza: Und wenn Hamas ein Schiff mit Hilfsgütern in Internationalen Gewässern attackiert hätte?

Dienstag, Juni 8th, 2010

“What if Hamas Had Attacked Humanitarian Ships in International Waters?

by Ed Kinane / June 7th, 2010

This is a thought experiment. Just imagine that it was Israel in desperate need of humanitarian aid – perhaps in the wake of an earthquake or whatever.  Imagine further that a broad, well publicized effort involving citizens of dozens of countries had assembled a flotilla to carry humanitarian aid to the beleaguered nation.

Now try to imagine that Hamas – the elected government of Gaza – had long been blocking humanitarian aid to Israel and was determined to keep the flotilla from reaching Israel. Suppose that Hamas had the military wherewithal – which of course it doesn’t – to hijack that flotilla miles out to sea in international water.

Suppose that armed Hamas commandos, descending from helicopters in the night, swarmed all over the flotilla. And, that as it did so those commandos repeatedly shot a U.S. citizen in the head and murdered eight others.

The International Maritime Bureau (a division of the International Chamber of Commerce) defines piracy as ‘the act of boarding any vessel with an intent to commit theft or any other crime, and with an intent or capacity to use force in furtherance of that act.’

The U.S. State Department defines terrorism as the use of violence or the threat of violence on civilians for political purposes.

Our imagined – and very far-fetched scenario – fits both those definitions. Yet many commentators seem to go out of their way to avoid describing the recent attack on the humanitarian aid flotilla in international waters as piracy.

Nor do these commentators use the T-word – so readily invoked at every other opportunity.  Can it be that we only use terrorism or terrorist to refer to actions by people of color or by those who resist U.S. and Israeli invasions and occupations?  

Can it be that this crass double standard makes our minds such mush that we are no longer capable of seeing straight?”

(Quelle: Dissident Voice.)