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Russell Tribunal accuses Israel of apartheid violations

February 15, 2014 at 1:25 pm

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP) demanded on Sunday that the ICC investigate crimes against humanity being committed by Israel in the Palestinian occupied territories.

The Russell Tribunal on Palestine, which was created in 2009 to look into the various accountabilities that have led to the continued occupation of the Palestinian Territories and the non-application of UN resolutions, held its fourth hearing in Brussels.

The Tribunal recommended that the UN General Assembly reconstitute the UN Special Committee against Apartheid and convene a special session to consider the question of apartheid against the Palestinian people.

It also called on the UN to examine the nature, consequences and legal status of Israel’s prolonged occupation and apartheid.

The tribunal heard more than 150 eyewitness and expert accounts, including that of Haneen Zoabi who is a member of Israeli Knesset.

The jurors at the tribunal said that they supported calls by Palestinian civil society for Palestine to take immediate steps to ratify the Rome Statute of the ICC. On its part, the ICC demanded that immediate investigations into the crimes against humanity and war crimes committed commence.

Israel practices numerous crimes against humanity that were referred to by the Tribunal and have been documented by Palestinian and international NGOs and legal experts over many years. This dates back to the Rome Statute which came into force on July 1, 2002.

The Tribunal supported the calls of Palestinian civil society for Palestine to ratify diverse and important international human rights conventions that guarantee better protection for Palestinian rights.

The jurors at the Tribunal also called for the UN to withdraw from the “so-called Quartet, which needs to be disbanded forthwith given that it has operated as a block to the implementation of international law.”

The Quartet was accused by the Tribunal of giving “the false impression of presiding over a meaningful peace process.”

Regarding EU member states, the Tribunal called on EU bodies to implement the European Parliament’s resolution calling for the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. Thus, the importation of all settlement products would be banned.

EU states were also asked to repeal any restriction under domestic law that would impede compliance with the duty to prosecute or extradite any alleged perpetrator a war crimes or crimes against humanity.

They were also asked to refrain from limiting the scope of universal jurisdiction  so as  to  ensure that  no  EU  member  state  becomes  a safe  haven  for suspected perpetrators of war crimes or crimes against humanity.

With regard to the US, the Tribunal said it must cease its unequivocal economic, military and diplomatic support for Israel which makes the US directly complicit in a very wide range of Israeli violations of international law.

In particular, it called on the US to cease, its “destructive” veto policy at the UN Security Council, most notably on the issue of Israel’s colonial settlements, which the US itself acknowledges as unlawful.

The Tribunal joined the calls of the BDS movement and others for the targeted boycott of corporations supporting Israel. The corporations mentioned are Veolia, G4S, Ikea and Caterpillar as well as Israeli firms that assist and profit from the occupation of Palestinian territory, such as Ahava.

Through these findings, the Tribunal aims to contribute to the mobilisation and the involvement of civil society within all states concerned with the question of Palestine.

The Tribunal said that its legitimacy does not stem from a government or any political party, but from the prestige, professional interests and commitment to fundamental rights of the members that constitute the Tribunal.