This week, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to give two major speeches in Washington, DC. The first is Monday at the conference of the American Israeli Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). The second is on Tuesday before the U.S. Congress.
Tuesday’s speech has been generating headlines, with more than 30 Members of Congress reportedly declaring that they will not attend. But despite the controversy surrounding Netanyahu’s invitation to speak before Congress, the policies of his government are what deserve real scrutiny.
Here are four key questions that Prime Minister Netanyahu should have to answer while he makes the rounds in Washington, DC:SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
By Alicia Koutsoulieris, Case Coordinator for Israel, the Occupied Palestinian Territories and the Palestinian Authority
Freedom of speech has suffered a tragic start in 2015.
As the world calls for the release of Saudi Arabian blogger Raif Badawi, there is another person who also deserves our support. While you read this, Palestinian Murad Shtewi sits in an Israeli prison. His “crime?” Daring to protest the Israeli military occupation that his village lives under.SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
The same day Ban Ki Moon, UN Secretary General, visited the Gaza Strip saying, “a restrictive occupation that has lasted almost half a century, the continued denial of Palestinian rights and the lack of tangible progress in peace negotiations” was the root cause of latest escalation in violence, the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People hosted a lecture by Noam Chomsky in the UN General Assembly Hall on resolving the Israel/Palestine conflict.
It couldn’t have happened at a more pivotal time. Significant movement is happening globally and with Secretary of State John Kerry’s announcement that the Quartet (the U.S., the U.N., Russia and European Union) are meeting this Friday in Brussels, it’s time for the international community to finally end the status quo.
Palestinians in Ramallah gather to protest Israeli attacks on Gaza on July 25,2014. More than 1,400 Palestinians and 59 Israelis have died since the war began on July 7, according to the New York Times (Photo Credit: Issam Rimawi/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images).
By Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International’s Researcher on Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
Across the city of Ramallah in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) hang billboards and banners showing images of bloodshed and destruction alongside the words: “Here now, we are all Gaza.”
An ‘Israeli only’ by-pass road that links Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, sitting below an Israeli settlement outside of Jerusalem (Photo Credit: Edith Garwood).
ALL Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) are illegal.
Israel’s long-running policy of settling civilians in occupied territory amounts to a war crime.
This needs to be clearly said now, without ambiguity. The United States government, as sponsor of the current ‘peace talks’ between Israel and Palestinians, must uphold rule of law and human rights. Despite the fact that the U.S. has historically taken the same position as the international community that Israeli settlements within the OPT are illegal, they have chosen to prevaricate in recent years, using words like ‘unhelpful’ or ‘illegitimate’ to describe settlement building by Israel.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call on May 30th from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision follows a ruling by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not.
By Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
5/30/2013 UPDATE:Success! What does it take for the Israeli military to stop imprisoning Natan Blanc? It takes Amnesty International and other activists making their concerns known and taking action.
Natan Blanc’s father received a call from his son telling him that he had been informed that he would be released at the end of his current prison term. The decision apparently follows a decision by the Unsuitability (or Compatibility) Committee which – according to the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) – is designed to deal with people with behavioral problems who are deemed unsuitable for army service. It is not a committee which explores whether someone is a genuine conscientious objector or not. In practice, it seems to work as a mechanism for the IDF to rid itself of the problem of conscientious objectors who have been repeatedly imprisoned by declaring their ‘unsuitability’ based on poor mental health or discipline problems.
Natan is expected to be set free June 6th. Thank you for taking action. No further action is required at this time.
Lamri Chirouf inspects an Israeli tear gas canister in Budrus cemetery (Photo Credit: Amnesty International).
By Lamri Chirouf, Amnesty International’s Delegate in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
Last month, we drove northwest from Ramallah to visit the small village of Budrus, which gained international attention a decade ago when residents started protesting against the fence/wall erected by Israel.
Regular protests there against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank continue, and clashes between village youths and members of the Israeli army have become a weekly, if not daily, occurrence. The main reason behind the protests is still the wall, described by the Israeli government as a security fence and by Budrus residents, and Palestinians throughout the West Bank, as an ‘apartheid wall’ and a way for the Israeli government to annex more Palestinian lands. The majority of the wall is located inside the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). In Budrus, it consists of rolls of barbed wire, multiple fences and sensors, and a road on the other side patrolled by Israeli military jeeps, all of which work to separate villagers from their farming lands.
There are no Israeli settlements or towns nearby, but Israeli troops regularly enter the village. The encounters between them and Budrus residents can be fatal.
Natan Blanc (Photo Credit: Hagar Shezaf for Amnesty International).
Written by Nehal Amer, Social Media Specialist, Middle East Coordination Group
Each year, a handful of courageous Israeli teenagers are imprisoned for refusing to serve in the military on grounds of conscience. Natan Blanc, 19, from Haifa has been imprisoned eight times in four months for his refusal to serve in the Israeli Defense Force (IDF). Amnesty International considers those imprisoned for total or selective objection to military service for reasons of conscience to be prisoners of conscience. Blanc spoke to Amnesty International about his motivation for objecting to military service in February 2013. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Former prisoner of conscience Bassem Tamimi holds plastic and rubber-coated bullets fired by Israeli forces.
Yesterday morning, US President Barack Obama arrived in Israel to much fanfare. He has said that he has come to listen. One place he should start is the Palestinian village of Nabi Saleh, located in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
I visited Nabi Saleh last week as part of an Amnesty International research mission to the West Bank. The village sits atop a hill, facing the illegal Israeli settlement Halamish. The settlers of Halamish, like so many other Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), are backed by the lethal force of the Israeli army.
For protesting against the settlement, the residents of Nabi Saleh have paid a heavy price. I spoke with village resident Bassem Tamimi, a man who Amnesty International previously declared a prisoner of conscience when he was imprisoned by Israel for involvement in peaceful protests. During Bassem’s most recent jail term, his brother-in-law Rushdi Tamimi, 31, was shot by Israeli soldiers at another protest in November 2012 and died days later in a hospital. In December 2011, another member of the village, Mustafa Tamimi, died after being hit in the face by a tear gas canister fired at close range from an Israeli military jeep.