Four Questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

(Photo by Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

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:

1. Why is Israel taking Palestinian land?

2. Why is Israel undermining Gaza reconstruction?

3. Why is Israel arresting nonviolent Palestinian protestors?

4. Why does Israel oppose international accountability?

The Details:

1. Why is Israel taking Palestinian land?
Hundreds of thousands of Israeli settlers now live on Palestinian land occupied by Israel.  To make way for these settlements, which are for Jews only, Israeli soldiers have forced countless Palestinians out of their homes and communities, sometimes at gunpoint.

When Palestinian activists oppose these Israeli actions, Israeli military and security forces subject them to jail, violence, and even death. President Obama and the U.S. Congress are helping to perpetuate this human rights crisis by providing roughly $3 billion a year in military aid to Israel.

2. Why is Israel undermining Gaza reconstruction?
It has been six months since the last major conflict between Israel, Hamas, and armed Palestinian groups.  The Israeli-occupied Palestinian territory of Gaza remains devastated after Israel’s 2014 military offensive in the territory.  The territory’s 1.8 million civilians currently have little hope of recovering, given Israel’s continued blockade of the Gaza Strip and a simultaneous lack of international aid for reconstruction.

As described in our annual report, Israeli forces “killed more than 1,500 civilians in Gaza, wounded thousands more, and caused huge devastation.  During the 50-day conflict, Hamas and Palestinian armed groups fired thousands of indiscriminate rockets and mortar rounds into civilian areas of Israel, killing six civilians, including one child.”  According to a U.N. agency, over 500 Palestinian children were also killed.

In Gaza, up to half a million Palestinians were displaced during the fighting.  Six months later, UN and other humanitarian aid agencies report that approximately 100,000 Palestinians are still displaced, their Gaza homes damaged or destroyed during Israeli attacks.  The aid agencies also report that children in Gaza continue to lack access to quality education, with over 400,000 of them in need of immediate psychosocial support.

3. Why is Israel arresting nonviolent Palestinian protestors?
Palestinian Murad Shtewi is just one of example of many Palestinian men, women, and children who have experienced arrest or imprisonment by Israeli military and security forces for peaceful protests against the Israeli Occupation.

Israeli Military Order 101 essentially bans Palestinians living under Israeli military occupation from peacefully protesting the occupation without the permission of the occupying forces. Yes, you read that right.

Under Israeli Military Order 101, all gatherings of 10 or more people “for a political purpose or for a matter that could be interpreted as political” or even “to discuss such a topic” are illegal in the Occupied Palestinian Territories without the permission of the Israeli military commander in the area.

4. Why does Israel oppose international accountability?
On April 1st of this year, Palestine will join the International Criminal Court (ICC).  Netanyahu has been campaigning against a possible ICC investigation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

If successful, Netanyahu’s campaign would shield not only Israeli officials, but also Hamas and other Palestinian armed groups from investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.  This would deny both Israeli and Palestinian victims justice.

The ICC currently has the power to investigate and prosecute war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide.  These ICC powers are limited to crimes committed in the territories of, or by nationals of, the countries that have ratified its statute.  The ICC’s jurisdiction may extend beyond the countries that have joined the ICC when the UN Security Council refers a particular situation to the Court for investigation, or when a country that hasn’t yet joined the ICC declares that it accepts the Court’s jurisdiction.

Instead of attempting to block a possible investigation, Israel should follow Palestine’s lead and join the ICC.  Both Palestinian and Israeli victims deserve justice and reparations for the crimes committed against them and their families.

The Real Controversy:
Instead of the narrow debate over Netanyahu’s invitation to speak before Congress, U.S. elected officials should be pushing Israel’s prime minister to answer these four questions.  Not only is Israel violating the human rights of millions of Palestinians, but if it succeeds in its campaigns, it will achieve the astonishing feat of shielding Palestinian human rights abusers as well.

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21 thoughts on “Four Questions for Prime Minister Netanyahu


  2. How do you figure that the west bank is Palestinian land? Was there EVER Palestinian sovereignty over any land anywhere?
    The reason why Gaza reconstruction isn't happening is because of internal Palestinian conflicts. Hamas wants the money to rearm and rebuild terror tunnels so that they could initiate the next war with Israel. They are fighting with Fatah and even with Egypt both of whom are at odds with Hamas. Israel is letting the materials in even though they aren't reconstructing Gaza with them.
    Palestinians protest in Israel and in the territories regularly. Only rockthrowers are arrested.
    The ICC move violates signed agreements between Israel and the Palestinians and can't be taken seriously since the Palestinians violate their own people's human rights and the human rights of Israeli citizens with their countless acts of terror. Prosecuting Israel's defense against those acts of terror as war crimes is beyond absurd.
    Netanyahu is here to address the Iranian nuclear threat not to respond to the false and biased accusations that you assert in this article.

  3. Interesting! I was under the misguided opinion that all America were in agreement with the atrocities of the Israeli people against the Palestinian people! I suppose you live and learn. He is a tyrant! And Israel is loosing the argument all over!

  4. Why is Amnesty international joining with the muslim ideology of replacing the jews and claiming the jewish homeland? Israel is the only democratic nation in the middle east, it is the only country in the north of africa where arabs have freedom. Amnesty is joined with the oppressor on this issue .What you printed is based on premise of denial of the right of Israelis to defend their lives.AS jews are murdered and amd persecuted today worldwide amnesty has chosen absurdly to further incite their tormentors and attempt to legitimize the motives of their attackers, shame on you.

  5. I am not an admirer of Netanyahu neither condone killing civilians. However, there will be no peace in Gaza as long as HAMAS is the governing body of the area. They have to be voted out by the people if they want peace. They are an organization of terrorists benefiting from the large donations to the Palestinian people and pocketing them in their bank accounts.
    i also do not like Netanyahu disrespecting our President.

  6. 1 Arabs in the Holy Land live on Jewish land that was stolen by the Arab occupiers.
    2. The goal of Hamas, the governing power in Gaza, is to reconstruct their capacity to commit war crimes, including genocide, against Jews. If Israel allows this they are failing in their duty to defend their citizens, and their duty to prevent war crimes.
    3. These so-called peaceful protestors are interfering with the belligerent rights of Israel as occupier in a just war. "Peaceful" German protests against the Allied occupations of Germany were also not permitted by the occupying powers.
    4. When the international community (including the ICC) would consider, say, not actively aiding Palestinian groups in seeking to commit war crimes, including genocide, against Jews, when Hamas renounces genocide and terror against civilians, when Fatah and other armed Palestinian groups renounce terror and civilians, then it would be fair to allow Palestine into the ICC.
    But the Palestinians are permitted to commit whatever crimes they choose, while Israelis and Jews throughout the world go unprotected by international law and international institutions.

  7. Sunjeev,

    Interesting questions. A few for you, if you don't mind:

    1) What is "Palestinian Land"? In view of the fact that there has never been a sovereign state of Palestine, that the 1948 armistice lines were expressly defined by the parties – at Arab insistence – as not being borders, and that all parties contemplate adjustments to those 1948 lines in a final negotiated settlement of the dispute, can you clarify what the metes and bounds of "Palestinian Land" are, and on what basis you have selected those metes and bounds?

    Relatedly, can you explain why you support the Palestinians' insistence that Jews be prohibited from living on any "Palestinian Land"? Is there any other ethnic or religious group whose de jure exclusion from property Amnesty supports? If not, why has Amnesty made an exception for Jews?

    2) Can you explain why you blame Israel for "undermining reconstruction" when donors have failed to follow through on promised aid, Hamas remains in charge of the territory and has diverted significant portions of what aid has arrived to offensive military use (such as in rebuilding tunnels), and when Palestinians are blaming the continued Hamas-Fatah rift for delays in reconstruction? I'm certain you are better positioned than the Palestinians to understand the causes of their problems, so I look forward to hearing your explanations!

    3) Can you explain why Amnesty has an objection to what appears to be a routine permitting requirement, particularly in light of the fact that "peaceful protest" in Amnesty's view includes rock throwing and other violent activity? Relatedly, can you explain why the Palestine Chronicle describes Murad Shtewi as a "Popular resistance committee coordinator," given the linkage between the "popular resistance committees" and terrorism (see…? Given your assertion that Mr. Shtewi is a man of nonviolence, I am certain he is outraged by the Palestine Chronicle's libel. Perhaps you can assist him in filing suit?

    4) Can you explain why you believe the ICC would be less biased against Israel than the UN HRC or OHCHR? Why you support Palestinian moves that violate the Oslo Accords? Why the Palestinian move for impartial "accountability" curiously picked a date that starts the day after the kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers? One would almost think they were looking to stack the deck, rather than for impartial justice.

    • Additionally why are Jews or people from any other faith not allowed to worship on Temple Mount and so doing they are being harassed and bohoed by these women which are being paid to incite hatred and terror on Temple Mount and shouting "Allahu Akbar" with all their strength.

  8. Israel is not "undermining Gaza reconstruction". UN suspends Gaza reconstruction due to stalled donor payments from Arab states. Reconstruction is also undermined by Palestinian infighting. The Fatah leader and Palestinian President Abbas doesn't want Hamas to receive money and aid.
    What Israel should do to end this smear campaign is to close its border to Gaza and let the EU form a secure shipping line to Gaza from Cyprus where shipments to Gaza will be monitored. With the Israeli side of the border closed, the blame will go elsewhere. No trade = no blame.

  9. Israel is America's Protectorate. Without America's support for its misdeeds, Israel wouldn't have the strength to do what it does in total violation of international law.

    • The Arab nations initiated four wars against Israel:

      1948 War of Independence
      1956 Sinai War
      1967 Six Day War
      1973 Yom Kippur War
      Israel defended itself each time and won. After each war Israeli army withdrew from most of the areas it captured (see maps). (see Camp-David Accords). This is unprecedented in World history and shows Israel's willingness to reach peace even at the risk of fighting for its very existence each time anew.

      TRUTH is too hard for you to admit.

  10. America should be embarrassed by the adoration and loud applause given to Benjamin Netanyahu by their congressional representatives as if he was a dignified statesman. This is the man that indiscriminately bombed and killed thousands of Palestinians for the sins of a very few. He turned much of Gaza into rubble.

  11. We were 4 & 5 years old, my husband and I, when Israel became a State. All the Arab Nations rushed in to wipe Israel off the map. She pevailed. We were both taught Jewish History in Sunday School and Hebrew School. My husband's Sister was educated in the U.S. and moved to Israel to live permanently. She married, had 3 kids, and now has 6 grandkids. Her daughter in law's family was chased from their home in the Golan Heights during the week before her wedding to their son. Bombs go off in Jerusalem often and the sister lives there. We fear for their safety! My Sister in Law's friend was on a bus which was blown up! If these things are happening to our family, why can't Israel defend itself against the enemy? You would. too, if it were you!

  12. It is a relief to read so many comments from followers who are better educated and aware of the issues Israel faces. It is a disappointment that Amnesty's "Advocacy Director for Middle East" is so uninformed and misguided.

  13. Former Israeli Defense Minister: Extremists Have Taken Over Israel

    “But to my great sorrow, extremist and dangerous elements have taken over Israel and the Likud Party and are shaking the foundations and threatening to hurt its residents.”

    “Sadly, senior politicians in the country have chosen the way of incitement and segregation of parts of Israeli society instead of unifying it and bringing it together. It is unbearable to me that we will be divided among us out of cynicism and lust for control, and I expressed my opinion on the matter more than once out of honest concern for the future of society in Israel and the future of the next generations.”

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