Mairead Maguire deported from Israel overnight

According to the Jerusalem Post, “Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Maguire was deported from Israel on Tuesday, the Interior Ministry confirmed, after boarding a flight to the UK earlier in the morning [n.b. – before dawn]. On Monday evening, the Supreme Court ruled that Maguire must leave Israel, in accordance with a deportation order barring her from entering the country for the next 10 years”. This news was published here.

The Supreme Court justices indicated that they based their reasoning on their belief that Maguire knew that her two previous deportations, in the context of her participating in sea expeditions designed to “break” the Israeli maritime blockade of Gaza, also included ten-year bans from entering Israel.

It is not clear how the justices arrived at the conclusion that Maguire knew about the ten-year ban.

They also said that Maguire should have addressed herself — and apparently still has the right to appeal — to Israel’s Interior Ministry against the ten-year ban.

The only discussion I’ve seen about this elsewhere revolves now around whether or not Maguire received a Hebrew-language document (which was supposed to have been explained to her in English in the presence of two witnesses) about her deportation, which she may have disregarded, and which she apparently did not sign because she would have objected to the charge that she entered Israel illegally. But, did she know about the ten-year ban?

One news report, which we cited in an earlier post, mentioned a document prepared for the Court with the assistance of the Irish Embassy in Israel — suggesting, though it was not clear, that the Irish Embassy might have been aware of the ten-year ban.

In addition, the Israeli state attorney’s representative told the Supreme Court that Israel’s Foreign Ministry was sure that one of the organizers of the Nobel women’s initiative (which sponsored Maguire’s trip to participate in meetings held in various places in Israel and the West Bank over the past week) had inquired, and was aware of, the ten-year ban.

But Maguire herself — who does not at all appear to be a practised liar — told the Supreme Court that she was “shocked” to learn of the ten-year ban when she arrived on a flight on 28 September.

Continue reading Mairead Maguire deported from Israel overnight

Mairead Maguire to appeal deportation in Israel's Supreme Court

The Jerusalem Post has reported that Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Maguire has decided to appeal her imminent deportation from Israel to the country’s Supreme Court. This is reported here.

UPDATE: Maguire has also challenged her continuing detention, which began last Tuesday. She is asking to be admitted or given entry into Israel.

Gideon Levy wrote in Haaretz earlier today, here, that a Nobel Peace Prize winner had been locked up in Israel and nobody cared.

Continue reading Mairead Maguire to appeal deportation in Israel's Supreme Court

There was violence in IDF boarding of Jewish boat heading to Gaza

Yes, we now know, there was indeed violence in the Israeli naval takeover of the Irene, the “Jewish Boat” that had audaciously sailed from a northern Cyprus port last weekend, heading toward Gaza.

Predictably, most of it was directed against “refusniks” Yonatan Shapira, who once served as an Israeli Air Force pilot, and — to a lesser extent — his younger brother Itamar.

Yonatan signed “A Pilot’s letter” with 26 other Israeli Air Force pilots in September 2003, saying “we are no longer willing to follow illegal orders”, protesting targetted assassinations in particular in Gaza, which he said were “war crimes”. He formed, with former Palestinian fighters, a group called “Combattants for Peace”, which he described in an interview on Democracy Now:

Yonatan repeated his accusation of “war crime” in an interview with the BBC on 6 January 2009, at the height of the IDF Operation Cast Lead in Gaza [27 December 2008 to 18 January 2009]:

The views he expresses in these Youtube videos show why it was predictable that Yonatan would have been treated with greater violence during the Israeli naval take-over of the Irene, the Jewish Boat to Gaza.

Yonatan received three strong electric shocks from a taser gun — twice, it was fired directly onto his chest, over his heart.

Continue reading There was violence in IDF boarding of Jewish boat heading to Gaza


Monday 21 June 2010

Ram Cohen, principal of the Aleph High School in Tel Aviv, was summoned to appear before the Knesset Education Committee and the Minister of Education, Mr. Gideon Saar, today, as Cohen explained in an article published in YNet, “following my unequivocal words to my students, condemning the 43 year-old occupation and rule over the life of the Palestinian people …

Continue reading Round-up

UN Human Rights Council endorses Goldstone report and recommends it to UNGA + says Israeli sanctions on Gaza constitute collective punishment

As we reported yesterday, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva adopted a resolution supporting the report on last winter’s Gaza war that the HRC had commissioned  from a team lead by South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone.

The vote was 25 in favor, 11 against, and 6 abstentions, as follows:

In favour: Argentina, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, China, Cuba, Djibouti, Egypt, Ghana, India, Indonesia, Jordan, Mauritius, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Qatar, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, South Africa, Zambia;

Against: Hungary, Italy, Netherlands, Slovakia, Ukraine, United States of America.

Abstaining: Belgium, Bosnia Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Gabon, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Republic of Korea, Slovakia, Uruguay.

These results are posted on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights here.

The resolution endorsed the recommendations in the Goldstone report, and recommended that the UN General Assembly “consider” the report in its current session (which lasts until late December, or eventually until next September). It also said that the Israeli restrictions on Gaza — which the HRC resolution says is occupied — is a “siege” that “constitutes collective punishment of Palestinian civilians”.

The resolution stresses “that the right to life constitutes the most fundamental of all human rights“, and recognizes that “the Israeli siege imposed on the occupied Gaza Strip, including its closure of border crossings and the cutting of the supply of fuel, food and medicine, constitutes collective punishment of Palestinian civilians and leads to disastrous humanitarian and environmental consequences“.

Continue reading UN Human Rights Council endorses Goldstone report and recommends it to UNGA + says Israeli sanctions on Gaza constitute collective punishment

Barak with UNSG: Trying to derail Goldstone mission?

This photo was published in the Israeli media – but it is not available on the UN photo site:

Israeli Defense Minister Barak meets UNSG BAN Ki-Moon - AP

Whereas this is one of two UN photos, published on the UN website, showing Barak — standing alone: his preference?  Or UN decision? — talking to journalists at a “stakeout” probably after the meeting:

Barak standing alone at UNHQ-NY after meeting UNSG BAN - UN photo by Mark Garten

UN Radio’s Diane Bailey reported from UNHQ/NY that “Barak said on Monday that he does not think that his government will cooperate with the team investigating alleged war crimes committed during the recent Israeli-Hamas conflict … The Israeli Defense Minister said knowing how such missions operate, he does not think his government should cooperate with the team despite the fact that Richard Goldstone has a lot of respect around the world.  ‘The mandate that the Goldstone committee got is to look into war crimes in regard to the operation in Gaza and from our experience, we well know that they will never be able to talk to Gaza side and to penetrate or to interrogate the series of terrorist operations along years, including thousands of rockets and missiles fell upon the heads of Israeli citizens in order to get unbiased conclusion’.”

How does Barak know that the Goldstone mission will “never be able to talk to [the] Gaza side”?

Another very real question is:  will they be able to talk to the Israeli side?

Justice Goldstone and his team entered Gaza via Egypt through the Rafah crossing on Monday — because the Israeli government did not respond to the mission’s request for visas to come to Israel.

They were greeted by Hamas official Ghazi Hamad, a former editor and journalist, and former adviser to Hamas’ deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, who served as spokesman for the Palestinian Authority Government in 2006, after Hamas won Legislative Council elections, and who is sometimes described as a “moderate”.  Hamad has written that Palestinians should stop “limiting our thinking” and has recently urged Palestinians to take into account the international community.  He currently works in the Gaza crossings authority.

Goldstone told journalists later that “We have come here to see, to learn, to talk to people in all walks of life; ordinary people, governmental people, administrative people”.

The mission’s mandate is to “investigate all violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”

Goldstone has interpreted this to mean that the mission will look at violations of human rights and international humanitarian law by all parties — including Hamas.

“So far, Israel is refusing to cooperate”, said Rina Jabareen of Adalah, “and that means that the Goldstone mission wouldn’t have access to speak to the army, to the military and the political leaders”.

Was Barak trying to bully the UNSG, in this meeting at UNHQ/NY, to go easy on Israel with this investigation, as Israeli media reports suggested yesterday afternoon?

Israel’s YNet news website is reporting today that “Barak told the secretary general that Israel expects the organization, and the international community, to increase efforts to secure the release of captive soldier Gilad Shalit.   The Iranian nuclear threat was also discussed at the meeting. Barak said Tehran ‘is endangering both regional and global stability. We insist that the economic sanctions on the Iranians be intensified’ …

Barak, at least according to this report, notably did not discuss the Israeli sanctions against Gaza, which UN Security Council Resolution 1860 said should be modified to allow re-construction materials into Gaza after the very IDF Operation Cast Lead that the Goldstone mission is investigation.

Nor did BAN mention this, apparently … At least, there was no statement to this effect issued by the UN spokespeople.


UPDATE: At the regular noon briefing at UNHQ/NY on Tuesday [half a day after this post was posted], UN spokeswoman Michele Montas offered journalists this tidbit: “In response to questions I have been getting about the Secretary-General’s meeting with Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak, the two discussed the Board of Inquiry, the Gaza fact-finding mission led by Justice [Richard] Goldstone, access and movement issues relating to Gaza, the importance of the peace process, Lebanon, and the upcoming report on Security Council resolution 1701 (2006). On the Gaza fact-finding mission, the Secretary-General renewed his call for cooperation from Israel. The full briefing transcript can be consulted here.

SECOND UPDATE: The next day — that is, at the regular noon briefing at UNHQ/NY on Wednesday 3 June — UN Spokeswoman Michele Montas announced:  “I have been asked in recent days about the Secretary-General’s position concerning inquiries into what happened earlier this year in Gaza, and I wanted to make a few points clear.  The Secretary-General has certainly not rejected the notion of an inquiry into the recent Gaza conflict.  On the contrary, and apart from the Board of Inquiry that he had instituted into the damages against the UN, he has both privately and publicly supported the Human Rights Council’s fact-finding mission.  He has also counselled and urged the Israeli Government to cooperate with this inquiry.  Indeed, he last did so yesterday at his meeting with the Israeli Deputy Prime Minister.  It is precisely because such an inquiry exists that the Secretary-General did not contemplate establishing another commission to undertake the very same task.  The Secretary-General is conscious of the fact that the Human Rights Council is especially well placed to commission an investigation into whether breaches of international humanitarian law have taken place, and had done so, inter alia, by selecting respected jurists to undertake this task, and had revised their terms of reference to ensure a balanced approach”.  The full transcript is published here.

THIRD UPDATE: On Thursday 4 June, at the regular noon briefing at UNHQ/NY, UN spokeswoman Michele Montas, had the following exchanges with journalists:
Question: The Palestinian situation … continues to be dire. Has the Secretary-General spoken to anybody in the Israeli authorities now to loosen up the border crossings and things like that?
Spokesperson: Well, you know that he has been doing so extensively, actually. He met Israeli officials twice during the week, as we mentioned in the readouts, every time it was [discussed] … You know, nothing has changed in terms of the actual access. As you know, we talked about construction material, we talked about the fact that there was no way we could help reconstruct Gaza if none of the material was allowed in. Yes, Talat.
Question: Michele, the [inaudible] spoke with us last week from the region and said that there were 630 blockades [n.b., he must mean roadblocks and/or checkpoints] and that they were primarily being set up to protect Israeli settlements. Was there any statement or follow-up from the Secretary-General on that comment? He also had said that senior advisers on behalf of the Israeli side were speaking with UN officials about bringing down some of those blockades. Is that…?
Spokesperson: We have been talking about this for a long time now. Those blockades are not new, as you know, and they have been hampering the free circulation of people, and we have been talking about them since the Secretary-General has been Secretary-General. He has been talking about those restrictions to free movement … We have been following up, as I said, on a regular basis on this.
Question: So there is cohesive agreement that the blockades are being set up primarily to protect Israeli settlements?
Spokesperson: Well, this is something for the Israeli Government to say. They’re the ones setting up the blockades. It’s not for us to say. What we are saying, what we have been protesting, is the fact that there are so many of them and it makes the life of Palestinians increasingly difficult. That we have been saying over and over again.
Question: Michèle, just a follow-up on that topic?
Spokesperson: Yes.
Question: In the readout from the Secretary-General’s meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister earlier this week, it says in among urging the Israelis to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid, it said that they discussed socio-economic projects in the West Bank. Is he referring to settlements in, by socio-economic projects, the Israeli socio-economic projects in the West Bank? I mean…
Spokesperson: I can try to get more details on what they mean.
Question: Okay, because it seems like there is a moment of opportunity here with President Obama calling today in a speech for the settlements to stop, there seems to be some momentum…
Spokesperson: Well, we have been coming out very strongly against the settlements ourselves. As you know, the UN has been very vocal about that, saying that these go against previous agreements and that they should not build any new settlements.
Question: Sure, but I mean, the Secretary-General has been urging the Israelis for over a year now to alleviate the blockade of Gazans and there has been nothing in response. Is he looking that this is a moment of opportunity to kind of elevate his pressure to try and…?
Spokesperson: Well, his pressure continues, you know. It was the case when he met two high Israeli officials this week and all these were expressed during those meetings.
Question: Well, it’s kind of, just the meetings, it’s kind of hard to determine which way the pressure was going. And just from reports, the Israeli media reports, it indicates that those Israeli Government officials were pressuring him, and the UN seems to be indicating that the Secretary-General was trying to pressure the Israelis. So, there is a disconnect here of who is…
Spokesperson: I don’t think there’s any disconnect. Each group or each side just flagged their own concerns and that’s the way it went. That doesn’t mean that one accepted the point of view of the other one … Yes, Mr. Abbadi.
Question: Also on the Middle East, Michèle. The United Nations is a part and parcel of the Quartet. Are there any preparations towards holding a meeting of the Quartet on the Middle East at this stage?
Spokesperson: Well, I think there are discussions about the next meeting and I’ll let you know when it happens”.
This briefing transcript is available here.


YNet also reported that “Barak also briefed Ban on the ‘Jenin Model’ project, which has seen Palestinian Authority defense forces assuming responsibility over security in West Bank cities. He also expanded on the actions Israel is taking to improve the quality of day-to-day life for the Palestinians in the West Bank, including the removal of roadblocks and various economic initiatives.  Speaking with reporters after the meeting, Barak explained that Israel would not cooperate with the UN investigation because by its very nature it cannot be objective … ‘And knowing the procedures by which such operations are taken, I don’t think that Israel has to or will cooperate with this interrogation and I say this despite the fact that Judge Goldstone personally has a lot of respect all around the world’, he said.   Asked whether Israel accepts the two-state solution, Barak said: ‘Israel wants peace with its neighbors. We are in favor of a regional process. This government recognizes all the agreements signed by previous governments, and that answers the question’.”

YNet also reported that “Barak will stay in New York today to meet with the US special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell. On Tuesday he will arrive in Washington for a series of meetings with administration officials, including Defense Secretary Robert Gates and National Security Advisor James Jones”.  This YNet report can be read in full here.

Richard Goldstone due in region this weekend to begin hearings on Gaza war

Until the last minute, it was not clear how South Africa’s Justice Richard Goldstone would arrive in the region this weekend with a mandate from the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva to begin an inquiry into the IDF’s Operation Cast Lead against Gaza (27 December – 18 January), or whetherIsrael will or will not let him enter the country, if he tries to come here.

Israel — which often prefers ambiguity — apparently did not reply to Goldstone’s request for a visa.

The mission’s mandate is to “investigate all violations of International Human Rights Law and International Humanitarian Law that might have been committed at any time in the context of the military operations that were conducted in Gaza during the period from 27 December 2008 and 18 January 2009, whether before, during or after.”

Continue reading Richard Goldstone due in region this weekend to begin hearings on Gaza war

UNICEF takes a bold and brave stand … to avoid controversy, it says

From Haaretz today, this headline and sub-head: “UNICEF severs ties with Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev: UN children’s fund says company owned by mogul has been involved in building settlements in W. Bank“.

And from the text of the story: “UNICEF decided to review its relationship with Leviev after a campaign by Adalah-NY and found ‘at least a reasonable grounds for suspecting’ that Leviev companies were building settlements in occupied territory, a UNICEF official said”.

The report continues: ” ‘I can confirm that UNICEF has advised Adalah in New York that it will not be entering into any partnerships or accepting financial contributions from Lev Leviev or his corporate people’, Chris de Bono, a senior adviser to the executive director of UNICEF, told Reuters. ‘We are aware of the controversy surrounding Mr. Leviev because of his reported involvement in construction work in the occupied Palestinian territory’, de Bono said, adding that it was UNICEF’s policy to have partners who were ‘as non-controversial as possible’.” UNICEF could not say how much Leviev had donated as an individual. In his only known partnership with UNICEF, Leviev last year donated jewelry to a fashion event in France that benefited the French national committee for UNICEF, de Bono said…” The full report can be read in Haaretz here.