BRICS MEMORANDUM ON PALESTINE

MEMORANDUM: APPEAL TO BRICS TO UPHOLD INTERNATIONAL LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS OF THE PALESTINIAN PEOPLE UNDER ISRAELI OPPRESSION
– Submitted by South African civil society and political organizations to the 5th BRICS Summit
– Submitted by Buti Manamela to Marius Fransman
– 26 March, Durban (South Africa)
– Find online: http://tinyurl.com/d6bhlyz

I. BACKGROUND

1.  South Africa is hosting the fifth BRICS Summit at the Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) between the 26th and 27th of March 2013.  BRICS summits are convened to seek common ground on areas of importance for member countries and their economies with the intention of creating and establishing an equitable, democratic and multipolar world order.  BRICS mechanism aim to achieve peace, security, development and cooperation. It also seeks to contribute significantly to the development of humanity and establish a more equitable and fair world.

2.  This 5th BRICS summit is held in a country that was once at the receiving end of generous international support and solidarity. Indeed, India was one of the first countries in 1964 to have imposed a complete trade embargo on Apartheid South Africa. All BRICS countries were part of either the 1964 and/or 1977 UN Security Council votes for an arms embargo on Apartheid South Africa. It is without doubt that South Africa’s democratization was impossible without such efforts by member states, thus decisive internationalism, in the interests of a just peace is proven crucial within the international relations system.

3.  We further recall that the very principles that underpin the international legal obligations not to recognize, aid or assist the construction of the Israeli Separation Wall, the Israeli settlement enterprise and the situation created by it – namely the prohibition of the acquisition of territory by force, including the prohibitions against, and criminalization of population transfer – have been pioneered by the American States’ System and are applied today, among others, in the case of prohibition of vessels carrying the flag of Las Malvinas or transporting cargoes that consolidate the illegal exploitation of the natural resources on the islands to dock in ports of the Mercosul and associated countries.

4.  As citizens and organizations of a BRICS member country, South Africa, we hereby call on BRICS to take effective measures to uphold international law and human rights of the Palestinian people under Israeli occupation, apartheid and colonialism. Taking such action would put BRICS on the side of the developing countries, on the side of the peoples of the world and on the right side of history.

II. ISRAELI OCCUPATION, SETTLEMENTS AND ARMS TRADE
“[W]hat is being done against the Palestinian people [by Israel] seems to me to be a version of the hideous policy of apartheid…perhaps we in the UN should consider following the lead of a new generation of civil society, who are calling for …  boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) to pressure Israel to end its violations.” (Father Miguel D’Escoto Brockmann, President of the United Nations General Assembly)

5.  Israel has been in an illegal military occupation of the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Golan Heights for almost half a century now.  Israel rules over the West Bank through a system of racial segregation inclusive of, amongst other things, separate roads, the Separation Wall, separate legal systems and separate buses. Despite international consensus regarding the illegality of Israel’s settlement enterprise, including the Separation Wall, Israel continues to expand and build with impunity its segregated and “Jewish-only” settlements and the Separation Wall on occupied Palestinian land. This is particularly demonstrated by Israel’s insistence to implement what it calls the E1-plan in East Jerusalem. All these violations are in contravention of basic human rights espoused in international law and make the implementation of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, as recognized by all BRICS members, impossible. More importantly, they render Palestinian life disposable and undignified and deny the Palestinian people their inalienable right to self-determination.

6.  Israel has instituted racial discrimination and practices reminiscent of Apartheid rule in South Africa, as leading South African anti-apartheid figures have confirmed. In 2009, in a 300-page report commissioned by the South African government, the SA Human Sciences Research Council found that Israel is practicing a form of apartheid. Human Rights Watch and other human rights groups have subsequently published similar reports (see, “Separate but Unequal”). In 2011, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine convened in Cape Town and its Jury found Israel guilty of practicing apartheid, as defined in the International Convention for Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid, passed in 1973. Most recently, in March 2012 the United Nations Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) made similar findings and in January 2013, the United Nations Human Rights Council found that there is “institutionalized discrimination” by Israel and its associated settlements enterprise toward the indigenous Palestinians living in the Occupied West Bank.

7.  Israel has also imposed a cruel siege on Gaza, where it controls the land, air and sea borders of the Gaza Strip. Here, Israel controls all that flows in and out of the area including food supplies. Both the Israeli occupation and the siege have been condemned and declared illegal under international law. Beyond this siege Israel has carried out brutal and deadly attacks on the Palestinian people in Gaza. In the winter of 2008-2009 Israel launched military attacks against the Palestinian people in Gaza that resulted in the killing of more than 1400 people, including over 300 children. In 2010, Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi Marmara ship that was carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza, and killed 9 humanitarian aid workers in international waters. In November 2012 Israel embarked on a full-scale military offensive on Gaza killing over 150 people, including 30 children.

8.  Israel uses military force to maintain an unlawful regime of occupation, colonialism and apartheid, which is put in place in order to control as much land with as few indigenous Palestinians as possible and to prevent the Palestinian people from exercising their inalienable right to self-determination. This military force is particularly epitomised by several Western governments which were or still are directly complicit in the creation, development and deployment of Israel’s daunting nuclear threat. However, we have to denounce that BRICS member states, such as India as the world’s biggest importer of Israeli arms and Brazil as the fifth biggest importer, are de facto financing today through the public money of our people the completely export dependent Israeli military-industrial complex. This creates complicity, dependency and undermines national sovereignty and the credibility of BRICS and its member states as possible mediators for peace.

9.  In 2005, in response to Israel’s occupation, colonization and apartheid policies, and in view of the lack of will on the part of the official international institutions such as the Security Council together with other powerful countries to hold Israel to account, the great majority in Palestinian civil society, including all major political groups, issued a call to the international community, inspired by the South African anti-apartheid struggle, to impose Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it meets three obligations under international law by:
–        Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling its illegal Wall and settlements;
–        Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and
–        Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194.

10.  We believe that these are just demands and that they are rooted in international law, as well as espoused in the values of freedom, justice and equality. In addition, these have been endorsed and supported by many organized formations of the freedom loving peoples of the world, particularly withing BRICS member. These organized formations include, amongst other civil society groups: trade unions, faith based organizations, youth structure and many more. (CUT in Brazil; COSATU, SACP, SACC, SASCO in South Africa; among others).

III. APPEAL TO BRICS
11.  The 2012 BRICS declaration states:

“We agree that the period of transformation taking place in the Middle East and North Africa should not be used as a pretext to delay resolution of lasting conflicts but rather it should serve as an incentive to settle them, in particular the Arab-Israeli conflict. Resolution of this and other long-standing regional issues would generally improve the situation in the Middle East and North Africa. Thus we confirm our commitment to achieving comprehensive, just and lasting settlement of the Arab-Israeli conflict on the basis of the universally recognized international legal framework including the relevant UN resolutions, the Madrid principles and the Arab Peace Initiative. We encourage the Quartet to intensify its efforts and call for greater involvement of the UN Security Council in search for a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. We also underscore the importance of direct negotiations between the parties to reach final settlement. We call upon Palestinians and Israelis to take constructive measures, rebuild mutual trust and create the right conditions for restarting negotiations, while avoiding unilateral steps, in particular settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”.

12.  We believe that whilst this is a strong resolution, in that it calls for greater involvement of the UN Security Council in search for a just resolution, we recall as well the critique of the incapacity of the Security Council to deal with international crisis, such as the criticism expressed by Brazil in the opening of the 2012 UN General Assembly. In the face of Israel’s blatant disregard for international law and international consensus (and specifically its’ unilateral settlement construction on Palestinian land and military attacks and control of the Palestinian people), as well as the continuing deadlock of the UN Security Council through inevitable US vetoes, it is urgent to make reliance on alternative, legitimate and democratic UN mechanisms. Israel must be held accountable for its actions – its arms usage and illegal settlement enterprise in particular.

13.  Thus, a decisive consideration of the UNGA resolution ES-9/1 of 1982 stands a much better chance to foster the respect of international law and provides conditions for the negotiation process for a just peace to be realized without resorting to armed violence. Resolution ES-9/1 of 1982, in consideration of Israel’s total disregard of international law and the UN Charter, calls on all member States to apply the following non-violent measures:
(a)    To refrain from supplying Israel with any weapons and related equipment and to suspend any military assistance which Israel receives from them;
(b)    To refrain from acquiring any weapons or military equipment from Israel;
(c)    To suspend economic, financial and technological assistance to and co-operation with Israel;
(d)    To sever diplomatic, trade and cultural relations with Israel;

14.  These measures, or at least some of them, still provide a framework for power blocks, in an increasingly changing unipolar world, to contribute decisively to the democratization and peaceful resolution of conflicts without resorting to the aggression of armed violence. In this case, the Palestinians themselves see these measures as urgent, if not long overdue.

15.  Most recently, in October 2012, legal expert and United Nations Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, Richard Falk, highlighted certain international businesses that are profiting from the Israeli settlement enterprise and advised that they should be boycotted, until they bring their operations in line with international human rights and humanitarian law and standards. Highlighting the activities of companies such as Caterpillar Incorporated of the United States, Veolia Environment of France, G4S of the United Kingdom, the Dexia Group of Belgium, Ahava of Israel, the Volvo Group of Sweden, the Riwal Holding Group of the Netherlands, Elbit Systems of Israel, Hewlett Packard of the USA, Mehadrin of Israel, Motorola of the USA, Assa Abloy of Sweden, and Cemex of Mexico, the Special Rapporteur noted that a wide range of Israeli and international businesses are involved in the establishment and maintenance of the Israeli settlements: “All Israeli settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been established in clear violation of international law,” said Mr. Falk.

16.  BRICS members currently on the Human Rights Council (Brazil and India) have decisively contributed to a recent UN resolution that officially adopted the report by the January 2013 UN Human Rights Council fact-finding mission, led by French judge Christine Chanet, over the Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian West Bank, wherein the report produced by the fact-finding mission, urges governments and private corporations to consider economic and political sanctions against Israel. The UN resolution “demands that all parties concerned, including United Nations bodies, implement and ensure the implementation of the recommendations contained therein in accordance with their respective mandates;”.

17.  As citizens and organizations belonging to a member state of BRICS (South Africa) in support of the Palestinian struggle for self-determination and in light of United Nations resolutions on the Occupied Palestinian Territories, as well as the most recent recommendations of the UN Human Rights Council, we appeal to BRICS member states to bring their stated support for Palestinian rights in line with their economic and military policies, and as a bloc, to;

a.     Take immediate international action towards a mandatory comprehensive military embargo against Israel similar to that imposed against apartheid South Africa in the past; and,
b.     In accordance with international law, not to enter into any trade or investment relations with any Israeli or international company and/or entity known to be part of the construction and maintenance of the Wall and the settlements or to be sourcing, or otherwise profiting, from trade with Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. We urge an immediate ban of all Israeli companies that market settlement products from operating in the BRICS countries.

SIGNATORIES
– Congress of South African Trade Union (COSATU)
– South African Community Party (SACP)
– Young Communist League of South Africa (YCL)
– Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in South Africa (BDS South Africa)

Submitted to Marius Fransman, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of International Relations and Cooperation by Buti Manamela (South African Member of Parliament and National Secretary of the Young Communist League of South Africa) at the 5th BRICS Summit, Speaker’s Corner, Durban International Convention Centre, Braam Fisher Road (Durban, South Africa) on the 26 March, 2013.

Source:  www.bdssouthafrica.com

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