Gaza Flotilla: Palmer Report a disgrace to UN
"Legal and appropriate"!? Are they kidding? Is this a sick joke. NY Times:
The report, expected to be released Friday, also found that when Israeli commandos boarded the main ship, they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection. But the report called the force “excessive and unreasonable,” saying that the loss of life was unacceptable and that the Israeli military’s later treatment of passengers was abusive.
Letting the Israeli government off for killing protesters trying to protect their ship from the IDF attack force was bad enough, but according to the NY Times the panel has determined that the Israeli blockade of Gaza is "legal". There's few words that can describe this outcome, the process or the people responsible. Sir Geoffrey Palmer, you scumbag. Strangling a refugee camp is legal is it, Sir Geoffrey? No doubt the regime in Khartoum will be urgently seeking his expertise to legitimise their proxy attacks on the camps in Darfour.
Just to put this into context, so that we can assess whether it is right or wrong, let us imagine a similar scenario appropos of the Jewish situation and put Sir Geoffrey there to deliberate:
[NYT-GENEVA] A long-awaited League of Nations review of Germany’s 1940 raid on a Swedish-based flotilla in which nine passengers were killed has found that Germany’s naval blockade of Poland is both legal and appropriate. Militants in the Warsaw area and in other cities were a continuing security hazard to Germans and thus a blockade was necessary in the circumstances. But it said that the way German forces boarded the vessels trying to break that blockade 15 months ago was excessive and unreasonable.
The report, expected to be released Friday, also found that when German commandos boarded the main ship, they faced “organized and violent resistance from a group of passengers” and were therefore required to use force for their own protection. But the report called the force “excessive and unreasonable,” saying that the loss of life was unacceptable and that the German military’s later treatment of passengers was abusive.
Doesn't matter that they were on the way to relieve the Warsaw ghetto, what the Germans are doing is legal and if the passengers try to protect their ship, well, too bad, the Germans have a right to defend themselves when they attack and if that means killing people then so be it. The Germans have every right... to self defence... when they attack.
How's them apples?
That wouldn't have been acceptable in 1940 and it isn't acceptable in 2010. The decision of this panel is an outrage and undermines the credibility and standing of the United Nations.
NYTimes: Turkey is particularly upset by the conclusion that Israel’s naval blockade is in keeping with international law and that its forces have the right to stop Gaza-bound ships in international waters, which is what happened in the 2010 episode. That conclusion oversteps the mandate of the four-member panel appointed by the United Nations secretary general and is at odds with other United Nations decisions, Turkey argued.
The report noted that the panel did not have the power to compel testimony or demand documents, but instead had to rely on information provided by Israel and Turkey. Therefore, its conclusions cannot be considered definitive in either fact or law.
But the two countries’ negotiations, which focused on some kind of apology from Israel and compensation for the victims — eight Turks and an American of Turkish descent — ended in failure. Israel says it is willing to express regret and pay compensation. But the Turks want a full apology. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said he believed that apologizing would demoralize Israeli citizens and broadcast a message of weakness. Aides said he might reconsider at a later date if the Turks eased their demands.
This is being painted by the NY Times as a Turkey-Israel bilateral issue, but it is far more than that because the conclusion is a legitimisation of the blockade - and that has implications for all nations with flagged vessels on the high seas.
Let's be clear a blockade is an act of war and what this panel has done is to sanction that war. A war imposed by a nuclear power over a strip of sand dunes where almost a million people, themselves mostly refugees from that country, are forced to live at whatever survival level the occupying power deems appropriate to keep them compliant. It is a monstrous situation.
NYTimes: The United Nations investigation into the events on the ship, the Mavi Marmara, which was sailing under a Turkish flag and was the largest of six vessels that were commandeered by Israeli commandos on May 31, 2010, was led by Sir Geoffrey Palmer, a former prime minister of New Zealand. He was aided by Álvaro Uribe, a former president of Colombia, along with one representative from Israel and another from Turkey.
The report takes a broadly sympathetic view of Israel’s sea blockade of Gaza.
“Israel faces a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza,” the report says in its opening paragraphs. “The naval blockade was imposed as a legitimate security measure in order to prevent weapons from entering Gaza by sea and its implementation complied with the requirements of international law.”
The report is hard on the flotilla, asserting that it “acted recklessly in attempting to breach the naval blockade.”
Geoffrey Palmer has ruined his credibility, as a lawyer, a jurist, a New Zealander and as a human being. This is his professional and personal nadir. How can we not conclude that he is anything less than a maggot. The "Palmer Committee" will live in infamy.
"Strictly confidential" - not. Confidentiality be damned.
The reoprt claims it isn't delving into "legal" issues, but of course its standing as a United Nations panel and its assertions [see below] do set precedents and carry authority - more is the pity. On the same day the UN appoint a NZ politician notorious for his incompetence, uselessness and rampant and unrepentant over-spending and lavish lifestyle as a Minister to head an anti-corruption agency in Afghanistan (what next - Dominique Strauss-Khan heading the UN Rape Prevention taskforce?) we have a panel headed by a NZer giving the green light to the Israelis to massacre on the high seas as is their whim. It's a dark day for New Zealand as much as it is a dark day for the UN.The reasoning to support the blockade is a joke. x faces a real threat from y therefore a naval blockade is "a legitimate security measure." The logic isn't being applied in this case because it is obvious to all except those on the panel that it is the population of Gaza that is threatened by Israel, not the other way around. If anyone is entitled to have a legitimate blockade it is the Gaza Authorities - the democratically elected Palestinian government it must be noted. The Palestinians are the ones that have the right to impose it on Israel - the belligerant and occupying power. The panel's logic is misapplied, wilfully misapplied in Israel's favour.
viii. The loss of life and injuries resulting from the use of force by Israeli forces during the take-over of the Mavi Marmara was unacceptable. Nine passengers were killed and many others seriously wounded by Israeli forces. No satisfactory explanation has been provided to the Panel by Israel for any of the nine deaths. Forensic evidence showing that most of the deceased were shot multiple times, including in the back, or at close range has not been adequately accounted for in the material presented by Israel.
So the panel concluded they were executed - but they don't want to use those words out of deferrence to Israel - and the Israel's acknowledge it by saying nothing. Yet by insisting - without evidence - that the Israeli blockade is "lawful" the panel allows the attackers to claim the most spurious line of "self defence". "Necessary"? It's blockade is only "necessary" so that Israel can continue to occupy Palestine in breach of the UN's own resolutions! The UN is an expensive circus of clowns and Geoffrey Palmer must be made a persona non grata from this day forward.
UPDATE: 12:30AM Saturday
The front page of the NZHerald website has no mention whatever on this issue - nothing. RNZ picked up the story of the NY Times leak earlier on - that's where I first learnt of it, but TV tonight was wall-to-wall rugby nonsense. This story is being effectively buried by the mainstream media. I was going to load up the several images it would take to show the NZ Herald's front page, but why waste the bandwidth showing "Kangaroo smashes through car window", "Brigette wins crown: NZ's Next Top Model final", Chile's kissing protesters and rowing champs - and that's just above the fold! And then I find the world section has nothing as well, so I have to show at least that:And nothing on the Fairfax main site either - it's there though hidden in their world section:The New Zealand media are as bad - if not worse in many respects - as the Israeli media in hiding, avoiding and ignoring the failings and terpitude of their nationals and governments in international conduct.
I've read the report in its entirity now and the contortions of logic therein are painful. Painful to view, painful to contemplate and even more painful in its future application - esp. by Israel upon those wanting to assist the Palestinians. It's hard to know where to start in unpicking something already so patched and frayed, but the striking point to me is the magnification of unfairness and inequality because of the Palmer Report's key assumptions and definitions.
The definition of a blockade as "legal" at international law only if it is in fact enforced by military power means the Palestinians (because they are encircled and possess no viable navy or airforce) cannot mount a blockade of Israel and return the favour. The piratical acts of the IDF on the high seas are excused by Palmer et al because they have taken the widest possible definitions of what constitutes a running of a blockade. The Palmer conclusion is that as soon as a vessel that the belligerant has grounds to believe will attempt to run a blockade leaves port it can be attacked.Under their definition the Rainbow Warrior sinking by the French could be deemed legitimate too if only a more explicit warning had been given - as it was en route to French Polynesia. I use that example of Palmer's ambulatory reasoning because it was he - as Attorney-General (and Deputy PM) - that ultimately sanctioned the early release of those French terrorists from a NZ jail where they were serving life sentences for murder to the French jurisdiction of Hao atoll where they would be served champagne and where shortly thereafter that deal was reneged on and they returned to France to be given medals. That's Palmer's record on international justice for you.
The other aspect that stands out is the complete - and I do mean total and complete - bias towards Israel's position on the military confrontation with Gaza. The reason for this is the glaring lack of a Palestinian, Gazan, perspective. The Gazan authorities were not asked to participate and were never heard. It is reminiscent of the Great Powers determining the fate of Czechoslovakia without the Czechoslovakians ever being present or invited to the conferences which would seal their own fate. In more than seventy years it seems we have progressed no further.
Because the people of Gaza have no voice and the incident is set in terms of Turkey and Israel the report is inherently flawed. There are multiple references to rockets fired from Gaza to establish a casus belli and assertions like:
Israel has faced and continues to face a real threat to its security from militant groups in Gaza. Rockets, missiles and mortar bombs have been launched from Gaza towards Israel since 2001. More than 5,000 were fired between 2005 and January 2009, when the naval blockade was imposed. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli civilians live in the range of these attacks.249 As their effectiveness has increased,
some rockets are now capable of reaching Tel Aviv. Since 2001 such attacks have caused more than 25 deaths and hundreds of injuries. The enormity of the psychological toll on the affected population cannot be underestimated. In addition, there have been substantial material losses. The purpose of these acts of violence, which have been repeatedly condemned by the international community, has been to do damage to the population of Israel. It seems obvious enough that stopping these violent acts was a necessary step for Israel to take in order to protect its people and to defend itself. Actions taken by Israel in turn have had severe impacts on the civilian population in Gaza, which we discuss further in Chapter 6.
And yet they don't actually discuss the military aspects of it at all, no mention - no mention at all - of the thousand Gazans killed by the IDF when they invaded during the Bush-Obama interregnum, when they shelled UN schools and installations with banned chemical weapons - not a mention that I could find. 25 deaths versus 1000 - that is the very definition of overkill is it not?
While this decrease might also be due to other factors, a blockade in those circumstances is a legitimate exercise of the right of self-defence. Although a block by definition imposes a restriction on all maritime traffic, given the relatively sm[all amount of goods entering and length] of the blockade zone and the practical difficulties associated with other methods of monitoring vessels (such as by search and visit), the Panel is not persuaded that the naval blockade was a disproportionate measure for Israel to have taken in response...
Gaza and Israel are both distinct territorial and political areas. Hamis the de facto political and administrative authority in Gaza and to a large extent has control over events on the ground there. It is Hamas that is firing the projectiles into Israel or is permitting others to do so. The Panel considers the conflict should be treated as an international one for the purposes of the law of blockade.
- my bolding.
As required, the naval blockade was declared and notified. The Israeli authorities issued a “Notice to Mariners” through the appropriate channels, setting out the imposition of the blockade and the coordinates of the blockaded area. In addition, the notice was broadcast twice a day on an emergency radio channel for maritime communications. There is no contest about this.
- they claim there is no contest - and yet this local NOTMAR on a local marine channel falls short of informing all nations as they say is the requirement. And the lack - complete lack, I couldn't find it anywhere - of whether or not the Israel's have actually notified the UN Security Council of a blockade is a question left begging. These points of facts - deemed so relevant earlier on in determining the case - are all brushed over in the panel's quest for Israeli exoneration.
By ignoring the disproportionate military response of Israel in the same time span the basis from which Palmer et al argue is without proper context and leads to a series of plainly faulty conclusions. Palmer sidesteps the Palestinian subjection and resorts to technical analysis and retreats to his safe ground of dry and lengthy ponderings of international law. But even on this turf he makes little, if any, sense.