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UNSC votes to end Israeli settlements: What next?

Dr. Abdul Ruff in New Delhi
 
The process of establishing a sovereign Palestine state is being supported by UN vote for defacto Palestine and the UN agencies doing all possible help for the Palestinians to move forward to get Palestine by legal means. Now a historic action by UNSC has become legally binding on Israel for the consequences of its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestine and asked Israel to remove all illegal settlements - impediments for credible talks and for peace.  UNSC can vote resolution only if no veto wielding member disagrees on it and that has happened now. USA has abstained from voting in order to clear way for the resolution to sail through.  Israel stands isolated legally, internationally.
 
Obama’s parting kick
Despite unusual diplomatic maneuvering involving President-elect Donald Trump, Israel, and Egypt on December 22, the United Nations Security Council passed a historic resolution on December 23 Friday demanding an end to Israeli settlements. As a positive step, the USA abstained, effectively allowing the measure to be approved – the first ever positive step by the superpower since Israel was forced into Palestine and made a full UN member in 1948.  UN resolution that’s become such a controversial issue the last couple of days only asks Israel to adhere to international law. The draft resolution demands Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”, and says the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”.
Egypt withdrew the original resolution on 22 December afternoon, reportedly “under pressure” from both President Barack Obama and President elect Trump ­who tweeted on the matter last Thursday morning ­and Israel. However, the Security Council    stepped in and the vote took place after all on Friday afternoon.
The US abstention, which was expected as the Obama government gave up pro-Israeli stance for the time being, was described as a relatively rare step by Washington, which usually uses its UN veto to shield Israel from such action.
In response to the vote, pro-peace organization the Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson declared: “There is an increasing understanding among US political leaders, thanks to ongoing grassroots pressure, of the need to hold Israel accountable to international law. The US abstention from this resolution is a welcome sign in that regard.”
However, she added, “with President-elect Trump urging a veto of even this mild resolution, as well as his nomination of an extreme right-wing Ambassador to Israel, we are deeply concerned by increasing US support for Israeli incitement, annexation, and control under his administration and will redouble our efforts to organize resistance to policies based in Islamophobia, racism, and disregard for even the most basic rights of Palestinians.”
 
UN’s fund reduction threatened
Interestingly, US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the Senate Appropriations Committee, “threatened to reduce US funds to the United Nations” if the body moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution to upset Israeli straggly to expand illegal settlements in Palestine.  Ignoring intentional law stimulations, Israel brutally occupies Palestine territories with illegal Jewish settlements and attacks Gaza strips, now targeting women and children. UN is just watching the Zionist terror shows as Palestinians continue to bleed.  The most recent round of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians was initiated by the United States in mid-2013 but ended in an impasse almost a year later. USA plays mischief in the name of diplomacy with Palestine and the world. President Obama, like his predecessors had done before him, just could not push the arrogant Israeli regime to come to terms with reality and agree for peaceful resolution of the Mideast conflict that makes the world vulnerable to tensions and wars.
President-elect Trump appears complicated and does not seem clear what he wants to do. For example, after the presidential poll, he said he wanted to put an end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and thereby bring peace to the Mideast region. “That’s the ultimate deal,” Trump referring to the complex conflict as the “war that never ends,” said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he wants to put an end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Just a day after winning the election, Trump has asked hawkish Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with him in the US.
According to the Times of Israel, he said that any deal should be directly negotiated between Israel and Palestine, but that his government would play a “significant role” in helping the parties to achieve a just, lasting peace.”
 
New era of US-Israel ties?
A senior Israeli Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett on November 14, 2016 said the election of Donald Trump has helped create an opportunity for Israel to abandon its stated commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The remarks by Bennett reflect sentiment in the nationalist Israeli right wing that Trump’s election many Zionists believe could usher in a new era of relations with the United States.  Now compare the following with that statement. Bennett last week welcomed Trump’s election, predicting that “the special relationship” with the US would grow stronger and noting that the Republican campaign platform had no mention of a Palestinian state. In fact many in USA and Israel are happy that Trump has chosen a hard core Zionist as US envoy for Israel. They believe for Trump “The era of a Palestinian state is over”.
Bennett leads the Jewish Home party, a coalition partner that is affiliated with the West Bank settler movement. He is one of the most influential voices in Israeli politics, and both his party and most members of Netanyahu’s Likud oppose Palestinian statehood on either religious or security grounds. Bennett has called for annexing parts of the West Bank and granting the Palestinians in other parts expanded autonomy, with new roads, office parks and economic opportunities, with Israel retaining overall security control.  Now the Cabinet Minister Ofir Akunis, a close Netanyahu associate, called for a renewed wave of settlement construction. But such sentiments may have been premature. This explains the Zionist petrified mindset about the Palestine state and Palestinians.  For two decades, the international community has been pushing for a negotiated peace deal that would include the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip –areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
 
Tossing in hopes & despair
Though Bennett said he did not know whether Trump would support that view, he said it is critical that Israel now clearly define its own vision. After many years, the Israeli government has to decide what we want”. Bennett’s comments were also an indicator of the pressure Netanyahu could soon face to abandon his view on the “two-state solution” favoured by President Obama, President-elect Trump and the international community.
The thinking was that Israel’s continued occupation of millions of Palestinians would create a demographic time bomb, threatening Israel’s status as a democracy with a Jewish majority.  After opposing Palestinian independence for most of his career, Netanyahu, like his predecessors had done, reluctantly endorsed the idea shortly after Obama took office in 2009. Critics, including Obama, have said that continued Israeli settlements on occupied territories have undercut the goal, and the Obama government has at times questioned Netanyahu’s commitment to seeking peace.  Though never supported Trump’s campaign, Israeli hard-liners lately welcomed Trump’s election, noting the support for Israel in his campaign platform and the many pro-Israel officials who advised him during his campaign. Their spirits were further boosted after a Trump adviser, Jason Greenblatt, told an Israeli radio station that his boss does not think the West Bank settlements are an “obstacle to peace.” But that is now history.
Trump’s unpredictability has raised concerns that he might change his attitudes once in office. For instance, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he would like to help broker a solution to the conflict “for humanity’s sake”.
All sensible people and powers around the globe hope that the Trump regime will not give vent to his unexplainable hatred for Muslims in depriving the Palestinian people – who have been driven forcefully away by USA-UK-Jewish people from their motherland more than seven decades back in 1948 to carve out an illegal and fascist Israel – in realising their genuine rights of a free Palestine state.  The latest UNSC vote to end to Israeli settlements in Palestine is indeed a historic step to further ease the movement for establishing Palestine as a full UN member sooner than later.
 
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal, an educationist, author, columnist for many newspapers on world politics; an expert on Mideast affairs, Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); *Editor: International Opinion, Foreign Policy; Palestine Times: website: http://abdulruff.wordpress.com/ email abdulruff_ jnu@yahoo.com;Phone: 91-7293435028

Comment

Dr. Abdul Ruff in New Delhi
 
The process of establishing a sovereign Palestine state is being supported by UN vote for defacto Palestine and the UN agencies doing all possible help for the Palestinians to move forward to get Palestine by legal means. Now a historic action by UNSC has become legally binding on Israel for the consequences of its illegal settlements in the occupied Palestine and asked Israel to remove all illegal settlements - impediments for credible talks and for peace.  UNSC can vote resolution only if no veto wielding member disagrees on it and that has happened now. USA has abstained from voting in order to clear way for the resolution to sail through.  Israel stands isolated legally, internationally.
 
Obama’s parting kick
Despite unusual diplomatic maneuvering involving President-elect Donald Trump, Israel, and Egypt on December 22, the United Nations Security Council passed a historic resolution on December 23 Friday demanding an end to Israeli settlements. As a positive step, the USA abstained, effectively allowing the measure to be approved – the first ever positive step by the superpower since Israel was forced into Palestine and made a full UN member in 1948.  UN resolution that’s become such a controversial issue the last couple of days only asks Israel to adhere to international law. The draft resolution demands Israel “immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem”, and says the establishment of settlements by Israel has “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law”.
Egypt withdrew the original resolution on 22 December afternoon, reportedly “under pressure” from both President Barack Obama and President elect Trump ­who tweeted on the matter last Thursday morning ­and Israel. However, the Security Council    stepped in and the vote took place after all on Friday afternoon.
The US abstention, which was expected as the Obama government gave up pro-Israeli stance for the time being, was described as a relatively rare step by Washington, which usually uses its UN veto to shield Israel from such action.
In response to the vote, pro-peace organization the Jewish Voice for Peace executive director Rebecca Vilkomerson declared: “There is an increasing understanding among US political leaders, thanks to ongoing grassroots pressure, of the need to hold Israel accountable to international law. The US abstention from this resolution is a welcome sign in that regard.”
However, she added, “with President-elect Trump urging a veto of even this mild resolution, as well as his nomination of an extreme right-wing Ambassador to Israel, we are deeply concerned by increasing US support for Israeli incitement, annexation, and control under his administration and will redouble our efforts to organize resistance to policies based in Islamophobia, racism, and disregard for even the most basic rights of Palestinians.”
 
UN’s fund reduction threatened
Interestingly, US Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Chairman of the Subcommittee on Foreign Operations of the Senate Appropriations Committee, “threatened to reduce US funds to the United Nations” if the body moves forward with the ill-conceived resolution to upset Israeli straggly to expand illegal settlements in Palestine.  Ignoring intentional law stimulations, Israel brutally occupies Palestine territories with illegal Jewish settlements and attacks Gaza strips, now targeting women and children. UN is just watching the Zionist terror shows as Palestinians continue to bleed.  The most recent round of peace talks between the Israelis and Palestinians was initiated by the United States in mid-2013 but ended in an impasse almost a year later. USA plays mischief in the name of diplomacy with Palestine and the world. President Obama, like his predecessors had done before him, just could not push the arrogant Israeli regime to come to terms with reality and agree for peaceful resolution of the Mideast conflict that makes the world vulnerable to tensions and wars.
President-elect Trump appears complicated and does not seem clear what he wants to do. For example, after the presidential poll, he said he wanted to put an end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict and thereby bring peace to the Mideast region. “That’s the ultimate deal,” Trump referring to the complex conflict as the “war that never ends,” said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal, he wants to put an end to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Just a day after winning the election, Trump has asked hawkish Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu to meet with him in the US.
According to the Times of Israel, he said that any deal should be directly negotiated between Israel and Palestine, but that his government would play a “significant role” in helping the parties to achieve a just, lasting peace.”
 
New era of US-Israel ties?
A senior Israeli Cabinet Minister Naftali Bennett on November 14, 2016 said the election of Donald Trump has helped create an opportunity for Israel to abandon its stated commitment to the establishment of a Palestinian state. The remarks by Bennett reflect sentiment in the nationalist Israeli right wing that Trump’s election many Zionists believe could usher in a new era of relations with the United States.  Now compare the following with that statement. Bennett last week welcomed Trump’s election, predicting that “the special relationship” with the US would grow stronger and noting that the Republican campaign platform had no mention of a Palestinian state. In fact many in USA and Israel are happy that Trump has chosen a hard core Zionist as US envoy for Israel. They believe for Trump “The era of a Palestinian state is over”.
Bennett leads the Jewish Home party, a coalition partner that is affiliated with the West Bank settler movement. He is one of the most influential voices in Israeli politics, and both his party and most members of Netanyahu’s Likud oppose Palestinian statehood on either religious or security grounds. Bennett has called for annexing parts of the West Bank and granting the Palestinians in other parts expanded autonomy, with new roads, office parks and economic opportunities, with Israel retaining overall security control.  Now the Cabinet Minister Ofir Akunis, a close Netanyahu associate, called for a renewed wave of settlement construction. But such sentiments may have been premature. This explains the Zionist petrified mindset about the Palestine state and Palestinians.  For two decades, the international community has been pushing for a negotiated peace deal that would include the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza Strip –areas captured by Israel in the 1967 Middle East war.
 
Tossing in hopes & despair
Though Bennett said he did not know whether Trump would support that view, he said it is critical that Israel now clearly define its own vision. After many years, the Israeli government has to decide what we want”. Bennett’s comments were also an indicator of the pressure Netanyahu could soon face to abandon his view on the “two-state solution” favoured by President Obama, President-elect Trump and the international community.
The thinking was that Israel’s continued occupation of millions of Palestinians would create a demographic time bomb, threatening Israel’s status as a democracy with a Jewish majority.  After opposing Palestinian independence for most of his career, Netanyahu, like his predecessors had done, reluctantly endorsed the idea shortly after Obama took office in 2009. Critics, including Obama, have said that continued Israeli settlements on occupied territories have undercut the goal, and the Obama government has at times questioned Netanyahu’s commitment to seeking peace.  Though never supported Trump’s campaign, Israeli hard-liners lately welcomed Trump’s election, noting the support for Israel in his campaign platform and the many pro-Israel officials who advised him during his campaign. Their spirits were further boosted after a Trump adviser, Jason Greenblatt, told an Israeli radio station that his boss does not think the West Bank settlements are an “obstacle to peace.” But that is now history.
Trump’s unpredictability has raised concerns that he might change his attitudes once in office. For instance, Trump told the Wall Street Journal that he would like to help broker a solution to the conflict “for humanity’s sake”.
All sensible people and powers around the globe hope that the Trump regime will not give vent to his unexplainable hatred for Muslims in depriving the Palestinian people – who have been driven forcefully away by USA-UK-Jewish people from their motherland more than seven decades back in 1948 to carve out an illegal and fascist Israel – in realising their genuine rights of a free Palestine state.  The latest UNSC vote to end to Israeli settlements in Palestine is indeed a historic step to further ease the movement for establishing Palestine as a full UN member sooner than later.
 
Dr. Abdul Ruff Colachal, an educationist, author, columnist for many newspapers on world politics; an expert on Mideast affairs, Chancellor-Founder of Center for International Affairs (CIA); *Editor: International Opinion, Foreign Policy; Palestine Times: website: http://abdulruff.wordpress.com/ email abdulruff_ jnu@yahoo.com;Phone: 91-7293435028

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Press Council of India fails its mandate

Right Livelihood Award Foundation in Geneva
 
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation has been at the forefront of support for press freedom, globally. This is showcased in the jury decision this year to honour Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, as well as in the selection of recent Laureates Amy Goodman and The Guardian.  Awards apart, there are other ways in which the Foundation has looked to support responsible journalism.
A recent instance relates to reporting of hate speech in India; the Foundation approached the Press Council of India in the hope that the Council could use an individual instance involving a Laureate to issue broad guidelines and benefit society. Unfortunately, the Press Council, headed by Justice C.K. Prasad, has failed to see merit in the complaint, and has decided not to act on its mandate: to protect press freedoms and raise standards, adjudicating on complaints against newspapers for breaches of journalistic propriety and taste.
The complaint filed with the Press Council relates to 2014 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Swami Agnivesh. On 24 April 2015, vernacular newspapers Punjab Kesari and Dainik Jagran published the statements of the Haryana Hindu Mahasabha, promising a Rupees INR 500,000 bounty for anyone that would behead Laureate and social activist Swami Agnivesh.
The Mahasabha was responding to Agnivesh’s demand for the release of Kashmiri separatist leader Masrat Ali. The news had been printed verbatim, with the article headline reading like a medieval bounty advertisement; it endangered the life of Agnivesh, giving the Mahasabha’s inflammatory statement wide circulation.
In the complaint filed with the Press Council of India, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation argued that by choosing to advertise the incitement to murder without filter, the Editors of Punjab Kesari and Dainik Jagran breached journalistic ethics and committed professional misconduct. The Foundation asked the Council to utilise its mandate to both censure the newspapers and proactively set guidelines on permissible limits to freedom of the press in the context of hate speech and incitement to murder.
The Council issued a show cause notice, and in response the Editor of Punjab Kesri defended the Mahasabha that their public utterance against Swami Agnivesh was made without criminal motive. The Editor went on to state that the news “merely shows that there is a hatred in the section of society against Swami Agnivesh for his support to a militant and anti-national” and lamented that Agnivesh “having politicialised [sic] himself has become a target of controversy and criticism.”
The counter-arguments of the Foundation included details of how a call for beheading another displays clear criminal intent, under Sections 108, 115, and 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), and by publicising the call, the newspapers might themselves be held as abettors to murder.
The Press Council decided that while it “may not approve what has been stated by the newspapers”, “it cannot lose sight of the fact that such a statement was made.” The Council found that in publishing the news, the newspapers had not breached journalistic ethics so as to call for any action, and dismissed the complaint.
The instance involving Swami Agnivesh is far from the only instance when the India media has breached ethics and reported calls to violence without discretion in recent times. The Press Council had a golden opportunity to send a message consistent with Section 19(A) of the Indian Constitution that freedom of speech cannot be used to spread hatred and incite violence against individuals and groups.
The people of India have thus lost an opportunity to benefit from more responsible reporting, and may have to wait till an actual independent, functional, and comprehensive media regulator is pushed for and established, one that can both uphold press freedoms and protect citizens from irresponsible journalism.

Comment

Right Livelihood Award Foundation in Geneva
 
The Right Livelihood Award Foundation has been at the forefront of support for press freedom, globally. This is showcased in the jury decision this year to honour Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, as well as in the selection of recent Laureates Amy Goodman and The Guardian.  Awards apart, there are other ways in which the Foundation has looked to support responsible journalism.
A recent instance relates to reporting of hate speech in India; the Foundation approached the Press Council of India in the hope that the Council could use an individual instance involving a Laureate to issue broad guidelines and benefit society. Unfortunately, the Press Council, headed by Justice C.K. Prasad, has failed to see merit in the complaint, and has decided not to act on its mandate: to protect press freedoms and raise standards, adjudicating on complaints against newspapers for breaches of journalistic propriety and taste.
The complaint filed with the Press Council relates to 2014 Right Livelihood Award Laureate Swami Agnivesh. On 24 April 2015, vernacular newspapers Punjab Kesari and Dainik Jagran published the statements of the Haryana Hindu Mahasabha, promising a Rupees INR 500,000 bounty for anyone that would behead Laureate and social activist Swami Agnivesh.
The Mahasabha was responding to Agnivesh’s demand for the release of Kashmiri separatist leader Masrat Ali. The news had been printed verbatim, with the article headline reading like a medieval bounty advertisement; it endangered the life of Agnivesh, giving the Mahasabha’s inflammatory statement wide circulation.
In the complaint filed with the Press Council of India, the Right Livelihood Award Foundation argued that by choosing to advertise the incitement to murder without filter, the Editors of Punjab Kesari and Dainik Jagran breached journalistic ethics and committed professional misconduct. The Foundation asked the Council to utilise its mandate to both censure the newspapers and proactively set guidelines on permissible limits to freedom of the press in the context of hate speech and incitement to murder.
The Council issued a show cause notice, and in response the Editor of Punjab Kesri defended the Mahasabha that their public utterance against Swami Agnivesh was made without criminal motive. The Editor went on to state that the news “merely shows that there is a hatred in the section of society against Swami Agnivesh for his support to a militant and anti-national” and lamented that Agnivesh “having politicialised [sic] himself has become a target of controversy and criticism.”
The counter-arguments of the Foundation included details of how a call for beheading another displays clear criminal intent, under Sections 108, 115, and 503 of the Indian Penal Code, 1860 (IPC), and by publicising the call, the newspapers might themselves be held as abettors to murder.
The Press Council decided that while it “may not approve what has been stated by the newspapers”, “it cannot lose sight of the fact that such a statement was made.” The Council found that in publishing the news, the newspapers had not breached journalistic ethics so as to call for any action, and dismissed the complaint.
The instance involving Swami Agnivesh is far from the only instance when the India media has breached ethics and reported calls to violence without discretion in recent times. The Press Council had a golden opportunity to send a message consistent with Section 19(A) of the Indian Constitution that freedom of speech cannot be used to spread hatred and incite violence against individuals and groups.
The people of India have thus lost an opportunity to benefit from more responsible reporting, and may have to wait till an actual independent, functional, and comprehensive media regulator is pushed for and established, one that can both uphold press freedoms and protect citizens from irresponsible journalism.

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