Israel protests score a win —for now
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on March 27 announced that he will delay his proposed reforms of the judicial system in the face of ongoing mass protests. Calling it a move to "avoid civil war," Netanyahu declared in a nationally televised address that his administration is "taking a timeout for dialogue." However, he added: "We insist on the need to bring about the necessary corrections in the legal system."
From Palestine to Iran: free the land
In Episode 160 of the CounterVortex podcast, Bill Weinberg notes hideous ironies in the current horrific headlines. Russia was excluded from the official commemorations of Holocaust Day at Auschwitz-Birkenau as it pursues its war of aggression and extermination in Ukraine in the perverse name of "de-nazification." But Israeli flags were of course displayed at the commemoration—even as Israel escalates toward a genocidal solution to the Palestinian question. The fundamental contradiction driving the conflict is the expropriation of the Palestinian people of their lands, and the denial of their self-determination by Israel. The emergence of an explicitly anti-Zionist bloc in the protests against the new far-right government in Israel is a sign of hope. The US, however, is undertaking its biggest joint military exercises ever with the new Israeli regime, despite Biden's supposed rejection of its extremist policies of settlement expansion and annexation—viewing the Jewish State as a strategic ally against the Islamic Republic of Iran. Meanwhile, the oppressive regime in Iran treats minority peoples such as the Kurds, Baluch, Ahwazi and Baha'i much as Israel treats the Palestinians. Listen on SoundCloud or via Patreon.
New Israeli admin in West Bank propaganda ploy
US National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan met in Jerusalem Jan. 18 with President Isaac Herzog, signaling continued US support for Israel's new far-right government—despite the Biden administration's supposed opposition to its policies such as settlement expansion and annexation of the West Bank. The trip coincided with Israel's eviction of a wildcat settler outpost in what Israeli authorities call the "Samaria" region of the West Bank.
Political archaeology amid Jerusalem tensions
Israel's new National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir made a brief visit to al-Aqsa Mosque compound in Jerusalem on Jan. 3, flanked by a heavy security detail and a fellow Orthodox Jewish worshipper—eliciting immediate outrage from both the Palestinian leadership and the Jewish state's own allies. The Palestinian Authority called the move "an unprecedented provocation," with Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh accusing Ben-Gvir of staging the visit as part of an agenda to turn the site "into a Jewish temple." He called on Palestinians to "confront the raids into al-Aqsa mosque." Hamas warned that Israel is approaching a "red line."
UN seeks World Court opinion on occupation of Palestine
The UN General Assembly on Dec. 31 passed a resolution referring Israel's 55-year occupation of Palestinian territories to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) for a legal advisory. The vote, which followed approval of a draft resolution by the Special Committee on Decolonization, was 87-26, with 53 abstentions. Israel, the US, the United Kingdom and Germany voted against, while France abstained. Russia and China joined most of the Muslim world in voting in favor. The Palestinian Authority welcomed the vote, saying in a statement: "The time has come for Israel to be a state subject to law, and to be held accountable for its ongoing crimes against our people." (Al Jazeera, AP)
Chile to open embassy in Palestine
Chile is planning to open an embassy in Palestine, President Gabriel Boric announced Dec. 23. Speaking at a private ceremony hosted by the local Palestinian community in the capital Santiago, Boric acknowledged that he is "taking a risk" with the move, but added: "We are going to raise our official representation in Palestine from having a charge d'affaires. Now we are going to open an embassy." The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs immediately commended the decision, saying it "affirms the principled position of Chile and its president in support of international law and the right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state."
Robo-Zionist policing of West Bank
The Israeli military has installed robotic weapons that can fire tear-gas, stun-grenades and "non-lethal" bullets in two volatile locations on the West Bank. One is atop a turret at al-Aroub refugee camp; the other in the nearby city of Hebron, where soldiers often clash with Palestinian residents. When young protesters pour into the streets hurling rocks and improvised firebombs at Israeli soldiers, the robotic weapons unleash gas and projectiles on them, according to witness accounts. The robo-weapons, produced by Israeli firm Smart Shooter, use artificial intelligence to track targets. Israel says the technology saves lives—both Israeli and Palestinian. But, as YNet states in its Nov. 16 report on the installation, "critics see another step toward a dystopian reality in which Israel fine-tunes its open-ended occupation of the Palestinians while keeping its soldiers out of harm's way."
UN report: occupation of Palestine 'unlawful'
The UN Independent International Commission of Inquiry on the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem, on Oct. 20 released its second report, stating there are "reasonable grounds to conclude that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory is now unlawful under international law due to its permanence and the Israeli Government's de-facto annexation policies." The commission called for the UN Security Council to bring to an end the "illegal situation resulting from the permanent occupation imposed by Israel" and require Israel to bring "its permanent occupation to an end immediately."
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