BY Chris Gunness, Writer, Broadcaster, former UNRWA Spokesperson
For me, it is absolutely imperative that when the dust settles on Gaza, we see three things. First of all, we have to have an investigation, this must be a balanced investigation and the International Criminal Court, the ICC, has said it is following events very closely in Gaza and obviously in Southern Israel, so both Hamas and the Israeli army need to be investigated for potential war crimes because, be clear, there can be no peace moving forward in Gaza, unless there is justice.
Secondly, I would like to see the underlying causes of the conflict resolved. So, first of all, the blockade of Gaza has to be lifted; it has been going on since 2006/2007, it is a major cause of grievance in Gaza, and it is a huge source of humanitarian problems in Gaza, and it must be resolved. In addition, it is a war crime, it is a grieve breach of the Geneva Conventions, it is a collective punishment of 2.5 million people, many of whom have absolutely nothing to do whatsoever with the conflict, they should not be collectively punished.
Thirdly, there must be movement towards ending the occupation of Palestinian land. That is a very clear source of grievance amongst the Palestinians, and it’s been going on for 54 years and Israel cannot live in peace, there cannot be peace in the Middle East unless the occupation ends and it is very clear how that has to happen, through negotiations. Thirdly, I would like to see the dispossession of the Palestinians, which took place in 1948, resolved. So, the dispossession of Palestinian land which continues to this day, the increasing settlements. That must be resolved in the context of a just and durable solution. Having millions and millions of people living around the Middle East in a state of political limbo will never be good for peace. So, my second point, there has to be a serious and successful attempt to resolve the underlying causes of the Palestinian conflict. And thirdly, in the last month or so, Human Rights Watch, one of the most respected human rights organisations on the planet, has issued a report laying out chapter and verse accusing Israel of the international crime of apartheid and we’ve seen in the last few weeks, Jewish racist lynch mobs, directed from the Jewish power party in the Knesset, some of the most powerful people in the highest seat of political power in Israel, directing lynch mobs against Palestinians in places like Lod. That is, if the world needed any more demonstrations, a perfect demonstration of the kind of apartheid issues that are going on in Israel, which must be resolved. Human Rights Watch gives many, many other examples; the pass laws, the permit system for Palestinians, the settler-only roads, the settler-only security forces, the settler-only laws there is masses of evidence that what we are seeing in Israel is apartheid and I would like to see that investigated by the International Criminal Court. The crime of apartheid is an international crime, it is on the statute books, it is on the books from the Rome statute of the International Criminal Court, and it must be investigated because make no mistake, unless these three things happen, a proper investigation into Gaza, involving both the Israeli army and Hamas, dealing with the underlying problems of the conflict, the blockade, the occupation and the dispossession of the Palestinians. And thirdly, an investigation by the ICC into the international crime of apartheid, there will not be peace in the Middle East.