Israels settlements: never mind the Muppets, what about the war crimes?

Strange interview by the Israeli ambassador on the radio this morning.

In his 8.10am Today programme slot not only did Ron Prosor, Tel Aviv’s man in London, have a dig at Arab leaders who in his view buy football clubs like Manchester City when they should be focusing on the Middle East peace process (can’t they do both?), but he also mentioned the “two angry men” from The Muppet Show!

Blimey. Is this what international diplomacy’s come to – football and the not especially funny (5mins from YouTube here, judge for yourself) Statler and Waldorf puppets from a 1970s US children’s TV programme?

But OK, Prosor did also say – repeatedly – that there was a need for what he called “courage” from Palestinian and other Arab leaders. Regarding Israeli settlements he reckoned they made up “only” 3-5% of occupied land. And he said he was “optimistic” about the future of the peace process.

Sorry, but I don’t get it. Why are we supposed to be optimistic when Israel seemingly sees even a so-called “freeze” on settlements as a negotiating tool? Er, aren’t all of the half a million “settlers” in the West Bank actually living on expropriated land, in direct contravention of the Geneva Conventions’ (4th, article 49) prohibition against moving a population onto occupied territory?

Indeed to be undiplomatic – but factually accurate for a moment – isn’t the state of Israel condoning and supporting these war crimes by providing the infrastructure (roads, water/sewerage, security etc) that actually sustain the settlements?

Infuriatingly John Humphrys didn’t press Prosor on this. Asked (just once) about the legality question the ambassador said something about lifting 150 roadblocks in the West Bank, while also omitting to mention the hundreds that remain.

The other side of the settlement coin, of course, is the fact that the Israeli army has a long-term policy of demolishing Palestinian homes in the West Bank. Please take action to try to stop this via Amnesty’s appeal here.

Meanwhile, we shouldn’t forget about the plight of the kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. It’s well over three years since he was taken hostage by Hamas and this Friday it’s Gilad’s 23rd birthday. God knows how terrible it must be to be in his shoes. Read an earlier post I did on his case and please support the Amnesty action calling for humane treatment for Gilad.

 

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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