Olive Co-operative » News http://www.olivecoop.com/stage Fair Trade Palestinian Products and Tree Sponsorship Mon, 13 May 2013 09:55:56 +0000 en hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.0 Israeli bulldozers: demolishing homes, ruining livelihoods http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/israeli-bulldozers-demolishing-homes-ruining-livelihoods/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/israeli-bulldozers-demolishing-homes-ruining-livelihoods/#comments Fri, 26 Nov 2010 18:20:19 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=3096 International Solidarity Movement, 26 November 2010

Palestinian mother sitting with her kids on the rubble of her home
Palestinian mother sitting with her kids on the rubble of her home

In the last few days, with a wave of demolitions, Israeli bulldozers have spread destruction and despair in the villages across the West Bank: in Qarawat Bani Hassan near Salfeet, in al-Jiftlik in the Jordan Valley, in Hizma, near Jerusalem, in Khirbet Yarza, east of Tubas, and in the South Hebron Hills.

Yesterday I went to the village of al-Rifayaia, east of Yatta in South Hebron, where at 8:15 AM Israeli forces had demolished a house that had been home to two families of twenty people (16 of them minors).

I arrived there around 1 PM, to at least show the ISM’s support and to document what had happened.

Many people were gathering around the rubble to support the two families that had lost their houses. The many kids around had disoriented expressions while they were playing on the ruins of what used to be a nice 200 square meter house.

The women, even if they still had their eyes wet and red, did not forget hospitality and I was immediately offered a cup of sweet tea. Everybody encouraged me to take many pictures as if they wanted to show to the world all the details of their unjust distress.

A young man explained that his two brothers, with their families, were living in the house that was demolished. One of them was sitting not too far from us with a somber, worried expression. He won’t be able to rebuild a new house for his family. In fact, he has no permit to go and work in Israel and his economic situation is very bad.

The Israeli bulldozers didn’t even let them remove their belongings before demolishing the house.

The Red Cross visited them just before me and brought a couple of big tents, some plastic chairs, two camp stoves and a few boxes of humanitarian aid. Not enough to help them now that the cold winter is coming. I was asked if I could help them in any way, but unfortunately I could only assure them that the news about what had happened to them would be spread so that more people in the world would know how the Palestinian people are forced to live.

After a while Hamed Qawasmeh arrived. He works for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). He explained to me that there are not many organizations that help to rebuild houses that Israel demolishes, and that the UN can only provide some services to mitigate the harsh situation of the two homeless families.

While I talk with the UN representative, not too far from the ruins of the house the men of the family put up the two tents that the Red Cross had donated. At least these two homeless families, during the next cold winter months, will be surrounded by the warm support of their relatives and their community.

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Tent being erected near site of demolished houses
Tent being erected near site of demolished houses
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Volvo equipment enabling torture, facilitating occupation http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/volvo-equipment-enabling-torture-facilitating-occupation/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/volvo-equipment-enabling-torture-facilitating-occupation/#comments Wed, 24 Nov 2010 23:02:30 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=3123 David Cronin, The Electronic Intifada, 24 November 2010

Volvo prides itself on being a byword for sturdiness, safety and reliability. After a careful examination of the vehicle-maker’s investment in Israel, perhaps it should also become synonymous with enabling torture.

The Swedish company has a direct shareholding of 26.5 percent in the Israeli company Merkavim, manufacturer of the Mars Prisoner Bus. This bus has been specifically designed for use by the Israeli Prison Authority to transport Palestinians apprehended in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to facilities within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders. The remainder of Merkavim is owned by Mayer’s Cars and Trucks, which doubles up as the exclusive representative of Volvo in Israel.

Evidence amassed by human rights monitors indicates that torture is widespread within Israeli detention centers. Although the country’s high court ruled in 1999 that some interrogation methods should be outlawed, Israel continues to approve torture in cases where it is deemed “necessary,” Amnesty International has found. An important loophole in the court’s ruling indicated that torture is permissible in cases where Israeli security forces face an imminent threat. Israel’s attorney general has been all-too-willing to invoke that loophole in order to approve the use of torture, despite how Israel has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Each year Israel locks up an average of 700 Palestinian children, often for offenses no more serious than throwing stones. The organization Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-PS) says that ill-treatment is common while detainees are being transported to prison. “All are subjected to verbal threats and insults,” Rifat Kassis, director of DCI-PS’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said. “Some are beaten up, kicked, made to sit in an uncomfortable way. We have children who are handcuffed and blindfolded as well. All of these are methods of restraining children in a painful way.”

During September, three children were reportedly given electric shocks by Israeli interrogators in the Jewish-only settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. One of the children was only 14 years of age. A recent investigation by DCI-PS and other anti-torture groups found that out of a sample of 100 children arrested by Israeli forces last year, 69 percent were beaten and kicked and 12 percent threatened with rape or another form of sexual assault.

Kassis also said that by bringing detainees from the occupied West Bank into Israel, the Merkavim buses are facilitating violations of international humanitarian law. Under the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, persons convicted for offenses in an occupied territory may only be jailed within that territory.

A representative of Merkavim told me that the company does “not wish to speak to journalists.” According to its website, the Mars Prisoner Bus is “the perfect solution for conveying prisoners under guard.” Containing six separate compartments, the bus allows for “full surveillance during the sensitive, high-risk drive from one secured facility to another.” Among its features are wide windows “fitted with armored glass to prevent breakouts” and “an advanced intercom system and closed-circuit TV.”

Per-Martin Johansson, a spokesman for Volvo Buses, said that the Swedish corporation “can’t control” what affiliated companies do. “Vehicles to transport prisoners can be found in every country all over the world,” he added. “These buses are not special for Israel. They need them in every country to make sure prisoners are not escaping.”

Johansson’s statement contrasts with the high ethical standards to which Volvo is nominally committed. In 2003 Volvo’s board of directors rubber-stamped a “code of conduct” for the company. It says that the company supports “internationally proclaimed human rights and ensures that it is not complicit in human rights abuses.”

Despite that code, Volvo has faced numerous accusations that its products are being used as tools of Israeli oppression. In April this year Israeli forces were photographed operating Volvo bulldozers in the Palestinian village of al-Walaja. The forces were carrying out work related to the massive wall that Israel has continued to build on occupied land in the West Bank, despite a 2004 opinion issued by the International Court of Justice declaring the project illegal. The use of Volvo bulldozers in the destruction of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem and in the wider West Bank has similarly been documented, with the work of Adri Nieuwhof, a contributor to The Electronic Intifada, proving valuable in highlighting how Volvo profits from the occupation.

Along with its prisoner bus, Merkavim also produces the Mars Defender Bus. The Israeli public transport company Egged runs a fleet of the latter vehicles in the services it provides to Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Like the prisoner bus, the Mars Defender contains a Volvo-made chassis.

Mauricio Lazala, a researcher with the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre in London, said that major companies like Volvo should study the impact of their corporate activities. “This is especially important in conflict areas,” he added. “In conflict areas, abuses can have very ugly manifestations. Therefore, companies should be doubly careful.”

At a session held in London this month, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine — an investigative body inspired by the late British intellectual and anti-war campaigner Bertrand Russell — concluded that a number of private corporations “play a very decisive role” in enabling Israel to commit crimes against humanity.

Although Volvo was not one of the companies identified by the tribunal, it is facilitating some of the offenses deemed “reprehensible” by this body. These included the provision of services to Israeli settlements and assistance to the construction of the “apartheid wall” in the West Bank. A statement issued by the tribunal noted that corporations complicit in Israeli violations of human rights have placed themselves “on the wrong side of international opinion, morality and law.” As a result, they are “undermining the very integrity and credibility of international law and the institutions that underpin it,” added the statement, which was endorsed by former South African government minister Ronnie Kasrils, veteran French diplomat Stephane Hassel, Irish Nobel Peace Prize winner Mairead Corrigan Maguire and ex-US Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney.

Frank Barat, the tribunal’s coordinator, said that while it can be legally difficult to prosecute such companies, public campaigns can pressure them into changing their behavior. “What people can do is push their governments to divest from those companies,” he said. “If a company is helping to build the wall [in the West Bank] it is helping an illegal act, so it should be sanctioned.”

Volvo’s attempts to justify its investments in Israel are disingenuous. The corporation cannot claim that the activities of a subsidiary have nothing to do with its headquarters in Gothenburg or that Merkavim’s buses are no different from other prison buses found around the world. It is abundantly clear that these vehicles are tailored especially to meet the sadistic “needs” of the Israeli occupation; indeed, that is their selling point.

Supplying Israel’s prison services is not analogous to aiding the prison services of any other country. Israel deliberately uses mass imprisonment and torture to deny Palestinians the right to resist their occupation. Addameer, a prisoner support group, has documented how 650,000 Palestinians — one-fifth of the population living in the occupied territories — have been incarcerated since the occupation began in 1967.

Whatever Volvo may say, the truth is that it has become a subcontractor for the Israeli occupation. Drivers in Europe and America might feel secure as they slide into the well-upholstered seat of a car made by Volvo. In Palestine, the same company is facilitating the torture of children.

David Cronin’s book Europe’s Alliance With Israel: Aiding the Occupation is published by Pluto Press (www.plutobooks.com).

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Four year Anniversary to Palestinian Popular Struggle in Al-Masara Village http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/four-year-anniversary-to-palestinian-popular-struggle-in-al-masara-village/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/four-year-anniversary-to-palestinian-popular-struggle-in-al-masara-village/#comments Fri, 12 Nov 2010 02:13:11 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=2938 Alternative Information Centre, 23 October 2010.

Hundreds of Palestinian, international and Israeli activists participated in a demonstration on Friday 22 October commemorating the four year anniversary of the al-Masara village’s popular struggle against the Separation Wall, land confiscation and settlements.

Israeli soldiers used stun grenades and tear gas in an attempt to disperse the demonstrators and prevent them from even coming close to the Separation Wall. An older French activist was injured when a tear gas grenade fired by the Israelis hit him in the head. Two Israeli activists were also detained.

Located 13 km south of the West Bank city of Bethlehem, the village of Al-Masara is one of several villages in the area that is most negatively impacted by expansion of the Gush Etsion settlement bloc and construction of the racist Separation Wall.  Cut off from their traditional livelihood of agriculture due to land confiscations and serious restrictions on their movement, numerous residents of al-Masara and the surrounding villages live under the poverty level, dependent on food aid from American aid agencies, while some work in day jobs in the nearby settlements.

In 2006 work commenced for construction of the Separation Wall in the area of southern Bethlehem, a Wall that de facto annexes to Israel not only Gush Etsion but also 3,500 dunams of the villages’ agricultural land. New neighbourhoods of the nearby Efrat settlement are planned on some of these confiscated lands. The completed Separation Wall will also deny residents access to the main road of Bethlehem (Road 60), thus cutting them off from the main city of the district.

Although construction of the Separation Wall has temporarily stopped due to budgetary constraints, the al-Masara Popular Committee will not give up its struggle as long as the plans to build the Wall are intact.

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Irish cement giant CRH plc to be investigated for complicity with breaches of International Law http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/irish-cement-giant-crh-plc-to-be-investigated-for-complicity-with-breaches-of-international-law/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/irish-cement-giant-crh-plc-to-be-investigated-for-complicity-with-breaches-of-international-law/#comments Thu, 11 Nov 2010 16:30:32 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=2805 Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Press Release, 11th November 2010.

Leading Human Rights barrister, Michael Mansfield QC, is to lead an investigation into the construction materials company CRH’s activities in Israel.

Stop Cementing Misery - CRH Divestment Campaign

The international tribunal, to be held in the Law Society in London on November 20-22nd , will put the spot light on 8 major multinational companies who human rights activists believe are breaching International Law.

Mansfield is one of several prominent people on the jury of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine which includes the Irish Nobel Peace Prize laureate Mairead Corrigan Maguire and Ronald Kasrils, former minister in Nelson Mandela’s first government in post-apartheid South Africa.

CRH plc own a 25% stake in the Israeli Company Mashav whose subsidiary Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises are Israel’s sole cement producer supplying 75-90% of all cement sold in Israel and occupied Palestine.

Nesher cement is being used in the construction of the illegal separation wall and settlements which CRH acknowledged when they admitted to Amnesty International that ‘in all probability’ their cement was being used in the construction of the wall.

John Dorman, Divestment Officer of the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) will present the charges against CRH at the tribunal.

This people’s tribunal was conceived by the English philosopher Bertrand Russell in the 1960s to investigate war crimes during the Vietnam War.

The upcoming session on ‘Corporate Complicity in Israel’s violations of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law’ was established as a means of throwing the spotlight on unethical investments by some of the largest companies in the world.

Among other companies to be investigated are: Veolia, Dexia bank, Elbit systems, Caterpillar, Ahava beauty products and Sodastream.

The Tribunal’s conclusions will be announced at a press conference November 22nd at Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre, 17-25 New Inn Yard, London EC2A 3EA.

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Boycott victory: Africa Israel suspends settlement construction http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/boycott-victory-africa-israel-suspends-settlement-construction/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/boycott-victory-africa-israel-suspends-settlement-construction/#comments Wed, 03 Nov 2010 23:58:17 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=2905 Adalah-NY Press Release, 4 November 2010.

Africa Israel, the flagship company of Israeli billionaire Lev Leviev, announced this week that it is no longer involved in Israeli settlement projects and that it has no plans for future settlement activities. Africa Israel subsequently denied that this was a political decision. However, in the last few years numerous organizations, firms, governments and celebrities have exerted pressure and severed their relationships with Leviev and his companies over their involvement in settlement construction and other human rights abuses, in response to a boycott campaign initiated by Adalah-NY.

Israel’s Coalition of Women for Peace disclosed on Monday that in an official letter to the Coalition, Africa Israel stated, “Neither the company nor any of its subsidiaries and/or other companies controlled by the company are presently involved in or has any plans for future involvement in development, construction or building of real estate in settlements in the West Bank.” In follow-up articles in the Israeli media on Monday, Africa Israel said that the statement was “a description of the business today” and that “Africa Israel builds for all the public in Israel, and does not deal in politics or any other policy.”

Ethan Heitner from Adalah-NY explained, “Following years of settlement construction, and pro-settlement statements and activities by Lev Leviev, the public announcement by Africa Israel that it has no plans to build Israeli settlements is clearly a result of pressure from the growing Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. This provides concrete evidence of the way in which the BDS movement can change companies’ behavior. But Africa Israel can’t speak out of both sides of its mouth and expect a clean bill of health. Africa Israel must unambiguously renounce settlement activity, and all other involvement in violations of Palestinian rights. And Lev Leviev needs to end his involvement in settlement construction through other companies like Leader Management and Development, as well as his support for human rights abuses in the diamond industry in countries like Angola and Namibia.”

Adalah-NY began a campaign to boycott the companies of Lev Leviev in November, 2007, which has since gained support from allies around the world. As a result, the Norwegian, Swedish and Dutch governments have divested from Africa Israel, as have a number of major international investment firms. The British government, UNICEF, Oxfam and CARE have all severed ties with Leviev, and major celebrities have quietly disassociated themselves from him.

From 2000-2008, Danya Cebus, the construction subsidiary of Africa Israel, built homes in the settlements of Har Homa, Maale Adumim (two different projects), Adam, and Mattityahu East on the land of the West Bank village of Bil’in. In late December, 2009, Africa Israel sold Anglo-Saxon Real Estate, a company that sold settlement homes. Another Leviev-owned company, Leader Management and Development, still owns and operates the expanding settlement of Zufim, built on the land of the West Bank village of Jayyous. In what is now Tel Aviv, Danya Cebus has supported Israeli efforts to erase Palestinian claims and heritage, by building projects on top of the remains of Palestinian villages like Sheikh Muwanis and Sumail that were ethnically cleansed by Israel in 1948. Leviev has also been a donor to two Israeli groups – the Land Redemption Fund and the Bukhara Community Trust, both of which have been involved in expanding Israeli settlements. Leviev has also been rumored to donate to Elad which is taking over the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Silwan.

As recently as 2008 Leviev expressed strong support for Israel’s continued takeover of Palestinian land. In a March 2008 interview in Ha’aretz Daily, reporter Anshel Pfeffer asked Leviev, “Do you have a problem with building in the territories?” Leviev responded, “Not if the State of Israel grants permits legally.” According to an English translation of the same Ha’aretz interview published in the Jewish Chronicle, Leviev explained, “For me, Israel, Jerusalem and Haifa are all the same.” “So are the Golan Heights. As far as I’m concerned, all of Eretz Israel is holy. To decide the future of Jerusalem? It belongs to the Jewish people. What is there to decide? Jerusalem is not a topic for discussion.”

Modeled on the worldwide campaign against apartheid-era South Africa, the movement for Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against Israel, which was called for in response to Israel’s many violations of Palestinian rights, has grown and achieved significant successes, particularly following Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip in 2009, which killed over 1400 Palestinians.

Adalah-NY is the New York Campaign for the Boycott of Israel.  See www.adalahny.org

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Israel clashes with UNESCO in row over holy sites http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/israel-clashes-with-unesco-in-row-over-holy-sites/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/israel-clashes-with-unesco-in-row-over-holy-sites/#comments Wed, 03 Nov 2010 23:23:10 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=2890 Jonathan Lis, Ha’aretz, 3 November 2010.

Israel on Wednesday said it would reduce cooperation with the United Nations’ cultural watchdog after the body classified Rachel’s Tomb in the West Bank as a mosque.

Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon said Israel would not cooperate with UNESCO – the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization – in administering five protected sites in Palestinian territory as a dispute that has escalated in recent weeks came to a head.

The ancient tomb, which lies between Jerusalem and the nearby Palestinian-controlled city of Bethlehem, is traditionally regarded as the burial place of a biblical matriarch and is holy to Christians, Muslims and Jews.

Speaking with journalists in Jerusalem, Ayalon blamed the Palestinians for influencing the UN to side against Israel.

“This is another attempt at de-legitimization by the Palestinian Authority,” he said.

However, Israel’s reaction was not quite as serious as it first appeared. Ayalon’s spokeswoman said that Israel would cut off relations with UNESCO altogether – but shortly after said that the announcement had been made in error and retracted the statement.

UNESCO had become a “rubber stamp” for the Palestinian government of President Mahmoud Abbas, Ayalon added:

“Decisions like this take us farther away from peace and understanding between our two nations.”

Israel’s boycott follows an angry statement last week by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu condemning UNESCO’s ruling on the tomb, which Muslims call the al-Ibrahimi Mosque.

“The attempt to detach the people of Israel from its heritage is absurd,” the statement said. “If the places where the fathers and mothers of the Jewish nation are buried, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Leah and Rachel some 4,000 years ago are not part of the Jewish heritage then what is?”

In its biannual session which ended last week, UNESCO adopted five proposals initiated by Arab member states regarding Jewish and Muslim holy sites.

One of them, in what Israelis charged was a first, used an allegedly politically motivated title to describe Rachel’s tomb, rebuffing a recent Israeli move to classify the burial place, and another in Hebron, as “national heritage sites”.

Referring to the structure as the “Bilal bin Rabah Mosque/Rachel’s Tomb”, UNESCO’s board voted 44 to one, with 12 abstentions, to reaffirm that the site was “an integral part of the occupied Palestinian territories and that any unilateral action by the Israeli authorities is to be considered a violation of international law”.

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Marilyn Monroe launches ‘Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds’ campaign in Dublin http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/marilyn-monroe-launches-%e2%80%98boycott-israeli-blood-diamonds%e2%80%99-campaign-in-dublin/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/marilyn-monroe-launches-%e2%80%98boycott-israeli-blood-diamonds%e2%80%99-campaign-in-dublin/#comments Sat, 30 Oct 2010 23:09:07 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=2875 Irish Palestine Solidarity Campaign Press Release, 30 October 2010.

“Israeli Diamonds… no longer a girl’s best friend”

On Saturday 30th October 2010 the Ireland-Palestine Solidarity Campaign (IPSC) held a nationwide awareness-raising day to expose the contamination of the global diamond market with Israeli “blood diamonds” ahead of the annual meeting of the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KP) in Jerusalem on November 1st. To launch the Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds campaign activists from the IPSC in Cork, Galway, Limerick, Wexford and Waterford activists from the IPSC handed out thousands of leaflets and collected petition signatures to while in Dublin, a blood-stained Marilyn Monroe even turned up to endorse the campaign saying “the fact that Israeli diamonds are sold as ‘conflict free’ means that diamonds can no longer be considered a girl’s best friend!”

Marilyn Monroe launches ‘Boycott Israeli Blood Diamonds’ campaign in Dublin Outlining the rationale for the actions, IPSC National Chairperson Freda Hughes said: “Israel is the world’s top diamond exporter with exports worth over $19 billion in 2008, accounting for over 30% of Israeli exports. Recent investigations by the UN have concluded that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008/09 and during the attack on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla earlier this year, while the brutal occupation of Palestinian land by Israel continues. The Israeli state which oversees these crimes and the military which carries them out are funded by revenue from these same diamond exports. In the view of the IPSC and the Palestinian Boycott National Committee (BNC) this Israeli diamonds should be unequivocally categorised as blood diamonds.”

The Kimberley Process is supposed to prevent the trade in “blood” or “conflict” diamonds. However, the KP stipulates that only “rough diamonds used by rebel movements” can be categorised as conflict diamonds – therefore it regards all other diamonds as “conflict free” regardless of what human rights violations they are funding. According to Israeli economist Shir Hever: “The diamonds industry helps Israel fund its war machine, which is used on a daily basis against defenceless civilians in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, to the tune of approximately $1 billion annually.”

Ms Hughes continued: “The IPSC is highlighting this important ethical issue, and have started a campaign aimed at pushing the Kimberley Process to widen its definition of conflict diamonds to include all diamonds that fund human rights – be they polished or unpolished diamonds, or used by state or non-state actors. Without such a definition, the KP is merely a charade aimed at fooling consumers into thinking that they are making ethical purchases.”

Ms Hughes concluded: “EU law provides for adequate and proper labelling of food produce, whereby the origin and country of manufacture of all food products is mandatory. When it comes to diamonds the European consumer is not being provided with the most basic labelling information. Consumers are being denied their statutory right to make informed choices with regard to diamonds and as a result jewellers, knowingly or unknowingly, are selling Israeli blood diamonds and misinforming customers by declaring they are “conflict free” diamonds.”

As the European Union is a member of the Kimberly Process, the IPSC has written to, and received positive responses from, Irish MEPs on this matter. The IPSC has also written to the Retail Jewellers of Ireland urging their support for a review of the KP.

More information about Israel’s diamond exports is available on the Electronic Intifada website, here.

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Eight countries absent from OECD Tourism Conference http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/eight-countries-absent-from-oecd-tourism-conference/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/eight-countries-absent-from-oecd-tourism-conference/#comments Thu, 21 Oct 2010 22:35:32 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=2862 Global BDS Press Release, 21 October 2010.

Occupied Palestine – An Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) “High Level Roundtable” conference on tourism hosted by Israel has begun in Jerusalem without the presence of at least eight countries, several of whom have stated their absence is politically motivated.
Following attempts by Israel to use the conference to further its territorial claims on Jerusalem and in response to the strong concerns raised by Palestinian and international civil society as well as Palestinian officials, that the conference would serve to whitewash Israel’s violations of international law, several of the eight countries to pull out of the conference have explained their withdrawals were political in nature. Norway and Turkey condemned comments made by Israeli politicians in the run up to the conference.[1] The Swedish delegation to the OECD referred campaigners to EU policy on the status of Jerusalem and hinted their stance was an attempt to assert the policy.
In a further blow to the credibility of the “high level” conference at which “senior government officials” were due to discuss tourism policy[2], a majority of invited countries did not send Tourism ministers but sent low-ranking officials instead. The Greek delegation to the OECD told campaigners during telephone calls that no officials from Athens will make the trip and that Greece will merely be represented by a staff member from the Greek tourist information centre in Tel-Aviv. Campaigners have learnt that the Czech Republic is the only EU country to send political representation.
The withdrawals came in response to statements made by Israel’s Minister of Tourism Stas Misezhnikov that the convening of the meeting in Jerusalem – the first OECD meeting hosted by Israel since it became a member in May and only the second time an OECD tourism conference has been held outside of Paris – amounted in effect to recognition by OECD members of Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital.[3] In a strongly worded letter to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, OECD General Secretary Angel Gurria called the comments “factually incorrect and quite unacceptable”.[4]
Palestinian opposition to the tourism conference being held in Jerusalem has been consistent. In a letter to Mr Gurria last month, the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a broad Palestinian civil society coalition, called upon the OECD to move the conference. “Organizing this tourism conference in Israel sends once again a strong signal that OECD members are perfectly willing to be complicit with Israel?s oppression of Palestinians and actively support Israel?s PR efforts to whitewash its colonial and apartheid policies,” the letter said.[5] The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) and the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC) both issued statements thanking UK, Turkey and Spain for boycotting the conference and called on other countries follow suit.[6]
“Israel has attempted to use its membership of the OECD to whitewash its violations of international law, just as Palestinian civil society warned it would. The refusal of so many countries to attend this conference is a clear condemnation of Israel’s continued ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem. We congratulate all those countries who have declined to attend the conference, especially those who were principled enough to publicise their concerns about the conference” said Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian Boycotts, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), a broad Palestinian civil society coalition.
“That countries like Canada and the UK, who are traditionally staunch defenders of Israeli apartheid, colonialism and occupaton have refused to attend the conference is a significant development,” she added.
The final conference event takes place on Friday.

NOTES

1) The 86th Session of the OECD Tourism Committee is due to take place in Jerusalem 20-22 October
2) Israel was admitted to the OECD in May 2010 despite a global campaign against the move as likely to have the impact of emboldening Israeli impunity. Campaigners argue that Israel does not meet the required economic and human rights standards of OECD membership and that OECD members who allowed Israeli to join the OECD did so in violation of their own legal obligations under the Geneva IV Convention.[7] Israeli economic data submitted to the OECD includes data from its illegal colonies in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and excludes the occupied Palestinian population. Israel’s admission to the OECD under these terms is equivalent to OECD endorsement of Israel’s policy of forced population transfer, which is a war crime under international law.[8]
3) Details of email and telephone conversations relating to various countries’ positions are available on request.
Hind Awwad (Palestine) +97(0)599837796 – hind.awwad@bdsmovement.net
Michael Deas (Europe) +44(0)07856266735 – bnc.europe@bdsmovement.net
REFERENCES
1 http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/n.php?n=turkey-expands-israel-veto-to-m… http://www.klassekampen.no/58083/article/item/null/dropper-konferanse
2 http://www.86tourismsessionisrael.org/about86.asp
3 http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-11508953
4 http://notoisraelnormalization.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/ag-2010-541-llt-netanyahu.pdf
5 http://www.bdsmovement.net/?q=node/773
6 http://notoisraelnormalization.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/prees.jpg http://notoisraelnormalization.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/plc-statement-to-oecd-secretary-general-14-10-2010.pdf
7http://notoisraelnormalization.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/oecd-ggglegal-opinion.pdf http://notoisraelnormalization.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/oecdlegalmemo.pdf
8 http://notoisraelnormalization.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/oecdbriefingaic.pdf
The Global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement: Since the Unified Palestinian call for BDS, launched in July 2005, BDS initiatives have been multiplying all over the world. Building and strengthening a global BDS movement has become a core aim for many involved in today’s solidarity work for Palestine.  See bdsmovement.net
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Settlers torch, vandalize Nablus school http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/settlers-torch-vandalize-nablus-school/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/settlers-torch-vandalize-nablus-school/#comments Wed, 20 Oct 2010 00:09:00 +0000 shopkeepers http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=2915 Ma’an News, 20 October 2010.

NABLUS (Ma’an) — A group of Israeli settlers broke into an all girls’ school in the Nablus districton Wednesday, setting fire to its storehouse containing furniture and unused sports equipment, the headmistress said.

Maysoon Sawalha said the cleaning woman at the school in As-Sawiya village arrived to find the lock on the main door broken as well as that of the storehouse, and all its contents were torched.

The fire did not spread to the rest of school because the water main is located in the storehouse, she said, adding that “otherwise the whole school would have been set on fire.”

Settlers wrote racist slogans on the school’s walls, including “regards from the hilltops,” she added.

“This is not the first attack on the school. Many attacks were carried out previously, the last of which was last year when settlers intercepted one of the classrooms and fired rounds of ammunition and gas canisters,” Sawalha said.

An Israeli military spokeswoman said a complaint had been filed with Israel’s Civil Administration, and the body was in touch with Palestinian Authority officials to “keep things quiet” in the area.

Israeli police, she added, are investigating the incident.

Sawalha called on international organizations to work on stopping such attacks “that put the life of the girls at risk causing them to suffer psychologically.”

An Israeli settler leader told Ma’an that there was scant evidence implicating any particular party, and added that tensions were high due to visits by activists helping local Palestinians harvest olives.

“Yes, Jews might have lit the fire, but it also could have been delinquent Arab youth from As-Sawiya or demented provocateurs like [Rabbis for Human Rights director] Arik Ascherman who was seen in the same area yesterday trying to ignite tensions between local Arabs and Jews,” said David Ha’ivri, director of the Shomron Liaison Office.

“Every year as the olive harvest arrives the region is overrun with outsiders claiming to be ‘peace activists’ or ‘humanitarian aid givers’ who wish to take part in the action and when they find nothing newsworthy going on they volunteer to make things more exciting by initiating violent events,” he said in an emailed statement.

On Tuesday, an Israeli rights group reported that 90 percent of claims filed against settlers in the West Bank for assault to person or property against Palestinians fail to secure a conviction.

Responding to that report, Ha’ivri said, “Could it be that 90% of the complaints filed do not lead to conviction of local Jewish residents be due to the fact that there is no evidence to back up those suspicions?”

Wednesday’s suspected arson follows a wave of reports from Palestinian farmers that settlers have been setting fire to agricultural land since the beginning of the traditional olive harvest in October.

In early October, Israeli settlers were suspected of setting fire to a Bethlehem village mosque.

Director of PA Ministry of Religious Endowment in Bethlehem Muhammad Ayish at the time described the arson as a “campaign against everything Palestinian.”

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Testimony from the wild West Bank http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/estimonywildwestbank/ http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/estimonywildwestbank/#comments Sun, 17 Oct 2010 19:15:36 +0000 admin http://www.olivecoop.com/stage/?p=46 Testimony from the wild West Bank:
Settlers burn thousands of olive trees in broad daylight, soldiers arrest… the Palestinian land owners


Gush Shalom press release, Oct, 17, 2010

The testimony of A., a Palestinian farmer from the village of Far’ata telling of what happened to his olive grove yesterday morning, was written down by peace activist David Nir, who spends much of his time monitoring the situation in the Nablus Area.

On the morning of Friday, October 15, A. And his family were harvesting olives on a plot near the built-up area of Far’ata. At 10.30 he was alerted to smoke rising from his other olive grove, which is near the “Gile’ad’s Farm” settler outpost. The olives from the trees in that grove had been stolen by settlers before the Palestinian owners were allowed to visit it, and the settlers had recently started pouring concrete foundations for building a house there.

A. run to the spot, accompanied by two other Far’ata residents who also have trees nearby. All three ran on foot, intending to put off the fire. When the settlers saw the Palestinians approaching, one of them ran in their direction – being followed by four soldiers. The soldiers pushed the settler back from the three Palestiniand but did not detain him. It was the Palestinians who were detained, taken by the soldiers away from the burning trees and kept directly under the sun. (The temperature was about 37 degrees Celsius, and A. eventually required medical treatment for dehydration symptoms.)

While detained by the soldiers, the Palestinians saw the same settler moving between the different plots and personally setting the trees on fire, without interruption from the many soldiers who were nearby and witnessed the scene.. When A. asked the soldiers guarding him why they were not preventing the settlers from putting trees on fire before their eyes, they shouted at him to be quiet. When he said he would complain about their helping the settlers to burn the trees they said they would testify that it was him who had set the fire.

Around 13.30 two of the four soldiers were called to another place. The three Palestinians took advantage of the remaining soldiers’ inattentiveness and escaped back to Far’ata, as they were sure the soldiers intended to take them into detention.

Only after hours of burning did the army allow fire trucks to arrive, but it was too late. When TV crews from Israeli, Palestinian and European stations arrived, the soldiers rushed them away to a location from which the fire was not visible.

A. estimates that the fire consumed more than a hundred acres of olive groves with more than 3000 trees, most of which belong to farmers from the nearby village of Tel. When Tel villagers riding donkeys tried to reach the spot, the settlers took away their donkeys and the army chased them away.

When representatives of the Palestinian Authority arrived, the soldiers expelled them, too.

All throughout the fire, there were about 40 settlers running about, as were many policemen and some 150 soldiers. The settlers were demonstratively friendly with the “security forces”, who made no attempt to stop them from continuing to put trees on fire.

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