The email below was posted to Jacinda Ardern by John Hobbs, a member of Wellington Palestine. We reproduce John’s email below because of growing concern that Israel will use the COVID-19 crisis to cover the annexation of the Jordan valley and large areas of the West Bank: an event that would be illegal under international law and cataclysmic for the Palestinian people. John musters some excellent arguments that can be reused in your own email to your MP.
30 April 2020
Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern
Dear Prime Minister
The purpose of this correspondence is to express my concern with recent statements made, and commitments given, by the Israeli government to proceed to annex Israeli Settlements, including the Jordan Valley, in illegally Occupied Palestine. I ask that the New Zealand government express in no uncertain terms its opposition to the intended annexation both domestically and in the international arena.
You will be aware that regular statements by Prime Minister Netanyahu over his declaration to annex the Settlements have been given express support by the United States of America. This support has occurred through the Trump Middle East Peace Plan, and very recently by statements made by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.
Pompeo stated last week that the decision to annex the Settlements is a “matter for Israel’. Furthermore the EU has given ambiguous responses to Netanyahu’s declaration, and in doing so provided further support to the Israeli government to proceed.
What is extraordinary about all of this is that one sovereign power, Israel, can simply state to the world that it intends to annex territory from another sovereign power, Palestine, and by all intents and purposes will proceed do it, unimpeded by the international community.
Michael Lynk – UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in the Palestinian Territory Occupied since 1967 – made the following statement in his report to the Human Rights Council:-
“As the occupying power, Israel is restricted by law to acting only as the temporary administrator of the Palestinian territory until it returns the territory in full, in as short and as reasonable a time as possible, back to the inherent sovereign and protected population; the Palestinian people.”
Lynk also added:-
“No occupation in the modern world has been conducted with the international community so alert to its many grave breaches of international law, so knowledgeable about the [Israeli] occupiers’ obvious and well-signalled intent to annex and establish permanent sovereignty, so well informed about the scale of suffering and dispossession endured by the protected [Palestinian] population under occupation, and yet so unwilling to act upon the overwhelming evidence before it..”
I have to say, as a New Zealand citizen who cares about human rights and the rights of the Palestinian people living under occupation, it is difficult to know how to respond.
Advice from Palestinian friends, academics, and the ‘UN Special Rapporteur on Palestine’ is that the international community must collectively exercise its voice and unambiguously oppose such moves.
You will be aware that the New Zealand Government played a leading role in promoting the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334 (2016) which amongst other things once again reminded the international community that the settlements “has no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law..” and “[expressed] grave concern that continuing Israeli activities are dangerously imperilling the viability of the two-State solution based on the 1967 lines.”
You may also be aware that since the Resolution was accepted by the UN Security Council in 2016 Israel has continued to rapidly expand settlements into Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.
I have written on a number of occasions over the past two years to the Government expressing concern over the detention of children in Israeli prisons and with the unrelenting expansion of settlements. The reply I typically get from the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and the Government, is that the New Zealand Government supports the peace process and a two state solution.
My partner and I visited Hon Grant Robertson in his Electorate Office about 2 years ago to discuss our concerns. He is our local MP. While sympathetic, he indicated that the matter was a complex one and that the Government’s position remains supportive of a two state solution. He suggested that we might consider expressing our views through members of the Foreign Affairs Select Committee.
Accordingly, we did go and talk with Ms Golriz Ghahraman, a member of the Select Committee. She expressed sympathy with our position. We also contacted Mr Duncan Webb but didn’t receive a reply. Unfortunately we didn’t make much headway through this route.
While international law has played an important role in repeatedly affirming the rights of the Palestinian people via numerous UN Security Council resolutions the effect of these resolutions on the actions taken by Israel in the Occupied Palestinian Territories has been negligible.
In short, it remains with the international community (supported by international law) to apply diplomatic pressure on Israel to halt its annexation plans.
In the absence of international pressure and within a very short time Israel will annex the Settlements in Occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, and seize the Jordan Valley. Prime Minister Netanyahu has indicated as part of the new Coalition Government with Mr Gantz’s Party a timetable where the Israeli Cabinet will begin considerations of annexation on 1 July 2020.
Given that the New Zealand Government’s stated position is that it is committed to a two state solution, and the proposal of annexation would make the delivery of this impossible, it is timely that the New Zealand Government expresses its concerns with the stated intentions of Israel.
In writing this message I have copied in Hon Andrew Little, Minister of Justice as this is a matter of human rights, international law and justice for the people of Palestine. I would be interested in the Minister’s perspective on supporting the human rights of Palestinians living under occupation. We have also copied in Hon Marama Davidson (who was on the flotilla to Gaza) and Hon James Shaw as co-leaders of the Green Party and part of Cabinet.
And as many commentators have said, that in turning a blind eye to Israel’s actions it is both an abrogation of human rights for the people of Palestine and to the rights of all peoples. “Impunity anywhere is a danger to justice everywhere.”
So I ask that you please consider the sentiments expressed in this correspondence.
Finally, and irrespective of the above, I would like to thank you for the leadership and care you have shown in managing New Zealand’s response to Covid-19.