Israel ‘Guilty,’ says Russell Tribunal on Palestine

New York — The Russell Tribunal is an International People’s Tribunal organized to bring to light Israel’s recognized violations of international law and to advocate for an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine and Israel’s denial of Palestinian rights.

This fourth and final international session of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine focused on “U.S. Complicity and U.N. Failings in Dealings with Israel’s Violations of International Law toward the Palestinian People.”

The New York Tribunal on Palestine was held at historic Cooper Union on Oct. 6-7, following sessions held in Barcelona, which focused on the European Union’s complicity; in London, focusing on corporate complicity; and in Cape Town, South Africa, focusing on the crime of apartheid. In New York, before a packed audience, the Tribunal focused on the United Nations and U.S. responsibility in denying self-determination to the Palestinian people, as well as in upholding Israel’s complete disregard for international law.

Invitations to the Tribunal were extended to the U.S. and Israel, both of whom failed to respond.

Jury members were Dennis Banks, Angela Davis, John Dugard, Miguel Angel Estrella, Stephane Hessel, Ronnie Kasrils, Mairead Maguire, Cynthia McKinney, Michael Mansfield, Alice Walker and Roger Waters. Chairpersons were Pierre Galand and Stephane Hessel. Testimonies and jury responses were heard from 20 witnesses and experts.

The jury of this final Russell Tribunal session heard testimony on: the birth of Zionism and its impact on the Palestinians, including the U.N.’s involvement in Palestinian and Israeli policies since 1948; the role of the U.N. in the obstruction of Palestinians’ right to self-determination; the role of the U.S. in supporting violations of Palestinian rights; the role of the U.S., NGO’s [non-governmental organizations] and the international civil society in moving forward; and the issue of sociocide from Native Americans to Palestinians.

On the second day of the Tribunal, the parents of Rachel Corrie, who was mowed down and killed by an Israeli bulldozer while trying to prevent a Palestinian home from being demolished, gave an updated report on their efforts to obtain justice for their daughter’s killing.

On Oct. 8 at the U.N. Plaza in a press conference, the jury presented its findings. Juror Angela Davis stated that “people are shocked to discover the conditions in Palestine not only replicate apartheid in South Africa. They are far worse.” She urged people to take action in supporting and spreading the BDS (boycott, divestment and sanctions) campaign against Israel.

The jurors concluded that “Israel’s on-going colonial settlement expansion, its racial separatist policies, as well as its violent militarism, would not be possible without the U.S.’s unequivocal economic, military and diplomatic support, and aid to Israel in order to establish military superiority over its Arab neighbors, in violation of the U.S.’s own domestic law.” They found the U.S. to be guilty of complicity with Israel’s human rights violations of the Palestinian people.

Strengthen solidarity with Palestine

The U.N. was found to be in violation of international law for its failure to prevent and take concrete action against the severity of Israel’s war crimes, crimes against humanity, the crimes of apartheid and genocide, and by not exhausting all peaceful means of pressure available to it, as stipulated in the U.N. Charter. The jury concluded that the U.N. must do more toward cessation of Israel’s wrongful acts and its impunity, and that it must compensate the Palestinians for the damage suffered.

The jurors found Israel in violation of Palestinian fundamental economic, social and cultural rights and freedoms, including the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination, prohibiting the return of Palestinian refugees to their homes and discriminating policies and practices.

Israel was found in violation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions and the U.N. Charter requiring a complete withdrawal from the occupied territory, and was condemned for its annexation of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

The Tribunal concluded that “the present system of international justice is incapable to bring about change.  However, change can be achieved by the mobilization of international public opinion, especially in the U.S. and Israel, towards a just society based on equality before the law, via the various manifestations of civic society: networks, movements with particular emphasis upon the BDS movement, trade unions and other campaigns.”

The jury emphasized that the oppressive situation of the Palestinians is urgent! Israel’s pretense of being a democracy is a sham. It has never wanted peace. They determined that Israel needs to be sanctioned. They cannot make legal what is illegal.

The Russell Tribunal declared its commitment to continue its work on Palestine by “monitoring progress and disseminating information.”  The Tribunal encouraged strengthening of the Palestinian solidarity movement, advancement of international law and its applicability to Palestine and Palestinians, and raising awareness about Israeli settler-colonialism and the grave injustices committed against the Palestinians under Israel’s brutal 64-year military occupation.

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