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German Peace Movement Demands Israeli Withdrawal

Both the occupation of the Gaza strip and the arrest of members of thed Palestinian government are clear breaches of international law.

Israeli Troops in the Gaza Strip

By Peter Strutynski
[This article published in: Friedensratschlag, June 30, 2006 is translated from the German on the World Wide Web,  http://www.zeit-fragen.ch/index.php?id=933&type=98.]

- End the open war against Palestinians
- Withdraw Israeli troops
- Dialogue not confrontation
- Appeal to the German government

As much as the peace movement abhors the use of terrorist violence, it condemns state-sponsored terror. The most recent military actions of the Israeli army in the Gaza strip and west Jordan must be described as state terror. Answering a Palestinian surprise attack in an Israeli army post with the kidnapping of a soldier with a full-scale offensive against the population of the Gaza strip is itself terror.

Both the occupation of the Gaza strip - which in no way represents a Terra nullius in international law - and the arrest of members of the Palestinian government are clear breaches of international law. On the basis of the US Security Council resolution (particularly Resolution 242 from 1967), the Palestinian autonomous territory enjoys the status of an independent territory that recognized Israel's existence with the 1993 Oslo agreements. In the foundational Oslo agreement with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Israel agreed to mutual acknowledgment and a Palestinian self-government in the 1967 occupied territories. The Oslo agreements made possible the establishment of a Palestinian National Authority as an international law object "sui generis." Members of the Palestinian government enjoy complete immunity. Their arrest by the Israeli army represents a grave offense against international law, a criminal act of freedom deprivation and kidnapping. The deportation of members of the government from East Jerusalem is also illegal.

Outweighing this, Israel's war acts come at a time of increasing escalation of violence in the Middle East. They foment an extremely strained conflict that could blow into a great bloodbath. The return to a peace process is barred for a long time. Hatred and violence determine events in the region.

A de-escalation of the situation can only succeed on the basis of the following immediate measures and principles:

1. The Israeli army withdraws immediately and completely from the Gaza strip and other temporarily occupied areas.

2. The Palestinian government led by Hamas intensifies its efforts around a release of the kidnapped Israeli soldiers.

3. Both sides declare their will to return to politics. This includes mutual acknowledgment and readiness for dialogue.

4. Both sides declare their readiness to enter into negotiations on founding a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders on the foundation of present international law. A first step must be ending all construction of Jewish settlements in East Jerusalem and in the west Jordan territory.

The Friedensratschlag peace group appeals to the German government to take a constructive mediating role in the conflict. In the past, German Middle East policy was marked by a one-sided partiality for Israeli interests. Berlin may not measure with two kinds of standards and must reject all violence in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Conversely Germany must finally end the isolation of the Palestinian government. Negotiations presuppose the recognition of the potential negotiating partner.

With these demands, the Friedensratschlag peace group is united with the Israeli peace movement (i.e. "Gush Shalom"). The well-known Israeli lawyer and human rights activist Felicia Langer will present this perspective at the July 13 demonstration of the peace movement in Stralsund when US president Bush is the German chancellor's guest. The peace movement in Germany is called to be strongly engaged for ending violence and for a just peace in the Middle East.

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