By Leslie Bravery, published in The Daily Blog (New Zealand), May 19, 2018 (with related news further below)
If we cannot bring Israel to respect the most fundamental provisions of international law, then we must part company with our ‘traditional allies’ as they seek to cover for Israel’s lawlessness and inhumanity. New Zealand should reappraise its foreign policy and align itself with humanity rather than unashamed power. Solidarity with the boycott-divestment-sanctions campaign (BDS) would be a shining beacon for united action by all who yearn for a return to sanity, justice and respect for the whole of humanity.
In a preposterous and pathetic performance on April 30, the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu claimed to have proof that Iran had lied to the world and that it intended to arm itself with nuclear weapons. Since then, in the real world, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reminded the world on May 8 that Iran was keeping to its ‘nuclear-related commitments’ and that “Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime.” Discrediting Netanyahu, the IAEA emphasised that there were “no credible indications” to support claims that Iran was continuing its “co-ordinated” nuclear weapons programme after 2009. No one should be surprised that an Israeli Prime Minister would lie – the Zionist enterprise was based on lies.
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
New Zealand signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in July 2017, as did Palestine and Iran. On the other hand, Israel and its nuclear-armed allies have failed to sign the Treaty. Israel will not co-operate with IAEA because it considers its own nuclear arsenal to be nobody else’s business.
Another Israeli ally, Australia, has also chosen not to sign up to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons although, like New Zealand, it has no nuclear weapons. States that do not possess nuclear weapons sign up to the Treaty in the hope of increasing global co-operation and security. But what motivation drives those that choose not to join the movement towards nuclear arms control and eventual disarmament?
In 1987, the IAEA Conference, GC(31)/825 recalled United Nations General Assembly resolution 41/93, that expressed deep alarm “. . . regarding the possession of nuclear weapons by Israel” and demanded that Israel place all of its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, in compliance with Security Council Resolution 48/ of 1981.
On 23 September 1988, IAEA Conference GC(32)/RES/487 concerning Israeli Nuclear Capabilities Threat recalled its resolution GC(XXXI)/RES/470 of 25 September 1987, which demanded that Israel comply with Security Council resolution 487 (1981) and place all of its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. The IAEA declared itself “conscious of the grave consequences that endanger international peace and security as a result of Israel’s growing nuclear capabilities and threat”, in particular with regard to “Israel’s policy of aggression and expansion in the region and its acts of oppression against the Arab people in the Occupied Territories, which grossly violate international law and the provisions of the Charter of the United Nations.”
The IAEA Conference condemned “the continued refusal by Israel to renounce the possession of nuclear weapons and to submit all its nuclear facilities to the Agency’s safeguards in compliance with Security Council resolution 487 (1981)”.
Iran and the IAEA
Since the voices of those countries that Israel and the U.S. choose to condemn are seldom heard in mainstream Western news media, it might add a little balance to quote here some of the policy and hopes that Iran expressed in a statement by the Vice-President of the Islamic Republic of Iran and President of the Atomic Energy Organisation of Iran to the 46th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency Vienna on 16 September 2002:
It is now an accepted fact that among factors strengthening the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), is the establishment of Nuclear Weapon Free Zones (NWFZ) in the world and it is very encouraging to note that a few such NWFZ, have aready been created in different regions of the world. As the Middle East is among the most strategic areas of the globe, the world community has been witness to Iran’s call in 1974, for the first time, to establish a nuclear weapon free zone in the Middle East. Israel, however, the only non-adherent party has so far not been co-operative in this regard. It has consistently shrugged off this essential international call for safety and peace by turning its back on world public opinion and by refusing to even allow the Agency to inspect its nuclear installations. Such an arrogant attitude is certainly not conducive and will most probably lead to an apprehensive paradigm with unexpected consequences in the region. It, therefore, goes without saying that adherence to NPT by all the regional member states is an essential preliminary step towards the establishment of a Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in the Middle East.
The statement ended with the following observation:
Finally, Mr. President, the Islamic Republic of Iran, on the basis of its Islamic tenets, beliefs and human affinity, has always condemned the possession of weapons of mass destruction. Ever since the inception of the Agency, my country has maintained its strong and active ties with the organisation and has submitted all its nuclear activities including the Bushehr Power Plant Project to the supervision of the Agency. Complete transparency of my country’s nuclear activities is a serious commitment endorsed by my government. (Read full statement.)
The U.S. and Israel
There is an enormous contrast to the above when listening to the voices of the Zionist alliance. Take, for instance, Sheldon Adelson, one of Donald Trump’s biggest supporters, who favoured nuclear-bombing the Iranian capital, Tehran, in order to force Iran to end its nuclear energy programme. One of the richest people on the planet, Adelson uses his fortune to influence elections while financially aiding and abetting Zionist organisations such as the Republican Jewish Coalition and the Zionist Organization of America. Another pro-Zionist billionaire that finances Trump is Bernard Marcus, who said “I think Iran is the devil.”
In a press release dated 12 May 2018, the Israel Institute’s director, Dr David Cumin, welcomed U.S. President Trump’s reckless and destabilising decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal with the P5+1 group of world powers. The Institute’s press release went so far as to claim, without a shred of proof, that “Recent Israeli intelligence shows that Iran is actively working to secure a nuclear warhead.”
Our Government should ignore Cumin’s appeal for New Zealand to support what he called “actions that will prevent the Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons”. Iran is not in the least interested in acquiring nuclear weapons and claims to the contrary have been proved baseless. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reminded the world on May 8 that Iran was keeping to its ‘nuclear-related commitments’ and that “Iran is subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime”. Discrediting assertions by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, the IAEA emphasised that there were “no credible indications” to support claims that Iran was continuing its “co-ordinated” nuclear weapons programme after 2009.
The New Zealand Herald recently published a letter to the editor concerning Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Iran nuclear agreement. For whatever reason, the newspaper chose to redact from the very brief letter a sentence that contained a reference to Mordechai Vanunu, the whistleblower who revealed to the world the evidence of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal at Dimona. So while the Zionists wish to keep Vanunu and Dimona from public view, we’ll give this brave and selfless humanist some deserved publicity – whether they or the Herald like it or not – please share widely:
On 5 October 1986, an article in the Sunday Times newspaper revealed the secrets of a hidden factory engaged in the manufacture of Israel’s nuclear weapons arsenal. The article explained that “beneath the Negev Desert”, the factory had been manufacturing atomic warheads “for the last 20 years” and that “it has almost certainly begun manufacturing thermo-nuclear weapons, with yields big enough to destroy entire cities.” The evidence for this had been supplied to the Sunday Times’ Insight Team by Mordechai Vanunu, who gave an account of his eight years employment at Israel’s Dimona Nuclear Research Centre. At that time, the evidence suggested that Israel ranked sixth among the world’s nuclear powers, with a stockpile of up to 200 atomic warheads.
From then on, Mordechai Vanunu was a marked man. Later that year Israel’s Mossad spy agency caught up with him in Rome, drugged him and smuggled him to Israel. In 1988, an Israeli court sentenced Vanunu to 18 years in prison. In vain, his lawyer pointed out the lawlessness and lack of jurisdiction attached to the spy agency’s illegal act of abduction and misuse of drugs in a foreign country. The Zionist regime, besides displaying contempt towards Italian domestic law, proceeded to veil Vanunu’s trial with secrecy. Since his release from prison in 2004, Israel continues to keep Vanunu trapped inside Israel, preventing him from travelling abroad or speaking with foreigners. While our mainstream news media show little interest, the high regard that exists internationally for Vanunu deserves recognition.
A petition to the court that sentenced Vanunu was signed by 20 leading scientists, including 12 Nobel prize laureates and Mordechai Vanunu was nominated for the 1988 Nobel Peace Prize by the Bertrand Russell Peace Foundation. Linus Pauling and Carl Sagan wrote of him: “No greater regard can be shown by the court for the decent opinion of humankind than by acknowledging the lonely courage of Mordechai Vanunu.” An international law expert at Princeton University, Professor Richard Falk, observed that “individual conscience is more important in the nuclear age than the security of the state . . .”, adding that “it is necessary that individual citizens also take responsibility.”
The legacy of Zionism
In 70 years of colonising Palestine and denying the Palestinian people the most fundamental of human rights, Israel has respected neither international law nor the sovereignty of its neighbours. The Zionist state is still illegally occupying the Syrian Golan Heights and, earlier this month, Israel’s Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz was even quoted by Arutz Sheva (Israel National News) in praise of a U.S. air strike on Syria and claiming that “We need another 100,000 settlers in the Golan”.
Israel, while working assiduously to escalate confrontation with Iran, expects Trump to provide all the support it requires, no matter what the consequences. There breathes, in the U.S. President’s devotion to the Zionist enterprise, an ominous atmosphere of the darkest days of the last century. Donald Trump’s ridiculous posturing is eerily reminiscent of Benito Mussolini, and the U.S. leader’s partnership with Netanyahu is not without parallel from that era either. The growing power of Zionism and America’s record of ignoring every Israeli war crime affords the Zionist regime virtual exemption from all its obligations under the Fourth Geneva Convention (protection of civilians in times of war) as well as a multitude of UN Security Council and General Assembly Resolutions.
Step up New Zealand
This week [May 14] has seen yet another massacre of Palestinian civilians, this time to the accompaniment of self-congratulatory ceremony and smiles from the chief perpetrator and his accomplice. No wonder there is division between world leaders over Trump’s disastrous foreign policy. Right now, every government has a duty to resist this downward spiral towards civilisation’s oblivion.
On May 15, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern condemned the “devastating, one-sided loss of life” in Gaza that accompanied the opening of the United States embassy in Jerusalem the day before. She said the decision to move the embassy from Tel Aviv was a “step back” when it came to a peaceful, two-state resolution between Israelis and Palestinians.
The NZ Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced further that the Israeli ambassador would be called in again shortly over the huge numbers of dead and injured in Gaza. Will expressions of condemnation, on their own, be sufficient to force the slightest change in direction by the forces of Zionism and their allies? It doesn’t look hopeful. On 14 May, an obdurate United States blocked the adoption of a Security Council statement that would have called for an independent probe into the massacre.
The reality is that Israel continues to thumb its nose at the world over UN Security Council Resolution 2334, which condemns the “establishment of settlements in Palestinian territory occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem” as having “no legal validity.” There is no wriggle room for Israel in this, as the Security Council Resolution clearly describes Israel’s land theft as a “flagrant violation under international law.” Equally unavoidable is the Resolution’s clear pronouncement that the Security Council would not recognise “any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem.” This is completely at variance with Trump’s embassy move and the Zionist rhetoric that accompanied it.
If we cannot bring Israel to respect the most fundamental provisions of international law, then we must part company with our ‘traditional allies’ as they seek to cover for Israel’s lawlessness and inhumanity. New Zealand should reappraise its foreign policy and align itself with humanity rather than unashamed power. Solidarity with boycott-diverstment-sanctions would be a shining beacon for united action by all who yearn for a return to sanity, justice and respect for the whole of humanity.
Leslie Bravery is a member of the Palestine Human Rights Campaign in New Zealand. He writes regularly about Palestine in New Zealand media.
Notes by A Socialist In Canada:
 The writer has confused the names of the world’s two principal nuclear weapons treaties. The 1970 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is a “landmark international treaty whose objective is to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and weapons technology, to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy and to further the goal of achieving nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament. The Treaty represented the only binding commitment in a multilateral treaty to the goal of disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states.” Opened for signature in 1968, the Treaty entered into force in 1970.
On July 7, 2017, 122 member countries of the United Nations approved at a session of the General Assembly the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (aka Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty). It sets out a process of nuclear weapons disarmament. Sixty nine countries boycotted the session, including all of the nuclear weapon states, all NATO members except the Netherlands (which voted against the treaty), and Australia and Japan. The vote result on July 7 is here. As of May 2018, 58 countries have signed the treaty and ten of those have ratified it. (Signature and ratification status of the treaty is here.) The ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel’s war against the Palestinian people is a long-ago failed proposal, critiqued heavily by Palestinian writer Edward Said during his lifetime. Progressive Palestinians and their supporters are fighting for a democratic and secular Palestine in which Jews and Palestinians live in peace with equal rights. The government and state of Israel as presently constituted totally oppose such an outcome.
* Nuclear weapons treaty exit on table as Iran gauges EU action on deal, by Saeid Jafari, Al-Monitor, May 18, 2018
* Palestinians engaged in non-violent protest, Israel responded with a massacre, by Sharif Abdel Kouddous, The Nation, May 17, 2018 (Sharif Abdel Kouddous is an independent journalist based in Cairo. He is a Democracy Now! correspondent and a fellow at The Nation Institute.)
* Israel continues aggression against Syria while playing the victim, by Zak Witus, Truthout.org, May 21, 2018