High time for sanctions against Israel

20 July 2006

High time for sanctions against Israel

The Israeli government's reaction to the seizure of three of the country's soldiers threatens to put a torch to the whole of the Middle East. In bombing civilian targets, Israel is contravening international treaties and has chosen a course of action which does not serve its own security needs. This must stop, and immediately. The Netherlands, the European Union and the United Nations must not sit passively watching the further destruction of the Lebanon and the total repression of the Palestinian people. It is high time that sanctions were imposed on Israel. On Saturday, a demonstration will take place in Amsterdam against the war and the destruction of the Palestinian areas and the Lebanon.

Residential areas in Beirut reduced to rubble

The kidnapping of three soldiers was seized upon by the Israeli government as an opportunity for the definitive settling of affairs with Hamas and Hezbollah as military and political organisations. There can be no approving of the violence of either Hamas or Hezbollah, but the kidnapping of three Israeli soldiers did not occur in a vacuum.

What led up to it was a complete boycott of the new, democratically-elected Palestian government, and the closure of Gaza'a seaport and air space which, coupled with the illegal building of the separation wall, made the economic development of the enclave impossible and reduced it instead to being the world's biggest open-air prison. All of this is unacceptable.

Bombed-out houses

By devastating Gaza's infrastructure, Israel caused a humanitarian disaster whose principal victims are civilians. This represents an illegal collective punishment, in conrtravention of the fourth Geneva Convention.

Similarly, the escalation of violence in the Israeli-Lebanese border region did not appear out of thin air. Despite the withdrawal from South Lebanon in the spring of 2000 of the Israeli occupation force, the armed conflict between Israël and Hezbollah has continued in the years since. The occupation of Shebaa Farms has not been lifted and the Israeli air force has persistently violated Lebanese air space. And just as in the case of Palestinian leaders, the Isreaeli secret service Mossad has pursued a policy of liquidation of leading members of Hezbollah.

Homes destroyed in the Gaza Strip

The bombing of residential districts, the main airport and a power station in Lebanon has set the country back decades. Support for Hezbollah will certainly not diminish as a result of such acts, but rather increase. Not only is what the Israelis are doing not justified, it is also not effective.

The Dutch government must do a great deal more than simply expressing concern. Israel must be put under pressure to renounce its chosen modus operandi. Further escalation of violence will lead irrevocably to many more civilian victims, putting a torch to the whole region. Such behaviour is irresponsible and unacceptable.

The European Union has concrete means of exerting pressure which could be applied. The Netherlands should therefore propose that the Association Agreement which offers Israel advantageous trading conditions with the EU be suspended as quickly as possible. To do nothing would be to share the responsibility for what is being perpetrated. It is high time for sanctions against Israel. Now!

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