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Thursday night saw an incensed debate over Israel’s attack on the Gaza strip with Israeli PM Shimon Peres defending his nation’s actions. The video for the same may be viewed below,

This open session involved UN Sec General Ban Ki Moon, Arab League Sec General Amr Moussa, Mr. Shimon Peres and Turkish PM Erdogan in what has been termed a very lively discussion. Peres came out strongly on Israel’s right to self defence and brought out the threats that the hamas posed to the jewish nation. He was however alone in his defence as the remaining leaders were vehement in their opposition to the offensive and Israel’s treatment of civilians during the attack of which Mr. Peres offered no apologies or explanation.

The Israeli president unleashed a harsh, unyielding rant that was full of strange statements, truncated arguments and meandering rhetoric. Clearly, he is feeling the effects of his age as his remarks bordered on the incoherent at times. But what was most evident was the choleric tone.

Here are a few of the stranger statements: he claimed that Israel could not accept the Saudi 2002 initiative because “there was a small problem of Iran” which wishes to rule the Middle East. Peres also claimed that Hamas did not win a democratic election. Rather Mahmoud Abbas DID win an election as president of the Palestinians. Peres also claimed there is no humanitarian crisis in Gaza; that Israel supplies all the water, fuel and electricity that Gaza needs; and that if there is a problem he would personally intervene to correct it.

Also, during the debate the Turkish PM was not given a chance to reply to Mr. Peres by the Moderator at which he got up and walked out of the room. News items here.

The Webcast of the whole session may be seen here.

Continuing with Gaza, I’d invite the readers to read two posts by Dapo Akande and Marko Milanovic on the issue on EJIL Talk. Both the authors discuss the crisis from a strictly legal point of view explaining as to why it is an internationally wrongful act on the part of Israel and its claim of self- defense being unsustainable.

Both the authors identify and analyse the issue of proportionality in this context and attempt tp define the nature of the conflict in Gaza. Dapo writes;

So, to start from the beginning, the first question is what sort of armed conflict is going on in Gaza. Prior to the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza this was clearly an international armed conflict. The Israeli Supreme Court in the Targetted Killings case accepted that fighting in occupied territories between the occupying and resistance forces is part of an international armed conflict. Has the position changed since Israel withdrew from Gaza? This requires one to answer the question whether there is still an occupation in Gaza. If Israel is still the occupying power then the conflict is still international law. Comments are welcome on whether, as a legal matter, the occupation is still continuing.

On the issue of proportionality, Marko Milanovic writes,

“But for the life of me, I just can’t see a jus ad bellum issue in regard of Israel’s actions in Gaza. This is simply not self-defense within the meaning of Article 51 of the UN Charter, as that concept of self-defense is an exception to the general prohibition on the use of force, that operates between states only and exclusively and is enshrined in Article 2(4) of the Charter. That prohibition was not triggered by Israel’s action, as Gaza is not a state, nor a part of any state, but is a part of the sui generis mandate territory of Palestine. In other words, no state claims sovereignty or title over Gaza, and the sovereignty of no state was infringed by Israel’s use of force. Article 2(4) does not apply, and consequently Article 51 and the self-defense notion of proportionality do not apply either, unless one is willing to argue that Palestine (Gaza included) already is a state in international law – a position that is in my view untenable.”

Readers may read the full article in the links provided above.

Gaza is still burning…

I just saw a CNN debate on the gaza crisis between Yishai Fleisher and David Levy (Sorry readers, I couldn’t get the link online). Yishai argued that Israel had a right to defend itself and what people around the world are calling ethnic cleansing is more an assertion of a state to flush out other people. I say ‘what’s the difference’. He also argued that Israel is merely claiming what is rightfully its territory and that it doesn’t matter is women and children are killed. Further stating that these facts are concocted by the Hamas in Gaza. Well this below should be evident of that;

David Levy on the other hand blamed the international community for not responding to the attacks. He urged the UN to take action and force Israel to a cease fire.

There is a perception that perhaps the UN isn’t doing anything because the United States of America plays a major role in it and uncle Sam has always supported Israel. For all the promise and hope Barrack Obama has given us about human freedoms and rights; even he hasn’t made a statement on the attacks.

While these killings are taking place in Gaza; Africa seems to be burning as it always does. 400 people were massacred by the Ugandan rebels in Congo in Xmas week. Still no reactions by the international community. Elie Wiesel put forth that when grave human rights violations take place, to be indifferent is a sin. Despite him being a jew himself and said in the context of the holocaust, his statement must be considered to ask the international community to interfere.

People now compare and see Israel having reminiscences of Nazi Germany. Alan Dershowtiz’s blog contains a comment that could be used as a reply to Yishai;

It’s exactly the same concept that the Nazis used to justify their racial policies — they called it “Blut und Boden” — blood and soil. Until the Nazis switched from emigration to massacre, German Zionists and German Nazis worked well together — they shared the same ridiculous idea that a people’s ancestry is somehow linked to particular “soil.” The fact that the “Aryan” people actually originated in western Asia illustrates how absurd this idea is.