Intellectual Author


Nakba, 1948

Dispossession, Famine & Genocide

GPM # 52

Some time in the next six months, the International Court of Justice, in The Hague, will issue an advisory opinion on the legal consequences of Israel’s 57-year occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza.

The UN top court will be responding to a request from the UN General Assembly, asking it to determine whether Israel’s occupation is legal, and if not, what Israel’s obligations are under international law, and what the obligations of third states are to set things right.

If the top UN court does deem Israel’s occupation – its settlement enterprise certainly is – all UN member states would be obliged not to acknowledge the legal validity of Israel’s prolonged occupation, nor render it aid and assistance.

Peace Palace, seat of the International Court of Justice, The Hague

Arguably, no country bears greater historical responsibility for all this mess then Britain.

Still, with supreme richness, in late February, British lawyers (in lockstep with their American colleagues) urged the ICJ not to render an Advisory Opinion on Israel’s ceaseless occupation of Palestine, or if it did, not to go into all the history.

The UK has reason to make such a request.

As Mandatory Power in former Ottoman Palestine, under the League of Nations Covenant and Mandate system, following World War I, Britain was obliged to prepare Palestine’s people for independence. In a census carried out at the start of its Mandate, it determined that seventy-eight percent of Palestine’s people were Muslims, ten percent were Christian, and eleven percent were Jewish.

Rather than building independence for Palestine’s people, Britain proceeded to hand it over to European Jewish colonists. The rest is history.

The GPM spoke about all this, and the ICJ Advisory Opinion hearings, with Victor Kattan, Professor in Public International Law at the University of Nottingham School of Law, and author of the 2009 work From Coexistence to Conquest – International Law and the Origins of the Arab-Israeli Conflict, 1891-1949.

Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast. Click on the play button above, or go here.

Israel’s assault on Gaza is now into Day 156.

Ostensibly aimed at wiping out Hamas, Israeli leaders openly admitted from the start that they’re aim was to wipe out Gaza; slim its population down by 90 percent or so; driving Gazans into Egypt, or wherever. The sea, if need be.

Five and a half months in, Gazans are starving and sick.

All according to plan. Israeli war minister Yoav Gallant announced, at the get-go, that all food, water, electricity and medicine would be cut off from the ‘Jewish’ state’s sliver of a ghetto, already under comprehensive siege since 2007.

As Israel turns the screws on Gaza, it takes aim at an even older enemy – the single most important organization, on the ground in Gaza, providing Gazans what Israel doesn’t want them to have: food, schooling, and other social supports: the UN Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA.

At the end of January, Israel alleged, with a big splash, that twelve out UNRWA’s 13,000-strong staff in Gaza had joined Hamas in its October 7 assault. A hoary Israeli tactic that invariably works, for a while. Predictably, Western powers quickly suspended aid to the Gazan people’s only secure lifeline.

Since then, various media outlets and governments have concluded that Israel’s accusations are thin gruel. Essentially, baseless. Sweden and Canada have renewed funding to UNRWA — a decision Canadian ‘human rights’ organization and “staunch” Apartheid Israel “defender” B’Nai Brith Canada is now howling about..

Truth be told, Israel’s hate-on for UNRWA predates the emergence of Hamas by decades — back to UNRWA’s founding, in 1949, brainchild of Swedish diplomat Count Folke Bernadotte.

Count Folke Bernadotte

Bernadotte was the UN’s first mediator in Palestine, appointed days after Israel’s founding, on May 20, 1948.

On September 16, 1948, Bernadotte submitted his first plan.

Central to the Swedish diplomat’s vision – the Palestinian people’s inalienable right of return to lands they’d been brutally expelled from by Zionist militias, inside Israel.

And, in the interim, creating an agency to help Palestinian refugees out.

That organization would emerge as UNRWA.

Bernadotte didn’t live to see UNRWA’s foundation, in December 1949. One day after submitting his peace plan, on September 17, 1948, Count Folke Bernadotte was brutally assassinated by Zionist militias, led by future Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir.

The GPM spoke about Count Folke Bernadotte, and UNRWA, with former UNRWA spokesperson Chris Gunness, who has written about Bernadotte.

Listen to our conversation in today’s podcast. Click on the play button above, or go here.

Thanks to Dan Weisenberger for his fabulous guitar instrumentals.