The Canberra Declaration on Gaza signed by 76 current and former Federal and State parliamentarians displays their total factual ignorance and political naiveté concerning the war raging between Hamas and Israel for the last six weeks.
The Declaration has been “Published courtesy of Kohram”
Kohram is a 24/7 online Hindi and English News and Views website based in Delhi, India. It offers real information relating News Analysis, World Wide News, Politics, Entertainment, Technology, Sports, Industry and Feature Articles on Education.
Australian politicians acknowledging assistance from an Indian media website seems a strange circumstance indeed.
The Declaration was created by Maiy Azize -a Canberra based health and social policy analyst. She is a parliamentary advisor in health and community services and campaigner for @GreensMPs. 21 of the Declaration’s signatories are parliamentarians representing the Greens Party.
The header image is attributed to Nakshab Khan and was featured in an article written by him for Kohram on 13 July headlined “Will Israeli Offensive Achieve Anything In Gaza?”
“Israel always justifies its aggression on the Gaza strip by blaming Hamas militants for firing crude rockets on the Jewish nation’s southern territories.”
Khan was apparently unaware that in the five weeks preceding 8 July – 234 rockets had been launched from Gaza into Israel reaching as far as Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Hadera – sending hundreds of thousands of civilians scurrying into air raid shelters and disrupting normal life in Israel as well as threatening its tourist industry in the peak summer season.
Long range rockets such as the M-302 were employed – the same missiles confiscated from the KLOS-C weapons seizure.
Israel’s inherent entitlement to self-defence under article 51 of the United Nations Charter to prevent the indiscriminate firing of these rockets into Israeli population centres – each rocket an internationally acknowledged war crime – was not worth a mention in Khan’s article.
Australian politicians need to be very careful about their names being identified with a document whose origins are so murky – a Declaration that itself is deceptive and misleading in the following respects:
- It claims to bear the signatures of members of Australian federal and state Parliaments – yet 5 of the 76 signatories are former members of those parliaments.
- Although titled “Canberra Declaration on Gaza” and updated to 4 August it supports
“an immediate cessation of hostilities and a ceasefire deal which includes an end to Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories and to the blockade of Gaza”
The Declaration ignores any reference to Hamas having rejected a cease fire deal proposed by Egypt on 16 July and accepted by Israel – and to a number of ceasefire agreements broken by Hamas since then.
The Declaration ignored the findings of the 2011 United Nations Palmer Report which found that Israel’s naval blockade of Gaza complied with the requirements of international law and recommended that Israel should continue with its efforts to ease its restrictions on movement of goods and persons to and from Gaza in accordance with Security Council resolution 1860 – all aspects of which should be implemented.
- The Declaration omitted to include the following underlined words :
“We call on all Australian politicians to also support the United Nations Human Rights Council’s decision to launch an independent inquiry into purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem particularly in the occupied Gaza Strip, in the context of the military operations conducted since 13 June 2014”
- The Declaration alleged that the rockets fired into Israel were
“imprecise” and “cannot be compared with the broad-scale bombing of Gaza by Israel”
A grossly misleading allegation indeed – echoing Nakshab Khan’s spurious claim – considering Hamas rockets were landing all over Israel – whilst Israel’s response was limited to specific targeted areas within Gaza.
- The Declaration asserted that:
“Collective punishment is not permitted under the Geneva conventions and is a war crime”.
Whilst not specifically accusing Israel of perpetrating this crime – it is clear that the entire civilian population of Israel was being targeted by the broad-scale Hamas barrage of rockets – whilst large parts of Gaza’s civilian population were not being affected by Israel’s actions.
- The Declaration claimed that hospitals and places of worship were among the Israeli military’s targets – but ignored mentioning that such places were used to conceal underground tunnels and weapons and their use as command centres by Hamas.
- The Declaration concluded:
“The international community including Australia has a vital responsibility to put pressure on Israel to end its current military attack on Gaza and broker a solution of justice and peace.”
Why no pressure on Hamas – especially as Israel had agreed to end its military attack on Gaza three weeks previously and subsequently on a number of other occasions – only to see them broken by Hamas.
- The Declaration – like Khan’s article – makes no mention of Israel’s inherent right of self defence.
Those parliamentarians who signed this Declaration have some explaining to do to their constituents.
I wrote to Senator Lee Rhiannon – one of two named parliamentarians to contact about signing this Declaration – requesting she comment on my criticisms of the Declaration.
Regrettably at the time of writing this article – no response has been received.
71 out of a possible 598 Federal and State politicians have signed – which attests to the savvy political acumen of those 527 who have refused to be duped by this dud Declaration.
David Singer is a Sydney Lawyer and Foundation Member of the International Analysts Network.