European solidarity – Boycott, divestment and sanctions strengthened during anniversary of ICJ decision!
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European solidarity – Boycott, divestment and sanctions strengthened during anniversary of ICJ decision!

On the first anniversary of the ICJ ruling against the Apartheid Wall, activists across Europe held protests calling for the Wall to be torn down with a clear message to their governments to stop supporting Israeli Apartheid now.

Belgium

On the ICJ anniversary, the ECCP (European Coordinating Committee of NGOs on the question of Palestine) officially launched the European sanctions campaign. During a press conference, the aims of the campaign were explored together with the release of campaign materials. Mr Pierre Galand, Senator and Chairman of the ECCP, Mr Eric David, International Law Professor at the Université Libre de Bruxelles, along with representatives of the French, Belgian, Italian, British, Dutch and German national platforms for Palestine, attended the event.

During the afternoon, the ECCP members met with representatives of the United Nations, the World Bank and the European Union in Brussels. The meeting with the UN representative once again highlighted the unwillingness of the UN to act with officials explaining to the ECCP delegation that the UN was working “to change the political situation that made the Wall a “necessity”. Terming what the ICJ has defined a violation of international and humanitarian law a “necessity” shows the level to which the UN completely rejects its own rules when it comes to Israel and reveals the support of the institution for Israeli interests. The officials of the EU office for Common Foreign and Security Policies used a more sophisticated approach to shield their diplomatic and political failure to put any pressure on Israel. Yet, they were embarrassingly silent to the question posed by the solidarity activists why Europe can justify sanctions against Cuba, Haiti and Darfur but is continually unwilling to act on Israel.

With the hollow rhetoric of the official European and UN body’s, and their perpetual complicity in Israeli crimes, it became clear that the grassroots initiatives of the people form the means by which to build a movement to pressure and defeat support for Israeli Apartheid and Occupation.

France

One year after the ICJ ruling, French activists supporting the Palestinian grassroots resistance, asked the French and European governments to apply their own vote at the UN General Assembly against the construction of the Apartheid Wall.

Demonstrations were organised in towns throughout the country (Paris, Marseilles, Belfort, Metz, Montpellier, Toulouse, Angers, Poitiers, Chambéry, Orléans, Limoges, St-Nazaire, Nîmes, Aubenas, Nancy, Annemasse, La Rochelle, Alençon, St-Lô, Lyon). Flyers were distributed and letters were brought to the attention of local and national authorities demanding the end of support for Israel.

The popular action was combined with a press conference organized by the French NGO platform for Palestine at the French Parliament. This involved a number of MPs asking for clear actions such as sanctions to put an end to financial aid for Israel.

A few days before the protests, the French president announced an invitation to the Occupation prime minister and renowned war criminal Ariel Sharon. Demonstrations mobilized on both the issue of the Wall, with the calls of “Sharon – Persona non grata” all over France, expressing the outrage of the French public towards the move of their government.

Protests and marches against the visit of the Israeli prime minister are planned over the next days. These mobilizations are adding to the growing number of occasions in which Israeli officials and representatives abroad face hostility by their presence. Increased outrage against the leaders of the Occupation reflects the relations between Apartheid Israel with other nations governments, a target for campaigners who hope to halt cooperation and trade with Israel by concerted pressure from below.

Ireland

Members of the Limerick branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign – the activist group that kicked off the campaign for “Caterpillar free cities” – marked the first anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s (ICJ) ruling on the illegality of the Apartheid wall with a series of colourful and loud protests.

IPSC members draped large posters, banners and a large Palestinian flag from a bridge over the city’s new ring road for three hours. This was followed by a city center public information stall, leafleting and petition signing in O’Connell Street.

In a piece published in the Irish Times, Raymond Deane, Chair of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign, called for a strong mobilization of the civil society in boycott, divestment and sanctions initiatives with the governments of the EU failing to pressure Israel to stop the construction of the Apartheid Wall. Deane noted that:

“Ongoing and indeed deepening EU economic co-operation with Israel serves to facilitate Israel’s diversion of financial resources to the construction of the wall and the maintenance of illegal settlements. In the fields of research and development, as well as in entertainment and sport, Israel continues to be treated as to all intents and purposes a European country. Far from “ensur[ing] compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law” as demanded by the ICJ, such privileges combine to enhance Israel’s lofty conviction of its impunity.The outcome of this arrogance is the ongoing brutalisation and humiliation of the subject Palestinian population…”

Swiss

The collective ‘Urgence Palestine’ held a demonstration in Geneva calling for the end of economic and military collaboration between the Swiss government and Israel. The group condemned the Swiss-Israeli joint projects to develop weapons that the Occupation uses in the repression of the Palestinian resistance (drones and bombs) and the $115 million worth acquisition of Israeli military equipment. Activists targeted the “fruitful collaboration between the Swiss weapon industry and a government that provokes war crimes and ignores every day international humanitarian law!”

Meanwhile in a host of other countries including Norway, Italy, UK, Luxembourg and Spain, campaigners mobilized to remind the public and their institutions of the ongoing crimes being committed in Palestine and the responsibility of Europe to end their complicity with Israeli apartheid and Occupation. The protests and initiatives showed that, as the political year in Europe ends, the activists and organizations working in support of the Palestinian liberation struggle are determined to ensure that boycott, divestment and sanctions will grow and resonate across all of Europe.

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