Archive | February 1st, 2014



A report into the credibility of certain evidence with regard to torture and execution of persons incarcerated by the current Syrian regime


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A report claiming Assad executed 11,000 prisoners is not all that it seems.

his week saw the publication of a new report into alleged atrocities committed by the Syrian government. The report, published by an inquiry team made up of English barristers, claimed to show that the Assad regime is guilty of making extensive use of torture and execution. The report focused specifically on assessing the credibility of evidence provided by a defector from the Syrian military police, a man known as ‘Caesar’. The report’s findings were seen by many as a fresh justification to try the Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, for war crimes.

Alongside the Syrian civil war, which is nearing the end of its third year, there is also an entirely separate battle playing out between the Western legal and political classes: a desperate battle as to how the West can morally grandstand about the Syrian conflict while remaining within the confines of international law. The inquiry report is just the latest card played in an endless, tawdry, pseudo-legal dispute, fought between international lawyers and politicians, which has dragged on alongside Syria’s disintegration. The West’s response to the Syrian conflict has never been about what is best for Syria; it has been about how the mechanisms of international law can maintain their moral legitimacy in the face of alleged defiance and transgression. While the civil war rages on the streets of Syria, Western governments are fighting among themselves to maintain the dwindling moral authority of their own institutions.

The nature of this ‘battle’ was thrown into stark relief following the revelation that Assad had launched a chemical weapons attack on his own people last summer. Many pointed out that Syria had crossed the ‘red line’ referred to by the US president, Barack Obama, during a press conference in 2012, in which he said the use of chemical weapons on a significant scale may justify American intervention. However, following revelations regarding the attack, Obama retreated on his own comments, saying that the ‘world’ had set a red line when it ‘passed a treaty’ forbidding the use of chemical weapons.

In other words, the ‘red line’ was a legal one, not a moral or political one. Obama’s argument was that the use and movement of chemical weapons would open the door to other states to breach the provisions of international law. Far from preventing and mitigating conflict, it was these conventions of international law that Obama used as a justification for waging war.

The legal handwringing was mirrored in Britain. The House of Commons debate in August last year, on a government motion to table a resolution before the UN Security Council, began with a speech from the UK prime minister, David Cameron, in which he said, explicitly, that the motion was not about ‘taking sides’, but ‘our response to a war crime’. Military action, he said, would not be about resolving the conflict, nor would it necessarily be for the sake of the people of Syria; rather, it was about ‘deterring the further use of chemical weapons… in breach of international law’.


KKK-nesset member implies Kerry guided by ‘anti-Semitism’



Moti Yogev says top US diplomat has ‘anti-I$raHell foundations,’pressure on I$raHell has undertones of ‘Jew-hatred’

Times of Israel

A Jewish Home party MK insinuated on Thursday morning that US Secretary of State John Kerry was at least partially motivated by anti-Semitism in his efforts to forge a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians.

“The prime minister (Benjamin Netanyahu) is maneuvering under the obsessive and unprofessional pressures that might also bear an undertone of anti-Semitism on Kerry’s part,” MK Moti Yogev told Israel Radio.

“He has an anti-Israel foundation in that he does not come to compromise, but instead comes with unequivocal answers about shrinking the Land of Israel and establishing a Palestinian state,” Yogev added. “The members of my faction also think that he is not a fair broker and he is not fit to mediate here because his positions are predetermined.”

Yogev also lambasted Netanyahu in the interview, saying that “there is no circus performer [who can compare to] the prime minister in his maneuverings.”

Earlier in January, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon was quoted as making scathing statements about Kerry’s involvement in the peace negotiations, calling him “obsessive” and “messianic,” and describing his West Bank security proposals as worthless. The comments elicited outrage from Washington that led to an apology from the defense minister.

Yogev’s comments on Thursday came amid a public spat between Netanyahu and Jewish Home party leader Naftali Bennett, revolving around Bennett’s reaction to a statement by an official close to Netanyahu – first reported by The Times of Israel – to the effect that the prime minister was insisting that West Bank settlers be given the choice to remain in their homes under Palestinian rule.

Bennett had said on Tuesday that leaving settlers in a Palestinian state was unthinkable because, among other reasons, it would represent a reversal of Zionism and the settlers would be killed by their Palestinian neighbors. In an apparent thinly veiled reference to Netanyahu, he added that history “won’t forgive” an Israeli leader who relinquishes parts of the Land of Israel under a peace deal.

Bennett was forced to issue a semi-apology after Netanyahu threatened to fire Bennett.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman said Thursday that Bennett was right to apologize. “One may disagree with the prime minister, and one may argue with him, but one cannot lash out at the prime minister.

“There was never any intention to leave Israeli residents under Palestinian rule,” Liberman also asserted. Analysts and critics had said that Netanyahu’s statement about leaving settlers in a future Palestine may have been a ruse meant to elicit a strong public reaction from the Palestinians.

On Wednesday, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that Kerry’s pending framework for Israeli-Palestinian peace would include a shared capital in Jerusalem and recognition of Israel as a Jewish state.

The “Kerry Plan,” as he called it, would also include land swaps based on the 1967 lines, security arrangements in the Jordan Valley, and no “right of return” to Israel for Palestinian refugees and their descendants.

The two sides began a nine-month track of US-backed peace negotiations in July but so far there has been little visible progress, with the Palestinians warning that after the deadline, they could take legal action in the international courts against Israel over its settlement expansion on land they want for their future state.

Several Israeli politicians and a host of pundits have said they believe Israel will be blamed if the current round of talks with the Palestinians fails to produce an agreement.

Senior Israeli officials, including Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and Finance Minister Yair Lapid, have warned that absent an agreement leading to two states, Israel will face a severe backlash and be isolated economically and politically from the international community.

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