Open letter sent to the Prime Minister this week and co-signed by Cassam Uteem, CTSP, Centre Goomany, Muvman Liberasyon Fam, and LALIT. This joint letter is a follow up of the Palestine Film Festival organised by the same co-ordination and it forms part of our continuing work to support the struggle of the Palestinian people against Israel colonisation and military occupation of Palestinian land.’
To: The Prime Minister, Hon. Sir Aneerood Jugnauth,
23 November 2015
We write to you in the context of the UN International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, November 29, to make a formal request that the Government take a political initiative to rally regional support around a three-pronged position to force Israel to pay a political price for its immoral and illegal actions in Palestine.
We thus call on the Mauritian State to take the initiative and to use its influence in such forums as the COI, SADC, the African union, the Non-Aligned Movement towards rallying around a common position in favour of the following three-pronged position:
1. To isolate Israel politically: In particular, to freeze diplomatic relations with the State of Israel, and maintain a freeze until the end of occupation and until a halt to colonisation of Palestine; simultaneously to open a Palestine Embassy in Mauritius, while calling on all other States to do the same.
2. Arms embargo: To call for an immediate arms embargo on the Middle East, including Israel, so that these sanctions cut off the supply of weapons and military aid from Europe and the United States, on which Israel depends for the war crimes it commits; we remind you that during the Israeli invasion and bombing of Lebanon in July 2006, Lalit co-ordinated a petition to the UN General Secretary to demand an arms embargo on the Middle East. This is on the agenda today as we submit these demands to you.
3. Boycott: The suspension of all commercial ties and trade with Israel.
In the past week, we have witnessed horrific attacks where many people lost their lives and many more were wounded – in Beirut, Baghdad, Paris and Bamako. These strikes against civilians have been claimed by and attributed to members of The Islamic State, ISIS or Al-Qaeda factions. ISIS/Al-Qaeda did not arise out of nothing at all. It is rather a result of the endless US-and-allies military involvement in the Middle East, including the U.S. direct political, financial and military support to the State of Israel, the bombardment and illegal U.S. invasion and occupation of Iraq, intense military support in the conflict in Libya, Syria and the Yemen. It is this, plus the financing of so-called “rebels” who end up fuelling ISIS, that forms the continuing context for much of the indiscriminate violence in the Middle East and moving from the Middle East to Europe and Africa. It is this that has created the chaos that has brought only destruction and sectarian division. But, the solutions will come from the people of the region – not the imperialist militaries that created the chaos. Campaigns aimed at ending all military ties with Israel are vital for ending violence and are a key component of the international, Palestinian-led Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement. A military embargo on Israel, similar to that imposed on apartheid South Africa, is not just a vital form of solidarity with Palestinian popular resistance; it is a legal obligation. All states and the United Nations are obligated to hold Israel to account by adopting measures that will bring to an end its serious breaches of international law. This is a reminder of the responsibility of Mauritius as a state member of the UN.
But we also realise that the end of military occupation and colonisation of Palestinian land will depend also on the mobilisation of the people of Palestine and on the active support of progressive people and organisations in Israel. So this political move will at the same time express solidarity with the different mobilisation campaigns in Palestine and Israel against the siege of Gaza and against Israel’s military expansionist policy in general.
For 67 years, the people of Palestine have waited for their right to a country. For 48 years, the state of Israel has illegally occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza which are Palestine territory. There has been growing international support for the rights of the Palestinian people. Recognition of statehood for Palestine in the United Nations has only formalised this long quest for justice. Since the start of October, Palestinians have been taking part in mass popular resistance to Israeli settler colonisation and military occupation of Palestine. Tens of thousands of people joined in huge demonstrations in Hebron, Jerusalem, Ramallah, Bethlehem and across Palestine. Israel’s repression of this on-going uprising has been brutal. Israel has killed 74 Palestinians, mostly unarmed protesters and bystanders, including 15 children and a pregnant woman. More than 2,000 civilians have been shot with live and rubber coated bullets. More than 1,350 Palestinians have been arrested. Earlier this week, Israel approved an additional 450 houses to be built in illegal settler colony on stolen Palestinian land in occupied East Jerusalem. In Tel Aviv, people demonstrated against Israeli government’s policies and called for a political solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
The European Commission on 11 November 2015 adopted an “interpretative notice” on the indication of “origin of goods” from the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967. Through this interpretative notice, long overdue, the EU ensures that its legislation applies to Israel within its internationally recognised, i.e. pre-1967 borders. The EU has a privileged trading relationship with Israel under the Association Agreement which gives products originating in Israel benefit from preferential tariff treatment upon their entry into the European union. Products from Israeli settlements exported into the EU do not benefit from any preferential trade treatment. For products from West Bank or the Golan Heights that originate from settlements, an indication limited to 'product from Golan Heights' or 'product from West Bank' would not be acceptable. In such cases the expression 'Israeli settlement' or equivalent needs to be added, in brackets, for example. Therefore expressions such as 'product from the Golan Heights (Israeli settlement)' or 'product from West Bank (Israeli settlement)’ must be used.
All these initiatives show the growing movement against Israel inside Palestine, in Israel, itself, and at an international level. Mauritius must be part of this wave of solidarity and protest.
Without pressure and isolation, the Israeli regime has proven time and time again that it will continue such massacres as we continue to see, and prolong the decades of military occupation. The rogue State of Israel has continued to build the Apartheid Wall on Palestinian land in the West Bank in defiance of the ruling of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that the Israel’s Apartheid Wall in the West Bank is illegal under international law. Through rallying support around the three-pronged position, the State of Mauritius, under obligations as outlined in the ICJ decision, will join the call to demand that Israel is held accountable for ignoring the ICJ’s ruling.
All this explains our formal request to your government to take the initiative in Parliament, at home, and such forums as the COI, SADC, the African union, the Non-Aligned Movement, abroad, towards rallying around a common position in favour of this three-pronged position. In this way, through our elected representatives, we can take our historical responsibility and force Israel to pay a price for its immoral and illegal actions, thus making it reconsider and eventually end its use of military force against the Palestinian people and their organisations. Mauritius will thus join the growing international voice in support for the legitimate aspirations of the people of Palestine for peace, justice and freedom.
We hope that you will consider our proposal and contribute towards forcing the Netanyahu regime to act according to international law and to take firm steps to end the illegal occupation and continued colonisation of Palestine, and thus pave the way for peace in the Middle East.
Cassam Uteem, Former Head of State of the Republic of Mauritius
Norman Tambanivoul for Centre Idriss Goomany
Jane Ragoo & Reeaz Chuttoo for Confederation des Travailleurs du Secteur Privé
Shabeela Kalla-Monasch for the Muvman Liberasyon Fam
Ragini Kistnasamy & Alain Ah-Vee, for LALIT
Contact Telephone Number, Alain Ah-Vee at: 208 5551, 208 2132