[Reader-list] US boycotts international meeting on Israel's human rights

Rana Dasgupta rana_dasgupta at yahoo.com
Wed Dec 5 18:58:27 IST 2001

>The Independent 
>Geneva Conventions states meet on Israel 
>By Jonathan Fowler, AP Writer 
>05 December 2001 

>Overriding US protests, Switzerland opened an
international conference today 
>to examine whether Israel is violating the Geneva
Conventions on warfare by 
>its occupation of Palestinian territory. 
>The meeting of nations that have signed the 1949
treaties on the conduct of 
>war is looking at the situation in the Middle East
and is expected to 
>conclude that Israel is breaching the accords. 
>It is expected also to call on Israel to respect the
agreement on the 
>treatment of civilians in occupied territory and
allow independent observers 
>to monitor the situation in the West Bank and Gaza
>The United States is boycotting the meeting, claiming
it is 
>"counterproductive." Israel also has refused to
>"We believe that convening the conference after the
massacre of almost 30 
>Israelis over the weekend renders it even more
meaningless that it would be 
>in any case," said Israel's ambassador to the United
Nations, Yaakov Levy. 
>Levy approached Switzerland – the depository of the
Geneva Conventions – and 
>asked for the meeting to be canceled or postponed,
but the request was 
>The 189 signatories of the conventions last met in
July 1999, also to discuss 
>the Middle East, but suspended their session after 17
minutes, citing 
>positive developments in the region. 
>Arab states and many other signatories have been
calling for a new meeting 
>since the outbreak of the Palestinian intifada, or
uprising, in late 
>September 2000. 
>In the 14 months of fighting since, more than 780
people on the Palestinian 
>side have died and more than 230 on the Israeli side.

>Switzerland has condemned as a breach of the
conventions Israel's policy of 
>building Jewish settlements on land conquered in the
1967 Mideast war. About 
>200,000 Israelis live in the settlements. 
>Swiss officials have also criticized Israeli
executions without trial of 
>Palestinian militants suspected of targeting Israel,
and a blockade of 
>Palestinian–inhabited areas. 
>Israel defends its policy, maintaining that the West
Bank and Gaza are 
>disputed territory, not occupied land, and therefore
the conventions do not 
>Human rights group Amnesty International on Tuesday
cited "grave breaches" of 
>the conventions by Israel. But, it said, Palestinian
militants also were 
>breaking the convention by targeting civilians. 
>All signatories – including Israel – are pledged
to respect civilians' 
>rights and to make sure others do likewise. 
>Under the conventions states are supposed to
prosecute their own soldiers if 
>they commit war crimes. They can also turn to other
organizations to set up 
>special courts, like the UN war crimes tribunals for
former Yugoslavia or 
>But there are no legal measures to ensure compliance,
and no sanctions 
>specified if signatories do not respect the

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