The Russell Tribunal on Palestine

After two years of “underground” work, it was launched with a “successful press conference” and announcement that:

“The Russell Tribunal on Palestine seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the (way to settle) the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Its work will focus on “the enunciation of law by authoritative bodies. The International Court of Justice (ICJ), in its opinion on the (Separation Wall in Occupied Palestine, addressed relevant) “International Humanitarian Law and International Human Rights Law, as well as dozens of international resolutions concerning Palestine.”

This Tribunal will “address the failure of application of law even though it has been so clearly identified.” It begins where the ICJ “stopped: highlighting the responsibilities arising from the enunciation of law, including those of the international community, which cannot continue to shirk its obligations.”

The Russell Tribunal is part of the larger BRussell Tribunal, named after noted philosopher, mathematician, and anti-war/anti-imperialism activist Bertrand Russell (1972-1970). Established in 1967 to investigate Vietnam war crimes, it’s a hearing committee, most recently on the Iraq war and Bush administration imperialism. Its work continues as “the only game in town for the anti-war movement in America, Britain and Europe” to unite non-violently for peace on various world’s hot spots, now for Occupied Palestine to expose decades of injustice against a defenseless civilian population.

National committees will be formed globally, including expert ones composed of jurists, lawyers, human rights and international law experts, weapons experts, and others “to work on the evidence against Israel and third parties” to be presented in Tribunal sessions. Two are planned, “the earliest…by the end of this year.”

Frank Barat of the Organizing Committee urges activists to spread the news and offer support for this vital project. After Israel’s unconscionable Gaza attack, it’s never been more vulnerable given mass world public outrage. It’s long past time to hold Israel accountable for its decades of crimes of war and against humanity, flaunting international humanitarian law, waging aggressive wars, continuing an illegal occupation, expropriating Palestinian land, and committing slow-motion genocide, so far with impunity. No longer can this be tolerated. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is dedicated toward that end.

The Tribunal’s Declaration on Iraq applies to Palestine. Substituting Israel for America and Palestine for Iraq, it reads as follows:

“The (Israeli) occupation of (Palestine) is illegal and cannot be made legal. All that has derived from (it) is illegal and illegitimate and cannot gain legitimacy. The facts are incontrovertible. What are the consequences?”

“Peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine) are impossible under occupation. Foreign occupation is opposed by nature to the interests of the occupied people, as proven” by:

  • the forced diaspora;
  • many others internally displaced or in refugee camps for decades;
  • harsh military subjugation;
  • a regimented matrix of control;
  • the genocidal Gaza siege;
  • state-sponsored mass incarceration, violence, and torture;
  • the flaunting of international law and dozens of UN resolutions;
  • targeted assassinations;
  • the many tens of thousands of Palestinians killed, injured, or otherwise grievously harmed;
  • massive land theft and home demolitions;
  • the lack of judicial redress;
  • denying all rights to non-Jews; and
  • a decades-long reign of terror against defenseless Palestinian civilians.

Western propaganda tries to justify the unjustifiable, vilify ordinary people, call the legitimate government “terrorist,” rationalize savage attacks as self-defense, reject the rights of the occupied, and deny their self-determination.

“In (Palestine, people) resist the occupation by all means (including armed struggle), in accordance with international law. “The Commission on Human Rights has routinely reaffirmed” it. So have numerous General Assembly resolutions. The March 1987 Geneva Declaration on Terrorism states:

“Terrorism originates from the statist system of structural violence and domination that denies the right of self-determination to peoples….that inflicts a gross and consistent pattern of violations of fundamental human rights….or that perpetuates military aggression and overt or covert intervention directed against the territorial integrity or political independence of other states,” such as Palestine.

The UN General Assembly has “repeatedly recognized” the rights of “peoples who are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination (to) have the right to use force to accomplish their objectives within the framework of international humanitarian law.”

It also recognizes the legitimacy of self-determination seeking national liberation movements and their right to strive for and receive appropriate support for their struggle. Further, under the UN Charter’s Article 51, “individual or collective self-defense (shall not be “impair(ed) to respond against) an armed attack.”

In other words, armed force is a legitimate form of self-defense as distinguished from “acts of international terrorism,” especially by one state against another or any group, organization, or individual. Israel refuses to accept this. It continues an illegal occupation, calls armed resistance “terrorism,” and imposes its will oppressively and illegally.

World leaders “continue to justify the negation of popular sovereignty under the rubric of (fighting terrorism), criminalizing not only resistance but also humanitarian assistance to a besieged (and beleaguered) people. Under international law, (Palestinian freedom-fighters) constitute a national liberation movement. Recognition of (them) is consequently a right, (an obligation, and) not an option.” World leaders have a duty to hold Israel accountable under the law and no longer support its crimes.

Palestine “cannot recover lasting stability, unity and territorial integrity until its sovereignty is (recognized, affirmed,) guaranteed,” and enforced by the world international community.

“If (world leaders) and (Israel want) peace, stability and democracy in (Palestine), they should accept that only the (Palestinian) resistance — armed, civil and political — can achieve these by securing the interests of (their) people. (Their) first demand…is the unconditional withdrawal of (Israeli forces) illegally occupying” their land.

Palestinians are the only legitimate force to secure their own security and rights under international law. “All laws, contracts (and other occupation-related) agreements…are unequivocally null and void. According to international law and the will of the (Palestinian) people, total sovereignty” over Palestine, its resources, culture, and all else (past, present, and future) rests in (their own) hands.

Further, international law demands that full “compensation…be paid” to compensate for what Israel plundered and destroyed. Palestinians want self-determination and “long-term peace” and security. They have every right to expect it. “We appeal to all peace loving people in the world to work to support” their struggle. Regional “peace, democracy, progress” and justice depend on it. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is committed to work toward this end. Nothing short of it is acceptable.

Stephen Lendman wrote How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War. Contact him at: Also visit his blog site and listen to The Global Research News Hour on Mondays from 11AM-1PM US Central time for cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests. All programs are archived for easy listening. Read other articles by Stephen.

17 comments on this article so far ...

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  1. Jeff White said on May 16th, 2009 at 11:57am #

    The Russell Tribunal “seeks to reaffirm the primacy of international law as the basis for the settlement of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.” Any time I see “international law” being used as a panacea for political problems I cringe.

    International law (like its close cousin human rights law) is by and large a creation of imperialist superpowers who seek to apply it to their enemies and seek exemption from it for themselves and their proxies. There is considerable reason to doubt whether international law even still exists, as a set of settled principles applicable to all nations. Double, triple, and multiple standards abound, with nations free to opt out of compliance or to defy the “law” with impunity.

    Properly applied, international law would declare the original formation of the state of Israel on Palestinian land to have been illegal. But this does not appear to be on the Tribunal’s radar. After all, “international law” nowadays means whatever the United Nations Security Council wants it to mean, and the Security Council above all wants the preservation of the state of Israel to be recognized as sacrosanct. As it is, the application of international law to Palestine points towards recognition of Israel’s pre-1967 “borders”. This is de facto recognition of its “right” to displace the Palestinians pursuant to the General Assembly’s partition plan of 1948.

    The “prospect of a viable Palestinian state” referred to in the Tribunal’s declaration is a clear signal that the Tribunal is moving in the direction of a so-called “two-state” solution, which is no solution at all. Moreover, international law does not, and cannot, address the very crucial political question of what kind of separate state would actually be “viable” for the Palestinians.

  2. bozh said on May 16th, 2009 at 1:24pm #

    jeff, yes
    pal’n state viable as per whom? Or viable as determined by the biggest gang[s] on the street?
    or viable until israel invades it?
    even one state ‘solution’ sans pals, wld be no solution for 15mn ‘jews’.
    israel, if left to own devices, cld house only about 1 mn ‘jews’ which wld ammout to a large failure by land robbers; commonly known as zionists.
    and with 15 mn ‘jews’ outside ME, continuously whipping hatred against shemites or evoking great perils from ‘islamofascism’, how long wld it take to engineer an incident in order for israel to start yet another defensive war?

    i think that lebanon, syria, and jordan expect just such a scenario. However, the three countries cld be drawn into a war with US/Israel, regardless what they do or don’t do.

    folks, there is a reason why there is no peace in expalstine, exiraq, exafgh’n, and ex-pak’n; the reason[s] given are not it! tnx

    pals are on the wrong int’l street; int’l streets are controled by gangs without pangs.
    this means, that a gang like the amer one wld stop at nothing to obtain the planet.
    it wld depend on other strong gangs how much US gets. And even the entire planet, which is getting poorer by day, may not be enough.
    but still, that’s all there is.

    we can be certain that US will use small n-bombs in order to cow russia and china; the only two empires that might be able to stop amers. tnx

  3. Max Shields said on May 16th, 2009 at 7:07pm #


    I wouldn’t be so cynical about International law; though I agree with you on two important points: 1) imperialist nation-states don’t play by the rules they’ve signed onto – e.g., International Law and 2) a two-state solution is not the solution for I/P.

    A one state solution whereby, to use the phrase of the “wipe” the Zionist regime off the map (note this is closer to what was said by the Iranian president). One cannot imagine peace with a deadly parasite such as the Zionist regime that rules Israel. Two state is not the answer. A non-secular open society home to Arab and non-Arab alike seems the only way to a lasting humane peace.

  4. mebosa ritchie said on May 17th, 2009 at 4:10pm #

    for once max i agree with you. the 2 state solution is not the answer. there is one state -the jewish state of israel which is free and democratic and open for ALL religions for people who want to live in peace with the jews.
    for those who don’t they can go and live in one of the other 23 ARAB STATES in the region and carry on their hatred of jews along with most of the other residents of these 23 arab states
    problem solved

  5. mary said on May 19th, 2009 at 3:21pm #

    Bozh I believe you live in Canada. What do you think of this? Another $1 million leaves the North American shores for Israel. Think what they could with this to provide water and sanitation in wrecked Gaza. The JNF of course is the organisation creating parks and forests in Israel over the remains of Palestinian villages and settlements destroyed in Al Naqba.

    Manitoba/Israel Sharing Information And Expertise
    CJOB News Team reporting

    Manitoba’s Agriculture Minister has presented the Jewish National Fund with a cheque for 334-thousand dollars. Rosann Wowchuk says it’s the final instalment of a 1-million dollar commitment to promote the exchange of information and technology between Manitoba and Israel. Wowchuk says the two regions share many of the same challenges with food production and extreme conditions. Last year, 24 water experts from Israel and Manitoba got together at a symposium to share research and information on water quality and conservation.

  6. bozh said on May 19th, 2009 at 4:52pm #

    mary, i do live in canada. i live in vancouver, bc.
    canada is staunch supporter of israel and most if not all of its crimes.
    i don’t know anything about that $1mn but do not like it. tnx for asking.
    bozhidar balkas

  7. Suthiano said on May 19th, 2009 at 5:27pm #


    thanks for bringing this up. I had not heard anything in the Canadian media (surprise!)

    All three of Canada’s major parties “support” the two-state solution. The situation is as bad here as it is south of the border (see George Galloway for example).

    The “socialist” party suggested sending peacekeepers to “prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza”… as opposed to say monitoring the destruction of the partition wall and the illegal settlements.

    As Netanyahu and Obama talk about “stopping settlements”:

  8. mebosa ritchie said on May 20th, 2009 at 12:10am #

    mary,there is no problem with lack of water in gaza
    if hamas can smuggle in rockets then it could smuggle in water—if it wanted to

  9. mary said on May 20th, 2009 at 3:02am #

    No visiting medics allowed in either. This story is growing by the hour.

  10. bozh said on May 20th, 2009 at 7:05am #

    i see mebosa is back. Is she for sale or on sale? I am still a youn-gold man of 87 who looks like 77. I haven’t read her latest pieces. Are they even more defensive-offensive than they used to be? tnx

  11. mary said on May 20th, 2009 at 7:38am #

    Ha Ha. I think she is a he.

    Ref the tunnels. Stephen Lendman’s site Global Research report that Sara Flounders is one of three of their writers who have been nominated for an journalism award.

    The Tunnels of Gaza
    An underground economy and resistance symbol
    – by Sara Flounders – 2009-02-11

  12. mary said on May 20th, 2009 at 8:47am #

    I just wanted to say what a joy it was to hear Stephen Lendman talking to John Pilger live just now on Global Research radio. So much good information and comment to listen to.

  13. mebosa ritchie said on May 20th, 2009 at 11:40am #

    No visiting medics allowed in either. This story is growing by the hour.

    mary,this story is getting so exciting i am having difficulty controlling my indifference
    hold me back

  14. david halpin said on May 20th, 2009 at 3:08pm #

    So Mebosa Ritchie is ‘having difficulty controlling my indifference’ to the attempt by medical comrades of mine to enter Gaza to teach and to heal.

    Gaza is a concentration camp with 1.5 million people within. Two-thirds derive from Palestine. They were driven out by force of arms and by terror from their homes, their lands and their living. They are now as lepers, shunned by the Zionist entity and by the forty plus western nations which collaborate it with it.

    Go back 67 years Mr Ritchie. If doctors from other nations were camped outside Sachsenhausen and under the sign “Arbeit Macht Frei” on hunger strike, would ‘indifference’ be your response. Shame on your inhumanity.

  15. david halpin said on May 20th, 2009 at 3:25pm #

    Omission. Google Mr Ritchie. You will find over 7 pages of links. Your indifference is not shared by a good number of journalists and editors.

  16. mebosa ritchie said on May 21st, 2009 at 1:52pm #

    Blowing people apart should be rejected robustly by the so called caring professions.

    i presume you agree with this, mr halpin as you put it on your website.

    your hypocrisy is stunning.

    you will quite happily support hamas,the “government” of gaza blowing up jewish israeli children on buses in jerusalem,blowing up people jew and arab in cafes in haifa,blowing up 28 people sitting in a hotel in netanya.
    blowing up jews is o.k for you seemingly. and you put yourself forward as being a member of a caring profession

  17. bozh said on May 21st, 2009 at 3:13pm #

    suicide bombings did not defend nor regain an inch of stolen lands.
    true, suicide bombings are crimes against humanity. However, ‘jewish’ crimes exceed pals crimes by a ratio of 1,000 to one if all of the crimes are counted such as ‘settling’, imprisonment, check points, injury/death, blockades, incursions, etc.

    i’ll gladly agree that all those who have commited crimes must stand trial.
    and, folks, believe me, all criminals dead or alive will be prosecuted! tnx