Palestinian Minister of Information: “There is No Israeli Partner for Peace”
14 April 2007
Ramallah, 14-04-07: In a press conference held in Ramallah today, Minister of Information and Official Government Spokesperson, Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi, underlined that Israel’s continued refusal to discuss final status issues pointed to a lack of willingness to engage in peace negotiations.
He added that the Israeli government had failed to constructively address the four most recent Palestinian initiatives, namely (a) the formation of the new national unity government with a flexible political platform; (b) the Arab peace initiative for a comprehensive, complete solution; (c) the Palestinian proposal for complete cessation of all forms of violence through a mutual, reciprocal ceasefire agreement, and (d) the Palestinian proposal for a prisoner swap in exchange for the Israeli soldier captured in Gaza in June 2006.
The Minister emphasised that Israel’s failure to address final status issues such as the borders of a future Palestinian state, the status of Jerusalem, the refugee issue, and the issue of settlements, which were due to have been resolved under the Oslo process by 1999 but have never been addressed as Israel refuses to discuss these issues in violation of the Oslo agreement, betrayed the lack of a real Israeli partner for peace.
By continuing talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas whilst bypassing the goal of final status negotiations he said, Israel was buying time to create irreversible facts on the ground. Dr. Barghouthi added that by evading the issue of final borders, Israel was seeking to substitute the creation of a sovereign Palestinian state with the idea of a self-governing authority within interim borders with jurisdiction over people, but not land, water or borders.
Dr. Barghouthi also focused on the continued use of Palestinian civilians, including children, as human shields by the Israeli military, the violent repression of peaceful protests against the Apartheid Wall by Israeli soldiers and border police, and the plight of more than 10,000 Palestinians currently being held in Israeli prisons.
The issue of the use of human shields, a practice frequently employed by the Israeli military, has been brought back into the media spotlight by a film recorded by a member of the Research Journalism Initiative. The footage clearly shows Israeli soldiers using two Palestinian youths, one aged just 14-years-old, as human shields during an Israeli military invasion into Nablus last Wednesday,  a practice illegal under both the Fourth Geneva Convention and under Israeli law itself. 
The film can be seen HERE
Dr. Barghouthi stressed that this was not an isolated incident but a systematic procedure that endangers the lives of Palestinian civilians. Nineteen-year-old Nidal Abu M’khisan was killed in this way on 14 August 2002.  He called the incident a war crime, and labelled the suspension of the commander in charge of Operation Hot Winter by the Israeli military in response to the issue as mere “window-dressing,” adding that the Israeli military has continued using human shields despite an Israeli Supreme Court ruling in October 2005 forbidding the practice.
The Minister also showed a film recorded at yesterday’s weekly peaceful protest against the construction of Israel’s Apartheid Wall in a village south of Bethlehem, at which peaceful protests were met with violent repression by the Israeli military and border police, who can be seen beating and kicking a group of Palestinian, Israeli and international protestors, without provocation. The film was yet one more example of the aggression with which Israel responds to non-violent protests against construction of its Wall, which was declared illegal under a ruling by the International Court of Justice in The Hague in July 2004.
The film can be seen HERE:
In the run-up to Palestinian Prisoners Day on 17 April, Dr. Barghouthi also focused on the fate of the 10,400 Palestinians currently being held in Israeli jails in contravention of Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  Of these:
– 86 percent are from the West Bank
– 7 percent are from the Gaza Strip
– 7 percent are from Jerusalem
– 4,430 (44 percent) have been sentenced by Israeli military tribunals
– 611 (14 percent) have been sentenced to 50 years or more in prison
– 4,575 (46 percent) have not undergone trial
– 950 (10 percent) are being held in administrative detention
– 7 (0.7 percent) have spent more than 25 years in prison; 3 have spent 29 years or more in prison
– 376 are children under the age of 18
– 5,000 children have been arrested since 2000
– 600 are women who have been arrested since 2000
– 118 women prisoners are currently in Israeli jails
– 40 are members of the Palestinian Legislative Council (PLC), including the Head of the PLC
– 95 percent of Palestinian prisoners have reported being subjected to various forms of torture
– 183 Palestinians have died in prison
– 69 died due to torture
– 42 died due to medical negligence
– 1,000 are suffering from chronic diseases
– 200 suffering from serious health conditions
– 72 Palestinians were assassinated following their arrest
Notes The dialogue between the cameraman and the Israeli soldier can be clearly heard, in which the cameraman questions the use of the two youths as human shields:
Cameraman : I want to ask you, are these men being detained?
Soldier : Yes.
Cameraman : You can’t use them as human shields, this is a war crime. You know that, right?
Israeli soldier : They’re not human shields.
Cameraman : They’re standing in front of your jeep. That’s not a human shield?
Solider : No.
Cameraman : How is that not? You’re using them to protect you from stones.
Soldier : We asked them to speak with their friends to stop throwing stones.
Cameraman : Then why are they standing here? This is illegal, you know this.
Soldier : [Shuts jeep door, ending discussion]  Article 28 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that “The presence of a protected person may not be used to render certain points or areas immune from military operations.” Under Article 4 of the Convention, protected persons are defined as “those who, at a given moment and in any manner whatsoever, find themselves, in case of a conflict or occupation, in the hands of a Party to the conflict or Occupying Power of which they are not nationals.”
In a ruling by Israeli Supreme Court on 6 October 2005, Judge Aharon Barak stated that “You cannot exploit the civilian population for the army’s military needs, and you cannot force them to collaborate with the army.” The ruling came in response to a petition filed by seven Israeli-registered human rights organisations to the High Court of Justice against the use of Palestinians as human shields. See the petition HERE:
 See B’Tselem. 14 August 2002. IDF is Responsible for Death of “Human Shield”. Article 76 of the Fourth Geneva Convention states that: “Protected persons accused of offences shall be detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein.”