Friday, February 22, 2002 Back The Halifax Herald Limited

Different message for Cheney

By Ismail Zayid

JON GOLDBERG is quite right that U.S. Vice-President Dick Cheney should take a clear message to the Middle East (Feb. 20 opinion article). The message should be that international law and the UN Charter should be applicable to all nations, including Israel. Illegal occupation of neighbouring people's territories should not be allowed. Israeli occupation of Palestinian territory in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, as well as Syrian territory in the Golan Heights, must not be allowed to stand for over 34 years, in defiance of repeated Security Council resolutions.

Mr. Cheney should emphasize to Israel that demolition of Palestinian homes, expropriation of their land to create illegal Jewish settlements, daily humiliation of Palestinians, torture of prisoners, extra-judicial execution, collective punishment and other acts of violation of Palestinian human rights are all in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention; and it is the responsibility of High Contracting Parties to the Convention to enforce this Convention.

Israel should be reminded that it receives over $5 billion in military and economic aid from the U.S., which expects from Israel compliance with international law so that world peace and American interests in the area can be protected.

Mr. Cheney should inform Israel that complete and immediate withdrawal from the occupied Palestinian territories, which constitute only 22 per cent of historic Palestine, must be implemented to allow the Palestinians to establish a viable state with full freedom within its borders, unlike the fragmented Bantustans that Ehud Barak proposed.

As for the Palestinian refugees, who were systematically uprooted from their homes 54 years ago in a process of ethnic cleansing, they should be allowed the choice to return to their homes or accept compensation as mandated by the UN General Assembly Resolution 194 and the Universal Declaration of Human rights.

This is the message that Mr. Cheney should take to the Middle East, so as to ensure that all states in the area, including Israel, are allowed to have secure borders and live in peace with their neighbours.

Ismail Zayid, MD, is president, Canada Palestine Association.