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November 20th, 2012
09:15 AM ET

Fmr. PLO rep Buttu: Hamas can't be willed away, Israel should be held to account under international law

New developments out of the Israel-Gaza conflict this morning, with an Israeli official telling CNN's Christiane Amanpour that a ground offensive is on hold to allow time for a diplomatic solution.

Diana Buttu, former PLO Legal Adviser and a Former Palestinian Peace Negotiator, explains on "Early Start" that she doubts that Israel was ever seriously going to begin a ground offensive.

“It’s important to keep in mind that this is being done first and foremost for election reasons,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon seeks reelection, Buttu says. “So I don’t think that this prime minister is going to do anything to put any soldiers in harm’s way just on the eve of an election. So I don’t think that this was an issue to begin with.”

Buttu, who is now a political analyst at the Institute for Middle East Understanding, says this conflict is ongoing because "there is a 45-year military occupation over the Gaza Strip, people denied their freedom, and that fact that this blockade has continued for six years.”

“Conflict ends by actually beginning to hold Israel to account under international law," Buttu adds. "Under international law, Israel cannot continue to maintain this occupation” in the Gaza Strip or the West Bank or “we’re going to continue to see this kind of activity.”

Buttu suggests a long term solution. “Demand that Israel completely withdraw from the West Bank and from the Gaza Strip, allow all Palestinians to live in freedom...and that will be a solution that will at least be able to change the status quo rather than keep it,” she says.

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  1. Laura Fishler

    This morning I watched the interview with Diana Buttu, former PLO Legal Adviser and a Former Palestinian Peace Negotiator, on "Early Start” and I was very disappointed and upset that neither John Berman or Zaraida Sambolin questioned anything Ms. Buttu stated. I wondered if they were ignorant about the issues or simply wanted to give her time to air her viewpoint. Here are some statements Ms. Buttu made that cried out to be challenged:
    1. Ms. Buttu called for Israel to end its occupation of Gaza. Israel, in fact, completely withdrew from Gaza in 2005. In a 2012 article in the American University International Law Review, legal scholar Elizabeth Samson explains that under the Geneva Conventions and international judicial precedents, Gaza can no longer be considered occupied as Israel no longer exercises “effective control.” Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, Hamas took over control and has repeatedly launched UNPROVOKED rocket and missile attacks targeting Israeli citizens.

    2. Ms. Buttu stated, “It’s important to keep in mind that this (the current conflict) is being done first and foremost for election reasons,” as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu soon seeks reelection. In fact, BEFORE the current conflict began, more than 470 rockets had been fired from the Gaza Strip at Israel. If your home was being attacked, wouldn’t you have the right to defend it?

    3. Ms. Buttu called for Israel to end its blockade of the Gaza Strip. All that is required for the blockade to end, is an end to the rocket and missiles that are fired from the Gaza Strip with the aim of killing Israeli citizens. As reported in an article by Danny Ayalon in The Guardian (http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/nov/19/hamas-leaves-israel-no-choice), “Since Israel left Gaza in 2005, thousands of rockets have rained down on Israeli cities and towns in deliberate contravention not just of international law, but all humanity and morality. While some might suggest the so-called blockade is the cause of the attacks, it is actually a consequence. The restrictions were only implemented two years after Israel left Gaza, when it was clear that instead of building a "Singapore of the Middle East", Hamas was interested in importing stockpiles of weapons from places like Iran. Instead of building a future for its people, Hamas built an open-air prison for the million and a half inhabitants who fell into its grasp.”

    4. Ms. Buttu said that it is a mistake for Israel not to deal/talk directly to Hamas. Hamas, however, is a terrorist organization that (a) refuses to accept Israel’s right to exist, and (b) has refused to change its charter, which states:

    • 'The Islamic Resistance Movement is a distinguished Palestinian movement, whose allegiance is to Allah, and whose way of life is Islam. It strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.' (Article 6)

    • 'Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.' (Preamble)
    • 'The Day of Judgment will not come about until Moslems fight Jews and kill them. Then, the Jews will hide behind rocks and trees, and the rocks and trees will cry out: 'O Moslem, there is a Jew hiding behind me, come and kill him.' (Article 7)

    I wonder why the silence by John Berman or Zaraida Sambolin, when so much of what Ms. Buttu stated was factually wrong!

    November 20, 2012 at 5:43 pm | Reply
  2. Kelly Perl

    I saw this interview this morning. The hosts completely bungled it. Without challenge, the guest asserted that Gaza had been under occupation for 45 years even though Israel had left Gaza in 2006. The hosts didn't even ask: "so why does is it OK to launch rockets at Israeli civilians instead of acting like a nation, recognizing Israel's right to exist, and negotiating?"

    Also, the producer did not check out the website of the Institute for Middle East Understanding. One background page notes that in the War of Independence the Jews were better armed and better trained than the Palestinians. Disputable at best. However, the page COMPLETELY OMITS the fact that Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt invaded Israel when Israel declared independence. Some underpaid researcher could have found this out in 5 minutes, like I did.

    HEre's the link: imeu.net/news/article0021.shtml

    The hosts should stick to medical oddities, retail fetishes and light banter. I really blame the producers, who should have made sure this topic was researched better.

    November 20, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Reply

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