By Kawther Salam
Palestine Think Tank
Yesterday, at almost the same time when Ehud Barak was being given military honors at the defense ministry, genocide charges against him were being presented at the office of the Austrian prosecutor, only about 15 minutes walking away.
Military honours? Since when has ordering the slaughter of a box full of frightened creatures counted as "honourable"?
The charges relate entirely to the Gaza massacre committed between December 2008 and January 2009 by Israeli troops under the command of Ehud Barak, and the whole allegation of crimes in the letter to the prosecutor consists of the so-called “Goldstone Report” itself, and it names as witnesses the members of the commission, judge Goldstone and his colleagues, as well as their interview partners.
At the time when these charges were being presented, the news that an arrest warrant had been issued against Tzipi Livni in the UK had not yet transcended; this only became known in the evening hours, and as of today 15 December, it appears that the Austrian authorities have not taken action against Barak.
This could have different grounds.
First, the situation of Livni and Barak are different: whereas Livni currently has no function in government, Barak is currently defense minister and vice-premier;
secondly, Austria is still apprehended in the notion that they have a political and moral duty to ensure the security of Israel, whatever Israel does and probably at any cost to Austria, because of understandable yet irrelevant historical facts;
third, England has implemented the Rome Statute of the ICC as a national law, whereas this is not the case in Austria yet.
Ultimately the main reason why Austria has not taken action in this case might be the almost absence of public discourse around the crimes of Israel, a situation which will most probably evolve to the better.
At the same time, the governments who still support "negotiations" or a "two-state solution" should disabuse themselves of the notion that Israel, with its genocidal and racist to the extreme posture is in any way a partner for negotiations of any kind, be this with us Palestinians or any other party.
The experience of over 60 years of occupation has shown that Israel consistently conducts all negotiations in bad faith, and that speaking with them is a fruitless endeavour. It is time for other approaches in order to solve the problems which they have caused during the last 6 or 7 decades.
I see the arrest warrant against Livni as a first step in the right direction, and would very much greet that in the future the discussion around Israel and its unrelenting criminality was less based on misguided notions of “moral duty” and much more on enacted national and international laws, which is what makes out states of law everywhere.
The complete text of the charges are here (PDF, German).