Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Amnesty International: accountability for violations needed despite Palestinian prisoner deal

Two thousand Palestinians held in Israeli prisons suspended a month-long hunger strike after Israel agreed several measures to improve prison conditions – a move seen by Amnesty International as a step toward compliance with Israel's human rights obligations.

Under the Egyptian-brokered deal, Israel has agreed to end solitary confinement for 19 prisoners – held in isolation for up to 10 years – and lift a ban on family visits for prisoners from the Gaza Strip, among other things.

"We hope that these commitments signal a new approach by the Israeli authorities founded on respect for prisoners’ human rights,” said Ann Harrison, Deputy Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Programme.

“However, 2,000 prisoners and detainees should not have had to put their health on the line in order to ensure respect for their human rights which the Israeli authorities have been violating for years.”

Amnesty International has repeatedly called for a resumption of family visits for prisoners from Gaza, which were completely suspended in June 2007.

”These repeated violations by the Israel Prison Service (IPS) against hunger-striking prisoners require a full, independent and impartial investigation, and those responsible must be held accountable,” said Ann Harrison. more

Jordanian 'lifeline' aid plane to leave for Gaza on Thursday

AMMONNEWS - The Jordanian Lifeline Committee, who are the organisers of the Ansar II convoy announced on Tuesday that the convoy will leave from Jordan to Gaza on the 18th May.

The authorities have provided the committee with approval to travel by plane to arrive Gaza strip by Al Arish Airport, Wael As-Sakka, Jordanian Lifeline Committee Chairman and spokesperson said during a press conference. more

Views on Israel turn even more negative - Western governments out of step with public

From The Electronic Intifada

Israel, already one of the world’s most negatively viewed countries, according to an annual BBC survey, has seen its reputation sink even lower in 2012.

The result will come as a blow to Israeli officials and organizations who have been attempting to improve the country’s image through intensive hasbara – propaganda – campaigns.

The 2012 Country Ratings Poll, conducted by GlobeScan/PIPA for the BBC among 24,090 people around the world, and published on 10 May, “asks respondents to rate whether the influence of each of 16 countries and the EU is ‘mostly positive’ or ‘mostly negative.’”

The press release accompanying the full report notes briefly that “The most negatively rated countries were, as in previous years, Iran (55% negative), Pakistan (51% negative), and Israel and North Korea (both 50% negative).” ...

...Israel’s behavior shapes views

Can all this be put down to “anti-Semitism” as Israel’s propagandists like to insist? Not according to the BBC survey. The factors shaping views of Israel are largely political, according to the report’s analysis:
For those who held negative views of Israel influence in the world, the foreign policy of the Israeli State is by some distance the main reason explaining their negative rating (45%). The way Israel treats its own people stands out as the second most important reason (27%). Of those holding positive views, Jewish traditions and culture are cited by 29 per cent globally, closely followed by foreign policy (26%).