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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Anders Behring Breivik may avoid jail after psychiatrists declare him insane

Norwegian killer of 77 people 'lives in his own delusional universe', say prosecutors

Staff and agencies,

Anders Behring Breivik has been declared insane by Norwegian psychiatrists. Link to this video
Self-confessed mass murderer Anders Behring Breivik is unlikely to be sent to jail after psychiatrists declared him to have been insane and suffering from paranoid schizophrenia when he killed 77 people in Norway this summer.

Prosecutors said Breivik, a self-declared anti-immigration militant, believed he had staged what he called "the executions" out of his love for his people. "The conclusion ... is that he is insane," prosecutor Svein Holden told a news conference on Breivik's psychiatric evaluation. "He lives in his own delusional universe and his thoughts and acts are governed by this universe."

If the court accepts the psychiatrists' conclusions, Breivik would be held in a psychiatric institution rather than in a prison. Norwegian courts can challenge psychiatric evaluations or order new tests but rarely reject them. Breivik could be held as long as he poses a threat to society, but may be released if found to be healthy.

It is a controversial prospect in a country still struggling to come to terms with the events of 22 July, when Breivik killed 77 people by bombing central Oslo and then gunning down dozens of people, mostly teenagers, at a summer camp of the ruling Labour party's youth wing. "The most important thing for me is not to punish Breivik," 20-year-old Bjørn Ihler, a survivor of the shootings on Utøya island, told Reuters. "What matters to me is that he no longer poses a threat to society."

Others were less understanding. "I'm so angry I could weep," wrote one woman on the Facebook site of daily newspaper Aftenposten. "A man who can plan his misdeed in such detail and carry it out in cold blood is answerable for what he has done. If this is allowed to stand it will disgrace the name of Norwegian justice and be an insult to the names of his victims."

Breivik had developed paranoid schizophrenia and was psychotic at the time of the attacks, Holden said, adding that his condition was persisting. In their report the psychiatrists described many different forms of "bizarre delusions".

"They especially describe what they call Breivik's delusions where he sees himself as chosen to decide who shall live and who shall die, and that he is chosen to save what he calls his people," said Holden.

"Breivik has stated that he committed the murders, or executions as he calls them, because of his love for his people."

In a manifesto posted on the internet shortly before his killing spree, Breivik declared he wanted to protect Norway from what he said was the threat of Muslim immigration.

Breivik could legally be freed if declared healthy. "If he is not psychotic and does not pose a danger to society, then his sentence cannot be upheld," prosecutor Inga Bejer Engh told the news conference.

If the court accepts the psychiatric evaluation, Breivik would still be put on trial but could not be jailed. He could face court hearings every three years to determine if he needs to remain committed to a psychiatric institution, and could be held for life if he remained a threat.

Norway's penal system is based, perhaps more than in other countries, on the principal of rehabilitation rather than punishment. It does not have the death penalty and the maximum criminal sentence is 21 years.

During his 13 conversations with two mental health experts, which lasted about 36 hours, Breivik called himself the "most perfect knight" to live after the second world war.

Breivik also claimed that his organisation, which he calls the Knights Templar after the medieval religious order, will take over power in Europe and put himself forward as the future regent of Norway and the continent. "The experts also describe Breivik's intentions to conduct breeding projects with Norwegians and organise them in reserves," said Holden.

Breivik, who is currently being held in isolation in prison, was not aware of the conclusion of his psychiatric evaluation, prosecutors said.

Already the evaluation is being questioned in some quarters. Quoted on Norwegian state broadcaster NRK, Erling Johannes Husabo, a professor in criminal law, said the evaluation was highly unusual. "Their conclusion that he is insane is commonly reserved for persons with a more disturbed grasp of reality resulting in, for example, hallucinations," he said. "It must be a very peculiar type of psychosis he is suffering from, when he can execute his plans so diligently."

Arabs, Jews brawl on train

Dozens of Arab, Jewish girls involved in Jerusalem Light Rail incident; tear gas used

 A huge brawl on Jerusalem's Light Rail Monday prompted the evacuation of passengers after one of the participants used tear gas on the train, Yedioth Ahronoth reported. 

The brawl erupted after dozens of Arab and Jewish girls clashed on one of the train cars. At one point, a Jewish girl at the site pulled out a personal canister of tear gas and sprayed it at the Arab girls. 

The gas spread throughout the train and hurt other passengers uninvolved in the incident. Following the subsequent commotion, the driver was forced to stop the train and let passengers out, as the gas was bothering those onboard. 

CityPass, which operates the Light Rail line in the capital, issued the following response after the incident: "We will not be accepting any act of violence. We call on all residents to show tolerance." 

The latest incident was not the first sign of trouble involving Jerusalem's new city-wide train, which was inaugurated earlier this year. Last month, stones were hurled at a train traveling through the capital's Shufat neighborhood, near the Israel Police National Headquarters. A windowpane was smashed but no injuries were reported in that incident.,7340,L-4154894,00.html

Iceland becomes first Western European country to recognize Palestinian state

Published 21:36 29.11.11 Latest update 21:36 29.11.11

 Icelandic parliament approves measure on United Nations' annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people; Palestinians reaffirm bid for UN membership.

By Reuters and The Associated Press

Iceland's parliament voted on Tuesday in favor of recognizing the Palestinian Territories as an independent state, the first Western European country to do so according Iceland's foreign minister. The measure passed symbolically on the United Nation's annual day of solidarity with the Palestinian people.

The vote paves the way for formal recognition by the small north Atlantic island, which led the way in recognizing the independence of the three Baltic states after the collapse of the former Soviet Union in 1991.

Ramallah, rally for palestinian statehood - Daniel Bar-On - September 21 2011

"Iceland is the first Western European country to take this step," Foreign Minister Ossur Skarphedinsson told Icelandic state broadcaster RUV. "I now have the formal authority to declare our recognition of Palestine."

Palestinian UN observer Riyad Mansour read a message from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas at UN headquarters on the occasion of the day of solidarity with the Palestinian people. He reaffirmed the Palestinian's bid for UN membership, saying it should complement peace negotiations, provided that Israel is prepared to negotiate on the basis of the 1967 borders.

Abbas said the Palestinians are not seeking "to delegitimize Israel" by applying to join the UN "but to delegitimize its settlement activities and the seizure of our occupied lands." He added that sanctions imposed on them by Israel because the Palestinians won membership in UNESCO are "unjust" and that Israel has no right to withhold their customs and tax revenues.

The Icelandic parliament resolution allowing for the recognition of a Palestinian state within the pre-Six Day War borders of 1967 was decided by 38 votes in the 63-seat.

"At the same time, parliament urges Israelis and Palestinians to seek a peace agreement on the basis of international law and UN resolutions, which include the mutual recognition of the state of Israel and the state of Palestine," said the resolution, proposed by the Icelandic foreign minister.

It also called on all sides to cease any violence and recalled the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.

Iceland's recognition, however, is expected to amount to a little more than symbolic step as the Palestinian Authority strives to get United Nations recognition. Its quest for a seat at the international body has so far failed.

UN urges Israel, Palestinian Authority to agree to two-state solution

  • Published 18:42 29.11.11 Latest update 18:42 29.11.11
 UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon makes appeal at International Day of Solidarity for the Palestinian People at UN headquarters in New York.


The United Nations Tuesday urged Israelis and the Palestinians to agree to a two-state solution which would pave the way to end the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967 and meet legitimate security concerns on both sides.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon made the appeal at the International Day of Solidarity for the Palestinian People at the UN headquarters in New York.

Ban Ki-moon - AP - 20.10.11 United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, center, addressing a meeting at UN headquarters, Oct. 20, 2011.
Photo by: AP

Tuesday also marked the 64th anniversary of a UN resolution in 1948 partitioning the British mandate in Palestine into two states - Israel and Palestine. Israel accepted the UN resolution while Arab states at that time rejected it.

Ban called for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA) to show "courage and determination" to agree to the two-state solution, so Israel and Palestine can live in peace side-by-side.

"Jerusalem must emerge from negotiations as the capital of two states, with arrangements of the holy sites acceptable to all," Ban said. "And a just and agreed solution must be found for millions of Palestinian refugee scattered around the region."

The PA applied for UN membership and statehood recognition in September. But the request was not accepted by the UN Security Council.

Israeli Approves Construction In Shilo Settlement

Monday November 28, 2011 10:06author by Saed Bannoura - IMEMC & Agencies

The Israeli Housing Ministry and the Ministry of Defence has approved two plans to build 119 units in the illegal settlement of Shilo, north of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.

Israeli Settlement - Image Pal-Info
Israeli Settlement - Image Pal-Info
Israeli Ynet reported that the plans were exposed after the Israeli Peace Now Movement filed an appeal to the Israeli High court, eight months ago, when forty units were built in the settlement.

But the Ministry of Defence claimed that the constructions in Shilo are not part of new plans, and that any new plans will require a separate permit.

Meanwhile, Peace Now stated that the constructions are illegal, and not part of the original plans as approved by the Central Planning Office at the so-called Civil Defence Administration, run by the army in the occupied West Bank.

Following an appeal by Peace Now, the Israeli Authorities stated that they decided to retroactively grant permits to existing permanent constructions, in addition to approving the two recent plans.

Should the construction plans be implemented, the Shilo illegal settlement will witness expansion of over 60%; it currently contains 195 units, and a number of mobile homes.

Israel Declared an Apartheid State in “People’s Court”

Monday November 28, 2011 12:36author by Doris Norrito - IMEMC & Agencies

 ...a panel of eminent jurists serving on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine heard testimony from expert witnesses regarding the apartheid practices of Israel against the Palestinian people.

Jeff Halper and granddaughter
Jeff Halper and granddaughter
Palestinians were frustrated and angry; and in spite of the growing number of non-violent demonstrations, Internet information, and continuous appeals to the United Nations, many in the world, including the U.S., turn a blind eye to the discriminatory practices targeting an entire ethnic group.

For decades Israel has targeted Palestinians and few in the world beyond the tumultuous region have raised an eyebrow. The suffering and discrimination of the Palestinian people continues today under Israel’s brutal occupation. The threat of a United States veto of the Palestinian appeal for recognition is yet another blow.

The day after my arrival in Jerusalem, my friend and I walked in drizzle and rain to meet Jeff Halper at his new ICAHD office in West Jerusalem. Jeff Halper, founder and director of ICAHD (Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions), had taken the apartheid case against Israel to the “people’s court.”

Held in early November 2011 in Cape Town, South Africa, for two days a panel of eminent jurists serving on the Russell Tribunal on Palestine heard testimony from expert witnesses regarding the apartheid practices of Israel against the Palestinian people.

He had just returned from So. Africa, where he had testified as an expert witness at the Tribunal. Over tea at a local restaurant, he said he presented facts about Israel’s policy of house demolitions, walls that separate peoples and laws that discriminate against Palestinians. Jeff is an American-Jew who immigrated to Israel in 1975 filled with hope and dreams. Now he ponders, “Where is Israel going?” and “What does it [Israel’s policy] mean?”

Jeff said he made a case that occupation and separation is apartheid. Phrased in terms of race and ethnicity, he talked about Hafrada, a Hebrew word that means separation; and, ironically, is also the Hebrew name for the wall, which confirms the policy of separation. He said he presented facts to make a case that Israeli policy is apartheid. He said if a real case can be made, then a “Rapporteur” case can be made to formulate action, but first a “complaint” is needed in order to further investigation.

“The UN could invoke sanctions, but the U.S. would likely veto it.” I asked Jeff why the U.S. uses its veto to defend Israel. He gave three reasons: strong Jewish blocks, Christian fundamentalist support, and the arms industry. To me, it remains baffling; and I question how can my country stand for justice for all and yet deny justice to over seven million Palestinians.

There was a ray of hope. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine determined that Israel’s practices against the Palestinian people are in breach of the prohibition of apartheid under international law. Based on testimony and facts presented by expert witnesses, the Tribunal unanimously concluded, “Israel subjects the Palestinian people to an institutionalized regime of domination amounting to apartheid as defined under international law.”

The jury based its conclusion on the legal definition of apartheid as defined and decided that the defining criteria was met. The decision was based on the following facts: (i) that two distinct racial groups can be identified; (ii) that ‘inhuman acts’ are committed against the subordinate group; and (iii) that such acts are committed systematically in the context of an institutionalized regime of domination by one group over the other.”

The judgment was based on the widespread evidence of “ targeted killings,” the “use of lethal force” against peaceful demonstrators, and the torture and ill treatment of Palestinians.

The Tribunal also concluded that apartheid policies toward Palestinians extends beyond colonial military rule within the Occupied Palestinian Territory to Israeli treatment of Palestinian citizens within Israel, and that “Israel’s rule over the Palestinian people, wherever they reside, collectively amounts to a single integrated regime of apartheid.”

Sufficient grounds were also found for the crime of persecution,” Crime Against Humanity,” by “the intentional and severe deprivation of fundamental rights of the members of an identifiable group in the context of a widespread and systematic attack against a civilian population.”

The conclusion was based on evidence which included “the siege and blockade of the Gaza Strip as a form of collective punishment of the civilian population; the targeting of civilians during large-scale military operations; the destruction of civilian homes not justified by military necessity; the adverse impact on the civilian population effected by the wall and its associated regime in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem; [and] the concerted campaign of forcible evacuation and demolition of unrecognized Bedouin villages in the Negev region of southern Israel.”

Although the Tribunal has no legal status, it publicly exposes crimes being committed by Israel. Experienced individuals armed with evidence made facts available to jurors and individuals who may not have been entirely aware of some of the most pertinent issues.

The judgment of the Tribunal serves also to exert pressure on global institutions and decision-makers who have thus far failed to take a strong enough stance in the face of Israel’s crimes against humanity.

The citizen-based Tribunal serves as “a court of the people,” a committee of conscience.” The Tribunal has called upon Israel to “cease its apartheid acts and its policies of persecution and called for Israel to make amends and make compensate Palestinians for the damage it has caused.

They call upon the international community to fulfill its individual and collective duty “to cooperate to bring Israel’s apartheid acts and policies of persecution to an end,” including the ending any aid or assistance in support of Israel.

Tribunal members called for the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to initiate an investigation into the international crimes being committed by Israel, to pursue legal action in the International Criminal Court.

It advised the UN General Assembly to convene a special session “to consider the question of apartheid against the Palestinian people,” that includes the roles of individuals, organizations, corporations and all public and private bodies, which assist Israel in apartheid policies. The Israeli Government was invited to present its case before the Tribunal but chose not to exercise this right. No reason was given.

An in-depth MEMO report on the Tribunal as well as interviews with several key members of the jury will be available on the MEMO website in the coming days.

Europeans hold 60 ‘Boycott Israel’ actions in 10 countries

Sunday November 27, 2011 23:30author by Saed Bannoura & BDS Movement press release - IMEMC News

In a European Day of Action under the banner ‘Take Apartheid off the Menu’, human rights activists in ten countries held actions on Saturday calling on consumers to boycott food products made in Israeli settlements, and urging supermarkets to stop carrying Israeli settlement-made products.

'Take apartheid off the menu' in England - image from
'Take apartheid off the menu' in England - image from
Organizers of the campaign claim that fruit and vegetable imports from Israeli settlements facilitate violations of Palestinian rights and international law. The campaign is focused on leading Israeli fruit and vegetable exporters Mehadrin and Agrexco, among others.

Demonstrations were held outside the British and French headquarters of leading Israeli fruit and vegetable exporter Mehadrin, which exports produce from illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, and which activists say works with state owned company Mekerot to deprive Palestinian communities of water. Campaigners in Rome organized a Palestine contingent on a national demonstration for affordable access to water.

Jamal Juma’, coordinator with Stop the Wall, the Palestinian anti-apartheid wall campaign that is currently working to support Al Hadidiye, a Bedouin community in occupied Palestinian territory recently served with demolition orders by the Israeli authorities, said, “The residents of Al Hadidye are denied access to water and can only rear livestock as a result. In the nearby illegal settlements of Ro’I and Beqa’ot, agricultural produce is grown with an abundance of stolen water for export to Europe by Mehadrin and other companies, and it is these companies that stand to benefit from the threatened demolitions at Al Hadidye.”

“Companies like Mehadrin profit from and are often directly involved in the ongoing colonisation of Palestinian land and theft of our resources. Trade with such companies constitutes a major form of support for Israel’s apartheid regime over the Palestinian people and must be brought to an end,” Juma’ added.

Campaigners in Belgium, Britain, Germany, Switzerland, Norway and Sweden picketed supermarkets, calling on consumers to boycott products from Israeli agricultural export companies and on supermarkets to stop selling them. Many focused on Co-Operative supermarkets, which are traditionally thought to have higher ethical standards than other high street supermarkets.

“Popular BDS campaigns and the public pressure that results from them have already forced supermarkets in a number of European countries to implement policies they claim prevent the sale of produce from Israel’s illegal colonies,” said Hind Awwad, coordinator with the Palestinian BDS National Committee.

“But it’s Israel’s agricultural export companies that bear responsibility for complicity with Israel’s violations of international law, not the individual pieces of produce. These companies have been proven to mislead consumers about the origin of the produce they sell. That’s why campaigners are calling for a complete end to trade with these companies,” she added.

In Belgium, campaigners held lobby actions at the offices of the Ministry of the Economy, to protest the sale in Belgian supermarkets of produce grown in Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

The actions took place as part of the rapidly emerging Palestinian-led movement for boycotts, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel until it complies with international law.