CAIRO, March 4, 2005 (IslamOnline.net) – Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is a "war criminal" who must be imprisoned for his systematic policies of "ethnic cleansing" against the Palestinian people, said London Mayor Ken Livingstone.
In a searing critique of the Israeli policies, Livingstone said that Israel has been demonizing Muslims, spreading misinformation about the scale of anti-Semitism and seeking to silence critics by calling them anti-Semitic.
"Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister is a war criminal who should be in prison not in office," Livingstone said in an article in mass circulation The Guardian on Friday, March 4.
" Israel 's own Kahan commission found that Sharon shared responsibility for the Sabra and Shatila [Palestinian refugee camps in Beirut ] massacre."
Sabra & Shatila
are two refugee camps in Beirut the Palestinians resorted to after being forced to flee their villages and towns in 1948.
Belgium’s highest court had ruled that Sharon could face war crimes charges once he leaves office after an appeal by 23 Palestinian survivors of Sabra and Shatila massacres, in which between 800 and 2,000 Palestinian refugees were slaughtered by Israeli forces and allied Christian Phalangist militia in 1982 in Lebanon .
Sharon was defense minister at the time of the massacre, and he was forced to resign after investigations said he shared blame for the slaying.
Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was responsible for the Sabra and Shatila massacres
The London mayor also accused the Israeli government of pursuing policies of ethnic cleansing against the Palestinian people and continuing seizures of the Palestinian lands.
" Israel 's expansion includes ethnic cleansing. Palestinians who had lived in that land for centuries were driven out by systematic violence and terror aimed at ethnically cleansing what became a large part of the Israeli state."
"Today the Israeli government continues seizures of Palestinian land for settlements, military incursions into surrounding countries and denial of the right of Palestinians expelled by terror to return,” Livingstone added.
Israel still occupied Lebanon’s Shebaa Farms and Syria’s Golan Heights for more than 40 years now.
It also continues to seize more Palestinian lands for building settlements and the separation wall, which veers into swathes of the West Bank and cut off many people off their farms.
The Hague-based International Court of Justice has deemed "illegal" the separation wall. The UN General Assembly also adopted a resolution calling on Israel to tear the wall down. But Israel, backed by Washington, defiantly refused
to abide by the resolutions.
Livingstone said the Israeli government has been disseminating misconceptions about the scale of anti-Semitism in Europe and conflating criticism to the Israeli policies as anti-Semitic acts.
"The Israeli government presented a "wholly distorted picture of racism and religious discrimination in Europe ", so it appeared Jews suffered most discrimination," he said.
"The reality is that the great bulk of racist attacks in Europe today are on black people, Asians and Muslims. They are the primary targets of the extreme right."
Sharon had earlier alleged that Muslims in Europe were posing a threat the lives of Jews, asking the latter to leave their European countries for Israel.
Pundits and linguists believe that Israeli officials and US neo-conservatives are using now "anti-Semitism" to stifle any criticism of the aggressive Israeli practices against the Palestinian people.
The statements of Livingstone are expected to draw the outrage of Jewish groups in London and across Europe. Livingstone is a member of British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s Labor government.
Sharon and his government have come under fire from several public figures and human rights groups in Europe for adopting a hard-line policy against Palestinians.
In October, Alain Menargues, head of news at the state-owned Radio France International, his job, after he described Israel as racist.
“What was the first ghetto on the world? It was in Venice. Who made it? The Jews themselves, in order separate themselves from the rest. Afterwards Europe put them in ghettoes.
French President Jacques Chirac had earlier hit at Sharon, saying the hard-line premier was unwelcome in France