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Tonight's show: Israel, Palestine and Guantanamo

Priya Shah | 17:54 UK time, Thursday, 29 June 2006

In tonight's show we had in the studio Professor Manuel Hassassian, the main Palestinian representative in London, while on the line from Jerusalem we were joined by Dore Gold, Israel's former ambassador to the UN. The conversation was augmented by callers from around the world and debate was lively, lucid and stimulating.

In the second half we talked about the hot news in the US this evening: the US supreme court's decision that the Guantanamo military tribunals were a violation of US law and the Geneva convention. We got reaction from legal guru and staunch Guantanamo defender David Rivkin.

Israel and Palestine: the situation is getting tense ...

The Israel/Palestine debate is always a hot topic and Dave in Florida kicked things off

I blame the Palestinians. Who captured the soldier? They bring about their own grief

Dave then asked Professor Hassassian "why is there this hatred for a postage-sized state of Israel?"

The Prof explained that the Palestinians had "the right to resist occupation" and that under the 4th Geneva Convention the Palestinians had the right to fight the settlers but when pressed about Israel's right to exist he explained that under Oslo there could be a 2-state solution.

Abdallah from Nairobi suggested that the fate of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit is just part of the ongoing war and that the West's support for Israel permits Israel to get away with genocide. This sparked a response from ambassador Gold who took offence to any linking of Israel with genocide, especially considering the Holocaust and its associated history.

Jeremy from Minneapolis suggested that using Corporal Shalit as a negotiating tool was a "simple ploy" while Adam from Phnom Penh in Cambodia had a bleak outlook

They will be at war for the rest of eternity

During the mid-point of the debate Professor Hassassian and ambassador Dore Gold then explained the two competing and often intractable points of view. Things got a little heated but a slanging match was smoothly avoided by Rabiyah's cool moderation.

Prof Hassassian had some strong words concerning Gaza which he delivered to ambassador Dore Gold live on-air

We don't have access to the sea, the air the West Bank. We are living in a big open-air concentration camp

In reply Dore Gold quoted UN resolution 1373

There is no use of terror which is legitimate.

After a well-needed break for the news things got moving again and Rabiyah asked the professor whether he wanted to see Corporal Shalit released. "Yes, but I want to see violence against Palestinains stopped" was the professor's response.

In response to the accusation that Israel used disproportionate force Dore Gold told us how the Israeli Army was a "moral army" and tried whenever possible to "pluck terrorists out by tweezers."

Guantanamo - OBL's former driver has caused an upset

Yemeni captive and former Osama Bin Laden chauffeur, Salim Ahmed Salim Hamdan appealed against his military tribunal at Gitmo . . . and today won. The tribunals were set up by the US in late 2001 but if their procedures are now deemed to violate the Uniform Code of Military Justice and the Geneva Convention what does it mean . . ?

David Rivkin, a former legal advisor to Bush senior and Ronald Reagan said

The ruling does not mean it would illegal to try unlawful combatabts. The dispute is about arcane methods of procedure. The ruling is actually a major victory for the administration

The BBC's Nick Miles in Washington explained that the matter "will go back to Congress to see if they can come up with a similar but different solution."

David Rivkin explained the US administration's stance: "This is a true armed conflict. They are not terrorists and they are not criminals. They are enemy combatants and because they don't wear uniforms they are unlawful."

The Geneva Conventions are not the Alpha and Omega of war

Mr Rivkin said.

However, the Supreme Court ruling did say that Article 3 of the Geneva Convention did apply to enemy combatants.


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