News in brief

We won’t arm Ukraine

Not only is Switzerland refusing to allow other countries to send Swiss weapons to Ukraine, it is actually destroying weapons that could be used by Ukraine.

On 12 March, Swiss president Alain Berset reaffirmed Swiss neutrality, telling NZZ, a Swiss newspaper: ‘It is precisely because we are neutral and do not allow the transfer of weapons to war zones that we can do a great deal for this continent. Pacifism has a bad reputation right now, but warfare is not part of the Swiss DNA.’

While planning to provide over £4.4bn in humanitarian and peacebuilding aid to Ukraine, the Swiss government has refused to allow Germany, Spain or Denmark to transfer anti-aircraft shells or other Swiss military equipment they own to Ukraine.

NZZ has revealed that Switzerland is destroying 50-year-old but still functional Rapier ground-to-air defence systems.

According to rules set in 2006, foreign-made systems which are no longer required by the Swiss military should be sold back to the producing country ‘without conditions’.

If this procedure had been followed in the case of the 60 Rapiers, made in Britain, the anti-aircraft systems would have been sold back to the UK without Switzerland being able to object to them being sent on to Ukraine.

Neil Collins

A warm tribute to Neil Collins (8 September 1941 – 20 January 2023) can be found on the PN website. Neil was the Housmans accountant at one time, and also served on the PN board. His good cheer will be much missed.


The Global Campaign on Military Spending UK has a comment on the UK budget. Since last autumn, the military got a 3.7 percent uplift, greater than any other department:

Upper Heyford

At the beginning of June, there will be a commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the 5,000-strong Four-Day Peace Blockade at USAF Upper Heyford in Oxfordshire. 752 people were arrested.

More info from SteveBarwickPC (at)

Western Sahara

‘I’m so fed up, and I’m so angry. There is a war and nobody is talking about it. Everybody is talking about Ukraine, and nobody is talking about Western Sahara,’ Mohamed-Lamin, a human rights activist living in a Sahrawi refugee camp, told New Humanitarian in February.

Western nations which have fiercely opposed Russia’s invasion, occupation and annexation of part of Ukraine are drifting towards accepting and officially recognising Morocco’s invasion, occupation and annexation of most of Western Sahara.

The US is the only government in the world to have officially recognised the annexation (which followed Morocco’s invasion of Western Sahara in 1975).

US president Donald Trump recognised Moroccan sovereignty over all of Western Sahara, a position re-affirmed by US president Joe Biden.

On 20 March, US secretary of state Antony Blinken re-confirmed US policy, saying that Morocco’s ‘autonomy plan’ for Western Sahara was ‘serious, credible, and realistic’.

The plan excludes the possibility of Western Sahara becoming an independent nation: Morocco would maintain control over Western Sahara’s natural resources, foreign relations, currency, and external and internal security.

In March 2022, Spain reversed its previous position on Western Sahara and said that Morocco’s autonomy plan was ‘the most serious, realistic and credible’ proposal for resolving the conflict.

Other European countries such as the Netherlands have also said warm words about the plan.

How would they react if Russia proposed a similar ‘autonomy plan’ for Ukraine?

  • Sahrawi activist Sultana Khaya, who escaped house arrest last May, continues to speak out for Western Sahara, including at the European parliament on 7 February. Moroccan corruption deprived her of a human rights prize (PN 2664).

We won’t stop

Dennis DuVall, 81, a member of Veterans for Peace (USA), entered federal prison in Bautzen, Germany, on 23 March to begin a 60-day sentence. He had refused to pay a fine for trespass or criminal damage.

Dennis was one of 18 people who entered Büchel airbase on 15 July 2018 to protest against the presence of US 170-kiloton B61-3 and 50-kiloton B61-4 free-fall hydrogen bombs.

The bomb dropped on Hiroshima had an explosive power of 15 kilotons.

The first US citizen to be jailed in similar protests, John LaForge, was released on 28 February after serving 50 days.

We won’t give up

Over 40 international peace activists have volunteered to act as an unarmed civilian protection team at the Zaporizhzhya nuclear power plant in Ukraine, supporting inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (PN 2663, 2664).

The Zaporizhzhya Protection Project is currently planning to send a small delegation to Ukraine ‘to meet with people as close to the nuclear danger as we can get’.

As well as financial support, the project seeks help making contacts in Ukraine and Russia, organising its training materials and news articles.

To support or to sign up for the Zaporizhzhya Protection Project:


David Polden writes: On 27 March, after 11 consecutive weeks of huge demonstrations, and the start of a general strike, Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu was forced to pause (just for a month) legal changes which threaten the independence of judges, including the supreme court.

Among the demonstrators were military reservists who said they would not volunteer for service if the laws were passed.

Meanwhile, in the Israeli-occupied West Bank there have been increasing numbers of attacks on Palestinians by Israeli settlers, often beside Israeli soldiers.

These are the policies of Israel’s most far-right government yet.

Netanyahu’s government includes far-right ministers such as Jewish Power leader Itamar Ben-Gvir, who previously expressed support for Baruch Goldstein, a Jew who killed 29 Palestinians in a shooting at Hebron’s Ibrahami mosque in 1994.

Ben-Gvir has been appointed national security minister with authority over the police, including in the Occupied Territories.

The government has introduced bills which would give it more power over the appointment of supreme court judges and allow a simple majority in the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, to override supreme court rulings.

The coalition has also called for settlement expansion in the occupied territories as its ‘top priority’.

In the West Bank, on 7 March, Friends of Hebron (FoH) reported that Jewish settlers, with national security minister Itamar Ben-Givr, celebrated the Purim festival by dancing down Hebron’s main Shuhada Street and attacking and vandalising Palestinian houses.

The following day, Israeli border police invaded the FoH community centre and evicted international solidarity activists who were there to provide a protective presence. Israeli settlers then attacked Palestinian houses and the FoH centre. Israeli soldiers stood by.

This was only one incident in a wave of violence that has been going on for months. On 26 February, there was what the Washington Post called ‘a night of brutal violence in the West Bank... when hundreds of settlers went on a four-hour rampage through Palestinian communities’. Sameh Aqtash, 37, was shot dead as he tried to protect his village, Zatara.

Hours of CCTV footage seen by the Post ‘show Israeli soldiers among groups of settlers as they walk up and down the main street in [nearby] Huwara, pelting storefronts with stones and setting fires to buildings, some with residents inside.’

The Post reported on 17 March that, this year, at least 78 Palestinians, including fighters and civilians, have been killed by Israelis, while at least 14 Israelis have been killed by Palestinians over the same period.

That’s a ratio of more than five Palestinians killed for every Israeli.