By Daphne Anson
|From IDF video|
“I had the privilege these past few days of representing the Labour Party at the conference of the Palestinian National Council in Ramallah, the PNC’s first official meeting in more than two decades, and one that comes at a crucial time.
The recent actions of the Netanyahu and Trump governments have displayed a blatant contempt for the interests of peace in the Middle East and the chances of making progress towards a two-state solution.
From the Netanyahu government, that includes the expansion of illegal settlements, the crippling blockade against Gaza, the brutal and lethal suppression of protests on the Gaza border, and the unlawful detention and ill-treatment of Palestinian children.
And from the Trump administration, it includes the reckless and irresponsible decision to relocate the US embassy to Jerusalem, and the cruel cuts in funding for the UN agencies providing healthcare, education and humanitarian relief to Palestinian refugees.
In response, some rogue Palestinian voices have urged its leadership to abandon all peace talks, reject a two-state solution, and return to the hopeless tactics of armed struggle, which would only cause more bloodshed and fear on all sides.
However, during my two days at the Palestinian National Council, I found firm rejection of that approach. Yes, there was considerable anger – which I shared – particularly at recent events on the Gaza border, the devastating humanitarian crisis caused by the blockade, and the wilful aggravation of tensions and hardship by the Trump administration.
But despite that, there were strong and unanimous declarations that this was no time to succumb to exhaustion and despair, but instead to re-state more clearly than ever their commitment to a two-state solution, with a viable, secure Palestine living alongside a secure Israel, both sides recognising each other’s right to exist, and to live in peace.
It was recognised that remained not just the right course of action from a principled and practical standpoint, but also the right thing to do in the court of international opinion, and the best way to put moral pressure on the international community to act.
And it was on the latter point that I provided my hosts with strong reassurance that – if they stuck to the path of peace – they would receive strong support from the British Labour Party, and from a future Labour government, and I made three solemn guarantees of the action we would take as soon as we are in office again.
First, as we rightly mark this month the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the State of Israel, I said it is also right – and long overdue – for the United Kingdom to formally recognise the State of Palestine, and urge other countries to do the same, not in due course, not when the time is right, but now and without delay.
Second, I said that as a matter of urgency, a Labour government would host an international funding conference to address the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, and the millions of Palestinian refugees across the region, in particular to plug the gaps in funding caused by Donald Trump’s cruel and spiteful cuts.
And third, I said a Labour government in Britain would immediately review the sale of arms by the United Kingdom to Israel to ensure that none of the weapons sold by our country are being used by the Netanyahu government to attack innocent Palestinian civilians in Gaza or anywhere else.
But it was not just in London that I said a future Labour government would make a difference, but in New York, at meetings of the United Nations, and in Washington DC, in our talks with the Trump administration.
At the UN, I said we would be a constant voice on the Security Council urging action when Israel breaks international law, and exposing the hypocrisy of the United States and others who demand tough action and independent investigations when other countries break those laws, but turn a blind eye when it comes to the Netanyahu government.
I told them we would say out loud that it shames the United Nations, and the Security Council, that – for decades – successive Israeli governments have been allowed to ignore, with impunity, all the resolutions the UN has passed with regards to the Occupied Territories and the expansion of illegal settlements.
And finally, in New York, I said we would also demand a new independent investigation into the Netanyahu government’s breaches of international law when it comes to the detention, ill-treatment and unfair prosecution of Palestinian children, an issue on which we have already led the way in demanding action in the UK Parliament.
We have also led the way since the day Donald Trump was elected in demanding that the UK government stands up to his reckless and damaging policies, especially when it comes to Israel and Palestine. It was not good enough for the Tories just to say they disagreed with Trump over his Jerusalem move, they should have condemned him for doing so.
And while we of course want to see the resumption of meaningful peace talks, I said President Abbas had been quite right to argue that the Trump administration cannot act as a mediator for peace when they themselves are sowing the seeds of discord, and making a negotiated peace ever harder to achieve….’ [Emphasis added]
It’s wonderful to see so many pro-Israel people responding, with comments such as:
“[H]ow many Palestinian Arabs live in Israel? 1.8 million. How many Jews live in Jordan? Zero! How many Jews live in Gaza? Zero! Where in Israel can Jews be arrested for praying? The Temple Mount!”
“Whose [sic] going to deliver this secular, democratic state with equal rights for all? Hamas and the Naturei Karta guys?”
‘You should be publicly apologising for attending such a conference where nothing but antisemitic garbage was spewed out by a holocaust denier. You should be ashamed to represent the British people. I’m sure you applauded when Abbas claimed that the holocaust and anti semitism were caused by Jewish “social function”. Disgusting.’
“This is ACTUALLY what’s happening at the Hamas led ‘Great March of Return’, Emily Thornberry, you gullible fool…”https://www.facebook.com/StandWithUs/videos/10155650800537689/
“Does she not understand that help and materials sent from Israel to Gaza has been used to buy more weopens [sic] and materials that could have been used to improve their lives have been used to build tunnels to get into Israel. She hasn’t deemed to have grasped that until the Palestinians accept Israel’s right to exist there will never be peace. Why hasn’t she condemned the so called peaceful protest from Pallestinians [sic] which Hamas and Hezbollah have encouraged. Would she happily accept other people to encroach on our borders? No doubt Labour would not mind if they were antisemitics.”
“Were an Arab state to declare war on Israel, the Palestinians would take the opportunity to uprise, and it would none of it end well. The Israelis would be well within their rights to drastically change their current rules of engagement. There is no scenario which does not play out badly for the Palestinians, who are being used as pawns by the Arab states.”
As for the IDF, this tribute to the past 70 years is rather satisfying.