The ‘Status quo is unsustainable’ so let us maintain the status quo

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President Obama addresses UN General Assembly

How often have Western leaders said this about Israel’s occupation of Palestine? President Obama said this again in his UN address on 24 September. Before him UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman said it in March of this year. US Secretary of State John Kerry said it even before him, back in February.

What are they exactly referring to? The status quo is of course perceived differently by the Palestinians and Israelis and their respective supporters.

Israel and its supporters refer to the lack of two states that separate as many Jewish Israelis from as many Palestinian Muslims and Christians as possible to maintain as substantial a Jewish majority as possible in Israel. They also refer to the continuing possibility of tickets flying out of Gaza in protest at Israeli violations of the August brokered ceasefire.

Palestine and its supporters seek an end to the occupation of the territories occupied in 1967. This necessitates an end to the settlement project and the removal of the Israeli military from these areas.

You would have thought then that following the failure of the U.S. brokered talks and Israel’s recent abhorrent attack on Gaza which devastated humans and infrastructure, those that want to change the status quo would be looking for means to achieve this.

The Palestinians are trying to do this through the United Nations. Mahmoud Abbas wants a Security Council Resolution that sets a date for ending the occupation, which generously wants to give Israel three years to achieve. When you consider that Israel has had forty seven years to achieve, does not seem unreasonable. He is asking for a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders with agreed land swaps. Again, this is more than reasonable considering it would be on 22% of historic Palestine.

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President Abbas addresses the UN General Assembly

But pretty quickly the U.S., the UK and Australia expressed their support for the status quo by rejecting Abbas’s move. They will not support a Security Council resolution putting a date on the end of the occupation. Their remedy is based on a return to futile negotiations, which Israel uses to complete its ‘Greater Israel Project’. It will soon, if it hasn’t already, put an end to the two state solution, which its supporters claim is the only game in town.

This leaves the status quo in tact. A people under military occupation, Israel as an Apartheid state and peace a concept rather than an aim. Israel wants to maintain a perpetual ‘quiet occupation’.

The conclusion is that the West is simply complicit in the Greater Israel, colonial and racist project. Be honest guys, you don’t give a damn about Palestinians or justice. It takes for one colonialist to support another.

Palestinians must now take matters into their own hands and start with signing the Rome Statutes. Once an Israeli leader appears before the International Criminal Court, the game will change. More importantly, the victims of Israel’s war crimes will be on the way to receiving justice.

Updated 1/10/2014

Surprise surprise, Obama calls for change in status quo during his meeting with Netanyahu. And of course Netanyahu wants peace and a 2-state solution! We’ve been here before. In addition, the U.S. has made it clear it would veto a resolution setting a date for an end to the occupation.

The Palestinians should simply move to singing he Rome Statutes.

UK Parliament EDM 313: UK Arms Exports to Israel

UK MPs asked to sign Early Day Motion 313 on Arms Exports to Israel

Early Day Motions (EDMs) are formal motions submitted for debate in the House of Commons. However, very few are actually debated. EDMs allow MPs to draw attention to an event or cause. MPs register their support by signing individual motions.

UK ARMS EXPORTS TO ISRAEL

Session: 2014-15
Date tabled: 03.09.2014
Primary sponsor: Godsiff, Roger
Sponsors: Durkan, Mark Hopkins, Kelvin Ritchie, Margaret Caton, Martin Ward, David

That this House notes with concern that, despite Government commitments to keep all weapons export licences under review and despite the recent deaths of more than 2,000 civilians in Gaza, the UK is still permitting arms exports to Israel; further notes that the UK has licensed more than £40 million worth of military exports to Israel since 2010, including components used for drones, bombs and targeting systems; condemns the UK’s long history of exporting arms to regimes which use them against their own citizens to suppress dissent and calls for democracy, or for external aggression; further notes that the laser guidance systems of Paveway II bombs – which were used against hospitals, schools and UN refuges in Gaza in the recent conflict – were produced in a factory in Fife, Scotland; further notes estimates that more than 50,000 such bombs have been dropped on Gaza since 8 July 2014; observes that under UK arms export rules, the UK may not issue an export licence for equipment that will be used for internal oppression; further notes with concern that the Ministry of Defence is currently working with Israel-based defence company Elbit Systems on a drone programme worth £1 billion; further condemns the Government’s failure to withdraw any of the UK’s 131 arms export licences to Israel; further calls on the Government to stop prioritising the profits of wealthy arms companies over human lives and global stability; and asks the Government to reconsider the UK’s arms export policy to stop the use of UK-made weapons against civilians.

If in the UK please ask your MP to sign.

Report about the Palestine Solidarity Campaign Lobby of Parliament

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9/9/2014

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign’s Lobby of Parliament for Gaza took place on the 9th of September. The main speaker at the briefing was Dr Mustafa Barghouti, who gave a first hand, moving account of the situation in Gaza following Israel’s terrorist attack which left over 2,000 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians. His talk can be accessed here.

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Dr Mustafa Barghouti reported on what he saw in Gaza
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Israel dropped Explosives barrels in Gaza, so much for surgical strikes!

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Hundreds then went to meet their MPs and there was a rousing rally in the evening.

I reminded the attendants that Britain had a moral duty to right the wrong of the Balfour Declaration. The speakers also called for lifting of the siege and an end to arms trade with Israel.

Grahame Mortis MP Chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East announced that Back Benchers had succeeded in securing a voting debate on 13 October, to recognise a Palestinian State.

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Text if motion for voting debate on 23 October 2014.

The Lobby was covered by the media. Aljazeera report in Arabic can be viewed here.

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Packed Committee room for Rally for Gaza.

Update 28/9/2014

Here is a link to Dr Barghouti’s eyewitness account from Gaza

The UK’s Major Political Parties Failed the Palestinian People and therefore the Israeli People

The UK bears a major historic responsibility for the predicamentd of the Palestinian People. Not only did it occupy historic Palestine between 1920 and 1948, it made the infamous Balfour Declaration in 1917. This promised Palestine to the Zionists without consultation with the Palestinians or even world wide Jewry.

But 67 years after British troops left Palestine and the Palestinians to face Zionist Jewish terror, where do the current major political parties stand on justice for the Palestinians? This is a particularly important question just after Israel’s appalling attack on Gaza which left over 2,000 Palestinians dead, over ten thousand injured and Palestinain homes and infrastructure devastated. It is estimated it will cost over $5 billion to rebuild Gaza but other estimates are as high as. $8 Billion.

Israel is suspected of committing war crimes, crimes against humanity and possibly genocide in the 51-day attack on Gaza, which was launched on the for text of Hamas ordering the kidnapping and killing of three young Israeli settlers in the South of Hebron.

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The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) voted to set up an investigative committee into the potential war crimes. The UK was one of the nations that abstained on the vote together with other EU countries.

That was a bizarre decision. From the outset of the recent Attack on Gaza, the ruling coalition of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats said clearly that Israel was entitled to ‘self defence’ against the rockets fired from Gaza, although the Government failed to note that it was Israel that started the conflict when it started attacking Gaza, after three settlers were abducted in South Hebron. Also, just what borders is Israel entitled to defend?

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Nevertheless, as the extent of the death of civilians, especially children began to emerge, Britain tempered its support for Israel ever so slightly by saying it must operate within international Law and international humanitarian law. Ok, so Israel was ‘entitled to self defence’ as long as it was operating within the law but when a investigative committee was to be established to check that this was the case, Britain abstained. This was at best illogical but at worst encouraged Israel to commit further atrocities as it felt it could point to the abstentions and try to discredit the Committee as established by the ‘usual suspects’.

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As the death toll in Gaza mounted, calls were made by protestors for Britain to stop its arms trade with Israel. The claim was that Israel was either using or had the potential to use British supplied arms and components against the civilian population it occupies. This did create some tensions in the coalition and eventually the Liberal Democrats ‘won’ a concession to suspend twelve licenses if Israel returned to ‘substantial’ action in Gaza. This never materialised, even though Israel did attack Gaza after that announcement.

I recently read Labour Leader, Ed Miliband’s speech to Labour Friends of Israel, which he delivered in June of this year? It really is worth reading, if you want to handstand the extent of the influence of the pro-Israel Libby on the political elite in the UK. This was delivered before the Israeli onslaught first on the West Bank and the 51-days of El it heaped on Gaza.

This was a speech pandering to the lobby. It reminded me of many sickening speeches made by presidents and other senior Administration officials to AIPAC. A kind of annual report on what they have done for Israel in the previous year to ‘get the lobby off their back’ and to ensure continued funding.

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It is quite telling that Miliband did not use the word ‘occupation’ once or refer to Palestinian rights. He did not even say explicitly that the settlements are illegal. His remarks about his own personal links with Israel as a Jew with family there taken with his clear uncritical support for Israel do not augur well for actions to force Israel to comply with International Law.

Conservative Friends of Israel boast that 80% of Conservative MPs are members. You wonder who the other 20% are as they are hardly and stories critical of Israel or its policies.

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Home Secretary, Rt. Hon. Theresa May MP addressed this year’s reception of CFI in Parliament hitch the CFI website called “staunchly supportive of Israel” and asserting:

“”I – and the whole British Government – will always defend Israel’s right to defend itself.”

It is worth re-stating the threats faced by Israel because they are considerable. There are the familiar but deadly threats from Hamas and Hezbollah. The collapse of Syria that has spawned ISIS and threatens to destabilise Lebanon and Jordan. The instability of the wider region. And the threats issued to Israel by Iran. No democratic government could, in the face of such danger, do anything but maintain a strong defence and security capability and be prepared to deploy it if necessary. That is why I – and the whole British Government – will always defend Israel’s right to defend itself.[…]
When Israel faces the full range of threats I have just listed, when Israel faces enemies that are intent on its very destruction, when Hamas uses Palestinian civilians as human shields for its rockets, when there are thousands of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank, it is easy to talk about a two-state solution but almost impossible to know how to move towards one.”

Remember this was after Israel’s terrorist attack on Gaza. Again just like Miliband’s speech to Labour Friends of Israel you could be excused for not realising that Israel occupies Palestine or the extent of carnage that Israel brought to Gaza.

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The Liberal Democrats would appear to have better policies on the conflict but are part of a coalition which changed Jurisdiction to allow suspected Israeli war criminals access to the UK without fear of arrest for their suspected war crimes.

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All in all, the UK’s major political parties have failed the Palestinian people and only a major shift away from allowing Israel impunity to sanctioning it will place them in the peace camp that will end the occupation and lease yo freedom for Palestinians.

On the 13th of October, back bench MPs gave secured a boring debate calling for the recognition of a Palestinian state. It would be logical for their to be unanimous support for it, based on everyone’s (as far as I know) claim a two state solution is the way to achieve peace.

Ar their forthcoming conferences, the message from delegates should be that they must vote in favour of this motion. There should then be a cross party move to declare that the UK recognises Palestine.

This would be the first step on the path the UK must take to correct the historic wrong which started with the 1917 disgraceful Balfour Declaration.

Nothing less than this will convince the British Public that marched on their hundreds of thousands in Kily and August that their Government is listening.

By failing the Palestinian people, I contend the British political parties are failing the Israeli people, for peace will only come to them, when justice comes to the Palestinians.