Wednesday, 17 May 2017

2017 Election Campaign: On Israel and Palestine

I have received letters from various correspondents for my views on Israel and Palestine.  Here is the Liberal Democrat view from our 2017 manifesto.

“[We] Remain committed to a negotiated peace settlement to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which includes a two-state solution. We condemn disproportionate force used by all sides. We condemn Hamas’ rocket attacks and other targeting of Israeli civilians. We condemn Israel’s continued illegal policy of settlement expansion, which undermines the possibility of a two-state solution. We support recognition of the independent State of Palestine as and when it will help the prospect of a two-state solution.”

My personal view coincides with the party view insofar I condemn force used in all cases apart from self-defence. Disproportionate force is never right, nor is the targeting of civilians.  Any civilians.

As a liberal, I condemn the suppression of equal rights and any form of discrimination or threat, whether it occurs in Israel, occupied territories or anywhere across the world.

Where I potentially disagree with party policy is the pursuit of a two-state solution. Owing to Israel’s policy of settlement expansion (illegal under international law), there is now not enough land left to a potential Palestinian state to make it viable.  Pragmatically, all I want to see is a country where all citizens have equality under the rule of law and protection against discrimination.  The current situation is a long way from that.  For evidence of Israel’s attitude to a twin-state solution, I suggest the reader researches the siting of the proposed Palestinian airport.  Under a variety of proposals, not once has Israel offered Palestinian control of the airport.  This is not sovereignty on offer.

As for whether I back broad economic and cultural sanctions against Israel, the answer is that I do not.  While the Palestinian people are undoubted are under oppression, citizens of Israel are under compulsion.  Failure to undertake compulsory service in the military either results in a prison sentence or removal of rights following a diagnosis of mental incapacity.  Sanctions tend to hit the most vulnerable of the affected society and this in turn will, in my view, only increase the suffering of all people and reinforce nationalist opinion.  Besides, the material effect of sanctions would be debatable unless the USA were to undertake them and this is not going to happen.

In my view, the root cause of the continuing conflict is that of weapons.  Both from reading and my own experiences in Israel, the nation “benefits” from being lavishly supplied by weapons, not all of which are declared openly.  For an historic example, please refer to Robert Fisk’s book The Great War For Civilisation - The Conquest of the Middle East (search Hellfire missile) and my own experiences in country (see links below).  I do not support ongoing UK co-operation with the Israeli arms industry.

I feel desperately sorry for all people involved in this ongoing conflict.

Below I offer a selection of blog posts outlining my own experiences while in Israel.

Blog links:

Campaign Facebook page:

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