Issue 283, Friday 30 November 2012 - 16 Muharram 1434
Palestinian state with 1967 borders and right of return of Palestinian refugees the only solution
For decades, the world has suffered from a campaign of not only misinformation but deliberate disinformation about Palestine and its inhabitants. The Western world talks about the two-state solution. But in reality, because of Israeli illegal settlements in the Occupied Territories in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, very small areas of land are now left. The pro-Israeli media coverage and the lack of will by the Western countries, especially the US to put pressure on Israel to abide by UN resolutions and international law, have allowed Israel to oppress the Palestinian people.
The latest brutal assault on Gaza this month started with Israel’s targeted assassination of Hamas’s military chief, Ahmed Jabari, the individual who had prevented countless rocket attacks by other militant groups from Gaza. There was no condemnation by the Western world. Such assassinations are illegal under international law.
British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, only responded after Palestinians retaliated to Jabari’s assassination by condemning, not Israel but Hamas for retaliatory rocket attacks into Israel from Gaza. He regurgitated Israel’s narrative that Hamas bore “principal responsibility” for the crisis. “This creates an intolerable situation for Israeli civilians in southern Israel, who have the right to live without fear of attack from Gaza,” Hague said after the rockets left 3 Israelis dead, all civilians, a day after Jabari assassination. He did not condemn the attacks by Israel from land, air and sea killing scores of Palestinians, including numerous women and children, nor the continuing siege of Gaza that prevents even the basic food and medical supplies reaching its inhabitants.
The reaction by the EU was equally biased towards Israel. “The European Union strongly condemns the rocket attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip” and “Israel has the right to protect its population” but “ it must act proportionately.” As would be expected, US President Barack Obama, backed Israel by saying it has the “right to defend itself.”
UK, EU, US and the Western media blamed Palestinians for initiating the crisis. However, it all began on November 8 when an Israeli military incursion into Gaza killed a Palestinian child. This was followed by more Israeli incursions and attacks provoking a response by Palestinians in Gaza.
In addition, talks were being held by Hamas and Egypt to have a truce between the Palestinians and Israel as was confirmed by Egyptian President, Mohamed Morsi, on November 17.
The media also largely followed Government policy. The BBC wheeled in a succession of ‘neutral’ experts, essentially to try to justify Israel’s killings. These included Jonathan Sacerdoti, presented as a neutral commentator from Director of Institute for Middle Eastern Democracy but did not mention that he was former Director of Public Affairs for the Zionist Federation and was also elected to the Board of Deputies of British Jews’ International Division.
But the pro-Israel bias is not unexpected, given that the West has given up any semblance of impartiality when it comes to bringing Israel to account for its previous invasion of Gaza four years ago. This is despite widespread evidence of war crimes committed during its indiscriminate killing of more than 1,300 Palestinians.
What many in Israel want is a complete destruction of Gaza and is this is the narrative that is becoming very common. Son of the former Prime Minister of Israel, Gilad Sharon, wrote in the Jerusalem Post that Gaza should be obliterated and alluded to the nuclear bombing of Japanese cities by the US. “We need to flatten entire neighbourhoods in Gaza. Flatten all of Gaza. The Americans didn’t stop with Hiroshima – the Japanese weren’t surrendering fast enough, so they hit Nagasaki, too.”
Israeli Interior Minister, Eli Yishai, said, “The goal of the operation is to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages,” according to Israeli daily Haaretz. The Orthodox Jewish news site Yeshiva World News also quoted Yishai as saying, “We must blow Gaza back to the Middle Ages, destroying all the infrastructure including roads and water.”
In the meantime, the British Government has gone out of its way to make it more difficult to prosecute visiting Israeli officials accused of war crimes by changing the law on Universal Jurisdiction. There also appears to have been no apparent follow-up to Britain’s demand to gain assurances that Israel will stop forging UK passports as was discovered during the targeted assassination of Palestinian Mahmud al-Mabhuh in Dubai in 2010.
Britain, like many countries, continues to act like an ostrich and bury their heads in the sand with regard to Israel’s illegal arsenal of chemical and nuclear weapons. Its declared policy is to support initiatives for a nuclear-free Middle East. With next month’s UN conference in Helsinki, it is time for the UK to eat its words and bring all sides to the table as a co-sponsor. As the only non-signatory Middle East country to the NPT, perhaps one of the reasons for the timing of Israel’s latest blitzkreig was a get-out clause for its non-attendance or even to cancel the meeting.
And as to the Arab world it hardly did anything for Gaza. This was reflected by the Chief Editor British Arabic daily newspaper, Al-Quds al-Arabi, Abdel-Beri Atwan, who was born in Gaza. Writing in his op-ed during the recent visit of an Arab delegation headed by the Arab League Secretary-General, Nabil El-Arabi, he said: “Why did the latter [Arab League] not rush to offer anti-aircraft Stinger missiles to the resistance factions in the Strip to deter the Israeli air force? Or are these weapons prohibited from being used against the Israelis to protect the Muslim Sunni Palestinians? We also ask the senior Muslim scholars and their associations why no fatwas were issued to carry out Jihad in Palestine and why no donations were collected to support the mujahedeen in Palestine.”
Whilst in the UK, most of the British Jewish organisations supported Israel on Gaza bombing. In a letter to Israeli Ambassador, Daniel Taub, they said the bombing of Gaza was “an entirely understandable response to the intolerable assault upon the citizens of southern Israel.” The organisations said they took “pride in the commitment” of Israel “to leave no stone unturned in seeking to avoid civilian casualties and remain true to the Jewish ethical ethos that underpins the doctrine of the IDF.”
Meanwhile, spiritual Leader of the British Jews, Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, blamed Iran on the bombing of Gaza. After completing his regular ‘Thought for the Day’ slot on BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme, was asked by presenter Evan Davis for “any thoughts on what is going on in Israel and Gaza at the moment.” He replied: “I think it’s got to do with Iran actually.”
As we go to press a ceasefire has been agreed. This is to be welcomed. However, if we have the past to go by Israel has a long history of breaking cease fires whilst never being brought to account.
We hope Britain will now change its pro-Israel policy and have an ethically based foreign policy. The Palestinians have been suffering from the injustices perpetrated on them by Israel since its creation in 1948. Israel has been occupying Palestinian land since 1967 and has defied hundreds of UN resolutions on its illegal occupation and building of illegal settlements.
The solution to the peace in the Middle East is for Israel to withdraw to 1967 borders, including East Jerusalem. The Palestinian refugees should be allowed right of return to their homeland. All settlements in the Occupied Territories, including East Jerusalem should be dismantled for a viable sovereign Palestinian state. The new state shall have the same rights as any other sovereign state.
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Israel told to stop harassing human rights groups
Israeli army kidnaps 300 Palestinians in October
Soldier acquitted of fatally shooting Palestinian child
EU imports 15 times more from Israel’s illegal settlements than from Palestinians
Book Review: Insight into the plight of the Palestinian people