What hope for Gaza?

Destruction in Gaza after Israeli bombardment, part of Operation Pillar of Defense Date	by Scott BobIn 1993 the Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin and Palestinian President Yasser Arafat shook hands on the lawn of the White House to seal the deal of the Oslo Accords (Oslo I). The terms of the accord were vague but gave rise to hope and received support from both Palestinians and Israelis. The accord envisaged an agreement leading to a “final status” solution to the Palestine/Israel conflict within five years.

In 1995 negotiations in Egypt (Taba) tried to put flesh on the bones of Oslo I (the result being referred to as Oslo II). This divided Palestinian territories into a series of regions most of which were controlled by Israel. It also set up the Palestinian Authority for which Yassar Arafat was elected as the President. Continue reading

Young Labour and Gaza: first as farce, then as farce

GazaThe religion of socialism is for me not so much the language of priorities, as  the language of common sense, of right and wrong. So sitting on the Young Labour national committee has been a frustrating experience. At the August meeting, senior members of the committee – including chair Simon Darvill and national executive committee (NEC) rep Bex Bailey – voted a motion on the crisis in Gaza off the agenda. If you’ve read any of my previous reports back from meetings (see footnote for links), you might be forgiven for thinking this sort of behaviour is a Young Labour tradition.

The motion had been proposed by south-east rep Max Shanly to be submitted by Young Labour as its contemporary motion to Labour conference. This is not a secret process – every year, like constituency branches, Young Labour can submit either one topical motion or one rule change. At this time last year, the committee voted to submit a motion on zero-hour contracts. Despite the timetable being plainly evident, committee members moaned that they had not had the chance to consider alternatives, and therefore that the motion should not be heard. Continue reading

After Gaza, some accounting

The Israeli bombGazaardment of Gaza may have left the headlines, but only now is the full story of destruction and abuse coming to light. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine has been meeting in emergency session in Brussels, taking evidence on Israel’s Operation Protective Edge.

It has found evidence of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The tribunal’s Jury reported:

The cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza.”

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The state of Palestine

palestine flagThis summer’s violent assault against the Gaza Strip pushed the Palestinian issue to the top of the political agenda like never before.

The latest stage of Israel’s episodic devastation of Gaza — a process Israeli military strategists chillingly refer to as “mowing the lawn” — shocked the world and in doing so woke up millions to the horrors being visited upon the Palestinian people.

As Israel unleashed its full military might against the civilian population of Gaza, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Britain in protest.

It was magnificent to see so many ordinary people mobilise in opposition to Israel’s occupation and the dispossession, violence and suffering it entails. Continue reading

Gaza: The war for nothing

Get Out - ad for anti Gaza war demo in Tel AvivAfter 50 days, the war is over. Hallelujah.

On the Israeli side: 71 dead, among them 66 soldiers, 1 child.

On the Palestinian side: 2,143 dead, 577 of them children, 263 women, 102 elderly. 11,230 injured. 10,800 buildings destroyed. 8,000 partially destroyed. About 40,000 damaged homes. Among the damaged buildings: 277 schools, 10 hospitals, 70 mosques, 2 churches. Also, 12 West Bank demonstrators, mostly children, who were shot.

So what was it all about?

The honest answer is: About nothing.

Neither side wanted it. Neither side started it. It just so happened. Continue reading