The daily tragedy, death and destruction of Gaza, its civilian population reduced to no more than expendable collateral damage to an out of control brutal Israeli Defence Force do not make for good holiday viewing. But as someone who refuses to accept that lives in different parts of the world have differing values and currencies I have tried, often in vain to keep up with events for the 2 weeks I was in Southern Spain.
But then things are very much the same at home.
People run away from things that they don’t wish to see, they know how horrible it is, but they don’t want to confront it, they don’t want to look, it’s not a question of denial it’s just natural not to want to be face to face with such horror. The pictures on our TV screens and in the newspapers are in themselves are a watered down version of the unfaceable reality, it is best for us to view to view death from not just a geographical distance but also from a digital one. This sanitised reporting is again a response to our internal discomfort with the truth, the newspapers reporters and photographers and TV commentators are fully aware that if they make us view this macabre death scene in all its full gore and horror that they will be blamed themselves by the public for making them look, making them see.
Thankfully though despite the censorship the world is now seeing, is now facing up to the fact that “something must be done” But just are the something’s that should be done? Well we can start with a sustainable ceasefire,time alone will tell whether or not the current cease in hostilities has any lasting impact, but we can but hope that it is a start. but then we have had plenty of similar cease fires in the past each being replaced with a return to even more killing.
We could as a nation once David Cameron has worked out how to spell disproportionate, call for UN action, but we all know that every attempt to make Israel answerable to the world community is thwarted by the US veto on UN votes. It is still very clear that the USA values the Jewish vote far higher than Palestinian life, so we are back to that currency question again in a politics versus people exchange rate system. So what is left? Or more importantly what is left that is worth trying and likely to succeed?
Well we certainly need to continue the current talks we need a “regional” figure to oversee any negotiations and we need to remove from the scene all those who have failed so badly to use the times between conflict to bring about a two sided solution.
We should therefore start with a call for Tony Blair as the Quartets Middle East Peace Envoy to step aside, our hapless former PM who himself took us into the equally horrific illegal war in Iraq has in recent months completely lost the plot. His continued absence from Gaza and his repeated support for Israel’s right to defend itself including recent Israeli TV interviews defending the IDF military response show a remarkable lack of diplomacy and impartiality and place him far too firmly in Netanyahu’s pocket to be taken seriously anymore.
But is our current Prime minister any better? Certainly not, arms sales have increased dramatically to Israel since his taking of office and we now have the contradictory farce of spending UK aid money to build up humanitarian and Social support within Gaza, whilst taking Israel’s blood money to provide sophisticated weaponry to destroy the very aid projects we funded the building of! I have never been a fan of Baroness Varsi but I must applaud her for accepting in her well-publicised resignation letter that the UK policy to the current crisis is “morally indefensible” and “not in British national interests” and
The “Egypt” proposals should also take seriously the little publicly commented on Hamas 10 point truce initiate. For those (the many I guess) who have not seen this proposal the main points are as follows 1: Withdrawal of Israeli tanks from the Gaza border 2: Freeing all the prisoners that were arrested after the killing of the three youths. 3:Lifting the siege and opening the border crossings to commerce and people 4: Establishing an international seaport and airport which would be under U.N. supervision 5: Increasing the permitted fishing zone to 10 kilometers 6: Internationalizing the Rafah Crossing and placing it under the supervision of the U.N. and some Arab nations 7: International forces on the borders 8: Easing conditions for permits to pray at the Al Aqsa Mosque 9 :Prohibition on Israeli interference in the reconciliation agreement 10:Reestablishing an industrial zone and improvements in further economic development in the Gaza Strip.
But whilst a continued and lasting peace remains for the international community to be without doubt the most desirable and urgent need the world must also own and answer the wider questions of justice and accountability of all parties in relation to the atrocities carried out by both sides. Hamas rocket attacks on Israel may be futile and dealt with at ease by Israel’s Iron Dome defence system, but they are still indiscriminate acts of violence carried out by an elected government against a civilian population, but Israel refuses to sign the International Convention on Human Rights belittles the role of the International Criminal Court and prefers to play hardball with world concerns, so any complaint by them to the Court prosecutor for investigation and trial of Hamas’s actions are a non starter. Palestinian however are now a recognised UN state, can sign the convention and should ask the prosecutor to hold those responsible in the Israeli for giving the orders to butcher innocent children and families to account.
Peace and Reconciliation are non negotiable partners, long standing peace can never hold without tackling head on the thorny issues of justice and accountability, such was the case in South Africa and Northern Ireland and such we hope will be the case in Israel Palestine.
The old adage “No justice, No Peace” may be over used and under delivered on but for Palestine it will be a pre requisite for the acceptance of a permanent Israeli state as it neighbour and not its prisoner and executioner