Now is the time for all Labour members to speak up for Palestine

Hugh Lanning, Labour & Palestine

By Hugh Lanning, Labour & Palestine

The demolition and destruction of Palestinian homes in Wadi Hummus last month was not just another ‘nasty act’ by Israel as part of its on-going – 50 year old – military occupation. It was a conscious and deliberate step by the Trump/Netanyahu alliance to push the envelope of global acquiescence to Israel’s continuing and continuous violation of international law and Palestinian human rights, as witnessed recently with the storming by settlers of the Al Aqsa Mosque compound.

This is part of setting the scene for the announcement of Trump’s plan for the Middle East – delayed for and now due after the Israeli elections on 17th September. Already Netanyahu is pushing for US agreement to the annexation of large chunks of the West Bank prior to the election so it can be part of his campaign.  Annexation sounds like a mild piece of administrative action, but in international law it is a state forcibly taking control of territory outside its borders and integrating it unilaterally into its own jurisdiction.

Israel has already sought to do this with East Jerusalem – hence the significance of Trump’s announcement recognising Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. The importance of Wadi Hummus is that it is part of Palestinian land that – under the internationally brokered agreement reached in Oslo in 1993-5 – is meant to be under the control of the Palestinian authority. It is demonstrating that – as for as Israel is concerned – it has no borders and all occupied Palestinian land is up for grabs.

Trump’s plan – drawn up by his nephew Jared Kushner – makes no attempt at neutrality, it is a one-sided attempt to try to force Palestinians to surrender and accept they will never obtain their right to self-determination.

Just after Israel’s elections, this year’s Labour party conference comes at a crucial time. Delegates may have the opportunity to vote for Palestine to be discussed for the second year in succession. Labour & Palestine’s motion that has been circulated to, discussed and passed by local CLPs calls for Labour to unequivocally oppose Trump’s proposed ‘solution’.

It goes further, it calls on Labour in Government and opposition to ensure all UK trade with Israel is ethical and not in breach of international law – as it is, for example, to trade with Israel’s illegal settlements. The same principles should be applied to any arms trade with Israel.

Israel’s banning of a visit by two Muslim US Democrat Congresswomen, at Trump’s behest, is a further demonstration of their joint determination to silence criticism and democratic action aimed at holding Israel to account for its violations of Palestinian rights. In passing the motion Labour would be making clear that its ethical foreign policy should always mean that Labour will side with the oppressed, not the oppressor, and take a clear stand against Netanyahu’s aggression.

Now is the time for all Labour members to speak up for Palestine and step up the campaign for justice.

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