Israel (SCF) – The recent resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council condemning the growth of the illegal colonial Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian land of East Jerusalem and the West Bank was a necessary reprimand for the Netanyahu Government. What made it all the more remarkable was the fact it passed the Security Council without being vetoed by the United States. Historically the United States has shielded Israel from censure by the UN Security Council but this time the Obama administration rightly abstained.
Now, I am about as pro-Israel as they come and feel very protective of Israel. I strongly believe in Israel’s right to exist and I am a huge admirer of the State of Israel and the Israeli and Jewish people. All my closest friends at university were Jewish and I attended meetings of the Cambridge University Jewish Society as well as speaking in defence of Israel at the Cambridge Union. It was one of the greatest privileges of my life to visit the great State of Israel back in November 2013. It was one of the most poignant and memorable trips of my life. My group were taken to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv as well as the Israeli-Lebanese border and the Israeli-Syrian border up in the Golan Heights. We got to visit the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament where we had consultations with various Israeli MPs from the Labor Party, Kadima and Likud. We also visited the inspiring Shimon Peres Peace Centre as well as Galilee and Yad Vashem. I would one day love to live in Israel. A magnificent country, only the size of Wales, yet extremely dynamic, innovative, cultured and intellectual with a prodigious output and work ethic. Truly an amazing country and people. But it was not just Israel we visited. We went into the West Bank to Ramallah and met with the de facto Palestinian Foreign Minister as well as Palestinian peace activists.
My meetings in Israel and Palestine made a profound impression upon me and confirmed my belief that one can be at the same time both pro-Israel and pro-Palestine. I have always believed that Israel must relinquish the land it conquered in the 1967 Six Day War and return the West Bank to Palestinian rule while sharing Jerusalem. I have absolutely zero tolerance for the Israeli West Bank settlements. It really is a very simple proposition. Israel’s proper, internationally recognised legal borders are what they were prior to the Six Day War. The West Bank settlements are not only illegal but they are a transparent policy of crude imperialism. The 500,000 Israeli West Bank settlers are colonists, colonizing other peoples land, and they should not be living where they are and should be removed, immediately. The West Bank is Palestinian land, not Israeli land. End of story. If the illegal Israeli colonists on the West Bank what to remain there and will not go or be forcibly removed then they will have to live under Palestinian rule, not Israeli.
My visit to Israel and my work on attempting to revive the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative also reinforced my contempt for Binyamin Netanyahu and his extremist right wing Likud Government. Netanyahu is a terrible man and has done a great disservice to Israel. He is full of hate. He does not believe in the rights and dignity of Palestinians and does not want a State of Palestine living side by side with a State of Israel. One of my greatest Israeli political hero’s was the late, great Yitzhak Rabin. While Rabin was showing the greatest of visionary statesmanship, strength and courage in the early 1990s striving to make peace with the Palestinians, the odious Netanyahu was out protesting on the streets against Rabin’s efforts and helping to incite and whip up the atmosphere that would eventually contribute to the assassination of Rabin. Netanyahu has done everything in his power to frustrate peace between Israelis and Palestinians, including making the viability of a Palestinian State seriously problematic given his horrible Governments unrelenting, enhanced and accelerated colonial settlement building activity in occupied Palestinian land of the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Netanyahu called the passage of the UN Security Council resolution as «shameful». What is shameful is not the resolution but Netanyahu himself and his inbred, disgusting Government, which brings continual shame on Israel. It was heartening to see America pull back from vetoing the condemnation though it would have been even better if it had of voted with Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom to support the resolution. In the end, to achieve a Two State Solution, which is the only possible path to secure long term, long lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians it could be that the United States and Russia will have to work together with peace loving Israelis and Palestinians to produce, finally, a Two State Solution.
It is only the United States and Russia who have the credibility and clout with Israel and the regional prestige and standing to help resolve this issue, even if it means imposing upon the Netanyahu Government a Comprehensive Final Peace Plan. Britain is but a very minor player in the Middle East and does not command the respect or attention of Israel. It has little credibility with Israeli Governments given the deep anti-Israel bias of its Foreign Office, media and populace. It is of no use in brokering peace between Israel and Palestine. Just as the United States and the late Soviet Union came together and cosponsored the 1991 Madrid Peace Conference, so too should the new Trump administration and the Russian Government partner together to finally achieve a Palestinian State living side by side in peace and harmony with a secure State of Israel.