Tag Archives: gaza

Opinion: Israel/Palestine – the current state of the ‘peace process’

At 1900 GMT on Wednesday 21st November a ceasefire came into place between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip which, it was hoped, would signal at least a temporary halt to the bloodshed. Sadly, this ceasefire looks little more likely to last than previous ones have done and it would seem to be a good moment to reflect on the latest tragic and depressing episode in the Middle East and the ‘peace process.’

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 36 Comments

New edition of Liberator magazine

The latest issue of Liberator magazine (issue no.350 – January 2012) has just been mailed to subscribers. For those of you who are not yet subscribers, here’s a summary of the contents:

  • The editorial column Commentary examines the electoral consequences of the Autumn Statement for the Liberal Democrats. It also castigates the party’s Federal Executive for deciding against running candidates in next year’s police commissioner elections.
  • The insider gossip column Radical Bulletin begins with a report on the party’s decision not to contest the police commissioner elections.
  • Alice in Wonderland’ – Paul Crossley (leader of Bath

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Clegg demands end to Gaza blockade #flotilla

Clegg speaks out on Gaza flotilla crisis

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has called on Israel to lift its “unjustifiable and untenable” blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Mr Clegg said that the storming by Israeli commandos of a ship carrying aid to the Palestinian territory underlined the need for the blockade to end.

The United Nations Security Council called for a “prompt, impartial, credible and transparent” investigation into the raid, which left at least nine civilians dead and more than 30 people injured, including one Briton, according to the Foreign Office.

Mr Clegg said the situation in Gaza had become a “humanitarian catastrophe”. He

Posted in Europe / International | Also tagged and | 37 Comments

LibLink … Nick Clegg et al: An appeal for the victims of Gaza

Nick Clegg is a lead signatory for a letter in today’s Observer calling on the international community to exert pressure on Israel to abide by UN security council resolution 1860 and bring an end to the suffering of the people of Gaza. Here’s what it says:

One year on from Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip, the Israeli government continues to imprison 1.5 million Palestinians and prevent the rebuilding of its shattered infrastructure.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza, described by the UN fact-finding mission as “collective punishment”, stops reconstruction materials and humanitarian aid from reaching those who so desperately require it.

As a result

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LibLink … Clegg on Gaza

Writing in the Guardian two days ago, Nick Clegg highlighted Palestinian suffering in Gaza:

On 27 December last year, Israel launched Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, an overwhelming exercise of military force aimed at silencing the Hamas rockets which had terrorised Israeli towns and villages. The immediate effects of the invasion are well known: 1,400 Palestinians dead, mostly civilians, with many more wounded or displaced; 10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians killed, dozens more injured; and thousands of families in southern Israel forced to flee to other parts of the country. The rocketfire from Gaza into Israel has slowed but

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Jonathan Fryer’s Diary of a Euro-candidate

Most of the day is spent at the Keynes Forum Policy Conference at LSE, at which one of the sessions is specifically about the European elections, or at least the interlinked campaign themes of the economy and the environment. Both Sharon Bowles (South East) and Fiona Hall (North East) are MEPs who know their briefs intimately, which is reassuring and underlines the value of electing people willing to specialise in specific fields. But through conversations during coffee breaks it becomes clear to me that local activists are really thirsting for simply-worded, bite-sized Euro-items they can just slot into their Focuses. …

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Foster brands BBC “disgraceful” for refusal to air charity appeal for Gaza

The BBC reports on the latest developments in the ongoing row over the Corporation’s decision not to screen an appeal by the Disasters Emergency Committee for Gaza because it does not want to compromise its commitment to impartiality:

ITV, Channel 4 and Five are to show a charity appeal for Gaza amid a row over the BBC’s decision not to run the film. Ministers urged the BBC to recognise “immense human suffering” and show the Disasters Emergency Committee appeal. … Protesters gathered outside the BBC’s Broadcasting House in central London on Saturday, and chants of “BBC, shame on you” were

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Opinion: Israel has no option but to defend itself against Hamas and Iran

Lib Dem Voice has invited both the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine (article published here yesterday) and the Friends of Israel to submit articles looking at the current Middle East crisis. Today we publish this contribution from Matthew Harris, Secretary of Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel.

At the pro-Israeli peace rally on Sunday 11 January, Trafalgar Square echoed to the sound of speaker after speaker calling, as the thousands of placards read, for “peace for the people of Israel and Gaza”. As a Liberal Democrat who believes in human rights and the rule of law, I cannot echo those …

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Opinion: The West must take some responsibility for the current crisis in Gaza

Lib Dem Voice has invited both the Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine and the Friends of Israel to submit articles looking at the current Middle East crisis. Today we publish this contribution from Andrew Baldwin, Secretary of Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine.

The recent violence in the Gaza Strip is extremely damaging for the so called ‘peace process’ in the Middle East. The international community has been slow to act, issuing statements urging Hamas to stop firing rockets into Israel, but this almost abandonment of the Palestinian people is extremely dangerous for the future, and ignores the fact that the international …

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Nick Clegg: We must stop arming Israel

Nick Clegg has a piece in The Guardian today:

The world watched in horror yesterday as the conflict in Gaza claimed its latest innocent victims in the rubble of a UN school. Any hopes of reconciliation are being snuffed out as anger spills into protests around the world.

The past two weeks have been a telling indictment of the international community. We have an outgoing US president sanctioning Israel’s military response and an aching silence from the president-elect. We have a European Union encumbered by clumsy decision-making and confused messages.

And at home we have a prime minister talking like an accountant about

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In the news: Gaza, Treasury honours and Big Brother

Nick Clegg calls for suspension of EU/Israel agreement: “Innocent people are being killed and injured by a military operation that will only serve to further inflame extremism, and weaken the moderate Palestinian and Arab opinion which Israel’s long term security depends on.”

Vince Cable criticises knighthood for Treasury chief: “I would have thought it a rather premature judgment on government policy, which is far from assured of being a success. There is a slight element of self-congratulation about it.”

Ken Macdonald, the former Director of Public Prosecutions, criticises Labour’s plans for a database to track emails and phone calls …

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Opinion: For the sake of Israel, the attack on Gaza must stop!

A true friend is someone who’s prepared to tell you when you’re wrong or you’ve made a mistake – even when they know that message may not immediately help your friendship. With its current massive attack on Gaza, Israel is clearly wrong. Worse still, it’s in danger of making a historic mistake.

In criticising Israel’s bombing, no-one is making light of the rocket attacks its civilians have endured for months by Hamas – even during the ceasefire. Nor do I question Israel’s right to defend herself. Yet the rationale for the attack put forward by the Israeli Government – that it will change fundamentally the security situation in the south of Israel – repeats one of the classic errors of too many modern military tacticians, in supposing that populations, be they terrorists or civilians, can be defeated this way. The truth is, this attack plays into the hands of Hamas, as it will rally support for it within Gaza and across the Arab and wider Muslim world.

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Israel’s air raids on Gaza: Ed Davey speaks out

Via the main Liberal Democrat website comes Ed Davey’s views:

David Miliband may not be prepared to say it, but the Israeli reaction is utterly disproportionate.

From the standpoint of ordinary people in Gaza this is a full-scale attack, which is leaving women and children dead and thousands of innocent people suffering.

The rocket attacks by Hamas are totally unacceptable, but Israel ought to have learnt from its attack on Lebanon which only served to strengthen the cause of extremism.

If David Miliband does not realise this action is disproportionate then he must be the last person in Britain who thinks so.

With this

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Opinion: Israel – time for action

ConservativeHome.com carries a couple of articles on the recent excesses of the Israeli military. Alex Deane loses himself in his eulogy to the State of Israel: surrounded by “enemies who wish her ill”, this “sliver of democracy and decency has always held my sympathy,” he informs the reader.

However, pick up a Sunday newspaper, and you can see that Israeli policy is pretty far from decency. If even the likes of Deane are feeling that supporting Israel is now “less straightforward”, then serious questions have to be asked about how long the guilt-induced whitewashing of Israel’s actions can last.

Signs were emerging yesterday of a new consensus, with all three parties criticising Israel’s recent air raids on the Gaza Strip. However, the crux of the question is what will emerge out of this new climate of criticism. Will we see concrete calls for increasing stringent sanction to be applied to Israel while it continues to violate international law with impunity?

Much will depend on the attitude of the incoming US President, Barack Obama. Sadly, there is little hope of a more stringent line emerging from an Obama administration. Visiting Israel last summer he said:

If somebody was sending rockets into my house where my two daughters sleep at night, I’m going to do everything in my power to stop that.”

All of which sounds very reasonable but does little to address the complexities of the vast power disparities in the Israel-Palestinian conflict and the cause-effect relationship between the actions Israel takes and why Hamas enjoys the support it does amoung the Palestinian population. Put simply, Israel’s problem is that it has been allowed carte blanche for far too long, and that is as damaging to it as it is to the innocents that it rolls over.

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Opinion: A movement for peace

Once again in the past week the headlines have been dominated by the cycle of violence in the Middle East. The same day as a gunman attacked the Merkaz Harav seminary a coalition of international groups released a report into the worsening conditions for ordinary Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. If nothing else this report should provide the clues necessary as to why some Palestinians were prepared to celebrate the brutal attack on the seminary.

“Man-made and completely avoidable”

The report opens with frank language saying that the situation in Gaza is “man-made, completely avoidable and with the necessary political will can be reversed”. Naturally, it stops short of directly attributing blame (although in response to the report, Israel was not so candid). However, it does say that the situation has worsened “exponentially” since Israel’s blockade against Gaza began.
Critics of the report will focus on the reports condemnation of the actions of the Israeli state but, in the interests of balance, it is only fair to note that the report acknowledges the blockade began in response to “indiscriminate” rocket attacks on Israel. It should go without saying that Israel’s current strategy has not stopped these attacks nor has it significantly improved it’s security status; one need only switch on any newscast on any given day to see that much.

However, it’s main focus is the desperate plight of Gazans. Among it’s main findings are;

* Economic collapse; 95% of Gaza’s industrial operations are suspended due to the blockade. Private enterprise has pretty much ceased to exist or function; “entire sectors including construction and agriculture have ground to a halt”. Starkly, the report says that it is no longer a question of Gaza’s economy “collapsing” but having already “collapsed”.
* Crippling poverty; the report cites rising prices of essential goods like wheat and flour coupled with an unemployment rate of 40% which is expected to rise to 50%. Household incomes are projected to fall by 22% so, even if a Gazan is employed, they are squeezed in a vice of rising prices and a rising inability to pay those prices.
* Collapse of basic service infrastructure; not only does the Israeli blockade restrict the flow and fuel and electricity into Gaza but it also prevents the “repair and maintenance of the electricity and water service infrastructure by prohibiting the import of spare parts”. The net result is hospitals which can’t function and “40-50 million tonnes of sewage” which “continues to pour into the sea daily”.
* Dependency; “In 2008, there are over 1.1 million people – some three-quarters of the population of Gaza – who are dependent on food aid”. This statistic speaks for itself, and coupled with the data above it is one that is unlikely to change in the near future.

New Strategy

It should be blindingly obvious that a population so ground under the heel is embittered as well as impoverished. Life would be hard enough without Israel’s regular military incursions into the Strip which add on top of the daily hardships the bitterness of seeing friends and loved ones caught in the crossfire as Hamas and Israel slug it out. Gazans have been deprived of that most crucial element of living, hope, and in that atmosphere it is unsurprising that Hamas’s bile-drenched message finds willing listeners.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 12 Comments

Opinion: Why we should condemn the academic boycott of Israel

The University and College Union’s (UCU) proposed academic boycott of Israel has attracted opposition from many people who might usually be numbered among Israel’s harshest critics. The (Palestinian) President of Jerusalem’s Al Quds University is among those opposing the boycott, in a joint statement with the (Israeli) President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

As a Liberal Democrat, my opposition is rooted in our party’s fundamental liberal belief in free expression, particularly in situations involving conflict resolution.

To boycott Israeli academics, including liberal individuals who strongly disagree with the Israeli government, is not only illiberal, it is also perverse. Imagine a boycott of British universities and academics, based on our government’s disgraceful conduct of the war in Iraq!

Almost worse is the suggestion that Israeli academics might be exempted from a boycott if they distance themselves from their government’s policies. Presumably the proponents of the boycott are planning to summon up the shade of Joe McCarthy to supervise this exercise in thought control?

The proposed boycott is also perverse because it singles out Israel among all the countries of the world. Israel, for all its faults, is a parliamentary democracy. Its universities, like British universities, are open to all citizens, regardless of religion or ethnicity. I have been to the Hebrew University and met Arab students, including some who came from the Palestinian territories, and some who came from Israel itself. There are also many overseas students at Israel’s universities. Israel enjoys the same academic freedom as does this country and other democracies.

The tragic irony of singling out Israel is that no other Middle Eastern country has academic freedom, so why only boycott Israel? When other Middle Eastern countries are infringing human rights in ways that directly affect academic freedom, why is the UCU silent?

Posted in Conference and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 39 Comments

Recent Comments

  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 25th Jul - 12:00pm
    Doesn't really help anyone and is really cruel.
  • User Avatarjedibeeftrix 25th Jul - 11:59am
    "We believe that power should be held at the lowest most local level, and only passed ‘upwards’ when there is a need to take a...
  • User AvatarStuart 25th Jul - 11:58am
    So, with the UK economy larger than it has ever been in history, the lion's share of the comments here are a mixture of gloom...
  • User AvatarJayne Mansfield 25th Jul - 11:58am
    @ Dav, One can speculate all one likes Dav but it doesn't mean that it is fact. Divorce is a fact of life for many...
  • User AvatarRabi Martins 25th Jul - 11:58am
    I am really heartened by Nick's public pronouncement on this There really is no justification for us turning a blind eye to this barbaric practice...
  • User AvatarSimon Shaw 25th Jul - 11:53am
    @Will Mann The fact that we don't know what the future holds doesn't mean that, when things are going (relatively) well and we have played...