Tag Archives: palestine

Opinion: Crimea/Palestine – unfavourable comparisons

As a Liberal Democrat one is appalled by the heavy handed way that Russia has moved into Crimea with an apology for a referendum. It may be the wish of the majority but this invasion is totally against international law and indeed tears up the post-Soviet treaty between Russia and Ukraine. The criticism of Russia is led by the USA and strongly supported by the rest of Europe. Many in Europe and the Middle East are wondering why the same critics have been so mute in the face of not dissimilar aggression and occupation of Palestine by …

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Israel/Palestine: trying to find some balance

Israeli children visit Palestinian village of Tuwani and participate in bilingual activities together - Some rights reserved by delayed gratficationWriting about Israel and Palestine is a bit like that bit in Great Expectations when Pip asked whether it was a good idea to lend money to a friend. The cynical Mr Wemmick responds “choose your bridge and pitch your money into the Thames over the centre arch”. Or put another way, don’t waste your time.

I think that, at our best, Liberal Democrats are fair-minded people who try to accept that most arguments have two sides. So what follows is not my opinion on who is right, but five things that have

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Has it all gone Jenny Tonge for David Ward?

Gentle reader, I appear to have received some flak for writing this – quite possibly merited. So, I’ve tried to edit it for clarity…

David WardA press release from the office of David Ward MP reached Liberal Democrat Voice yesterday;

“Bradford East MP, David Ward, has criticised Israel on the day he has signed a Book of Commitment in the House of Commons, in doing so pledging his commitment to Holocaust Memorial Day and honouring those who died during the Holocaust and in subsequent genocides.

Sunday January 27th will mark the 68th anniversary of the

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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

LibLink: David Ward’s visit to the West Bank

David Ward MP has been out in the West Bank. He has been blogging a diary for the three days of his visit. Day One is here:

Yesterday night I met with the Consul General based in East Jerusalem to discuss the incredibly complex issue of achieving peace for Israelis and Palestinians. I am reluctant to post my thoughts at this stage as we have so much more to see over the next three days but there is so much that needs to

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Opinion: A Comprehensive Middle East Peace Settlement

Simon Hughes said this year,  “We are near to the end of the opportunity of being able to get a peaceful two-state solution because of the extent of the settlements. The separation of Gaza from the West Bank and the increasing encroachment of the settlements mean that an alternative to the two-state model must be explored. We need to be honest and realistic about having a Plan B and a Plan C as well as a Plan A, as an international community.”

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Opinion: Handling Israel/Palestine issues can be difficult, but…

I can still remember a night in 2009 when our canvass team came back from a night out on the doorsteps asking “Who is Jenny Tonge? We have just been canvassing and had the most awful time over this person who apparently is a Liberal Democrat…” I explained calmly and with a wry smile that Jenny was a former MP, now member of the House of Lords, that she held strong views and was not afraid to voice them. “But these residents are not going to vote Liberal Democrat because of the views she articulates,” said one of the canvassers. It was not a one-off incident.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged and | 32 Comments

Tonge: Clegg acted “very hastily and ill-advisedly” in issuing apologise-or-resign ultimatum

Here’s the Press Association report of Baroness (Jenny) Tonge’s BBC interview following her resignation this week over controversial remarks about the future of Israel:

Liberal Democrat peer Baroness Tonge has claimed her party leader Nick Clegg acted “hastily” in quickly disowning her after she said Israel “would not be there forever”. She was forced to give up the party whip after the Deputy Prime Minister told her to apologise or resign hours after her comments to students at Middlesex University were revealed.

During a talk at the university, she claimed Israel would “reap what it has sown” if the United States

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Opinion: Nick Clegg’s remarks inch the UK towards recognition of Palestine

It is now over a week since Nick Clegg held his joint press conference with President Abbas of Palestine in which he referred to Israeli settlement construction as “vandalism”. Before his comments fade out of the news altogether, it is worth thinking through the implications of what he said – and thanking him for his courage in making them. Could they have come from the mouth of a Conservative minister?

By calling the settlement building “an act of deliberate vandalism to the basic premise on which negotiations have taken place for years and years and years”, Nick hit two important nails …

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Opinion: How not to further the Palestinian cause

The other day at a London Underground station, I saw a man who was visibly distressed. A 50-something Asian gentleman in a suit, he’d been waiting for his wife when a man asked him to move out of the way on a narrow path. Except he hadn’t just asked him to move – he’d abused him racially and pushed against him.

I could see that he was upset, so I stopped and he told me what had happened. Imagine, however, if, instead of expressing sympathy, I had told him that he was in the wrong for having been in someone’s way …

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Opinion: a Palestinian state cannot wait

The superstition and messianic belief, that Israel was founded on in 1948, has helped to establish an apartheid esque society. Now I do not deny the existence of Israel, of course not. Many nations have been founded on injustices but Israel’s demagogic lie has done enormous damage. The schism, which can be summarised by the phrase “A land without a people for a people without a land” suggested that the people in Palestine did not really exist or were a coherent genuine people. Refusal to acknowledge the Palestinian ethnic group has been a problematic area for Israel, especially since …

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Opinion: National influence, international irrelevance?

I remember the day I self-identified as a Liberal Democrat. I was a teenager, perhaps 16 or 17, (disclosure: I’m now in my mid 30s) and was actually watching a political debate that was taking place on what was, at the time, ‘yoof’ TV.

The three main parties were represented. I can’t recall who the other two people were, but the stand-out performance was from Simon Hughes.  Everything he said just made sense and for the life of me I couldn’t understand why the Liberal Democrats were not in Government.  This was the point at which I became politically aware.

I can’t …

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LibLink: Lynne Featherstone calls for peace in Jewish Chronicle

Lynne Featherstone has a balanced piece in the Jewish Chron this week:

In Hornsey & Wood Green in North London, there is a strong pro-Israel lobby and a strong pro-Palestinian lobby. When Jenny Tonge made her disgraceful and ignorant comments in the JC, calling for an inquiry into Israel taking organs in Haiti, I got emails from the pro-Israel lobby saying that the Liberal Democrats were pro-Palestinian.

When Nick Clegg then rightly sacked Baroness Tonge from the front bench, I received emails claiming that he had only done so because the “Zionist conspiracy” had got to him. Both were symptomatic of the

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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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Daily View 2×2: 20 September 2009

It’s Sunday. It’s 7am. It’s time for the Daily View, today with a special Trojan Horse supplement.

2 Big Stories

Obama attempts to revive Middle East peace efforts

So reports the BBC:

Mr Obama will first hold separate talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the White House says.

The three men, who will be in New York for the UN General Assembly, will then hold joint discussions.

The move comes after US envoy George Mitchell’s latest round of shuttle diplomacy ended without agreement.

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Nick Clegg: angry liberal

Drama and political passion over at the Jewish Chronicle, where Nick Clegg vows to Martin Bright that he will not silence controverial Lib Dem peer Baroness (Jenny) Tonge, whose outspoken comments on the Israeli-Palestine conflict have in the past landed her in hot water.

Nick Clegg is angry. No, it’s beyond angry. Incandescent almost gets it, but that still doesn’t capture the full fury of the man as he leans forward from his chair in the Liberal Democrat leader’s office in the House of Commons.

The accusation that Mr Clegg had failed to honour his commitment to act against the pro-Palestinian Lib

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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: 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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