How can Lib Dems support the movements for peace for the people of Palestine & Israel?

Israeli children visit Palestinian village of Tuwani and participate in bilingual activities together - Some rights reserved by delayed gratficationThe departure of Jenny Tonge from the party will not come as a surprise to many nor, if I am honest, will there be many tears shed over it. She has, at best, been semi-detached for some time after resigning the Party Whip in the House of Lords.

However, her departure has made me think about the best way forward for the Liberal Democrats to support a peaceful resolution of the Palestine/Israel conflict.

As I have written before, the curse of the land between the Sea and the River is that it has two people who both have a good and just claim to the land and both have behaved terribly to the other. What is also clear is that the solution to the conflict is two states with borders based on the 1949 Armistice lines with some adjustments (Read Gershon Baskin’s latest column in the Jerusalem Post for a longer exposition on this plan). What is also clear is that any attempt by either side to impose a one state solution can only be done through yet more violence & bloodshed and will create a yet another humanitarian disaster in a part of the world that has seen too many.
So, what can we do here in the UK to support those on both sides who are working to find a way forward that ends the violence rather perpetuates it? Surely we as Lib Dems should be helping find a way forward that helps bring peace to both Palestine & Israel?

To be honest, I don’t know. What I do know though is that the two existing groups in the lib Dems (Liberal Democrat Friends of Israel & Liberal Democrat Friend of Palestine) are too partisan for their “side” to be of any help finding a way forward so I have decided to set up a new group, initially just on Facebook, to see if we can find a way forward to support groups like One Voice and Solutions Not Sides who work with people on both sides to encourage dialogue and discussion.

The Group is called Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East and anyone interested in working with me in helping the Liberal Democrats make a constructive contribution to the work of finding a just solution that gives both sides peace & security is welcome to join. If we get enough people, I would like to arrange a Fringe meeting (either at York in the Spring or more likely at Bournemouth next September) on the theme of alternatives to war. Hopefully, in time we can get enough supports to form a formal AO in the Party.

I look forward to hearing back from those who reject the partisanship (from both sides) any discussions of the subject have been blighted with in the past and want to find a constructive way forward.

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* Leon Duveen is a Liberal Democrat activist in Worksop, Nottinghamshire

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68 Comments

  • Sensible approach. Side taking seems to be a hangover from imperial times on the one hand on the other being who’s the underdog.

  • Most interesting Leon. Well written. I honestly wish you well.
    I haven’t followed Jenny Tonge’s departure, but tbh, I’m not surprised in the least and would have expected it years ago.
    Good luck in your endeavours, Leon.

  • Daniel Henry 28th Oct '16 - 11:29am

    Joined!

  • Joined…

    I don’t underestimate the enormity of the task, but at the very least we can act in a way that doesn’t fuel the tensions.

    One of my (sadly naive) hopes after 9/11 was that the USA would find a way to use the language of forgiveness, and seek a way to *listen* to the anti-American voices in the Middle East (on a parallel with the Truth and Reconcilliation Commission in South Africa). Sadly they are not strong enough to do that, and instead took the weaker path of a “war on terror”.

    In the past, Jews, Muslims and Christians did live together in those lands. I fear a big slice of the problem is people outside those lands who interfere: I am delighted to find a group that is trying not to pull away from peace.

  • Matthew Harris 28th Oct '16 - 12:25pm

    I get where you’re coming from, Leon, but I would point out that Israel/Palestine is a tiny percentage of the Middle East. There are many wars happening across the Middle East at the moment, including in Yemen, Syria and Iraq. Maybe your group should be called for “Liberal Democrats for Peace in Israel/Palestine”, if it is entirely focused not on the Middle East in general, but on Israel/Palestine in particular?

  • Indeed, conflict resolution is not about pushing for one solution rather than another or choosing whom to support. It is about helping the parties directly involved to agree a process, through which they themselves would come to an agreement. One such process almost succeeded; that it ultimately failed does not preclude trying and trying again.

    We have to recognise that there will be no progress towards peace without United States involvement. So, maybe by calling on whatever political contacts we have there, we could encourage the new Administration to re-engage with the issue; whilst discussing with friends in the Middle East how to support a new attempt to get the parties talking.

    Perhaps, by concentrating on process not content, we could avoid the antagonisms to which you refer.

  • Matt (Bristol) 28th Oct '16 - 1:09pm

    Best wishes.

    It needs to be noted that dialogue and de-escalation (where possible) between Israel and its neighbours and between the two main Palestinian factions is also a necessary part of any process.

    If someone is looking for a more politically neutral terminology for this crucial element of the wider ‘Middle East’ area, the ‘Jordan Rift Region’ is there as a purely geographical term — not in much usage though.

  • The Israel/Palestine problem is akin to Union/Bosses relationships…When there is some sort of balance, productive talks take place; when one side is on top it means grave problems….
    As Mark Argent says, Jews, Moslems and Christians once lived side by side…but that was in a different world….

    Sadly, I see no chance of any lasting peace…But that is not to say that we shouldn’t keep trying; even a little victory for common sense is better than none….

  • Sue Sutherland 28th Oct '16 - 3:04pm

    Joined.
    This may sound silly but as a mother of three daughters I have found that trying to establish who started it doesn’t work. What is important is to ensure that the quarrel stops now, so I agree with Alan that agreeing a process to achieve this is most important.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 28th Oct '16 - 3:33pm

    Leon, well done . I too, have been thinking about this. My feeling is we also need a new campaign of celebration of Jewish culture and heritage that gets away from , but does not reject, the emphasis on the land of Israel, but gives lie to the automatic connection between the Jewish people and any government of Israel responsibilities.

    Following on from the above , the Middle East is so broad and problematic. Meanwhile Jewish British citizens are targeted with anti-semitism as never seen in recent years. This country gave a safe haven to Karl Marx, now his followers denigrate Jewish people at times, as ever equating them with Israel, for which they are not to blame.

    I am not Jewish, but I am involved in culture, in the arts and creative industries. I have a particular interest and professionalism in , both musicals and movies, where would we be without the joyous contribution of the cultural Jewish community?!

    The peace in the Israel Palestine conflict would be more likely and things might improve if the secularism and liberalism in the Jewish cultural input in society were appreciated more, and the liberal qualities in their history and modern practices too.

    Today and therefore, our party really should be seen as a natural home.

  • Leon – you and I have often spoken about this topic at conferences and as Vice Chair of LDFP I too have often wished that as Lib Dems we could find that our core principles about human rights and international law would bring both sides of the argument together. There are discussions going on behind the scenes at this time which may be helpful.
    I do think it’s a pity that you begin your piece with a side swipe at Jenny Tonge. Nobody who knows her well believes her to be an anti-Semite. She is a truly principled liberal who passionately believes in human rights and campaigns against injustice. That it what drives us all who are active in LDFP.
    What we have at the moment is one very strong power supported by an even stronger power (the USA of course) that is oppressing a people of a different race. The oppression is getting worse every week, the racist language of some Israeli government ministers getting more extreme, and it will be very difficult to have a fair conciliation/negotiation process when one party so dominates the situation.

  • Miranda Pinch 28th Oct '16 - 4:41pm

    While I find the sentiments of this initiative laudable, it does seem to be based on some fallacies.
    First, it ignores the fact that Israel is occupying the land upon which others are already living outside of its 49 or 67 lines. Regardless who or what you chose to call the people actually living there, they do have the right in international law and human rights law to be allowed to remain. In building settlements on that land, demolishing the homes of the people whose land it is and moving their own people onto said land, the occupying force is floating every international and human rights law; so to speak of the two sides as if they were equal is at the minimum, incorrect. Especially when one side has a modern, well equipped army, armed settlers, and huge amounts of money coming in to support them, while the other side is not allowed any way of even entering or leaving their own land without having to go through Israeli checkpoints, is not allowed to defend themselves or their land in any way legally as far as Israel is concerned, and has to live under the threats and restrictions imposed on them by Israel at all times.
    Secondly, is anyone arguing that Palestinians and Israelis, Jews and Arabs, should not have equal rights? With the continued confiscation of land and settlement building, the two-states solution is becoming less and less a possibility. I know of no case where a Palestinian has taken Israeli land or property and far too many cases where Palestinians have been denied the right to even build on their own land, had buildings demolished and then lost that land to settlers supported by the IDF. So hardly a level playing field.
    I totally agree that it is idiotic that LDFP and LDFI exist side by side and, despite attempts by LDFP to engage, have until now been refused by LDFI. LDFP is in the process of attempting to remedy that and there is a date in the diary.
    Please do go onto the LDFP web-site and read the position paper there and, once you have done that, by all means argue the toss and tell us that what we have written is incorrect, but substantiate your responses with facts as well and make sure that they also support equality and human rights for all. http://www.ldfp.eu/

  • “the curse of the land between the Sea and the River is that it has two people who both have a good and just claim to the land and both have behaved terribly to the other”

    This this this this this. I’m not a Lib Dem so I will not join your group but I support your aims 100%. Rather than be “friends” of one side of the other, we should be the friends of the peacemakers on both sides, and the enemies (or at least critics) of those on both sides who do not want peace, and there are many.

    @Mark Argent
    “In the past, Jews, Muslims and Christians did live together in those lands.”

    At times, yes, but there has also been regular conflict throughout history. All three groups have come as conquerors from the outside, at various points in history. There is no question that there is what people call “ancient hatreds” simmering away – getting rid of that is the biggest challenge. Only yesterday, I was listening to a local Islamic radio station (Heritage Radio) and they were playing a rap song, the lyrics of which were complaining about the crusades. Depressing.

  • Methinks this misses the point raised by the first paragraph (perhaps deliberately) by focusing on the underlying conflict rather than the critical issue of the constraints on free speech. It is also somewhat dishonest in saying Jenny Tonge has left the party when she has been kicked out.

    I am not a free speech fundamentalist who believes in an unfettered right to say anything, although I do believe that the only reasonable approach to defining limits is probably that offered by Justice Potter Stewart when (in considering a Supreme Court case on pornography) he said (paraphrased) “I cannot offer a definition, but I know it when I see it”. And the flip side applies equally well; I know when something does not transgress the limits of free speech when I see or hear it. And chairing a meeting where others express unpleasant views would not justify a party sanction unless it could be shown both that the views are so unacceptable as to overwhelm a presumption in favour of free speech and that the chair knew that those views were to be expressed. Even if the former test is met in this case no one has suggested the latter test was satisfied.

    I was at university in the 1970s (and Union Vice President as a Liberal) and recall the uproar from the party when our enemies in Labour tried to muzzle support for Israel, often expressed in terms equally intemperate. I found such censorship utterly alien to Liberal values at that time and it pains me to see that we have learnt so little from the past.

    Lets be honest. Jenny Tonge may have views many of us would oppose, and she may associate with allies we would not choose, but she has been sacrificed for PR purposes and at the cost of values which I previously believed to be central to being a Liberal.

    It is a dreadful thing to say, but I now feel a great affinity with many voters in the USA. My vote for LD candidates and continuing membership of the party has suddenly become based on the principle of the least worst alternative – and that is after more than 40 years of voting Liberal and LD.

  • It is difficult to get a balanced of these issues and the facts. Leon Duveen started this with reference to Jenny Tonge’s departure from the party which seems to have been precipitated by her hosting of a Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) event at the House of Lords: It’s not clear whether she resigned or whether her membership was rescinded.
    I would recommend reference to the Lib Dems Friends of Palestine website which has two postings today that give some counter information to the prevailing weight of comment that appears to be heavily influenced by supporters of Israeli Government policy.

  • Steven Raison 28th Oct '16 - 5:23pm

    Have Joined also

  • This needs to be discussed far more often that just after another shocking attack or else the pattern will remain. It does unfortunately seem that until the UK and US see that there should be too equal states that the atrocities will continue and be allowed to do so in order to maintain our friendship with Israel. A complex and lengthy path to follow but having two entranced camps does nothing other than encourage further division and do damage to otherwise innocent lives.

  • Fiona White 29th Oct '16 - 8:41am

    I have joined as well. I think most of us have been shocked by the actions of the Israeli government and army and by HAMAS. There is no absolute right or wrong by either party and, as someone has said earlier, in the end the only lasting solution will be by both Israelis and Palestinians talking to each other and agreeing the way forward. All the rest of us can do is support the people who want to find a peaceful solution.

  • Leon Duveen 29th Oct '16 - 8:03pm

    My comments on Jenny Tonge were not meant to be nasty or disparaging, simply a statement of fact. I passed no comment of the reason for her departure from the Party, just on the reaction to it. Many people in the party I have spoken to either thought she had left some time ago or didn’t recognise the name (don’t forget about half of our party joined since 2015). She had the House of Lords Whip suspended in 2012 and since then she has not been an active member in terms of serving on Committees or speaking at Conference so many don’t know who she is.
    Can I thank all those who have taken the time to respond and I have found them all very thoughtful and helpful. I do not know all the answers or how to resolve the conflict but unless we try to find a way, we are condemning more generations of young people in both nation to violence & bloodshed.
    Space here does not allow me to respond to the points here in the details they deserve so can I say I am under no illusions that even getting to an agreed position on Palestine/Israel within our own party will be difficult with many on both sides having entrench positions and are unwilling to compromise. However, without trying we cannot make progress. History is important, especially in an area where memories are long, but we cannot change it. What we can change is the future and we need to look forward and work together without pointing fingers of blame, without denying the rights of others and without looking for vengeance for past wrongs.
    There is a possible solution and most people agree on the basics of what the solution should be, what is needed is support for those on both sides who work to create the atmosphere where both Palestinians & Israelis; where Jews & Arabs; can accept the right of both sides to live in their own homeland, in peace and security. Our role must be to help provide that support.

  • Jonathan Monroe 29th Oct '16 - 9:38pm

    It seems obvious to me that the thing the UK specifically (the situation is different for the US, but we aren’t them, thank God) needs to do here is stop thinking we need to, or even can fix someone else’s problem. We have essentially no influence over either side, and the history of the British Mandate means that we are almost uniquely distrusted by both sides as a ‘honest broker’. There is also no Liberal International member party in either country that the Liberal Democrats could work with.

    I would stick with the Psalm 122 solution, and pray for the peace of Jerusalem. At least it might make us prosper as a party.

  • Jonathan Coulter 29th Oct '16 - 9:40pm

    When Andy B refers to the constraints on free speech as “the critical issue”, he hits the nail on the head. It is perfectly illustrated by the case of Jenny Tonge, where press comments on a public meeting led to her suspension and departure. I was at the meeting and witnessed a monumental injustice.

    The story that Jews were “blamed for Holocaust at shameful House of Lords event” originated in the Times of 27/10, and was repeated with minor variations by the Express, Telegraph, Mail, Guardian, Sky News and Huffington Post. In reality, and for reasons set out in PRC’s press statement, it is an untruthful smear.

    I sent the Times two letters to correct the record, pointing out that the ‘offending statement’ came from an orthodox Jew in the audience, not from an invited speaker, and that he was virtually incomprehensible. I also took the journalist to task for failing to tell the main news about the meeting, i.e. resounding support for Britain to apologise to Palestinians for the Balfour Declaration of 1917.

    The Times has not published my letters, though on 29/10 it mentioned in an article on another subject that Baroness Tonge claimed she was unable to hear what the speaker was saying, and that the PRC denied responsibility for his comments. These admissions in small print came too late, after the smear had been blasted across the media.

    This is a textbook case of media bias which, along with similar attacks on the Labour Party, are designed to intimidate public figures into not speaking up about justice in Palestine, and thereby constrain free speech. This is not only bad for Palestinians, but very bad for this country. In this case, the pro-Israeli lobby is the obvious beneficiary of the bias, but it could be other powerful lobbies. For the sake of the integrity of our democracy, LibDems must push back against this corruption.

    My wife’s family is from Honduras, Central America, a country experiencing terrible violence, where we often see journalists, human rights advocates and ecological campaigners dying from a sicario’s bullet. In the United Kingdom, we face no such danger, though we may get smeared by the press; while we may fear the words of others, we do not face lethal “sticks and stones”. It therefore deeply shames me that there are few Britons like Jenny Tonge with the courage to stand up to the bullying I describe above.

  • Miranda Pinch 29th Oct '16 - 11:14pm

    Jonathan Monroe, you forget that the creation of Israel was largely a British Christian Zionist enterprise in the form of Balfour and others before and since, and that the Balfour Declaration made two promises. the second of which was that: ‘it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine’. In other words we have betrayed the Palestinians at every turn. We, Britain, have a responsibility to the Palestinians. Even if it was possible to stand back and do nothing we can’t. The Conservative Party does not have a Conservative Friends of Palestine and they intend to ‘celebrate’ the centenary of Balfour Declaration and Mark Regev will no doubt make sure that that is the case. The Lib Dems are meant to be a Party that stands up for human rights, international law and social justice. What sort of a Party are you advocating?

  • Chris Burden 29th Oct '16 - 11:42pm

    Er. Bring back the Ottoman Empire, as an alternative to Turkey’s membership of the EU. Jews, Arabs, and Christians lived peacefully then, I believe.

  • Miranda Pinch 30th Oct '16 - 7:51am

    I want to than Jonathan Coulter for his comments about the infamous meeting over which Jenny Tonge has been so unjustly vilified. The media rarely seem interested in checking their facts these days. They just report in a way that fits their world view sadly.

    I also want to say how much I agree with Chris Burden. People often claim that the Ottoman Empire was terrible, because they taxed non-Muslims, but both Christians and Jews did flourish within it and, let’s face it, nothing is ever perfect. What they had then was hugely better than what exists now. with all our Western intervention.

  • Jonathan Coulter 30th Oct '16 - 8:46am

    Having already dealt with the attack on Jenny Tonge, this is my comment on Leon Duveen’s substantive proposal and some of the subsequent comments.

    I thoroughly concur with Miranda’s view, and recommend people take up her invitation to read our position paper, and tell us what is incorrect in it, substantiating this with facts. We are waiting to hear from you.

    I also recommend reading the Balfour Project’s “companion guide”, which historians have prepared with great care.

    I would particularly draw your attention to the nature of the Zionist movement, conceived in the 1880s. Ever since then it has moved steadily and implacably towards the ultimate goal of taking the whole of Palestine, save possibly some ‘Arab’ enclaves. It has made temporary compromises, e.g. Camp David, Oslo or the withdrawal of settlers from Gaza, but it has not shown any appetite for compromising on the overall goal.

    Like Miranda, I question the presumption that the Israeli-Palestine conflict can be solved if only the two sides stop quarrelling and sit down together and dialogue. History and current affairs tell us that long-standing conflicts fail to resolve themselves because one (or more) combatants think it is not in their interest, and prefer to continue the aggression. We are seeing this in Syria, and we saw it in Northern Ireland, until such time as the Provisionals foresaw the US Government breaking its umbilical cord with NORAD.

    This brings me to another point: the main cause of international conflicts often lies with the international and regional powers that are pulling the strings, or allowing them to be pulled. In the case of Israel-Palestine, that’s us, along with the USA and France. In order to change this reality Britain could start by apologising for the Balfour Declaration and recognising Palestine, it can team up with the French and show the way for the USA. We cannot guarantee to move the Americans, Jonathan Monroe, but we shall never know unless we challenge them to change.

    Lastly, Lorenzo says that peace is more likely and things might improve if Jewish secularism and liberalism were appreciated. Please note that the Zionist movement was thoroughly secular and often inspired by socialist ideas; orthodox Jews have only come on board latterly.

  • Meral Hussein Ece 30th Oct '16 - 12:11pm

    I welcome Jonathan Coulter’s contribution- someone who was actually present at the Balfour Declaration meeting, who has set out the facts. The Murdoch media / Mail of course have no interest in the truth, only lurid headlines, declaring that it was Jenny Tonge who made the appalling comments, when in fact it was an orthodox Jewish member of the audience, not Jenny. Miranda Pinch’s contribution sets out clearly what is conveniently being ignored in this whole debate is that there are somehow ‘two equal sides’ There aren’t, and this is, for people like me a fundamental human rights issue. It seems increasingly on this issue, freedom of speech is being curtailed, with anyone who believes in Palestinian rights runs the risk of being labelled anti-Semitic. There are those in the Liberal Democrats, who will argue for absolute freedom of speech and the right to offend, but will baulk at any criticism of the Israeli governments policies, which I’ve heard described as a ‘liberal democracy’ I don’t agree with many things Jenny Tonge has said, but have worked with her on her internationally respected work on women’s reproductive rights and health promotion. Let’s have some balance and a reality check please.

  • To achieve peace between the Palestinians and Israel I think you need a plan for both sides to agree to so a lasting peace can be achieved.

    1. Israel must allow the Palestinian refugees and their dependents to return to the homes they left since 1945 and restore their possession of the land if they wish to do, or provide alternatives in the state which the returners wish to live;
    2. The United Nation’s map for the partition of Palestine of 1947 should be the starting position for negotiations for the two state solution (plus the 1948 partition of Jerusalem);
    3. The two states of Palestine and Israel shall be allies, and Palestine shall allow Israel to have military bases in Palestine;
    4. The two states of Palestine and Israel shall form an economic union.

    I would expect that the final size of Palestine would be smaller than the area which the 1947 partition allocated to it but larger than the West Bank and Gaza.

  • Leon Duveen 30th Oct '16 - 8:50pm

    I am a bit disappointed, but not surprised, that a number of comments here have decided to construe what I wrote as being in some way anti-Palestinian. Can I be absolutely clear, while I am an old-fashioned Zionist, I am also in favour of a free, secure Palestine alongside the current state of Israel. Indeed, until there is a free, secure Palestinian state, Israel can never be secure.
    I have no problem with anyone criticising the current Israeli Government, I do so often and loudly myself. Netanyahu & his Administration has damaged the chances of peace, it is trying to curtail to right of free speech not just in the Occupied Territories but within Israel itself and yes, it tries to deflect any such criticism from outside or inside Israel by trying to label it as anti-Semitic.
    The problem lies when people try to say Israel has no right to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people, that crosses over the line from criticism of the Israeli Government to anti-Semitism.
    Israel has existed now for nearly 70 years and, just as it would be impossible to remove the Palestinian population form that area without bloodshed, extreme violence and creating a humanitarian disaster, it is just as impossible to turn back the clock and remove the Jewish population for the same reasons.
    So any solution must allow for the continued existence of Israel and also to allow Palestinians the right to their own homeland. This can only mean a two-state solution and the question I ask every Lib Dem is what can we as a party do to support those searching for a just & peaceful solution for all the people in Palestine/Israel?
    Yes we can discuss historic events, yes we can say that 70 years ago we wish this didn’t happen, or 100 years ago that wasn’t said but that is no help to those, unlike us, who live under the threat of violence every day, from arbitrary arrest by an inhumane occupation or from terror attacks in the street.

  • @ Leon Duveen
    “I am also in favour of a free, secure Palestine alongside the current state of Israel. Indeed, until there is a free, secure Palestinian state, Israel can never be secure.”

    The issue of Israeli security often from an Israeli position means keeping control of the west bank of the river Jordan in the West Bank, this is why my four points include an alliance between the Palestinian and Israeli states which allows Israel as an ally not an occupying force to station troops within the borders of the Palestinian state to defend both countries from foreign countries.

    However I do not believe there can be a peaceful settlement until Israel recognise that the Palestinians and their descendants who lived with the 1967 borders of Israel (c. 1945) must have the right to return and possession of the land they once held if that is their wish and if they alternatively wish to live within the Palestinian state then they should be given possession of land that will be included within the Palestinian state.

    Also East Jerusalem must be given up by Israel.

    It does not seem that you recognise the need to these two conditions and therefore it seems that you start from a more pro-Israeli position than I do.

    Also I think Israel should give up parts of Galilee and areas adjacent to the West Bank where the majority of the population is Arabic speaking for a lasting peace with no outstanding areas of disagreement.

  • Jonathan Coulter 31st Oct '16 - 6:42am

    Leon, you seem not to have read our position paper. We are not proposing “to turn back the clock and remove the Jewish population” as you put it. Even among non-LibDems, I can think of few if any Palestinian sympathizers who are seeking to do this.

    We would certainly question the automatic right of Jews from around the world to automatic citizenship of Israel and its West Bank colonies while the descendants of Palestinians expelled since 1948 are excluded, but this is not tantamount to expelling the Jews who are already there.

    Can I suggest that you read our position paper thoroughly, including the four supplementary web pages, as a basis for discussion – http://www.ldfp.eu/?

  • Most of the ideas here start from a completely unrealistic set of aims. Restoration to 1949 borders and full right of return hasn’t been a realistic goal for decades. Consequently all these well-meaning proposals will unfortunately amount to absolutely nothing. Better to put forward a less palatable proposal which has a chance of success.

  • @ Massles
    “Restoration to 1949 borders and full right of return hasn’t been a realistic goal for decades.”

    I am not sure anyone would expect the borders of Palestine to be identical to the “1949 borders”. I certainly would hope that the Palestinian state would be larger than that. Any peace between Israel and the Palestinians has to address the Palestinian refugee question and Israel’s removal of their land rights. I can see no way that Palestinians would accept a peace settlement that does not deal with it to the satisfaction of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants. In fact a smaller Israel would have a higher percentage of the population being Jews as would giving land where Arabic speakers are the majority to the new Palestinian state.

  • Leon Duveen – It is convenient to set aside the history because it so clearly exposes the mendacity of the Israeli government’s propaganda narrative. The reality is that while purporting to support various peace attempts this has given them cover to continue the policy of ethnic cleansing in the West Bank and turn the Gaza strip into a vast prison camp. The periodic UN-OCHA reports reveal an appalling picture of the conditions of life that the Palestinians have been reduced to and the overwhelming disproportionate death toll and casualties inflicted on them by the Israeli authorities.
    I think it is quite legitimate and appropriate to question whether a two state solution is in the best interests of the various ethnic and religious groups that make up the peoples of Israel Palestine. The idea of what should be the basis of democratic independent states I believe was propagated by Woodrow Wilson during the post 1st world war period, was accepted almost without question at the time and now needs to be reappraised.

  • Leon Duveen 31st Oct '16 - 8:28pm

    Jonathan, I have article on the LFIP website and, as I suspected, it is very one sided and fails to address the fears of many Israelis.
    Given the history of the conflict, if Israel withdraws fully from the Occupied Territories and hands them over to a Palestinian state, how can they trust Palestinians not to use them to launch terrorist raids or rocket attacks into Israel?
    The example of Gaza is very real for most Israelis and, given that the 1949 Armistices lines meant that Israel was only 10 miles wide at point & that much of the most populated areas of Israel (around Tel Aviv) would be within range of even the most primitive rockets from Palestine, any peace settlement would need give very strong guarantees that there would be no such attacks.
    As for the return of refugees and the restoration of property, unless the return of property & homes to the Jewish Refugees from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon & North Africa in the late 1940s & early 1950s could also be guaranteed, this is simply a non-starter. In 1948, there was a war between the new State of Israel & the surrounding Arab countries, there were refugees on both sides, you cannot treat one set of refugees differently from the other.
    This does not mean that the Palestinian diaspora cannot return to a new Palestinian state after a settlement but no, let’s be realistic, there can be no return of Palestinians to the villages left deserted (for whatever reason) on the Israeli side of the 1949 Armistice lines. Indeed, anyone who suggests it can only be doing it to put a barrier in the way of any settlement.
    We are where we are with the situation in Palestine/Israel. While we cannot ignore history, neither can we be held captive by it. What is more important? Righting the wrongs of the past (by both sides) or ensuring the future of this and future generations of Palestinians & Israelis? Both sides must accept the fears of the other are genuine, both sides need to realise that the other has legitimate rights that need to be respected and both sides need to be ready to compromise and give up things they hold dear. There is a settlement there to be achieved (it was so nearly done in 2000) but no one will walk away with everything they want

  • Miranda Pinch 31st Oct '16 - 10:46pm

    Leon, one of the many lopsided issues of the Israel Palestine conflict is that of security. It is a sad fact that Palestinian security is never mentioned at all. Many Palestinians are daily attacked by settlers, have their homes and property demolished by Israel, are arrested, even as young children, often in the middle of the night with no parental support or legal representation and … I could go on and on. Yet all we ever hear in the media and from so many is the need for security for the Israelis. Not only are equality and human rights important in the conventional sense, but they must include equality of security. Palestinians must feel secure on their own land and know that their resources are there for them. So many call those of us who support Palestinians biased, but it is a far greater bias to only care about the well-being and standard of living of the Israels.
    So, yes, I agree that Israel needs security, but that must stop being at the expense of others.

    I would also point out that Hamas was created after 1967 and was therefore a product of the occupation rather than a cause of it. That is important along with the fact that the Hamas government was democratically elected and has never been allowed to govern a land that was not under siege. Those who always blame Hamas for everything should perhaps ask themselves how they would respond in such circumstances?

    My solution would be for Israel to be pushed back within its 67 borders with land swaps if necessary. That would mean keeping Jerusalem divided with perhaps the Old City under some sort of an international mandate. While this is being achieved I would expect Israel and Palestine to invite external peacekeeping forces in. I also believe that not all settlers need leave Palestine as long as they were prepared to accept Palestinian citizenship and have the same rights as others instead of their present superior rights.

    It would not be an easy transition and parties on both sides would not like it. Yes, there might be some bloodshed, but given the goodwill of the majority plus their leaders, it could happen. The longer it takes the more painful it becomes.

    That is just an idea. It may not be the best and right now it is all too hypothetical, but even for Israel’s long-term good, it needs to happen very soon, or accept a one-state in which Jews will not the majority.

  • @ Leon Duveen

    My four points address the issue of Israeli security. If your position is that Israel can’t trust the Palestinians not to launch terrorist attacks if Israel withdraws fully from the Occupied Territories I don’t understand how you can state that you wish to see a free Palestinian state.

    I don’t understand why there is linkage to the restoration or compensation for Palestinians to the actions of foreign countries and populations. It is like blaming the British for actions of the French or German government or populations. This is not to reject that the c. 820,000 Jewish refugees who left other Arab countries between 1948 and 1972 have a right to compensation for any property they didn’t sell and any money they couldn’t take with them, but this compensation should be provided by the countries they lived in before moving to Israel not by the Palestinian people. As I wrote earlier without addressing the issue of the return of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants (including those living in Israel) I believe there can be no lasting peace and no security for Israel.

    The 1949 Armistice line can’t be the basis for a Palestinian state as this leaves Israel with 20,582 km2 and Palestine with 6000 km2 (including East Jerusalem and West Bank Jewish settlements) and a population split of 6.819m in Israel and 5.232m in Palestine not counting the approximate 2.6 m Palestinians outside Israel and Palestine who are registered as refugees with the UNRWA (according to Wikipedia there are approx. 12.37m Palestinians in the world).

    I agree there has to be compromise even under my four points – in fact I think it would be a big compromise for the Palestinian state to be in an economic union with Israel and be their ally which allows them to have military bases in Palestine (like the UK and the USA had in West Germany). It is a huge compromise for the Palestinians to accept that they can’t have the whole of Palestine within their state and then to go further and accept a smaller Palestine than that proposed by the UN in 1948 (which was 38% compare to 61% for Israel). I think that the 1948 partition lines were acceptable to the Jews at the time.

    I would be interested in how you think my four point “fails to address the fears of many Israelis”.

  • @ Michael BG I suggest you look up The King David Hotel bombing on Wikipedia.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Nov '16 - 12:37am

    Some baffle me on this issue , especially when we are supposed to be evidenced based.

    When are people going to understand that people like Leon Duveen are remarkable in their open mindedness and brave in their efforts. How can a Liberal and Democratic party not see that to say , as Leon does, we should not be prisoners of history is extraordinary.

    When I see the history of the region , I, as a non Jewish observer , see the six million who were exterminated and the guarantee that a people who were persecuted for their own individual and religious or cultural ways were hounded out , violently by despot after despot from state by state , for hundreds of years, could have a home. Read the words of the wretched Martin Luther , in Germany, and what he advocated, the burning of synagogues , the murder of jews, see what the pogroms did, all of the above ,and all that hundreds of years after the jewish expulsion from their own land , and do not forget their banishment from this one .

    There are fifty Muslim states and goodness knows how many with a Christian heritage. That does not excuse recent outrages , it explains ancient fears.

    There may be those who do not know recent history , and the politics surrounding this issue, or who Jenny Tonge is , there are many who do not know what the history also includes. In the region of the Middle East , because of the sufferings of a people banished to and from countries in the West. Shakespeare gave Shylock a compassionate understanding in a passionate speech , hundreds of years ago!

    Until those who rightly condemn the awful governments of Likud, start to weep for those who remember or know what the history of the region includes, the sorrow of a thousand or more years wrapped up in the safety of a homeland after the near destruction of a people , then Likud shall win.And only the Conservative party has connections here with that party , and there is an Israeli Liberal Group, cross party , in Liberal International, we Liberals shall never relate to Likud from here, but also should feel the pain of the history of those desperate for a refuge from their history and its horrors.

    And all that ,as well as my main advocacy , spend more time listening to Leonard Bernstein ! In his words and deeds , a Liberal, as well as in his stunning music , and the work of all like him who have enriched our humanity !

  • Catherine Jane Crosland 1st Nov '16 - 7:54am

    Lorenzo, your wise and moving comments should be read by all those who rush to criticise Israel without attempting to empathise.

  • Leon Duveen/Lorenzo Cherin …

    It is your comments that amaze me….Linking the history of Jews and the Holocaust to the current state of Israel is an attempt to ensure that there can never be legitimate criticism of Israel…There is an old adage of how “The abused become abusers” which typifies much of Israeli politics

    Leon Duveen talks about a Palestinian state and Occupied land…Good points; but ‘When and What’ state and land?
    Israel continues to build ‘Jewish Only’ settlements/homes with complete disregard of current Palestinian owners/occupiers…..
    In my lifetime ‘plucky little Israel’ has taken much and given little and Leon’s, “Israel’s Security” is a way of ensuring that continues…

  • @ David Raw
    “@ Michael BG I suggest you look up The King David Hotel bombing on Wikipedia.”

    “The King David Hotel bombing was a terrorist attack carried out on Monday July 22, 1946 by the militant Zionist underground organization Irgun on the British administrative headquarters for Palestine, which was housed in the southern wing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem”
    (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King_David_Hotel_bombing).

    I am not sure what point you are making. I knew that there were Jewish terrorists in Palestine after 1920.

    @ Lorenzo Cherin

    In c. 50 CE according to Philo the majority of Jews lived outside Palestine (at the time there was also a huge Greek population that didn’t live in the lands of Ancient Greece). They were not forced to live outside Palestine they choose to do so. Perhaps you have not heard of the Kitos War (115-17) where according to Cassius Dio over 440,000 non-Jews were killed by the Jews when they revolted in Cyrene, Cyprus, Mesopotamia, Egypt and Judea. So we can assume there were large Jewish populations in these areas. Even after the Bar Kokhba Revolt (132-36) there were still Jews living in Palestine. The Palestinian Talmud is proof of this. However Jews have been persecuted possibly back to the Assyrian invasion, but the Palestinian people are not to blame for these hundreds of years of persecution or the Holocaust. Two wrongs do not make a right.

    Leon Duveen tells us to ignore history when the Palestinians who “fled” their homes when the Jews proclaimed Israel and the Israeli government banned them from returning to their homes. This ban applied and still applies to those living in Israel currently estimated at 274,000 people as well as those living in the Occupied Territories or outside Palestine. I don’t believe a lasting peace can be obtained if we ignore these historical events and current injustices. I think we need to try to convince Jews and Israelis that what has been done to the Palestinians is wrong and if they wish to live in peace with the Palestinians then they have to put this wrong right (in a way that is acceptable to the Palestinians and the refugees and their descendants).

  • Jonathan Coulter 1st Nov '16 - 10:26am

    Leon, I concur with Miranda about the need for “equality of security” between Israelis and Palestinians, and the fact that Hamas is a product of the Occupation rather than its cause.

    You describe yourself as “Old fashioned Zionist”. But are you really? The fathers of Zionism were already mooting the idea of “transferring” the Arabs out of Palestine, what we would now call ethnic cleansing, at the turn of the 20th century. It is on account of this, and later statements by Ben Gurion and others, that I stated in my second post (above) that the Zionist movement has been moving steadily and implacably towards the ultimate goal of taking the whole of Palestine, save possibly some ‘Arab’ enclaves.

    Many people believe the Zionist movement was something cuddly, in line with universal human rights, but it was not. It originated for understandable reasons, notably Jews’ very hard experience in Europe, but it was and remains a colonial enterprise, involving the total subordination of an indigenous people to the will of incoming colonists – long after other Europeans have renounced colonialism.

    Please note that LDFP is not highly prescriptive about the nature of the peace settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, but is adamant on the need to the Western Powers to apply very strong pressure to ensure that the parties (and particularly Israel) negotiate in good faith – see http://www.ldfp.eu/position/.

    Michael BG and Expats, I don’t know you, but would you like to join LDFP?

  • Miranda Pinch 1st Nov '16 - 11:09am

    Lorenzo, I am horrified by your comments. As the daughter of a Jewish refugee myself, it is time we stopped using the excuse of the holocaust to justify the dreadful treatment of others. Those who suffer abuse at the hands of others often take two different paths. One is to say never again for anyone anywhere or to say never again for us and use that as an excuse to bully others. My mother hated the idea of being a victim and hated what was being done in her name in Palestine.
    The history of Israel is not a pretty one, whichever perspective you take including that of Britain that has a lot to answer for and who has utterly betrayed the innocent men women and children, both Muslim and Christian who were the indigenous people at the time Israel was created.
    There is NEVER any excuse, whatever the history, the background, the injustice or whatever, to inflict damage on others because of damage done to ourselves. Therein lies the vicious circle of hatred and war.

  • Michael BG- by the same token there is no way Israel will accept what you propose. Full right of return and an even bigger Palestinian territory than pre-49 is clearly a non-starter. Therefore your proposals will go nowhere. The best possible outcome for a Palestinian state at this time is West Bank, Gaza and a chunk of Jerusalem with no right of return. You may find that unfair but the fact remains that it’s the best possible deal they can hope to achieve. And that would require, at a minimum, recognition of Israel’s right to exist and internationally-supervised disarmament by Hamas. Neither of which will be forthcoming.

    Talking of a ‘new approach’ to the problem while proposing solutions that have been off the table for decades seems like a waste of time to me.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 1st Nov '16 - 2:02pm

    Thanks and bafflement in equal measure !

    jedibeeftrix

    Thank you

    Catherine Jane Crosland

    You are one of the most sensible and humane commentators herein and your contribution and description of what I said , thus, is one I am thankful for

    Michael BG John McHugo

    I understand the history and politics , I have a degree in history and politics ! I am half Italian , and part Irish . My awareness that the Catholic Church , from the Borgias to the Inquisition and Bloody Mary , committed atrocities, does not mean that the treatment of Catholics in Ireland is excusable or welcome , and that also , does not mean, IRA terrorism ,in the age of democracy ,is justified or praiseworthy! Far from it! But knowing and interpreting are not the same things . Of course the history of the Israel Palestine land is controversial, I talk of the history to show we cannot understand the current situation without relating to ancient or past grievances at least in part.

    expats and Miranda Pincher

    You either do not get , or have not read , my comments . I specifically do not even contemplate , let alone , allow, the awareness of the history to be an excuse fr the current terrible policies and behaviour of Likud , Israeli governments or even tough Labour ones! I go out of my way to criticise Likud , who are worse than ever . What I say is as fair as it is possible to become on such a topic . I loathe the present tendencies of the Israeli state , but I loathe the terrorism of the enemies of peace in the region, who have , since the days of Ben Gurion , through those of Golda Meyer, to now , made security for Israel , impossible . How anyone could misunderstand what I say bewilders me . It is not possible to go anywhere on this issue , until people realise , paranoia is caused by experiences , in politics . The state of Israel , however long ago or recently it was properly founded , has not been secure at all, because the region is full of powers , most not Palestinian, who hate it and want it destroyed or finished as anything like a safe Jewish haven. Every great religion has a history and present day hold on huge populations , and power , in many large countries. Inumerable Christian, Catholic and Protestant states, Arab and Muslim states, Hindu and Buddhist . One small, recent , Jewish state , itself , more or less , in many ways , secular.

    Joe Otten

    You are a true champion of Liberalism and this site and our party!

  • Miranda Pinch 1st Nov '16 - 4:57pm

    Lorenzo, I am sorry that you believe I have misunderstood you, but your perspective is not as clear as you believe. Whether that is a reflection on you or on me, others can judge! By the way my surname is Pinch, not Pincher.

    You say: “The state of Israel , however long ago or recently it was properly founded , has not been secure at all, because the region is full of powers , most not Palestinian, who hate it and want it destroyed or finished as anything like a safe Jewish haven.” I have to disagree. There was no previous State of Israel, and like every other group of people throughout history, the Israelites have both conquered land and been exiled from it. So let’s keep to modern history at least.

    It is still not true that Israel has always been, and is, under threat from the Arab lands around it. Far from it. It has had and still has trade, resource and armament agreements with many of those lands and is a close ally of Saudi Arabia and right now retains trade deals with others. The sad fact is that most Arab countries have been quicker to trade with Israel than to support Palestinians. As for the 67 war, that is a matter of perception. Perhaps in 48 Israel was briefly vulnerable, but then it did take land that was not even promised to it at that time and, as far as the Palestinians living there were concerned, tried to ethnically cleanse them from that land. So some sort of attack was not without surprise.

    No amount of outside threat gives Israel any excuse to subjugate and terrorize a whole population, especially when they are a great military power, supported financially by the USA and elsewhere, and not only has a modern and well equipped army, but sadly uses the Palestinian population as guinea pigs to create new weaponry and crowd control to sell around the world. No, Israel is not that vulnerable AND, were they to do the decent thing, they would receive world wide support while they did it. To argue security as an excuse, is to side with Israel against the Palestinians.

    You accuse me of not reading or understanding your points, but, on the contrary, your arguments seem a bit contradictory. Sorry.

  • @ Jonathan Coulter

    Thank you for your invitation to join LDFP, but I decline as I declined the offer to join LDFI. I note that one of the aims of LDFI is to “support and promote policies which lead to peace and security for Israel …” It is “strongly committed to a two state solution …” As far as its website they do not set out what they mean by a two-state solution, however Leon Duveen has set out what he hopes his new group – “Liberal Democrats for Peace in the Middle East” would mean by the term – “two states with borders based on the 1949 Armistice lines with some adjustments”. He suggests we read an article by Gershon Baskin where Gershon writes, “The Palestinian refugee problem will be negotiated between the parties” but Leon has not make it clear that he accepts the Palestinian refugees and their descendants’ right to return to “the land between the river and the sea”. He has not set out how he would want to encourage the Israeli government to address the injustice of banning these people from the land they or their parents or grandparents had lived on for centuries. It is no surprise then that those who wish to do this cannot join his new group, which appears on the face of it to take a more pro-Israeli position than LDFI.

    @ Massles

    I don’t recall stating that I was suggesting a “new approach”. I do understand that the Israeli government would not accept what I propose, but I do think we need to convince the Israeli people that something along the lines of what I propose is the only way there can be lasting peace with a two state solution.

  • If all parties accepted my four points we could turn to the details. It has been suggested that a majority of “Israeli Arabs” do not want to live in a Palestinian state. This I think would have to be tested in plebiscites to discover if the people wish the land they currently live on to be part of the Palestinian state. The holding of plebiscites I would expect to take some time and some areas might be excluded from holding a plebiscite if adjacent areas had elected to stay in Israel. I would expect the communities which share a boundary with the West Bank area would hold their plebiscites in the first wave (examples are Tayibe, Tira, Kafr Qasim, Qalansawe, Ar’ara and the little triangle or Wadi Ara area, Umm al-Fahm, ). The second wave would be towns and cities in Galilee (examples are Nazareth, Shefa-‘Amr, Tamra, Sakhnin, Ar’ara, Maghar ad Kafr Kanna); the third wave would be other towns (examples are Jisr az-Zarqa, Fureidus); the later waves would be the villages around these areas. To encourage these areas to vote to be part of a Palestinian state I recommend that it has part of its constitution religious freedom and equality and the rejection of Sharia law as the basis of the laws of Palestine. I would also expect there to be some freedom of movement across the two states. (I do not have a suggestion for the way forward for the Negev and the Bedouin of Israel.)

  • The right of return would have to be limited. The first stage would be that the heads of families or their widows who left their homes in Israel or Palestine if still alive would be able (if they wished) to return home accompanied by one child and their spouse. The head of family and wife or widow would be entitled to citizenship of the country they returned too (and would be entitled to vote in any plebiscite to decide the fate of which country the land would be in), but the accompanying adults could have a qualifying period for citizenship. The second stage would be each family unit where the head of family and/or wife of the head of family has died since leaving their home in Israel or Palestine would have to agree which nuclear family unit would have the exclusive right to return to the home that the head of family had left. Those units selected with Israeli citizenship would also be able to vote in any plebiscite to decide the fate of which country the land would be in, and would be given assistance by Israel to move back as soon as possible. Only after the plebiscites were held would the non-Israeli nuclear families be able to return to the homes their head of family had left after 1945. The Israelis would also have to give up to the Palestinian state other land suitable for the other non-returners to Israel to live on (I think finding such land might be very difficult). Evacuated Jewish settlements in the West Bank could be counted for this purpose, while Jewish settlements could be given to Israel if they were not isolated within the Palestinian state in exchange for land of equal quality. I would hope that that the right of return would be time limited in some way from the date of when a settlement was negotiated.

    Hopefully I have made it clear that I would not expect all the descendants of the Palestinian refugees to return to Israel, and I would hope that the Palestinians could accept my compromise, while hoping that Jews would accept that my proposals would retain the Jewish majority in a future (hopefully smaller) Israel.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Nov '16 - 12:40am

    Miranda Pinch and John McHugo

    Apologies to Miranda for spelling your name wrong. But therein the contrition stops. I go the mile to be fair and I really do think after the helpful response of the terrific moderator of this thread , Joe Otten, and the heartfelt words of a site regular , Catherine Jane Crosland , I need not have to explain myself further .

    The facts speak for themselves. I do not know what word I need to use to convince that actually , I am a strong critic of the recent policies of the government of Israel . I use the word “loathe ” above ! Is that strong enough?! I use the word ” atrocities ” for both sides in the age old conflict , enough for you ?!

    I am not going to even try to touch the surface of explaining how , why or wherefore the state of Israel has long been surrounded by hostile powers , but does this surfice …

    The following , amongst over thirty countries,either refuse to recognise or have no diplomatic relations with Israel…

    Algeria, Chad, Libya, Morrocco, Iran, Iraq,Tunisia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Lebanon, Oman, Qatar, Syria, Afghanistan…

    Of these some , have stated they believe Israel should be destroyed!

    Hezbollah and Hamas have anti-semitism in their constitution, and the destruction of Israel is that ! They have other prejudices ingrained too, as colleagues many times in our party say in relation to the present Labour leader in our country and his wrongheaded associations , to say the least !

    I have joined Leon in his new group despite of as well as because I have a love for the Jewish people , especially the cultural and human contribution of that community worldwide, the reason being , we need this group , for , as with many ,I am a strong critic of the government of Israel . I want greater links with Israeli Liberals , of whom there are very many , and would with liberals amongst the Palestinians if I knew of them.

    I do not need to explain myself or the historical sufferings of people , it should be obvious . It is because we can now see the present suffering of Palestinians that I try to show the context of the fears of the other side , even amongst the liberal minded .

  • Miranda Pinch 2nd Nov '16 - 7:44am

    Hi Lorenzo. We will just have to agree to differ. Any discussion or negotiation will throw similar disagreements up. The art is to try to find a satisfactory solution that gives both sides rights, liberties and securities starting from here and now.
    As I keep saying, whether you or I are right, it is not right to continue to punish a third and innocent population of people. I find some of your comments unhelpful and incorrect, but it seems pointless for us to continue to argue while others are suffering so badly. Real action is what is needed right now. the first thing we could do is put sanctions on Israel, but I will not continue to argue the toss here. sadly words alone are rarely enough to achieve change.

  • Miranda Pinch 2nd Nov '16 - 8:18am

    I wrote the above in a bit of a hurry, which was a mistake. So I just want to add that most of the land theft, suppression and abuse of the Palestinians population by Israel has nothing whatever to do with security. Even the so-called security barrier is built on Palestinian land often dividing Palestinian from Palestinian and from their land. You can’t negotiate with anyone while still abusing them. Hence the need for sanctions against Israel. Until Palestinians are treated like human beings and given their right to live and work and build on their own land, using their own resources and without fear from settlers, demolitions and imprisonment without trial or cause, any negotiation is impossible. If you make people hate and mistrust you, generation after generation, then you (Israel) need to earn back some trust and be rather more respectful of others first. Respect and understanding can only help security. What Israel does currently is make damned sure that they have a security problem, because their economy depends on the security industry. Still badly written, but the crux of the present matter.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 2nd Nov '16 - 1:20pm

    Mranda

    You made a good go of it apart from having to make yet another criticism, ie your finding some of my comments unhelpful or incorrect. Neither should be the case . I am being helpful by consistently making clear despite and because of feeling for the Jewish people , I cannot support the Israeli government , but try and explain the paranoia. I am not incorrect in any of my comments herein , not because I am infallible , because it is a strong viewpoint , an argument , not a regurgitating of facts or fiction, therefore what you said on just that one point , is unhelpful and incorrect , and I say this not to antagonise , but to show how such an approach starts and leads to nearly nowhere.

    The points you make other than that , in your recent response , now very welcome , and you are right . I agree with much of your stance , but little of your attitude . I am even handed in my criticism , I do not concentrate it on the Israeli government or on Hammas. I dislike the whole scenario in recent years. I remember as a boy , seeing Israel as a solution not a cause , with regard to inhumanity!

  • Leon Duveen 2nd Nov '16 - 1:54pm

    I agree with Joe, for once we are having the sort of discussion on the Palestine/Israel that is constructive (mostly) and not full of polemic.
    When I said I was a “old fashioned Zionist” I meant that is a way to distinguish myself from the expansionist version that some (like Netanyahu & his Likud party along with many of Israel’s enemies) have tried to claim is the only form of Zionism that is allowed. I believe in the right of Israel to exist as a homeland for the Jewish people, indeed I spent 10 years living there and putting my Zionism into action. However, my Zionism also accepts that others have an equal claim to the land and that it is in Israel’s long term interests to find an accommodation with Palestine that will allow both to thrive with secure, recognised borders.
    I hope in time, through need & self-interest, Palestine & Israel can learn not just to co-exist side by side but to become partners in development and regional growth but I also recognise that, at the moment, there is too much shared mistrust to allow such cooperation immediately.

    Michael BG, you are right, I have not gone into too much detail about what any settlement should look like. This is not because I don’t have any ideas about this but because I feel that it is not our place to impose our ideas on the two belligerents. The details are for them to decide, our role, living thousands of miles from the area is to encourage dialogue, to support the peace makers, to allow both sides the room to explore what works for them.
    The Arab Peace Plan has much to commend it, as does the (eventually abortive) 2000 Camp David talks. Both could (either together of separately) be a good starting point. However, what is need most of all is the realisation by both sides that they have more to lose by continuing the current conflict than they will gain from a settlement. For now, short term political considerations mean that neither Netanyahu & the current Israeli Government nor Mashal and Hamas are willing to compromise as it will destroy their fragile power base.

  • Leon Duveen 2nd Nov '16 - 1:55pm

    If the conflict is to be resolved, two things need to happen. Firstly both sides need a leader with the support of their people and with the courage to make difficult, painful compromises for a settlement and secondly, the citizens of Palestine & Israel need to be able to recognise the other as people like themselves, people who want to live in peace to be able to bring up future generations without the threat of war.
    It is hard to say when Israel or Palestine will next have leaders of the status of Rabin & Arafat, Begin & Sadat, Mandela & De Klerk who are farsighted enough to know that peace is worth taking a risk for. However, we can help with the second, we can encourage dialogue between the two sides, we can work with those on the ground who daily try to break down walls (psychological just as much as physical) and, most importantly, we must stop demonising one side or the other. All I am trying to do is to help create the atmosphere where contacts & dialogue can flourish and allow the leaders needed to emerge.

  • @ Zeon Duveen

    I would add to your two points that the majority of Israelis (and Jews) and Palestinians need to recognise the importance of the issues to the other side which they have problems with. For Palestinians this is recognising the importance of security to Israel and what concessions they can give to Israel to ensure that Israelis will feel and be secure. My solution is an alliance which allows Israel to have military bases within Palestine. There is more underneath this. To be allies makes both parties equal, it resolves the recognition issue and Palestine would have to ensure that the Israeli military bases were not attacked by Palestinians and the Israeli forces need to be not seen as occupiers. For Israelis and Jews it is recognising that the problem of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants is a legitimate issue which has to be addressed within the peace process. My solution is the recognition that Israel has to provide land for these people and that some of them must be allowed back to the lands that they lived on for hundreds of years. I have set out my solution, which ensures that the state of Israel does not have to take in all of them, but does have to provide more land for the Palestinian state than the 22.6% under the 1949 borders. I would hope that once there were majorities amongst both peoples for this they would elect leaders who would make lasting peace.

  • Jonathan Coulter 3rd Nov '16 - 8:37am

    @ Leon Duveen – “we must stop demonising one side or the other”

    Ending demonization needs to start at home in the UK. When our politicians, and particularly LibDems in their current predicament, observe the recent demonization of Baroness Tonge, and the previous press campaign about alleged anti-Semitism in the Labour Party, they will be loath to speak their mind on Israel/Palestine, and we shall not have an honest debate about it within this country. As you will see from my first posting above, I was an eye-witness at the meeting on the basis of which she was untruthfully smeared by the Times, suspended by the Party and ended up resigning. The same story was repeated with minor variations by a range of other media which now include the Wall Street Journal.

    If you really want to make a stand against demonization, Leon, I would propose you take up the case of Jenny Tonge, and ask that the relevant LibDem authority formally and fully acknowledge the injustice that has been done to her. If you could bring yourself to do this, I would really thank you.

  • Miranda Pinch 3rd Nov '16 - 11:06am

    @ Michael B G
    You speak of equality in one sentence and then suggest that Palestine should accept Israeli military bases within its borders, but do not suggest, for equality’s sake that Palestine has similar in Israel. Yes I say that tongue in cheek as it would be an impossibility. I very much doubt that a new state of Palestine would be happy to continue to accept such inequality. An independent external peace-keeping force might be an alternative to this, to ensure security for the Palestinians as well.
    However, the important point is, as I said earlier in the thread, that while Israel continues to treat the Palestinians with inhumanity and contempt, taking their land and resources and using them as useful live research in new forms of population control and weaponry, it will be very difficult for there to be any meaningful negotiations.
    There is no point going into any detail in our suggested outcomes without tackling the very heart of the present inequality and subjugation of one population of another.

  • Firstly, I apologize to Leon Duveen for my typing error, I have no idea how the “Z” got there, especially as it is at the opposite side of the keyboard.

    @ Miranda Pinch

    After the Second World War Germany was occupied by the USSR, USA, UK and France, but West Germany became the ally of the USA, UK and France and welcomed their military bases inside their country. France and Germany were long standing enemies for about 74 years, but became allies. At the moment Israel is an occupying power in the West Bank and I wish to see this ended and the whole of the West Bank (possibly with a few small parts given to Israel if agreeable to the Palestinians) to be governed as part of a Palestinian state that has signed an alliance treaty with Israel and having an economic partnership with Israel. The Israeli military would have no role in policing the Palestinian state only in defending it against external attacks. The Palestinian police would be responsible for policing the Palestinian state. However your comments do show how difficult it would be to convince Palestinians to have an alliance with Israel in the same way as West Germany was allied to the USA, UK and France.

    I don’t believe that the Israelis would accept UN peace-keepers to replace their own military. I am sure we can all think of places where UN peace-keepers failed to stop a military attack, because that is not their role.

  • Miranda Pinch 4th Nov '16 - 9:17am

    @ Michael BG
    You seem to suggest that Palestine would be unreasonable to refuse Israeli military bases within its borders after becoming an independent state. Given the behaviour of the IDF and their support of settler terrorism, can you really believe that refusal to continue to house Israeli military on their land would make the Palestinians at fault and refusing peace.
    Such a conversation is ridiculously hypothetical, but if I have understood you right, it says a great deal about the bias towards the security and living standards, and rights of Israelis in general.
    I think your second world war examples rather different to this scenario. Israel has been abusing, stealing from and occupying Palestine for almost 50 years, not to mention the Nakba on the creation of Israel. You are asking Palestinians to trust Israelis after all that? Odd how it is always the Palestinians who have to give way and never Israel who has a huge modern army, nuclear weapons etc etc. Palestine has little left thanks to Israel.

  • @ Miranda Pinch

    I hope I am not suggesting that the Palestinians give up more for peace than the Israelis. My peace proposals would mean that Israel would have to allow lots of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to live in Israel as well as their giving up most (it might be all) Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem and other land for the rest of the Palestinian refugees and their descendants to live on; as well as allowing the Palestinian people in other areas of Israel (where they are the majority) to decide if they wish to be in the new Palestinian state along with the land they live on. I think this resolves all long term outstanding issues for the Palestinian people. It being my desire to remove all of the historical factors where the Palestinians feel they have been treated unfairly.

    My proposals would end the occupation of the West Bank and the role of the IDF in policing any areas within the Palestinian state. I would expect that during the peace process that the IDF would ensure that Israeli settlers left their settlements unless the Palestinians had agreed to exchange that land for land of equal worth somewhere else. The concessions to Israel would be an alliance with the Palestinian state and the agreement of the Palestinian state to work together to defend both Israel and Palestine (including the basing of Israeli military within Palestine) and the limits to the number of Palestinians who could return to their historical homes.

    I have not mentioned living standards but it is my hope that the terms of the economic union would ensure that Palestinians would be able to work in Israel no matter where they lived, especially if they already do. For me the issue of Israeli security is their major concern and it has to be addressed within the peace process so they feel secure and there is an end to attacks on Israelis and Palestinians – i.e. there is peace. I don’t believe Israel would agree to peace if their concerns regarding their security was not addressed to their satisfaction. I don’t believe that there are any other realistic alternatives to Israel having military bases in Palestine. However the alliance between Israel and Palestine delivers more than this, it resolves the recognition issue. A country can’t be allied to another country unless it recognises it and its right to exist.

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