Tag Archives: Israeli politics

A Way Out of the Chaos in Israel

Joe Biden has lost patience with Benjamin Netanyahu.

Previous US Presidents must have been exasperated by the succession of Israeli Prime Ministers who paid lip service to international law, UN resolutions and human rights, and then ignored them in practice, but this time the frustration is public. Netanyahu is no longer welcome in the White House, and Biden has told him he must end his attempt to destroy democracy in Israel. Jewish organisations like Yachad in the UK have demonstrated around the world that Israel’s leader must not be allowed to join the autocrats’ club, along with Putin, Erdogan and Orban. In stark contrast to Biden, the UK government kowtowed to Netanyahu only days before the US condemnation of his latest moves, and has published what must now be a deeply embarrassing ‘roadmap’; it ticks off virtually everything on Netanyahu’s wish-list.

Netanyahu’s initial response to Biden’s announcement was to say Israel could manage without US help, and to call on his supporters to stage counter-demonstrations opposing those seen over the last few recent weeks. Tens of thousands have shown their disapproval of the planned legal reforms, both in Israel and in cities around the world. The truth is that Israel needs its friends more than ever, and dismissing Biden’s call to end his attack on the Israeli judiciary was a mistake.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | Also tagged | 15 Comments

West Bank settlements, Liberal values, and our Israeli sister party: time for a realignment

Our Autumn Conference passed a motion entitled ‘Towards a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine’. Critically, the motion was amended, calling for legislation ‘to cease trade with illegal settlements, unless and until a negotiated peace settlement is reached’. Speaking for this amendment, I argued that the UK has obligations under international humanitarian law to refrain in any manner from supporting illegal settlements and must therefore cease trading with them; and that if we are to retain the hope of reaching a two-state solution, it is critical to reject a one-state reality and uphold the legal – and moral – distinction between pre-1967 Israel and the occupied territories.

The illegality of settlements is unequivocal: the International Court of Justice in its Wall Opinion held that the transfer of Israeli civilian population into the occupied territories through the construction of settlements breaches Article 49(6) of the Fourth Geneva Convention. This legal position was endorsed by the UN Security Council in Resolution 2234, which the UK supported. The motion originally proposed merely to label settlement products, but that did not go far enough: while enabling consumers to make informed choices, labelling still allows products to be sold, despite being produced in illegal settlements. Only by refraining from trade will the UK be desisting from active cooperation with the settlement project, and thus fulfilling its obligation to ensure respect for the Geneva Conventions.

Posted in Europe / International and Op-eds | 17 Comments
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