By Stuart Littlewood
A press release has just arrived in my inbox from the Palestinian Mission UK proudly proclaiming Ambassador Hassassian’s jaunt to the Labour Friends of Palestine Gala Dinner where he was keynote speaker alongside Labour Party leader Ed Miliband.
Ed of course is the brother of David Miliband, a Blair protégé and foreign secretary under the Brown government and certainly no friend of the Palestinian people.
Ed, also a Blair-Brown protégé, had already declared that Labour would be “Israel’s friend in good times and bad”. So let’s hope that age-old warning “The friend of my enemy is my enemy” was ringing in the other guests’ ears.
Miliband repeated his party’s support for the two-state solution and Palestinian statehood. Some 130 member countries of the UN already recognise Palestine as a state so this no big deal from Miliband.
The Labour leader’s contribution was the usual empty rhetoric. He wanted to breathe new life into the peace process. "We must do more to end violence on the ground on all sides, continue to press the Israeli government to bring the expansion of illegal settlements to an end… There will be no path to justice for the Palestinians, security for Israel and stability for the international community without respect for human rights and international law… As the leader of the Labour Party I pledge to do everything… to ensure we actively pursue a path that supports the realisation of Palestinian statehood in the context of a negotiated two-state solution."
Miliband supports statehood only in the context of a negotiated two-state solution. And that’s to be achieved by reviving lopsided and discredited talks. He wants Israel to end its expansion of illegal settlements but not, apparently, to restore the land on which existing ones were built. And he talks about respect for human rights and international law without mentioning enforcement.
He’ll “do everything” alright… everything to avoid applying the law. Because he has already pledged his party’s friendship, through thick and thin, for Israel’s criminal regime.
Ambassador Hassassian thanked him for his help towards achieving peace and justice in the Middle East, though it’s hard to see what Miliband has done to achieve anything of the sort.
In his speech Hassassian said that the policies of the Israeli government were rapidly killing any chance of a two-state solution. “If the status quo continues and the international community does not take action, there will be very little to negotiate. Israel continues to defy international law in its continued expansion and annexation of Palestinian land… These violations are not issues to be agreed as part of negotiations but are issues that Israel has a duty to end".
Actually it’s the duty of the international community to put a stop to the violations. The Israelis will simply carry on until clobbered with sanctions.
The Leopard and His Spots
All this pussyfooting has so outraged my good friend Dr David Halpin that he sent Hassassian a reprimand: "I would not share a meal with a man from an ‘ethnic’ group who had taken my country by force and by terrorism. That group, that entity, has no respect whatsoever for moral or international law…. Leopards do NOT change their spots."
Then came this message from Maisoon, who regularly sends me newsletters. "This event sadly shows and proves how low and subservient the Palestinian Movement in the UK has become. This is not the first time that the PA’s representative has praised the presence of such phony supporters…” She feels deeply offended when such people are invited to attend. "When are our Palestinian representatives going to stop their grovelling? The entire Palestine Mission here makes a complete mockery of our struggle for freedom… Hassassian, like the rest of the worthless PA gang, inspires no faith, honour or trust."
Indeed. Hassassian once admitted: “Always the Palestinians have been the underdog. We never had a symmetrical relationship in terms of negotiations. All the time we have been dictated to by the US government and the Israelis because they have had the upper hand." If that’s the case why do he and his PA and PLO bosses even entertain the idea of sitting down to more of the same? Look where it’s got them. Or, more to the point, where it has got the Palestinian people. Their leaders are suspected of doing very nicely thank-you.
The United Nations also prefers lopsided talks to the more difficult task of upholding its own Charter principles. Here’s the UN’s Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Robert Serry, addressing a UN International Meeting in May 2010:
“How can we take the current situation – a continuing Israeli occupation with a heavy military and settler presence, a fragmented Palestinian territory, and a divided Palestinian polity – and start building from there? How do we build the only future that could work – a sovereign Palestinian State, uniting the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in East Jerusalem, politically plural but with one authority and one security structure, at peace with itself and with Israel within secure and recognized borders, with a just and agreed solution for the refugees and their active participation in building
the State of Palestine? How do we implement the vision of Security Council resolutions, which guide me and the entire UN system in its approach to the conflict?
“In my view, five things are needed — and without all five, we won’t reach this goal: real negotiations, responsible actions on the ground, relentless Palestinian state building, effective crisis prevention and intervention in Gaza, and a comprehensive regional approach.”
Isn’t he forgetting something quite obvious?
The law and it’s enforcement.
Peacemaking and State-building Can’t Begin Yet
A report a few years ago by the Palestine Strategy Group called ‘Regaining the Initiative – Palestinian Strategic Options to End Israeli Occupation’, funded with EU money, urged Palestinians "to seize their destiny in their own hands” by refusing to enter into peace negotiations unless the international community deals first with issues relating to national self-determination, liberation from occupation, individual and collective rights, and enforcement of international law.
Only when these priorities are met, said the report, can peacemaking and state-building begin.
That, surely, is the line for Palestinians to take. Why is the international community insisting they do deals with Israel and bargain for their liberty while still under illegal occupation? And especially when borders and other matters were defined by UN resolutions and international law long ago?
So thanks for nothing, Ed Miliband and all those other phony friends who are busy giving the Palestinians a bum steer. Unless politicians loudly call for the Gaza siege to be smashed (with the help of navy ships if necessary) and for the enclave’s territorial waters and air-space to be fully restored, for the cancellation of Israel’s trading privileges, for an immediate end to the occupation of the West Bank, for strict enforcement of international and humanitarian law and all relevant UN resolutions, for the arrest of Israeli war criminals on sight and for the establishment of Jerusalem as an international city (as designated by the UN), no-one should share a meal with them or provide a platform for their insincerity.
The Palestine Strategy Group also spelled out the need for national unity. "A house divided against itself cannot stand… Palestinian strategic action is impossible if the Palestinian nation is unable to speak with one voice or to act with one will."
It’s so bloody obvious. Unfortunately Hassassian’s bosses, the Fatah-dominated PA, have little grasp of law in any shape or form. Or unity, for that matter. They speak to their citizens though the thuggish Palestinian Police, or ‘Security Force’, trained under the notorious General Dayton and funded mainly by the US with EU involvement. Their job is to do the Israeli occupation’s dirty work and make it seem OK. In the process they have become experts in violating Palestinians’ human rights. They do torture too. And by all accounts they enjoy their work. In short, they have created a climate of fear and intimidation.
The PA’s police have brutally suppressed protests against… yes… police brutality. And the other day they violently broke up a demo against a meeting between PA leader Mahmoud Abbas and the Israeli Vice Prime Minister and former army chief Shaul Mofaz, a nasty piece of work who’s wanted for war crimes – committed mainly against Palestinians. 15 people were injured including 6 journalists.
PLO official Hanan Ashrawi, one of the few ‘good eggs’ in West Bank politics, condemned the attack on public freedoms. "The Palestinian youth are the leaders of our future, and it is our responsibility to engage them in public life.”
Furthermore the imposition of two authorities, the PA and the PLO, confuses foreigners and makes it impossible for Palestinians to speak with one voice. The PA (Palestinian Authority) is an interim self-governing puppet organisation that’s responsible for internal security and helps implement Israel’s military administration, while the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) is the recognised representative of the Palestinian people to the outside world.
Awash with foreign taxpayers’ money, the PA has become a lucrative trough for the snouts of the self-serving quislings who run it. It’s there to perpetuate the occupation.
-Stuart Littlewood’s book Radio Free Palestine can now be read on the internet by visiting www.radiofreepalestine.org.uk. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com.