On Friday, 8th December, the United Nations Security Council voted on calling for a ceasefire in Gaza. Of the fifteen member states of the council with voting rights, only the United States voted against the resolution, and the United Kingdom abstained. Let me say that again. The UK abstained.
The death toll inside Gaza, so much as we know, now stands at almost eighteen thousand Palestinian women, men and children, with more than six thousand more women, men and children missing, many of their bodies crushed beneath rubble. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz has just published analysis that civilians make up 61 percent of Palestinians killed by Israeli airstrikes. Haaretz says the Israeli military aerial campaign is the most indiscriminate bombing of Gaza for years. Gazans are being buried alive every day.
The nonsense spouted on Friday by the UK Ambassador to the UN, Dame Barbara Woodward, included alluding to the need for “further and longer pauses” for aid to enter Gaza, and Israeli hostages to be released. Now, let’s be clear: humanitarian pauses do not allow the time for life-saving medicine, food and water to enter a war zone such as Gaza, nor for hostages to be safely released. I know what I’m talking about, I’ve spent years working in war zones, and I have also lived and worked in Gaza.
The UK abstention from the UN ceasefire vote on Friday sent a loud and utterly clear message; saving the lives of Palestinian civilians is not the UK priority. That priority is blinkered adherence to the US stance of near unquestioning support to the Israeli government and its mission impossible of ‘destroying’ Hamas. As though the movement was only operating inside Gaza, without tentacles across the West Bank and extending into Gulf States, such as Qatar, and beyond.
Sometimes I almost pity the conservatives; they are in a Titanic realm, utterly out of their depth, and clearly do not understand the Middle East, certainly not Israel and Palestine. But their callous stupidity is still shocking. Their actions are complicity -because, thanks to the unending courage of Palestinan journalists, they and we can see the war crimes being commited inside Gaza.
The Labour party – well, I hoped they knew a bit better. But neither do they have the courage or wisdom to support a ceasefire that would save lives. And Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy has just publicly displayed a deep level of delusion regarding Palestine. His earnest article in this weekend’s Guardian this weekend condemns rightly Israeli settlers in the Palestinian West Bank, and in the same breath talks up the so-called ‘Two state solution’ as a still viable strategy. This is the same two state-solution that was first proposed three decades ago, and is now further out of reach than at any time in the last 30 years.
You can only have a two state solution where you have two potential sovereign territories. Half a million Israeli settlers are controlling huge swathes of the Palestinian West Bank with active encouragement of the Israeli government. Three hundred more Palestinians have been killed inside Gaza today, and the masse killing will continue, as will the horrific trauma of Israeli hostages captured inside the Strip.
We have gone beyond any possibility of a two state solution with the current political status quo; the extreme right-wing nationalist and corrupt Israeli government, and the self-serving undemocratic Palestinian Authority. Right now our total focus needs to be a ceasefire to save Palestinian, and Israeli lives inside Gaza. And the UK government with its partner in crime the US, has just helped to stamp upon that possibility.
postscript thanks to photographer Craig Manners for the image of fighter jets.