IF YOU ARE A PALESTINIAN two things are very clear. There is no peace, there is no plan. For Palestinians living in Israel, in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem or in the many refugee camps in Syria, Jordan and Lebanon, there is no peace. In Gaza alone - since the Great March of Return started last year - there have been the targeted killings of 254 Palestinians, including 46 children, with 23,603 injured and deliberately maimed by Israeli snipers.
We have become immune to the statistics, but if you are a Palestinian, the day-to-day reality is one of a constant risk and threat that you will be the next person to become a number in those statistics.
Second, it is patently obvious that the world has no plan and no commitment to bringing about peace. With Benjamin Netanyahu’s victory, the threatened annexation of the settlements becomes an imminent risk. Donald Trump’s alliance with Netanyahu does not have peace as an objective. Its intention is to legitimise and rebrand the status quo – the militarily enforced subjugation of the Palestinians – as normal and permanent.
In this context, Labour’s policy needs to be developed to give meaning and substance to Jeremy Corbyn’s long-held commitment to “give real support to end the oppression of the Palestinian people.” The newly established Labour and Palestine group – in its launch statement – calls for Palestine to be a priority issue for Labour’s ethical foreign policy. If it is a policy governed by support for human rights and international law, this should include applying international law fully to the goods produced by illegal settlements and any new post-Brexit trade agreements with Israel.
If Israel proceeds with the annexation of illegally occupied territory, it will make itself an unlawful state based on unrecognised and illegal borders.
Palestine is the litmus test of an ethical policy. It means ensuring that no British funds are supplied and no arms are bought or sold that are used to violate the human rights of Palestinians.
It will be Palestinians that will hold Labour’s policy to account. To have substance, rather than just rhetoric, there must be consequences for Israel’s actions that breach international law. Labour needs to be an active supporter of equal rights and of the people and organisations that seek to defend them.
The violations include the unlawful detention and abuse of Palestinian children, the demolition of entire villages and the recently passed Nation- State law which creates two levels of citizenship, trying to make lawful the endemic discrimination against Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Labour needs to be on the front line challenging these human rights abuses.
At the time of writing, over 3,000 Labour members from over 500 CLPs have signed our founding statement.
is co-founder of the Alliance for Free Movement and former Deputy General Secretary of PCS.