Gaza: listen to Warsi & UK could help wage peace, not war

gaza_action_new_468x283Baroness Warsi’s hard-hitting resignation letter to David Cameron has served to focus attention on the UK’s policy on the carnage in Gaza.

The former Foreign Office minister says her resignation was prompted by the government’s “morally indefensible” policy – one of arming the Israelis, while pressuring the Palestinian Authority not to seek justice through the International Criminal Court.

Despite the Prime Minister’s dubious expressions of sympathy for the people of Gaza, a more one-sided UK policy could scarcely be imagined.

Since Lady Warsi’s resignation, both Deputy PM Nick Clegg and Business Secretary Vince Cable have come out publicly for a suspension of licensing of arms and other military equipment for Israel. It is time for more politicians to take a principled stand against the killings and destruction in Gaza and Israel, and for the UK government to condemn actions that potentially constitute war crimes and human rights abuses.

A government commitment to review such arms exports is welcome, but extremely belated and limited.

The bigger question, of course, is what on earth was the UK doing in issuing such licences in the first place, given Israel’s terrible track record in using weapons indiscriminately in earlier conflicts in Gaza?

Spain has already suspended its arms transfers to Israel. Downing Street should follow suit by announcing immediate suspension of all arms to Israel, while ratcheting up pressure on Hamas’ rocket suppliers to cut off that supply.

The UK government has said many times that it is a strong supporter of international justice and the International Criminal Court. It should stop making an exception to this policy when it comes to Palestinians and Israelis.

Rather than standing foursquare behind the rule of international law in the region, the UK government has opposed the Palestinian Authority joining the ICC. Indeed, the government went so far in 2012 as to say that the UK’s recognition of Palestine’s statehood depended on it agreeing not to join the international court. That looks like bullying, not diplomacy.

Justice in the region is the key to peace in the region, and to addressing some of the apparently intractable problems faced by both Israelis and Palestinians.

The Palestinian Authority’s membership of the ICC would mean the court could investigate people suspected of committing war crimes or crimes against humanity in or from that territory, including launching attacks into Israel. The court could prosecute war crimes, such as targeting attacks on civilians both in Israel and in Palestinian territory. For the first time there would be a real possibility of accountability for Israeli and Palestinian civilians.

With the UK now assuming the monthly presidency of the UN Security Council, the government should back calls for the Security Council to refer the calamitous situation in Gaza and Israel to the International Criminal Court and use its role to press for a global arms embargo on Israel and Hamas.

The government should pay due heed to Baroness Warsi’s reasons for resigning. If it does, then the UK can finally help wage peace rather than war in Gaza.

A version of this article appeared in the News Letter, 9 August 2014.

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  • chrisjones2

    “listen to Warsi & UK could help wage peace, not war”

    …..by siding with a terrorist group that has an avowed policy of genocide on Israel and its citizens

    By the way Patrick, what is Amnesty’s policy on Hammas and that policy?

  • chrisjones2

    I stress I wasnt getting at you …I would genuinely like to know

  • Michael Henry

    It should be classed as a war crime to help arm the Israeli murder machine with weapons when they are killing the children and people of GAZA-all involved from Government to arms dealers should be the ones shipped off to a international tribunal -

  • Sergiogiorgio

    Patrick – is there any government stepping up and roundly criticising the Israelis for their scorched earth policy? You ask the UK government to put its head above the moral parapet, but to want end – waging peace is a bit of an over simplification. The Israelis don’t give a feck. I’m not saying for a second the morals of the situation aren’t entirely clear but the political situation is complex. I don’t think Warsi’s approach was fully thought through – surely better to be on the inside fighting than on the outside hamstrung? Also Hamas need to enter your equation.

  • the rich get richer

    Hamas are not making much of a fist of destroying Israel.

    Israel on the other hand are making a good fist of destroying Gazza and if they want to do more damage they have nuclear bombs to do an even better job

  • barnshee

    “.by siding with a terrorist group that has an avowed policy of genocide on Israel and its citizens”

    A bit like Israel`s policy on Palestine

    Ignore what Israel says watch its actions

  • chrisjones2

    Ignoring just reinforces bias. Listen critically?

  • chrisjones2

    Great. Can we apply that principle here too – Stormont might be a bit empty though?

    And whose tribunal do you plan to use?

    Any why just Israel? Who supplied Hamas with all those whizzy rockets they keep trying to use to murder jews – which is why the Israelis have retaliated

  • chrisjones2

    Warsi’s position is driven by self interest I siuspect. SHe’s tytrying to make herself relevant

  • Sergiogiorgio

    I didn’t know you had a stutter Chris. I suspect a bit of self interest also but then David Davis tried the same and slipped into obscurity.

  • chrisjones2

    As I suspect will she unless of course there is a Mayoralty or something to run for – mind you every time she puts herself up the serfs wont vote for her

  • Michael Henry

    How will Stormont be empty- anyone who had evidence against them have served there time or else they were caged up during Interment-

    Who ever is caught supplying Hamas with rockets would be arrested- the same law should apply to any British arm dealers that supply Israel with death weapons and any of the Brit Government which allows this death business to continue -

  • Iluvni

    Whats’s Amnesty’s position on UNRWA handing back rockets found on their premises in Gaza to ‘the authorities’, ie Hamas

  • Tugger

    80+ lorries of free food, fuel and medicine were delivered to Gaza by Israel every single day while Hamas launched rockets at civilians across the border. Field hospitals were set-up by Israeli doctors and nurses to treat Gazan civilians along the border. Israel agreed to SIX separate ceasefires – every one broken by continuing Hamas attacks. WORST GENOCIDE EVER!

  • Tugger

    Michael, I don’t recall you making much of a fuss when Hamas were responsible for the deaths of 160 Palestinian children who they used to build their terror tunnels under the border. It’s only a problem when Israel’s responsible, is it??

  • Tugger

    For ‘scorched earth’ policy see the Hamas tactic of boobytrapping Palestinian homes to try to murder Israeli peacekeeping troops – 19 out of one street of only 28 homes!!

  • Tacapall
  • Olivia Anderson

    This is a great article, balanced and rational. International law accountability is key otherwise the violence will continue for many more years. Both sides are so entrenched. For a moving, insightful perspective from a Rabbi who is deeply disturbed by Israeli government policy please read http://www.salon.com/2014/08/04/israel_has_broken_my_heart_i%E2%80%99m_a_rabbi_in_mourning_for_a_judaism_being_murdered_by_israel/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=socialflow

  • Olivia Anderson

    Er um…unless you know something I don’t, I don’t reckon any of the things you mentioned above, even if true, can bring people back to life. 400 dead children. Nothing will bring them back. The great tragedy as we know from our past is that these deaths will generally cause such mad fury and hatred which will of course be directed at Israel. If they want to stop terrorist attacks, this is a very non-clever, short term strategy we are seeing being played out. And again back to why I believe Israel needs help to help itself. It’s way out of control. ICC

  • David Vance (British Ulster)

    Stop with your lies please, but I wouldn’t expect anything coherent on this republican echo chamber.

  • David Vance (British Ulster)

    Well said Tugger, sadly the truth is held in contempt on this site.

  • David Vance (British Ulster)

    I urge everyone to start support Israeli soldiers, the bulwark between the civilised west and the islamic animals!
    http://pizzaidf.org/

  • chrisjones2

    Ah so now they have to be caught and have evidence …unlkes sthey hold r a secret OTR letter or pardon

  • Olivia Anderson

    And your coherent debating point is…?

  • Michael Henry

    Free food fuel and medicine that America pays for-there is yet another ceasefire at the moment- ten minutes before it started Israeli jets bombed civilian areas in GAZA-it’s Peace- but not as we know it-

  • Michael Henry

    I oppose all violence against children- be it Hamas or Israeli troops-

  • Olivia Anderson

    Are you for real? The dehumanising of a group/religion/tribe is the essence behind the grievances on both sides of this conflict. I agree the Gazans have been killed recently as if they were sheep not people. I also agree that there is a substantial number of Palestinians who hate Jews/Israelis. But maybe you could take a holiday from your normal position on things by being part of the solution rather than part of the problem for once?!! Sending you hugs and love as I feel you’re lacking them

  • Michael Henry

    David would rather tell Christians to support Jews than the islamics-personally I would leave religion out of this- it’s about land not religion-

  • gunterprien

    “…. but I wouldn’t expect anything coherent on this republican echo chamber….”

    FFS Are you for real..Slugger is a Unionist publication. Yes below the byline there are nationalists..But that doesn’t change the facts.
    Ask Mick Feality..Is HE a Unionist??
    I know the answer..The moderators/editors are Unionist.
    But don’t let all this stop your whingefest.

  • Tacapall

    So when did posts from TUV member David Vance suddenly become from a guest ?

  • chrisjones2

    Losing the argumenmt are we?

  • chrisjones2

    What about adults? are you opposed the Hama Rocket attacks?

  • chrisjones2

    Then why do so many define the problem in terms of the Jews

  • gunterprien

    There isn’t any argument.
    I just laugh at Unionist mopery..Let me put it this way..That guy is a very likely candidate to use words like PSNiRA and made up grivences like that.
    There is NO argument with that made up mopery

  • Michael Henry

    I don’t hear to many saying that it is a Jew problem-the problem was always about land since the Romans took over thousands of years ago and since Israel army has tried to crawl every inch back from 1948 after they kicked the Brits out with the help of American support-

  • Tugger

    Don’t see any mention of genocide there….

  • Tugger

    Do 400 dead children (including teenage Hamas fighters, presumably) qualify for the term ‘genocide’? Especially when we don’t know who actually killed most of them. Nearly 400 Hamas rockets have landed WITHIN Gaza – how many children did those attacks kill??

  • Tugger

    But it seems you have to be coerced into condemning the murder of Palestinian children by Hamas – whereas you don’t when it’s claimed Israel is responsible. Why might that be….?

  • Keep it real

    The “160 children died building terror tunnels” myth has been exploded (for want of a better word) long ago as disinformation. Hamas revealed to author Nicolas Pelham that more than 160 children (subterranean sherpas) had died in Gaza’s tunnel economy – its main lifeline to the open world – through tunnel collapses and other accidents.

    Here’s the link to the article – http://palestine-studies.org/jps/fulltext/42605

    Here’s National Geographic’s take on those “terror tunnels”:

    “Gaza’s Tunnels, Now Used to Attack Israel, Began as Economic Lifelines” – http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/07/140721-gaza-strip-tunnels-israel-hamas-palestinians/

  • Keep it real

    iluvni,

    UNRWA got a police bomb disposal team to take the rockets away. The Jerusalem Post says there’s “no hard proof” that they were given to Hamas.

    http://globalnews.ca/news/1469734/unrwa-says-allegations-it-gave-rockets-to-hamas-baseless-israel-gaza/

    What would YOU do with dangerous munitions?

  • Olivia Anderson

    I haven’t used the term genocide. War crimes, without a doubt. Frankie Boyle summed it up succinctly ‘Israel are doing all they can to avoid killing children, except dropping bombs on them’ In reference to the reports above the aid given to Gaza by Israelis, Naom Chomsky refers to this approach as ‘Sadism masked as compassion’. Finally, I think you are being naive regarding Israel’s propaganda and actual intentions. Read this 15th July article from Israeli member of government, Deputy Speaker of the Knesset for an insight into intentions and desires of current Israeli government regarding solution in Gaza http://www.israelnationalnews.com/Articles/Article.aspx/15326#.U-hTxcGJn6h

  • Olivia Anderson

    David Vance seemed to select anonymity directly after I pulled him up for referring to Muslims as animals….

  • Tacapall

    War crimes, Genocide, whats the difference when its children Tugger. Have a good look at a map of Palestine pre 1946 then take a look at one of Palestine today, Im sure you’ll quickly understand what its all about.

  • chrisjones2

    Amazed you havent answered that one?

  • chrisjones2

    Disgraceful and racist post

  • peepoday

    Amos,chapter1,verse7

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Two questions, have Hamas broken any of the ceasefires and who fired the first shot of this most recent conflict?

  • Tugger

    You’ve just confirmed 160 children were killed working for Hamas in the terror tunnels. Well done.

  • Tugger

    You entered a conversation regarding the use of the word ‘genocide’ and mumbled some incoherent nonsense about 400 dead children. If you don’t know how online political debate works perhaps just stick to reading from now on??

  • Tugger

    War crimes and genocide are two totally different things.

    You’ve been caught out me old son. Try harder next time.

  • Keep it real

    This particular myth enjoyed some currency among the Israeli Right a few weeks ago.

    Where did the articles say that they were working for Hamas?

    A Palestinian POV would insist the Israelis killed the children; a Marxist POV might say it was the (independent) tunnel owners – the excavations were private enterprise, often with shareholders; Mark Regev’s position would of course be that Hamas killed them.

    Regardless of which side of the ‘security barrier’ you find yourself on, Tugger, the undeniable fact is that those tunnels wouldn’t have been needed, and those kids would be alive today, were it not for the illegal physical and economic blockade that Israel has on Gaza’s 1.8 million residents.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    The only thing worse than listening to Israelis trying to justify their morally bankrupt actions are unionists/loyalists on this board posting justifications because they somehow “identify” with the Israeli experience. It’s the blind leading the blind, or in this case the murder of children being justified by blind, dumb bigots. Ask an Israeli what he thinks of NI and he’ll just look at you quizzically – its a bloody irrelevance to them; and just demonstrates how out of touch and tied up in their own wee world of hatred some folks are.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Excuse me I am not on the side of Israel or Palestine for that matter (as many Nationalists seem to be), I would like to know the answers to the two questions I posted above of which you answered zero.

  • Tacapall

    War crimes and genocide are two totally different things, so what, stabbing someone to death and strangling someone to death are two different things but the outcome is still the same. Most normal thinking people would class deliberately targeting children’s schools and civilians both a war crime and genocide but I suppose in this crazy country the slaves defending their masters is quite normal.

  • Sergiogiorgio

    That’s because they are dumb questions Joe, with respect. Who cares who fired the first shot. Nothing justifies this Israeli slaughter.

  • Gareth Murray

    Did Baroness Warsi talk of her “moral indignation” when Hamas launched 1000’s of rockets into Israel or did that only come when Israel responded?

    Nick Clegg coming out of his lair to talk about this, shows that the Gaza story has gone populist. An attempt at regainning some credibility after helping to administer austerity on the British public for the last 4 years.

    While not defending the “disproportinate” actions of the IDF, you still have to remember that even before Israel withdrw from Gaza in 2005, Hamas were bombarding them with rockets and other attacks. Hamas have built a network of tunnels with the blood and sweat of Palestinians they’ve enslaved, using concrete given to them by the Israeli’s to build better infrastructures. Hamas believe not just in the eradication of zionism, nor just all Israelis for that matter, but they believe in the eradication of all Jewish people from the planet.

    In criticising Israel you have to be careful to remember that Israel are not fighting an army armed with slings and pebbles, but a well equipped terrorist organisation who also see the creation of martyrs as efficient as any weapon.

  • Tacapall

    “In criticising Israel you have to be careful to remember that Israel are
    not fighting an army armed with slings and pebbles, but a well equipped
    terrorist organisation who also see the creation of martyrs as
    efficient as any weapon”

    Thanks Gareth your attempt to justify the deliberate targeting of children and civilians because the Israelis cant see their enemy is duly noted, im sure your a nice guy, but your up there with those who would attempt to justify the Dublin Monaghan bombings as a legitimate action in order to force the Irish government to bring in special security measures.

    1000s of rockets into Israel ? How many people have been killed by these thousands of rockets, its like indians shooting arrows at armored tanks and the Martyrs crap, perhaps you’ve heard of the Hannibal directive is that really any different ?

  • npbinni

    PC: “…while ratcheting up pressure on Hamas’ rocket suppliers to cut off that supply.”

    It’s been quite a while since I have read such a naive statement. Iran and North Korea are never going to stop supplying rockets to Hamas at Cameron’s request!

    Get real, Patrick.

  • Gareth Murray

    Isreali lives are no more sacred than Palestinian ones. Maybe Hamas should also respect the sanctity of the lives of the people of Gaza. It seems some people would be happier if the dead score was more even, I find that rather macabre.

    Which part of “I wouldn’t defend the actions of the IDF” signifies that I’m “attempting to justify the deliberate targeting of children”. We’ve seen many emotive pictures of dead children during this conflict, some of which belong to other conflicts, it’s a humanitrian disaster first and foremost, one which has been festering for sometime. Firing rockets which sometimes fall and kill your own people is not remotely like “Indians shooting arrows”. Hamas are not fighting for freedom, they’re fighting for destruction and they can only lose.

    They’ve have bombed busses full of people, busy cafes etc using suicide bombers so the “Martyrs crap” as you put it should not be underestimated. Perhaps you should familiarise yourself with just what Hamas stand for and what they believe in.

    As for you Dublin / Monaghan bombings comparison, try comparing apples with apples.

  • npbinni

    Islam is not a race.

  • Tacapall

    Gareth the apples with apples comparison is totally appropriate, deliberately targeting children and civilians in order to terrorise the whole population collectively, regardless of their innocence in order to point the finger of blame at your unseen enemy in some sick propaganda war is just as sick as was the comparison I give you. Of course all life is sacred and yes the UDA of Palestine should not be in the business of taking life but monkey see monkey do and when the pupet master pulls the strings all the puppet can do is act accordingly.

    “They’ve have bombed busses full of people, busy cafes etc using suicide bomber”

    I dont need to know what Hamas is about I already know they share the same goal as the Israeli government and wasn’t it their predecessors in the 40s that used murder, indiscriminate bombing of hotels and cafes etc to get the very state they now wish to expand.

  • Gareth Murray

    About 1.5 million Arabs live in Israel outside of Palestinian Authorities, record numbers of Arabs are applying for Israeli citizenship. The Palestinian dispora fair less in neighbouring states, often being denied citizenship of those countries. In Syria it’s estimated that ISIS have slaughtered 10,000 ethnic Syrian Palestinians.

    Palestinian identidy itself is fairly recent, being formulated in the 20th century as opposition to the new Israelis. Looking at maps pre 1948 is futile, no state of Palestine ever existed until ironically Israel existed, it’s always been under colonial control since the Romans. You have to remember that rightly or wrongly the Balfour declaration endorsed by the League of Nations gave the Jewish people a homeland in Palestine. Israel was born out of anti semitism in Europe, the Holocaust encouraged a greater number of people to choose Palestine post WW II. There’s no going back from that, Israel cannot be undone and nor should it.

    It was in Palestine that the Jewish identidy was formed.

    All sides, Israelis, Arabs, Palestinians of Syrian or Lebanese origin, Druze people and Israeli Christians all need to find away to coexist. Islamic fundamentalism is the biggest threat to that coexistence and the security of the region.

  • Gareth Murray

    Hamas have enslaved their own people into making these tunnels, there are testimonies by people who escaped Hamas horror to prove it. I’m not going to link it as you’ll naively call it “propaganda”.

  • tt

    Palestine vs australia soccer match 1939? There must have been some recognition of a palestinian state pre Israel. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=z2ACYGEmkGk

  • Olivia Anderson

    Now you’re just goading, but I’ll reply anyway. 1)I’ve already responded to the use of the word genocide. 2) I’m disgusted by your ‘incoherent nonsense about 400 dead children’. Please show some respect, regardless of your debating position, babies, toddlers and many, many undisputed innocents have been killed in a most horrendous way. Let’s have a dignified debate.

  • npbinni

    “Israel’s terrible track record in using weapons indiscriminately”

    Israelis respond to attacks from Hamas rockets, gunfire and tunnel attacks. The fact that Hamas places its weapons, firing positions and tunnel entrances in homes, UN schools, mosques, ambulances and children’s playgrounds is not the fault of Israel.

    Hamas cynically places people in danger hoping that Israel will provide them with a good headline. It certainly has worked. But only the gullible say that Israel uses weapons indiscriminately. That’s Hamas’s speciality.

  • Tacapall

    ” I’m not going to link it as you’ll naively call it “propaganda”.

    Is it like this Gareth –

    http://www.mediaite.com/online/israel-claims-to-find-hamas-manual-on-using-human-shields/

    Nearly as convenient as all those 9/11 passports.

  • Gareth Murray

    It was British Mandate Palestine, there had been a Palestinian uprising against British rule during this time with leaders like Khalil al-Sakakini attempting to unite Arabs as a Palestinian nation against British rule and increasing numbers of Jewish settlers.

    I have a booklet somewhere about that Palestinian football tour of Australia, I must hoke it out.

  • Olivia Anderson

    900, 000 Palestinians were displaced from their homes and dispossessed from their land ie farmland, legally owned properties in 1948. Within the next 3 years 700, 000 Jews from all over the world moved to the newly formed Israeli state. The refugee Palestinians were not allowed to return to their homes, (this constitutes legal definition of ethnic cleansing) any Jew from any part of the world could claim Israeli citizenship. This is a very complex problem, which will have no solution if people don’t accept that there are long standing and continuing injustices which have been perpetrated against the Palestinians. Continuous annexation of Palestinian land by Israeli settlers. The brutal oppression and occupation which is ongoing in between the wars. For peace to have a chance, as a counter to Hammas violence, these issues must be addressed. There has to be International law accountability in this region. Cameron developing a backbone would be a start. In the meantime, Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions.

  • Gareth Murray

    Sorry Olivia bit I’ll not be boycotting. I’m a regular visitor to Israel and count Arabs and Palestinians among my friends there who despise Hamas as much as the Israelis. There is a growing secularism amongst Israelis of all shades which recognises the complex issues of the “sins” of the past. Of course there’s opposition to secularism with some conservative Israelis seeing the growing number of Israeli Arabs as a threat.

    There is international law accountability in this region, in fact Israel is the only place in the region it can be exercised. Have a look and see the sort of regimes that Israellive near. Soon they’ll have ISIS on their borders. What then?

    You imply that Hamas violence is reactionary, it’s not. Hamas wants to eradicate all Israelis, this makes it difficult to negotiate with such lunatics who are happy to see the people they claim to represent martyrd.

  • Olivia Anderson

    The current Israeli government is right wing and hawkish. Whilst it is widely publicised that Hamas seeks the ‘eradication’ of Israel (see this article which addresses this issue amongst others http://m.democracynow.org/stories/14560 ), it is less widely known that even current Knesset members support the continued ethnic cleansing of Palestine. The propaganda within Israel is staggering. I really can’t begin to address the International law accounability issue..war crimes/ settlement building. What hope is there of a solution when US/West backs Israel to the hilt? Hence why non-violent direct action is a means of pressuring Israel to treat Palestinians accirding to international humanitarian law ?

  • Gareth Murray

    It seems what the more extreme members of the Knesset say gets reported a lot. I suppose they’re the equivalent to George Galloway MP.

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    What is the British policy towards Israel, surely Warsi only has a point if there were some sort of ‘neutrality’ policy towards Israel that the government was in breach of as if not and the British are in favour of Israeli action then what’s her point perhaps she is in the wrong government and party?

  • I’m Trending on Twitter

    I guess the difference is motive, the motive for blowing up schools is not necessarily to purposely wipe out kiddies, but to wipe out Hamas arms dumps that have been so callously and purposely left there, the Israelis are intent to do all they can to eliminate future potential threat to their own children and people, unfortunately it has come at the demise of other children.

  • gendjinn

    I know, but it’s better to debate with supporters of Israel than censor them for their lies.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Who fired the first shot is important. Beyond question I feel Israel should stop their attacks and when this happens I want Hamas to also stop their attacks on Israel.

  • Olivia Anderson

    George is not in government! The latest massacres in Gaza are premeditated plan by Israeli GOVERNMENT to further collectively punish the population using one of most sophisticted armed forces in the world. See my reference elsewhere on this discussiin page about Knesset Deputy Speaker’s thoughts on Gaza on 15th July.