This is a momentous week for Palestinians. On Friday, Palestine will ask the United Nations to grant it statehood. The US has said that it will veto any Security Council resolution. It is then likely that the UN General Assembly will grant the Palestinians ‘observer state’ status. Not everything they wanted, but it will be a political and moral victory. Most importantly, it will change forever the dynamic of any future negotiations with Israel.
Attempts by the US (their team headed by an AIPAC placeman, Dennis Ross) to head off the Palestinians at the pass and get the peace process restarted, has failed. The peace process is moribund. Netanyahu has done everything he can, including raising two fingers to Obama over building of new settlements, to make sure it failed. Netanyahu doesn’t want peace, or for the peace process to resurface, he just wants to continue colonising the Occupied Territories. Faced with Netanyahu’s intransigence and obfuscation, the Palestinians have finally lost patience. Now Israel is going to have to negotiate with a state – albeit one they occupy – and that’s a very different ball game.
This is also a defining week for US Middle East policy. The US veto and their continued unquestioning, unwavering support for Israel (The US’s veto next week will be the 43rd time it has been the solitary veto on resolutions condemning Israel) is going to ensure that their influence in the ‘new Middle East’ is going to be severely reduced in the coming decades. This blind support of the ‘ungrateful ally’, as former Defence Secretary Bob Gates described Israel recently, and the stranglehold that the Israeli lobby has over American politicians, and policy towards Israel, is now so absolute that it’s questionable if America should be involved in any future peace negotiations. A point that needs to be made – loudly.
Isn’t it time that Europe, and Britain in particular, started to distance itself from the US over the Middle East? Shouldn’t we give our moral compass a good shake and start to give more open support to the Palestinians? Has the time not come for us to speak our truth about the obscenity that is the blockade of Gaza? Our silence on the matter is shameful.
Britain should have the guts to vote ‘Yes’ in the Security Council on Friday, not only because it’s the right thing to do, but to demonstrate to the US just how much clear water there is between us on the issue of Palestine. It would also give support to the many Jews across the world who abhor what is being said and done in their name by Israel and by AIPAC fanatics in the US, who want to see a just settlement for the people of Palestine.