Tendance Coatesy

Left Socialist Blog

Jeremy Corbyn and Owen Smith Back Two State Solution for Israel and Palestine.

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Labour Leadership Candidates Give Statements on Palestine.

Dear Karl,

Thank you very much for your email from Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East. I have read your six pledges and am in support of them all. I have been campaigning for the human rights of the Palestinian people for decades and will continue to do so for as long as their rights are being denied to them.

I have been campaigning for the human rights of the Palestinian people for decades and will continue to do so for as long as their rights are being denied to them.

I fully support a two state solution based on 1967 borders where a fully independent Palestinian state can exist alongside an Israeli state in peace. I would aim to aid the achievement of this by reaffirming the Labour Party’s decision, made under Ed Milliband, to recognize the state of Palestine and would lobby governments, multinational institutions and other political parties around the world to do likewise. I believe that this recognition is essential for establishing the principle of equality between Israel and Palestine.

Both British and American governments have rightly criticised illegal settlements in the West Bank. It is clear to me that the only hope of ending this policy is if the international community intensifies its pressure on the Israeli government. In order to further the peace process, I am, therefore, in support of targeted boycotts with the aim of requiring the cessation of all settlement activity.

To reduce the UK’s role in the perpetuation of this conflict, I have also called for the UK government to cease selling arms to Israel.

Whilst a lasting solution between Israel and Palestine is being sought, it is imperative that the matter of Israeli human rights abuses is addressed urgently. The siege of Gaza, the detention of civilians without trial (including the detention of children) and the harassment and humiliation of Palestinians as they go about their everyday life must cease.

I have previously called for, and will go on demanding, that the strongest possible protests be made to the Israeli government, with escalating consequences, if they do not uphold the human right norms we would expect all those seeking warm relations with Britain to maintain.

Jeremy Corbyn.

LFPME

Owen Smith,

Dear Grahame,

 

Thank you for your letter on behalf of Labour Friends of Palestine & the Middle East on this issue of profound importance. I am proud to be a member of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East and I strongly support a viable peace process based on internationally recognised (1967) borders.

I continue to unequivocally support a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the recognition of a viable Palestinian State alongside a safe and viable Israel. The terms of a peace deal are well known and I support them completely: two sovereign states living side by side in peace and security. The right to self-determination is an inalienable right for the peoples of both Palestine and Israel. I believe that the state of Palestine should be recognised, within the UN and by the UK, and I voted to recognise a Palestinian state in 2014 as an essential step towards to realising a two-state solution. I recognise that, ultimately, this can only be achieved by both sides sitting down together, with equal status, negotiating in good faith and making some difficult compromises. Peace is not something that can be imposed on either the Israelis or Palestinians by force or diktat.

I am opposed to violations of international human rights law, including the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and the construction of the separation wall on Palestinian land. I consider the settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories to be illegal, unjustifiable and detrimental to the prospects of achieving a two state solution. I also agree that the blockade on Gaza should be lifted and that rocket attacks and terrorism against Israelis must stop.

 

I am not convinced that a boycott of goods from Israel would help to achieve a negotiated peace settlement. In order to support the peace process we must build bridges between all those who support peace in the region. My time working in Northern Ireland as part of the peace process showed me that,

beyond negotiations, peace only really comes when each side moves towards reconciliation. As friends of the people of Israel and Palestine, our most important task is to help foster cooperation and coexistence between both sides and I believe the work of LFPME makes an important contribution to that understanding.

I hope this reply is helpful and thank you for giving me the opportunity to set out my views in more detail.

 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Owen Smith

As signaled by AT and DO: and already being debated. 

Both Labour candidates back the “two state” position, a proposed “solution of the Israeli–Palestinian conflict.”

Without going into the complexities of this, not to mention the broader context of the conflicts in the region, the two statements show a great deal of common ground, within the Party, the left internationally, and, most importantly, within important sections  of the people affected.

The debate remains live on “targeted boycotts” aimed at illegal settlements, wider “boycotts”, or the justification for this kind of action against Israel, at all.

We agree with the views of the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty: opposing all-embracing boycotts of Israel as advocated by the BDS movement.

Boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS)

Barghouti is quite upfront that BDS ultimately means ostracising everything Israeli. The campaign is “working to expel Israel and its complicit institutions from international and interstate academic, cultural, sporting… environmental, financial, trade, and other forums. He soft-soaps that “groups that for tactical reasons support only a subset of BDS, or a targeted boycott of specific products or organisations in Israel, or supporting Israel, are still our partners. Boycott is not a one-size-fits-all type of process. What is important to agree on, though, is why we are boycotting and towards what ends”. He distinguishes between advocating such a targeted boycott as a tactic, leading to the ultimate goal of boycotting all Israeli goods and services, and advocating such a targeted boycott as the ultimate strategy. While the former “may be necessary in some countries as a convenient and practical tool to raise awareness and promote debate about colonial and apartheid regime, the latter, despite its lure, would be in direct contradiction with the stated objectives of the Palestinian boycott movement”.

Barghouti is also clear that the boycott of settlement goods alone is not sufficient. The BDS movement, he says,” views the approach of focusing on banning only settlement products as the ultimate goal – rather than the first, convenient step towards a general Israeli products boycott – as problematic, practically, politically and morally”. At a practical level “Israel has made it extremely difficult to differentiate between settlement and other Israeli products, simply because the majority of parent companies are based inside Israel or because colony-based companies have official addresses there”. Politically “even if distinguishing between produce of settlements and produce of Israel were possible, activists who on principle – rather than out of convenience – advocate a boycott of only the former may argue that they are merely objecting to the Israeli military occupation and colonisation of 1967 and have no further problems with Israel”. Finally, there is a moral problem with accepting these “two grave… violations of human rights and international law as givens”.

BDS may seem in the ascendant for now. It may make progress in places, on the back of the Israeli state’s next atrocity. BDS needs to be fought politically, because it stands in the path of two states, the only consistently democratic solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict. But BDS is ultimately a pessimistic approach. It put the agency for change outside of the region. It wants civil society, which includes not only NGOs and unions but bourgeois governments and business internationally to make things right for the Palestinians. There is another road. The Palestinian workers in alliance with Israeli workers fighting for a two state democratic solution to the national question, is the force that could deliver peace and much more besides.

Written by Andrew Coates

September 15, 2016 at 12:07 pm

5 Responses

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  1. Both statements are welcome. Given that some on the “left” (eg the SWP) accuse supporters of a two states solution of being “Zionists”, will they now level that charge at Corbyn.

    Jim Denham

    September 15, 2016 at 3:51 pm

  2. I suspect they will be very quiet.

    But I will lay a hefty wager that Tony Greenstein will not let common decency stand in the way of some further excess on his part although for some reasons (we demand to know why) he has not blogged for a while.

    “The AWL is an oddity amongst the Left. They campaign on the slogan ‘2 Peoples, 2 States’ and see a Jewish state as a positive virtue. Alone among the Left, the AWL have been vociferous opponents of Boycott Divestment and Sanctions against Israel. When I spoke at UNISON’s national conference in 2007 in support of BDS, the only speaker from the left was from AWL. Notwithstanding which the motion passed with about 80% support!

    AWL are blind to the fact that even within Israel, Palestinians are treated as guests, there on sufferance. They view the opposition of people on the Left to Israel as a form of ‘left anti-Semitism’ but also, at one and the same time, accept that this ‘anti-Semitism’ is not racist. Its guru, Sean Matgamna writes that ‘apart from a nut here and there, left-wing anti-semites are not racist.’ [What is “left-wing anti-semitism”?]

    In my view this is nothing other than a capitulation to social chauvinism and western imperialism. It is not the first time that the AWL has done this.”

    http://azvsas.blogspot.co.uk/2016/09/is-labour-right-using-anti-semitism-as.html

    Andrew Coates

    September 15, 2016 at 4:49 pm

  3. They are both reasonably sensible statements – but the Corbyn formulation “if they do not uphold the human right norms we would expect all those seeking warm relations with Britain to maintain” is problematic to me. Firstly, it conveniently excludes regimes with dodgy human rights records (Russia, Cuba, Venezuela) who are **not** particularly seeking “warm relations with Britain” and, secondly, it ignores certain regimes (e.g. Pakistan) which **do** have “warm relations with Britain” but also have very dodgy human rights records.

    alex ross

    September 15, 2016 at 4:59 pm

  4. Very true Ross.

    We remain critical of this aspect of his politics.

    It would be interesting to see Labour’s policy on Pakistan, which faces seriously based allegations that it is a racist religious state which fails to uphold human rights.

    Human Rights Watch report 2016.

    “The government ended an unofficial moratorium on judicial executions; the death penalty was carried out 296 times in 2015 at time of writing. Abuses by the security forces led thousands of Afghans living in Pakistan to return to Afghanistan or flee elsewhere. Parliament passed vague and overbroad counterterrorism legislation. The government belatedly acknowledged the need to regulate madrassahs (Islamic schools) and disband armed militias operating in the country, but took few steps to do so. The government officially recognized the need to curb incitement to violence and terrorism financing.

    Religious minorities faced violent attacks, insecurity, and persecution, largely from Sunni extremist groups—which the government failed to address. The government continued to use blasphemy laws to institutionalize discrimination against religious minorities. The security forces engaged in extrajudicial killings and enforced disappearances to counter political unrest in the province of Balochistan and in the port city of Karachi in Sindh province. Torture of suspects by the police remained rampant. Large numbers of journalists were killed or injured in attacks, most of which remain unresolved.

    Counterterrorism and Law Enforcement Abuses

    Suicide bombings, armed attacks, and killings by the Taliban, Al-Qaeda, and their affiliates targeted nearly every sector of Pakistani society, including religious minorities and journalists, resulting in hundreds of deaths. In connection with these attacks, military courts sentenced at least 15 people to death in proceedings shrouded in secrecy, giving rise to fair trial concerns. Neither the Pakistani government nor the military articulated any criteria for selection of cases to be tried in military courts, giving the impression of arbitrariness. No independent monitoring of the process was allowed, and the news of death sentences was often given by the Interservices Public Relations, a military communications agency, through social media.
    Attacks on Minorities and Sectarian Violence

    The government failed to take adequate steps to prevent and respond to deadly attacks on Shia and other religious minorities in 2015. In January, at least 53 people were killed in a bomb blast at a Shia mosque in the city of Shikarpur in Sindh province. Jundullah, a splinter group of the Taliban that has pledged support for the armed extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS), claimed responsibility for the attack.

    In February, 19 people were killed after Taliban militants stormed a Shia mosque in Peshawar. In March, suicide bombers belonging to Tehrik-i-Taliban targeted two churches in the Christian neighborhood of Youhana Abad in Lahore, killing 14. In May, an attack by Jundullah on members of the Ismaili Shia community in Karachi killed 43 people.

    The attacks highlighted the threat armed extremist groups to pose to religious minorities, and the government’s failure to apprehend or prosecute perpetrators.
    Religious Minorities

    At least 19 people remained on death row after being convicted under Pakistan’s draconian blasphemy law; hundreds awaited trial. The majority facing blasphemy charges were members of religious minorities, often victimized by these charges as a result of personal disputes.

    In February, in a welcome move, Punjab’s provincial judiciary drew up a shortlist of 50 cases of alleged blasphemy in which the accused was found to be “victimized” by inadequate evidence or lack of legal counsel. The provincial government commited to undertake the legal defense of these defendants—some of them suffering from intellectual or psychosocial diabilities—in special “fast track” trials.

    In April, the Sindh provincial assembly enacted a law requiring the mandatory psychological examination of any person accused of blasphemy and allowing judicial discretion to reduce the sentences of those convicted of blasphemy whose medical evaluation produce a diagnosis of a “mental disorder.”
    Freedom of Expression

    Many journalists increasingly practiced self-censorship, fearing retribution from both state security forces and militant groups. Media outlets remained under pressure to avoid reporting on or criticizing human rights violations by the military in counterterrorism operations. The Taliban and other armed groups threatened media outlets and targeted journalists and activists for their work.

    In April, Syed Wahidur Rahman, a journalism professor and former journalist, was gunned down in Karachi. Also in April, Sabeen Mahmud, a prominent Pakistani social and human rights activist, was shot dead shortly after hosting an event on Balochistan’s “disappeared people” in Karachi. In June, Baloch journalist Zafarullah Jatak was gunned down in his home in Balochistan’s capital, Quetta.

    In September, in Karachi, Aftab Alam, a senior journalist, was gunned down near his home, while Arshad Ali Jaffery, a TV satellite engineer, was killed by three gunmen. Abdul Azam, a journalist, was wounded after being shot at in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

    The National Assembly’s Standing Committee on Information Technology and Telecommunication approved the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act 2015 in September. The bill included abusive provisions that allow the government to censor online content, criminalize Internet users, and permit the government to access metadata without any form of judicial review or privacy protection. YouTube, banned by the government since September 2012 for hosting “blasphemous content,” remained blocked in 2015.

    The Pakistan government forced the international aid agency Save the Children to suspend operations in June and banned the Norwegian Refugee Council. Independent organizations faced increasing pressure and harassment from the government.

    The Pakistani government announced the “Policy for Regulation of INGOs in Pakistan” on October 1, 2015. The new regulations require all INGOs to register and obtain prior permission from the Ministry of Interior to carry out any activities in the country and to restrict their operations to specific issues and geographical areas. The ministry is broadly empowered to cancel registrations on grounds of “involvement in any activity inconsistent with Pakistan’s national interests, or contrary to Government policy”—terms that have vague meanings and can be used for political reasons to target critical organizations or individuals.
    Balochistan

    The security forces continued to unlawfully kill and forcibly disappear suspected Baloch militants and opposition activists in 2015. In January, 13 highly decomposed bodies of ethnic Baloch individuals were found in Khuzdar district. Baloch nationalists and other militant groups also stepped up attacks on non-Baloch civilians. In April, suspected Baloch militants gunned down 20 laborers in Turbat’s Gogdan area. In May, 35 people were forced off a bus and kidnapped by members of a militant Baloch nationalist group, the United Baloch Army; 23 of the passengers were killed.”

    More https://www.hrw.org/world-report/2016/country-chapters/pakistan

    Andrew Coates

    September 15, 2016 at 5:14 pm

  5. Tony Greenstein is also apparently part of what Louis Proyect has called “the Baathist amen corner” (i.e. an apologist for Bashar al-Assad’s regime as it’s in life-or-death struggle with “al Queda.” Forgive the Trump quote but it really is “sad!”

    jschulman

    September 16, 2016 at 2:19 am


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