The proposed ceasefire offered the Palestinians of Gaza nothing

Gaza demo, London, July 19 2014Many people are under the misconception that Hamas turned down the offer of “peace” by rejecting the Egyptian ceasefire proposal, influenced by the Middle East peace envoy himself – Tony Blair. It is therefore vital to understand why this so-called ceasefire is bogus

  • The Sisi-led junta in Egypt has been murdering, imprisoning and torturing Hamas’s political allies. They are no friends of Hamas. They have, however, been in discussions with Israel over military co-operation. Hamas has no reason to trust Egypt.
  • Egypt did not even contact Hamas before announcing the ceasefire offer. It wasn’t a serious offer. If you were in dispute with someone, and someone else simply announced to the world “I want them to both stop fighting, and I’m not going to even discuss it with them”, you wouldn’t take them seriously.
  • A ceasefire is not some magical potion. Israel routinely and regularly breaks ceasefires. One thing the Palestinians are good at is meticulously documenting Israeli attacks. All this time when you hear about rockets from Gaza, the documented truth is that Israel has drones in the sky firing missiles at people it doesn’t like. This goes back decades. The invasion of Lebanon by Israel in 1982 happened because the PLO adhered to the ceasefire and Israel created pretexts for breaking it.
  • What would this proposed ceasefire mean in practice? It would mean the existing air attacks by Israel would stop. But in the few weeks before it started, Israel was still shooting Palestinian children, Gaza fishermen etc. Israel has just arrested 6,000 Palestinians and re-arrested all those who had been freed during previous ceasefires. This is what Israel, the Egyptian government, and Tony Blair expects the people of Gaza to revert to. It would not be a ceasefire under the commonly understood meaning of it. It would be “a slight reduction in how many children Israel kills”. Why would Hamas accept it? Any negotiation, even negotiations while children are being killed, has to be serious. Not just “we’ll agree to anything if you’ll just stop killing us!”
  • It would not provide Hamas any diplomatic room in which to improve a status quo of siege, embargo, and immiseration. The brutal truth is Israel will only stop killing Palestinians with impunity when it is forced to. We are talking here about a state that is already in massive violation of the UN Charter, chemical weapons conventions and the Geneva Conventions.
  • Just a few days ago, Netanyahu announced that Israel has no interest in a ceasefire. That was about 12 hours before Egypt offered it and Israel accepted it. What changed? Did Netanyahu receive assurances from Sisi and Blair that the ceasefire on offer gives Hamas nothing in return but is more an exercise in alleviating the growing international condemnation of Israel’s brutal military assault whilst ending the rockets being fired from Gaza in a pitiful and desperate attempt at resistance?
  • Rather than concoct a bogus ceasefire, why hasn’t the Egyptian government opened the Rafah crossing? Their refusal to do so, except to allow Egyptians and other foreigners to leave Gaza, makes them complicit in Israel’s assault. lf they expect Hamas to take them seriously, they would have opened the Rafah crossing to allow people to escape and the injured to be evacuated by now.
  • THERE WAS ALREADY A CEASEFIRE. Israel is violating it right now. I know enough about Hamas to be able to say with confidence that if Israel offered to adhere to the original ceasefire, Hamas would be willing to talk. What they actually want is a ceasefire that means something, that starts negotiation on prisoner release and on the loosening/ending of the siege – so that medicines can flow in, cement can be imported etc. Israel doesn’t allow these ‘luxuries’, leaving resistance as the only option.
  • Hamas is a social organisation as well as a political one. It has roots in every part of Gaza society. I am not a supporter of Hamas. But Hamas has a better idea of what Israel’s aims and motives are, and what the people of Gaza want it to do to resist them than anybody looking on from the safety and privilege of the West ever could.

The reality is that Egypt wants to carry on crushing the Muslim Brotherhood, which Hamas is a part of. This ceasefire was a diplomatic gift from Egypt to Israel. Israel always intended to carry on attacking Gaza – but they wanted the diplomatic victory which this fraudulent ceasefire gives it.

The ceasefire was and is a lie.

IMPORTANT UPDATE: Following the publication of this article, which was mostly speculative analysis based on recent history & experience, Haaretz published an article which pretty much proved what I was saying here.

Let’s make this huge: Demo in support of Gaza, Saturday 19 July, London

Gaza demo, London, July 19 2014On SU we don’t publicise a lot of events – it’s a full-time job to keep track of the amazing array of events in the fight for social justice, against racism, against attacks on the disabled, the elderly, the young, Muslims and so on.

This one’s vital though. The mainstream media is complicit in Israel’s crimes against the people of Gaza, as is the government. The silence is part of Israel’s power. We have almost no power to do anything to stop this, but one thing we can do is take to the streets in huge numbers, to try to break through the wall of silence, to try to shame our government – and to show our sisters and brothers in Gaza that the people of the world are with them.

With that in mind, please, please try to get to this demo. It’s on Saturday, the weather looks like it’ll be amazing. It’s our chance to show our anger at our government, which gives diplomatic and military support to Israel no matter what crimes it commits. William Hague has given full support to Israel. But as we’ve asked, and had no reply to, how many children should the people of Gaza put up with being killed before the British government will make the same statement, declaring that Palestine has the right to defend itself against attack?
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Did Israel really think Hamas would turn the other cheek?

This is another good article by Gideon Levy, locating things the way any honest journalist would: it’s not ‘Israel the victim’, it’s Israel, pushing again and again and again, and Hamas hitting back.

Israelis in Sderot - they watch for explosions in Gaza and cheer when they see and hear them. That's what Israel has becomeFollowing the kidnapping of three teenaged Israelis in the territories and their murders, Israel wildly arrested some 500 Palestinians, including members of parliament and dozens of freed prisoners who had no connection at all to the kidnapping. The army terrorized the entire West Bank with a dragnet and mass arrests, whose declared aim was “to crush Hamas.” A racist campaign raged on the Internet and led to a Palestinian teenager being burned alive. All this followed Israel’s punitive campaign against the effort to establish a Palestinian unity government that the world was prepared to recognize, its violation of its commitment to release prisoners, a halt of the diplomatic process and a refusal to propose any alternate plan or vision.

Did we really think the Palestinians would accept all this submissively, obediently, and calmly, and that peace and quiet would continue to prevail in Israel’s cities?
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Solidarity with Gaza

Gaza attackAs ever, the dominant narrative being presented to us on the current conflict in Gaza is that Israel is defending itself and its civilians against unprovoked aggression by Palestinian terrorists. And as expected, it is the same narrative being pushed in Washington and London, as like a well-rehearsed play the actors involved perform their respective roles with the same old aplomb.

It is the same narrative we have been subjected to over countless years, one intended to paint Israel, that democratic outpost of Western civilisation surrounded by barbarian hordes intent on its destruction, as perennial victim.

But as in the past, so as now, it is a lie.

The truth is the current conflict has little if anything to do with Hamas or its rockets. It does however have everything to do with the state of Israel’s decades-long policy of occupation, embargo, siege, collective punishment, expropriation, ethnic cleansing and apartheid. Israel’s war is not with Hamas but with the Palestinian people in their entirety, both the 1.5 million in Gaza and the 3 million in the West Bank. It is a war waged every hour of every day there is occupation, checkpoints, and settlements. It is a war waged every hour of every day there is an economic embargo, siege, and collective punishment. It is a war being waged every second of the indignity and humiliation suffered by its victims.
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PFLP statement on US brokered peace talks with Israel

imagesThe Palestinian people reject Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ return to the negotiating table with the Israeli occupation, said Comrade Khalida Jarrar, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. There is an urgent need for continued rallies and demonstrations condemning the return to these futile negotiations, said Jarrar, despite the attacks by security agencies in the West Bank. Jarrar noted that a number of PFLP activists were injured on Sunday due to the attack of PA security forces against a march rejecting the decision of the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with “Israel,” to end the monopoly on decision-making, and restore national unity based on resistance and steadfastness.

Jarrar said that the march was confronted by a blockade by security forces who refused to let demonstrators march to the Muqata’, the PA presidential compound. The security forces beat demonstrators with batons and wounded dozens, she reported. She emphasized that the PFLP rejects these negotiations under the auspices of the U.S. “It is clear that the Oslo approach has proved over 20 years that these bilateral negotiations do not lead to results and instead give the occupation cover to continue its policy of occupation and aggression on the ground through building settlements. We must stop these negotiations,” Jarrar said.

Comrade Abu Ahmed Fouad, member of the Political Bureau of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, strongly condemned the suppression of a mass march of our people by the security services in Ramallah. These demonstrators came out to express their opinion against a return to negotiations and were attacked, said Fouad, noting that this is contrary to the rules and the fundamental principles of democracy and the right of people to free expression. Fouad said that what happened in the streets of Ramallah yesterday was a popular demonstration to pressure the PA leadership to stop the negotiating process.

He noted that the Zionist enemy has always been the first and last beneficiary of such negotiations, and that it is the right of the PFLP and the Palestinian factions to carry out activities and mass events to prevent any concessions at the exprense of the Palestinian people and the national cause. He said that the negotiations beginning in Washington do not represent the will of the people or the Palestinian liberation movement and should end immediately, and that the Front will continue its opposition to the negotiations and its struggle for an alternative national strategy that rejects the path of the Oslo Accords and the subsequent harmful agreements.

Comrade Emad Abu Rahma, member of the Central Committee of the PFLP, said that those responsible for the decision to return to negotiations with the government of the Zionist enemy must be held accountable, stressing that this action violates the decisions of the Central Council of the PLO, as well as the majority of political and social Palestinian forces, who oppose this humiliating return to the negotiations table.

Abu Rahma said further that the PLO Executive Committee meeting which preceded this arbitrary individual decision to return to negotiations confirmed the minimum terms of the Central Council, including a total halt to settlement construction, the release of Palestinian prisoners and detainees, and to consider international law and UN resolutions the reference for any negotiations. However, the decision to return to negotiations was taken in light of Israel’s refusal of these conditions, the deception of the US, and a promised release of a limited number of prisoners in order to provide cover for the Netanyahu government to continue its policies of Judaization, settlement and aggression against the Palestinian people.

He called for the broadest popular movement to bring down the Oslo approach and these negotiations, which have brought only destruction, siege and division to our people for 20 years, and to restore national unity based on resistance and confrontation of the occupation.

Hat tip: Vanya



The Palestinians don’t need peace. What they need is justice.

israel_palestine_map4.jpgSo here we go again – yet another round of US brokered peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Amid great fanfare the world has been regaled with the usual rhetorical flourishes on the part of – on this occasion – current US Secretary of State John Kerry as to the determination and commitment of the US when it comes to achieving concrete progress in pursuit of a meaningful peace agreement.

As part of the process, Kerry has successfully negotiated the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners from Israeli captivity. As an aside, one of the most telling facts when analysing the nature of this ongoing conflict is that there are currently around 5000 Palestinians being held by Israel while not one Israeli is being held captive by the Palestinians.

The bald truth is that the entire Palestinian population of Gaza and the West Bank are de facto captives of Israel, living under military occupation in the case of the West Bank, and under siege in the case of Gaza. Think about that for a moment – 4.4 million men, women, and children living under military occupation and siege in 2013, both in violation of international law, while the international community has up to now been content to sit by and do nothing.

There is no need for a road map or peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. All that is required is the requisite political will on the part of the United States to support and demand the application of international law in order to end Israel’s continued negation of Palestinian human rights and self determination. What is needed is the application of international law when it comes to the settlers and the expansion of Jewish settlements throughout Palestine.

The history of this conflict is long and deep. But the idea that it can be resolved by continuing to deny the Palestinians justice is fanciful. And nor is it just to ascribe equal weight to both sides. Even Israelis now acknowledge that Israel is an apartheid state. The fact that a recent convert to Judaism anywhere in the world automatically qualifies for Israeli citizenship, while a Palestinian refugee is prevented from moving back to Palestine to reclaim his right of return cuts to the heart of the issue.

This is precisely the problem with the terms of every round of peace negotiations we’ve seen going all the way back to Oslo in 1993. The key year in this seemingly and up to now intractable conflict is not 1967, as commonly presented and presupposed. The key year is 1948 and the process of ethnic cleansing, dispossession, and terrorism by which Israel came into being. It is this original sin, and the injustices which flowed and continue to flow from it, which must be addressed if there is to be anything approaching a meaningful resolution to the conflict.

Justice for the Palestinians is just as much in the interests of Israel and the Israeli people as it is for the Palestinians. Culturally, economically, politically, and socially, the occupation and siege of Gaza has poisoned Israeli society with fear, hatred, and racism.

Martin Luther King said, “We are not makers of history. We are made by history.”

When it comes to the question of Israel and Palestine the objective must be to overcome the chains of the past in order to forge a new tomorrow. The tragic history of the Jewish people in the 20th century has enveloped the Palestinians like a dark cloud of vengeance.

Punishing a people for daring to exist in the name of a people whose existence was almost extinguished in Europe could and can never form the basis of peaceful and positive mutual relations.

Only the strong can compromise and only equals can reach agreement. The notion that representatives of the fourth largest military power in the world can sit down with representatives of an immiserated and colonised people in an atmosphere of equality and respect in talks brokered by Israel’s sponsor, supporter, and key strategic ally is entirely fallacious. The US cannot claim to be an honest broker in these talks. Washington is not a neutral participant and never has been. This is illustrated by the appointment of Martin Indyk by John Kerry as the US peace envoy, tasked with handling the peace negotiations. Indyk is a former staffer with AIPAC, the influential pro-Israel lobby organisation based in Washington.

How can this man be trusted to be even handed in his approach to these negotiations? On the contrary, his appointment is an insult to the Palestinians and their too long history of suffering. The United Nations should be brokering these talks not the United States.

Ultimately, and definitively, only when Israel and the US recognises that peace can only come after justice and not before will anything approaching meaningful progress towards a lasting resolution to this decades-long conflict be possible.

Anything less is political embroidery.