Why are LFI working against a two-state solution?


by Sunny Hundal    
4:08 pm - January 24th 2013

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This week the foreign secretary William Hague announced in FCO questions that the two-state solution to the conflict between Israel and Palestine is slipping away, largely as a result of settlement construction.

He also talked about exploring “incentives and disincentives” to settlement construction, but failed to elaborate on what these might be.

Meanwhile, as Israelis went to the polls to elect their next parliament, the UK’s largest pro-Israel lobby group BICOM (Britain-Israel Communications and Research Centre) hosted an election night party for the Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem Friends of Israel at Skyloft in Millbank tower.

Organisers of the event were publicising the Israeli company SodaStream (a fizzy drinks makers), having the company’s carbonators on hand to provide soft drinks. Sodastream was name-checked by Israeli Ambassador Daniel Taub from the platform and BICOM was thanked for promoting a great Israeli export.

Except that Sodastream’s ‘principal manufacturing facility’ is located in Mishor Adumim, which is the industrial zone of one of the largest illegal settlements on the West Bank, Ma’ale Adumim.

Last October, 22 European NGOs published a report on the effects of settlement construction on the Palestinian economy and prospects for statehood.

That report included a section on Sodastream and how it pays taxes directly back into the settlement enterprise and intentionally mislabels its products ‘Made in Israel’.

BICOM has form on not caring a great deal about illegal settlement construction on the Palestinian West Bank. They have repeatedly played down the importance of settlements in articles on their site and at the Telegraph and Huffington Post.

Furthemore, BICOM’s Chairman and primary funder, Poju Zabludowicz has significant investments in a mall in Ma’ale Adumim settlement – and has property on the West Bank himself.

But Labour Friends of Israel prides itself on the slogan “working towards a two-state solution”.

So how can anyone claim to be working towards a two-state solution in Israel while supporting the very settler economy which makes such a solution impossible? Labour Friends of Israel are contributing towards greater instability in the region with such alliances.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Foreign affairs ,Middle East ,News


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Reader comments


Disgusting, but not surprising, that BICOM was promoting those profiting from occupation. As I wrote recently, they have a little international law problem (http://bit.ly/Vckqnm)

By the way, this recent publication is useful (anticipating some of the likely colonial-style apologia):

http://www.whoprofits.org/content/palestinian-workers-settlements

Sodastream? Just when I need a refill I discover I have to boycott them! Thanks, Sunny.

Sodastream’s still going? I thought all their business dried up after Bullseye finished and stopped buying them as prizes…

Stop chucking rockets into Israel, stop the Palestinian leadership spending all of the cash on bling lifestyles and gambling and Eastern European prostitutes in places like Northern Cyprus, get the totemic victims out of the camps where they have been held against their wills for over half a century and we will listen to you.

5. Chris Brennan

Exactly Imran, exactly.

I’m not sure why you would expect the ‘friends of Israel’ groups to be supporters of a peaceful solution to the conflict in the first place. They’re not pro-peace, they’re pro-Israel lobby groups. Exactly the same is true, of course, of their ‘friends of Palestine’/’Palestine solidarity campaign’ equivalents.

Imran Khan’s comment above is a perfect illustration of my point: the conversation about Israel/Palestine is mostly carried on by people who don’t give two shits about peace, they’re only interested in gaining support for their side and denigrating the other one.

I’ll say to my comrades in LFoI: you need to get out of that organisation. I’m not saying you should hate Israel, but to prominently label yourself a “friend of Israel” at the present time will always come across as an endorsement of the policies of the Israeli government. Those policies are not ones that socialists can support. You might as well be supporting a dictatorship, because that’s what Israel is to the Palestinians, isn’t it?

The clue to Labour’s position is in the ‘friends of Israel’ bit.

The Jewish Chronicle has published a list of Jewish MPs in Britain’s Parliament:
It names 24 in total – Conservatives 12, Labour 10 and Liberal Democrats 2.

The Jewish population in the UK is about 280,000 or approx 0.46 per cent. There are 650 seats in the House of Commons so, as a proportion, Jewish entitlement would be only three seats.

With 24 seats they are eight times over-represented. Which means, of course, that other groups must be under-represented, were Muslims as well represented they would have over 200 M.Ps.
Which wouldn’t leave much room for the Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and the rest of us Godless sorts.

The concept of some form of entitlement”, whereby Pagans, Primitive Methodists, Muslims, Jews (or any other minority groups) are limited to a certain number of seats in Parliament according to their numbers, is fortunately entirely alien to British democracy (such as it pretends to be).
Candidates are supposed to appeal for votes on the basis of their policies rather than assuming some form of “entitlement” because of their God given Right to Rule, religion or ethnicity.
Sadly, there are many who are happy for people to confuse all Jews with Zionists and Muslims with those hard line members of Hamas.
It seems I cannot criticise Hamas without being seen as a ‘Friend of Israel’, nor Zionists without being seen as a rabid anti semitic.
It appears to me that the latter position is one that is openly encouraged, as any ‘post’ opposing Israel’s actions will immediately bring forth accusations of anti semitism and frequently personal abuse.

10. Shatterface

The Jewish population in the UK is about 280,000 or approx 0.46 per cent. There are 650 seats in the House of Commons so, as a proportion, Jewish entitlement would be only three seats.

I wasn’t aware ‘entitlement’ was based on ethnic quotas.

Maybe it’s time take back all those Oscars and Nobel Prizes as well.

As an Israeli living in Tel-Aviv, I’m not interested in continuing this “tit for tat” discussion. BOTH sides must come see the obvious resolution to our problems. Yes, every side has it’s nasty stories to tell about the other side, and both are just wasting time counting their dead.
Much as I am a true believer in peace, and have just voted for one of the extreme left parties (which call for the end of occupation), I do feel there is in Britain a strong element of unjustifiably condemning Israel ALONE and whitewashing the Palestinians as being saintly martirs. As I have just stated above BOTH sides are to blame – not JUST Israel.
Anyone who has a brain must realize that picking on Israel ALONE has the psychological effect of pushing us against the wall, and, as a result, choosing to vote for the continuation of the occupation. For the past ten years or so, since the world (and this include the biased BBC)have continuasly ignored the daily missile attacks on Israeli cities down south, and just recently even on Tel-Aviv (!), Many left wing voters have move to the right partly (at least) for this reason. SO, if anyone truely gives a damn, they may give another thought to what kind of outcome they want to see here. Continue singling out and blaming only Israel, will only push more and more people here to the right. We left voters are becoming a rare breed in Israel.

Barrie J

If you don’t think ethnic groups should be represented in Parliament on a quota basis why go on about Jews being over represented ? What has Labour Friends of Israel got to do with that anyway ? If you’re worried about people accusing you of anti semitism it’s probably best to avoid making remarks that look amazingly like it.

The number of Jewish MPs is due to the fact that Jews have always been more active in politics than other groups. They made up a disproportionate number of the members of communist parties.

My own community and others originating in the Asian subcontinent tend to be very politically active while others, from an African background for instance, don’t.

The tragedy of the Palestinians is that due to a lack of democracy in the Arab world they have never been able to decide what they wanted but have always been told. A fraction of the money spent on trying to destroy Israel would have resettled the refugees in the Arab world.

The irony of the whole thing is that if the Arab League had accepted the UN partition plan in 1948 they would have ended up with more land than they did when they had to accept a ceasefire.

^”The tragedy of the Palestinians is that due to a lack of democracy in the Arab world they have never been able to decide what they wanted but have always been told.”

To be fair, there *have* been a few elections among the Palestinians… unfortunately, in the last one they voted for Hamas. (And there’s every likelihood that, if another election was held, they’d do so again.)

Meanwhile, the right continue to win elections in Israel. And so the world’s most depressing conflict goes on…

I’m in Israel and visited one of the settlements just yesterday. Ariel, deep inside the West Bank. It’s the one that digs furthest in. The bus to it from Tel Aviv is subsidised, and only costs under two UK pounds each way.
The day before I went to another caled Alfe Menshe.
You can see Tel Aviv from it. The distance between them is so small. They really are ”facts on the ground” and maybe the Palestinians should just get on with it and make the best deal that they can. A bit of land here and a bit there is probably not all that important in the end, as you just have to use the land that you have and develop that. Israel has shown how to maximise the most out of available land. There is going to be a strong border between the two states which Palestinians will not be able to freely cross whatever happens, so maybe they should just go for what they can get.
Like Israel did when it jumped at the chance of partition in 1948.

I also visited the controversial settlement Ma’ale Audmim next to the proposed ”E1” development in east Jerusalem. E1 is just a few hills with some scrub and tree cover. Because of what’s already been built around it, it was never going to be much use to Palestinians anyway.

They need to get talking and sort this out once and for all. East Jerusalem does not look like much of a future capital of an independent Palestinian state. There isn’t much there. Why not just make Ramalah the capital?
Too much pride is involved I think.

If our political parties were really interested in a peaceful solution in the Middle East they would ban affiliated organisations that claim to be friends of one side or the other. A peaceful solution will require both sides to make painful compromises and the role of a country like the UK is to be part of an international effort to bang heads together so as to make those painful compromises. That is very difficult if the main political parties allow organisations within them that take one side or the other.

If our political parties were really interested in a peaceful solution in the Middle East they would ban affiliated organisations that claim to be friends of one side or the other.

Why ? Assuming that Britain has any influence on the Middle East at all. which I very much doubt – it’s just another of the fond delusions of chattering progressives that everyone is hanging on their every word – how would banning internal party groupings help ? Leave that sort of stuff to SWP.

damon

It’s no good you coming on here and talking pragmatic common sense, what the ME needs is emotion, ideology and maximum interference from meddling busybodies with suspect agendas, it’s worked so far, don’t change a winning formula.

The two state solution is dead. No Israeli leader has ever negotiated in good faith at trying to achieve one anyway. The aim has always been to either drive all Palestinians out of Palestine of to contain them in small reservations.

The problem is that the Israel has now stolen so much Palestinian land that a Palestinian state is no longer viable whilst the Palestinians refuse to be ethnically cleansed from their homeland. This is leading inexorably to a one state solution.

“The two state solution is dead. No Israeli leader has ever negotiated in good faith at trying to achieve one anyway. The aim has always been to either drive all Palestinians out of Palestine of to contain them in small reservations.”

Really and the Arabs living in Israel, would you count them as Palestinians, why weren’t they driven out ? If that was the aim why hasn’t it happened ? Israel has won every war it has fought and occupied the West Bank since 1967, plenty of time to have expelled all the Palestinians if it wanted to.

“The problem is that the Israel has now stolen so much Palestinian land that a Palestinian state is no longer viable whilst the Palestinians refuse to be ethnically cleansed from their homeland. This is leading inexorably to a one state solution.”

Leaving aside the fact that this is the usual anti Israeli pack of lies, of course a Palestinian state is viable, if not then why, as damon has pointed out, were Jews willing to accept the tiny area of land allocated to them under the 1948 partition ? Perhaps you mean that the corrupt Palestinian leadership couldn’t run a bath never mind a state, no matter how big or small. This one state solution, how is that to be achieved it wouldn’t by any chance be by the preferred Hamas approach would it ? You know, the one that involves driving the Jews into the sea.

21. flyingrodent

I would’ve thought the question asked in the post would could be easily answered if you worked from the reasonable presumption that almost all of “Israel’s” PR campaigns are run not by Israelis as such, so much as a bunch of mental right-wing bomb-’em-all-and-screw-the-consequences lunatics of various religions and none.

“How would banning internal party groupings help ?”

It would make it clear that the mainstream political parties are neither in favour of illegal settlements nor in favour of terrorism.

Guano

So allowing Labour Friends of Israel implies that Labour is in favour of illegal ( whatever that means ) settlements ? I’d also be interested to know which of the parties is presumed to be in favour of terrorism.
Meanwhile we have an individual Lib Dem MP making distasteful comparisons between Israel and the Nazis, maybe the parties should just ban individual MPs and have everything decided by a central committee, we probably wouldn’t notice much difference.

Thornavis – if you are commenting on the Middle East, I presume that you do know what is illegal abour Israeli settlements in the Occupied territories.

Guano

Illegal in this context is meaningless. The whole situation has only come about because the Arabs stupidly refused to accept a partition which was very much in their favour in 1948 and chose war instead. Maybe you could tell me if that was legal ? Since then Israel has done whatever it considered necessary to defend itself, including occupying territory whose status has never actually been decided. I really don’t care whether that counts as illegal or not, it’s something to be sorted out in a full peace settlement, which the Palestinians could have had if they hadn’t had such a recalcitrant and boneheaded leadership. In fact the Palestinians are rather like the Austrians with their ultimatum to Serbia in 1914, they’ve got themselves into the hopeless position of refusing to take yes for an answer.

26. Janet Green

The West Bank is run for the convenience of illegal settlements with over 500 Israeli run checkpoints and barriers preventing the Palestinian population from living normal lives. Their access to education, work and medical facilities is restricted so that the length of time for even the shortest of journeys is unpredictable. Meanwhile the settlers move freely between the illegal settlements and into Jerusalem.

Thornavis – is your position the official position of the various Friends of Israel organisations?

“Thornavis – is your position the official position of the various Friends of Israel organisations?”

No idea, my position is entirely my own, although it’s probably a fairly common one amongst those of us who are supportive of Israel. What is the point of that question exactly ? I don’t belong to any pro-Israeli organisation if that’s what you mean.

“The West Bank is run for the convenience of illegal settlements with over 500 Israeli run checkpoints and barriers preventing the Palestinian population from living normal lives.”

The checkpoints are there to ensure the security of Israelis, the settlers don’t pose a threat so obviously they can move more easily, they are also Israeli citizens. You neglect to mention that Israel fulfills its obligations as an occupying power towards the West Bank population, despite the undoubted hardships they face they do have access to medical treatment, not to mention jobs and trade. Moreover despite having given up the occupation of Gaza and being subjected to rocket attacks Israel lets people and goods across the border. If the surrounding Arab nations had shown a fraction of the humanity to the Palestinians that Israel does they’d not be festering in refugee camps. Which would you prefer ?

Isreal is becoming an apartheid state. There is no other way to desrcibe the occupation. Millions of native, indigenous peoples disenfranchised, imprisoned, killed and maimed by a settler population.
The apartheid regime will come to an end eventually and the Palestinians will be free to live on their historical homeland.

Sunny. You always seem to ask questions but never supply any answers. Why is this, don’t you have any opinions of your own?


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