6 August 2020 — American Herald Tribune
The smell of pro-Israel bias in the Foreign Office is overpowering
By Stuart Littlewood
As George Washington put it,“a passionate attachment of one nation for another produces a variety of evils”. He warned that sympathy for the favourite nation encourages the illusion of common interest where none really exists, risks participation in its quarrels and wars, and involves“concessions to the favourite nation of privileges denied to others which is apt doubly to injure the nation making the concessions by unnecessarily parting with what ought to have been retained… And it gives to ambitious, corrupted, or deluded citizens (who devote themselves to the favourite nation) facility to betray or sacrifice the interests of their own country.”
So a month ago I asked my MP Alister Jack: “If Netanyahu proceeds with his sickening annexation what will you say in Cabinet, please, about the need for real consequences such as sanctions? And will you speak up to ensure UK trade deals with Israel do not facilitate its territorial expansionism?”
It was a reasonable question which he has chosen to ignore. Jack is Secretary of State for Scotland in the UK Government and would be wise to have no ‘passionate attachments’ to foreign powers. Netanyahu didn’t carry out his threatened land grab on 1 July but might yet do so. Jack’s silence is therefore unacceptable and I’d like to know whether the person who represents me in Parliament aligns himself with the Israeli regime’s evil intent.
Meanwhile, a pro-Palestinian activist, exasperated by the UK Foreign Office constantly repeating the same old mantra excusing its inaction over Israel’s illegal and brutal occupation of Palestine, has received the same old half-baked reply but with a warning that they will not be corresponding with her again. The FO’s letter followed the familiar let’s-duck-the-issue formula.
- In line with international law, and relevant Security Council resolutions, notably Resolutions 242 and 497, we do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories occupied by Israel since June 1967, including the Golan Heights, and we do not consider them part of the territory of the State of Israel.
Okay. But when is Britain, a key player in the founding of the United Nations and with a permanent seat on the Security Council, going to do something about it?
- The two-state solution is the only viable long-term solution. It is the only way to permanently end the Arab-Israeli conflict, preserve Israel’s Jewish and democratic identity and realise Palestinian national aspirations.
The “only way”? Israel’s “democratic identity”, when it’s a deeply unpleasant ethnocracy? Why does Britain persist with these fantasies?
- We are firmly opposed to sanctions. We believe that imposing sanctions or boycotts on Israel or supporting anti-Israeli boycotts would not support our efforts to progress the peace process and achieve a negotiated solution.
But you’ll cheerfully slap Iran, for example, with sanctions for no good reason…. except to please Israel and its bitch, the US, which is what all this is really about. Civil society has resorted to BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) in the absence of any real diplomatic pressure from the so-called ‘great powers’. It’s the only non-violent language Israel understands. And it’s beginning to work. Get behind it.
We’re told that Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab spent the summer of 1998 working for one of the PLO’s chief negotiators on the Oslo peace accords, a doomed initiative begun in 1993 to create a form of interim governance and framework for a final treaty by the end of 1998. So Mr. Raab was there at a time when the two sides had been faffing about in the name of peace for 5 years and getting nowhere.
In October of 1998 the US, desperate to keep the charade going, held a summit at Maryland’s Wye River Plantation at which Clinton with Yasser Arafat, Benjamin Netanyahu, and senior negotiators produced the Wye River Memorandum. Not that this did much good either. But Raab must have learned a lot about Israeli perversity, not to mention America’s shortcomings as an honest broker.
Before entering Parliament Raab joined the Foreign Office and worked at The Hague bringing war criminals to justice, then became an adviser on the Arab-Israeli conflict. As reported in Jewish News:
he welcomed Trump’s so-called peace plan saying: “Only the leaders of Israel and the Palestinian territories can determine whether these proposals can meet the needs and aspirations of the people they represent. We encourage them to give these plans genuine and fair consideration, and explore whether they might prove a first step on the road back to negotiations.” But it’s debatable whether the leaders on either side represent anyone but themselves and their own warped interests.
Raab’s boss Boris Johnson said of it: “It is a two-state solution. It would ensure that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and of the Palestinian people….” But the Trump Plan relegates the Palestinian capital to the outskirts of East Jerusalem keeping the rest of Jerusalem, including the sublime and ancient walled city (which is officially Palestinian territory), under Israeli control. That is perhaps the cruellest part of the Trump/Netanyahu swindle.
Because Jerusalem/Al-Quds is immensely holy to all three Abrahamic faiths, the UN proposed that it should be a corpus separatum – an internationally-governed open access city free from Israeli or Palestinian control. What could be more sensible than that?
In the Global Britain debate on 3 February Raab boasted that Britain will be an even stronger force for good in the world. “Our guiding lights will remain the values of democracy, human rights and the international rule of law”. Whereupon Alistair Carmichael (LibDem) asked: “If the concept of a global Britain is to have any meaning and value, surely it must have respect for human rights and international rules-based order at its heart. With that in mind, will the Foreign Secretary reconsider the unqualified support he gave to President Trump last week in respect of the so-called peace plan for Palestine? Will the right hon. Gentleman repudiate the proposed annexation of the West Bank and at long last support the recognition of a Palestinian state?”
“The one thing that the plan put forward by the US included was a recognition of and commitment to a two-state solution. We have been absolutely clear that that is the only way in which the conflict can be resolved…. Rather than just rejecting the plan, it is important that we try to bring the parties together around the negotiating table. That is the only path to peace and to a two-state solution.”
Then Foreign Office minister Lord Ahmad, in a debate on the Israel-Palestine conflict in March, said: “The UK Government have made it clear that, before taking part in any peaceful negotiations on the two-state solution, any party at the negotiating table needs to agree the right of Israel to exist.” But what about Palestine’s right to exist? Lord Ahmad must know that he’s talking about the fate of his Muslim brothers and sisters, not to mention the Christian communities there. On the basis of what he says, wouldn’t the UK Government’s continuing refusal to recognise a Palestinian state bar us from the peace process?
Raab, by now, ought to be extremely skeptical of any two-state solution given the many irreversible facts on the ground that Israel has been allowed to create with impunity. And he would know better than most how many times the sides have come to the table for lopsided ‘negotiations’ and how the Israelis never honour the agreements they make.
And what would a two state solution look like? Yeah, too messy to describe. So why keep pushing it as the only answer? Netanyahu has said repeatedly that there will be no Palestinian state during his tenure as Israel’s prime minister. Furthermore there’s no prospect of Israel willingly giving up the Palestinian territory it illegally occupied and effectively annexed in 1967 and which must be returned if Palestinians are ever to enjoy their universal right to freedom and independence. Netanyahu has declared: “We will not withdraw from one inch…. There will be no more uprooting of settlements in the land of Israel…. This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land…. We are here to stay forever.” Read his lips.
The question is: what ancestral links do he and his partners-in-crime have to the biblical land of Israel? Zionist leaders before Netanyahu broadcast their fraudulent claims to the land and bragged about their evil plan to seize it. It has been well advertised and, to a large extent, already implemented. Even if Netanyahu wanted a two-state solution he would be opposed by his own party and the others making up his ruling coalition, virtually all of which stand against Palestinians having a state of their own.
Those paying attention have known that the idea of a two-state solution by negotiation has been dead for 20 years and the only purpose in still talking about it is to perpetuate the status quo and buy time for Israel to complete its creeping annexation.
The British Government’s pledge to Lord Rothschild and the Zionist Federation on 2 November 1917, signed by Lord Balfour, was simply this: “His Majesty’s Government view with favour the establishment in Palestine of a national home for the Jewish people, and will use their best endeavours to facilitate the achievement of this object, it being clearly understood that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine or the rights and political status enjoyed by Jews in any other country.”
A national home, not a state. And no harm to the rights of non-Jews. Britain’s failure to uphold that bit leaves a disgusting stain of cowardice and corruption on the UK.
The fate of Israel/Palestine is not a matter for meddlesome nations with vested interests seeking to override UN resolutions and re-shape the Middle East to suit themselves. It is for the International Court of Justice to decide on the basis of international law. But we never hear about law and justice from the UK Government, or the US administration, in relation to the Holy Land. Why is that, Mr Raab? Don’t we believe in it any more? Or are we too stupid to respect it, too morally bankrupt to pursue it, too yellow to enforce it? When will the penny finally drop that you can’t have lasting peace without justice?
Talk is cheap when you have no intention of following up with action. It has become a sacred tradition to post pro-Israel stooges to key positions in the UK administration, especially the Foreign Office, to prevent any rocking of the boat. Raab’s predecessors suffered the same paralysis. Alistair Burt, a product of the Israel lobby, was not about to transform himself into a man of action for peace. He’d been an officer of the Conservative Friends of Israel. The then prime minister, David “I’m-a-Zionist” Cameron, proclaimed: “In me you have a Prime Minister whose belief in Israel is indestructible.” What a disgraceful pledge for the prime minister of a mainly Christian country to make to a lawless, racist entity that respects nobody’s human rights Christian or Muslim, continually defies international law and shoots children for amusement (see ‘The methodical shooting of boys at work in Gaza by snipers of the Israeli Occupation Force’ by surgeon David Halpin and reports on the use of dum-dum and other soft-nose or ‘exploding’ rounds by Israeli snipers). But Cameron is not the only one to have done so. It has become a regular appeasement ritual.
Should we recognise Palestine or un-recognise Israel?
The Conservatives, then as now, chose to spew their infatuation with the Israeli regime all over the British nation and the Arab world. In a speech to the Board of Jewish Deputies, Burt recalled how he had worked from the age of fifteen for an MP who was a president of the Board and a founder of the Conservative Friends of Israel, and how this “had a lasting effect upon me, and on my interests in Parliament…. Israel is an important strategic partner and friend for the UK and we share a number of important shared objectives across a broad range of policy areas.”
Can anyone think of a single objective they’d wish to share with those people? Many of us are tired of being told by the Government and senior politicians that “the UK is a close friend of Israel”.We don’t believe Israel has a friend in the world outside the Westminster and Washington bubbles and the US Bible Belt.
And Burt’s stance on Palestinian independence was always puzzling. I remember him saying that we would not recognise a Palestinian state unless it emerged from a peace deal with Israel. London “could not recognise a state that does not have a capital, and doesn’t have borders.” He’d been talking earlier about a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital, which is understood to be the legal position. Even Hamas agrees to that. So why had Burt suddenly lost the plot? And where did he suppose Israel’s borders are? Where the UN drew them in the 1947 Partition Plan? Has Israel ever declared its borders? Is Israel ever within them? Is Israel where Israel ought to be? If not, how could he or Mr Raab or anyone else in the Government possibly recognise Israel let alone align themselves with it? And where did Burt suppose the offshore borders of Palestine, Lebanon and Israel ran in relation to the huge reserves of marine gas and oil in the Levantine Basin? Israel is intent on stealing the lot. The question for many years has been: will Gaza ever get a whiff of its own gas?
“We are looking forward to recognising a Palestinian state at the end of the negotiations on settlements….” But Israel’s illegal squats, or ‘settlements’, are classed as war crimes. Since when did Her Majesty’s Government approve of negotiating with the perpetrators of such crimes? Besides, the Holy Land’s status was ruled upon long ago. International law has spoken. But instead of enforcing the law and upholding justice Mr Burt and his Government still pushed for more lopsided talks. Like Raab is doing today.
The “passionate attachment” that’s utterly inappropriate
The danger of inappropriate ‘friendships’ with foreign regimes became blazingly obvious in December 2009 when three of Israel’s vilest – Ehud Barak, Tzipi Livni and retired general Doron Almog – cancelled engagements in London for fear of ‘having their collar felt’.
They complained bitterly to David Miliband, the Foreign Secretary at the time, who promised that UK laws on ‘universal jurisdiction’ would be changed and asked Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Justice Minister Jack Straw for urgent action. A general election intervened and ousted Miliband from the Foreign Office, but the grovelling promise was eagerly taken up by his replacement, William Hague, another fanatical ‘friend of Israel’. Hague declared that a situation where foreign politicians like Mrs Livni could be threatened with arrest in the UK was “completely unacceptable…. We will put it right through legislation…. and I phoned Mrs Livni amongst others to tell her about that and received a very warm welcome for our proposals.”
Oh bravo, Mr Hague! Never mind that the arrest warrants in question were issued to answer well-founded criminal charges. Never mind that all States that are party to the Geneva Conventions are under a binding obligation to seek out those suspected of having committed grave breaches of the Conventions and bring them, regardless of nationality, to justice. And never mind that there must be no hiding place for those suspected of crimes against humanity and war crimes. The UK Government didn’t give a toss about such piffling principles. And still doesn’t.
Private arrest warrants were necessary because the Government itself was in the habit of shirking its duty under the Fourth 1949 Geneva Convention and deliberately dithering until the birds had flown. Bringing a private prosecution for a criminal offence, said Lord Wilberforce, is “a valuable constitutional safeguard against inertia or partiality on the part of the authority”. Lord Diplock, another respected Lord of Appeal, called it “a useful safeguard against capricious, corrupt or biased failure or refusal of those authorities to prosecute offenders against the criminal law”. And the beauty of the private warrant was that it could be issued speedily.
The Foreign Office’s move to scupper this was even more deplorable when you consider that Tzipi Livni was largely responsible for the terror that brought death and destruction to Gaza’s civilians during the blitzkrieg known as Operation Cast Lead. Showing no remorse, and with the blood of 1,400 dead Gazans (including 320 children and 109 women) on her hands and thousands more horribly maimed, Livni’s office issued a statement saying she was proud of it. Speaking later at a conference at Tel Aviv’s Institute for Security Studies, she said: “I would today take the same decisions.”
Nevertheless the British government of the day was happy to undermine our justice system in order to make the UK a safe haven for the likes of her.
By 2015, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu felt untouchable enough to say that if he was returned to power, a Palestinian state would not be established because handing back territory would threaten Israel’s security.
And in August 2017 he announced that Israel would keep the West Bank permanently and there would be no more uprooting of squatter ‘settlements’: “We are here to stay forever…. This is the inheritance of our ancestors. This is our land.”
Saying it again and again doesn’t make it so. The true inheritors are the Palestinian peoples who have been there since the days when Jerusalem was a Canaanite city.
*(Top image: Dominic Raab Signing Sanctions. Credit: Pippa Fowles/ No 10 Downing Street/ Flickr)
Stuart worked on jet fighters in the RAF. Various sales and marketing management positions in manufacturing, oil and electronics. Senior associate with several industrial marketing consultancies. Graduate Member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (MInstM). BA Hons Psychology, University of Exeter.