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Gaza – Stop the bombing:

18th July 2014

Gaza – Stop the bombing:
Statement by the EC of the LRC

As Israeli bombs rain down on Gaza yet again, indiscriminately mowing down civilians, and a land invasion and naval bombardment gets underway, public opinion around the world is outraged. Yet western governments call at best for restraint and urge Palestinian support for a ceasefire on Israel’s terms. Such a ceasefire would entail an eighth year of Israeli blockade, the continued confinement of Gazans to their open prison and the ongoing denial of their access to markets, education and employment. This is the ‘peace’ that Israeli bombs and the western powers that support them seek to impose on the Palestinian people.

Even the usually cautious UN has challenged the legality of Israel’s actions. The UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, has said the killing of Palestinian civilians in Gaza raises “serious doubt . . . whether the Israeli strikes have been in accordance with international humanitarian law”.  Yet the Security Council of the same UN has been prevented from censuring Israel down the years by the deployment of 42 US vetoes. With $3 billion of aid from the US every year and open support from the Cameron Government, whose only statement on the current bombardment is to uphold Israel’s right to self-defence, Israel has nothing to fear from the ‘international community’ - neither for its illegal occupation of Palestinian territories since 1967, nor for its collective punishment of Gaza today.

We also condemn all racist attacks (violent or otherwise) on all sides, in Israel/Palestine and elsewhere, and especially the increase in extreme racist statements from politicians in Israel, including members of governing parties.

In a statement in November 2012, we said:
“The Labour Representation Committee condemns Israel’s latest escalation of violence against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and calls for an immediate cessation to the onslaught. Israel’s actions can serve no purpose other than entrenching hatred and increasing civilian casualties. While we do not condone attacks on civilians on either side, we recognise that this is an unequal conflict between the Middle East’s most powerful military force and a largely defenceless Palestinian population. Unlike the Israeli state, Palestinians have neither army, navy or air force, nor nuclear weapons. Over 60 years since the creation of the Israeli state, it is clear that military bombardment and the theft of land can bring nothing but instability and violence to the region.”

The 2012 attack followed hard on the heels of the 2008-9 bombardment and invasion which left 1,400 Palestinians dead and 5,000 wounded. These repeated assaults are aimed at the destruction of Gaza as a functioning society - politically, spiritually, culturally and psychologically, a policy which Israeli historian Professor Ilan Pappe has described as “incremental genocide”.

The attacks are also intended to destroy the emerging development of greater unity of purpose among Palestinians across the geographic and ideological divide. They are part of the cynical manipulation by the Israeli government of the tragic death of three Israeli young people, which became the pretext for the mass arrest of hundreds of Palestinians and the current onslaught.

Reports in the media suggest Hamas would back a ten-point plan in return for a ten year truce with Israel. The terms are:

“-Mutual cessation of the war and withdrawal of tanks to previous locations and the return of farmers to work their land in the agricultural border areas.
-Release of all the Palestinians detained since 23 June 2014 and improvement of the conditions of Palestinian prisoners, especially the prisoners from Jerusalem, Gaza and Palestinians of the interior [present-day Israel].
-Total lifting of the siege of Gaza and opening the border crossings to goods and people and allowing in all food and industrial supplies and construction of a power plant sufficient to supply all of Gaza.
-Construction of an international seaport and an international airport supervised by the UN and non-biased countries.
-Expansion of the maritime fishing zone to 10 kms and supplying fishermen with larger fishing and cargo vessels.
-Converting the Rafah crossing into an international crossing under supervision of the UN and Arab and friendly countries.
-Signing a 10-year truce agreement and deployment of international monitors to the borders.
-A commitment by the occupation government not to violate Palestinian airspace and easing of conditions for worshipers in al-Aqsa mosque.
-The occupation will not interfere in the affairs of the Palestinian government and will not hinder national reconciliation.
-Restoration of the border industrial areas and their protection and development.”

These are not unreasonable demands. They do not demand that Israel give up an inch of its soil. They do not even challenge the continued Israeli illegal occupation of territories held since 1967. But Israel has absolutely no motive in pursuing peace as long as its western backers - including the British government - give it carte blanche.

Long term, a recognition of Palestinian leaderships, whatever their ideology, by Israel and the international community is a necessary first step towards any peace settlement. As the LRC has stated before:
“A lasting peace requires ending the illegal occupation, dismantling the illegal settlements, de-militarising the conflict and working for a negotiated solution that treats the Palestinians as equals. Without this, it is to be expected that Palestinians will resort to whatever means they have at their disposal to resist this brutal military occupation.”

End the bombardment!
Israeli forces out of Gaza!
Solidarity with the Palestinian people!
Israel out of Gaza and all occupied territories!

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