In my opinion, Israel is a rogue state which commits war crimes. It is an aggressor state that has invaded Lebanon several times and holds a chunk of Syria illegally, but despite being the fourth most-heavily-armed country in the world has not won a war outright for 45 years, since 1967.
Its current lethal assault on Gaza, with under-reported violence against Palestinians in the occupied West Bank as well, is the latest in a series of such criminal assaults. Like its predecessors this is killing many innocent children, woman and men and causing horrendous damage as well. Like its predecessors it will fail.
Israel is a democracy, undeniably. But a democracy that commits war crimes is still a war criminal. It has an exceptionally right wing government, with an overtly racist foreign minister. That government has taken office on the basis of an election. This means that the Israeli electorate is complicit in its government's war crimes.
The casus belli for the latest Israeli assault is the rockets, primitive and ill-targeted though they are, that are being targeted by Hamas on southern and central Israel. Hamas is an odious organisation, whose practices I do not condone, as I pointed out to its prime minister when I led an international delegation of 60 parliamentarians from 13 European countries to Gaza the year before last. Its government is, however, a legal entity elected in a legitimate election, as certified by international observers: an election far more legitimate than that which brought George W Bush to the White House in 2000.
It is the refusal of the international community to have dealings with the Hamas government which has been a factor in the aggressive acts committed by Hamas. Those aggressive acts are a small proportion of aggressive acts carried out by the Israeli government. Both the international community and the Israeli government ignore the maxim uttered by the former Israeli foreign minister, Abba Eban, who said: "You make peace by talking to your enemy." That is a maxim, observed by both Conservative and Labour governments in Britain, which brought peace to Northern Ireland after decades of terrorism and counter-terrorism.
No country in the world could get away so easily with slaughter, destruction and repression as the Israeli government has committed and is committing in Gaza and the West Bank: the blockade of Gaza, the hundreds of checkpoints in the West Bank, the illegal wall built within Palestinian territory on the West Bank, the illegal Jewish settlements - inhabited by half a million - which are entangled almost inextricably on the West Bank, the driving of Palestinians out of Jerusalem so that their population in that city has been amputated exponentially. The world does nothing about these crimes, daunted by the cynical Israeli exploitation of continuing guilt about the slaughter of Jews in the Holocaust.
The Israeli government believes that it can continue to get away with its crimes. It very well may, for a period. But the example of South Africa, an apartheid state which thought that it could, permanently, get away with murder, shows that there is never any such thing as a status quo. As the Greeks said in ancient times: 'Panta rhei' - 'Everything flows.' The craven sanctimony of Barack Obama and the European Union will not sustain Israeli policy forever. The sad fact is that, when the reckoning comes, the two-state solution, recited as a rote by Western foreign ministries, will no longer be an option. What Israel has sowed and is sowing, it will reap.
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