The Blog

Palestine, International Law, Collusion and Boycott

For decades Western states have colluded with Israel in it relentless illegal dispossession and degradation of the Palestinians - all the while proclaiming their support for human rights and international law. Calls to boycott Israeli institutions (not Israelis as individuals) which are centrally involved in the dispossession/degradation process are, of course, a means of pressurising Israel. But they are also a way of saying to our own governments that we will no longer tolerate their duplicity over Israel/Palestine.

I remember, when the Oslo Peace Accords were signed in 1993, thinking: Thank God, at least that conflict's now over. Yassir Arafat having sued for peace, the outlines of the deal seemed plain: Israel would retain the 78% of historic Palestine which it had occupied from 1948 to 1967, including West Jerusalem, which would become its internationally recognised capital. Palestine would get the remaining 22%, with East Jerusalem as its capital, rapid transport links connecting Gaza and the West Bank. A special status would be given to the c. 100,000 Israelis in the settlements - illegal under international law - on the West Bank. An arrangement would be made to bring back some of the c. 1 million Palestinians (plus descendants) illegally expelled by Israel in 1948, 1967 and since.

It almost immediately became plain that Israel was not serious. The settlements were massively expanded, the Palestinian economy remained choked, no link was established between Gaza and the West Bank. In 1996, Israel elected the first Netanyahu government, on a platform that it would not be bound by the Oslo Accords - i.e. it had torn up the agreement: The West did nothing.

In 2000, the US and Israel attempted to impose on the Palestinians, in contravention of international law, a deal whereby the Palestinians would get 50%-60% of the West Bank, dissected into five enclaves, their water resources reduced to the bare minimum: Tanya Reinhart Israel/Palestine: How to End the 1948 War (p. 30);; Bill Clinton called it a 'generous offer'. The other Western states did nothing.

Since 1993 there has been Palestinian violence. But Israeli violence has been far greater: invasion of Lebanon, 2006; assaults on Gaza 2008/9, 2012, 2014. These wars have been partly financed by US military aid to Israel, totalling over $100 billion since 1962, now running at $3 per year and due to rise to $4 billion per year: In the 2014 Gaza conflict, Israel specifically targeted civilian infrastructure: hospitals, schools, factories and homes, causing $8 billion worth of damage (, and further crippling the already besieged tiny enclave. The West did nothing to stop these wars: Britain actively supported all of them including the 2014 Gaza invasion.

Since 1993, Israeli settler numbers have increased to c. 850,000, chopping the West Bank Palestinians into at least 83 disconnected, desiccated shards of land. Palestinian East Jerusalem is now entirely surrounded by Israeli settlements, 75% of its inhabitants (and 84% of its children) reduced to poverty:, and increasingly subject to expulsion. Already, the Palestinian population of the Jordan Valley (300,000 before 1967) has been reduced to c. 50,000, most of them in the tiny Palestinian enclave of Jericho. The European Union (and even the United States) are unequivocal that both the settlements and the expulsions are illegal. They have, however, done nothing about them.

Israel enjoys massive aid, trade and academic privileges not only with the United States, but with the European Union (ACAA, Horizon 2020, etc ), to a degree not enjoyed by any other states, and without the human rights commitments which are required of all other non-EU states.

In its rejection - well-coordinated with the Israeli government - of the 27.10.15 Commitment by UK Scholars to the Rights of Palestinians, the British Ambassador to Israel, David Quarrey, quoting David Cameron, spoke of: "60 years worth of vibrant exchange and partnership [with Israel] that does so much to make both our countries stronger": Israel has, in fact, done nothing to strengthen Great Britain in the Middle East, where our unswerving support for everything which Israel does has damaged the UK's standing enormously. We have, however, massively 'strengthened' Israel, enabling it to pursue with impunity a policy which has done, and continues to do, immeasurable damage to the Palestinians.

It is time for decent people everywhere to speak out against this.