Israeli-Palestinian peace must be negotiated
11 October, 2018
• SAM Weinstein’s October 4 letter claims that I am among the “staunch defenders of Israeli crimes against the Palestinians” and “…don’t object to Saudi slaughter in Yemen either”, (Look at arms sales and the name-calling MPs).
Ironically I was in the Palestinian West Bank on the date the letter was published, showing some practical solidarity to a Bedouin village at risk of demolition and forced relocation by the government of Israel.
I have been among the most vocal MPs in campaigning against this injustice, echoing the UN’s view that forced displacement could constitute a war crime under the Geneva Convention and that ongoing demolitions and illegal settlement expansion represent an existential threat to the prospect of a two-state solution between Israelis and Palestinians.
I have also repeatedly called for an independent inquiry into Saudi Arabia’s actions in Yemen and for an embargo on UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia in the House of Commons. All of this is a matter of public record.
I suspect that Sam Weinstein has struggled to grasp nuance. While I have no love for the government of Israel, and regularly work with human rights organisations in the UK and the Middle East to advocate for Palestinian human rights, I don’t pretend that Israel bears sole responsibility for the violence and human rights abuses that blight the lives of so many Palestinians and Israelis.
My concern for the education of Palestinian children whose school is about to be demolished also extends to the Israeli children who cower under their school desks when the air raid sirens sound warning of rocket attacks.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not one between equal powers, but nor is it one where blame and responsibility can be attributed to one side. My visit to Khan al-Ahmar last week has attracted criticism from apologists for the Israeli government who have accused me of being “obsessed” with the Palestinians.
It appears the zealots on both sides of this conflict share the same affliction of myopia, but there are plenty of us – most importantly, plenty of Israelis and Palestinians – who still believe that peace must be negotiated with compromise in the interests of two peoples and two states and who despair at the current leadership on offer from the Israeli government, the Palestinian Authority and Hamas in Gaza.
WES STREETING MP
Labour, Ilford North