First and foremost, let’s make one thing clear: the Tories’ position on Israel and its indiscriminate terrorising of Gaza is not good. It ignores many realities – not least of all what the Israeli government is now openly admitting:
However, as bad as the Tories’ position is, Labour’s is somehow even worse.
So what’s the Tory position?
Lord David ‘Greensill-scandal #PigGate’ Cameron – foreign secretary – has called for a ‘sustainable ceasefire’. As reported in the Times:
Lord Cameron has joined forces with his German counterpart to call for a “sustainable ceasefire” in the Middle East and warn that “too many civilians have been killed” in the Hamas-Israel conflict.
In a marked change of tone by the government which piles pressure on the Israeli government to end the bloodshed, the foreign secretary has united with Annalena Baerbock, the German foreign minister, to demand “a sustainable ceasefire, leading to a sustainable peace”.
In a joint article, they write: “The sooner it comes, the better. The need is urgent.”
There is, however, a catch – as Cameron and Baerbock also said:
But let us be clear. We do not believe that calling right now for a general and immediate ceasefire, hoping it somehow becomes permanent, is the way forward. It ignores why Israel is forced to defend itself: Hamas barbarically attacked Israel and still fires rockets to kill Israeli citizens every day. Hamas must lay down its arms.
This is pretty confusing. They seem to suggest a ceasefire cannot happen until Hamas ‘lays down its arms’. What exactly do they think a ceasefire is? Because my understanding is that a ceasefire means when both sides stop shooting. Cameron and Baerbock’s strategy seemingly suggests we need a period in which Israel continues to commit war crimes and the Palestinians just don’t fight back.
In other words – as said already – it really isn’t a good position. As the Times notes, though, it is a position that’s in keeping with political opinion moving away from blanket support for Israeli aggression:
the change of tone, which echoes a shift in the United States, is clearly intended for the Israelis, whose offensive in Gaza has caused an escalating humanitarian crisis and led to the deaths of more than 18,000 Palestinians. President Biden last week warned President Netanyahu that Israel’s “indiscriminate bombing” of Gaza was eroding international support for the war against Hamas.
So what’s Labour’s position?
Labour’s position remains to call for a ‘humanitarian pause‘. What is a ‘humanitarian pause’? Basically, it’s when the fighting stops for long enough for supplies to get in, and then the indiscriminate bombing starts again.
In real terms, the two positions aren’t functionally that different. The key difference is the Tories’ are now openly using the word ‘ceasefire’. While they aren’t calling for the immediate ceasefire that’s sorely needed, they have moved themselves closer to it. Putting the old analysis hat on, it seems clear that Israel has gone too far too quickly, and now the governments who supported their atrocities want to extract themselves from this toxic situation without losing any more face.
So what exactly has Israel done to squander the undeserved support it’s enjoyed?
Really, what haven’t they done?
According to Al Jazeera:
Speaking at a news conference on Wednesday, Volker Türk, UN high commissioner for human rights, urged Israel, Hamas, and international actors with influence to prevent “atrocity crimes” as Israel’s advance into southern Gaza leaves displaced Palestinians with nowhere to run.
“Palestinians in Gaza are living in utter deepening horror,” Türk continued, describing the displacement and the systemic deprivation of millions of Palestinians, who are surviving in unsafe, overcrowded and unsanitary conditions with no security.
“My colleagues describe the situation as ‘apocalyptic’. In these circumstances, there is a heightened risk of atrocity crimes,” he stated.
The latest potential war crime is perhaps the most visceral in terms of cutting through to those who continue to support’s Israel’s invasion efforts. Specifically, they shot dead three released Israeli hostages who were shirtless and carrying white flags:
A grim situation
Let’s remind ourselves what Cameron and Baerbock said:
Hamas must lay down its arms
As journalist Caitlin Johnstone notes, the known reality paints a bleak picture of what that would mean:
Given the situation, it’s entirely predictable that Palestinians would take up arms. Even if you could press a button which instantly killed every Hamas member, if the oppression continued as is, we’d end up with Hamas 2.0 within a few years. Saying a situation is predictable is not the same thing as supporting it, but it is a first step towards solving the problem.
The Tories have now moved closer to an actual solution. They’re still a long way away – and unlikely to get to where they need to be – but they’re not so far away as Labour.
Featured image via Labour Party – Facebook