Britain’s Undying Disgrace

Britain’s Undying Disgrace


The UK’s shameless post-Brexit leaders think that by pandering to Netanyahu they can improve their standing with Trump


By Abdel Bari Atwan

The Israeli government’s hostility to the international conference convened in Paris aimed at reviving the Middle East peace process does not mean that the gathering is of great benefit to the Palestinians or upholds their just demands to regain their rights.

It is due to the fact that the conference was set to demand an end to illegal Israeli settlement-building in the Occupied Territories and uphold the two-state solution – which the Israeli government has opposed, derided and acted to sabotage for the past twenty years, while exploiting the stupidity and wishful thinking of the Palestinian leadership to tie it into futile, deceptive, misleading and humiliating negotiations.

The Israeli government had feared that the UN Security Council would endorse the Paris conference’s conclusions and issue a new resolution in support of them, like last month’s UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which called for an immediate end to settlement in occupied Jerusalem and the West Bank.

But US Secretary of State John Kerry acted to allay its fears in this regard and assured Israel that no further Security Council session would be held: in other words, that whatever was decided in Paris would remain ink on paper – just as with previous international conferences on the conflict —  and there would be no risk of it being followed up with serious or practical measures.

Kerry’s position is not as surprising as the shameful stance taken by Britain’s Conservative government. It announced that it had ‘reservations’ about the statement agreed by more than 70 governments and international organizations, including the US, whose views UK governments have traditionally parroted with slavish regularity.

This was clearly an attempt to pander not only to Israel – the extreme right-wing racist government of Binyamin Netanyahu and his settler allies disapproved of the gathering – but to the incoming Trump administration in the US which is expected to support it to the hilt. The unprincipled and ignorant politicians currently in control of the UK’s foreign policy think this will improve their country’s post-Brexit standing in Washington.

In a few months time, Britain will mark the 100th anniversary of the infamous Balfour Declaration in which it committed to settling European Jews in Palestine and tuning the country into a homeland for them at the expense of the indigenous population. Given this shameful colonial legacy, present-day Britain could be expected to be more supportive than any other country of Palestinian demands to establish an independent state, to condemn further Israeli colonization, and to insist on the right to return of all the people made homeless as a result of Britain’s collaboration with the Zionist movement and its takeover of the Palestinians’ land by force of arms.

The UK government owes the Palestinian people not just an apology for the crime it committed against them, but also financial and political reparations. That means, as a minimum, supporting their right to self-determination and to return to all parts of their country from which they were forcibly removed as a direct consequence of British policy.

Nothing can compensate for the loss of a homeland and 70 years of displacement. But only if that happens will Palestinians begin – even begin – to think of forgiving Britain for its historic sins against them.