Oh Israel. I want to like you, I really do. But you make it so very difficult. No-one here disputes your right to freedom from oppression, freedom to practise your religion, freedom from violence and terror but you have to ask yourself – have you now lost all perspective? Can you tell what is right anymore? Does anyone in power have any long-term plan for stability that involves anything other than the destruction of any viable Palestinian State?
Whether it was declaring war on Lebanon, the assassination of Mahmoud al-Mabhouh or killing innocent people on protest ships, Israel continues to move away from the ideals of an open democratic state and instead is rapidly becoming the destabilising force in the Middle East. Despite this, Israel’s close allies in the west continue to refuse any form of public condemnation; choosing instead to offer neutral statements asking for ‘refrain from all-sides’ whilst not having the political will to force Israel back to the negotiating table.
Meanwhile in Gaza and the West Bank many Palestinians live in something akin to a living hill. Israeli blockades mean that less than a quarter of the aid that is needed according to the UN actually gets through. Unemployment is the norm whilst travel and freedom of association are effectively banned. This is for the lucky ones – those that live in the overcrowded refugee camps fare much worse, living in conditions not so dissimilar to those that Jewish settlers fled Europe from in the middle-part of the last century. It is these camps where radical Islam is so popular – when all other hope had died, who is surprised when people turn to the simplicity, and violence, of religious fundamentalism? I am not condoning it, but you only have to take a look through history to realise it is often the reality.
The only way to have a chance of stopping this ongoing misery and loss of life, is the creation of a viable Palestinian state – A land where Palestinians too can enjoy the same freedoms that Israelis rightly expect. This is not news, nearly everyone across the political spectrum accepts this as fact. But it will not happen through missile and mortar attacks, the raiding of ships or inhuman blockades, the only way it has a chance is through negotiation. All sides need to be firmer with Israel, not because they are the only aggressor in this dispute; this is clearly not the case, but because they are the ones with the power to deliver change. Israel are the economic and political ‘superpower’ in the region and therefore responsibility has to lie with them to show restraint first – It can only through meaningful negotiations leading to a sustainable two-state solution that Israel and its leaders can offer their children a brighter, safer future.