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McCully's 'Arab Spring' delusion

McCully's 'Arab Spring' delusion

The Hon. Murray McCully, New Zealand Government Minister of Foreign Affairs, gave a speech on Tuesday, 2 August 2011, addressed to the New Zealand Institute of International Affairs (NZIIA) Conference at Turnbull House, Wellington, New Zealand. In his speech, McCully made one valuable observation: “a key part of this equation of regional security is how the international community deals with the Middle East Peace Process.” One of the key failings of the so-called Middle East Peace Process has been an almost total disregard for international law. Mr McCully called instead for what he termed the voices of “constructive Palestinian moderation” to prevail, going on to say, “it is my firm view that resolving a basis for a two-state solution can only be achieved by getting the two parties into direct talks.” In all the pro-Israeli rhetoric that masquerades as even-handed diplomacy, a certain bias emerges. The call for 'moderation' is made only upon the Palestinian victims of belligerent Israeli foreign occupation and illegal settlement building. No such call is made upon Israel. To say that direct talks are the only way for the Palestinians to receive justice is tantamount to saying that the victim of foreign military occupation must be pressured to negotiate terms that allow the occupier to keep much of the conquered land and natural resources.

Thus, according to Mr McCully, the World Community should view the “key part of this equation of regional security” to mean dispensing with the Fourth Geneva Convention and somewhat legitimising Israeli occupation as a matter to be negotiated between unequal parties. He couldn't even bring himself to mention the settlements. What voice of Israeli “moderation” is being called upon here?

McCully no doubt avoided the question of settlements in his address because their growing presence betrays the futility of the so-called peace talks and the true intentions of the Israeli state that forces them upon the Palestinian people. It is shear hypocrisy to demand that the Palestinian people negotiate away their human rights under duress. The UN Relief and Works Agency said in a report on 2 August 2011 that settlement development had resulted in the demolition of 356 Palestinian and other structures in the first six months of this year, compared with 431 for the whole of 2010. The agency reported 700 people displaced in the first six months of 2011, compared with 594 in the whole of 2010. In June and July, around 605 Palestinians, many of whom were children, were displaced or affected by these demolitions. According to UNRWA: “Many displacements are taking place where settlements are expanding and with it we are seeing an upturn in vicious attacks by Jewish settlers.” As the report reveals, Israel's purpose is to create a change in the ethnic make-up of the West Bank.

The Palestinian people have been placed in this position by decisions made over their heads by the very international community that McCully acknowledges is a key player in the facilitating of regional security. The Palestinian people are therefore the responsibility of the world community – they have a right to internationally guaranteed security – and yet spokesmen such as Mr McCully concern themselves solely with Israel's uniquely perceived “need for security”.

In his speech, McCully said that Israel knows “that we understand their need for a guarantee of security as part of any settlement. And they know that we understand the need for a firm international position on Iran's nuclear ambitions as part of that improved regional security environment.” Focusing on Iran while choosing to ignore Israel's glaringly obvious nuclear arms stockpile and Israeli refusal to sign the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty is further confirmation of McCully's pro-Israel leanings. McCully's claim that “we pride ourselves on being fair minded and even handed” is so manifestly absurd it is either delusional or downright dishonest. His apparent lack of concern for international law and natural justice enabled him to say “during my visits to the oPt and Israel, the various actors were talking in almost identical terms, about settling on the 1967 borders, plus or minus land swaps of 4-5 or 6%, with appropriate buffer zones.” If McCully does not know, somebody should tell him that Israel has no right to 'swap' land that does not belong to it. There can be no just solution until Israel dismantles its annexation Wall, as required by the World Court, and removes its Jewish-only segregated colonies in the West Bank, as required by UN Resolutions and other international law. Israel's implacable refusal to abide by the provisions of international law demonstrates not only a lack of goodwill but also a determination to achieve its territorial ambitions with the same preconditions that have made an utter mockery of the so-called peace process.

Meanwhile, Palestinians in the West Bank and East Jerusalem go on suffering under foreign occupation and the Gaza Strip remains illegally blockaded. Within Israel, discriminatory laws abound, the latest being the recently passed anti-boycott legislation that targets individuals or organisations that publicly call for a boycott against Israel or any area under its control. Mr McCully should visit Occupied Palestine for a while and experience for himself the relentless nightmare of night home invasions, see for himself the beatings of children in their homes and the crass vandalism that accompanies such raids. He should see for himself the demolition of homes and the bulldozing of crops. McCully should also witness the heartbreaking destruction of ancient olive trees perpetrated by Israeli settlers and troops alike. Perhaps then he will stop deluding himself and be honest with his audience. We leave the final words to Israeli peace activist, Miko Peled, who served in Israel’s Special Forces Commando unit. His grandfather was a signatory to Israel’s unilateral Declaration of Independence and his father was one of Israel’s most famous generals. These words of warning form a conclusion to his soon-to-be-published book The General's Son. They could very well have been addressed to Murray McCully:

“. . . those people who want to associate themselves with Israel . . . need to know this: that when the trials begin and the tribunals take their place, and when the truth and reconciliation commission begins its work and they are finally shamed into admitting they were wrong, they need to remember to go down on their knees and beg forgiveness from the people they so greatly wronged.”

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