Jonathan Fryer

Israel: Get Back to the Table!

Posted by jonathanfryer on Saturday, 26th April, 2014

JF speaking at LI CongressKerry NetanyahuThis afternoon, at the Liberal International Congress in Rotterdam, I successfully moved an amendment on behalf of the UK Liberal Democrats to the Middle East section of the traditional World Today resolution, reviewing topical issues of global concern. Since the text had first been drafted, news came through that Israel was pulling out of talks with the Palestinians because of the new deal between Fatah (the Palestinian Authority) and Gaza’s Hamas, which have agreed to form a joint platform. The British amendment praised John Kerry for working tirelessly to get the peace negotations back on track, but criticised Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for pulling the plug on talks. Moreover, negotiating with a united front of Palestinians is more likely to mean that Hamas will clmp down on Islamic Jihad and other extremist groups, I believe. I argued from the position of a Brit who lived through IRA bombings in Manchester and London and therefore understands that one makes peace not with friends but with enemies. I got quite emotional when recalling the state dinner given earlier this month by Queen Elizabeth to the Irish President, at which former Sinn Fein bogey-man Martin McGuinness was welcomed by the monarch, despite the fact that the IRA blew up her cousin, Lord Louis Mountbatten, in 1979. I said that I looked forward to the day when Shimon Peres, or whoever succeeeds him as Israeli President, welcomes Palestinian leaders, including current Hamas figures to his residence, because that will mean that peace and security have become a reality. It saddened — but didn”t suprise — me that the Israelis present protested that we cannot expect them to talk to “terrorists”, and a few prominent pro-Israelis — including outgoing Liberal Internatinal President Hans Van Baalen also oppossed the amendment and the idea that talks should resume. Fortunately, the amendment was carried — albeit by not a very large margin. and with many abstentions — which I thought was a very positive result. One thing that particularly saddens me, however, is that so many Israelis — even many Liberals — don”t realise that their narrative of the conflict doesn’t hold water and that not just Europe but increasingly many Americans (including American ¬†Jews) are no longer prepared to stand up for Israel, right or wrong.

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3 Responses to “Israel: Get Back to the Table!”

  1. It does need Hamas to recognise Israel’s right to exist to leave Netanyahu & Co no excuse not to resume talks.

  2. Thanks, Jonathan. If you could please post the text of the amendment and motion, it would be good to read them.

    You write that Hamas could clamp down n Islamic Jihad and other extremist groups; is Hamas not itself an extremist group? It might be an extremist group with which the international community has to find a way of engaging, but it is still an extremist group. Do you agree that Hamas needs to radically change before it becomes a group that has much to contribute to the peace process?

    I agree that it would be as absurd for anyone to say “Israel, right or wrong” as it would be for anyone to say any other country “right or wrong”. It often seems to me that some pro-Palestinian campaigners have a line of “Palestine, right or wrong”, which is just as misguided as “Israel, right or wrong”. For example, many pro-Palestinian campaigners appear entirely uninterested in the human rights abuses committed against Palestinians by Fatah in the West Bank and Hamas in Gaza, which have been well-documented by Amnesty, among others.

    As for an Israeli narrative of the conflict that might hold water, how about: “All Palestinians should recognise Israel and negotiate with Israel to create a viable Palestinian state that would co-exist peacefully with a secure State of Israel. The Palestinian state would be the Palestinian national home (with full equality for non-Palestinians living there as citizens) and Israel would be the Jewish national home (with full equality for non-Jews living there as citizens). To achieve this outcome, each sides would have to make painful concessions to the other.

  3. jonathanfryer said

    Thanks for your thoughtful comments, Matthew. This is a link to the World Today resolution, which incorporates the text I proposed (towards the end): http://www.liberal-international.org/site/Congress_Meetings.html

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