It did not end with the British Mandate of Palestine and the Balfour Declaration, writes Dr Aqel Taqaz — today Britain is actively supporting Israel’s increasingly rapid erasure of Palestine
THIS year, Israel will be celebrating the 75th anniversary of its establishment, while the Palestinian people bear painful witness to yet another year of tragedy — a tragedy set in motion by the criminal abuses of colonialism in the embers of World War I.
British culpability for the Nakba of 1948 is well-documented and rooted in the Balfour Declaration of 1917 in which Britain pledged to establish a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. The subsequent British Mandate of Palestine precipitated a rapid rise in immigration by Jewish people, mainly from Europe, to Palestine — with the resident population forced from their homes while the colonial authorities watched on. Zionist terrorist gangs soon turned on their imperialist handlers and committed horrific raids and massacres in Palestinian villages and towns, displacing large parts of the population into exile in neighbouring countries where many continue to live as refugees. UN Resolution 181 calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel. However, this has been continually thwarted since the founding of Israel 75 years ago — first by the Zionist terrorist groups, who were originally armed by the British colonial occupation before their violent about-turn, but also by the duplicitous reactionary Arab regimes that were puppets and faithful servants to the colonial powers.
At its founding in 1948, Israel already occupied more than half of the area supposedly designated for the Palestinian state and had forcefully displaced the majority of its inhabitants — many carrying just their most basic possessions, including the keys and deeds to the homes they had been forced to leave behind. During the six-day war in June 1967, Israel went on to occupy the rest of historic Palestine, ensuring that the hopes for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state with the right of return for all Palestinian refugees under the respective UN resolutions would continue to be dashed. Meanwhile, Jewish people from around the world, with no connection whatsoever to Palestine, can settle there as if it is somehow their birthright to do so — regardless of the implications for the Palestinians already living there, on land internationally recognised as being designated for a Palestinian state. Despite dozens of resolutions on Palestine from various international organisations, the international community, represented by the United Nations, has proved itself unable — or unwilling — to implement any of them owing to the domination of these institutions by the Western powers supporting Israel.
With this support, Israel has attained a seemingly all-encompassing impunity — as if it is somehow above and beyond the reach of international laws, including those pertaining to human rights and the Geneva Convention, which it routinely and openly violates. Despite the promise represented by the Oslo Accords, which both the Palestinian and Israeli leaderships committed to before the eyes of the world and international public opinion, Israel did not abide by the terms of that historic agreement almost from the very outset. This has meant the absence of any political process or progress for years and the unchecked continuation of various shades of right-wing policy under successive Tel Aviv government administrations, interminable deadlock, and an increasingly brutal occupation.
November 2022 saw the culmination of this cycle with the coming to power of the most extreme government in the history of the occupation state, including the most racist — even fascistic — elements, representing the interests of extremist settlers who call for the forcible expulsion of all Palestinians and seizure of their land and who even go as far as denying the existence of Palestinians or their right to exist. This situation has even prompted some liberal and progressive currents within Israel itself to assert their belief that a fascistic dictatorship is beginning to take shape in the country, one that threatens the fabric of their democracy, and which therefore poses a very real threat to the Jewish people themselves.
Despite the continuation of significantly sized demonstrations against this government since its formation, glaring in their absence from these same protests are any slogans about the main factor vis-a-vis Israel — which is the occupation and the cruelty and injustice it represents. This would seem to imply that there exists a general national consensus in Israel on the continuation of the occupation and the policy of oppressing the Palestinians, and not standing against the government when it comes to these matters.
Thus, we witness the spectre of Netanyahu’s minister of national security calling for the arming of illegal settlers in the Palestinian territories and publicly calling for the killing of Palestinians without a hint of censure or disapproval within Israel. Furthermore, another minister in this government has even called for the erasure of the village of Huwara from the map — encouraging hordes of armed settlers to invade the village and burn its houses.
There is a growing perception of these settlers as being an integral part of the occupation army, especially given that they co-ordinate their actions with the army and move under its protection more often than not — including in their repeated and violent incursions into the holy sites in Jerusalem, both Christian and Muslim. As regards the immediate and foreseeable future; Israeli abuses and transgressions, carried out with impunity and indeed the support of Western countries, do not bode well for the reaching of a political solution that brings an end to this long-running conflict.
The world watches on in deafening silence as Israel does its utmost to kill and bury any prospect for the two-state solution, the only realistic prospect for a peaceful resolution, betraying the endeavours of those who dared to hope and work for such almost 30 years ago.
Today, British complicity with Israeli violations of international law continues apace and is reflected in the recent “2030 roadmap for UK-Israel bilateral relations,” in which the British government commits to close economic and political co-operation with the reactionary Israeli government in areas ranging from cyber security to a diplomatic pushback against the growing international labelling of Israel as an apartheid state.
May this anniversary be the spur for the strengthening and intensifying of principled solidarity with the Palestinian people to finally bring an end to the brutal and dehumanising occupation, and establish an independent and fully sovereign Palestinian state. May it resolve the refugee issue in accordance with the respective UN resolutions and thereby relegate the 75-yearlong nightmare of the Nakba to history as we awaken to a new dawn, one of peace, and the promise that represents. Surely this must be the imperative for all peace-loving forces and those campaigning for freedom, democracy, and social justice — not least the inalienable right of a people to national self-determination.
Dr Aqel Taqaz is co-ordinator for international relations of the Palestinian People’s Party and a member of the secretariat of the World Peace Council.
The article was first published in the Morning Star newspaper#
Photo: Palestinian woman with baby, Nakba, 1948 / Hanini, CC BY-SA 3.0