Caabu Letter in the Financial Times, 30 November
Both Israel and the Palestinians have security concerns From Chris Doyle, Director, Council for Arab-British Understanding
Josep Borrell, the EU’s top diplomat, makes some fine observations in his article but sadly too often indulges in exactly the sort of lazy slogans and talking points that have been the hallmark of western diplomatic failure on Israel-Palestine for decades (“Why a Palestinian state is the best security guarantee for Israel”, Opinion, November 27).
First, politicians always frame this as being only about Israeli security, the security of the occupier not the occupied. Palestinians are currently being forcibly evicted in both the West Bank and Gaza. They are losing their land, lives and futures. Israelis have security concerns but ignoring Palestinian ones highlights the imbalanced, distorted approach. This is why an international presence is needed.
Second, European politicians like Borrell got overexcited about the normalisation deals between some Arab states and Israel. These were never peace deals, the states were not at war and it was a distraction from the volcanic core of the conflict. This must be the focus.
Third, Borrell refers to justice and equal rights for both peoples. This is laudable and vital but to achieve this you have to dismantle what almost the entire human rights community, including Israeli human rights groups, have referred to as Israel’s system of apartheid. As it stands, an Israeli Jew has superior rights to any Palestinian not just in Israel proper, but also in the West Bank and Gaza. That will never lead to lasting security.
Finally, accountability for the crimes committed by all parties is essential. It is the failure to do so in the past that encourages actors to continue doing so, not least Israel, which enjoys a disturbing climate of impunity for whatever its leaders wish to do.
Director, Council for Arab-British Understanding, London EC4, UK