British Foreign Secretary Calls Anti-Wall Protests ‘Legitimate Non-Violent Resistance’
Richard Silverstein, 4 November 2010
I just published a post slamming Britain’s foreign secretrary, William Hague and I’m afraid I’m going to have to take most of it back. Eyal Clyne just sent me a link to an amazing Haaretz story reporting on Hague’s address to Palestinian anti-Wall activists. It’s worth translating significant portions of the article:
“When negotiations seem like an eternally unfulfilled promise due to Israel’s unwillingness to reach a fair solution, popular resistance to the Occupation is the sole remaining possible alternative for the Palestinians to achieve their rights and avoid armed struggle.”
He made this statement while meeting with Palestinians and Israelis struggling against the Separation Wall. He offered the support of the British government for non-violent struggle, saying that this form of resistance would meet with widespread support in the international community. This development comes on the heels of strong British protest at the sham 12-month sentence an Israeli military court handed out to the leader of the Bilin anti-Wall demonstrations, Abdullah Abu-Rachmeh, whose brother was murdered several months ago by the IDF there during a protest. Abu Rachmeh was found guilty of “incitement” for demanding that Israel not steal his village’s land. The Foreign Office said it was concerned that:
The sentence would prevent other Palestinians from exercising their legitimate rights to demonstrate non-violently against the appropriation of Palestinian land by Israel [by the Wall].
The mere fact of such a meeting with a British foreign secretary seems close to historic and certainly a big slap in the face to Israel. Willy, I take it all back. You may be talking out of both sides of your mouth, but today I like what you said.
Tzipi Livni did not take kindly to this “nonsense” at all and put in a good word for the miraculous life-saving qualities of the Wall. But her most interesting comment concerned the nasty habit of British international human rights activists filing arrest warrants whenever Israeli leaders like her or Dan Meridor schedule some hasbara there:
Britain is being fully exploited for the worse by radical political elements making cynical use of its legal system. A situation in which an Israeli leader, whether minister or military officer, cannot travel to Britain is absurd and must be stopped for the sake of good Israeli-British relations.
“O, the times they are a changin’”
Richard Silverstein, 3 November 2010
In yet another sign that Israel is feeling the pain of war crimes accountability, it announced during the middle of a visit by new British foreign minister William Hague that it was suspending a “strategic dialogue” with that country. The dialogue had earlier been suspended anyway so I’m not sure precisely what the punishment was. The proximate reason was Israel’s pique that its deputy prime minister was forced to cancel a major address to a British pro-Israel advocacy group on threat of arrest on suspicion of war crimes. Israel thinks it’s putting its foot down and showing the Brits who’s boss. But in reality the strategic dialogue is much more important to Israel, which needs British support on Iran and other related issues, than it is to Britain.
It’s called cutting off your nose to spite your face. This sounds like something dreamed up in the Yvet-Danny Ayalon muscular hasbara factory. Bibi no doubt approved it thinking he’d let Lieberman have his bit of fun without realizing that this creates yet another embarrassment concerning Israel’s lame foreign policy apparatus which does a marvelous job of driving away allies. At least one can be happy Lieberman didn’t make Hague sit in the dunce’s chair as his deputy, Ayalon, did the Turkish ambassador.
The Israeli MFA appears not to understand the purpose of these arrest warrants:
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said Israel’s relations with Britain are “very good,” but the existing law “makes it impossible to conduct dialogue at the highest levels.”
Precisely the point, isn’t it?
Willy Hague (aka “William the Vague“) seems to be a bit dense himself, indicating he’d like to see current law amended so that:
…A “universal jurisdiction” arrest “would have to be one that had a reasonable prospect of prosecution, so that it is not used for trivial or political reasons.”
Only a Republican or Tory would call charges of war crimes “trivial” or “politically motivated.” I wonder what the families of the nine Mavi Marmara victims think about that very political rhetoric. I suppose it depends on whose ox is being gored. If Israel had massacred nine British citizens it might see things a bit differently.
Though the new Tory led government appears to want to buckle to Israeli pressure and rescind the law allowing private parties to file for arrest warrants, it doesn’t appear Israel really believes the Tories and so felt it had to rub Hague’s nose in it. The only problem is that most countries tend to react poorly when they’re ordered by another country to change their sovereign laws. If Israel were a major power or a factor in British trade then surely the Brits might be concerned. As it is, really who cares except Britain’s pro-Israel lobby and their Tory water carriers.
In a related matter, Likud MK Gila Gamliel was scheduled to attend the World Economic Forum in Doha (Dubai) as Israel’s official representative. Dubai has officially closed it doors to Israeli government officials. So Gamaliel is persona non wanted. Alas, no smiley face for her. It appears to have really bummed out the young Likud up and comer:
Gamliel was elected as a “young leader” to the Forum of Young Global Leaders, whose objective is to create an international community of some 200 future leaders under the age of 40 from around the world. She received the invitation about two weeks ago and confirmed she would participate. However, all the organizers’ efforts to obtain an entry permit came to naught – because of the assassination of al-Mabhouh.
“The invitation to Dubai was, from my point of view, an opportunity to make contacts with senior figures in the Emirates who represent a moderate voice in the Arab world,” Gamliel told Ynet. “I believe that the best way to achieve peace is by forming economic connections and cooperation on the basis of common interests. Because the extremist regime in Iran is a common threat to them, I expected to find an attentive ear in Dubai, and a willingness to cooperate.”
Gamliel was elected from among some 5,000 candidates for the role by a committee headed by Jordan’s Queen Rania. Among the members of the prestigious forum are tennis player Roger Federer, Twitter CEO Even Williams and hip-hop artist Wyclef Jean.
You know, it’s a funny thing about “moderate” Arabs…they tend to frown on “extremist” Israel. What’s more, they don’t really take a shine to having their sovereignty invaded and their territory used as a killing field for the Mossad and its vendettas. I’m also not sure what would recommend Gamliel to her fellow Forum rock and sports stars and social networking gurus: her country’s assassins way with a pillow and injection needle? They’re garotting techniques?
Come to think of it, maybe that’s why Tzipi Livni didn’t make it to Britain herself on her last scheduled trip. Apparently a few Britons concerned with her culpability for war crimes regarding the 2006 Lebanon war thought her own experience as a Mossad operative might make her a rather undesirable guest too.