By Lewis Barber
Today, the reaction of the world to the murders of innocent worshippers in undisputed Israeli territory highlighted precisely why the conflict engulfing Israel and Palestine looks further than ever from ending. Justification because of Israe’s incursion into Gaza, the military presence in West Bank and tensions in East Jerusalem fail to appreciate the intricacies of each event and only add to the ‘them’ versus ‘us’ mentality, reducing hope of reaching a mutual agreement between the two sides.
When H.E. Israeli Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Daniel Taub, compared Israel and Palestine to his two arguing children, but less mature, he struck a chord. Taub pointed out how a resolution would more easily be reached if foreign powers reduced their meddling in the negotiations.
He compared USA, Iran and other powers’ involvement in the peace process to his attempts to stopping his children arguing. Rather than trying to sort out their disagreements they would then turn to him to persuade him the other was in the wrong. Leave them alone and they at worst simply stop fighting and at best come to an agreement. Much of this thinking can be applied to the Israel-Palestine situation.
Unfortunately, individuals such as Baroness Warsi are precisely what neither Israelis nor Palestinians need to calm tensions. To compare the massacres of everyday people to the Jewish movement for freedom of religion in East Jerusalem’s holy site trivializes the conflict and fails to understand the complexities of negotiations needed and the demands of both sides that have to be acknowledged and dealt with. Baroness Warsi is an epitome of an outside influence self indulging herself through empty rants on the computer while offering nothing to the debate on the conflict. Her language enflames and her words do not offer ideas or solutions.
To believe symbolic votes in Parliaments in far off countries will fast track the region into a conclusive agreement is fallacy. While many who supported the recent non-binding vote to recognize Palestine in the UK Parliament will feel as if they have satisfied a moral necessity within themselves and sleep better at night, such frivolities have done nothing to work towards a practical solution. Coincidentally, violence has soared between Israel and Palestinians since.
The problems that exist are more complex and to a certain extent even petty. The mindset, buoyed by external bombast, has turned tribal. For instance, after the latest round of negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians, the issue of settlements in the West Bank was solved relatively instantly; the big sticking point was where to place the slot on the voting box for the Palestinian Authority’s election. Neither side wanted to go back to their people saying the other side had got their way in negotiations. As a result, the slot was cut at 45 degrees so each side could say that got their way. Practical solutions, such as the aforementioned, need to be proposed between the two sides to deal with every problem they face.
Luckily, the Conservative Party leadership understands this and shows why Baroness Warsi is not representative of the party nor a reflection on its official position. Israel is not only a key strategic partner but also a friend to the United Kingdom. The Conservative Party correctly stands for Israel’s right to exist and defend itself while acknowledging legitimate desires of the Palestinians for a nation state to peacefully co-exist alongside Israel.
But to do so does not take political gimmicking or hash tag fuelled tweets from Western politicians. The conflict needs long drawn out negotiations between the two sides. Tensions will ebb and flow and more will surely and tragically lose their lives; but we need to stop playing politics if there is to be a sustained and agreed solution between Israel and Palestine.