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Emergency Motion - Developments in Gaza & Southern Israel

November 18, 2012 4:32 PM
Originally published by East Midlands Liberal Democrats

East Midlands Conference passed an Emergency Motion - Developments in Gaza & Southern Israel

This Conference views with alarm the developments in Gaza & Southern Israel. Both sides must take responsibility for the flare up in violence and both sides must realise that there can be no long term solution that does not recognise the legitimate rights and aspirations of the other side. We call upon the Federal & Parliamentary Parties to use their influence on the British Government to do what it can to bring about a speedy and lasting cease fire.

Longer term the Conference calls on all parties to enter into meaningful peace negotiations with no pre-conditions on either side. We also call up on the Liberal Democrat party to give whatever support it can to organisations in Palestine and Israel like YaLa, Wahat al-salem, Neve Shalom, One Voice and many others that are working to bring about reconciliation between the two sides.

Proposed: Leon Duveen (Bassetlaw & Sherwood Liberal Democrats)

Seconded: Peter Thompson (Bassetlaw & Sherwood Liberal Democrats)

Leon Duveen proposed the motion as follows:

In proposing this motion I should first declare my interest; I am an Israeli, I lived in Israel for 10 years & served in the Israeli Defence Force. I still have many friends & family in Israel. I support Israel's right to exist within secure borders just as I support the right of Palestinians to have a home land of their own.

What has happened in Gaza & Southern Israel is a tragedy for all concerned. No life on either side is worth more or less than one on the other. The stories of children being forced to missed school and live in bomb shelters for days and possibly weeks on end are heartbreaking whichever side they come from. Too many lives are being lost and ruined by this conflict which, and here is the biggest tragedy of all, could have been avoided if those in power on both sides wanted peace more than winning a game of political one-upmanship.

From my contacts with Israelis over the last few days I am sure that there are many there who are opposed to the current flare up, which to me seems more connected with Netanyahu's desire to appear tough ahead of the elections to the Knesset in January than it has to with any real security need. Having said that, there has undoubtedly been increasing provocation by Hamas over the last few weeks, designed to provoke just such retaliation by Israel. On both sides there are external forces pushing them to more extreme, to up the anti, to create a situation that these forces feel would enhance their own political ends. Unfortunately, they seem to forget that on both sides this will mean people being killed, maimed and bereaved.

As Liberal Democrats we need to be standing up for reason, negotiations, for trying to find a way forward that will end this bloody cycle of tit for tat violence in the area. We just need to look at our own history in Northern Ireland, Kenya and other areas to realise that in the end it is only through negotiations that conflicts can be resolved. It doesn't help when the Foreign Secretary, in the name of the Government we are part of, comes out and starts blaming one side of the increase in violence. We as a party should be working within the Government to get it to take a more balanced position, one where we can help bring both sides to a solution, not encourage either side to be more belligerent. It is only when both sides sit down together, with everything on the table up for discussion, be it the withdrawal of Jewish settlements from land occupied

in 1967, recognition of the right to exist for both Israel & Palestine, secure boarders for both countries, the right of return for Palestinians alongside the rights of Jews expelled from Arab countries to be compensated, only then can we hope to start to bring peace to this troubled area.

This brings me to the second part of the resolution. Because of my close connection with Israel, I know there are many organisations working to bring Jews & Arabs; Israeli & Palestinians; people from different backgrounds, together, I have named a few and will happily pass on details of these and others later. It is through dialogue as these groups promote, that the barriers, both physical & more importantly, mental, between people can start to be broken down. Unfortunately, both in Israel and in the Palestinian areas such groups find is difficult to work. Governmental pressures and attacks from fanatics who think any contact with the other side amounts to treason make life difficult for them. We should be supporting them in their work in any way we can. Just to stand on the side lines and shout abuse at either side or to boycott this or that produce isn't enough and runs the risk of creating entrenched positions.

We also need to offer whatever support we can to those parties standing in the Israeli elections next year that are on the side of dialogue & compromise; Meretz, The Greens, even the Israeli Labour Party & Kadima. The parties on the right of Israeli politics, that have led the country since 2009, seem intent to continue the conflict whatever the cost and have the backing of many in America and this country, Jews & Christians, willing to fight to the last drop of Israeli blood in defence of that position. Let us do what we can to try to promote those parties that share our believe in reasaon & dialogue.