Socialist Worker

Break Britain’s links with Israel

Expel the Israeli ambassador | Stop all arms sales

Published Tue 13 Jan 2009
Issue No. 2134

Israel has rained terror down on the people of Gaza – and yet world leaders respond with nothing more than soft words and no action.

The horrific number of people killed in Gaza is now approaching 1,000, including many women and children. Israel has deliberately shelled houses full of refugees, murdering whole families at a time.

If any other country had behaved like Israel, its leaders would be outcasts from the international community.

Its ambassadors would be thrown out. Military and economic aid would be stopped.

But instead the world turns a blind eye, issuing only token calls for a ceasefire and ruling out even the mildest of sanctions against Israel.

The approach of Britain’s foreign minister, David Miliband, has been typical of the so-called “international community”.

He equates Gaza’s resistance to Israel’s aggression, and draws parity between the Palestinians’ puny homemade rockets and Israel’s arsenal, which brims with some of the most sophisticated arms technology in the world.

Miliband described Israel as “a thriving, democratic state with independent judiciary” on Monday of this week.

That very same day “democratic” Israel banned all Arab political parties from running in next month’s general elections.

And both Israel and its backers in the West have adamantly refused to recognise the Hamas government in Palestine, which was democratically elected in January 2006.

Miliband is silent about the British government’s role in arming Israel and equipping it for the Gaza massacre.

Export approvals of arms to Israel from Britain rose sharply from £6 million in 2007 to £20 million in just the first quarter of last year.

Miliband should be made to send a clear message to Israel to protest at its war crimes. He should be forced to expel the Israeli ambassador and break all diplomatic links between Britain and Israel.

Tens of thousands of people have demonstrated outside the Israeli embassy in London to chants of “shut it down”. We must demand that Israel is isolated on the world stage for as long as it continues to wage war on the Palestinians and occupy their territory.

People across the world are taking action in solidarity with Gaza. On Thursday of last week, all trains across Norway and all trams and subways in the capital Oslo stood still for two minutes in protest at Israel’s invasion.

A statement was read out announcing the reasons for the action to passengers. “The locomotive drivers’ union in Norway has decided to demonstrate our solidarity with the Palestinian people,” it said.

“We demand the immediate withdrawal of all Israeli troops from the Palestinian territory. Thank you for your understanding.”

In Britain, the Unison trade union has encouraged its members to join demonstrations called by the Stop the War Coalition and the Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

It has also donated £10,000 to Medical Aid for Palestinians and called on Unison regions and branches to send funds for medical aid to Gaza.

Trade unionists everywhere can follow this example. They can hold collections in workplaces in solidarity with the people of Gaza. They can pass motions condemning Israel and backing the protests in support of the Palestinians.

Across the country people have organised local demonstrations and put pressure on their MPs to speak out against Israel’s atrocities.

In Preston, socialist councillor Michael Lavalette has drawn up a motion on Gaza that has now been signed by 13 of the councillors in the city. He also helped organise a 4,000 strong demonstration in the city.

In Birmingham, Respect councillor Salma Yaqoob has also called demonstrations and helped organise a motion to the council calling on it to boycott all Israeli goods.

We must continue to demand an end to Israel’s terror in Gaza, a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and the opening of the border between Egypt and Israel.

Demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza are being planned across the country this weekend – as well as another protest in central London. Go to the Stop the War Coalition website at www.stopwar.org.uk for further information


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