By Charlie Kimber
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Arab leaders show their complicity with Israel

The Middle East is ‘besieged by governments but supported by people’
Issue 2891
Israeli president Isaac Herzog visits the United Arab Emirates

Israeli president Isaac Herzog visits the United Arab Emirates (Picture: Wikimedia/Creative Commons)

Arab leaders are shamefully betraying the Palestinians by conniving at Israel’s strategy to outflank Houthi attacks in the Red Sea. The news underlines the emptiness of the pro-Palestine rhetoric from the regimes. Middle East Monitor reported that Israel is using a land route for the import of goods.

It goes through the Gulf and across the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Israel. This would be impossible without the active cooperation of the leaders of these countries. The trade is carried out between UAE-based Puretrans FZCO and Israel-based Trucknet.

They move goods including food, plastics, chemicals and electronic devices or components. Some of this trade is crucial to Israel’s high-tech industries—a key part of its economy. And there are plans to step up the flow of goods. Israel’s minister of transportation and road safety Miri Regev revealed last month that she was leading plans to develop the route.

On Twitter she announced, “The overland transportation of the goods will shorten the time by 12 days and greatly reduce the existing waiting time. We will do it and we will succeed.” The trade with Israel contrasts with mass popular backing for the Palestinians in all countries throughout the Middle East.

As the Egyptian Revolutionary Socialists said recently, Gaza is “besieged by governments but supported by people”. A statement signed by Egyptian left groups and campaigns last week called for the opening of the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza, and the free flow of aid. It adds, “We also call for the opening of any other possible crossings to break the siege by the occupying power.”

Although repression holds down the masses in the Middle East, there is a bubbling sense that Arab leaders are failing the Palestinians. The US, Britain and others will always be ready to bail out Israel. Shutting trade routes is a basic form of solidarity with the Palestinians—and it’s an outrage that Arab rulers haven’t carried this out.

It would also add to the economic cost of the genocidal war on Gaza. Since October, Israel’s government has subsidised the salaries of 360,000 military reservists deployed to Gaza. Many of them are high-tech workers in finance, artificial intelligence, pharmaceuticals and agriculture. 

Key sectors of big business have also rallied to Israel’s support. In mid-October more than 220 venture capital firms, including Bain Capital Ventures, 8VC, Bessemer Venture Partners and GGV Capital, signed a public statement to express solidarity with Israel. At the end of December, Al Jazeera reported that dozens of senior executives from US-based venture capital, tech and private equity firms met with top Israeli government officials.

US chipmaker Intel Corp confirmed its plans to build a £20 billion chip making factory in southern Israel. Binyamin Netanyahu hailed this as the “largest investment ever” in Israeli history. But for all Israel’s support, revolt in the Arab regimes against the sell-out leaders would be a mortal threat to Zionism and imperialism’s hold in the region.


Build in the workplaces

Workers and students were preparing for a day of action with Palestine as Socialist Worker went to press. The call for walkouts, protests, vigils and occupations on Wednesday had come from the Stop the War Coalition backed by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Friends of Al Aqsa and others.

It was expected to be the biggest workplace show of support for Palestine since Israel’s assault began. The NEU, UCU and PCS unions backed it. A Workers’ Summit in Glasgow last Sunday— bringing together grassroots activists who want a much more energetic union movement—added its support for the day of action. 

Every action matters to deepen the movement at work and in the schools, universities and colleges. We hope that this week sees a big escalation of militant protest and helps to build networks that can go further in the future. But we can guarantee it would have been bigger if all the unions had really pushed for it.

Instead there was silence from most, including the leaders of the three biggest unions—Unison, Unite and GMB. The TUC union federation said nothing. Union leaders should have called on all of their members to support Wednesday’s events.

In particular they could have encouraged shows of solidarity with Palestine by workers who have official walkouts this week. At least 14 unions are affiliated to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign. But most of their leaders have run away from delivering solidarity when it counts.

The National Union of Students is also absent. It’s up to workers and students to take action, whether through the unions or not, and to keep up the fight for Palestine.


Palestine action diary
  • Saturday 10 February Local actions and marches across Britain including protests at Barclays banks for funding firms that help Israel’s assault on Palestinians in Gaza.
  • Saturday 17 February National demonstration in London called by Stop the War, PSC, Friends of Al Aqsa, Palestine Forum in Britain, Muslim Association of Britain and CND.
  • Saturday 17 February is the second global day of action for Palestine. It is expected to see millions of people march in over 100 cities in more than 60 countries across the world.
  • 1-31 March Actions against Israeli apartheid called by Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign. Events planned across Britain as well as action weeks in universities.
  • Saturday 2 March Trade union conference called by the Stop The War Coalition. It will take place at the NEU union headquarters in London.
  • For full details go to stopwar.org.uk and palestinecampaign.org and scottishpsc.org.uk and bdsmovement.net

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