by Phil Duncan
This morning (NZ time) the UN Security Council passed a resolution – 14 votes for, none against, one abstention (guess who?!!) – condemning Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The resolution was jointly put forward by Venezuela, Malaysia, Senegal and NZ (who are part of the fluctuating section of UN Security Council members). I watched the vote and discussion live on al-Jazeera while eating breakfast. Al-Jazeera is not without its own political drawbacks but, given the crap nature of what passes for ‘news’, let alone ‘analysis’, on NZ television, it is a godsend.
The imperialist powers are a bit pissed that Israeli just ignores them over the settlements. The favoured imperialist solution is a two-state set-up, while Israeli policy generally indicates the Zionists simply want to swallow up the West Bank and make it part of a greater Israel state.
Figures for the numbers of settlers are provided on wikipedia: “The total population of all settlements in the West Bank was nearly 400,000 in 2014, excluding East Jerusalem. As of December 2015, altogether over 800,000 Israeli Jews resided over the 1949 Armistice Lines (including east-Jerusalem neighborhoods), constituting approximately 13% of Israel’s Jewish population.”
So, even though a two-state ‘solution’ would leave Israel dominant and foist a poverty-stricken semi-state on the Palestinians, moreover one that would have to repress its own population to keep the Zionists happy, the Israeli ruling class have no intention of accepting even that set-up. They want a bigger, more powerful Zionist country and state.
NZ’s role in this resolution isn’t because the NZ ruling class has converted to supporting the Palestinians. It reflects the fact that the NZ ruling class is a ruling class in its own right – despite the claims of the left-nationalists (the dominant force on the NZ left), neither this country nor its ruling class are under the thumb of Washington. In particular, in the post-Cold War world, the NZ ruling class is playing a much more active role globally. It remains committed to helping protect the existence of Israel – an existence which is the root of the Israel/Palestine ‘problem’ – but it also reflects two other things:
1. NZ public opinion has shifted from being overwhelmingly pro-Israel a few decades before to being horrified at the intransigence and violence of the Zionist state.
2. NZ has economic interests in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Latin America – all places where there is a general sympathy for the Palestinians and substantial hostility to Israel and its brutal repression of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Most of these peoples have histories of colonial rule, oppression and exploitation, so their ‘natural sympathy’ is with the Palestinians. NZ policy has to take note of that.
United Nations policy basically reflects the interests of the western ruling classes. All of them, apart from the Israeli one, favour the two-state option. The UN never implements the copious resolutions it has adopted against Israel and, while these resolutions are undoubtedly a bit irksome for the Zionists, Israel’s rulers can put up with them because they know the UN is all hot air and attitudinising – they only take action when their resolutions are directed at Third World leaders who have lost the favour of their original western backers.
What the Palestinians need from us is not pressure on the United Nations but active solidarity with their cause. The BDS (Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions) campaign is a valuable tool in this but, for anti-capitalists, the task is not simply to BDS Israel but to actively support the Palestinians who are fighting for their liberation. In particular, to actively support the progressive, left, secular wing of the Palestinians.
This means publicising the existence of this wing of the Palestinian movement, building support for it among workers in New Zealand, raising funds for it and organising solidarity work and information-gathering groups to go to occupied Palestine.