Labour should forge stronger links with Fatah

4th January, 2013 3:02 pm

“See up there, the Dome of the Rock shrine and the Al Aqsa mosque, they won’t be there in 12 months’ time… after successful Israeli elections we’ll raze them to the ground.”

Four years on and I’m back in Palestine’s West Bank to see what’s changed and these are the comments of an Israeli passer-by in Jerusalem’s old city, said to me and Labour colleagues. It doesn’t bode well. It’s our second night there and random Israelis are making unsolicited incendiary comments to visitors to the holy land.

“Gas the Arabs” graffiti, expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, increased Israeli settler violence towards Palestinians, both confirmed by UN agencies; and a whole raft of restrictions placed on Palestinians by the Israeli state which make their lives a misery – all suggest things had clearly got worse.

Faced with this horrific injustice I took some solace from the fact that Labour has supported recognition of the Palestinians at the UN in stark contrast to the Liberal-Tory Coalition who actively opposed it. If One Nation Labour is about anything it’s about being on the side of fairness and justice, it’s about promoting equality and fighting discrimination. In terms of this conflict, it has to be about helping bridge the gap between a non-existent peace process and a Palestinian Authority which must be finding it increasingly difficult to keep the peace.

Having taken the lead in UK politics in supporting Palestinian recognition, one of the next steps is for Labour to bolster relations with Fatah, its sister party in Palestine.

Fatah run Palestine’s West Bank in exceptionally difficult circumstances while it’s occupied by the Israelis. And they are responsible for the international community’s overwhelming support for Palestine at the UN’s General Assembly. They are a secular party of peace, pursuing non-violence and continually pressing for a two state solution, whilst Israel gives the impression it has moved beyond that solution.

Labour can do so much to support Fatah, just as Germany’s Social Democratic Party has. We could strengthen links by holding regular meetings between senior representatives so that we’re more familiar with what their priorities are. We can provide training and intern programmes which support younger and female Fatah activists so that we’re helping renew their base. We can assist with capacity building in administration and local governance. And we can have more exchanges so that Labour activists are aware of the Palestine-Israeli situation and Palestinians understand the context within which the Labour Party operates.

Ed Miliband and Douglas Alexander have made an excellent start on preparing Labour to play a more positive role in the Middle East. They have been in tune with the international community in supporting Palestinian recognition. And they have played their part in signaling to Israel that its behaviour is not acceptable and should not be tolerated.

The next step Labour can take is to forge stronger links with Fatah and re-establish Labour’s credentials in the Middle East. Our leadership has started the process of redressing the in-balance that has existed for too long, but we have to do more than just hold a candle for peace. We must support Fatah as the best chance for a peaceful solution. The alternative in Hamas does not bear thinking about.

Simon Danczuk is Rochdale’s MP and chair of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East. He was in Palestine with CAABU during December

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mike-Homfray/510980099 Mike Homfray

    Well said, Simon. Indeed, Hamas grew because of the lack of support Fatah received in trying to maintain a moderate stance
    I was encouraged by the statements of both Ed Miliband and Andy Burnham at the Reception for Labour Friends of Palestine at last years conference. I think we need to make it clear that the tactics of the current Israeli government in making a 2 state solution infeasible do not have our support.

Latest

  • News The eight people vying to be Labour’s London Mayoral candidate

    The eight people vying to be Labour’s London Mayoral candidate

    On Wednesday the applications to be Labour’s candidate for London Mayor closed. We now have a list of all the people who have put their names forward to be in the running, and alongside the usual suspects there are a couple of other names in the mix. There are eight candidates: –Diane Abbott, the MP for Hackney North and Stoke Newington. She says that she’ll be a genuinely independent mayor, not in the pocket of the party leader. Abbott has […]

    Read more →
  • News Margaret Hodge endorses Sadiq Khan to be Labour’s London mayor candidate

    Margaret Hodge endorses Sadiq Khan to be Labour’s London mayor candidate

    Until she announced she wouldn’t be running, many thought Margaret Hodge had a chance of being Labour’s next London Mayoral Candidate. When she declared that she wouldn’t enter the race, she said that she would like the next mayor to be a person from a minority ethnic background. There was a brief moment when it seemed David Lammy was her choice, but now she has revealed exactly who she thinks is the best person for the job. In an interview […]

    Read more →
  • Comment Don’t narrow our leadership bid

    Don’t narrow our leadership bid

    As the Labour Party licks its wounds after our worst General election defeat for 100 years we could be about to step into an abyss. Labour MPs have the power to stop this happening. Under the new leadership rules Labour MPs’ final vote in the election of a new leader have (quite rightly, and one of Ed Miliband’s key reforms) only the same weight as any other member’s vote. But where MPs really have the chance to shape the choice […]

    Read more →
  • News Details of first TV hustings for Labour leadership announced

    Details of first TV hustings for Labour leadership announced

    Harriet Harman said she wanted the public to play a crucial role in the leadership election at the start of the week. Now making good on this promise, Labour have announced the details of the first TV hustings for the contest. It will take place on the 17th June on BBC Newsnight at 19.00. The hustings will be broadcast live from Nuneaton and will take place in front of a studio audience. It will be presented by Laura Kuenssberg.   […]

    Read more →
  • Featured News London mayoral survey results: Jowell in the lead but Khan isn’t far behind

    London mayoral survey results: Jowell in the lead but Khan isn’t far behind

    At the moment a lot of Labour news is focussed on the leadership and deputy leadership contests. But in London, there’s another race going on. The applications to be London’s mayoral candidate closed on Wednesday (we’ll be publishing the full list of all who applied shortly) but we asked our readers which of the declared candidates they wanted be Labour’s candidate. And this time, as with the leader and deputy leader candidates, we gave readers the option to suggest an […]

    Read more →
Share with your friends










Submit