The Jewish Leadership Council is deeply concerned at recent comments by the Deputy Prime Minister, Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, on the situation in Gaza. While we all fervently hope for an end to the current hostilities and share his deep concern for the people of Gaza, a sustainable end to the violence can only be achieved by honestly and responsibly addressing the situation as it truly is, and not as we might wish it to be.
Mr Clegg notes that this is the third military operation in Gaza in six years and concludes that the current operation is ‘as futile as it is deadly’. It is troubling that the Deputy Prime Minister’s conclusion from repeated Hamas attacks on Israel, including over 12,000 rockets since Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza, is that Israel’s defence of the 75% of its population with range of these weapons is futile.
Similarly, Mr Clegg notes the vast sums (of aid money) spent by Hamas on constructing a sophisticated network of terrorist tunnels under Israel, but is unable to accept that Israel has the responsibility to confront and decommission these threats.
It is hard to imagine that if missiles were landing on London and Manchester, or terrorists were emerging from attack tunnels in Birmingham and Leeds, the Deputy Prime Minister would assert that Britain should demonstrate ‘magnanimity’ and use “political will, not military might”.
Equally troubling is the Deputy Prime Minister’s call for Israel to negotiate directly with Hamas, rightly proscribed as a terrorist organisation by his own Government. He makes an assurance that ‘an understanding that all have to share the same space and the same destiny” will bring the conflict to an end. This not only ignores the international community’s insistence that Hamas cannot be considered a legitimate negotiation partner until it accepts the basic conditions of the International Quartet, but it creates a totally unfounded equivalence between Israel, which accepts the need to negotiate a two state solution, and a terrorist organisation which is committed, in word and deed to Israel’s destruction.
Political leaders have an important role to play in bringing about a sustained end to the current violence and charting a path towards peace. To do this they must recognise the true nature of the Hamas regime, and also acknowledge the failure of the international community to effectively uphold the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip as required by Israeli-Palestinian agreements and UN resolutions.