March 1, 2005
EJJP welcomes the occasion of the “London Meeting on supporting the Palestinian Authority” for the bringing the world’s focus on to the question that is, still, Palestine. The bombing of a nightclub queue in Tel Aviv and the deaths of 11 Palestinians at the hands of the Israeli army since the ceasefire agreed at Sharm el Sheikh remind us of the awful price some are forced to pay. Such murders are to be condemned unequivocally. We wish the London Meeting every success in achieving its – strictly limited – objectives of economic development and state-building.
Yet the meeting is a hasty substitute for a peace conference envisaged by Prime Minister Tony Blair as a public payoff for his support of the Iraq war. Hampered by Israel’s success in proscribing political discussions, while insisting on retaining influence over the conference’s outcome and final statement, the London Meeting serves as a regrettable metaphor for recent Western interventions over the Israel-Palestine conflict: it puts the cart before the horse.
Capacity building, economic development, underpinning a future Palestinian state, strengthening the institutions of governance: these are all welcome objectives. They are no substitute for a political solution. Israel’s fear that the conference might have otherwise dealt with political issues is a powerful indication of bad faith on its part.
A political solution means a Palestinian state. To be viable, such a state requires “territorial contiguity … a state on scattered territories will not work.” These are the words of President George W Bush.
When a conference is arranged with this as its central aim, the world might see progress towards a just settlement that will allow Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace and security. Until then, meetings such as the one in London today, despite the wish of the organisers to show their good intentions, are doing little more than treading water.
Executive Committee, EJJP
For further information: Dan Judelson +44 0779 339 28 20