As it has done for the past three decades, the conflict between Israel and Hamas continues to cost too many innocent Israeli and Palestinian lives. It is time to bring it to a close.
Israel is fighting Hamas, not the Palestinian people. It is absolutely right to do so, but with that right comes responsibilities.
On 7 October, Hamas carried out its most brutal and savage attack on Israeli civilians. Over 1,200 men, women and children – including babies – were massacred in the deadliest day in Jewish history since the Holocaust. Around 240 Israelis – ranging in age from babies to Holocaust survivors – were seized as hostages. Since 7 October, some 10,000 rockets have been indiscriminately fired by Hamas and Hezbollah – more than during the entire 50-day 2014 conflict. As a result, over 200,000 Israelis have been displaced.
In accordance with international law, Israel has a right and a duty to defend its citizens. Israel must therefore eliminate Hamas’ instruments of terror: its military and political infrastructure.
Hamas does not represent – and is the gravest threat to – the Palestinian people. It uses the people of Gaza as human shields and hides its arsenal in schools, hospitals and mosques. Meanwhile, its leadership lives in luxury in Qatar.
The humanitarian situation in Gaza is urgent, desperate and heartbreaking. It is rooted in 16 years of rule by Hamas – an antisemitic terror group which has always prioritised its genocidal aspirations against Israel and the Jewish people – over the safety, welfare and wellbeing of the Palestinians, and their legitimate right to self-determination.
From the outset of the conflict, LFI has made clear that Israel, like any democracy engaged in a conflict, must abide by international law, seek to minimise civilian casualties, and facilitate the flow of humanitarian assistance – including food, medicine and water. We fully support Keir Starmer’s call for long humanitarian pauses to ensure the regular, fast and safe delivery of aid to those who most need it.
Like the Labour party, LFI also believes that – from this terrible conflict – a permanent settlement to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians must be sought. A two-state solution enjoys regional and international support and must remain the ultimate objective. For decades, Hamas has undermined diplomatic progress between Israelis and Palestinians. A decisive defeat for Hamas would therefore remove a key obstacle to peace.
The international community must marginalise the enemies of peace and empower all those in Israel and Palestine who support a two-state solution. We support action on five, interrelated steps which must be taken in parallel to achieve this goal and must not compromise Israel’s security:
1. We support a re-empowered and reformed Palestinian Authority, including new investment and aid packages; a gradual expansion of PA territory in the West Bank; freezing settlement construction in isolated settlements; and upgrading international recognition of Palestinian sovereignty in coordination with Israel. Such measures must be accompanied by steps to address the endemic problem of PA corruption and the lack of political and civic freedoms, judicial independence, and the rule of law.
2. Gaza and the West Bank must be reunited under the authority of the PA. The reconstruction and rehabilitation of Gaza, not just from the present terrible war, but also from decades of conflict, tight controls on imports, and – most damagingly – Hamas rule must be prioritised.
3. A future Israeli government must curb the political settler movement and confront with determination the violence of extremist settlers and others intending to threaten Palestinians, incite tensions in the West Bank and undermine diplomatic progress.
4. The international community must support the Arab-Israel normalisation process, including an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia. This process must ensure clear benefits for the Palestinians, so that Palestinian leaders, and the Palestinian public, have greater reason to see it as an opportunity and not a threat.
5. Finally, there must be massive investment in promoting a culture of peace. Incitement against Israelis by the PA must be addressed, while Israeli extremists must be marginalised. This effort must be bottom up, as well as top down. In place of the promotion of a culture of hate, it is time to finally invest in an International Fund for Israeli-Palestinian Peace.