Stripping Palestinians of their right to self-defence
By Stuart Littlewood

28 January 2009

Stuart Littlewood describes how British Prime Minister Gordon Bown and his EU colleagues are rewarding Israel for its slaughter of 1300 Palestinians in Gaza by feasting its leaders and conspiring to prevent the people of Gaza from exercising their right under international law to bear arms against an illegal occupier.

A pre-meditated and carefully planned slaughter binge resulting in 1330 dead, 5450 wounded and the whole place reduced to rubble. And what did the European Union’s 27 foreign ministers just do?

They sat down to dinner in Brussels with the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.

This must have come as a slap in the face for the millions of justice-loving EU citizens who were expecting to see Ms Livni arrested for crimes against humanity the minute she set foot outside Israel.

All is forgiven. Normal poodle service is resumed. Right now Israel's helpmates in Europe are lining up to pay with our tax money for the humanitarian mess and the economic wreckage, and to offer Israel the services of EU member states in helping to turn the screw yet again in the subjugation of a people Israel has terrorized, abused and dispossessed for 60 years.

Never mind that the EU has spent billions over the years on infrastructure projects in Gaza, only to see them wantonly smashed by Israel’s military.

One of the services on offer is help with stopping the “smuggling” of arms to the Palestinians, now crushed and stripped of everything amid the ruins of their homes, wrecked utilities, devastated hospitals and schools, and a public health disaster. That's what happens when people have only AK47s, RPGs and ineffective rockets to fend off a ruthless occupying force bristling with all the armour and high-tech weaponry of modern warfare.

Already six European leaders – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Nicolas Sarkozy and our very own British Prime Minister Gordon Brown – have pledged to provide ships, troops and technology for anti-smuggling operations.

"We will do everything that we can to prevent the arms trafficking that is at the root of some of the problems that have caused the conflict," Mr Brown said, offering the services of the Royal Navy.

Gordon Brown wouldn't send a few navy ships to protect British flag vessels carrying medics and humanitarian supplies from life-threatening acts of piracy by Israeli gunboats.

He wouldn't send ships to ensure the freedom of the seas – or even the freedom of their own territorial waters – for Gaza's fishermen.

He wouldn’t send ships to shoo away Israeli gunboats ****ling Gaza’s beaches.

But he'll happily send ships to make sure Palestinians have no weapons with which to exercise their right of self-defence.

Still, that comes easily after depriving them of their right to self-determination.

This cosy evening with Livni in Brussels was convened by the Czech foreign minister, Karel Schwarzenberg, who currently chairs the EU Council of Ministers. It was he who said of the Israeli blitz on Gaza's citizens: "We understand this step as a defensive, not offensive, action," thus establishing beyond doubt what a pro-Zionist ass he is.

Meanwhile, Iran's Foreign Ministry has summoned the Czech chargé d'affaires in Tehran, to protest the indifference and silence of the EU to the violations of human rights by Israel in the Gaza Strip, saying it only encourages Israel to continue its crimes.

Good grief! Must we look to Iran for a moral lead?

The concerted move against so-called smuggling is intriguing. An illegally besieged people bring in supplies – food and arms – by any means possible. Is that smuggling?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I was under the impression that a people under siege by an illegal occupier are entitled in international law to take up arms against their oppressor. Who are we to interfere and deny them that right? There is a general consensus that Israel's relentless assault to annihilate Gaza’s civil society was unlawful and a war crime. So why isn't Mr Brown more concerned about blocking America's massive supply of arms to Israel, which is a much bigger "root cause"? Of course, we all know which side Mr Brown’s bread is buttered.

And when can we expect Schwarzenberg to invite Hamas to dinner to discuss the reconstruction of their ruined country – Hamas (in case he and his colleagues had forgotten) being democratically elected to govern and, therefore, in the words of British-Jewish MP Sir Gerald Kaufman in the House of Commons, the “only game in town”?

Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. For further information please visit www.radiofreepalest