Labor for a Just Palestine: A two state solution?

Response to ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ Final Report on their visit to the Palestinian Territories (West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza), Israel and Lebanon from 1 March – 16 March 2010 .

I don’t understand why the ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ report (at p2) says “the vast majority of the (separation) wall does not follow the pre-1967 “Green Line”.

Especially since later in the report (at p6) the report refers to the “expansion of Israel beyond its legitimate 1967 borders”.

And in the same paragraph it refers to “Israel’s long term security interests”.

Taken together, these conclusions in the report imply that the test for ‘a solution’ is ‘Israel’s security’ behind pre-1967 borders.

Why should the ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ report set down borders? Why should Palestinians accept a wall? Let alone a wall that follows some arbitrary line or border? Do Palestinians accept this? If so, why have Palestinians resisted the wall with such vigour and courage?

Since the setting up of the Green Line in the 1949 armistice, ‘Israel’s security’ has meant terror for Palestinians.

Those that did not know this before Gaza, know it now.

Why should a wall exist?
Are not all settlements behind walls on another’s land a crime, no matter when they were put up? Why is a settler state in Palestine in the 21st century so abhorrent? If not because of the horrors of settler states in Southern Africa in the 20th or in Australia during the 19th century.

Why does ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ imply the illusion of ‘two states’ by reference to the Green Line and pre-1967 borders? Especially when the same report anoints Israel’s claim as ‘legitimate’ (at p6).

When taken in context, surely the “extreme situation in the Palestinian town of Qalqilya” which is “almost entirely enclosed by the Wall” is reason enough to demonstrate that ‘two-states’ is inhumane and non-viable.

‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ makes only some mention of the extreme poverty of Palestinians throughout the region that you visited …what about Southern Lebanon? How is the poverty there exempt?

Your report does mention Palestinian refugee camp of Bouj al Barajneh in Beirut. The report makes reference to the right-of-return of refugees but two paragraphs further on says that this is ‘impractical’(p5).

If 20,000 people can live inside 2 sq km in Bouj al Barajneh why can’t 4 million refugees have the right to return home to Palestine? How is the latter any less practical?

US backed Israeli occupation of Lebanon brought about poverty.

UN partition brought about occupation of Palestine.

This made Palestinians refugees in their own land.

Why say Palestinians “would gladly accept resettlement in a third country” (p5)?

Did you ask Palestinians how practical this re-location was when compared with ‘right-of-return’?

Today Israeli planes fly-over Lebanon, unchallenged by any force, these Israeli pilots use sonic booms and screaming jets engines to make terror a daily event for Lebanese and Palestinians on the ground. Why leave that out of the report? Christian Lebanese concede that the only reason Israel does not bomb Lebanon is because of Israeli government’s fear of Hezbollah rockets. Lebanese security, such as it is, lies not in the hands of the Lebanese army nor in the UN, it lies with Hezbollah’s military capability.

Why does the report attach significance to the 1967 borders?

Why are the borders before the ‘six-day-war’ more significant than the 1948 borders before UN partition?
The authors of the report know that Zionist claims over Palestine predate Australian Labor Government’s support of UN partition establishing Israel. Going back further in history, Zionist claims increased in 1917 [Balfour declaration] from what they were in 1896 [beginnings of Zionism in Europe]. Their claims of Palestinian land increased in 1936 [large arrivals of refugees to Palestine as fascism spread throughout Europe] from what they were in 1917 when granted access to Palestine by Lord Balfour. Zionist claims and terror gangs (the Irgun and Haganah) increased right up till European guilt at the holocaust led to UN partition and the the state of Israel. A partition only one year after British partition of India led to the loss of one million lives.

You know that Israel borders widened by military conquest since 1948 with the UN unwilling or unable to restrain them. David, you know because you were a UN soldier in Lebanon. Wasn’t it the UN partition of Palestine in 1948 that led to continuous ‘al Nakba’ for Palestinian people.

Is ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ asking that Palestinians accept the principle that to the victor belong the spoils?

The report says “it is Hamas who benefits from the blockade (of Gaza)” surely blaming political organisations like Hamas is unfair.

No Palestinian benefits from the Israeli military blockade of Gaza or from Israel’s construction of the Wall.

The report by ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ mentions their meetings with the
Palestinian Union Federations on the recent Union Aid Abroad APHEDA tour of . Your report supports their call for Boycott, Divestments and Sanctions against Israel.

At the same time ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ calls for UN observer status over holy sites in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Hebron and ‘to ensure safe and secure access for everyone’. What capacity has the UN to carry out such a task? Is the UN capable of making its own school in Gaza safe from Israeli bombing? Will the Australian Labor Government step in and secure the lives of school children if the UN fails again?

Labor for a Just Palestine says “the Palestinian economy will remain severally (sic) restricted as will the ability of the Palestinian Authority to operate on behalf of its people.”

Surely it is Palestinian people who decide who represents them and what form their political resistance against occupation takes?

‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ say ‘we believe that both Israelis and Palestinians have the right to live in peace and security within internationally accepted borders with United Nations Resolutions.’

What does the ‘internationally accepted borders’ referred to in the report mean? What UN resolution has Israel ever obeyed? What UN resolution over Israel have members states like the US, Britain or Australia ever enforced to protect the lives of Palestinians?

The report makes the unsupported claim that the vast majority of Palestinians want their own independent state alongside Israel.

How is this possible with the 4th largest army in the world ten minutes drive away? An army resourced and backed by the US? And supported by the Australian Government.

At page 6 the report states:

We were unsure what to expect on entering Gaza (the three members of the group – born in Australia – with Arabic sounding names were denied entry by the Israeli security without explanation).

The people who were refused entry did not have ‘arabic sounding’ names the people have arabic names and this is the reason they were refused entry to Gaza . The refusal was a racist refusal by Israeli authorities. To try to make out it was anything less or to confuse matters by failure to recognise the identity and culture of the people who went all that way to see first hand what the Israeli state had done to their arab brothers and sisters is to throw into doubt the understanding or perception of the Labor group. We should not bow to the racists, or excuse their refusals or pardon them of their crimes. The Israeli military have no credence, no honesty they are murderers and they will do anything to stop their crimes being exposed by arab australians or anyone else.

Prior to leaving for Palestine the ‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ group organised a public meeting at the Queensland Parliamentary annex which I attended and recorded.  The purpose of the meeting was to drum up  support for a ‘two state solution’. For example each of the people invited to speak on the platform said they endorsed a ‘two state solution’. I have reported the statements made at that public meeting at A ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict?

Then the Labor for a Just Palestine went on their solidarity tour. What they saw did not change their pre-conceived view. The ‘facts on the ground’ made no change to the views they had expressed prior to leaving. Why is that?

Taken together the views expressed by L4AJP are a defense of a solution long since proven unjust and impossible — a tired voice from a past that events in Palestine have challenged and found wanting.

Worse still, the views are presented in a way that claims to be representative of the views of many voices, both here and there — but when the many do speak out in anger against lies and distortions — overcoming fear — their views are distorted, attacked as being ‘radical’ or ‘militant’ and, worst of all, ignored.

I wonder what the rest of the people on the APHEDA tour of Palestine learnt from their trip.This report says that there were 14 participants in all and the L4AJP numbered only three, so other observations and views are likely.

Do their perceptions and conclusions  coincide with this report?

“And in the month of March come the silken shadows (and without shadows the invaders). The birds come mysterious as the confessions of girls. Five girls conceal a wheatfield under their braids. They read the first words of a song about the vines of Hebron. They write five letters: Long may my country live. Five girls at the door of a primary school break like mirrors…” — Mahmoud Darwish

Ian Curr
13 April 2010


Road to Hiroshima
Labor 4A Just Palestine APHEDA Middle East trip report.pdf

A ‘two-state solution’ to the Israel-Palestine conflict?

‘Labor for a Just Palestine’ FinalReport

10 thoughts on “Labor for a Just Palestine: A two state solution?

  1. Thanks for the dissection, Ian. I notice you shun facebook – I’ve taken the liberty to broadcast your post through the solidarity network there. 🙂 See

  2. Beyond the Fringe says:

    Thanks Jin for posting my questions to the authors of the Labor for a Just Palestine report of their tour of Palestine above on the Solidarit net – i am not sure what that is?

    I like your blog ‘Beyong the Fringe’ [] especially the poems.

    I listened some of the videos that you had posted of Ali Abunimah from Electronic Intifada.

    Concerning “the chains of globalisation and neoliberal imperialism” []— I don’t like the term neoliberal – for one, it lets social democratic parties like the Australian Labor Party off the hook. I prefer the term ‘economic rationalism’. Take for example the opposition to the sale of public assets in Qld – Only some ALP officials like Dittmer (Qld ALP President) claim a history of opposing privatisation but, in the end, their words are tainted by the economic rationalism endemic to ALP governments. They are always on about efficiency and cost. Even Dittmer’s reference to intervention in the economy using QRail was from the perspective of what benefits capitalism not what benefits workers…see

    In Solidarity
    Ian Curr
    Ph: 07 3398 5215
    Mob: 0407 687 016
    Web: Workers BushTelegraph
    Workers of all Countries Unite!

  3. ALP policy says:

    As a unionist I am a critic of both the Australian Labor Party and the Australian Council of Trade Union’s policy on Palestine — they are essentially identical — as espoused in a motion that was passed at the 2009 National Conference of the ALP:

    It is “a commitment to a two-state solution to the conflict, based on Israel’s right to live in peace within secure borders, and in recognition of the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinian people for their own state. Australia supports a negotiated solution to the conflict consistent with UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338”.

    In December 1948 UN General Assembly Resolution 194 stated the right of return or compensation for Palestinian refugees and displaced persons. Every year the United Nations reaffirms this right of the Palestinians to self-determination, to return to their homes and property, or to be adequately compensated for their losses.

    Every year these resolutions are ignored by Israel.

    Sixty years after al-Nakba and 220 years after colonial settlement of Australia neither Palestinians nor indigenous Australians have the right to self-determination.

    Both indigenous peoples are refugees in their own land.

    Today there will be a national protest at Queens Park called by Murri elder, Sam Watson, at 11 am in Brisbane.

    This because their have been 6 deaths in custody since 14 February 2010 — Deaths in Custody — CUSTODIAL KILLING FIELDS

    How can any Labor government, state or federal, claim to be in support of human rights while such conditions prevail?

    Leave the Land Alone

    We share this land of timeless dreams,
    mysteries of tree and bone,
    tribal journeys of dance and song
    symbols painted on stone.
    Songlines of the indigenes,
    they used to call it home,
    broken by colonial greed
    the land had never known.

    We poison lakes and dam up streams,
    this land that is our home,
    quarry the hills and cut down trees,
    don’t know how to leave it alone.
    Why do we break this fragile land
    and bring it to its knees?
    Our eyes are blind with dollar signs,
    so much that we should see.

    Do you fear the force of machinery
    and big money lying?
    it’s hard to live guilt-free
    when the country’s dying,
    All that’s part of you and me
    laid waste by greed and scheming,
    don’t you know we’ve taken enough,
    Let the land lie dreaming.

    © Fringe 2007

    in solidarity,
    Ian Curr
    10 April 2010

  4. David Albuquerque says:

    I have a difficulty with the slapping of labels like ‘radicals’ on Palestinians.

    As Australians, we must:
    A) rid ourselves of ‘vantage point’ ethics and
    B) own up towards our own radicalism in creating the Palestinian problem.

    A) ‘Vantage Point Ethics’ is to sit in safe, comfortable Australia (or America) and call some or all Palestinians ‘radical’.
    The trouble with privileged, Vantage Point Ethics is that it is entirely hypothetical. It starts with: “If I were in your situation, I would not be a radical/I would seek a non-violent/democratic solution to my problems etc, etc…”

    A 21st century Englishman or Australian pronouncing moral judgments on a person who stole a loaf of bread in Dickensian London is, in effect, saying: “If I was in your shoes, I would starve but not steal.” Do we have any way of knowing for sure whether we would?

    True, I don’t strap on and then detonate a suicide bomb to redress my grievances. But then I am an Australian who tucks his children to sleep every night, secure in the knowledge that a bulldozer won’t tear his house down or a helicopter gunship blow his family up as it sleeps. My city builds a $2.2 billion tunnel so I can travel 6 km without having to bother about a single traffic light.

    We must consider that Palestinians spend their entire day waiting at a series of checkpoints where foreigners point rifles at them and subject them to horrendous abuse and humiliation.

    I don’t know my state of mind had I to endure that level of humiliation daily for 15 years or had I been shot at with/by live bullets, high-velocity bullets, dum-dum (mushrooming bullets), rubber-coated metal bullets, combat helicopters, tanks, missiles, tear gas and sniper with telescopic rifles (all internationally banned against civilians) each time I protested a land annexation or house demolition.

    We have never faced such extreme oppression.

    Would we have kept our sanity? Would we have become suicide bombers?

    We can never know for sure. No Australian or American knows (even the modern day aboriginal or Red Indian doesn’t have to go through checkpoints).

    So why are we so liberal with our judgments? The Israeli novelist David Grossman famously wrote in 2002: …”if you oppress a people for 35 years and humiliate its leaders, and harass its population, and do not give them a glimmer of hope, the members of this people will try to assert themselves in any way possible..”

    The “If-I-was-a-Palestinian-I-would-not-become-a-suicide-bomber” statements have the same hypothetical validity/absurdity as the statement: “I would not, as a peasant in 1789, have stormed the Bastille,” or “I would not, as a worker in 1917, have taken up arms against the Tsarist regime.” Ditto with the apartheid regime at the height of apartheid. But that non-violence is precisely what is demanded of the Palestinians by many educated Australians including our Prime Minister and all his colleagues. The same, and often worse, was the case with the previous Liberal government. Whatever happened to our ‘fair-go’ Australian values and our Anzac fight against occupation?

    We are not willing to accept that Palestinians, often in the prime of their lives, become suicide bombers out of a deep sense of desperation – desperation caused by a brutal and humiliating occupation which has deprived them of their humanity and any hope for a brighter future. That doesn’t mean anyone should support the killing of Israeli civilians or rejoice over their gruesome deaths as is implied.

    Second, given the fact that conscripts make up most of the IDF, it is hard for a Palestinian to make the distinction between an Israeli soldier and civilian. The face of German occupation, for the Frenchman, was the German in combat uniform but not the German hausfrau or kinder who was back in Germany. Not so the Palestinian. His life is controlled and manipulated by the everyday Israeli, man, woman and, yes, child. The Israeli soldier – male and female, adult and teenager – who abuses a Palestinian at a West Bank checkpoint or fires a bullet at a protestor – is, after work, a ‘normal’ civilian walking the streets and frequenting the cafes. According to Avigail Abarbanel, children too indulge in a cruel game called “Palestinian spotting and tormenting’. She says she herself joined in it to be ‘one with the crowd’. Often the tormentors of the Palestinians are gun-toting ‘civilian’ settlers.

    B) How would a Palestinian react to being called ‘radical’ by Australians whose government, under Doc Evatt, had robbed him of 78% of his land, supported the brutal occupation of the remainder, remained silent or voted/abstained against UN strictures on those who had committed war crime after war crime (Cast Lead being only the latest in an un-ending series) and enforced ten-year inhumane siege against his people?

    Imagine a world conscience and legal system which was asleep right through the abduction, torture and enslavement of a girl and wide awake and crying “Foul!” only when she, in desperation, shot her abductor. Palestinians rightly believe the West has a conscience which operates selectively. Australia is facing a huge moral crisis – as great as when Gough Whitlam colluded with Indonesia in enslaving the East Timorese. We have to say enough is enough. We need fearless and humane voices like yours. I deeply and honestly admire your dedication and sense of justice. I hope and pray that your voice will be heard one day by our prime minister and the rank and file of your party.

    Australia is otherwise a great country. We give so much to World Vision and other charities. What made us commit such a crime on a poor, defenceless community? I am sure this baffles and pains you as it does all of us. We need your help to get Canberra to end its role in this human tragedy.

    Best regards and in solidarity

  5. Margot Shalom says:

    Preparing For Ethnic Cleansing?
    New Law Could Deport Thousands of West Bank Palestinians


    The new order makes it a criminal act for anyone to live in the West Bank without a permit. Violators can be sentenced to up to seven years in prison.

  6. Hi Ian,

    Sorry about the tardiness of my reply. Thanks for liking my poems. I appreciated you republishing Leave the Land Alone alongside the Murri protest which I thoroughly support. The solidarity network to which I referred is existent via facebook. Please feel free to look me up there sometime if you’re inclined.

    Re economic rationalism – I call it economic irrationalism 😉 as far as I am concerned the ALP is not a left wing party – not as I understand leftness. It too conspires with capitalism and persistently subverts the trade union movement. So I think neoliberal fits its policies too.

    All the best!

  7. arab muslim says:

    The Zionist enemy will remain the Zionist enemy, because the existence of this entity in the heart of the treacherous

    The Arab-Muslim world is a big mistake, because this entity is not involved with the Arab world

    Islamic basic characteristics of the Arab-Muslim world (religion, language, customs and traditions)

    Thus the existence of this entity in the Arab world will remain constant tension in the Middle East.

    The only solution to end the problem of the Middle East and the world’s problem is to unite the Arab and Islamic countries

    Ministry of Defence and one common to all Arab and Islamic countries and the expulsion of Jews from Palestine, all of Palestine, because Palestine Arab Islamic state and will remain forever, God willing,

  8. Hello ‘Arab muslim’,

    How can the expulsion of people from Palestine be a solution to the Al Nakba of 1948?

    It was the expulsion of Palestinians in 1948 (Al Nakba) by zionist terrorist groups that made the problems you speak of.

    A secular multicultural state in Palestine with right of return for those cast out in 1948 is the only hope for peace.

    Ian Curr
    June 2010

  9. I beg to differ with many comments made here. Of course a two state solution is fair and optimal. However, the present situation will not allow for peace, even with two seperate countries. For example, when Israel left the Gaza strip in 2005 and gave Palestinians partial solidarity, Israel was met with rockets deliberate focused on Israeli non-combatant civilians. Needless to say that Hamas has killed 1000s of people Muslims and Jews alike. Even the moderate Fatah names football fields and schools after terrorists.

    How can there possibly be peace with such a scenario? Imagine if Israel left the West Bank right now and then in less than a year’s time Hamas takes over and then rockets are launched again at Israeli civilians but this time at the most populated cities.

    Only once there is a possibility for peace will Israelis withdrawal military command from the West Bank because the whole world has seen (but barely mentioned) the consequences of withdrawing from Gaza. I agree that Israel should not have settlements int he West Bank, however, military control should be maintained to prevent loss of life on both the Palestinian and Israeli sides.

    And for you, “arab muslim”, Arab countries have united in the past (1948, 1967 and 1973) and they brought nothing but financial suffering and military defeat to themselves and the region. Violence is not the answer. If it were not for the violence in 1967 by Arab countries then Israel would never have held the West Bank or East Jerusalem and there would be no problem.

    Another point I would like to add is that not all Israelis join the army and it is incredibly sad that so many have to. The religious civilians do not join the army and nor do Arab Israelis. Elderly citizens do not participate in army activities either. However, in the charters and stated goals of Hamas, Hezbollah and the late Arafat, religious Israelis, old citizens AND Arab Israelis do not deserve to exist and should be killed.

    David, you keep forgetting to mention that if it were not for Arab hostility towards Israel then there would be no reason for conscription or war. Israel is a small peace of land where Jews immigrated to without assistance and fought against the British occupation. When the British left the mandate of Palestine (which was also trans-Jordan and parts of Syria) they split the land into areas of majority Jews and majority Arabs. Arabs who fled because of statements by Arab countries where not given citizenship. But those who stayed were.

    Once again, the military occupation of parts of the West Bank is wrong and should be abandoned, however, any government in Israel’s situation would not do so yet because of the security risks.

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