Ceasefire in Gaza, protests in Egypt

Submitted by Matthew on 28 November, 2012 - 8:52

The Israeli government and Hamas, the Islamist party that rules in Gaza, are continuing talks over the implementation of the ceasefire deal that ended Israel’s recent assault on Gaza.

Over 150 Palestinians, including dozens of children, were killed by Israeli bombing. Six Israelis were killed by rocket fire from paramilitary Islamist groups within Gaza. 29 Israelis were also injured in a bus bombing in Tel Aviv.

During the assault, Israel also stepped up its repression of Palestinians in the occupied West Bank, killing two men and arresting over 200 people, many of whom were arrested during demonstrations in solidarity with Gaza. Over 50 of those were arrested on the night of Wednesday 21, the night the ceasefire agreement was initially reached.

The ceasefire is positive, but it necessarily leaves the fundamental power imbalance – Israel as a colonial oppressor, the Palestinians as a subjugated people – entirely intact. For that imbalance to be addressed, a democratic movement of Palestinians and internationalist Israelis is needed, fighting for a settlement that recognises and protects the national rights of both peoples.

Israel — as the vastly more powerful element — is chiefly responsible and accountable for the subjugation of the Palestinians, and the first demand is that it end its occupation and blockade, and support and finance the establishment of a viable Palestinian state.

Mahmoud Abbas, the Fatah/PLO president of the Palestinian Authority (which governs in the West Bank), is seeking to win that state through diplomatic means at the UN. In a surprising move, Hamas (which had previously been hostile to the statehood bid) have offered their support to Abbas, who takes the bid to the UN General Council on Thursday 29 November.

If Palestine is granted “non-member observer state” status, it may be able to join various international bodies, including the International Criminal Court.

Israel is bitterly opposed to the bid. Following the resignation of Israeli defence minister Ehud Barak on Monday 26 November, far-right racist Avigdor Lieberman (currently the foreign affairs minister) is tipped as a potential candidate for the post, potentially signalling further conflict and war.

Many international figures, including Britain’s Tory foreign secretary William Hague, have praised the role played by Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in helping to broker the ceasefire.

The existence of a government prepared to take a firmer line with Israel than Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship was may have helped stay Benjamin Netanyahu’s hand. But socialists should not join in the bourgeois chorus of praise for Morsi’s role, nor laud him as a defender of the Palestinians. Our solidarity is with Egypt’s democrats, who have taken to the streets against to protest at Morsi’s consolidation of power into his own hands, which many say amounts to a coup. An oil worker activist involved in the protests, quoted in the Daily Telegraph, said that Morsi’s move “gives him more power than a Pharaoh”. The Muslim Brotherhood’s Cairo headquarters were stormed and occupied as part of the protests.

The British Socialist Workers Party is rightly promoting a statement from its Egyptian section denouncing the Brotherhood as akin to the old regime.

The SWP should reassess its own decision to call for support for the Muslim Brotherhood in the elections, and its claim that the Brotherhood were part of the revolution.

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