UK Foreign Secretary meets with Palestinian activists, when will the US follow suit?

The Popular Struggle Coordination Committee is reporting that William Hague, the British Foreign Secretary, met with leading Palestinian grassroots activists in Ramallah. The meeting serves as a subtle show of support as Israel continues to crack down on the spreading nonviolent resistance to the Wall. From the Committee’s website:

In line with the European Union and Britain‘s denouncements of the recent conviction and sentencing of Bil’in protest leader, Abdallah Abu Rahmah, the British Foreign Secretary, William Hague, met with Palestinian grassroots organizers. Hague held the Ramallah talks with activists from the villages of al-Ma’asara and Ni’ilin, whose residents hold regular protests against Israel’s separation barrier and settlements, and with a representative of the Holy Land Trust, a Bethlehem organization that promotes the use of non-violent strategies by Palestinians.

The meeting comes in the midst of an ongoing wave of repression against the Palestinian civil resistance movement by Israel. In the past two years, faced by the steady growth of the movement and its growing importance in Palestinian political discourse, Israeli forces have killed at least ten unarmed demonstrators, six of them in anti-wall protests. The Israeli military has also detained and imprisoned hundreds and hundreds of people for their part in protesting the construction of Separation Barrier, mostly apprehending them from their homes in nighttime raids – especially targeting the villages of Bil’in, Ni’ilin, Budrus and Jayyous.

During the meeting Hague voiced his and Britain’s support to Palestinian nonviolence, saying that it is this kind of resistance that can gain Palestinians the insistent support of the international community.

This meeting raises the question – when will the US show a similar sign of support?

Representatives from four US-based human rights organizations met with the State Department two weeks ago to ask them to take such a stand. Adalah-NY, CODEPINK, Jewish Voice for Peace and the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation delivered a letter for Secretary of State Clinton signed by over 35 organizations and 5,000 people asking the US to demand that Israel free Abdallah Abu Rahmah.

Rob Mosrie, Executive Director of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, pointed to the hypocrisy of US policy in a press release about the meeting, “Israel’s arrest of non-violent activists like Abdallah Abu Rahmah mocks President Obama’s call in his Cairo speech for Palestinians to use only nonviolent means to gain their freedom. What kind of message does it send to a community when their nonviolent leadership is jailed?”

About Adam Horowitz

Adam Horowitz is Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.
Posted in Israel/Palestine

{ 17 comments... read them below or add one }

  1. potsherd says:

    It sends the message that they have no support and the hypcrite in the White House has been bought off by their oppressors.

  2. lysias says:

    Today’s Financial Times reports that the Palestinians are considering abandoning peace talks and declaring independence. Disillusioned Palestinians eye strategy shift (by Tobias Buck in Ramallah):

    The Palestinian leadership is inching closer to a radical change in political strategy that would involve abandoning peace talks with Israel and instead focusing on winning US and UN recognition for an independent state.

    The debate reflects rising disillusionment among senior Palestinian officials with the peace process. They argue that 19 years of negotiations with Israel have failed to deliver independence and that the time is ripe for a different approach.

    “We are going to ask the international community to take responsibility for this situation. The way things have been going has produced no result,” Mohammed Shtayyeh, a Palestinian negotiator and senior member of the ruling Fatah party, told reporters at a recent briefing.

    We’ve heard this before, but it may be significant that this is in the FT. It may reflect the thinking of British officialdom.

    • Avi says:

      I think the Palestinian leadership is delusional to think it will be able to pull this off. If it is doing so for political purposes however, that is to say for the purpose of bringing attention to the situation, then it might be a viable idea. Otherwise, Fatah is chasing windmills and it won’t be the first time the party does so.

      • syvanen says:

        Avi I have to agree with you on this. It will be very easy for Israel to thwart any pressure coming from Europe. The US veto in the UN prevents that body from doing anything.

        There is really only one politically effective path available to the PA. That would be to dissolve the PA, their members announce that they will join the non-violent resistance and dedicate themselves to the goal of justice and civil rights. Of course, all of the PA officials would lose their salaries that are being paid to the tune of hundreds of million dollars by the EU and US. Perhaps that is a sacrifice that is too great for any mortal to make.

        • Avi says:

          There is really only one politically effective path available to the PA. That would be to dissolve the PA, their members announce that they will join the non-violent resistance and dedicate themselves to the goal of justice and civil rights. Of course, all of the PA officials would lose their salaries that are being paid to the tune of hundreds of million dollars by the EU and US. Perhaps that is a sacrifice that is too great for any mortal to make. </blockquote.

          I would like to think that if I were in that position I would reflect on current conditions and do the right thing (dissolve the PA and give up those salaries), but who knows.

          At the same time, the top ranks of the PA are comprised of people who came from privilege, generations of privilege. For them experiencing adversity means driving around in a 1990 Volvo instead of a 2010 Lexus. So, it might be difficult for them to relate to the average Palestinian who's been living in a refugee camp for decades.

        • Avi says:

          There is really only one politically effective path available to the PA. That would be to dissolve the PA, their members announce that they will join the non-violent resistance and dedicate themselves to the goal of justice and civil rights. Of course, all of the PA officials would lose their salaries that are being paid to the tune of hundreds of million dollars by the EU and US. Perhaps that is a sacrifice that is too great for any mortal to make.

          I would like to think that if I were in that position I would reflect on current conditions and do the right thing (dissolve the PA and give up those salaries), but who knows.

          At the same time, the top ranks of the PA are comprised of people who came from privilege, generations of privilege. For them experiencing adversity means driving around in a 1990 Volvo instead of a 2010 Lexus. So, it might be difficult for them to relate to the average Palestinian who’s been living in a refugee camp for decades.

        • seafoid says:

          I wouldn’t be surprised to hear a few Euro politicians say they are sick of underwriting the occupation especially considering the austerity wave . Israelis read too much into their blanket US support.

          The fact that Israel has no interest in peace is becoming more and more obvious.

          Israel- meet consequence

        • lysias says:

          Doesn’t Israel depend economically on its favored trade status with the EU?

          I could imagine the EU insisting that only countries that submit to the judgments of the European Court of Human Rights are entitled to such a favored trade status.

  3. eGuard says:

    No, bad news this is. Exactly when the news is flooded with US elections, he goes there to talk about, eh, Iran.

  4. alexno says:

    Ha Ha! I’m sure you have seen that Netanyahu is playing the same trick with Brit Foreign Secretary William Hague, as he did with Joe Biden.

    “Israel halts ‘dialogue’ with UK over war crimes law”
    link to bbc.co.uk

    Humiliate Hague while he is there in Israel. Then deny that any significance is intended. No doubt at the same time winding up Jewish leaders in UK to threaten withdrawal of financial support.

    I guess the idea should be a variant of what he did to Biden. Because play the same trick twice is not usually wise.

    No doubt, Netanyahu thinks David Cameron is as soft a touch as Obama. He could be right.

    The trick might work, but I’m not sure. I don’t think the situation is the same. There’s not the same tradition of close relationship between the financiers and the political parties. The Brits have a way of delivering a diplomatic reply, which might finish the affair without anything happening.

    There’s all sorts of speculations one might make about what the trick might really be, but I don’t know whether speculation is useful without more information.

  5. Chu says:

    good news for sure. The US representatives in the house or senate aren’t going to budge.

  6. yourstruly says:

    Another unknown is how this will play in the Arab/Islamic world. True, not much of a reaction in the “Arab Street” to previous Palestinian uprisings, nor to the many Israeli wars against Palestine & Lebanon, but a declaration of independence, that just might do it. Remember, Egyptians rose up a few years ago when the government tried to take away their bread subsidies (the government relented). so it’s not that they can’t, it’s will they? During the ’82 US-backed Israeli invasion of Lebanon, what I heard on more than one occasion from Palestinians was “Where’s the support we need from the Arab peoples.” The answer, of course, was that their governments were keeping a lid on the people, lest the pot boil over. But a Declaration of Independence? Would the lid stay on?

  7. RoHa says:

    And now Hague is going to go back and redraft Britain’s entire foreign policy so as to put real pressure on Israel.

    Yeah.

  8. Kathleen says:

    What a great post Adam
    “What kind of message does it send to a community when their nonviolent leadership is jailed?”

    Israeli’s have been jailing Palestinian Gandhi’s for decades

  9. “UK Foreign Secretary meets with Palestinian activists, when will the US follow suit?”

    … When the US citizenry has successfully imprisoned those who worked for another nation to get the US into the Iraq War (Wolfowitz, Perle, Goldberg…) and voted anybody out of office who sports the dual loyalty flags.