Comment Hezbollah association does the Palestinians no favours
LAST month there was a march in London to commemorate Al Quds day, an annual day of support for the Palestinian people.
Some of those who marched carried the flag of Hezbollah, a Lebanese-based organisation which seeks not just an end to the current oppression of the Palestinian people by Israel but the destruction of Israel.
It is motivated by support for the Palestinians but also by a belief that Israel is part of a religious war on Islam. For example, one article on its official website says that Israel’s long-term goal is to destroy the Kaaba, a building at the centre of Islam’s most sacred mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia.
Hezbollah’s military wing is banned as a terrorist organisation in the UK. However, people carrying Hezbollah flags stayed within the law by making it clear they referred to the political wing, which is not banned.
Critics say that the military wing and the political wing are effectively the same. London Mayor Sadiq Khan has come under pressure to prevent Hezbollah flags of any description being flown in the capital.
He recently promised to write to the Home Secretary about the issue, saying: “I share the concerns of the Jewish community about support shown for Hezbollah, which is an illegal, proscribed and antisemitic organisation.
“Antisemitism or hate crime of any kind has no place in our city, where we don’t just tolerate diversity, we respect and celebrate it.”
For some British people who support the Palestinians, support for Hezbollah is justified by Israel’s behaviour.
Since 1967, Israel has controlled or occupied land, known as the Gaza Strip and West Bank, which under international law is supposed to belong to the Palestinian people.
While it’s possible to justify the initial occupation – the land at that time was controlled by Egypt and Jordan respectively, which were committed to destroying Israel – it certainly can’t be justified today.
Both those countries have made peace with Israel.
And the Palestinian people themselves, through their government the State of Palestine, based in the West Bank, have accepted what is known as the two-state solution.
This means accepting Israel’s right to exist in peace within its own borders, while also of course calling for Israel to allow the Palestinians to do the same in their own country.
The borders themselves are acknowledged by the United Nations and more or less every individual country. But although supposedly accepting the principle of a twostate solution as far back as 1993, Israel hasn’t allowed it to happen.
It retains effective control of much of the West Bank, and has encouraged or allowed Israeli settlements to be built there.
Although Israel forced settlers to leave the Gaza Strip, it maintains a blockade of the area (along with Egypt, which has its own border with Gaza). This is said to be on security grounds, but it clearly prevents economic development or the development of an independent state.
Criticism of Israel is justified, but associating the plight of the Palestinians with Hezbollah doesn’t do the Palestinian people any favours.
Supporting the Palestinians is not the same as supporting terrorism. It’s also not the same as supporting religious extremism.
If anything, promoting the idea that supporting the Palestinians is tantamount to supporting a terrorist and fanatical organisation like Hezbollah only undermines attempts by Palestinians to win support for their case.
There will be some people in the west who feel comfortable waving Hezbollah flags. Many others, however, will find the sight repulsive.
While Hezbollah are based in Lebanon, the Palestinians have an organisation of their own which represents them. The State of Palestine has been recognized by 136 nations representing more than 80% of the world’s population.
The President is Mahmoud Abbas, also chair of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), a former terrorist organisation which signed the 1993 peace agreement with Israel.
In practice, it has limited control over the West Bank, due to Israel’s interference, and a complex relationship with Hamas, the Palestinian group which controls Gaza.
It’s not really a sovereign state in practice, yet.
But it’s the body which represents the Palestinian people in the UN and around the world. While Mr Abbas and the PLO may have flaws like other politicians, they are not terrorists or people who believe in religious war.
Anything which undermines them only hurts rather than helping the Palestinian cause.
> A masked Palestinian miltant from the Islamic Jihad next to a Hezbollah flag