The War on Gaza: What’s next for Palestine?
The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) hosted a sold-out panel discussion in Westminster entitled ‘The War on Gaza: What’s next for Palestine?’.
The event was initially planned to mark 30 years since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, but it has been updated to reflect the recent bombardment of Gaza. Taking stock of the failures of the peace process is now more important than ever.
The event was hosted by Dania Abul Haj, Legal Officer for ICJP. She introduced ICJP Director Tayab Ali, who spoke about the importance of establishing a rules-based accountability system of international law, that applies equally to Palestinians and Israelis alike. He also announced ICJP’s new ‘Justice for Gaza’ campaign and fundraising appeal, to help make this a reality.
The event included a keynote speech from emeritus professor Avi Shlaim, lecturer of International Relations at the University of Oxford.
This was followed by a panel discussion, where Shlaim was joined by Wadah Khanfar, Daniel Levy and Yasmine Ahmed. Wadah Khanfar is President of Al-Sharq Forum and former Director-General of Al Jazeera.
Meanwhile, Daniel Levy is president of the US/Middle East project and a former Israeli negotiator of the Oslo Accords; and Yasmine Ahmed is UK director of Human Rights Watch.
In his introductory speech, ICJP Director Tayab Ali said: “Legal language is very specific. Lawyers labour over every word we say. Sometimes people think we are speaking a different language. Political language is something else altogether. Political language has immediate power to change the direction of world events.”
In his keynote speech, Avi Shlaim spoke about how Palestinian resistance has been “decontextualised” and that Palestinians are engaged in a decolonial struggle.
During the panel discussion, Wadah Khanfar spoke about a “shameless, explicit hypocrisy” from Western politicians. “Every kind of mask has dropped. And we see the faces of these leaders in front of us, defending genocide, defending the evacuation of people.” He went on to say “It’s not just Palestinians, all over the world, the Global South has been reminded… of the humiliation by colonial powers.”
Next, Yasmine Ahmed highlighted the importance of the context of the crime of apartheid, saying: “They are violently discriminating against Palestinians. This is not just in their acts, but this is a policy of Israel. [There is] systemic discrimination that Palestinians suffer across the occupied Palestinian territories and across Israel”.
Finally, Daniel Levy spoke of the failures of the West constantly excusing Israel's crimes, likening the attitude to “the emperor's new clothes.” He spoke about the ineffectiveness of the West doing “anything to avoid Palestinian dispossession, denial of rights and statelessness.”
The event took place against the backdrop of Israel’s ground invasion of Gaza. The war has seen the killing of over 8000 Palestinians. Israel has indiscriminately bombarded Gaza with airstrikes, imposed a complete siege and internally displaced 1.4 million Palestinians in Gaza.
According to Human Rights Watch, Israel has also used white phosphorus. Against this backdrop, it is of the utmost urgency that a ceasefire be called immediately.