Britain’s smokescreen for Israel’s ethnic cleansing
Britain’s smokescreen for Israel’s ethnic cleansing



In 1917, the British government announced its support for the establishment of a “national home for the Jewish people” in Palestine. After leaving in 1948, Britain kept a foothold on nearby Cyprus from where it now helps Israel bomb Gaza. Now, Britain is secretly backing Israel’s complete takeover of Palestine, according to Hamza Ali Shah (for Declassified UK)


“The two-state solution is no longer possible”. Those were the uncharacteristically honest words of the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom, Tzipi Hotovely, last week.

From the person who callously denied a humanitarian catastrophe existed in Gaza and had the audacity to dismiss the idea that innocent Palestinians were being murdered by Israeli bombardment, it was a rare moment.

However, her admission that a two-state solution was out of the equation and an “independent state of Palestine was politically impossible” was framed as a seemingly unfortunate and unwelcome policy development.

The indirect implication is that as a result of 7 October, when Hamas attacked Israel, changed political circumstances render a Palestinian state problematic.

The reality is far simpler than that: a two-state solution, or any tangible framework that upholds Palestinian statehood, is unachievable because decades of Israeli state policy is working as intended.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made unambiguously clear in July that Israel must “crush” Palestinian statehood ambitions.

Nor is it a new standpoint. In his 2015 election campaign, he made clear there would be no Palestinian state under his watch.

That same Netanyahu, at a United Nations General Assembly speech earlier this year, presented a map showing the “new Middle East”, wherein the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip were part of Israel.

Perpetual anguish

The state of perpetual anguish is the only type of Palestinian state that Israel is willing to accommodate.

Yet the Labour Party and the Conservative Party, the only two parties that can realistically govern Britain, appear to live in an illusory world where the two-state solution is alive and Israel allows the establishment of a sovereign Palestine.

Both leaders of the parties have reiterated those policy positions in recent weeks.

By persisting with the robotic recitations about a two-state solution, Britain’s political class are providing the perfect smokescreen for Israel as it deliberately nullifies the possibility of Palestinian statehood and consolidates the one-apartheid-state reality.

Indeed, Netanyahu’s map that erased Palestine chillingly captured the undeniable trajectory on the ground.

This year has seen the Israeli government take ruthless steps to annex the West Bank. Within the first six months of the year, Israel’s government approved the construction of a record number of settler housing units.

According to the UN, around 700,000 Israeli settlers now live in the occupied West Bank, including East Jerusalem, a number which has grown by 180,000 since 2012.

Israel’s strategy coincides with an intensification of housing demolitions. During the first quarter of the year, Israeli authorities also demolished, forced people to demolish or seized 290 Palestinian-owned structures across the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, forcing many of them to leave their communities.

This marked a 46% increase compared to the same period in 2022.

Record killings

Where Palestinians were not being displaced, their lives were at the mercy of Israel’s unsparing occupation forces. Between 1 January and 6 October, Israeli forces killed more Palestinians in the West Bank than in any other year since 2005.

It also marked the deadliest year on record for children murdered in the West Bank.

The systematic ethnic cleansing of Palestinians that was being perpetrated was as undeniable as it was unforgiving.

“Between 1 January and 6 October, Israeli forces killed more Palestinians in the West Bank than in any other year since 2005”

And that was before the international green light for Palestinian mass slaughter and displacement was awarded to Israel after 7 October. Since then, human rights organisations describe Israeli policy in the West Bank as the most aggressive land grab since 1967.

Settlers in particular have been emboldened and are imposing a reign of terror. The UN has recorded at least 281 settler attacks against Palestinians in the West Bank since 7 October.

At least 15 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli settlers in the last six weeks. Meanwhile, Israeli forces have murdered at least 201 Palestinians including 52 children in the same period.

More than 1,000 Palestinians have been displaced from their homes, often citing settler violence and intimidation as a primary reason. Many have been kept at gunpoint, abused and humiliated.

End game

“All Arabs should die. All who don’t die should go to Jordan”, one Palestinian recalls an illegal settler shouting whilst beating him.

It’s imperative that such fascistic tendencies are not treated as fringe views. Rather, they characterise the Israeli establishment’s strategic objective, and the settlers are facilitating it.

In fact, the idea of Palestinians being killed or emigrating is precisely what Israeli finance minister Bezalel Smotrich considers the only logical option available for Palestinians. He calls this the West Bank’s end game: complete Israeli seizure of the territory in order to make the Jewish state an accomplished fact.

The West Bank was always deemed an intrinsic part of any future, independent Palestinian state. But the options Palestinians face are all on the spectrum of cruelty: remain under permanent occupation or be subjected to ethnic cleansing and land usurpation.

One option that is being viciously ruled out is self-determination.

Importantly, this crystallises why the genocide in Gaza must not be viewed in isolation and is inextricably linked to what is happening in the West Bank.

“One option that is being viciously ruled out is self-determination”

When Israeli ministers openly boast about “rolling out the Nakba” whilst other former ministers go on television to underscore that “we all need two million to leave” in reference to the optimal scenario for Gaza’s future, signs of a sweeping land grab become painfully noticeable.

When both Netanyahu and Smotrich hint that Israel will retain operational and security control of Gaza – effectively synonyms for occupation – the outlook for residents in Gaza already grappling with so much destruction is compounded.

Worse still, in deplorable circumstances, like in the West Bank, draconian Israeli occupation seemingly represents the least bad option.

A think tank with close ties to Netanyahu issued a report shortly after 7 October advocating the “relocation and final settlement of the entire Gaza population”. It cited Israel’s war on Gaza as a “unique and rare opportunity” to carry it out.

The methods may differ in the scale and speed of enforcement. But the fundamental intention is multi-pronged and in full swing: systematically obliterate any prospect of a Palestinian state by leaving no Palestinians, nor land for them to inhabit.

For politicians to sincerely place Palestinian rights at the heart of any campaign would be to acknowledge the deep-seated settler colonial ethos that has long instructed Israel’s operations and the apartheid structures that sustain it.

Jewish supremacy

The bare minimum should be a demand for a reversal of the one-state reality defined by Jewish supremacy that has long been structurally embedded in Israeli law, politics and society.

But a Labour and Conservative political class that firmly voted against a ceasefire, overwhelmingly opposes and criminalises non-violent avenues that seek to isolate Israel, like imposing sanctions, and have no qualms about arming Israel’s war machine.

These figures also fundamentally reject the description of apartheid, showing they are only interested in maintaining the British foreign policy tradition of propping up a colonial regime.

Two definitive points become unavoidable: That whilst the two-state paradigm is defunct, the struggle for Palestinian freedom will not disappear no matter the circumstances.

And secondly, that the British political establishment are certainly not allies in that struggle.

As Israeli officials demand Gaza becomes “a place where no human can exist” whilst the military sings from the same hymn sheet, it would be erroneous to suggest that is merely an unconventional hardline attitude to Palestinian existence and freedom that 7 October gave birth to.

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