International  •  Middle East & North Africa

Ceasefire now: No weapons for genocide!

03 June 2024
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International Secretariat

AFTER MONTHS of providing Israel with military and diplomatic support for its genocidal war in Gaza, US president Joe Biden has moved to force Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu to agree to a new ceasefire.

US national security spokesperson John Kirby said the ‘ball was in Hamas’s court’—but the truth is that the proposed deal represents a trial of strength between the United States and its recalcitrant ally.

With Netanyahu caught between those in the Israeli opposition and war cabinet favouring a deal, and the far right parties propping up his government, the ceasefire’s fate is in the hands of a genocidal regime that has never wavered from its principal war aim—the extermination of Hamas as a military-political force in Gaza.

Ceasefire

The proposal, claimed to have the support of Hamas, Qatar and Egypt, follows the template of previous proposals that have foundered on Israeli intransigence. A six-week ceasefire would see the IDF withdraw from ‘populated areas’, an exchange of hostages and Palestinian prisoners, and the entry of 600 aid trucks per day. The second phase would see the exchange of remaining hostages, and a ‘permanent end to hostilities’, with the reconstruction of Gaza constituting the third phase.

Everything depends on how serious the Biden administration is—only a credible threat to sanction the Israeli state or military could force Netanyahu to risk breaking with the fascist settler parties that he depends on to avoid a political downfall likely to culminate in his arrest on corruption charges.

Any cessation of the bombing and the atrocities visited on the refugees would be a welcome relief. But a ‘permanent end to hostilities’ is a fantasy while the IDF imposes its siege of Gaza and protects the settler gangs presently engaged in a bloody campaign of ethnic cleansing across swathes of the West Bank.
The road to ending Israel’s oppression of the Palestinians requires building a movement that can force the Western powers to end their unconditional support for the Zionist state. The solidarity movement can justly claim some credit for Biden’s ceasefire gambit, which is motivated as much by concern for his re-election campaign, as it is over damage to the US’s global prestige.

The movement needs now to go beyond protest and symbolic direct action, to measures that compel governments to end their complicity in the Third Nakba. This requires a social force with the necessary collective weight and organisation—the labour movement, and the working class generally.

So far, most trade unions have maintained official or unofficial boycotts of the demonstrations and occupations. Even trade unions that have spoken out clearly have done little to mobilise for a visible presence of the organised working class, something which could act as a powerful encouragement and impetus to the hundreds of thousands of other workers marching alongside.

Our entire energy must be directed at bringing into the field of struggle the trade unions and political organisations which can direct action—strikes and boycotts—on a big enough scale, to impose a workers’ boycott of Israel, ending the two-way flow of weapons, trade and propaganda.

The whole solidarity movement, with the active mobilisation of the working class, which alone has the power to force governments to change their mind, needs to use the coming days to escalate the pressure:
For a permanent ceasefire and total withdrawal of all IDF forces from Gaza and the occupied territories.

To concentrate our strength on a set of common goals, we need the Palestinian and anti-war campaigns, and the trade unions, nationally and internationally, to convene assemblies of delegates to draw up a plan of action—boycotts, blockades, strikes and occupations of workplaces, government offices, schools and businesses, as part of a working class campaign to target the profits and normal functioning of the capitalists and governments complicit in Israel’s genocide.

We appeal to trade union branches, students’ organisations, working class parties, and the organisations of the socially and nationally oppressed to endorse a call to urgently convene such assemblies to decide the way forward.

The socialist alternative

The inevitable and predictable outbreak of a genocidal Third Nakba—which has seriously disrupted US attempts to establish a form of ‘order’ in the region, as it seeks to limit Chinese and Russian interference, and turn its attention to the Pacific—has obliged the US to resurrect the prospect of negotiations for a two-state solution.

But although Spain, Norway and Ireland have joined 145 of 193 UN member states in recognising a Palestinian state, the US and its allies—the UK, Canada, Japan, France and Germany—do not. Despite their democratic pretensions, they recognise and support the oppressors, not the oppressed. By accepting Israel’s jealously guarded veto over any kind of independent Palestinian state, they make themselves the co-sponsors of Zionist colonisation, ethnic cleansing and genocide.

They do so for the same reason that led them to help bring Israel into existence in the first place. Israel has been nurtured as a ‘western’ ally, simultaneously a military rampart on the Red Sea and Suez canal, and dependable opponent of regional powers that seek to challenge British, French and above all, US exploitation.

The Israeli state was constituted on the basis of denying the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination, denying the right of refugees to return, and driving out the remaining population. It has no right to exist as a settler-colony and ethnically-defined apartheid state based on the national oppression of another people. But justice and national liberation cannot be achieved on the basis of expelling the Israeli Jewish population—a perspective that could only transform the Palestinians into the mirror image of their Zionist oppressors.

Neither Gaza, nor the West Bank statelet run by the Palestinian Authority, can be put forward as a legitimate expression of Palestinian self-determination. Without sovereignty over its borders and internal affairs—the litmus test that Zionism can never accept—the territories supposedly accorded to the Palestinians can never be more than Bantustans existing, or not, at the whim of the Zionists.

The only democratic solution is a binational, secular state ‘from the river to the sea’, with equal rights for all peoples, including the right of return for refugees who wish to do so. That said, after seven decades of national struggle over a common territory, a just and equitable resolution can only be achieved on the basis of a socialist republic, in which the land, resources, hospitals, schools, and workplaces, are held as the common property of the state’s workers and farmers. Wherever it begins, such a social revolution will necessarily occur as part of a workers’ revolution that uproots the entire colonial and despotic architecture of the region, with the goal of forging a free association of nations—a socialist federation of the Middle East.

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