THE CITIZEN BUREAU | 13 AUGUST, 2014
Israel's offensive on Gaza
NEW DELHI: World pressure and the beginnings of what can swell into a huge military and economic boycott is compelling Israel to stay at the negotiating table in Cairo where talks for a resolution are underway with the Palestinians.
Israel is feeling the pressure even from countries it had considered friends, as the movement for boycott, divestment and sanctions gathers steam across the world. Opposition parties, former Presidents, and others in and around the periphery of power have been responding to huge protest demonstrations to pressure governments to stop military trade with Israel.
UK MP George Galloway has suggested that the city of Bradford should be an “Israel free zone” and has called for the district to boycott Israeli goods, services, academics and tourists. Galloway who is the MP for Bradford West said at a public meeting, “we don’t want Israeli goods. We don’t want Israeli services. We don’t want any Israeli academics, coming to the university or the college. We don’t even want any Israeli tourists to come to Bradford, if any of them had thought of doing so. We reject this illegal, barbarous, savage state that calls itself Israel.” In strong words he added, “why on earth (would Bradford welcome) apologists for a terror state.”
Huge protests in the UK have generated tremendous pressure on the pro-Israel Cameron government. Under pressure from Parliamentarians the business department of the British government said that a review of UK exports to Israel had identified 12 licenses for “components which could be part of equipment used by the Israel defence forces in Gaza.” British newspapers reporting this said that this included equipment for military radar, combat aircraft and tanks.
UK Business secretary Vince Cable has been quoted in the media as saying that the government hoped that the talks would lead to a peaceful resolution but, “in the light of that uncertainty we have taken the decision to suspend these existing export licenses in the event of a resumption of significant hostilities.” This follows the resignation of lady Warsi as a foreign office minister last week describing the Cameron government’s “approach and language” as “morally indefensible.”
Sinn Fein has demanded that Ireland should boycott Israeli military goods. The party’s Padraig Mac Lochlainn has written to defence Minister Simon Coveney “to make a firm commitment that under his direction the Department of defence will not longer buy military equipment from Israel.” President Michael D Higgins who has visited Gaza four times according to the local media said, “one’s heart is broken again and again.”
Spain has imposed an arms embargo already. France has shifted its pro-Israel position to describe the attack on Gaza as a “massacre.” Ecuador, Brazil, Chile, Peru and El Salvador have withdrawn their ambassadors from Israel. Brazil, like India, is a big arms partner of Israel and this move will clearly halt the procurements. Bolivia has canceled a visa exemption for Israeli tourists. Calls for similar boycotts have been made from almost all quarters of the world including South Africa that has taken a strong stand against Israel, US where civil society and young Jews have been particularly active in opposing Israels attack on Gaza, and parts of the Middle East like Turkey where the government has been lambasting Israel for the genocide.
South Africa’s former president Thabo Mbeki has called for a boycott of Israeli goods. However, even before him South African President Jacob Zuma had attacked Israel for the massacre of the Palestinians with his party comparing it to the “actions of the Nazi’s during World War II.”
Several corporations dealing with Israel have been put on the defensive. The big coffee chain Starbucks has denied any dealings with Israel now. In Netherlands a major bank has sold stakes in Israeli banks, Vitens the largest water supplies has cut ties with Israel’s water company Mekorot which takes water from the West Bank and sells it back to the Palestinians, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The brands that are feeling the heat that will worsen if there is resumption of hostilities include Pampers, Volvo, Hewlett Packard,Intel, Motorola, McDonalds, Coca Cola, Estee Lauder, Marks and Spencer, Nestle amongst others.
India is perhaps in the minority of countries that have not condemned Israel for its attack on civilians in Gaza, and equates its relations with the Palestinians to that with Israel. Price negotiations for military equipment from Israel are currently on, with the Barack 1 missiles contract to be finalised in the near future.