Get Red Pepper's email newsletter. Enter your email address to receive our latest articles, updates and news.
I am writing this having just returned from Gaza where shells and heavy artillery fire were showering down on the besieged territory, along with leaflets from the Israeli military warning that the attacks will escalate. Homes, schools, police stations are all gutted and many hundreds of civilians have been killed.
European leaders have condemned these attacks, but it has been the failure of the EU, along with the rest of the international community, seriously to condemn Israel’s colonial occupation of Palestine and work towards a sustainable peace that has allowed such a devastating war to be waged. A brief look at the EU’s past policies reads as a list of missed opportunities, a cowardly failure to act.
The Israeli state has repeatedly breached international law and flouted UN resolutions. European leaders have been unwilling to make Israel accountable for their actions. The ‘separation wall’ constructed by Israel is an illegal and unjust ploy to annex Palestinian land and was declared contrary to international law in 2004 by the International Court of Justice. Yet what has Europe done? Empty words have been uttered calling for an end to its construction, but still it continues. And Palestinians are subjected to ever more humiliating military checkpoints while the EU looks the other way.
Israeli leaders make hollow promises to placate us. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert pledged to halt settlement construction, one of the most visible barriers to peace. Yet according to a recent report, some 15,000 Israelis have moved into settlements in the West Bank since the beginning of 2008. Some half a million settlers now live in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, flouting international law. Without an end to such building and a dismantling of existing settlements there can be no serious discussion of the possible borders of a Palestinian state.
How has the EU reacted to this? From March 2007 to June 2008 the EU was engaged in secret negotiations with Israel to grant it ‘special status’ under the European Neighbour Policy, a request which if granted would result in Israel becoming the EU’s closest partner.
But many of us in the European Parliament are angry at this choice of bedfellow and we are fighting back. On 4 December 2008 we voted to suspend the vote on granting Israel special status. This was a message of solidarity with the Palestinians, telling them that the European Parliament is not deaf to their suffering. And it was a rebuke to Israel, a message that their neocolonialist policies will not be tolerated. But we must go further than just a suspension of a vote. We must fight for a free and independent Palestinian state.
The EU tries to salve its conscience with aid to Palestinians and humanitarian projects on the ground. But what is the point when Israeli tanks blockade the territory preventing aid from getting in and carpet bombs the region so projects have to halt and aid workers withdraw? The Israel-Palestine conflict requires a political solution to a political question. This requires strong and brave political leadership on the part of the EU rather than allowing Israel to wriggle out of its legal, economic and humanitarian responsibilities towards the Palestinians.
So what is to be done? It was a mistake not to recognise the elected Hamas government, and above all not to recognise the unity government. The isolation made Hamas more radical and the takeover in Gaza a disaster for the Palestinian unity and cause. We have to work for the political unity of the Palestinian leadership and of the territories, and help ensure that their full energies are channelled into constructing a viable Palestinian state that is at peace with its Israeli neighbour, and not misspent with wasteful and destructive infighting.
Ongoing negotiations should have immediate outcomes that change the situation on the ground: to freeze settlements, to free prisoners, to open checkpoints. Only through these steps can Palestinians trust the negotiations. The EU should use all its power to maintain pressure on Israel to perform its duties. This should include an arms embargo and freezing the EU-Israel association agreement. This may help to send a strong message to the Israeli government that there is no country or government above the law.
Of course, peace for Palestine is contingent on peace for Israel; the fates of both peoples are bound together. This means that as well as a stop to the bombardment and killing of the Palestinian population in Gaza, there must be the cessation of all rocket fire into Israel. And then we must do all within our powers to negotiate a political solution that recognises the right to freedom and independence of all who live in Palestine.
When fire safety has become a privilege for the rich, it’s time to stop austerity and fund emergency mass works to raise standards immediately, writes Jane Shallice
The election result has irreversibly changed political discourse in the UK, writes James Fox
In commemoration of the 30th anniversary of Bernie Grant's election to parliament, Ayo Wallace explores the life and legacy of his radical representation of Tottenham's black communities.
Across Britain, hundreds of thousands of people have now taken part in mass rallies for Corbyn's Labour. Eli Regan soaks up the atmosphere in Warrington
The under-30s could be decisive in the general election. Frances Grahl meets young people hit by Tory austerity and looks at what's driving their support for Labour
“To them it’s just another number, someone else being sent back. But when you’ve got three children being left without their dad … it’s quite major,” writes Rebecca Omonira-Okeykanmi.
Hundreds of people surrounded the fences this weekend. Hera Lorandos spoke to women who have suffered inside.
Grassroots posters giving an alternative take on the general election
Laying out the case for Labour's leadership of a Progressive Alliance, Jeremy Gilbert argues that far from posing a threat to the Left, the Progressive Alliance offers a golden opportunity to end Tory rule and build a 21st century government committed to social justice
The Greens have stood down in Brighton Kemptown to clear the way for Labour, and the Lib Dems won’t stand in Brighton’s other seat, Green-held Pavilion. Davy Jones, who would have been the Green candidate in Kemptown, says this shows the way forward
Contagion: How the Crisis Spread
Following on from his essay, How Empire Struck Back, Walden Bello speaks to TNI's Nick Buxton about how the financial crisis spread from the USA to Europe
How Empire Struck Back
Walden Bello dissects the failure of Barack Obama's 'technocratic Keynesianism' and explains why this led to Donald Trump winning the US presidency
Empire en Vogue
Nadine El-Enany examines the imperial pretensions of Britain's post-Brexit foreign affairs and trade strategy
Grenfell Tower residents evicted from hotel with just hours’ notice
An urgent call for support from the Radical Housing Network
Jeremy Corbyn is no longer the leader of the opposition – he has become the People’s Prime Minister
While Theresa May hides away, Corbyn stands with the people in our hours of need, writes Tom Walker
In the aftermath of this disaster, we must fight to restore respect and democracy for council tenants
Glyn Robbins says it's time to put residents, not private firms, back at the centre of decision-making over their housing
After Grenfell: ending the murderous war on our protections
Under cover of 'cutting red tape', the government has been slashing safety standards. It's time for it to stop, writes Christine Berry
Why the Grenfell Tower fire means everything must change
The fire was a man-made atrocity, says Faiza Shaheen – we must redesign our economic system so it can never happen again
Forcing MPs to take an oath of allegiance to the monarchy undermines democracy
As long as being an MP means pledging loyalty to an unelected head of state, our parliamentary system will remain undemocratic, writes Kate Flood
7 reasons why Labour can win the next election
From the rise of Grime for Corbyn to the reduced power of the tabloids, Will Murray looks at the reasons to be optimistic for Labour's chances next time
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 25 June
On June 25th, the fourth of Red Pepper Race Section's Open Editorial Meetings will celebrate the launch of our new black writers' issue - Empire Will Eat Itself.
After two years of attacks on Corbyn supporters, where are the apologies?
In the aftermath of this spectacular election result, some issues in the Labour Party need addressing, argues Seema Chandwani
If Corbyn’s Labour wins, it will be Attlee v Churchill all over again
Jack Witek argues that a Labour victory is no longer unthinkable – and it would mean the biggest shake-up since 1945
On the life of Robin Murray, visionary economist
Hilary Wainwright pays tribute to the life and legacy of Robin Murray, one of the key figures of the New Left whose vision of a modern socialism lies at the heart of the Labour manifesto.
Letter from the US: Dear rest of the world, I’m just as confused as you are
Kate Harveston apologises for the rise of Trump, but promises to make it up to us somehow
The myth of ‘stability’ with Theresa May
Settit Beyene looks at the truth behind the prime minister's favourite soundbite
Civic strike paralyses Colombia’s principle pacific port
An alliance of community organisations are fighting ’to live with dignity’ in the face of military repression. Patrick Kane and Seb Ordoñez report.
Greece’s heavy load
While the UK left is divided over how to respond to Brexit, the people of Greece continue to groan under the burden of EU-backed austerity. Jane Shallice reports
On the narcissism of small differences
In an interview with the TNI's Nick Buxton, social scientist and activist Susan George reflects on the French Presidential Elections.
Why Corbyn’s ‘unpopularity’ is exaggerated: Polls show he’s more popular than most other parties’ leaders – and on the up
Headlines about Jeremy Corbyn’s poor approval ratings in polls don’t tell the whole story, writes Alex Nunns
Job vacancy: Red Pepper is looking for a political organiser
Closing date for applications: postponed, see below
The media wants to demoralise Corbyn’s supporters – don’t let them succeed
Michael Calderbank looks at the results of yesterday's local elections
In light of Dunkirk: What have we learned from the (lack of) response in Calais?
Amy Corcoran and Sam Walton ask who helps refugees when it matters – and who stands on the sidelines
Osborne’s first day at work – activists to pulp Evening Standards for renewable energy
This isn’t just a stunt. A new worker’s cooperative is set to employ people on a real living wage in a recycling scheme that is heavily trolling George Osborne. Jenny Nelson writes
Red Pepper’s race section: open editorial meeting 24 May
On May 24th, we’ll be holding the third of Red Pepper’s Race Section Open Editorial Meetings.
Our activism will be intersectional, or it will be bullshit…
Reflecting on a year in the environmental and anti-racist movements, Plane Stupid activist, Ali Tamlit, calls for a renewed focus on the dangers of power and privilege and the means to overcome them.
West Yorkshire calls for devolution of politics
When communities feel that power is exercised by a remote elite, anger and alienation will grow. But genuine regional democracy offers a positive alternative, argue the Same Skies Collective
How to resist the exploitation of digital gig workers
For the first time in history, we have a mass migration of labour without an actual migration of workers. Mark Graham and Alex Wood explore the consequences
The Digital Liberties cross-party campaign
Access to the internet should be considered as vital as access to power and water writes Sophia Drakopoulou
#AndABlackWomanAtThat – part III: a discussion of power and privilege
In the final article of a three-part series, Sheri Carr gives a few pointers on how to be a good ally