We must stop arming Israel
Brown has to stop sitting on his hands, halt British weapons exports and insist the EU do the same
* Nick Clegg * The Guardian, Wednesday 7 January 2009 *
The world watched in horror yesterday as the conflict in Gaza claimed its latest innocent victims in the rubble of a UN school. Any hopes of reconciliation are being snuffed out as anger spills into protests around the world.
The past two weeks have been a telling indictment of the international community. We have an outgoing US president sanctioning Israel's military response and an aching silence from the president-elect. We have a European Union encumbered by clumsy decision-making and confused messages.
And at home we have a prime minister talking like an accountant about aid earmarked for Gaza without once saying anything meaningful about the conflict's origins. Gordon Brown, like Tony Blair, has made British foreign policy effectively subservient to Washington. But waiting for a change of heart in Washington is intolerable given the human cost.
Of course, Israel has every right to defend itself. It is difficult to imagine what it must be like to live with the constant threat of rocket attacks from a movement which espouses terrorist violence and denies Israel's right to exist. But Israel's approach is self-defeating: the overwhelming use of force, the unacceptable loss of civilian lives, is radicalising moderate opinion among Palestinians and throughout the Arab world. Anger in the West Bank will make it virtually impossible for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president, to continue to talk to Israeli ministers.