It’s been a bad week for Tony Blair. Hats off to Nick Kabat, who asked him this question at a lecture at the University of Buffalo on 7 October. (Thanks to Mondoweiss for picking this up.)
“A UN investigation has found that Israel and Hamas committed war crimes and crimes against humanity in the recent Gaza conflict. Yet the US and Israel insist the report was biased and proceeding with the committee’s recommendations would be harmful to the peace process. Why is international law not applied in this case when the evidence exists. And please explain as Quartet envoy why the application of international law would be harmful to the overall peace process and furthermore why the siege on Gaza is not similarly deemed harmful to the peace process.“
Blair, as you can see, was unable to give a straight answer.
Here’s his series of cynical arguments to duck the question, and sorry for SHOUTING in my comments, but really....
1 - International law should be applied, but not necessarily in cases where there are “deep and profound contentions" between the two sides. WHAT!?!
2 – I know from my experience in Northern Ireland that you never solve a conflict by taking only one side’s view and forgetting about the other – SO WE MUST IGNORE THE VIEW OF A HIGHLY QUALIFIED PANEL OF RESPECTED JURISTS THAT PRODUCED AN UNIMPEACHABLY OBJECTIVE AND RIGOROUSLY RESEARCHED INVESTIGATION BECAUSE PALESTINIANS, HUMAN RIGHTS ADVOCATES, ETC. SUPPORT IT AND ISRAEL DOESN’T. HOORAH FOR BALANCE!
3 - Israel pulled out its troops and settlers from Gaza in 2005 and rocket attacks came out of Gaza – SO YOU REFUSE TO ENDORSE GOLDSTONE, BUT YOU ARE HAPPY TO ENDORSE SHARON’S MOVE TO AVOID ALL NEGOTIATION BY TAKING UNILATERAL MEASURES BACKED UP BY UNLIMITED MILITARY MIGHT OFTEN USED ILLEGALLY? YOU’RE A PEACE ENVOY!!!
4 – Hamas must release Gilad Shalit – YES, AND ISRAEL MUST RELEASE 11,000 PALESTINIAN PRISONERS.
5 – Some people say we must change our policy in Gaza, but so must Hamas – WHICH IS WHAT GOLDSTONE SAYS. WHY NOT ENDORSE THE REPORT THEN?
6 – Again, the conflict will not be resolved by a debate over a report (sic) that is hotly disputed between the two sides – NO ONE IS SEEKING TO SOLVE THE CONFLICT BY “DEBATING” THIS REPORT. PEOPLE WANT THE CONFLICT TO BE SOLVED BY THE BALANCED APPLICATION OF INTERNATIONAL LAW, THAT’S ALL.
7 – It’s all about giving Israeli security and Palestinians a state, via bottom-up institution building and economic development and top down negotiations. HANG ON, ISN’T THAT THE ISRAELI VIEW. I WOULD SUGGEST, MR BLAIR, THAT THE PALESTINIANS – APART EVEN SOME IN THE QUISLING PA - WOULD “HOTLY DISPUTE” THAT, AND SAY IT IS ALL ABOUT ENDING THE ILLEGAL ISRAELI OCCUPATION AND COLONISATION OF THEIR TERRITORY AND RIGHTING HISTORIC INJUSTICE.
8 – Things are improving. After all, Mr Bliar is able ponce around the West Bank when before he couldn’t – SORRY, I THINK I’M GOING TO BE SICK...
9 – Now, for the big finish... he believes it’s possible to resolve the dispute by understanding the pain on both sides and making sure we get a just and fair solution with two states, living together in peace. OH YES, "I BELIEVE!" OTHERWISE HE'D HAVE TO RESIGN, WOULDN'T HE?
To conclude, Israel can avoid all accountability for its war crimes by “hotly disputing” any attempt to enforce it. The Palestinians, even the co-opted Palestinian Authority, can hotly dispute whatever they like, the illegality of settlements, or the Wall, or removing the rights of the 6-7m refugees, and no one will listen.