Lord Flight is a former Shadow Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
Harold Wilson correctly referred to a week in politics being a long time. We are seeing the most colossal international changes, threatening to all of us. To have written about anything other than the impact of the “Middle East war” would be inappropriate.
We have a situation analogous to the opening-up and re-infection of a major old wound; the question is what, if any, medication, could stop this having a terminal outcome?
In reviewing what has become an even more complicated situation, the first and fundamental point to grasp is that Israeli communities have been savaged by Hamas and not by Palestine. Palestinian authorities in the West Bank may have promoted antisemitism and said terrible things, but do not pursue Hamas’ appalling and vicious tactics.
The respective positions of Palestine and Israel for a deal are not promising, but I do not think they are too bad to rule out trying for settlement at the right time.
The heart of the problem is that Israel needs to destroy Hamas, but if successful it risks Iran joining the fray. However, given Hamas’ unacceptable conduct the world cannot blame Israel for the tough measures they are now taking to destroy it; after what Hamas has done to them, Israel has had little choice but to respond.
This is likely, at best, to delay attempts to create a two-state solution, which I believe would be the only solution likely to succeed.
Since the Second World War, there has been virtually permanent war between Israel and its neighbours, benefitting neither. In order to achieve some solution, a new initiative is now needed.
Following the Balfour Declaration, Jews living in the Middle East bought and paid for land sold to them by locals. The latter were content with their sales, so long as they received what they judged to be fair value for selling their land. Perhaps the key to peace would be to go back to the Balfour Declaration to adjust it for what has happened since.
Not surprisingly, the war has been covered in great detail by the media. The impact on all of the countries involved has been surprisingly thin.
There will surely be major knock-on effects on politics beyond the region, too; while it looks as if the media has deliberately played down the divisions in the Labour Party, these look to be increasing, daily. I cannot recollect a British government getting re-elected when its party is so divided on such an important international issue.
I also observe that Rishi Sunak has handled his role extremely well, not going for aggressive publicity on such a serious territory and getting support from his very able wife. Wisely, the Prime Minister has positioned himself as a voice of reason and responsibility – in short, the type of character Britain will need to help in the making of any sensible deal.
This contrasts both with Boris Johnson’s handling of the pandemic, revealed by the Covid report’s catalogue of the effects of rampant political division, and with the current state of the Labour Party.
Thus, we could end up with the Opposition effectively destroying their otherwise-strong political position, as MPs continue to defy Sir Keir Starmer and party discipline breaks down. Finally, we have yet to hear much from Jeremy Corbyn, who is the figurehead of the antisemitic left inside the party; the overwhelming majority of British citizens are fiercely opposed to such views, especially if held by senior politicians.
The key question is whether or not the Labour Party will be able to hold together, when we get closer to a election.
The world feels now on the brink of a major war, from which there is presently no obvious escape, and which could even extend worldwide. It is essential that the US, in particular, co-operates with Palestine to establish a two-state solution as and when this could have stronger support.