Labour peer and former Middle East minister says Hamas will have to be included in future governance of Gaza
Western policy towards Gaza represents collusion in a terrible failure and will not lead to the permanent elimination of Hamas or security for Israel, the former UK Middle East minister Lord Hain has warned in an Guardian article, demanding a rethink of British approach to the war.
Hain, a cabinet minister in post-1997 Labour governments and a Foreign Office minister from 1999 to 2001, also accuses the Israeli prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, of playing an indirect role in promoting Hamas by refusing to negotiate on a two-state solution and imposing a “near-constant state of siege” on Gaza.
He says Hamas will have to be included in some way in the future governance of Gaza, arguing that western attempts to pick leaders on behalf of their people have a poor track record, and accuses western leaders of doing nothing about the spread of settlements “tolerating still more settlers and also the long siege and now near-total destruction of Gaza”.
Hain gives no direct view on whether the UK Labour party should be calling for a ceasefire, but warns western leaders they are seen across the global south as hypocrites for backing Ukraine but “being complicit in the denial of Palestinian self-determination and culpable in the horror” in Gaza.
“The geopolitical breach with the global south is deepening, and will cost Washington, London and Brussels dearly in an increasingly turbulent world,” he warns, adding that instead of the west “colluding in terrible failure” it should support a regional conference of the key players, including Saudi Arabia, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Iran, to assess whether a two-state solution remains a viable proposition. He writes there has been no serious western diplomacy on the Palestinian question since the then US secretary of state John Kerry intervened in 2014.
Hain, who has remained closely involved in the Middle East since his period in government, predicts that “Israel is not going to ‘destroy Hamas’, as its leaders promise – not even by destroying Gaza”.
He writes: “Although Israel is damaging Hamas militarily, maybe significantly, with many of its tunnels eliminated and its fighters fleeing, Hamas is a movement and an ideology which, in many respects, Netanyahu’s extremism helped to promote.”
His argument is that Israel will not achieve security through repression “as the pogrom on 7 October palpably demonstrated. Israel’s rightwing rulers have monumentally failed to protect their own citizens – and, by prosecuting their ruthless horror in Gaza, they will endanger them even more.”
Reports from within Israel suggest Netanyahu is at loggerheads with the US administration over the future governance of Gaza, rejecting the view by the US president, Joe Biden, that Gaza can be run by a revitalised Palestinian Authority. There have been reports that Israel has been examining a plan to break up Gaza into provinces, each run by a family identified by Israel itself. Some members of the Netanyahu government openly advocate the mass displacement of Palestinians into Jordan or Egypt.
The Palestinian Authority has said it is willing to govern in Gaza in conjunction with the West Bank, but only on its terms and not those imposed by Israel. Netanyahu is insisting that security in Gaza must remain an Israeli prerogative indefinitely.