40 years ago this week, Israel fought the Six Day War against an alliance of Arab states seeking to destroy it, and won a crushing victory. The armed forces of Egypt, Jordan and Syria, with troops and arms from Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Algeria, were comprehensively defeated, and Israeli forces occupied Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
Since then, Israel has denied the Palestinian Arab people who comprise the vast majority in those territories their right to self-determination. The West Bank is now dotted with Israel army checkpoints, riddled with Israeli settlements — there are more than 400,000 Israeli settlers there — and further eroded by the so-called “security fence”, stealing large tracts of Palestinian territory. All of this undermines the possibilities of a viable Palestinian state.
In Hebron, 500 settlers live in the heart of a city of 150,000 Palestinians, who are barred from the main commercial road and only allowed to walk elsewhere.
For any consistent democrat, let alone socialist, the solution to the conflict is simple. The Palestinians must be allowed to form a viable, fully independent state – a state with the same rights at Israel. Details aside, that means a Palestinian state in the area which has been occupied since 1967, the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza; it means the dismantling of the “security fence” and the immediate withdrawal of Israeli troops. And it means massive aid from Israel, the Arab states and others to help the Palestinians rebuild their shattered society.
The demand for two independent states, Palestine alongside Israel, is the core of effective solidarity with the Palestinians, and with the left and peace movement in Israel. It is part of the fight to unite Arab, Jewish and other workers in a struggle to overthrow the monarchies and dictatorships that dominate the Middle East, to create a free, socialist federation in which the region’s oil wealth can be used for the benefit of all.