Politics Magazine

Coalition Rocked by Warsi’s Resignation

Posted on the 06 August 2014 by Thepoliticalidealist @JackDarrant

With deep regret I have this morning written to the Prime Minister & tendered my resignation. I can no longer support Govt policy on #Gaza

Sayeeda Warsi (@SayeedaWarsi) August 05, 2014

The resignation of a Cabinet-rank minister at the Foreign Office over a controversial aspect of foreign policy was always going to hurt the Government. But when it comes nine months before a general election, and from one of the few a) women b) Muslims c) northerners d) non-Etonians in the Cabinet, the political costs are inflated further. The Coalition has come under increasing public pressure over its complicity, along with other Western governments, in the continued sale of weapons to Israel despite ubiquitous hand-wringing and condemnation by the same governments of the killing of 2,000 Palestinians by the Israeli Defence Force.

It is therefore unfortunate that some, like Tory backbencher Michael Fabricant, are interpreting Lady Sayeeda Warsi’s resignation as a stand on a ‘Muslim’ issue. The problems with the crude interpretation of the Israel/Palestine conflict as a religious issue must be obvious. Whilst it is true that the majority of Muslims tend to be more sympathetic to the Palestinians than the Israelis and vice versa, a large minority of Jews condemn the actions of the Israeli government. No, the conflict is, as far as its observers are concerned, more of an ethical matter than a religious one.

Let’s try to disregard the historical background to events in the Middle East. What would have seen before the present ceasefire is two nations, Nation A and Nation B. Nation A is flourishing and expanding into the fragmented territory of the other. It is well-defended and strong, but not enough to guarantee its civilians total security from the rockets that are fired from Nation B. Nation B, impoverished and overcrowded, has turned to a group of fanatics to lead it. The fanatics have dragged the nation into war in a desperate but violent bid to end the stranglehold Nation A has over it, through a blockade and the creeping annexation of its remaining territory (in defiance of international law). So the fanatics fired the rockets, in full knowledge that they could not defend their people from the torrent of bombs, bullets and missiles that Nation A would retaliate with. As hospitals, schools and power stations were destroyed, 2,000 died as the result of a futile gesture of hostility.

Would you give either side more weapons or ammunition with which to try to kill the other? Would arming either party not mean complying in the perpetuation of this violence?

Our governments appear to either not to agree, or not to care. The US is to allow its arms manufacturers to sell Israel the bullets it needs to replenish stocks used up this month. The UK government has opted to ‘review’ the export licenses local arms manufacturers have been awarded to ship weapons to Israel.

Baroness Warsi, a number of backbench Conservative MPs and the Liberal Democrats have all said that an immediate arms embargo should be enacted, at least until a permanent peace agreement is reached. Labour is doing an excellent job of sounding angry but not taking a decisive position. That is a shame, as if the Opposition, Lib Dems and Tory backbenches united, they could easily bend the Government to their will. If the UK led the way with an embargo, it could shame the US and other powers into following, increasing pressure on Israel to seek a sustainable peace settlement.

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