by Geoffrey Churchman

It was inevitable that in their simplistic view of how the World operates the Green Party MPs would side with who they seem to think are peaceful inhabitants of a territory being oppressed by plundering ‘colonialists.’

The standard Islamist narrative that those who watch Al Jazeera, for example, get is that everything was hunky dory for the Palestinians in the small coastal enclave of Gaza until 1967 when Israel moved in. In fact, Gaza was under Egyptian occupation from 1948 to 1967 and as the Egyptian government did not consider the area part of Egypt, it did not allow the residents to become Egyptian citizens or to migrate to Egypt or to other Arab countries where they might be integrated into the population.

When it came to dealing with trouble-makers, the Egyptian military had a reputation for brutality in Gaza, which they still do in dealing with Gazans.

Gaza was next occupied by Israel from the 1967 war (with neighbouring Arab states) to 2005 when it withdrew, leaving a lot of infrastructure there and the inhabitants to autonomy. However, the following year, one of the several militant Islamist organisations — Hamas — committed to the destruction of Israel (and its Jewish population), was elected as governors in the Palestinian parliament and set about achieving that by any violent means they could. They have continued to do that via tunnels, for its operatives under the border fence, and by various projectiles fired over it — rockets, mortar bombs, bullets at short range targets, balloons carrying incendiary devices, and they have set fire to piles of tyres along the border, causing black toxic smoke to drift into Israel.

These attacks have been conducted in varying degrees of intensity almost constantly both before and after Hamas took control of Gaza in 2007 following a bloody struggle for control of the Gaza Strip with rival Palestinian faction Fatah. The latter lost and was largely expelled to the West Bank.

Hamas is designated as a terrorist organisation by the European Union, Canada and the US. Even the Jacinda government considers the Hamas military wing Izz al-Din al-Qassam to be terrorists — hence the problem for Jacinda with the Greens a quasi coalition partner in her regime. Fortunately for her, Jacinda’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Nanaia Mahuta, was more restrained last week and her comments were crouched in diplomatic language.

As long as Hamas controls Gaza it’s unlikely there will be peace. But constant expansion by Israel of settlements into the West Bank (controlled by Fatah) which the Palestinians say are illegal means there won’t be peace there either until the Palestinian leadership accepts Israel’s right to exist and both sides negotiate a two-state solution.