The following is an exclusive Press TV interview with Tony Benn — British socialist, former Labour MP and Cabinet Minister — on the Israeli war on the Gaza Strip:
Press TV: Tony Benn, you just gave a speech a few minute ago. Could you summarize what you said, and what your message is to Israel?
Benn: What is happening in Gaza is a crime against humanity. It is a moral issue and we are all morally responsible now, wherever we live, to help the people of Gaza.
I am suggesting that there is something that we could do, for example, there is a British naval base in Cyprus. We should use Royal Navy warships to escort the ship carrying humanitarian supplies to Gaza.
We should use the Royal Air Force to fly into Gaza doctors, medical supplies, and also journalists, whom Israel keeps out.
We should tell the Israeli airlines EL Al that until they abide by the United Nations’ decisions, no Israeli aircraft would be allowed to fly into any British airport.
We should tell the British ambassador to withdraw from Israel, and the Israeli ambassador to withdraw from here. We should recognize that Palestine is a state.
We should also talk to Hamas ourselves, and we should get better, fairer coverage from media in Britain, that does not cover our demonstrations but at least through the help of Press TV what we are saying in Britain today can get around the world.
Press TV: Yes. What you are enumerating are practical solutions, practical things that the UK government could do. They have been accused of not taking these practical steps. They might have condemned what is going on, they might have called for a ceasefire, but some people are saying those are words, they are not concrete actions.
Benn: I agree. That’s why I came up with some “practical” suggestions; what any human being would do. If children, women, civilians are dying under a murderous air attack our responsibility is to react in every way we can, wherever we live. And I think the British government should take this up and deal with it in a practical way.
Press TV: And the British government has been trying very hard to say that its response to the crisis in Gaza has been different from its response to the crisis in Lebanon a few years ago, when it didn’t call for an immediate ceasefire.
And they are saying that they are trying to get the message across that maybe young Muslims in this country might be getting radicalized by seeing those images. Do you think that is a fair point, that we should cut the British government a bit of slack, that they are doing their best?
Benn: Well, if they do think differently from the past, I welcome that, but it is not enough. The fact is they could do more. And public opinion in Britain has changed dramatically.
I think the support for Palestinians now in Britain is on a huge scale as you can see from these big demonstrations. But I am not insisting on criticizing anyone, I just want action now to prevent the slaughter from going on.
Press TV: The public opinion does seem to be behind the Palestinians here in the UK. These massive demonstrations, they are huge in terms of numbers. Are they achieving anything? I mean Israel seems to be ignoring international opinion. Does it care about what is going on in here?
Benn: Well South African whites ignored the demonstrations about the apartheid and the apartheid ended. I mean the truth is, well in 2003, we had a million and half against the Iraq war.
And who would have imagined then that the next president of the United States, Barack Obama, would be a man who voted against the Iraq war. Never underestimate the power of public opinion and demonstrations; never underestimate it.
Press TV: What do you make of the diplomatic efforts currently going on in Egypt, and elsewhere, to put an end to this conflict?
Benn: Well, I have not seen the outcome, but nothing can be done to assist the Israelis in their determination to destroy Hamas, the alleged government of Palestine.
So they have got to be very careful. But the fact is that the slaughter must be stopped, Palestine must be recognized, and Hamas must be seen as the agent of the Palestinian people.
And I think that is what will happen. The Israelis, however many weapons they have, are going to lose this war. And I think the greatest enemy of the Jewish people is the Israeli government itself.
Source: Window Into Palestine