Israel and Palestine
- According to a report from 21 international organisations, Gaza’s 1.5 million people are still suffering from a shortage of construction materials, a ban on exports and severe restrictions on movement six months after Israel agreed to ease its blockade on the territory.
- Amnesty International describes the UJ parliamentary legislation as ‘dangerous and unnecessary’. Director Kate Allen said: “the UK will have undermined the fight for international justice and handed war criminals a free ticket to escape the law.”
- Brazil’s outgoing President, Luis Inacio Lula Da Silva, officially acknowledged Palestinian sovereignty over territory occupied by Israel since 1967. More than 100 states have recognised Palestinian statehood; Brazil is the last of the ‘BRIC’ powers to do so.
- Fires in Carmel: Israeli and other firefighters have succeeded in overcoming the worst fire disaster the country has known. The fires killed 41 people and caused NIS 250 million in damage. Read more here.
- Israel has instructed its embassies in 10 European countries, including the UK, each to recruit 1,000 members of the public to act as advocates for its policies in a new public relations offensive.
- Wikileaks: The Jerusalem Fund have compiled at ‘Top 10 Wikileaks Palestine Nuggets’.
- Yvette Cooper calls for Israeli Settler labelling on food imports.
In Parliament: Government Written Answers, Lords
- On Israel as de facto occupying power of Gaza: “Although there is no permanent physical Israeli presence in Gaza, given the significant control that Israel has over Gaza’s borders, airspace and territorial waters, the UK judges that Israel retains obligations under the fourth Geneva Convention as an occupying power.”
- On the proposed settlement re-freeze: “A renewal of the earlier freeze, which excluded east Jerusalem, could be a helpful step forward enabling the continuation of direct talks, which are necessary to secure peace.”
- On Palestinian Authority textbooks: “We take seriously any reports of text-books being used to promote anti-Semitism. We also recognise this is a controversial area. However, recent independent studies have shown that the Palestinian Authority has made real improvements to its text-books over the last decade and found no evidence of anti-Semitism. But at least one study has shown that both Israeli and Palestinian text-books could do better and teach something positive about the other side. We support that message.”
- On Israeli checkpoints: “We agree that Israel’s system of check points and the processes for moving through them are confusing and frustrating. This applies both to check points between Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories and to check points within the West Bank, which seriously impede freedom of movement for Palestinians. We are also concerned at the way check points are used to change facts on the ground.”
- On East Jerusalem and Gaza: “My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary made it clear during his recent visit to the region that we want to see an end to all settlement activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. This includes East Jerusalem. My right honourable friend the Foreign Secretary also discussed the situation in Gaza with Prime Minister Netanyahu, underlining that we welcome the steps that Israel has taken thus far to improve access but believe that further measures are needed.”
Government Written Answers, Commons
- On Israel’s illegal ‘security fence’: “There are no reliable statistics on the effectiveness of Israel’s security barrier, which was commissioned following the 2nd intifada of 2000. Although we believe Israel has every right to defend itself, we believe that barriers are not the best way to achieve this in the 21st century. Where it is constructed outside of Green Line Israel, the Israeli separation barrier is illegal both according to international and Israeli law. It is worth noting that the barrier on some 40% of the intended route remains unbuilt. We judge that Prime Minister Fayyad’s reform of the Palestinian security sector has played the most significant part in reducing the violence committed by Palestinian groups against targets in Israel. The best way of ensuring Israel’s security is to come to a comprehensive, just and lasting peace agreement with its neighbours.”
- On UK Aid for Palestinians: “UK bilateral aid in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) reported in Statistics on International Development 2010 totalled £57.6 million in 2009-10, £41.3 million in 2008-09 and £45 million in 2007-08.
- On smuggling arms into Gaza: “… weapons continue to be smuggled into Gaza, which is a cause of great concern. We continue to work with the international community to support all efforts to implement the steps set out in UNSCR 1860… including the prevention and interdiction of illicitly trafficked arms into Gaza and the alleviation of the humanitarian and economic situation.”
- Human Rights Debate in the Lords:
Conservative Baroness Morris of Bolton (Chairman of CMEC) spoke of her recent visit to Gaza, and more specifically – about the lack of spare parts in hospitals, the issue of food distribution, and the future of Gaza’s children. Lord Wright of Richmond (Crossbench) discussed ‘the appalling abuse of the human rights of Palestinians in Gaza, in the occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem.’
- PMQ in the Commons:
Grahame Morris MP (Labour; probably no relation) reported seeing ‘13-year-old Palestinian children in leg irons and manacles in Israeli military prisons’ as ‘one of numerous breaches of the UN charter and of article 49 of the fourth Geneva convention’ on a recent visit to Israel and the West Bank.
- PM David Cameron responded: ‘Every country should obey the Geneva convention and the other conventions that it has signed, and Israel should be no exception to that… It is very important that we put pressure on both sides at all times to ensure that we make progress. The lack of progress only plays into the hands of the extremists, and we can see that all the moderates in the Middle East who are trying to make progress are being undermined by our failure to do better.’
- Palestine Legal Aid Fund is having a Fundraiser for Palestine on the evening of Thursday 9th December, at Old Finsbury Town Hall in London – take a look.
- Test your knowledge on Gaza! Try CAABU’s Gaza quiz.
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