Banning Boycotts Of Israel Is A British Reward For The Occupier

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MEMBERS of the PLO Executive Committee Hanan Ashrawi and Saeb Erekat on Wednesday slammed the United Kingdom’s decision to ban the boycott of Israeli products by public bodies, local councils and even some university students.

In a joint statement Wednesday, Ashrawi and Erekat said the UK’s decision represents a ‘serious regression in British policy and would empower the Israeli occupation by sending a message of impunity’.

In order to accommodate the Israeli occupation, the statement added, ‘The British government is undermining British democracy and their own people’s rights. Such a law would have prevented British citizens from taking peaceful actions against the South African Apartheid.’

‘Such a law also contradicts international responsibility and even the UK’s own practice when it comes to entities violating human rights,’ added the two officials. Only last week, the Israeli Human Rights Organisation Peace Now released a study detailing the Israeli government’s escalation of settlement activities at an unprecedented rate. They found that only in 2015 construction was initiated in at least 1,800 settlement units.

‘It is no longer acceptable for any government to claim support for the two-state solution while granting immunity to Israeli crimes and systematic violations of international law and UN resolutions,’ the statement continued.

The two officials called for Israel to be held accountable for ‘deliberately destroying the prospects of peace’. ‘Next year signals the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, a tragedy that continues to victimise the Palestinian people, both under occupation and in exile.

‘The United Kingdom bears the primary responsibility for such a historical injustice in Palestine. It is called upon to begin the process of rectification and redemption rather than to insist on perpetuating the injustice.’ Erekat and Ashrawi urged the British government to reconsider its positions and to rescind this regulation. ‘This is not only a matter of law or politics, but also of moral responsibility.’

Secretary-General of the PLO Saeb Erekat Wednesday described the British government’s decision to place a ban on Israel boycotts as a reward for the occupier for adopting an approach which is destroying the two-state solution.

During a meeting with the Minister for the Middle East Tobias Ellwood and Consul General Alastair McPhail, Erekart protested against the UK’s decision as well as the decisions passed by its parliament. Erekat said: ‘This decision is considered a reward for Israel’s ongoing settlement activities and war crimes against the unarmed Palestinian population.’

Affirming that such decision contradicts the international law and legitimacy, Erekat wondered how the British government allows a settler such as Yuli Edelstein to address the parliament. He said such practices are considered an encroachment of diplomatics and a reward for those who commit war crimes and violate the international law.

Erekat concluded by asking how the UK could be part of efforts to counter terrorism in the region while at the same time reward a country that practices state terrorism against the Palestinian people.

• Palestinian Authority security forces on Wednesday detained 22 Palestinian teachers who took part in a strike demanding the guarantee of teachers’ rights, sources in the Palestinian Teachers’ Union said.

The sources said that the teachers, two of whom are principals, were detained in raids across the occupied West Bank. As part of the strike, an estimated 20,000 Palestinian teachers demonstrated in Ramallah on Tuesday to call for the implementation of an 2013 agreement guaranteeing teachers’ rights.

Most schools in the occupied West Bank shut down completely in protest, while other establishments closed before noon, as teachers gathered in front of the PA cabinet headquarters to demonstrate.

The teachers called for the resignation of the head of the teachers’ union, Ahmad Sahwil, and for the organisation of elections within the teachers’ union. Teachers are not against the union as a union, but against the behaviours and abuses of the union,’ one demonstrator, Adnan al-Durubi, said.

Al-Durubi said the average Palestinian teacher”s salary did not exceed 3,000 shekels ($767) each month. According to the Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics, the average monthly expenditure of a Palestinian family in the West Bank is $1,333.

In 2013, the Palestinian teachers’ union signed an agreement with the government which guaranteed a significant increase on teachers’ basic salary. However, three years after a lengthy teachers’ strike over unpaid salaries, the Palestinian Authority has yet to make good on its promise to increase wages.

The teachers have called on the Palestinian government to comply with the increase agreed on in 2013, as well as a secure university education for teachers’ children, reforms in retirement legislation, and promotions and bonuses based on experience.

The teachers detained on Wednesday were identified as Ibrahim Izzat al-Asafra, Basil Dudin, Kinan Audah, Yousif Abu Ras, Bilal Jawabra, Muhammad Abu Ajamiya, Izzat Manasra, Mahmoud Shrouf, Anis Abu Zahra, Qays Abu Zahra, Muhammad Abu Iram, Ayman al-Asa, Mire Nassar, Muhammad Hamdan Farikh, Amir Burouq, Tariq Samar, Alaa Jayyusi, Sadiq al-Qarut, Munir Abu Thiab, and Ammar Shahrour. The two principals were identified as Ziad Ali Darabee and Hasan Zayid.

• The Palestinian Authority Committee for Prisoners’ Affairs on Tuesday accused Israel of concealing a 43-day long hunger strike being undertaken by a Palestinian prisoner. Hanan al-Khatib, a lawyer with the committee, said the Israeli authorities had attempted to keep prisoner Muhammad al-Mahr out of the public eye by not notifying any of the appropriate Palestinian authorities that he was on hunger strike.

Khatib visited al-Mahr at a hospital in Tiberias in northern Israel on Tuesday, where she said the man’s arms and legs were cuffed to his bed. It was unclear when al-Mahr was transferred from prison to the civilian hospital.

Al-Mahr was arrested on Nov. 2 for alleged possession of a knife with the intention of assaulting Israeli soldiers near a military checkpoint in Jenin. He denies the charges and went on hunger strike to demand his release from Israeli custody. Palestinians regularly go on hunger strike to protest over their prison sentences and conditions.

Muhammad al-Qiq, a 33-year-old journalist, has gained widespread attention for a hunger strike now in its 85th day that has brought him close to death. Another prisoner, Rabie Atta Muhammad Jibril, was moved on Tuesday from the Negev Prison to Soroka Hospital in southern Israel after he fell into a coma on the sixth day of a hunger strike.

Both al-Qiq and Jibril went on hunger strike to protest ay their administrative detention – an Israeli policy that allows Palestinians to be held without charge or trial indefinitely.

Israel has negotiated in cases of hunger strikes launched by Palestinian prisoners in the past out of fear that prisoners’ deaths could spark unrest in the occupied Palestinian territory, but there has been unrest in the territory for months now.

Palestinian Prisoners’ Society head Qadura Fares said earlier this month that the Israeli security establishment now believes it has ‘nothing to lose’ by failing to release al-Qiq before his death.