BRITISH Middle East policy in the human rights arena has long been suspect.
It is time for Britain to hold Israel to account
Evidence of this is plentiful: its complicity with the United States in misleading the public to go along with the war on Iraq, our support for ongoing drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Britain’s obvious silence on Israel’s collective punishment of nearly 1.5 million residents of the Gaza Strip.
This shameful performance reflects a long history of political games played at the expense of ordinary people.
For instance, one of the UK’s most disastrous acts in the Middle East was its Balfour Declaration in 1917, in which it officially supported the creation of a national home for the Jewish people in historic Palestine. – and paved the way for the abolition of the rights and dreams of the native Arabs.
The Palestinians in Palestine have been condemned to a life of exile and dispossession ever since.
Britain’s reputation has not improved over the years; instead, it seems to work hard to demonstrate that it is a player acting only in its own self-interest, getting involved only when it serves its own ends.
Today, the British government is once again facing a serious test of its credibility following the assassination of Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh, a leader in the Hamas Palestinian movement, in Dubai.
It has been reported in recent days that six of the individuals implicated in the plot carried British passports.
Whether legitimate (as some evidence now indicates) or forged, it is an urgent matter not only of conscience for Britain but of a legal expediency to respond quickly and decisively.
The use of British identity by the Israeli Mossad to carry out a political execution in a foreign territory, thus infringing upon the sovereign rights of the UAE, is clearly illegal.
That the assassins flagrantly flouted both international and British law demonstrates an arrogance that presumes they will not be held accountable by either Britain or the international community.
Further, exposing British citizens to risk through the theft of their identity and associating them with illegal acts demonstrates an immorality and a total disregard for a country that has stood staunchly by Israel regardless of its transgressions against the rights of others.
If the British government had executed a similar clandestine political assassination, particularly on the sovereign territory of another nation, it surely would be subjected to much recrimination and investigation, at the very least by its own citizens.
The crux of the issue here is the legality and morality of Israel’s flagrant disregard for Britain’s welfare by entangling its government in a crime of international proportions, endangering its relations with allies and other foreign entities on which it relies, such as the oil-rich Emirates.
Britain has clearly been used by Israel to promote a political agenda that had little to do with our own strategic interests – and in fact, jeopardised them. It is time to reverse Britain’s negligence and complacency with respect to Israel’s continuous violations against humanity and international law, including war crimes against the Arabs of the Middle East.
Unfortunately, we are wont to expect and will no doubt bear witness to the continuing British policy of turning a blind eye to Israel’s violations of basic human decency, as well as to our own self interests in the region.
The Mamdouh assassination is an outright violation of international agreements; accountability must be enforced, lest any one nation believe it is above the law – a more dangerous precedent than any other.
It is imperative that the assassins be arrested and the body to which they report be identified and prosecuted. It would be a blatant slap in the face of David Miliband, who responded to reports of the crime by begging: ‘I hope and expect Tel Aviv (to) co-operate fully with the investigation announced by Prime Minister Gordon Brown.’
The British government is required by law to take rigorous procedures against the executers as well as their masters in Israel.
If British passports were forged or stolen, the responsible parties must be prosecuted in court immediately. Otherwise, Britain will be known as a shelter for criminals.
(It is worth remembering that the war against Afghanistan was launched because of the Taleban’s protection of Al-Qaeda.)
Every individual is measured by the same yardstick and Britain will be perceived in the eyes of the Middle East as no better than a safe haven for Israeli crimes, putting us all at risk – but particularly our diplomats and soldiers.
It is time to act swiftly and firmly to reassert our commitment to human rights and international law.
by Ramy Abdu
The Palestine Telegraph