‘UK government deeply complicit in some of the most devastating state violence’

Palestinian shot in the face with a tear gas canister – Israel is accused of war crimes against Palestinians
Palestinian shot in the face with a tear gas canister – Israel is accused of war crimes against Palestinians

London-based charity War on Want has said the British government is ‘complicit in the violence’ perpetrated against Palestinians as it continues to provide arms to Israel.

Responding to the UK’s abstention from last month’s UN General Assembly vote on the Protection of the Palestinian Civilian Population, War on Want’s senior campaigner on militarism and security Ryvka Barnard, said on Monday: ‘In abstaining from this vote, the UK government has yet again refused to commit to the protection of Palestinians’ human rights as they are targeted with the brutal and unlawful use of force by the Israeli military.

‘But make no mistake, the UK is not sitting aside and remaining neutral. While the world calls for violent attacks on Palestinians to end, the UK government continues to approve arms exports to Israel, making it complicit in the violence.

‘Over 50 MPs across parties have called for the UK to suspend arms exports to Israel, representing the views of over 5,000 people who have called on them to do so.

‘Whether it’s the British weapons used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, or those used by Israel in war crimes against Palestinians, the UK government is deeply complicit in some of the most devastating state violence in our time.

‘The UK must implement its own export guidelines, and stop its material support for war crimes abroad. ‘The resolution was passed with a vote of 120 countries in favour, eight against and 45 abstentions. ‘The catastrophe facing the Palestinian people is a defining global justice issue of our time. ‘It is not an intractable conflict between two equal sides. It is an occupation by a powerful military state, armed and supported by the West, against an impoverished, stateless and displaced people.’

• A fourth generation of Palestinian children is now being brought up in refugee camps inside and outside Palestine, living in chronic poverty and denied the right to return to their family homes. • Hundreds of thousands more Palestinians suffer discrimination over access to public services, land rights and employment within Israel itself. • Israel’s siege of Gaza has condemned its 1.9 million inhabitants to poverty and psychological violence on a daily basis as movement is restricted and there is an ever-present threat of military force.

• In the West Bank, the expansion of Israeli settlements, the continued construction of the apartheid wall, the military closure of the Jordan Valley and the annexation of East Jerusalem are creating an irreversible reality of permanent Occupation. • This brutal occupation, the building of the apartheid wall and ongoing military oppression can only be continued with the support of countries and companies that continue to back Israel through business and investment. Stop Arming Israel. UK banks and financial institutions hold billions of pounds worth of shares in companies that sell weapons, military equipment and technology to Israel. • The UK government is complicit in Israel’s continuing violations of human rights and international law. By purchasing arms from and selling arms to Israel, the UK government is giving direct material support for Israel’s aggression and sending a clear message of approval for its actions.Take action.

Political Prisoners A political prisoner is someone who is arrested and detained because of their beliefs or political activities. Israel holds thousands of Palestinian men, women and children as political prisoners. Israel’s system of arrest and detention is an integral part of Israel’s Apartheid system, under which Palestinians are governed under a separate set of laws from Israelis.

Campaigners have succeeded in getting G4S to stop providing services to Israeli prisons, but others are still directly complicit in the occupation of Palestine and the unlawful imprisonment of Palestinians, including children. The UK government has a responsibility under international law not to aid and abet war crimes like torture, which is routine in the Israeli prison system.

Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) For over 70 years, Israel has subjected Palestinians to brutal militarised repression and human rights abuses. During this time, governments around the world, including the UK, have allowed Israel to carry out this oppression with impunity.

The response from grassroots Palestinian civil society has been to call on people of conscience around the world to join them in the carrying out campaigns of Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), aiming to pressure Israel to end its oppression of Palestinians and comply with international law.

170 Palestinian groups called on the world to join them by carrying out boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaigns against Israel until it complies with international law. The BDS call specifically invokes the legacy of international opposition to South Africa’s apartheid regime, and sets out a clear set of demands, all of which are squarely based in international law.

The BDS movement goes from strength to strength. BDS has been adopted by trade unions, student unions, faith groups, prominent writers and artists and solidarity movements from all over the world.

Boycotts can be sporting, cultural, academic or consumer, for example boycotting goods produced in Israel’s illegal West Bank settlements. Divestment campaigns target companies complicit in Israel’s oppression of Palestinians, including those supplying Israel with arms and equipment used in Israel’s militarised repression of Palestinians.

Sometimes divestment campaigns target institutions such as universities or churches, to ensure that investments or pension funds are not invested in such companies. Sanctions campaigns are designed to pressure governments to fulfil their legal obligations to hold human rights abusing countries to account through military embargoes or by suspending trade deals.

War on Want’s call for a two-way arms embargo on Israel is an example of a sanctions campaign.

A long-term solution to the human rights crisis facing the Palestinian people is only possible through a proper understanding of the situation that has developed over the past century.

• PLO Executive Committee Member Hanan Ashrawi urged the Europeans ‘to navigate closely with us in these turbulent times’.

During a meeting with the Deputy Secretary General for Political Affairs of the European External Action Service, Jean Christophe Belliard and his delegation at the PLO Headquarters in Ramallah, Ashrawi emphasised the need for the Europeans ‘to navigate closely with us in these turbulent times’ by having the EU and member states intervene and implement serious political and economic measures to hold Israel to account for its egregious violations.

The discussion centred on the latest political developments, in particular the United States’ irresponsible and dangerous moves regarding Jerusalem and the relocation of its embassy there, and cutting funding to UNRWA, the refusal to adhere to the two-state solution, the 1967 boundaries, the illegality of the Jewish settlements and even dropping the term ‘occupation’ from its political lexicon.

‘Such American collusion with the Israeli occupation and with the most extreme and hardline coalition in Israel is a recipe for disaster and ensures the failure of any so-called “peace initiative”. In this context, the latest American moves in the region present a real challenge to the prospect of a serious peace given their full adoption of Israeli priorities and plans,’ said the statement.

Ashrawi stressed that attempting to sever Gaza from the rest of Palestine and treat it as a humanitarian issue to ensure Israel’s security would contribute to the undermining of the chances of peace.

‘At the same time, attempting to conclude a regional agreement at the expense of the Palestinians would be doomed to failure,’ she said.

‘No one can deliver the Palestinians. No one can break the will of the Palestinian people or their resilience,’ added Ashrawi.

Ashrawi also told the visiting European delegation that she hoped for a ‘courageous commitment to justice and to the requirements of peace in order to set in motion a new dynamic to withstand all these dangerous moves that threaten the global multilateral system and the rule of law.’

In a separate meeting with Thomas Nader, Director of Near and Middle East, Maghreb and Mashreq States who was accompanied by Head of the Austrian Representative Office Andrea Nasi, Ashrawi stressed the need for reconciliation, the importance of rejuvenating and reforming Palestine’s political system as well as holding comprehensive democratic elections.

Both parties also reviewed the relations between the two countries and discussed ways to restore and develop them and enhance coordination and mutual cooperation between Palestine and Austria particularly given Austria’s changed voting record in the United Nations General Assembly and in light of the results of the latest Austrian elections

The two sides also assessed the internal Palestinian situation.