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Human rights in Palestine

December 4, 2010

We had a distinguished guest at the latest meeting of Parliament’s all party group on Palestine.  The United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights, Richard Falk, came to report on the situation in Gaza and the West Bank.  Ironically, he has to do this from reports on the ground as Israel restricts his entry and has even detained him.  Such utter contempt for the UN!

Richard reminded us that Article 33 of the Geneva Convention prohibits collective punishment of civilians under occupation.  He spoke of the need for a new international law to deal with prolonged occupation.

Several MPs and Peers, including myself, have seen conditions in either Gaza or West Bank at first hand.  A delegation has just returned from West Bank where they witnessed an Israeli military court.  The judge was in military uniform, trying children who had signed “confessions” written for them in Hebrew.  Outrageous.

We had a discussion on universal jurisdiction.  The most famous success story here was the arrest of Chilean dictator Pinochet.  Britain must remain a country that is not seen as a safe travel area for those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity.

I asked Richard to review the situation of the Bedouin in the Jordan valley.  There was a disturbing report in last week’s Economist about the Israeli army destroying Bedouin camps.

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Kevin Walton permalink
    December 5, 2010 3:07 pm

    I’m pleased to hear your unequivocal denouncement of Israeli policies in the occupied Palestinian Territories. Could you please let me know what the coalition policy is on Palestine/Israel?

    • December 5, 2010 8:32 pm

      I think the Foreign Office ministers are taking a genuine close interest (I have been into the FCO to meet the relevant officials) and are not as pro Israeli as the Blair/Brown governments. I think EU action is the way forward as persuading the Americans to apply pressure is unlikely to work

  2. johnpmaher permalink
    December 10, 2010 10:29 am

    I too, applaud your views and stance on Palestine. I wrote to the BBC to complain about the very biased account on Panorama of the Israeli murders on the Mavi Marmara. The reply was to say the least anodyne, and maintained that the programme was balanced! However, on another matter, and rather than sending you yet another letter, can I draw your attention to the current Amnesty campaign “Don’t change the law on universal jurisdiction” At present certain Israeli politicians and military are afraid to enter the UK lest they be arrested for their war crimes! I have emailed Cameroon about this,
    see for he letter and details.

  3. anonymous permalink
    December 14, 2010 11:36 am

    What about the collective punishment of British protesters?

  4. Thomas Livingstone permalink
    February 7, 2011 9:43 pm

    I am glad to hear of your denouncement of Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians in the occupied territories. Please keep us updated on the coalition’s opinions on this. I would love to see a change from the previous administration but am sceptical that this will ever happen unfortunately. I fear the pro-Israeli lobby groups in the UK are growing in power which will ultimately lead to more suffering for the innocent in Gaza and the West Bank.

    • February 9, 2011 11:25 am

      Well William Hague’s comments yesterday that Israel must do more on making peace and David Cameron’s description of Gaza as an (unacceptable) prison camp should reassure you!


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