The occupation of Palestine

Clearly there is no parity of power between Palestinians and Israelis. Israel is also failing to respect human rights, abusing the use of border and travel restrictions, and using occupation and bombardment in an attempt to intimidate Palestinians into submission.

Palestinians have made huge sacrifices in terms of loss of land, poor employment rights, and restrictions on supplies to their territories. Israel needs to be willing to honour obligations such as respecting the 1967 peace settlement (which still represents a loss of land to Palestinians), fully recognising Palestine as a state and undoing the framework of discrimination that exists within its own borders.

This should reduce the likelihood of retaliatory acts of violent resistance from Palestinians. It also makes it simpler for Palestinian authorities and foreign supporters of Palestinian human rights to help to prevent these and condemn them unequivocally when they happen.

Our own Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) have declared Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) to be a country of concern for human rights and democracy.  I call on our Government to take these implications seriously in our foreign relations and in our decisions to grant arms licenses (you can read more about this issue here). If the Government were properly applying our rules on arms licenses this would mean reductions, if not temporary cessation, of all sales of arms to Israel and the OPT.  I would also urge Israel and the Palestinian authorities to consider the concerns raised by the FCO and respond to them.

I would like to see more pressure on the Israeli Government from the whole international community. Their abuses of Palestinians’ human rights and dignity have gone on for far too long, and the situation continues to worsen as Israel’s politics skews to the nationalist right.

Preventing the conditions in which desperate and criminal acts occur is vital if we are to see lasting peace in the Middle East. Sticking-plaster approaches alone will not work. I will continue to press the Government on these issues and speak out for Palestinian self-determination throughout my time in Parliament. I have already joined the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Palestine and the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East campaigning group.

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