When it was announced that Netanyahu was due to visit the UK, I with thousands of others asked that he should be arrested and put on trial for war crimes. The Government response is below.
This is my open letter to the UK Government.
I was saddened but not surprised by your refusal to arrest Netanyahu[i] for war crimes.
What did surprise me was the manifest weakness of your reply. At a time when hundreds if not thousands of people in Europe are volunteering to join ISIS clarity and honesty are essential.
You state that the UK position is a two state solution based on the 1967 borders. What should follow from this is a set of credible policies that encourage that end result.
First there should be a clear acceptance that Israel is working every day to make certain a two state solution will not happen. The de facto annexation of East Jerusalem and the slow ethnic cleansing there, mean that Palestine will not have a credible capital. The continuing building of Israeli colonies in the West Bank make economic independence of a future Palestine not feasible.
There should be a clear condemnation of the day to day oppression of Palestinians. Earlier this month a group of Palestinian Bedouin were removed from their own lands by the Israeli military.[ii]
Having identified the obstacles (Israeli actions) to your claimed solution, there should follow a set of policies to encourage Israel to desist. Here are three obvious ones.
1. An immediate ban on Israeli imports or exports from any firm or body that has dealings with the illegal colonies.
2. An immediate end of the arms trade with Israel.
3. Proposals to European Union and UN to force expansionist Israel to end its illegal activities.
(We in PSC support the Boycott, sanctions and divestment policy.)
Instead of credible policies you choose to
1. State that Israel has a right to defend itself.
2. Condemn Hamas for its rockets aimed at Israel.
3. Condemn Hamas for building tunnels with the intent of ‘kidnap and murder’.
4. Emphasise ‘excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation’ between Israel and the UK.
Where is the acceptance that Palestinians have the right to defend themselves? Where is the condemnation of the illegal colonies? Israel kidnaps and murders Palestinians on a far bigger scale than the reverse, yet there is no criticism. Where is the condemnation of the drones that killed innocent children of Gaza?
You are silent that British shops like Sainsbury’s profit from Israeli Apartheid.
You say nothing about the Israeli firms like Elbit in Lichfield that make those drones.
In summary expansionist Israel is behaving illegally. The UK gives lip service to opposing those policies while in practice facilitating them. In short you are hypocrites.
[i] Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.
The British Government has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as head of the Israeli Government, to visit the UK in September. Under UK and international law, certain holders of high-ranking office in a State, including Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ministers for Foreign Affairs are entitled to immunity, which includes inviolability and complete immunity from criminal jurisdiction.
We recognise that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll. As the Prime Minister said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the UK has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However the Prime Minister was clear on the UK’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. We condemn the terrorist tactics of Hamas who fired rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires. Israel, like any state, has the right to ensure its own security, as its citizens also have the right to live without fear of attack.
The UK consistently urged Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint, and to help find ways to bring the situation to an end. The UK continues to urge the parties to give priority to reaching a durable solution for Gaza which addresses the underlying drivers of conflict, and to take the necessary practical steps to ensure Gaza’s reconstruction and economic recovery.
We welcome the fact that Israel is conducting internal investigations into specific incidents during Operation Protective Edge. Where there is evidence of wrongdoing those responsible must be held accountable whatever their position in society. Both parties must also demonstrate robust and credible internal investigations which are in line with international standards. We have also encouraged the Israeli authorities, as we do all countries, to cooperate with the independent Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the preliminary examination into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 13 June, 2014, whilst noting that Israel is not a State Party to the ICC.
The UK is a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation between our two countries across a range of fields. Our priority for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the achievement of a two-state solution, based on 1967 borders. We continue to believe that negotiations will be necessary in order to achieve this, and that both parties need to focus on steps that are conducive to peace. The UK Government will reinforce this message to Mr Netanyahu during his visit.