By the Labour and Palestine team
Last Friday, the UK government abstained on an important vote to hold Israel responsible for unlawful use of force against protesters in Gaza. The vote was on the recommendations of a UN Independent Commission of Inquiry Report into Israeli actions last March.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn MP tweeted in response to the report that the “The UN says Israel’s killings of demonstrators in Gaza – including children, paramedics and journalists – may constitute “war crimes or crimes against humanity,” and further demanded that “the UK government must unequivocally condemn the killings and freeze arms sales to Israel. ”
The report regarding Israel’s excessive force last year had received widespread international media coverage in the run-up to the vote. Specifically, it accuses Israel’s army of killing demonstrators ‘who were not posing an imminent threat.’
The government joined with 15 other nations in not voting on an accountability resolution moving to adopt a UN report condemning Israel’s “intentional use of unlawful lethal and other excessive force” against civilian protesters in 2018.
This decision was despite the fact that the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, War on Want and others reporting that over 5,000 emails have been sent to MPs and the Foreign Office calling on them to support the recommendations of the UN independent commission of inquiry report into Israeli war crimes against Palestinian civilians.
Despite the position of the UK Government the resolution did pass at the ongoing UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, with 23 countries voting in favour and only eight voting against. Current government policy condemns settlements as illegal under international law and calls on Israel to cease all settlement expansion. Yet despite this apparent acceptance that international law should be applied, in what can only be described as an example of double standards and hypocrisy, the Tory government abstained anyway.
The same has been true for other resolutions relating to the right of the Palestinian people – to self-determination, human rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Israeli settlements in occupied territories – which were all voted against by the UK government. You cannot pick and choose when to support international law. The British government should promote human rights and respect for international law on the world stage, but instead (including when it comes to Palestine) it too often just follows Trump’s reactionary lead.
It needs to be replaced by a Labour government with a progressive, ethical foreign policy, including in defence of the rights of the Palestinian people.
If you would like to help in this regard, please sign the Labour & Palestine ‘Speaking up for Palestine’ statement here.