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06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics


23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

14 Nov: Letter to the Guardian about the Board of Deputies

11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

20 Oct: letter in the Guardian

13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

21 Aug: JfJfP on Jeremy Corbyn

29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo


15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014


29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

November: Press release, letter to the Times and advert in the Independent on the Prawer Plan

September: Briefing note and leaflet on the Prawer Plan

September: JfJfP/EJJP on the EU guidelines with regard to Israel

14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011



UN: all settlers must leave West Bank or face International Criminal Court

For background see Israel only country ever to refuse UN’s universal human rights check
In this posting: 1) Reuters – the UPR findings; 2) Noam Sheizaf on why this UN report is different;  3) UK consul-general to Jerusalem makes public his concern about settlements; 4) Britain’s FCO issues its update on the oPt, one of its 28 ‘countries of concern’  under its Human Rights and Democracy programme.

January 28, 2013: Two caravans form a new Israeli settler outpost on land belonging to the Palestinian West Bank village of Jayyous. The caravans were put there last week and are already connected to the water lines of the nearby settlement of Zufit. Photo by Activestills. See item 2, +972

UN rights inquiry says Israel must remove settlers

By Stephanie Nebehay, Reuters
January 31, 2013

GENEVA – U.N. human rights investigators called on Israel on Thursday to halt settlement expansion and withdraw all half a million Jewish settlers from the occupied West Bank, saying that its practices could be subject to prosecution as possible war crimes.

A three-member U.N. panel said private companies should stop working in the settlements if their work adversely affected the human rights of Palestinians, and urged member states to ensure companies respected human rights.

“Israel must cease settlement activities and provide adequate, prompt and effective remedy to the victims of violations of human rights,” Christine Chanet, a French judge who led the U.N. inquiry, told a news conference.

The settlements contravened the Fourth Geneva Convention forbidding the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory and could amount to war crimes that fall under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court (ICC), the United Nations report said.

“To transfer its own population into an occupied territory is prohibited because it is an obstacle to the exercise of the right to self-determination,” Chanet said.

All U.N. member states must comply with their duty under international law on the settlements, she said. “We have highlighted states’ responsibility because the facts we denounce are known. The problem is nobody is doing anything about it.”

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reacted to the inquiry’s findings by repeating his position that “all settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, is illegal under international law,” according to a statement.

In December, the Palestinians accused Israel in a letter to the United Nations of planning to commit what they said were additional war crimes by expanding Jewish settlements after the Palestinians won de facto U.N. recognition of statehood, and said Israel must be held accountable.

Israel has not cooperated with the probe set up by the Human Rights Council last March to examine the impact of settlements in the territory, including East Jerusalem. Israel says the forum has an inherent bias against it and defends its settlement policy by citing historical and biblical links to the West Bank.

Israel’s foreign ministry swiftly rejected the report as “counterproductive and unfortunate.” Palestinians welcomed the report, saying it vindicated their struggle against Israel.

“The only way to resolve all pending issues between Israel and the Palestinians, including the settlements issue, is through direct negotiations without pre-conditions. Counterproductive measures – such as the report before us, will only hamper efforts to find a sustainable solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict,” Israel’s Yigal Palmor said.

But Hanan Ashrawi, a senior PLO official, told Reuters in Ramallah: “This is incredible. We are extremely heartened by this principled and candid assessment of Israeli violations.”

The independent U.N. investigators interviewed more than 50 people who came to Jordan in November to testify about confiscated land, damage to their livelihoods including olive trees, and violence by Jewish settlers, according to the report.

“The mission believes that the motivation behind this violence and the intimidation against the Palestinians as well as their properties is to drive the local populations away from their lands and allow the settlements to expand,” it said.


About 250 settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, have been established since the 1967 Middle East war and they hold an estimated 520,000 settlers, according to the U.N. report. The settlements impede Palestinian access to water and farmland.

The settlements were “leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian state and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination,” it said.

Chanet said firms working in the territories must uphold human rights. France’s Veolia, which built Jerusalem’s light rail linking the western side of the city to the eastern side annexed by Israel after the 1967 war, won a case brought against it in a Nanterre court, whose ruling that it had not violated the Geneva Conventions is now on appeal, she said.

After the General Assembly upgraded the Palestinians’ status at the world body, Israel said it would build 3,000 additional settler homes in the West Bank and East Jerusalem – areas Palestinians want for a future state, along with the Gaza Strip.

“I think that maybe it will help in the negotiation just to see that now, and especially when Palestine has been recognized as a state, things might change. Maybe, we hope. And now there is a new government in Israel,” Chanet said.

“So things are moving. So we hope that our report will be in the middle of this movement.”

Additional reporting by Ori Lewis in Jerusalem and Noah Browning in Ramallah

UN Human Rights Council: Settlement issue could end up in the International Criminal Court
Unprecedented report calls for UN Member States “to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norms of international law.”

By Noam Sheizaf, +972
January 31, 2013

The United Nations Human Rights Council has published its fact finding mission’s report on the settlements. The report concludes that Israeli settlements are constructed for the benefits of Jews only through a system of ethnic segregation and military law, and are in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, which forbids the transfer of civilian populations into occupied territory by the occupying force. According to the report:

Israel must, in compliance with article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention, cease all settlement activities without preconditions. It must immediately initiate a process of withdrawal of all settlers from the OPT.

Israel is a signatory to the Fourth Geneva Convention but has concluded that it does not apply to the territories occupied from Jordan and Egypt in 1967, since both countries abandoned any claims to this land. Israel considers the territories “disputed” (a position taken recently by the Levi Commission, which called upon Israel to legalized all outposts built on Palestinian land) However, even the Israeli narrative doesn’t explain ethnic segregation in the West Bank, military law and the absence of human or political rights for the non-Jewish civilian population in the West Bank.

There are two important articles in the HRC report which go beyond the usual condemnations of the settlements that have been issued for decades by the international community. First, the Human Rights Council calls upon other nations, agencies and companies to break ties with the settlement project – a step which might open the door for sanctions against settlement products or for the enforcement of relevant articles in trade agreements with Israel, for example by the European Union.

116. The Mission calls upon all Member States to comply with their obligations under international law and to assume their responsibilities in their relationship to a State breaching peremptory norms of international law – specifically not to recogniזe an unlawful situation resulting from Israel’s violations. 117. Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure they are not adversely impacting the human rights of the Palestinian People in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The Mission calls upon all Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that business enterprises domiciled in their territory and/or under their jurisdiction, including those owned or controlled by them, that conduct activities in or related to the settlements respect human rights throughout their operations.

The report also explicitly suggests that the Palestinians could sue Israelis in the International Criminal Court could deal with the issue of the settlement. A press release on the Human Rights Council site states:

The report states that Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and under humanitarian law. The report also concludes that the Rome Statute establishes the International Criminal Court’s jurisdiction over the transfer of populations in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

Israel has refused to cooperate with the fact-finding mission. The United States has warned the Palestinians in the past not to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, as part of its tradition of preventing any punitive action in response to human rights violations by Israel in the occupied territories. The United States was the only country that voted against the fact finding mission on the settlements.

Israel has been rapidly increasing settlement activities since the Oslo Accords, especially in the last decade. According to the Jerusalem-based NGO Ir Amim, 2012 has been a record year in settlement construction in East Jerusalem. On the eve of the Oslo Accords, there were approximately 107,00 thousands settlers in the West Bank and Gaza, and 115,000 in East Jerusalem. by 2001 these numbers grew to 200,000 in the West Bank and Gaza and 167,000 in East Jerusalem. In 2011 there were 189,000 settlers in and around East Jerusalem, and 324,000 settlers in the West Bank, bringing the total numbers of Jewish settlers to over half a million. There are 127 settlements in the West Bank alone, as well as dozens of Jewish “outposts.” The UN report calls Israel’s settlement activities “creeping annexation.”

UK consul visits Hebron, condemns settlements

By Ma’an news,

January 29/31, 2013

HEBRON — UK consul-general to Jerusalem Sir Vincent Fean met Wednesday with Hebron’s governor Kamil Hmeid Tuesday and expressed concerns about Israeli settlement expansion.

Fean said the Palestinian Authority had the right to control its territory and expressed concern over Israeli settlements and land confiscation “which could foil the two-state solution.”

British officials “should visit Hebron regularly to get updates from the governor about the current situation in Hebron and report to the UK government, especially about H2 and east Yatta areas,” Fean said.

Fean noted reports that the newly appointed US secretary of state, John Kerry, was considering a visit to the region in the hopes of restarting the Middle East peace process.

Also Tuesday, outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that the outcome of Israel’s parliamentary elections “opens doors” toward peace with the Palestinians.

Referring to the possible inclusion of center-left parties in Benjamin Netanyahu’s next government, she said the elections improved the climate for resuming the peace process.

“I actually think this election opens doors, not nails them shut,” Clinton told an online forum in response to a question from a student in Beirut. She said a “significant percentage of the Israeli electorate” chose a “different path” internally as well as toward their neighbors.

“What rests at the core of the problem is great mistrust” on both sides, said the outgoing secretary of state. “Somehow we have to look for ways to give the Palestinian people the path to peace, prosperity and statehood they deserve” as well as security for Israelis, Clinton said.

“I know that President Obama (and) my successor, soon-to-be Secretary of State John Kerry, will pursue this, will look for every possible opening.”

Quarterly Updates: Occupied Palestinian Territories

By FCO, Human Rights and Democracy: Countries of Concern

Latest update: 31 December 2012

Violence in Gaza and southern Israel
November saw a severe escalation of violence in Gaza and southern and central Israel. Between 14 and 21 November, 1,506 rockets were fired by Gazan militant groups towards Israel, of which 58 struck urban areas in Israel killing six Israelis, including two children. Some 420 rockets which were heading for urban areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome Missile System. 1,500 IDF strikes from air and sea in Gaza killed 158 Palestinians, including 43 children. UN figures also reported 1,269 people wounded in Gaza and 244 in Israel. In Gaza, 298 buildings were destroyed and 8000 buildings were damaged, including a significant amount of public infrastructure. 80 houses were destroyed in Israel

During the conflict, FCO Minister for North Africa and the Middle East, Alistair Burt visited Kiryat Malachi in Israel, where a family of three had been killed by a rocket attack, and met members of the community affected by rocket fire from Gaza. He also spoke to a member of the Dalou family in Gaza, of whom 11 members had been killed in a single Israeli airstrike, and offered his condolences to President Abbas for the loss of innocent civilian life during their meeting on 20 November. On 15 November the Foreign Secretary released a statement and called on those involved “to avoid any action which risks civilian casualties or escalates the crisis”.

The violence has resulted in a number of humanitarian needs, including a worsening of the already precarious humanitarian situation in Gaza. Before the recent outbreak of hostilities, 80% of households in Gaza relied on humanitarian assistance and 44% of the population were food insecure. Fuel, water and sanitation have been serious problems for some time and there are now critical shortages of essential drugs and medical disposables. A UN Initial Rapid Assessment identified a number of additional emergency needs as a result of the conflict, including health, infrastructure and psycho-social care. The psychological impact of the violence on both Israeli and Gazan citizens, particularly children, is a particular concern. In addition the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO) assessed that 10,000 individuals living in north and north-east Gaza were displaced during the violence with an estimated 350-700 unable to return due to houses being destroyed or partially destroyed as of 26 November.

On 11 December, International Development Minister, Alan Duncan visited Gaza City to observe the impact of the airstrikes firsthand and announced an additional £1.25m in aid to be channelled through the Red Cross to address the humanitarian needs of people in Gaza affected by the conflict

Settlement Construction in East Jerusalem and the West Bank
The UK Government was concerned about developments relating to Israeli settlements in East Jerusalem and the West Bank over the reporting period. On 30 November, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office announced that he would advance the next stage of the planning process for the area of West Bank land known as ‘E1’, thereby building illegally on the last remaining open space of land East of Jerusalem. Announcements were also made to progress plans for the future construction of 3000 additional illegal settlement units in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Further settlement plans were advanced in East Jerusalem neighbourhoods including in Ramot Shlomo (17 December) and in Givat Hamatos (19 December).

In reaction to these announcements, the Foreign Secretary reaffirmed the UK’s position that “Israeli settlements are illegal under international law and undermine trust between the parties”. Commenting on the most recent announcements, the Foreign Secretary said that “this decisionconstitutes a serious provocation and an obstacle to peace. If implemented, it would make a negotiated two-state solution, with Jerusalem as a shared capital, very difficult to achieve.”

The construction of a new settlement in ‘E1’ would, if implemented, have a severe impact on freedom of movement, limiting the ability of Palestinians to move easily along the length of the West Bank. This would have an impact on the economic development, transport links and the ability of the Palestinian Authority to deliver services to its citizens. Of particular concern is the impact settlement construction in E1 would have on the area’s 2300 Palestinian Bedouins, who would very likely be displaced if the plans were to be implemented.

Law and order in the West Bank

Appropriate policing of protests remains an issue. The last quarter has seen an increase in the number of Palestinians wounded by live IDF fire during protests in the OPTs. This has included the death of off-duty Palestinian Police Officer, Rushdi Tamimi in Nabi Saleh and the deaths in Hebron of Hamdi Al-Falah on 19 November. Internal investigations into all of these deaths have been opened but findings have not yet been published. On 6 December, British Consul General, Sir Vincent Fean visited the family of Rushdi Tamimi to hear about the situation in Nabi Saleh and to offer the British Government’s condolences for Mr Tamimi’s death. The village was also visited by FCO Minister, Alistair Burt, on 10 January 2012.

The capacity of Palestinian forces to police the areas under their control has been undermined by the Israeli decision to freeze the transfer of Palestinian customs revenue. This has created a severe financial crisis within the Palestinian Authority, delaying the payment of government salaries, including to the Palestinian Security Forces and civil police. While the UK remained committed to helping train the Palestinian Security Forces to administer law and order, such work risked being undermined by Israeli decisions. The British Ambassador in Tel Aviv has made our concerns clear to the Government of Israel

The UK Government remained concerned about incidents of incitement which work against the creation of a culture of peace. A number of inflammatory statements were made during the last three monthsby Hamas leaders, denying Israel’s right to exist. The UK welcomed Palestinian President Abbas’ public rejection of these statements and acceptance of the State of Israel within 1967 borders and European Foreign Ministers at the Foreign Affairs Council on 10 December reiterated the EU’s commitment to opposing those who embrace and promote violence as a way to achieve political goals.

The British Consulate General are investigating reports of a song alleged to have been played on PA radio praising suicide bombings in Israel on 1 December.

FCO Minister Burt has condemned incitement on a number of occasions, reiterating that “the UK is against any comments that could stir up hatred and prejudice in a region that needs a culture of peace and mutual respect.” We call on both parties to refrain from statements which legitimise violence and take steps to develop a culture of peace and coexistence where differences are resolved solely through negotiations.

Incursions into Area A
Over the last three months, there have been a number of recorded instances of Israeli inclusions into Area A including Israeli patrols through ‘H1’, an area of Hebron under Palestinian control. This creates increased tension with the Palestinian Security Forces and can spark civil disturbances. Israeli military incursions into Area A (the 16% of the West Bank under full Palestinian sovereignty, according to the Oslo Accords) undermines the Palestinian Authority and the success of internationally-backed Palestinian state building efforts.

The fact that several civil society organisations were targeted during some of these raids is of particular concern. On 11 December the IDF raided offices of three NGO’s with which the EU and some Member States have implemented projects: Addameer, the Union of Palestinian Women Committees (UPWC) and the Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO). The IDF have said that the raids were carried out to track down members of the Palestinian Liberation Front, though no further information has been made available. A statement released by the European Union on 17 December highlighted that “incursions by Israeli forces into Palestinian cities where the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords assumes the powers and responsibilities for internal security and public order, put in jeopardy the internationally recognized success of Palestinian institution building efforts. The EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah see Palestinian civil society as an essential partner in the shared project of democratic state building.”

Quarter three update: 30 September 2012

The UK Government remains concerned about the firing of rockets from Gaza. The last three months saw 48 rockets and 12 mortar shells fired at Israel from Gaza in 40 separate attacks to date according to the Israeli military. While the attacks have achieved several direct hits, the real effect is felt psychologically with over a million citizens in southern Israel threatened, and many cases of post traumatic stress disorder observed among local communities due to frequent air raid sirens.

The use of the death penalty in Gaza is a cruel and inhuman punishment that is strongly opposed by the UK Government and our European Union Partners. The issuing of two death sentences on 12 September by the de facto Hamas Authority was condemned by all 27 EU Member States who further called for an absolute ban on the use of such punishment in the future. We welcome President Abbas’s moratorium on the use of the death penalty in the West Bank, but continue to urge that the death penalty is abolished in its entirety in both Gaza and the West Bank.

The UK continues to have serious concerns over the demolition of Palestinian structures in the South Hebron Hills, as in other parts of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. The vulnerable communities in the South Hebron Hills have been under threat from nearby Israeli settlement expansion and the designation of parts of their land as live firing zones. The UK Consul General, Sir Vincent Fean, led an EU delegation to the area, joining Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to “show their concerns over the humanitarian impact and political implications of the recent demolition orders” (EU statement, 8 August 2012).

At the heart of the current problem lies the Israeli permit system in Area C. In many cases the Palestinians own the land that they currently live on, but do not have building permits for construction. Attempts to get the land zoned for building through the Israeli Authorities have mostly failed to date – UN OCHA state that only 1% of Area C has been granted permits for Palestinian building. The UK Government has supported these communities by the provision of emergency relief (through the UN Humanitarian Relief Fund) and by working with organisations that apply for planning permission from the Israeli Authorities on behalf of vulnerable communities. We continue to raise our concerns with the Israeli Government and lobby for a substantive change in the way the planning system is operated in Area C.

The last three months has seen planned and actual expansion in Israeli settlements in both Jerusalem and the West Bank. This has included announcements of new construction in Har Homa (South of Jerusalem) which was condemned by FCO Minister Alistair Burt who highlighted that “systematic settlement construction has a profound impact on the possibility of a two state solution”. The evacuation of the illegal Israeli outpost of Migron was welcome, but the construction of houses for the residents in a nearby settlement will effectively moves settlers from one settlement to another, with no overall impact on the settlement footprint in the West Bank. Commenting on the relocation, Minister Burt said that by “entrenching illegal settlements in the West Bank, as we believe this agreement does, Israel risks sending the wrong message about its commitment to the goal of a two-state solution”.

Further attempts to expand settlements in and around the Old City of Jerusalem included settlers taking over one house in the Ras Al Amoud neighbourhood in East Jerusalem and the temporary occupation of a house in the Old City. The UK has continued to press for these negative changes on the ground to be reversed by the Israeli Authorities and has provided a diplomatic presence at Court hearings and during evictions: in one instance British diplomats were able to assist a Palestinian family regain access to their home in the Old City, working closely with lawyers from a Jerusalem based NGO.

The proposed visit of the then Israeli Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz, to Ramallah in July led to a small scale demonstration near the Presidential Palace. This was suppressed by the Palestinian Police, who used excessive force to remove the protesters from the streets. Along with the arrest of some of the demonstrators, a number of journalists were detained and equipment confiscated. The handling of the protests was condemned by the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas who invited some of those arrested to meet with him to discuss their concerns. The UK also raised concerns about the conduct of the police with the President’s Office and the Ministry of Justice. The Palestinian Ministry of Interior opened an investigation into what went wrong, and we continue to encourage the PA to absorb the lessons of this incident.

Starting in August, demonstrations took place across the West Bank protesting against price increases and static wages. The economic situation has placed an additional strain on poorer families with the price of basic foodstuffs and fuel increasing significantly. The vulnerable fiscal position of the Palestinian Authority has led to multiple delays in paying wages for public sector workers who make up a significant percentage of the Palestinian workforce, further exacerbating the problem. This led to widespread protests in major towns and cities across the West Bank accompanied by strikes and isolated incidents of violence from protestors against official buildings. These were handled effectively and professionally by the Palestinian Authority Police Force who respected the rights of freedom of speech and of assembly, allowing the protests to proceed, and intervening only when public and private property were at risk. The UK will continue to assist in the training of the Palestinian Security Forces: respect for human rights is a central tenet of the work that the British Government is undertaking.

Quarter two update: 30 June 2012

17 – 21 June 2012 witnessed a spike in violence in and around Gaza, with Palestinian militants firing rockets into Southern Israel and Israeli air strikes into Gaza. At least seven Palestinians were killed and nine Israelis were injured. Commenting on the violence, FCO Minister Alistair Burt said: “I am deeply concerned about this week’s escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel. I condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire into southern Israel, as I do all acts of terrorism. The UK urges all parties to exercise restraint and prevent civilian casualties and loss of life”.

We continue to raise concerns about the policing of demonstrations in the West Bank. During the last three months there were continued reports of the firing of high-velocity tear gas canisters directly at demonstrators. The Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) suspended one soldier who fired live rounds towards stone-throwing Palestinian protestors in the village of Nabu Saleh on 1 June, and an IDF officer was suspended after he was filmed assaulting a Danish protestor in the face with his rifle butt on 15 April. Prime Minister Netanyahu was quick to condemn the incident, saying “this kind of behaviour does not represent IDF soldiers or officers, and is not acceptable in the IDF or in the State of Israel.”

The UK Government remains concerned about the levels of settler violence in the West Bank. Two recent shootings of Palestinians by the same settler group mark a worrying trend of using live ammunition. Both incidents occurred during confrontations between Palestinian villagers and armed settler protection squads. Footage was published which appears to show settlers shooting at stone-throwing Palestinian protestors, unchallenged by the Israeli authorities in attendance. The Minister for the Middle East, Alistair Burt, issued a statement on 22 June in which he condemned arson and vandalism against a mosque in the West Bank town of Jala on 18 June as a “deplorable and deliberately provocative act” and part of a worrying trend of violence by extremist Israeli settlers, including the two recent shootings. He welcomed Prime Minister Netanyahu’s strong condemnation of the incident, and the commitment of the Israeli authorities to bring the criminals responsible to justice and called on them to do so in all such cases occurring the areas under Israeli control.

Many of our human rights concerns continue to be rooted in the continued expansion of Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. A positive move made by the Israeli Government to block legislation seeking to legalise outposts was compromised by the Government of Israel’s decision to move settlers from the illegal outpost of Ulpana to the nearby settlement of Beit El. The Foreign Secretary condemned this decision, reflecting the British’s Government’s view that both outposts and settlements are illegal under international law and damage the prospects for peace. In addition, the announcement by the Israeli authorities of plans to build 800 new houses in the settlement of Har Homa, in the crucial border area between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, has made the prospect of a final status agreement, including a continuous West Bank including East Jerusalem, harder to achieve.

Highlighting the detrimental impact of these announcements, the Foreign Secretary urged “the Israeli government to desist from further settlement announcements, to revoke previous announcements and to remove – not legalise – illegal outposts from across the West Bank, as required under international law and in fulfilment of Israel’s obligations under the Roadmap”.

Quarter One Update: 31 March 2012

The UK has continued to lobby for the protection of human rights in the OPTs including the right to property and the need for Israel to adhere to international obligations in respect of settlement building and evacuating outposts. In particular, we pressed the Israeli Government publicly and privately to dismantle the illegal West Bank outpost of Migron without further delay.

On 11 March settlers from the West Bank outpost in Migron signed an agreement with the Israeli government. The deal would have allowed Migron settlers to have until 30 November 2015 to build new homes in Givat Ha-Yekev, creating new settlement buildings just two kilometres from the current illegal outpost. However, on 25 March, the Israeli Supreme Court rejected this deal on the Migron outpost, ruling that it must be evacuated by 1 August.

Another issue of concern is Palestinian access to water springs in the West Bank, which has increasingly come under threat by settler activity. These sources of water are vital for life for communities not connected to the water network. The UN reported that 56 springs have been the subject of access restrictions, with 30 found to be under full settler control. The majority of these springs (84%) are on privately owned Palestinian land. This takeover of a vital resource has had serious consequences for communities whose lives depend on agriculture. The springs are also used for domestic consumption, making it increasingly difficult to maintain Palestinian communities in Area C (the 63% of West Bank under full Israeli control). To ameliorate this situation, the UK has funded the International Peace and Cooperation Centre (IPCC) to help communities apply for planning permission for infrastructure projects. The UK is also funding a project working with Palestinians and Israelis to improve cooperation on water issues to the benefit of both parties.

The UK also continues to have concerns about the policing of protests in the OPTs. The recent deaths of two demonstrators at Qalandiya (near Ramallah) and Erez checkpoints, the latter during Palestinian ‘Land Day’, are part of a worrying trend of heavy-handed policing. Tear gas canisters are still being fired directly at protesters in contradiction of the IDF’s own rules of engagement. After the tragic death of Mustapha Tamimi in 2011, the UK has continued to call for restraint when policing protests. To monitor this, UK diplomatic staff continue to observe demonstrations first hand and raise these matters with the government of Israel.

We also remain concerned about the failure of Palestinian security forces to comply with the decisions of the justice sector, particularly those High Court decisions ordering the release of detainees belonging to different Palestinian security forces. There is also a need for an inspection system for prisons and detention facilities to ensure that security forces refer all detainees to the proper courts. To help raise standards, the UK funds both the British Support Team and the European Union Police Mission Co-ordinating Office for Palestinian Police Support (EUPOL COPPS) to provide training and assistance to ensure that the Palestinian justice and security sector reaches the required standard. This work has been complemented by an additional project run by the UK Ministry of Justice in this area.

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