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JfJfP comments


2016:

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

2015:

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

2014:

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

2013:

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

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Posts

Speak loudly and carry no stick

WARNING: at time of final posting (May 7th 2014, 22.55) Haaretz online was infected with malware. No links to Haaretz have been included.

Most of the items here are very short statements. They can be used to keep government to account.
Items 7 and 8 deserve further enquiry.

1) FCO: The FCO’s human rights work in 2013, April 2014;
2) FCO: Foreign Secretary condemns Israeli steps towards settlement expansion, April 2014;
3) FCO: Foreign Office condemns West Bank violence , April 2014;
4) FCO: Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs), latest report in the Countries of Concern programme, April 2014;
5) UK government:Consul General condemns settler violence, March 2014, statement from British Consulate General, Jerusalem;
6 FCO: FCO Minister condemns Israeli settlement plans, March 2014
7)FCO: Prime Minister welcomes £70 million Israeli investment in UK following visit, follow the money, not the words, March 2014;
8- British Consulate-General Jerusalem and DFID: Why Palestinian women and girls deserve our respect and support, March 2014;
9) UK Gov: The human rights situation in Israel and the OPTs , update on country of concern, March 2014
10)Parliament: Foreign Affairs Committee – membership,who’s on that committee? Write to them!
11) Notes and links Link to report of killng of woman

Women of Gaza celebrate International Women’s Day, 2013. The FCO says “Palestinian women deserve our particular support and respect. The wisdom, patience and steadfastness of Palestinian women are evident. Women are critical to building a state and to the economic prosperity and social wellbeing of any country. Their voice is sometimes drowned out by the loud voices of men.” See item 8 below.

The FCO’s human rights work in 2013: Terms of reference

Media release from Foreign Affairs, Select Committee
09 April 2014

The Foreign Affairs Committee is announcing an inquiry into the Foreign and Commonwealth Office’s human rights work in 2013, taking as a starting point the Department’s 2013 Report on Human Rights and Democracy, published on Thursday 10 April 2014.

Foreign Affairs Committee
Inquiry: FCO’s human rights work in 2013

The Committee invites submissions of evidence on any aspect of the UK Government’s human rights work for which the FCO has responsibility. The main areas covered by the FCO’s 2013 Report on Human Rights and Democracy include:

●The UK’s human rights initiatives in 2013
●Promotion of human rights values in the fields of democracy, criminal justice and the rule of law, and equality and non-discrimination;
●Human rights in safeguarding Britain’s national security;
●Human rights in promoting Britain’s prosperity;
●Efforts to promote and protect human rights through the UN; and
●Human rights in ‘countries of concern’.

The Committee would particularly welcome submissions which address

The FCO’s work in protecting freedom of religion or belief;

The impact of the FCO’s ongoing Preventing Sexual Violence Initiative (including its initiation at the UN of the Declaration of Commitment to end Sexual Violence in Conflict, and the forthcoming global summit in London in June 2014);

The FCO’s work in supporting women’s and children’s human rights;

The UK’s role on the UN Human Rights Council following its re-election there in November 2013.

The Committee plans to hold evidence sessions for this inquiry before the Summer Recess.

Submitting evidence
Interested groups or individuals are encouraged to send written submissions, which should be received by the Committee no later than Tuesday 6 May 2014.

Please note: Submissions should be made using the web portal on the Foreign Affairs Committee website. Please click the link here: Submit written evidence online. If you have difficulty using the portal or if there is a particular reason why you would prefer to use a different method for sending a submission, please contact Committee staff.

Form of written evidence
Submissions should not normally be longer than 3,000 words. Ideally, each submission should contain:

●a short summary, perhaps in bullet point form;

●a brief introduction about the person or organisation submitting evidence, perhaps explaining their area of expertise or experience;

●any factual information from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses; and

●any recommendations for action by the Government or others which the submitter would like the Committee to consider for inclusion in its report to the House.

It is helpful to the Committee if the main body of the submission uses numbered paragraphs.
Submissions should be in MS Word format (we cannot process PDFs) with no use of colour or logos.



Foreign Secretary condemns Israeli steps towards settlement expansion

FCO press release
April 17, 2014

Policy:Working for peace and long-term stability in the Middle East and North Africa
Israel and The Occupied Palestinian Territories

William Hague condemns Israeli steps towards settlement expansion in the West Bank and says negotiations are only way to peace.

Commenting on steps taken by the Government of Israel to begin the authorisation of an illegal outpost and to allow settlers to regain ownership of a building in Hebron, the Foreign Secretary William Hague said:

The UK condemns the decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to change the status of a significant amount of land around the illegal settler outpost of Netiv Ha’avot and to create a new settlement in Hebron. Settlements are illegal and an obstacle to peace, and these decisions detract from ongoing efforts to deliver a two state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The only path to peace is through negotiations.



April 15, 2014, Palestinian relatives grieve over the body of Noha Qatamesh, 45, during her funeral at the Aida refugee camp near the West Bank city of Bethlehem . Photo by Amr Musa al-Shaer / AFP.

Foreign Office condemns West Bank violence

The Foreign Office condemns appalling attack in the West Bank and expresses concern at death at Aida refugee camp* , **.

Media release:The Occupied Palestinian Territories, FCO
April 15, 2014

Speaking today, a Foreign Office spokesperson said:

We unreservedly condemn the appalling attack in the West Bank yesterday that left a man dead and a women and child in hospital. As Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have both repeatedly made clear, violence can never be the route to peace.

We’re also deeply concerned about the death of a Palestinian woman after unrest in Aida refugee camp on Monday and hope that a full investigation into the circumstances is conducted quickly.



Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) – Country of Concern: latest update 31 March 2014

FCO report, April 10, 2014

The human rights situation in Israel and the OPTs has remained largely unchanged during the last three months.

Israel
The UK welcomed the adoption of Israel’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council on 27 March.

In February, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed a law which expands the panel of the Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunity, in the Employment Commission, adding representatives for the Christian Arab, ultra-Orthodox, Druze, and Circassian populations. We were concerned by inflammatory remarks made by the member of the Knesset who proposed the bill, suggesting that he would propose further legislation aimed at discriminating in favour of Christian Arab citizens over Muslim Arab citizens.

Also in February, judges cancelled and froze a number of summonses of African asylum seekers to the Holot open-air detention facility in the Negev. This was reportedly due to fundamental problems in the summons process, including failure to grant hearings to asylum seekers before detaining them, or to examine individual circumstances.


A section of the security fence near Hebron where Israeli soldiers are particular trigger-happy.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem
The UK continues to have serious human rights concerns regarding the Israeli occupation of the OPTs.

Nine Palestinians were killed and 444 injured by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) between 1 January and 24 March, including in clashes at Palestinian demonstrations and during Israeli military operations. By the end of February, six Israelis had been injured in incidents involving Palestinians. UK officials raised our concerns about the IDF’s increasing use of live fire with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, the Israeli Ministry of Defence and the IDF. In line with our recommendations at Israel’s UPR, we continue to urge Israel to implement the recommendations of the second Turkel Commission report on ways in which Israel can improve investigations of complaints in relation to armed conflict.


A relative hugs the body of 15-year-old Yussef Sami Shawamreh, shot dead by Israeli troops, during his funeral in the West Bank village of Deir al-Asal al-Tahta on March 19, 2014. Photo by AFP – Hazem Bader)

Plans for 3,628 new settlement units were progressed in the West Bank between January and 24 March, in violation of international law. Minister for the Middle East, Hugh Robertson, issued statements condemning Israel’s decisions to announce further settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on 10 January and 19 March.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between January and 24 March, 69 incidents led to Palestinian casualties or property damage, including during attacks on Palestinian schools and vandalism of Palestinian agricultural land by Israeli settlers. For example, on 24 March, Israeli settlers vandalised and sprayed racist graffiti on 36 Palestinian vehicles in East Jerusalem. The British Consul General in Jerusalem publicly condemned these attacks. Twelve incidents resulted in injuries to Israeli settlers or damage to their property.

Israeli NGO B’Tselem reports that, at the end of January, 175 Palestinians were being held in Israeli administrative detention, the highest number since December 2012. According to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, as of March this year, 12 of these prisoners are on hunger strike in protest against being held in administrative detention.

According to NGO Defence for Children International, there were 230 Palestinian children in Israeli military detention at the end of February. Mr Robertson wrote to the Israeli Attorney General on 31 March to urge Israel to end the use of solitary confinement for children in military detention and introduce audio-visual recording of all interviews with child detainees.

The UK is seriously concerned by continued Israeli demolitions of Palestinian properties in Area C of the West Bank and particularly in the Jordan Valley, in contravention of international law. A total of 122 structures were demolished in Area C by 24 March, displacing 194 Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Development & Media Freedoms, three violations of media freedoms by PA forces in the West Bank were reported between January and February, including the detention of photographers documenting clashes between security forces and protestors.

According to the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, reports of torture and ill treatment during detention by Palestinian forces in the West Bank continued, with 29 complaints filed in January and February. The UK raised this issue at the annual UK-PA dialogue meeting on 6 March. The PA highlighted a number of positive steps including: the development of a code of conduct for the security forces and on the use of force; a move to stop trying civilians in military courts; and the strengthening of relations with national and international transparency and accountability organisations. The UK is supporting the development of a new Human Rights Training Manual within the Ministry of Interior, in conjunction with the EU police and rule of law mission in the OPTs. We also continue to assist the PA to improve policing and justice responses to violence against women.

The UK welcomed the new draft Palestinian National Development Plan for 2014-16, which includes commitments to continued improvements on human rights issues. We encourage the PA to turn these commitments into concrete measurable actions.

Gaza
Rocket fire from Gazan militants with retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) continued during the reporting period. Mr Robertson condemned the rocket fire in January, and called on all parties to respect the November 2012 ceasefire. March saw the biggest escalation in violence on the Israel-Gaza border since the ceasefire, with Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants firing over 70 rockets into Southern Israel, and the IAF responding with dozens of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and by temporarily closing all crossings into and out of Gaza. The Prime Minister, visiting Israel at the time, condemned the “completely indiscriminate” rocket attacks.

According to OCHA, there has been an increase in the IDF use of live fire along the border with Gaza, resulting in five civilian deaths in the first two months of 2014, as well as 79 injuries. IDF forces also continue to fire warning shots at Gazan fishing boats nearing the fishing limit of six nautical miles imposed by Israel, sometimes injuring and detaining fisherman, as well as seizing their boats.

The UK continues to be seriously concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza, described by the Prime Minister as “unacceptable”. We continue to urge Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza and call on Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to enable a sustained increase in the flow of humanitarian aid, legal goods, and persons to and from the Gaza Strip. The frequent closure of the Rafah crossing has compounded the already fragile humanitarian situation. Although a welcome easing of restrictions on the import of building materials for international projects was announced in December, by the end of January around 30 projects run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees were still on hold.

On 16 March, the Hamas (ruling party) security services in Gaza prevented supporters of Fatah (opposition party) from holding a rally in solidarity with President Abbas.

During the reporting period, four death sentences were issued in Gaza (one on 6 February, one on 13 February, and two on 20 March). EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned the sentences on 7 February, 18 February, and 24 March, and urged compliance with the PA moratorium on executions in the OPTs.

This publication is part of the 2013 Human Rights and Democracy Report.



Photo of graffiti attack posted on government page

Consul General condemns settler violence

Consul General Alistair McPhail condemns settler violence in East Jerusalem.

Statement, British Consulate-General Jerusalem
March 25, 2014

Commenting on yesterday’s price tag attack by Israeli settlers in East Jerusalem, British Consul General Dr. Alistair McPhail said:

I condemn the price tag attack by Israeli settlers against 36 Palestinian vehicles yesterday morning in the East Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina. The racist graffiti and acts of vandalism are unacceptable. These attacks come at a critical time in the peace process and the focus must be on the steps needed for peace. We must not allow violence to succeed.



Foreign Secretary William Hague (bald one) introduces Hugh Robertson (small one) to John Kerry (tall one).

FCO Minister condemns Israeli settlement plans

FCO media release
March 21, 2014

Hugh Robertson, FCO minister of state, condemns plans for 2,372 settlement units in West Bank and emphasises need for just and lasting settlement.

Commenting on decisions taken by the Government of Israel on 19 March to advance plans for 2,372 new settlement units in the West Bank, Minister for the Middle East Hugh Robertson, said:

I condemn the decisions taken by the Israeli authorities to advance a number of settlement plans in the occupied West Bank. The UK’s position on settlements is longstanding: they are illegal under international law, undermine trust and threaten the viability of the two-state solution.

Nothing must detract from international efforts to secure a lasting, just and final settlement to the conflict.



PM Netanyahu dazzles PM Cameron in March 2014 with a display of what really matters: things that make you richer.

Prime Minister welcomes £70 million Israeli investment in UK following visit

David Cameron has welcomed more than £70 million of investment into the UK following his visit to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

Media release from UKTI and Prime Minister’s Office
March 13, 2014

Prime Minister David Cameron has welcomed more than £70 million of investment into the UK following his visit with Trade and Investment Minister Lord Livingston to Israel and the Palestinian Territories.

The investment, which will create hundreds of UK jobs, included:

●a £50 million commitment by Israel’s Noy Infrastructure and Energy Investment Fund to the UK’s renewable energy sector

●a £12 million investment by Israeli pharma company Teva in clinical development in the UK and a pledge of an additional £600,000 to support research into dementia, re-affirming support to the Prime Minister’s Dementia Challenge

●a £10 million investment by Israel-based AposTherapy in the UK in the next 3 years, creating hundreds of UK jobs

● A 17-strong business delegation joined David Cameron and Trade and Investment Minister, Lord Livingston, to explore the increasing opportunities in information and communication technology, healthcare, energy and security sectors.

Lord Livingston said:

These announcements are testament to how the UK and Israel work successfully together. UK exports have grown steadily and we are now the third largest exporter to Israel and there are now over 250 Israeli companies operating in the UK.

There is huge potential to increase trade and investment with Israel and the Palestinian Territories. I look forward to building on this success with the work of UKTI.

On Thursday (13 March 2014) Lord Livingston joined the Prime Minister and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Teva to discuss future collaboration with Israel and the opportunities for both UK and Israeli companies especially in innovation and technology.

Lord Livingston then went on to East Jerusalem to meet the Palestinian Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Mohammed Mustafa and the East Jerusalem-based Office of the Quartet Representative to discuss the Initiative for the Palestinian Economy (IPE) on how to encourage Palestinian economic growth.The Prime Minister also set out further UK support to create business opportunities and jobs in the Palestinian territories.

Notes to Editors:
1.Announcements from the trip include:

AposTherapy which has brought innovative, non-invasive and highly effective treatment to knee osteoarthritis, has recently opened a branch in Edinburgh, and intends to open branches in Bristol and the North East over the next 2 years. It has already created 50 jobs in London, Manchester, Birmingham, Edinburgh, Kent and Sussex; with the assistance and support of UKTI Israel, as part of its growth plan, AposTherapy intends to set up its European headquarters in the UK
Israel-based Matomy Media Group, had announced their intention to float on the London Stock Exchange

The British Council and Israeli government have also pledged a cash injection of £1 million to help expand the British and Israeli Research and Academic Exchange Programme into new areas of research as part of the Regenerative Medicine Programme.

The Technology Strategy Board announced they will commit up to £5 million to work with MATIMOP (Israeli Industry Centre for research and development) to support innovative UK and Israeli businesses working together on research and development projects over the next 5 years; this will be focused on the commercialisation of research in a range of key areas, such as agri tech, water tech, medical devices, digital and cyber security
UKTI will also lead a roll out of the UK Tech Hub model, which was established in Israel, in select markets around the world as an innovative means of partnering British companies with the best R&D and Tech in key markets

The British Council with the Portland Trust will bring young Palestinian entrepreneurs and business people to the UK for short placements in leading companies during the coming year
Unilever has selected Tel Aviv as the first location of a global network of Open Innovation Ports, providing a stream of cutting-edge new ideas, products and solutions back into Unilever

2.Companies that made announcements are:

Noy: “Our portfolio includes the IDF training center, the largest project of its kind in Israel”

Noy Infrastructure and Energy Investment fund – An Israeli infrastructure and energy investment fund, established in May 2011 to address the growing equity needs of the infrastructure sector. The fund is focused on generating sustainable cash flow and long term capital gains from investments in infrastructure and energy projects, principally in Israel. The fund’s management team currently manages over US$550 million raised from a wide investor base which includes many of Israel’s largest institutional investors

Teva – A pharmaceutical company established in 1901 that ranks in the10 top pharmaceutical companies in the world. Headquartered in Israel, Teva is active in 60 countries, with over 46,400 dedicated employees worldwide

AposTherapy – AposTherapy was developed by 2 doctors who come from the fields of orthopaedics and sports medicine. The development of the treatment began in response to the growing evidence and better understanding of biomechanics and the central role that the neuromuscular system plays in the development and the rehabilitation of orthopedic conditions. In 2004, the company was incorporated and the first flagship centre was opened in Herzliya, Israel. Nine years later, with over 50,000 patients treated worldwide, AposTherapy now has 11 centres available in four countries (US, UK, Israel and Singapore)

Matomy Media Group – A global performance marketing company with 380 employees worldwide

MATIMOP – The executive agency of the Office of the Chief Scientist (OCS), of the Ministry of Economy of Israel, it is the official National Agency for industrial research and development cooperation in Israel, charged with promoting highly supportive policies to build Israel’s industrial infrastructure, and nurturing industrial innovation and entrepreneurship. It generates and implements international cooperative industrial R&D programs between Israeli and foreign enterprises

The Portland Trust – A British non-profit ‘action tank’ with offices in London, Ramallah and Tel Aviv. It was established in 2003 to promote peace and stability between Palestinians and Israelis through economic development

Unilever – Unilever is 1 of the world’s leading suppliers of fast moving consumer goods with operations in over 100 countries and sales in 190. Consumers buy 170 billion Unilever packs around the world every year, and their products are used over 2 billion times a day. They have more than 171,000 employees, and generated annual sales of €46.5 billion in 2011.
….



Why Palestinian women and girls deserve our respect and support

Article from UK government, British Consulate-General Jerusalem and DFID Palestinian Programme
8 March 2014

The UK’s partnership with Palestinian women, is delivering real results on the ground. However, there is still much more to do.

Only a political process, led by brave and visionary Palestinian and Israeli leaders, will resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and accord to Palestinians the rights and freedoms that they deserve. Meanwhile, as the negotiations continue, people need the hope of a better life. Today, on the occasion of International Women’s Day, I want to address one half of the Palestinian population: women and girls.

The wisdom, patience and steadfastness of Palestinian women are evident. Women are critical to building a state and to the economic prosperity and social wellbeing of any country. Their voice is sometimes drowned out by the loud voices of men.

The British Secretary of State for International Development, Justine Greening, recently set out the UK’s commitment to improving the everyday lives of girls and women here and across the world. Our commitment is to challenge social norms and behaviour which perpetuate violence and inequality, to support women’s ability to speak out safely and to strengthen the legal frameworks which protect women’s rights.

The UK’s Palestinian Gender Strategy sets out our plans to deliver the Secretary of State’s vision, in partnership with the Palestinian Authority (PA). The PA published a National Gender Strategy and a strategy to combat gender violence in 2011. These strategies are welcome, but their impact will only be felt if they are implemented systematically.

The UK’s development programme in the Occupied Palestinian Territories prioritises women and girls in two ways. The first is a focus on protection, security and justice. We are supporting the Palestinian Civil Police to strengthen the way it responds to family violence, to improve women’s access to justice and we are helping the PA to challenge and prevent violence against women. We work with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), which works to tackle gender-based violence. We also fund the Norwegian Refugee Council, which works to improve access to legal assistance in family law for vulnerable women.

The second element of UK support to Palestinian women and girls is focused on the social and economic empowerment of women. Critical to this is the financial assistance we provide regularly and predictably to the PA and to UNRWA. In 2013-14, the UK is providing over £40 million to the PA. These funds are part of our pledge to provide almost £130 million from 2011-15 to help the PA run its hospitals, schools and welfare and police services, all of which are critical to women and girls. Pregnant women can access antenatal care through PA-managed health clinics, and more girls can – and do – attend primary and secondary schools. The UK is also funding the delivery of key services to Palestinian refugees through our contribution of £106.5m over four years to UNRWA. Our support is enabling 6,000 pregnant women to attend at least four antenatal classes each year and at least 36,000 refugee girls and boys to attend school.

UK assistance, channelled through the PA, provides cash transfers to 7,000 of the poorest people in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Our core funding to UNRWA supports cash transfers for 20,000 vulnerable refugee households. A significant proportion of the beneficiaries are women. One of them is Farida, a 65–year-old widow from Jenin, who suffers from impaired vision and hypertension, and is the sole carer for her daughter, who has Down’s Syndrome. Farida’s job in a nearby village allowed her to support the family after her husband’s death, but sadly she was unable to work after a car crash. Life was hard both financially and socially. Having a disabled child can still carry an undeserved social stigma, which we are working with the PA to combat. Farida applied to the Ministry of Social Affairs’ Cash Transfer Programme. She now receives up to NIS 1,000 and food aid every month. Life changed for the better immediately.

Another recipient is Rafiqa, also a widow from Jenin. Cash transfers and additional support allowed her to go from selling milk products from her sheep to owning a small supermarket. When asked about the Cash Transfer Programme, Rafiqa said:

“I became a better woman. There is nothing better in life than eating as a result of your hard work and not relying on others to feed you.”

The UK’s partnership with Palestinian women, through the PA and UNRWA, is delivering real results on the ground. There is much more to do. We want to help Palestinians – women and men – as they come together to build a peaceful, prosperous and independent state. Gender equality is key to this endeavour. The UK will play its part in helping the Palestinian people’s own admirable efforts to achieve and sustain equality.



The human rights situation in Israel and the OPTs has remained largely unchanged during the last three months.

FCO Country of Concern, Israel and the oPt, update
March 2014

Israel
The UK welcomed the adoption of Israel’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) at the UN Human Rights Council on 27 March.

In February, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) passed a law which expands the panel of the Advisory Committee for Equal Opportunity, in the Employment Commission, adding representatives for the Christian Arab, ultra-Orthodox, Druze, and Circassian populations. We were concerned by inflammatory remarks made by the member of the Knesset who proposed the bill, suggesting that he would propose further legislation aimed at discriminating in favour of Christian Arab citizens over Muslim Arab citizens.

Also in February, judges cancelled and froze a number of summonses of African asylum seekers to the Holot open-air detention facility in the Negev. This was reportedly due to fundamental problems in the summons process, including failure to grant hearings to asylum seekers before detaining them, or to examine individual circumstances.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem
The UK continues to have serious human rights concerns regarding the Israeli occupation of the OPTs.

Nine Palestinians were killed and 444 injured by the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) between 1 January and 24 March, including in clashes at Palestinian demonstrations and during Israeli military operations. By the end of February, six Israelis had been injured in incidents involving Palestinians. UK officials raised our concerns about the IDF’s increasing use of live fire with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s office, the Israeli Ministry of Defence and the IDF. In line with our recommendations at Israel’s UPR, we continue to urge Israel to implement the recommendations of the second Turkel Commission report on ways in which Israel can improve investigations of complaints in relation to armed conflict.

Plans for 3,628 new settlement units were progressed in the West Bank between January and 24 March, in violation of international law. Minister for the Middle East, Hugh Robertson, issued statements condemning Israel’s decisions to announce further settlement building in East Jerusalem and the West Bank on 10 January and 19 March.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), between January and 24 March, 69 incidents led to Palestinian casualties or property damage, including during attacks on Palestinian schools and vandalism of Palestinian agricultural land by Israeli settlers. For example, on 24 March, Israeli settlers vandalised and sprayed racist graffiti on 36 Palestinian vehicles in East Jerusalem. The British Consul General in Jerusalem publicly condemned these attacks. Twelve incidents resulted in injuries to Israeli settlers or damage to their property.

Israeli NGO B’Tselem reports that, at the end of January, 175 Palestinians were being held in Israeli administrative detention, the highest number since December 2012. According to the Palestinian Authority (PA) Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs, as of March this year, 12 of these prisoners are on hunger strike in protest against being held in administrative detention.

According to NGO Defence for Children International, there were 230 Palestinian children in Israeli military detention at the end of February. Mr Robertson wrote to the Israeli Attorney General on 31 March to urge Israel to end the use of solitary confinement for children in military detention and introduce audio-visual recording of all interviews with child detainees.

The UK is seriously concerned by continued Israeli demolitions of Palestinian properties in Area C of the West Bank and particularly in the Jordan Valley, in contravention of international law. A total of 122 structures were demolished in Area C by 24 March, displacing 194 Palestinians.

According to the Palestinian Centre for Development & Media Freedoms, three violations of media freedoms by PA forces in the West Bank were reported between January and February, including the detention of photographers documenting clashes between security forces and protestors.

According to the Palestinian Independent Commission for Human Rights, reports of torture and ill treatment during detention by Palestinian forces in the West Bank continued, with 29 complaints filed in January and February. The UK raised this issue at the annual UK-PA dialogue meeting on 6 March. The PA highlighted a number of positive steps including: the development of a code of conduct for the security forces and on the use of force; a move to stop trying civilians in military courts; and the strengthening of relations with national and international transparency and accountability organisations. The UK is supporting the development of a new Human Rights Training Manual within the Ministry of Interior, in conjunction with the EU police and rule of law mission in the OPTs. We also continue to assist the PA to improve policing and justice responses to violence against women.

The UK welcomed the new draft Palestinian National Development Plan for 2014-16, which includes commitments to continued improvements on human rights issues. We encourage the PA to turn these commitments into concrete measurable actions.

Gaza
Rocket fire from Gazan militants with retaliatory airstrikes by the Israeli Air Force (IAF) continued during the reporting period. Mr Robertson condemned the rocket fire in January, and called on all parties to respect the November 2012 ceasefire. March saw the biggest escalation in violence on the Israel-Gaza border since the ceasefire, with Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants firing over 70 rockets into Southern Israel, and the IAF responding with dozens of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and by temporarily closing all crossings into and out of Gaza. The Prime Minister, visiting Israel at the time, condemned the “completely indiscriminate” rocket attacks.

According to OCHA, there has been an increase in the IDF use of live fire along the border with Gaza, resulting in five civilian deaths in the first two months of 2014, as well as 79 injuries. IDF forces also continue to fire warning shots at Gazan fishing boats nearing the fishing limit of six nautical miles imposed by Israel, sometimes injuring and detaining fisherman, as well as seizing their boats.

The UK continues to be seriously concerned by the humanitarian situation in Gaza, described by the Prime Minister as “unacceptable”. We continue to urge Israel to ease restrictions on Gaza and call on Israel, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority to enable a sustained increase in the flow of humanitarian aid, legal goods, and persons to and from the Gaza Strip. The frequent closure of the Rafah crossing has compounded the already fragile humanitarian situation. Although a welcome easing of restrictions on the import of building materials for international projects was announced in December, by the end of January around 30 projects run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees were still on hold.

On 16 March, the Hamas (ruling party) security services in Gaza prevented supporters of Fatah (opposition party) from holding a rally in solidarity with President Abbas.

During the reporting period, four death sentences were issued in Gaza (one on 6 February, one on 13 February, and two on 20 March). EU missions in Jerusalem and Ramallah condemned the sentences on 7 February, 18 February, and 24 March, and urged compliance with the PA moratorium on executions in the OPTs.

This publication is part of the 2013 Human Rights and Democracy Report.



Foreign Affairs Committee – membership

Rt Hon Sir Richard Ottaway MP was elected by the House to be the Chair of the Committee on Wednesday 9 June 2010. The remaining members of the Committee were appointed on Monday 12 July 2010. On Tuesday 2 November 2010, Emma Reynolds was discharged from the Committee and Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth was appointed. On Monday 18 June 2012, Mr Dave Watts was discharged from the Committee and Mark Hendrick was appointed. On 20 May 2013, Rt Hon Bob Ainsworth was discharged and Sandra Osborne was appointed.

Member / Party
Sir Richard Ottaway (Chair), Conservative
Mr John Baron, Conservative
Sir Menzies Campbell, Liberal Democrat
Ann Clwyd, Labour
Mike Gapes, Labour (Co-op)
Mark Hendrick, Labour (Co-op)
Sandra Osborne, Labour
Andrew Rosindell, Conservative
Mr Frank Roy, Labour
Sir John Stanley, Conservative
Rory Stewart, Conservative



Notes and Links
* Palestinian woman killed in Israeli tear gas attack near Bethlehem, Al Akhbar, April 15th, 2014. Report of killing of woman at Aida refugee camp, see item 3.

** Israeli Officer Killed on Way to Seder in West Bank, NY Times, April 2014

Human Rights and Democracy Report for 2013 published

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