MP quizzes British Company over Israeli wall building


Richard Burden MP will join the cousin of Rachel Corrie at a meeting in Westminster tonight to discuss the Corrie family’s ongoing battle for justice. Rachel Corrie was crushed by a bulldozer whilst peacefully protesting at the demolition of a Palestinian home in Rafah in the Gaza strip in March 2003. Her cousin Elizabeth will speak about the legal action which the family are pursuing against the Israeli Government and the manufacturing firm Caterpillar, who constructed the bulldozer which ran over Rachel. Mr Burden will also raise questions about the use in the Occupied Territories of machinery manufactured by the UK firm, JCB.

The meeting, held by War on Want in conjunction with the Britain-Palestine Group will focus on the activities of Caterpillar in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Caterpillar machinery continues to be used by Israel to build the Wall on occupied land. Construction of the Wall in these areas has been deemed illegal by the International Court of Justice. The equipment has also been used to demolish the homes of Palestinian families and to destroy the crops on which they depend for their livelihoods. A recent report released by War on Want accuses the company of complicity in its actions in the Middle East and has called for British retailers and consumers to take a stand against the company.

Mr Burden, who is Chair of the Britain-Palestine Group in Parliament, has also recently written to British manufacturing firm JCB. During a visit to Palestine in September Mr Burden witnessed for the first time JCB machinery also being used to construct the Wall in the West Bank.

Richard Burden said:

“Following my recent visit to Israel and the Occupied Territories I was extremely alarmed to see that now JCB equipment is also being used on work associated with the Wall in addition to Caterpillar machinery, and I have written to the Chair of JCB asking for an explanation of this. There has already been widespread condemnation of Caterpillar’s activities and I want to know who has authorised the sale of JCBs for work in the Occupied Territories. At today’s meeting I will be calling on these companies to properly account for their conduct, as well as discussing my recent experiences in Gaza and the West Bank.

“Back in 2003 I tabled Parliamentary motions on the death of peace activist Rachel Corrie, and I welcome her cousin Elizabeth to Parliament to speak about the ongoing battle of the Corrie family for justice for Rachel. The family of Rachel Corrie have been persistent in seeking justice and it is important that we all continue to support them.”

Garth Hewitt from the Amos Trust will also be speaking at the meeting on the Church of England’s recent decision not to withdraw its £2.2 million worth of shares held in Caterpillar. He will also consider Anglican and Methodist moves to consider divestment from the company. The meeting will be chaired by Louise Richards of War on Want.

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Richard Burden

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I was Labour Member of Parliament for Birmingham Northfield between 1992 and 2019 and a former Shadow Transport Minister. I now chair Healthwatch in Birmingham and Solihull, and the West Midlands Board of Remembering Srebrenica. I also work as a public affairs consultant. I am an effective community advocate and stakeholder alliance builder with a passion for human rights. I am a trustee of the Balfour Project charity and of Citizens Advice Birmingham, and a former Chair of Medical Aid for Palestinians.

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