Israel’s actions unacceptable and illegal


Commenting on the current crisis in the Middle East, Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group, today said:

“Israel’s actions in Lebanon mark a dangerous escalation of the crisis unfolding in the Middle East and they are contrary to international law.

“The capture of two Israeli soldiers by Hizbollah this week is unacceptable as is the continued detention of Corporal Shalit in Gaza by Palestinian militia. Israel has a duty to do all it can to secure the safe release of its soldiers. The international community is right to endorse calls for their release and to give what assistance it can to help bring it about.

“But none of that excuses Israel’s attempts to collectively punish the entire Palestinian and Lebanese people through air strikes, shelling and other entirely disproportionate military action. Nor does it justify Israel undertaking its own abductions of elected Palestinian Parliamentarians and others. These things do nothing to help secure the safe return of Israel’s soldiers.

“In answer to a Question I tabled in Parliament last week, Britain’s International Development Secretary has confirmed the impact that Israel’s actions have had on Gaza’s water and electricity services and he reported concerns that hospitals are running out of essential drugs. Yesterday, the United Nations reported that Israel’s blockade has left Gaza’s municipal services without fuel for its refuse collection vehicles. Rubbish has been piling up in Gaza City streets for nearly a week and UN officials are warning of a public health crisis if the rubbish remains uncollected.

Today, Israeli threats of military strikes to “take Lebanon back 20 years” are chilling, outrageous and provocative. But the Lebanese people cannot be protected by militias responding with attacks of their own into Israel. Israel, Lebanon and the Palestinian Authority all have the right to defend their lawful territories and to protect their peoples from attack. But they also all have a responsibility to break the cycle of violence which threatens the lives of ordinary Palestinians, Israelis and Lebanese alike, not to make the crisis worse. At such a dangerous time all sides must show restraint – whether it is a state with the military might of Israel or those whose arms are limited to automatic rifles and home made rockets.

“I am pleased that in the UK Parliament today, Leader of the House of Commons Jack Straw MP confirmed that the situation in the Middle East will be a priority for this weekend’s G8 summit. That summit must state unequivocally that all states are obliged to uphold international law and that those flagrantly breaching international law should face sanctions by the international community. Military equipment exported to Israel from the UK and elsewhere is subject to strict licence conditions that it must not be used aggressively. Both individual governments like our own and international institutions must take immediate steps to require Israel to abide by those conditions and block any more such exports if Israel is unable or unwilling to demonstrate that it is abiding by its international obligations. The High Contracting Parties to the Geneva Convention – including the UK also have a particular responsibility to uphold the provisions of international humanitarian law.”

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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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