Palestine Isolation Policy Not Working Says MP


Richard Burden MP (Labour, Birmingham Northfield) has welcomed the publication today of the House of Commons International Development Committee Report on Development Assistance and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Mr Burden is a Member of the Committee which carried out the Inquiry, which included a fact finding visit to Israel and Palestine in November.

He also chairs the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group and in that capacity he was again in the area last weekend with other members of the Group as part of a project to promote dialogue between Israelis and Palestinians.

Mr Burden said:

“Today’s report underlines how continued occupation is devastating the economy of the Palestinian territories. The year long Israeli blockade and the international boycott of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority have also provoked a massive humanitarian crisis in Gaza. Gaza is one of the most densely populated places on earth and it was already experiencing levels of poverty equivalent to those in sub-Saharan Africa.

“The international community is still spending many millions of pounds on humanitarian relief to the Palestinians but it is not addressing the real problem. It is like offering a crutch to someone trying to walk but still allowing their legs to be kicked out from under them every time they try to stand up.

“The Palestinians may be being fed by the outside world but they are still living in a cage. The tensions which the boycott and blockade have been generating are also directly fanning the flames of the factional fighting between Hamas and Fatah supporters that has claimed so many lives in Gaza over the last few days.

“On Monday a bomb blast also killed three people in the Israeli resort of Eilat. The international community is right to condemn this outrage. All attacks on innocent civilians deserve condemnation, from whichever side they come and whenever they come. This was the first suicide bombing inside Israel for 9 months. Along with the factional fighting inside Gaza over the weekend it should remind the Quartet, which is due to meet soon, of the urgency of the situation.

“The international community is right to insist that any lasting settlement must be based on the recognition of the rights of both Israelis and Palestinians to statehood and on the renunciation of violence. The Quartet would do more to achieve peace by promoting dialogue now rather than insisting that one side should sign up to a rigid form of words before anybody even talks to them. Imposing preconditions can easily be a barrier to progress and play into the hands of those on either side who want to scupper the prospect of a settlement. All the discussions I had with the Israelis and Palestinians last weekend have reinforced my views about this.

“The International Development Committee Report is also right to point out how important it is that Israel should lift its economic blockade and ease the movement restrictions on Palestinians. The release by Israel of $100m of tax revenues owed to the Palestinians is welcome. But that is just a fraction of the money it is withholding and a lot more needs to be done.

“The occupation has to end. The kind of initiatives recommended by the International Development Committee are also vital to tackle the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories and to promote economic development.

“The people of the West Bank and Gaza are looking for practical action from the International Community that can change the harsh reality of their lives under occupation. Such action would also build confidence in the future amongst ordinary Palestinians. That, in turn, will be vital to achieving the security that ordinary Israelis deserve.”

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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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