Israel’s illegal settlements


The illegal settlements cannot be a sideshow to glad-handing when Theresa May meets Prime Minister Netanyahu.

By Richard Burden

Originally published by HuffPost, February 6, 2017

Theresa May should put Britain’s opposition to settlement building in the West Bank centre-stage when she meets Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu at Downing Street on Monday. The UK’s credibility can ill-afford a repeat of her recent visit to President Trump in the United States. If Theresa May says she will stand up to her allies when they are wrong, that must include standing up to Israel over settlements too – in line with international law, in line with UN Security Council Resolution 2334 which the UK supported as recently as December, and in line with longstanding UK Government policy.

In the last two weeks, Israel has announced the construction of thousands of new buildings in the West Bank and hundreds in East Jerusalem. As both the West Bank and East Jerusalem are occupied territory, all settlement building by the occupying power in either is illegal under international law. Just as important, by confiscating more and more of the West Bank for settlements, Israel is physically undermining the viability of any Palestinian state being established alongside Israel.

UK Foreign Office Ministers – along with those of many other countries – have condemned Israel’s latest announcement of a settlement building spree and that is to be welcomed. The reality is, however, that governments in Israel have for too long displayed a culture of impunity – safely assuming that while their breaches of international law will incur the disapproval of the international community, very little in practice will be done to stop it. Emboldened by some of the noises coming from the White House under President Trump, that culture of impunity has reached new levels under Mr Netanyahu’s government.

All this is why Theresa May must put the UK’s opposition to settlement building centre stage when she meets Mr Netanyahu. It cannot be treated as a kind of side issue to be politely mentioned amid the photo calls and glad-handing that accompanies visits of this kind. Indeed she should make clear to Mr Netanyahu that the preferential trade and other relationships which the UK has with Israel will not be allowed to be used for the benefit of illegal settlements in the West Bank.

Read the full article here.

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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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