Any viable peace deal for Israel and Palestine needs to be based on respect for international law and human rights. Today’s decision by the UK Government to vote against all but one resolution on Israel-Palestine at the UN Human Rights Council is an unwelcome step away from that rights-focused peace.

In one day, the Government has reversed years of policy on the self-determination and human rights of the Palestinian people, on the illegality of settlements on occupied land and on the importance of accountability for violations of international law. In doing so, they have undermined not only multilateral institutions like the UN but their own commitments to human rights in the Middle East and across the world. If the UK truly believes in those principles and universal rights and responsibilities, it cannot pick and choose where they are applied, nor can they be undermined for the sake of grievances with UN structures.

The time has come for the UK to stop posturing and issuing hollow statements in response to Israel’s violations of international law. There must be consequences for what the UN HRC has itself described as potential war crimes and crimes against humanity committed in Gaza. If Israel is given licence to breach international law with impunity then what hope is there of discouraging countries from doing so in future?

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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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