Palestine Lobby 2018 – Houses of Parliament, London

An overview of what was discussed at the Palestine Lobby in the Houses of Parliament and the main agenda points as well as the importance of keeping this on the agenda and speaking out for the millions who do not have a voice. Everyone has the power to influence and we must remember human rights abuses anywhere in the world means we are all open to having our own rights violated at any time, which is why we cannot ignore this.

I attended the Palestine Lobby in the houses of Parliament yesterday along with several people other from across the UK, some of whom also attended the ‘Keep Hope Alive’ campaign in Palestine this October. A show of hands signaled many other people had also visited Palestine who were in attendance as well as several MP’s who made regular trips to Gaza and the West Bank. Speakers included: Emily Thornberry, Caroline Lucas, Brendan O’Hara, Ryvka Bernard, Lubna Shomali and Husam Zomlot. 

It was the biggest Palestine Lobby in UK history with 93% of Parliamentary MP’s contacted and over 2,600 participants we are working hard to keep these issues on the agenda and support is growing, across parties. This is even more important in this day and age as we move more towards right wing groups taking control influencing anti-solidarity, anti-democratic views without universal values which affect us all.

It was emphasized there is no alternative to going to Palestine yourself and nothing can prepare you for the harsh reality of everyday Palestinian life. Those who have visited and will continue to visit must share their stories with the world and raise the profile of the Palestinians, it is our responsibilities and small actions can amount to great changes.

The main lobby focus points were:

1.) UK arms exports to Israel (in direct violation of International Humanitarian laws)
2.) Systematic abuse of child prisoners under military detainment

1.) UK arms exports to Israel (in direct violation of International Humanitarian laws)

Highlighted were the use of Israel’s excessive military force and use of armed violence under everyday occupation in the West Bank at checkpoints, in night raids, military detention centers and even on the streets. Also mentioned, the bombings in Gaza and the killings of non-violent protesters and journalists at the borders. 62 Gazans where murdered for protesting for their basic human rights, reporters have asked why do they keep doing it? This implies they are accountable for their own deaths, but they have an obligation to fight for their rights and should not have to do so in the face of violence.

Over £500 million is spent by the UK supplying Israel with sophisticated military technology. UK’s own policy states that if weapons are supplied to a country where is it used against humanitarian laws an embargo should be enforced. We all know Israel seems to be an exception to this rule which clearly shows the weapons export system is not working and pressure needs to be put on our government to investigate the use of these weapons after sales. This agenda needs to be pushed by civil society (we can do so by asking out MP’s to sign motion 1305, This is a time where the world is watching.

2.) Systematic abuse of child prisoners under military detainment

Detainment of children is a war crime, there is a severe lack of humanity. They are often taken during the night by military force from their homes which are supposed to be a ‘safe place’, without their parents who are supposed to be their protectors but cannot help, to military detention centres. Here they are abused physically and physiologically, interrogated and talked to in a language they don’t understand and coerced into signing false confessions and giving information on their family members which leads to feelings of guilt and great physiological damage. They are often blindfolded and tied up, denied use of the toilet or food and water. Many families sleep with their clothes on, Muslim women with hijabs so they are ‘ready’ for a raid. Mothers do not sleep in case their children will be taken away. Even those children not arrested, as young as 5 or 6 are woken up and questioned by the military, which leaves them with lifelong trauma. Human dignity is not respected and fear is instilled into civilian families by the armed military. The longest child detention has been recorded as 45 days which also includes solitary confinement. We must ask ourselves, how many more generations of both Palestinian and Israeli children will we allow to grow under this cycle of violence and terror?

Illegal settlements in the West Bank are a war crime and importing produce from these is also illegal by UK policies. However, we do not find them labelled correctly in our supermarkets, and it is our rights as consumers to be aware of this. Even with labeling Israel has worked its way around concealing these facts therefore the BDS movement calls for a ban on all Israeli products until the embargo is. We have an international obligation to stop these war crimes or at least have Israel held accountable for their actions which are in direct violation of international humanitarian laws.

The situation is getting worse, the Trump administration is giving the green light for Israel to do whatever they want, and the impact of the USA cutting funding to Palestine via UNRWA (United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East) is huge. It affects hospitals, education, social support and has a knock-on effect on refugees in neighboring countries such as Lebanon and Jordan, refugees who have no right of return. Short-term fixes are being put in place to cover these cuts but are not sustainable in the long term. Schools being closed means Palestinians are being denied education. No education means no hope which leads to anger and despair, issues will never be solved through his cycle. The village of Al Khan Al Ahmar which is resisting demolition at this very moment is being highlighted as it is a symbol of this destruction of education if this school is allowed to be demolished others will also be, but it is not alone in its fight to remain.

We must remember these human rights abuses are not happening in Israel but in Palestine – illegally occupied land which is a war crime and cannot be ignored. There should be consequences, Israel should not receive special treatment.

Palestinians have the right to self-determination, which means the principles of equal rights. Upholding the rights of Palestinians does not mean diminishing the rights of Israelis, equal rights should apply to all. Palestine needs to be recognized as a state in itself if we are to talk about a 2-state solution, right now there is only one apartheid state. Acknowledging this state is not a ‘gift’ to be given to the people but a right to be recognized.

Often Palestinians are not aware of international support but it is strong and growing in the UK, people here are concerned about universal values because indeed if human rights are violated anywhere in the world it is also an attack on our rights here in the UK. We will continue to voice your stories for those who cannot be heard.

2 thoughts on “Palestine Lobby 2018 – Houses of Parliament, London”

  1. I was saddened by the many examples of Israeli cruelty against the Palestinians given at the lobby and and also to hear of the rapid progress being made towards annexing the Occupied Territories into Israel. The thing that gave me some hope was the commitment of so many good people to oppose this evil endeavour and hopefully prevent it.

    Liked by 1 person

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