The COVID-19 lockdown and our continued response to containing the coronavirus is giving many of us in the UK a tiny glimmer of what it is to live life as a Palestinian: living under constant threat; subject to curfews; road blocks and checkpoints; restrictions on visits to family, land or workplaces, except by the whim of the authorities; and unable to see family, even children, in hospital.
Much has changed in the international and political sphere since last year, when as MEP, I embarked on my third trip to Israel and Palestine. Israel’s new coalition Government has announced plans to annex significant parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank. This has been condemned by The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) as violating a cornerstone principle of international law and must be meaningfully opposed by the international community.
As the UK is heading to leave the EU, we as UK citizens must focus pressure on the UK government to use its leverage to effect change in policy towards Israeli Government’s defiance of international law.
I hope you will take some time to read my report: Justice for Palestine, Life Under Occupation: is there a path to equality and peace? In a brief description of the situation as I experienced it last year, the report includes some short video interviews with a handful of some incredibly resilient people I met in East Jersualem and the West Bank who describe some of their frustrations first hand. I outline some of the initiatives and work the of European Parliament in which I was involved during my short spell as a UK MEP.
Perhaps most importantly in the section on action to support equal rights for Palestinians, I summarise a range of responses we as UK citizens can push for, and I list them below.
For citizens concerned about global security, human rights, and justice, Palestine demands attention. Ending the illegal restrictions, punitive conditions and inequalities imposed on Palestinian civilians is a necessary prerequisite for peace for all peoples living in the region.
Action to support equal rights for Palestinians
1.Develop a Strong Response t the Threatened Annexation of the West Bank
2.Halt Free and Unchecked Trade with Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories
-Call for a Boycott of goods and products from illegal Israeli settlements in line with the aims of the Boycott, Divest and Sanctions (BDS) campaign
-Identify products originating from the occupied West Bank
-Boycott companies colluding with and benefitting from the Occupation
-Divest from companies complicit in the Occupation
- Fight against antisemitism while supporting Palestinian self-determination
- Stop Arms Trade with Israel
- Stop Financing the Israeli Defence Industry
- Support NGOs protecting Human Rights such as the International Criminal Court, Human Rights Watch and the UN.