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Britain should condemn illegal Israeli settlements today

Jan. 25, 2017, midnight

“Britain will be judged by history for its inaction and apathy on Palestine” Amb./Prof. M. Hassassian.

Yesterday’s announcement by Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu to build 2500 new settlement units on occupied Palestinian land must be categorically denounced by the international community including the United Kingdom.

These plans patently constitute:

• A war to end all diplomacy and a negotiated settlement

• A war to end the two-state solution

• A war on Palestinian independence

This is the second announcement by the Netanyahu government since the inauguration of the Trump presidency to extend its illegal settlements. A day earlier, Netanyahu lifted all restrictions on Israeli construction in occupied East Jerusalem. It also comes hot on the heels of an explosive bill which proposes the annexation of the large illegal settlement of Maaleh Adumin near Jerusalem.

There are currently 600,000 illegal Israeli settlers living on stolen Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

The Palestinian leadership demands the British government strongly criticise Israel for this, its most recent and blatant violation of International law. The UK cannot vote for a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israeli illegal settlements as ‘flagrant violation of international law’ one day and sit timidly on the sidelines, the next, when Israel brazenly challenges the international community by announcing still more theft and colonization of Palestinian land.

The UK government needs to take concrete actions to send a clear message to Israel that its contempt for international human rights and humanitarian law and the consensus of the international community will not be tolerated.

London made no statement today condemning the explosive move, demonstrating the total lack of seriousness the current UK government has in its professed support for a just solution for the Palestinians. This was also made manifestly clear by Britain’s recent refusal to sign the concluding statement of the Paris Peace Conference.

Britain is not doing enough to promote a just and peaceful solution for the Palestinians, in fact, it is not doing anything at all. It needs to take concrete action and take an assertive stand on illegal Israeli settlements and on the import of illegal Israeli settlement products to the UK.

The British government has also issued no statement and made no diplomatic efforts to discourage the US in its proposed plans to move its Embassy from Tel Aviv to occupied East Jerusalem which will constitute a war on the two-state solution and a war on peace.

It is high time for a change in this lack-lustre and disingenuous approach. This year marks 50 years of Israeli occupation and 100 years since the infamous Balfour Declaration in which Britain gave away Palestine, with which it was entrusted custodianship. The current government’s plans to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration next November should be seriously reconsidered, especially in relation to the current criminal actions of Israel.

The centenary, instead, should be a time for the UK government to acknowledge the role it played in the destruction of Palestine and the dispossession of its people who are subject to cruel and brutal policies of Israel, an immoral occupying power. Britain should only presume to mark the centenary of the Balfour Declaration by giving its unequivocal recognition of an independent Palestinian State.

Only this will provide concrete proof that the Britain is serious about peace as would its unconditional condemnation of all shameful Israeli tactics which aim to sabotage the realization of Palestinian statehood.

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