By Tim McNulty
ISRAEL will accelerate their settlement construction in the West Bank during the final few months of a Trump presidency unless Britain speaks out, a Labour shadow minister has told Redaction Politics.
Wayne David, Shadow Minister of State for the Middle East and North Africa, and Anna McMorrin, Shadow Minister for International Development, have written to the government to condemn the destruction of civilian homes in the West Bank by Israeli authorities.
Palestinian homes are being demolished at the highest rate for four years, with 689 structures demolished between January and November according to UN agency OCHA.
And it may get even worse as Benjamin Netanyahu takes advantage of the final few months of his ally in the White House.
Mr David told Redaction Politics: “It is very important that the the British Government puts the greatest possible pressure on the Israeli Government.
“If Britain and other countries do not make a stand on this, it is likely that Netanyahu, Israeli’s right wing Prime Minister, will authorise further illegal demolitions before President-elect Biden takes office in January”.
This includes the displacement of 73 people, including 41 children, from the Humsa Al Bqai’a bedouin community in the northern Jordan valley by the Israeli army on November 3.
“The destruction jeopardises the possibility of a genuinely two state solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict and undermines security and social stability. The actions are especially concerning at a time when the global community is working together to protect public public health and strengthen hygiene during the coronavirus pandemic,” wrote Shadow Ministers Wayne David and Ann McMorrin in a letter to Foreign Minister James Cleverly last week.
The letter continues: “Demolitions have continued throughout a national lockdown despite assurances there would be a suspension via an official Israeli Government moratorium. The removal and seizures of facilities and resources throughout the West Bank also contradict Israel’s commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals including universal health coverage, equitable access to quality education, and clean water and sanitation for all.”
David and McMorrin have claimed many of the destroyed facilities were funded by UK or international aid groups.
These include a Covid-19 quarantining facility in Hebron as well as material for a community health clinic in Khirbet Ibziq.
While the threat demolition hangs over a UK-funded primary school at Ras al-Tin in Ramallah, according to the letter.
McMorrin has previously raise the prospect of claiming compensation for the destruction of UK taxpayer funded facilities by Israel authorities.
In a parliamentary question, the MP for North Cardiff uncovered the government was keeping seeking such compensation ‘under review.’
In response, the shadow cabinet colleagues have urged Boris Johnson’s government to call on Israel to halt all further planned demolitions and pursue reparations for the destruction of UK-funded structure.
The letter states: “We welcome the UK government’s continued commitment to a two-state solution and support for the Palestinian people.
“However, we believe that international law must be upheld, and the destruction of UK taxpayer and internationally funded aid projects and people’s homes demands action from the UK government and the international community. As a respected country with a permanent seat on the UN Security Council and our historic role in Israeli-Palestinian affairs, the UK has a moral duty to be proactive on this important issue.”
Israel has occupied the West Bank since the Six day war in 1967. Today limited Palestinian self-rule exists in areas of the West Bank, while Israel retains overall control.
The Israeli military has previously argue the structures targeted have been built illegally.
But the UN has called the Israeli actions a “grave breach” of international law.
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