In 2012, a report by a UK government-sponsored delegation of lawyers to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories found Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children in military detention to be in breach of the Fourth Geneva Convention and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Six years on, however, and Israel has made only modest changes; according to government minister Alistair Burt, speaking in the Houses of Parliament earlier this year, Israel has implemented just one of 43 specific recommendations made by the lawyers. Read more
Following a year of build-up, the Balfour Declaration centenary has now come and gone. After the campaigns, events, articles and protests, I want to take a moment to make a few observations about how the centenary was marked.
To my mind, there were two main aspects to the anniversary’s significance. Read more
That US President Donald Trump has not yet made an official visit to the UK is down to the entirely justifiable opposition such a prospect provokes.
Here is a man who ran a racist election campaign and brought hard-right nationalists into the corridors of power, who has open contempt for treaties and bodies like the United Nations.
Yet this week, Theresa May will welcome to London another world leader about whom the exact same – and much more – can be said: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Read more
The British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond didn’t mince his words. Israel, he said, was guilty of “what looks and feels like a deliberate attempt to sabotage the two-state-solution.”
The diplomat went on, claiming that the “window” for a two-state agreement is “closing”, and that this was down to Israeli “settlement patterns” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
And all this even before Netanyahu’s re-election as prime minister had been confirmed. Read more
At the end of August, a civil suit brought by the family of Rachel Corrie came to an end with a Haifa judge ruling that the State of Israel bore no responsibility for the death of the American activist in 2003. Despite the judge’s decision, the case – including key testimonies – was widely believed to have “shed light on Israel’s grave breaches of human rights and the impunity enjoyed by its military”.
Rachel Corrie is not the only international to have been killed by Israel since the start of the Second Intifada in 2000. Three British citizens were shot dead by Israeli soldiers over a six month period in 2002-2003, crimes that almost a decade on are a reminder of the UK government’s reluctance to hold its ally to account. Read more
Last month, on the day that changes in universal jurisdiction law went into effect, Israel’s former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni said she “received a phone call” from UK Ambassador to Israel Matthew Gould telling her “there is no longer a warrant for my arrest”.
Yet when Livni arrived in Britain on Thursday, something went wrong. In what was billed as a “test case” for a law designed to remove the threat of arrest for visiting Israeli officials, Livni only avoided a warrant due to a legal assessment by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) that she was on a “Special Mission”. Read more
The differing responses to Bishop of Rochester Michael Nazir-Ali’s interview with the Daily Telegraph on 6 January 2008 tended to focus on his claim that across Britain, “Islamic extremists have created ‘no-go’ areas” for non-Muslims. However, there is a different approach to a constructively critical engagement of Nazir-Ali’s analysis, one that begins with the Bishop’s view that “it is now less possible for Christianity to be the public faith in Britain”.
While Nazir-Ali’s comments were primarily about British Muslims, there was a broader context reflected both in his own remarks, and the Telegraph’s reporting of a recent Synod survey. This survey revealed that “bishops, senior clergy and influential churchgoers” consider “an increasingly multi-faith society” to threaten “the country’s Christian heritage”, while a third of those questioned thought that “a mass influx of people of other faiths is diluting the Christian nature of Britain”. Read more
Even as the British marines were released without charge from Iranian custody to return home to Britain, the media couldn’t help but enjoy one last spasm of outrage over the “hostage crisis”. “Humiliation” sang the newspaper chorus, while the Daily Express helpfully explained the reason for the marines sporting open-necked shirts: in Iran, apparently, ties “are seen as symbols of Western decadence”.
While pundits and politicians have differed in their interpretation of how the incident has affected Britain’s reputation, there has been a remarkable amount of unity in the response of the British government, press and public opinion to the marines’ arrest, a framework characterised by typical imperial arrogance. Read more