Excessive Israeli restrictions on Palestinian territories cannot be justified on the grounds they protect Israel's security, a report from the Parliamentary International Development Committee said today (6 August).
The Committee's report says:"We challenge the assertion that restrictions which curtail economic development in the OPTs [Occupied Palestinian Territories] are based on Israel's security needs and can be justified on security grounds."
It adds that issues such as greater access to water and construction permits should be addressed, regardless of the current conflict, which has killed 1,875 Palestinians including 430 children, 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians in Israel.
The committee said it was "extremely concerned" that Israel could further expand settlements and urged Britain and other European countries to "stress to the Israeli authorities the unacceptability of the present situation."
The British government should also examine whether guidelines on the labelling of produce made in Israeli settlements to allow consumers to avoid buying them has been implemented by retailers, the report said.
Commenting on the report,William Bell, Christian Aid’s Advocacy Officer for the Palestinians and Israel, said: “The MPs’ report is extremely welcome because it puts the Gaza conflict into its wider context – one which has been all too often neglected in recent weeks but which must be understood and dealt with, if the violence is ever to be permanently halted.” (http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20693)
He added: “It is disappointing that the report, while acknowledging the negative impact of settlements and Israeli policies in the OPT, does not mention one important way in which the UK could contribute to ending Palestinian poverty and the conflict. That is by banning the import to this country of produce produced in settlements on Palestinian territory.
“Settlements are illegal under international law, a major cause of poverty amongst Palestinians and an obstacle to peace.”