If Britain was serious about human rights in Palestine

A strong letter in the UK Guardian that puts some necessary pressure on Britain’s new Deputy Prime Minister. Speaking about “change” is politically necessary these days, but alas, what does it really bring to the people under American or British occupation?

To the British deputy prime minister:

Dear Nick Clegg,

This is a request for action speaking louder than words by the new coalition. I welcome your early commitment to the restoration of civil rights as part of the mainstream agenda for the UK. However, there is a civil rights crisis in the Middle East. Both these situations were seriously ignored by the previous Labour administration.

I appreciate that you are well aware that the humanitarian disaster occurring on a daily basis in Palestine has been brought about by the well-recognised and documented unlawful activities of the Israel state. Your article in the Guardian last December admirably exposes the iniquity of the Gaza blockade. There are of course many other examples – illegal settlements, the separation wall, the demolition of Palestinian homes, sequestration of water supplies, destruction of olive groves, etc.

The UN and other bodies have passed resolution upon resolution about these matters as well as an extremely strong judgment by the international court of justice in The Hague concerning the wall. But nothing ever happens.

As I write, a flotilla of ships convened by a collective of courageous individuals is heading towards the coast of Gaza laden with cement for the long overdue reconstruction and school books for the children. The Israeli navy regularly and illegally restricts Palestinian territorial waters and prevents lawful activity by Palestinians and the entry of humanitarian aid. It is utterly predictable, given the Israeli flagrant disregard for international law, that they will attack this flotilla.

You are now in a position to implement the policies you expressed in your article.

First: the Royal Navy (recently employed to rescue stranded airline passengers) should be on hand to prevent the Israeli navy from violating the lawful activities of European citizens.

Second: for the longer term, the UK government must fulfil its obligations as clearly set out by the international court of justice to terminate Israel’s manifold violations.

Third: your support of the Russell Tribunal on Palestine when it comes to London in November will be much appreciated. I write as a jury member of the tribunal and as someone who has participated in two missions to Palestine in the past.

Yours sincerely,

Michael Mansfield QC

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