We had a distinguished guest at the latest meeting of Parliament’s all party group on Palestine. The United Nations Rapporteur on Human Rights, Richard Falk, came to report on the situation in Gaza and the West Bank. Ironically, he has to do this from reports on the ground as Israel restricts his entry and has even detained him. Such utter contempt for the UN!
Richard reminded us that Article 33 of the Geneva Convention prohibits collective punishment of civilians under occupation. He spoke of the need for a new international law to deal with prolonged occupation.
Several MPs and Peers, including myself, have seen conditions in either Gaza or West Bank at first hand. A delegation has just returned from West Bank where they witnessed an Israeli military court. The judge was in military uniform, trying children who had signed “confessions” written for them in Hebrew. Outrageous.
We had a discussion on universal jurisdiction. The most famous success story here was the arrest of Chilean dictator Pinochet. Britain must remain a country that is not seen as a safe travel area for those who have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity.
I asked Richard to review the situation of the Bedouin in the Jordan valley. There was a disturbing report in last week’s Economist about the Israeli army destroying Bedouin camps.