Open letter to Keir Starmer
27th April 2021
Dear Keir Starmer
APARTHEID IN ISRAEL/PALESTINE
We are sending this open letter also to our members, friends and others.
Today, the internationally-respected organisation Human Rights Watch issued a report ‘A Threshold Crossed,’ carefully explaining that the situation in Palestine/Israel can be called apartheid. This follows a report by the Israeli organisation B’tselem which came to the same conclusion in January.
CADFA believes that the threshold to apartheid was crossed many years ago and the way that Palestinians are forced to live with on-going violations of their human rights is absolutely shocking but this acknowledgement by a respected international human rights organisation must be looked at.
We believe that you know a lot about what has been going on in Palestine. CADFA, a human rights charity that has been building links and reporting from the West Bank for more than 17 years, is based in your constituency and we have met you and sent you many reports and several times brought Palestinian visitors including children to meet you in the years since you became an MP in Camden.
However, it is now approaching four years since we last had a good conversation with you about the situation in Palestine, and about six years since we last brought a group of Palestinian children, here on an Erasmus+ exchange, to visit you in Parliament. At that time you were (we thought) as shocked as we were at their stories and in particular their wish to end child imprisonment.
But for the past four years you have been almost silent on Palestine and have even objected to and distanced yourself from those who call out the apartheid situation there. As it is one of the biggest issues in the current world, as Britain has had a role since the beginning and as you are the leader of a major party and hope to lead the country, your silence has been shocking.
But your voice is needed. As these new reports illustrate, the situation is getting worse and worse. The Israeli take-over of land, building of settlements on the West Bank, confinement of the Palestinians in small areas of their country has been moving on. Among other chilling events this week has been a well-publicised march of Israeli fascists in Jerusalem, shouting “Death to Arabs” while around a hundred young Palestinians were arrested by the Israeli army and hundreds of demonstrators were shot or beaten by the army or settlers.
These scary developments are encouraged by the silence of those who should point out the wrongs as well as by the loud support of the right wing.
We hope that you as a lawyer will agree that international law is the peaceful way to try and sort things out. The International Criminal Court has agreed to look at the situation in Palestine. The Conservative UK government does not want Israel to be subject to the scrutiny of the International Criminal Court. Yet reports like these discussed above, the information you have been sent from CADFA and the voices you have heard yourself from Palestine show there is an urgent case to answer. We ask you to differentiate yourself from the government position and to publicly support the ICC in taking the case.
We ask you to raise your voice now on the side of human rights, equal rights and decency.