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Back Activities Alert Archive BLAIR BACKS ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENT POLICY

BLAIR BACKS ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENT POLICY

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British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be launching the United Jewish Israel Appeal's (UJIA) Campaign For Our Children at the organisation's annual dinner on 15 January 2001...The UJIA has a long record of support for the Israeli regime. URGENT ALERT

4th January 2001

BLAIR BACKS ILLEGAL ISRAELI SETTLEMENT POLICY
BRITISH PRIME MINISTER PROMOTES ZIONIST CAMPAIGN TO EXPAND ISRAELI SETTLEMENTS, IGNORES PALESTINIAN RIGHT OF RETURN

British Prime Minister Tony Blair will be launching the United Jewish Israel Appeal's (UJIA) Campaign For Our Children at the organisation's annual dinner on 15 January 2001. TotallyJewish.Com reports that "the prime minister has actively supported the charity… since lending his name to the UJIA Blair Fellowship Programme in 1998”. The new Campaign For Our Children by UJIA quite specifically plans to "aid the influx of immigrant children to Israel.” (Richard Ferrer, 'Blair Backs UJIA Appeal', TotallyJewish.Com, 29 December 2000)

The UJIA has a long record of support for the Israeli regime. Formerly known as the British Olim Society, the UJIA was founded by the Zionist Federation (ZF) of Great Britain and Ireland "to assist in the integration of British Olim” into Israeli society. The Zionist Federation itself further admits that the UJIA is a "Zionist organisation” established by members of the ZF.

It is particularly inappropriate for the Prime Minister to be promoting a Zionist body whose intent is to "aid the influx of immigrant children to Israel” (TotallyJewish.Com, 29 December 2000). In a letter to the Prime Minister, Chairman of the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) Massoud Shadjareh wrote, "The Prime Minister's support of the policy of sending yet more immigrants to settle in Israel while the regime continues to illegally expand settlements both within and beyond its official borders - very often by ruthlessly demolishing Palestinian homes by the hundred - hardly illustrates the British Government's condemnation of Israel's illegal settlement policy.” (for the full letter see Annex 1)

Annexations, expulsions and the creation of settlements are specifically prohibited by international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, in Article 47, prohibits the annexation of occupied territory, and the United Nations has repeatedly condemned Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem and a wide belt of surrounding suburbs, villages and towns. Article 49 of the same convention prohibits the forcible transfer or deportation of residents from an occupied area, regardless of motive. Yet the vast majority - at least 70 per cent - of all immigrants who have 'settled' in the occupied areas actually live in the zone illegally annexed to Israel on 28 June 1967.

In his letter, Mr Shadjareh also pointed out that "While Blair is effectively promoting Israel's illegal settlement policy, he has conspicuously failed to promote the indigenous Palestinian's right of return to their own homeland recognised by international law under UN General Assembly Resolution 194.” There are at least 3,469,109 Palestinian refugees (UNRWA, January 1998), including 1,308,438 in the territories (548,874 in the West Bank and 759,564 in Gaza), who were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces - helped on their way by occasional massacres - now living in squalid conditions of Israeli-imposed apartheid. It seems that the British Government is supporting this discrimination by ignoring the Palestinian right of return while promoting Israel's illegal settlement policy. Mr Shadjareh commented: "Tony Blair's current stance illustrates a pro-Israel bias that will prevent the British Government from acting with justice in the Middle East, thus ignoring Palestinian rights recognised under international law.”

WHAT TO DO

Please write a letter to Tony Blair condemning his promotion of the UJIA that is to occur on 15 January, and demanding that he instead support the Palestinian right of return recognised by UN Resolution 194, to the following address:

Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP PM
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

Fax: 0207 925 0918

If you need help writing your letter, please contact IHRC. To read IHRC Chairman Massoud Shadjareh's letter to Tony Blair, please see Annex 1 below. For more information on the above, please contact the IHRC Press Office on (+44) 20 8902 0888, (+44) 958 522 196, e-mail: ihrc@dial.pipex.com.






ANNEX 1:

Rt. Hon. Tony Blair MP PM
10 Downing Street
London
SW1A 2AA

Dear Mr Tony Blair,

I am writing to you to express my concern at recent developments consisting of your support for an organisation with disconcerting links to Israel. TotallyJewish.Com reported that you will be launching the United Jewish Israel Appeal's (UJIA) Campaign For Our Children at the organisation's annual dinner on 15 January 2001. The report indicates that "the prime minister has actively supported the charity… since lending his name to the UJIA Blair Fellowship Programme in 1998”. The new Campaign For Our Children by UJIA quite specifically plans to "aid the influx of immigrant children to Israel.” (Richard Ferrer, 'Blair Backs UJIA Appeal', TotallyJewish.Com, 29 December 2000) Our concern relates to the fact that your current stance conveys a pro-Israel bias which will prevent the British Government from acting with justice in the Middle East, thus ignoring Palestinian rights recognised under international law.

The UJIA has a long record of support for the Israeli regime. Indeed, the Jewish Agency - with which the UJIA has organised many programmes - was responsible for establishing the alternative Zionist government in British mandate Palestine, which became the State of Israel. Both the UJIA and its partner, the Jewish Agency, are long-term supporters of Israeli Zionism. The UJIA, formerly known as the British Olim Society, was founded by the Zionist Federation (ZF) of Great Britain and Ireland "to assist in the integration of British Olim” into Israeli society. The Zionist Federation itself further admits that the UJIA is a "Zionist organisation” established by members of the ZF. In particular, the UJIA has frequently organised programmes related to the consolidation of Israel's illegal settlement policy in accordance with its Aliya project - according to the Israeli Embassy in Britain, the word Aliya "means immigration to Israel”.

According to a report in the Jewish Agency's weekly bulletin, the Global Jewish Agenda, describing the nature of such UJIA campaigns, "David Cohen and Jonathan Kestenbaum, who head the UJIA in the UK, have decided to continue to strengthen the special ties which have been created in recent years with settlements along Israel's northern border, based on reciprocal youth visits.” Dubi Bergman, head of the Jewish Agency's delegation in the United Kingdom reports that "in addition to helping the residents of the north of Israel, the aim of the UJIA is to strengthen the Zionist identity of youngsters in Britain.” Bergman also "emphasized that all the youth movements in Britain participate in the Jewish Agency's Israel Experience program and host youth from the border areas when they visit Britain.” Regarding the Jewish Agency's Israel Experience programme, which the latest UJIA campaign will be organised in partnership with, it "is designed to utilize the visit to Israel to raise Jewish and Zionist identity among the younger generation in the Diaspora.” (Global Jewish Agenda, Vol. I, No. 18, 18 May 2000)

It is therefore highly inappropriate to promote the UJIA's programmes to support Israel and Israeli settlements, amidst the regime's ongoing illegal occupation of Palestinian territories; war crimes against Palestinian children and civilians; illegal expansion of settlements both within Israel and the Occupied Territories; and institutionalisation of anti-Arab apartheid. Indeed, your promotion of a Zionist organisation which regularly raises millions of pounds for the Israeli apartheid regime (London Jewish News, 16 June 2000) appears to signify your clearly partisan pro-Israeli stance in relation to the Middle East crisis. This picture of the Government's pro-Israel bias is intensified in light of the fact that your own special envoy to the Middle East, Lord Michael Levy, is also an unashamed Zionist and a staunch supporter of Israel. As many have already expressed to both the Foreign Secretary Robin Cook and Minister of State Peter Hain, Lord Levy's Zionist connections and involvement in Israeli affairs make him an inappropriate envoy. I am sure you are aware that at the beginning of December last year, a campaign for solidarity with Israeli action in the current crisis published a call for pro-Israeli activism from the Jewish community in the Jewish Chronicle. One of the forty reasons cited in the advertisement, that British Zionists need not do anything in Israel is that "Lord Levy is protecting our interests.” (Jewish Chronicle, 1 December 2000, p. 29, reason no. 33)

In relation to the UJIA, it is particularly inappropriate for the British Prime Minister to be promoting a Zionist body whose intent is to "aid the influx of immigrant children to Israel” (TotallyJewish.Com, 29 December 2000). Your support of the policy of sending yet more immigrants to settle in Israel while the regime continues to illegally expand settlements both within and beyond its official borders - very often by ruthlessly demolishing Palestinian homes by the hundred - hardly illustrates the British Government's condemnation of Israel's illegal settlement policy. On the contrary, your current promotion of the UJIA demonstrates the Government's support of this policy. Most critically, it is most surprising to see that while you are effectively promoting Israel's illegal settlement policy, you have conspicuously failed to promote the indigenous Palestinian's right of return to their own homeland recognised by international law under UN General Assembly Resolution 194. There are at least 3,469,109 Palestinian refugees (UNRWA, January 1998), including 1,308,438 in the territories (548,874 in the West Bank and 759,564 in Gaza), who were forcibly expelled by Israeli forces - helped on their way by occasional massacres - now living in squalid conditions of Israeli-imposed apartheid. As Professor Anita Shapira of the Department of History at Tel Aviv University observes, "The [Israeli] Law of Return gave preference to any Jew born in Britain or Morocco over an Arab born in Jaffa and driven into exile as a result of the 1948 war… Arab settlements have been short-changed and discriminated against for decades.” (Anita Shapira, 'Jewish identity, Israeli identity', JPR Newsletter, Institute for Jewish Policy Research, Spring 2000) It seems that the British Government is supporting this discrimination by ignoring the Palestinian right of return while promoting Israel's illegal settlement policy.

As the Israeli daily Ha'aretz records in a report which is worth quoting here extensively, Israel's settlement policy is bound up with its institutionalisation of apartheid both within Israel and in the Occupied Territories: "More than seven years have gone by, and Israel has security and administrative control of 61.2 percent of the West Bank, and about 20 percent of the Gaza Strip (Area C), and security control over another 26.8 percent of the West Bank (Area B). This control is what has enabled Israel to double the number of settlers in 10 years, to enlarge the settlements, to continue its discriminatory policy of cutting back water quotas for three million Palestinians, to prevent Palestinian development in most of the area of the West Bank, and to seal an entire nation into restricted areas, imprisoned in a network of bypass roads meant for Jews only. During these days of strict internal restriction of movement in the West Bank, one can see how carefully each road was planned: So that 200,000 Jews have freedom of movement, about three million Palestinians are locked into their Bantustans until they submit to Israeli demands. Israel has failed the test. Palestinian control of 12 percent of the West Bank does not mean that Israel has given up its attitude of superiority and domination. Israel has proven that it does not envisage a peace based on the principles of equality of nations and of men. It has continued its official policy of 'tower and stockade' (the method of building Jewish settlements overnight during the British Mandate period, to defy official British policy against building and to extend the borders of the future Jewish state), in order to extend the permanent borders and to ensure maximum control over most of the Land of Israel, and has relied on the Palestinian security apparatus and the Fatah to continue to keep things quiet.” (Amira Hass, 'Israel has failed the test', Ha'aretz, 18 October 2000)

You must surely be aware that annexations, expulsions and the creation of settlements are specifically prohibited by international law. The Fourth Geneva Convention, in Article 47, prohibits the annexation of occupied territory, and the United Nations has repeatedly condemned Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem and a wide belt of surrounding suburbs, villages and towns. Article 49 of the same convention prohibits the forcible transfer or deportation of residents from an occupied area, regardless of motive. And yet thousands of Palestinians have been expelled, their homes demolished to rubble to make way for settlers to build their own houses (see Ann Mosely Lesch, 'Israeli settlements in the occupied territories, 1967-1977', Journal of Palestnine Studies 30, Winter 1979, p. 113-130, for a partial list of "officially deported” Palestinians). Article 49 also forbids the transfer by an occupying Power of any of its civilian population into occupied areas. And yet during the 1980s alone, over 90,000 Israeli Jews have been officially "settled” within the illegally-annexed Jerusalem district, and more than 30,000 others have been "settled” in some 100 nahals (military forts), villages and even towns that the Israeli Government has authorised, planned, financed and built in unannexed zones beyond the 1949 ceasefire line. The vast majority - at least 70 per cent - of all immigrants who have "settled” in the occupied areas actually live in the zone illegally annexed to Israel on 28 June 1967.

Israel's illegal settlement policy has only escalated since then. As another Ha'aretz report points out, "readers of the Palestinian papers get the impression (and rightly so) that activity in the settlements never stops. Israel is constantly building, expanding and reinforcing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza. Israel is always grabbing homes and lands in areas beyond the 1967 lines” in violation of UN Resolutions - "and of course, this is all at the expense of the Palestinians, in order to limit them, push them into a corner and then out. In other words, the goal is to eventually dispossess them of their homeland and their capital, Jerusalem.” (Danny Rubenstein, Ha'aretz, 23 October 2000)

In this context, IHRC calls upon the British Government to uphold the principles of international law by condemning Israel's illegal settlement policy and by ceasing British support and promotion of that policy. This necessarily includes ceasing your support of the UJIA campaign. As long as the British Government continues to approach the Middle East crisis through lenses tinted with Zionism, it will continue to sideline the rights of the indigenous Palestinians toiling under Israeli occupation and repression, in the name of other strategic and economic interests in the Middle East. If the British Government is serious about peace, it should cease its diplomatic, military and financial support of Israel; call upon Israel to cease its illegal occupation of all Palestinian territories and expansion of settlements therein; pressure Israel to recognise the human, social, economic and political rights of indigenous Palestinians. Severing all forms of support for Israel's illegal settlement programme is an integral part of this.

Yours sincerely


Massoud Shadjareh
Chairman




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