UK needs Ukraine-style response to Israel's oppression of Palestinians: rights group

UK needs Ukraine-style response to Israel's oppression of Palestinians: rights group
Western governments must adhere to their own standards and implement international law to end Israel's apartheid against Palestinians, said several human rights groups at an event in London on Tuesday.
3 min read
01 June, 2022
International organisations and the public are becoming increasingly aware about Israeli crimes against the Palestinians [Getty]

International inaction on Israel's crimes against the Palestinians is because of a lack of political will among Western governments, senior representatives from several human rights organisations said on Tuesday.

The leaders of Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, Al Haq, Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN), and B’TSelem spoke about their findings at a panel discussion titled ‘Responding to Apartheid in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories; the UK’s obligations under international law’, hosted by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians in London.

They stressed the need for public support and awareness of Palestinians to put pressure on their governments to help end Israeli apartheid. 

The recognition of Israel's occupation as apartheid by the United Nations and human rights groups means that "states have an obligation to cooperate to end it", said Solomon Sacco, the Deputy Director of Law and Policy Programme at Amnesty International. 

“If our governments wanted this to end, it would not be that difficult,” he said.

DAWN's executive director Sarah Leah Whitson said that Israel is "exporting its "authoritarian tactics of repression to our countries" to punish its critics abroad.

"We've now entered a stage where our own governments [...] must choose between the interests of the Israeli government to preserve its impunity at all costs, and the interests - our cherished rights and freedoms - of their own citizens."

Shawan Jabarin, the executive director of Al Haq, said Western nations know well the situation on the ground, and should consistently implement their own standards across all conflicts and perpetrators of crimes against humanity.

He called out the hypocrisy of Western governments for sanctioning Russia for its invasion of Ukraine while ignoring Israel’s decades-long occupation. 

“When you look at the situation in Ukraine, I look at it as an opportunity [to raise awareness about Palestine] to push them, or at least to corner them, in front of their own people,” Jabarin told The New Arab

"[Western governments] are using all the things we have been calling for all the time - the right to self-determination, imposing sanctions, and not just at the economic level but at a diplomatic level against Russia."

All the panelists, however, stressed that there is hope in sight. 

"When you talk to lawyers and Western governments, there are no logical, legal, moral responses to our research. And that’s a very good place to be," Amnesty's Sacco told The New Arab.

"That doesn’t mean we have political will, and we have a long to go before we get political will - and that means campaigning, it means education, it means advocacy."

“It's a long struggle, but we will get there.”