LONDON: A cross-party coalition of over 80 British MPs has urged the UK’s foreign secretary to impose consequences on Israel if hundreds of planned evictions of Palestinian families go ahead.
About 200 families in East Jerusalem are in immediate danger of being dispossessed of their homes following a legal battle waged against them by settler associations.
“This would amount to the forcible / mass eviction and dispossession of hundreds of Palestinian families,” read the letter sent to Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab.
“As you are well aware, the forcible transfer of an occupied population is a grave violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention,” it added.
“Israeli settlers as well as government and municipality officials speak openly about wishing to control the demographics of the city. Any actions by the occupying power to alter Jerusalem’s character, status or demographic composition are illegal under international law.”
The MPs urged the British government to “put a stop to the forcible transfer of families from their homes in occupied East Jerusalem.”
They also suggested potential consequences that the government should impose if the evictions go ahead, including “reducing diplomatic engagement and banning trade in settlement products in full conformity with international law.” The letter added: “Settlements are illegal so such a step is not a sanction.”
Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, told Arab News that he welcomed the letter.
It “highlights a significant degree of parliamentary concern over Israeli practices in the occupied territories,” he said.
“It’s clearly an outrage that Israel continues to engage in forcible dispossession whilst at the same time building and expanding on illegal settlements and the dispossession of Palestinian land. It’s all part of a larger process that goes unaddressed.”
On Friday, the Hague-based International Criminal Court (ICC) ruled that it has jurisdiction over war crimes committed in the occupied Palestinian territories.
This ruling, Doyle said, “highlights the grave consequences that could, down the line, hit those senior Israeli officials and ministers who authorize such crimes.”
He added: “Israel has for a long time been able to act with the knowledge that it had the full backing of the US, and that therefore there wouldn’t be any accountability — but who knows, further down the line this may change.”
While the ICC ruling may influence future Israeli policy, Doyle said Raab could do a lot more right now to uphold international law.
“The Palestinians are tired of just hearing the same old copy-paste press releases. There really should be some stronger action, which could include a ban on trade with illegal settlements,” he added.
“This would ram home to Israeli leaders that there are consequences for illegal actions — that’s the whole fundamental basis for international law.”