UK slammed for silence over policies of new Israeli govt

UK slammed for silence over policies of new Israeli govt
The UK government is being urged to speak out against Israel’s “clear and incredibly overt move” from a policy of occupation to full annexation of Palestinian territory. (Reuters/File)
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Updated 12 January 2023
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UK slammed for silence over policies of new Israeli govt

UK slammed for silence over policies of new Israeli govt
  • Govt ‘most extreme’ in Israel’s history, Council for Arab-British Understanding director tells Arab News
  • Amid deteriorating situation for Palestinians, Britain held trade talks with Israel this week

LONDON: The UK government is being urged to speak out against Israel’s “clear and incredibly overt move” from a policy of occupation to full annexation of Palestinian territory.
Speaking to Arab News, the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding described Israel’s new coalition government as the “most extreme” in its history.
“This new Israeli government is threatening to ride roughshod over both international law and Israel’s own domestic laws,” said Chris Doyle.
“It’s laying out a core program of brazenness and bigotry going far beyond what has ever been seen before, with an ambitious escalation of its settlement-building program moving from a policy of occupation to one of full annexation.”
Amid the deteriorating situation for Palestinians, the UK held trade talks with Israel this week.
The first ministerial-level visit since Israel’s new government took office saw British Foreign Office Minister Lord Ahmad engage in discussions focused on a new trade deal and what the BBC described as “regional security issues.”
Lord Ahmad met Foreign Minister Eli Cohen and Economy Minister Nik Barkat just weeks after the UK voted against a UN General Assembly resolution referring Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories to the International Court of Justice.
Doyle said: “Given the policies and views of this new Israeli government, it’s outrageous that the British are considering a business-as-usual approach, not least in cybersecurity.
“The technology is being used to spy on Palestinian human rights groups’ and restrict their ability to operate, and this has been allowed to persist because of a climate of impunity that has resulted in the highest death toll in the West Bank since 2005.”
As part of the coalition agreement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to retroactively legalize settler outposts and promised to annex the occupied West Bank.
The agreement also saw the appointment of West Bank settler and Religious Zionism leader Bezalel Smotrich to oversee the office responsible for approving settlement building and controls on aspects of Palestinians’ lives.
Another settler, and leader of the ultranationalist Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party Itamar Ben-Gvir has been appointed national security minister with responsibility for the police.
Ben-Gvir was convicted of racism and supporting a terrorist organization, and previously called for the expulsion of “disloyal” Arabs and for the shooting of Palestinians who threw stones at Israeli security forces.
British Labour Party peer Lord Dubs said “putting Ben-Gvir in charge of national security is highly alarming because his record is awful,” questioning Netanyahu’s capacity to control him.
Doyle said: “Previous governments have tried to dress up their illegal activities through a liberal outward approach, but this one is carrying out these acts with evermore zeal and not even seeking to cover it up.
“Failure to hold them accountable only emboldens them, allowing them to get away with it. The bear minimum we expect from our government is to speak out rather than remain quiet.”