UK rejects Israel ‘apartheid’ label in new trade and security pact


The UK government has agreed to oppose the use of “apartheid” to describe Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians as part of a new “strategic partnership” between the two countries.

In an agreement signed in London on Tuesday, the UK government pledged to combat “anti-Israel bias” in international institutions, including at the United Nations Human Rights Council.

British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen agreed to the agreement, which was signed ahead of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s visit on Friday.

The agreement, entitled “2030 Roadmap for UK-Israel Bilateral Relations”, is mainly aimed at deepening “economic, security and technological links” between the two countries and working together to combat the “scourge of anti-Semitism ” and the geopolitical issues facing the region, including the influence of Iran.

“As we approach the 75th anniversary of the relationship between the UK and Israel, our Guidance will allow us to take full advantage of the opportunities in areas of mutual interest, including technology, trade and security,” Cleverly said, in comments after after the publication of the report.

‘It is remarkable and remarkable that the UK government is pushing ahead with this now, given that we are really on the brink of the worst constitutional crisis ever’

– Yair Wallach, researcher

“The UK and Israel also stand together, defiant against Iran’s malign influence in the region, and against the wider scourge of antisemitism.”

The agreement included a commitment to “combat the disproportionate focus on Israel in the UN and other international bodies, including efforts to delegate or deny it its right to self-defense”.

He said: “The UK and Israel will work together to fight Israel’s accession to the Human Rights Council and other international bodies. In this context, the UK and Israel disagree with the use of the term ‘apartheid’ in relation to Israel. .”

A number of human rights groups, including B’tselem, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have concluded in recent years – following similar statements by Israeli and Palestinian activists – that the term may apply to a situation Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

Last year, Michael Lynk, the UN special rapporteur for human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, who reports to the Human Rights Council, said in a report that the treatment of Palestinians “meets the prevailing evidentiary standard of apartheid be there”.

The agreement added that the UK opposed a request by the United Nations General Assembly to the International Court of Justice for an opinion on Israel’s actions in the occupied Palestinian territories, saying it “undermines efforts to reach a settlement through direct negotiations between the parties, which still exists. the only viable path to lasting peace.”

The UK government also expressed its opposition to “Boycotts, Distaste and Sanctions [sic] campaign”, an apparent reference to the BDS Movement which seeks to pressure Israel to comply with international law in the occupied territories.

The agreement said: “Such campaigns are at odds with UK government policy, and not only unfairly single out Israel and undermine efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian dialogue and reconciliation, but can they contribute to the alarming rise of anti-Semitism in the United Kingdom. Committed to ending such campaigns by public bodies, including through legislation.”

The press release accompanying the report added that Cleverly would raise the issue of rising violence in Israel and the occupied West Bank, where at least 86 Palestinians and 13 Israelis have been killed since the beginning of the year.

Yair Wallach, a senior lecturer in Israeli studies at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in London, said it was “significant” that the UK decided to sign the agreement at a time when Israel was caught up in turmoil over the efforts of the limit governments. the power of the judiciary.

“It is remarkable that the UK government is now pushing ahead with this, given that we are really on the brink of the worst constitutional crisis ever. [in Israel],” he told Middle East Eye.

He noted that some of Israel’s other traditional allies had distanced themselves from the new Israeli government, including figures from the far right of the Jewish settler movement who called for the “destruction” of Palestinian villages “.

“The relatively muted and cautious note that Netanyahu received in Berlin and Paris and that he has not been invited to the White House is amazing … that they choose to push forward at the moment,” said.

MEE contacted the Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) for comment on the deal, but had not received a response at the time of publication.

‘International legitimacy’

Israel is currently suffering from a political crisis that has pitted Netanyahu’s far-right government against civil society, academia and the country’s business elite, as well as former government ministers and military figures.

Proposed government reforms would allow lawmakers to overturn supreme court rulings with a simple majority vote, among other changes

The prime minister himself is currently on trial for corruption, and the amendments could enable him to avoid conviction or have his case dismissed.

Netanyahu’s visit to London is expected to spark protests, over the government’s continued repression of the Palestinians and the judicial reforms.

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Before the visit, more than 1,300 Israeli intellectuals and artists signed a letter asking the British government not to “cooperate” with Netanyahu and not to hand him over “ininternational legitimacy.”

Writers David Grossman and Dorit Rabinian, filmmakers Amos Gitai and Uri Barbash and artist Tamar Geter were among the signatories, along with many other academics, researchers and lawyers.

“During this state of emergency, which is tearing apart the army, the police and civil society, Netanyahu wants to meet. with Western leaders to create a demonstration of international legitimacy for their rule,” read the letter, published on Tuesday.

“We appeal to all Democrats in Britain and they are called upon to publicly support the decisive struggle of democratic Israel.”

Fears are also growing that there could be a wider outbreak of violence in April when Passover, Passover and Ramadan all overlap.

CIA director William Burns recently said that current tensions in the West Bank bear an “uncomfortable resemblance” to the Second Intifada.

The threat of an uncontrolled outbreak of violence has prompted Jordan, Egypt and the US to initiate de-escalation efforts in recent months, but it remains unclear whether they will be able to contain the violence amid continued Israeli attacks.

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