Thank you to everyone who has contacted me about the military trial, detention and treatment of Palestinian children by Israeli authorities.
Some of you have asked me to sign EDM 1724, which unfortunately I cannot do due to my shadow ministerial role. However, I am happy to set out my thoughts below.
I share concerns about Israel’s military justice and detention system in the West Bank and Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention. According to international law, administrative detention should be used only when security makes it absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. Israeli authorities must comply with their obligations under international law and either charge or release detainees.
Israeli authorities should also fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of human rights defenders and organisations, including in relation to protests. This must include respecting obligations under international law, in particular the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the international Convention on the Rights of the Child. As a bare minimum of protection, no child – in Palestine or anywhere else in the world – should be subjected to physical or psychological violence.
I have serious concerns about the continued reports of ill-treatment of Palestinian children in Israeli military detention. A recent report by Save the Children showed that the behaviour of Israeli forces is totally unacceptable, with most of the children they interviewed suffering physical and emotional abuse in detention.
The UK cannot be a passive observer when it comes to events in the occupied Palestinian territories and the UK Government should press the Israeli authorities to end violations and injustices suffered by Palestinians when in contact with Israeli authorities. Without an insistence on basic protections for the rights of Palestinians, I believe it will only be harder to make the progress we all want to see towards a long term, sustainable peace in the Middle East.
I would also like the UK Government to encourage and support the creation of a new climate in Israel and Palestine, conducive to securing a lasting peace. I believe the UK Government should therefore support projects that promote coexistence. Only when Palestinians and Israelis have an ongoing dialogue, when they live and work together and engage in reconciliation, can there be a firm basis for a permanent peace.