Israel’s racist, war-mongering prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, is due to visit the United Kingdom in September 2015. On the UK Parliament petitions website there is a petition asking the Government to have him arrested on suspicion of war crimes when he arrives. At the time of writing it has almost 75,000 signatures, and the number is rapidly increasing.
THE US GOVERNMENT’S RESPONSE TO THE PETITION AGAINST NETANYAHU
Today the Government responded in writing. Here in full is its written response.
Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.
The British Government has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as head of the Israeli Government, to visit the UK in September. Under UK and international law, certain holders of high-ranking office in a State, including Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ministers for Foreign Affairs are entitled to immunity, which includes inviolability and complete immunity from criminal jurisdiction.
We recognise that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll. As the Prime Minister said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the UK has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However the Prime Minister was clear on the UK’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. We condemn the terrorist tactics of Hamas who fired rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires. Israel, like any state, has the right to ensure its own security, as its citizens also have the right to live without fear of attack.
The UK consistently urged Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint, and to help find ways to bring the situation to an end. The UK continues to urge the parties to give priority to reaching a durable solution for Gaza which addresses the underlying drivers of conflict, and to take the necessary practical steps to ensure Gaza’s reconstruction and economic recovery.
We welcome the fact that Israel is conducting internal investigations into specific incidents during Operation Protective Edge. Where there is evidence of wrongdoing those responsible must be held accountable whatever their position in society. Both parties must also demonstrate robust and credible internal investigations which are in line with international standards. We have also encouraged the Israeli authorities, as we do all countries, to cooperate with the independent Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the preliminary examination into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 13 June, 2014, whilst noting that Israel is not a State Party to the ICC.
The UK is a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation between our two countries across a range of fields. Our priority for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the achievement of a two-state solution, based on 1967 borders. We continue to believe that negotiations will be necessary in order to achieve this, and that both parties need to focus on steps that are conducive to peace. The UK Government will reinforce this message to Mr Netanyahu during his visit.
TRUTHS ABOUT THE UK AND ISRAEL
Yes, foreign government leaders enjoy a degree of immunity when travelling abroad. No, none of the UK Government’s response surprises me. But trusting Israel to investigate itself is absurd. The UK Government knows how evil Israel is. Therefore our government is being not naive but cynical.
As a UK citizen I am ashamed at the “excellent bilateral relationship” between my country and Israel. It began in 1956 with Israel, the UK and France illegally invading Egypt. It continues with UK supplying Israel with arms and other materiél, now including engines for drones. In 2003 Israel supported the US and UK illegal invasion of Iraq. UK and Israeli secret services share intelligence with each other. The UK has a permanent position on the UN Security Council, and has repeatedly used it to veto legitimate attempts to take international action Israel.
The UK Government pretends Israel had something that it calls “1967 borders”. The truth is that since Israel was created in 1967, it has never had borders. From 1949 to 1967 it had a set of cease-fire lines, agreed in a set of truces with Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria. None of these has ever been a border.
The UK Government pretends there can be “a two-state solution”. The truth is that no two-state settlement can ever be a solution. All of Israel is stolen Palestine, in which the League of Nations had mandated the UK in 1920 to help create a Palestinian state. Palestine had an Arab majority until 1948, when Zionist terrorists drove out the British administrators and ethnically cleansed three quarters of Palestine to create Israel.
In 1948, the Zionists who created Israel drove out at least 750,000 refugees. Their survivors and several million descendants live crowded into camps in the Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and in a global Palestinian diaspora. All have an legal Right of Return to the Palestine that Zionists stole.
Israel is an apartheid state that denies that right to them all. It is a thieving, murdering, lying, racist colony. It has illegal nuclear weapons. It has started or provoked wars with its Arab neighbours in 1948, 1956, 1967, 1973 and since. It and Egypt have illegally blockaded the Gaza strip since 2007. Israel has committed or enabled massacres, the biggest including the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps in 1982, and in the Gaza Strip in 2008–09 and 2014.
Since 1967 Israel has been illegally stealing land all over occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, evicted Palestinian residents and built illegal Israeli settlements. It is building an illegal apartheid wall inside the West Bank to make permanent that theft of land. It has reduced Palestinian territory in the West Bank to dozens of tiny, separated bantustans. It uses apartheid pass laws to restrict Palestinian movement between them, and between the West Bank and Israel. It has deliberately destroyed any prospect of a viable Palestinian state alongside a continuing Israel.
The State of Israel is a European colony in an Asian country. It has never had any moral legitimacy. No two-state settlement can ever be a solution. As with the end of South African apartheid in 1994, the false distinctions of different territories must be dissolved. The 1949 cease fire lines were unjust. The UN’s 1947 partition plan was unjust. The only settlement that can give justice to millions of oppressed or displaced Palestinians is the dissolution of apartheid Israel and creation of a single state with a Palestinian majority.
I do not expect any UK Government to support that. Even with Jeremy Corbyn as Prime Minister, the UK would continue to support the lost cause of a two-state settlement. But under such a leader, our Government would at last stop supporting Israel and start seeking the international sanctions necessary to bring Israeli apartheid and colonialism to an end.