Five point action plan for political advocacy in the UK on Palestine around reconstruction

Posted on 31 August 2014

Palestinians don’t need endless rounds of talks, or talks about talks: they want action.

Regardless of the ‘symbolic’ nature of the UK parliament’s vote to recognise Palestine, it is still a significant step in the political establishment’s attitude towards Palestine. Now, more than ever, individuals and organisations need to work hard at the political level to ensure that Palestine remains an issue that needs to be addressed, and that MPs and government departments are regularly and repeatedly receiving questions from their constituents on the subject.

Below are five points that campaigning organisations and individuals should be using in all discussions and correspondence with their political representatives in support of the Palestinian people. This is written as UK-specific because the UK government, through DFID, will likely play a leading role in co-ordinating Western-backed operations for the reconstruction of Gaza. The five point action plan relies on international law and the UK’s responsibility as a signatory of the IV Geneva Convention.

I would urge all civil society organisations and individuals in the UK to read this, share it and help implement it as a campaign.

There is a general election in the UK next year, let’s work now to make Palestine a key issue for MPs, especially the issue of the Blockade. And if thousands of us demand action on the following points, we will be presenting the government with a cohesive, structured advocacy campaign that might actually result in action. Working together with one voice is far more effective than working alone and without a clear direction.

These five points are written to complement the AIDA policy paper: Reconstructing Gaza: Five Principles for Transformative Change.

1   Demand Israel pays for the damage it caused

Israel (the ‘perpetrator’) must be held accountable, meaning, that UK taxpayers should not pay for Israel’s destruction of Gaza—Israel should. Taxpayers financially support the UK’s international development work through DFID and any UK assistance in the rebuilding efforts would be doen through this channel. We should therefore demand that Israel reimburses all of DFID’s costs. The UK government should send an itemised assessment, in effect a bill, to the Israeli government. The bill should clearly state that the UK government is issuing it as part of third-state responsibility to ensure accountability and prevent impunity for international law violations. Third party states must also take all measures to prevent (and deter) further violations, meaning, by making Israel pay for its violations, may deter Israel from bombing these UK-funded structures again. The UK is obligated as a third state party to the IV Geneva Convention to demand from the violator to pay compensation.

2   Demand that the UK government publishes details of all destroyed and damaged projects

UK taxpayers have the right to know what the UK funds in Palestine Government funding of overseas projects must be transparent. Part of the fulfillment of that right, is the obligation of the UK government to make public the complete list of all UK-funded projects destroyed and/or damaged and/or setback and/or delayed by Israel’s war on Gaza. This should also apply to the West Bank and East Jerusalem demolitions. This includes DFID funding of INGO’s who partner with local NGO’s, not just direct DFID funding.

3   Demand a ‘Gaza’ tax on all Israeli goods imported to the UK/Europe to be used for Gaza’s reconstruction

Accountability includes also guarantees of reparation for the victims by the perpetrator meaning that if Israel refuses to pay for the damages or for DFID’s reconstruction projects, then the UK and EU should not step in and use our tax money. Instead, they should impose a Gaza reconstruction tax, assessment or a fee on all Israeli imports. The fees collected will go towards a Gaza Reconstruction Fund. Further research into UK and EU trade laws is needed to develop this further.

4   Demand that Palestinians rebuild Gaza, not Israel

Assistance must be geared at local economic empowerment, meaning that DFID projects should be aimed at empowering the local Palestinian economy (local means all of Palestine). Israel should not profit from its violations, ie, its markets should be excluded from or be of last resort for providing materials for reconstruction projects.

5   Demand the blockade is lifted, open the international seaport

Third parties are obligated not to render assistance that accommodates an illegal action, meaning that the Gaza reconstruction materials should not be imported solely through the Israeli controlled crossing that sustains the blockade. For the last seven years, UK has demanded that its assistance projects effectively “abide” by Israel’s blockade- obligating projects to import their materials solely by  Israel’s crossing and its restricted rates of imports. This has just perpetuated the blockade. Ending the blockade means ending Israeli control of all imports and exports. The current paradigm needs to be changed through international political action: Gaza needs an autonomous crossing not controlled by Israel, for example, an international seaport. The EU proposal for a Cyprus corridor is a good first start and should be supported by the UK and EU.

12 responses to Five point action plan for political advocacy in the UK on Palestine around reconstruction

  • Sylvia Finzi says:

    Thank you for this very clear and well researched proposal

  • Dr Brian Robinson says:

    I’m currently in correspondence with my MP, Iain Stewart, and he has agreed to my lobbying him, although not on 9th Sept as he will be away from Westminster, but on a date to be agreed. I am considering using this as a talking point with him because, although our correspondence has been very civil and amicable, we’re actually poles apart on this and many other issues. He’s a member of Conservative Friends of Israel, so something like this might well appeal to him.

    • georgina says:

      good luck! i hope these points prove useful. following the groundswell of support for palestine, many people have been asking me what can we do outside palestine that might make a difference. political pressure is vital, and i wanted to provide some strong and succinct points which are difficult to argue against.

  • Rachel Lever says:

    1. Britain has further responsibility on account of its diplomatic support for Israel’s Gaza action and repetition of Israel’s insupportable plea of “right to self-defence”. I think it should pay a price for that stance.

    2. I do like the proposal of the UK taxing Israeli imports to pay for the damage, with the proviso that full trade sanctions on Israel would be far better.

    4.& 5. Should mention employing Palestinian labour, at proper rates of pay, which should reduce the high unemployment rates and keep reconstruction money circulating within the Palestinian economy. If this includes labour from the West Bank, that will help to end Gaza’s isolation and the fragmentation of the Palestinian people, and should be used to establish freedom of movement for both Gaza and the West Bank.

    • georgina says:

      Hi Rachel. Theses five points are intended to be clear and succinct, based on international law, enabling individuals to lobby their MPs and ministers effectively. The detail can be developed in conversations with the appropriate people. Feel free to add your points to any correspondence you send if you wish. I hope you get a positive response.

  • anne power says:

    sounds very thorough, and clearly extremely important for a more egalitarian world order.

  • anne power says:

    will write to John Leech my MP shortly.

    • georgina says:

      thanks, anne. i really hope you get a response. we’re planning to issue this as an online petition to the government soon, so watch this space!! mobilising the electorate is vital in effecting political change. thanks for reading and taking action.

  • Ham Sangar says:

    Brilliant in design and compassionate towards the victims of this brutal occupation, siege and slaughter. It also provides a serious disincentive for future trigger happy bombings! Finally, the plan is Clear and suffiently detailed for implementation. Well done! Thank you,

  • carol says:

    i will write to my MP this weekend. she will be stepping down at the next election so i will also approach the councillor who will be standing in her place next year. this is really useful georgie. thanks

  • Diana says:

    Hi Georgina this is exactly what I wanted. I have sent this to my MP but unfortunately I have no confidence in him. Meantime I am circulating it around to others who may have more luck than me. Thanks again

    • georgina says:

      thanks so much, diana. i’m very glad to have your support. i think the more people who keep repeating the same message to the government can have an impact. gaza is no longer on our screens, but hundreds of thousands remain displaced and homeless. it’s chaos there. winter in approaching, i am so very worried.

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