Jeremy Corbyn blasts UK response to ‘flagrant illegality’ of Israeli Gaza killings

Posted On: 
15th May 2018

Jeremy Corbyn has hit out at the “wholly inadequate” response of the UK and other western governments to Israel’s “slaughter” of dozens of Palestinians amid Gaza protests.

Gaza Protesters and Israeli forces clashed on the Gaza border
Credit: 
PA Images

The Labour leader said ministers “cannot turn a blind eye to such wanton disregard for international law” as he called for Britain to review its arms sales to the country.

The Government implored Israel to show “greater restraint” in its effort to defend its borders after troops killed at least 55 Palestinians protesting on the day the new US embassy was opened in Jerusalem.

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The Foreign Office said that while the country had the right to shore up its frontier against protesters, “the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning”, in what has been the deadliest outbreak of violence in the region since the 2014 war.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said his military was acting in self-defence against Gaza's Islamist rulers, Hamas, who he said wanted to destroy Israel.

Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority's leader said the action represented a “massacre”, while the UN spoke of “outrageous human rights violations”.

Mr Corbyn said in a statement that action was needed “to hold those responsible to account”.

"This slaughter follows weeks of killings of Palestinian civilians demonstrating for their right to return, most of whom are refugees or the families of refugees," the Labour leader said.

“Coming on the day President Trump moved the US embassy to Jerusalem, it underlines the threat to peace posed by the continuing and intolerable injustices faced by the Palestinian people.

"The response from many western governments to this flagrant illegality, including our own – which bears a particular responsibility for a peaceful and just resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict – has been wholly inadequate.

“They should take a lead from Israeli peace and justice campaigners: to demand an end to the multiple abuses of human and political rights Palestinians face on a daily basis, the 11-year siege of Gaza, the continuing 50-year occupation of Palestinian territory and the ongoing expansion of illegal settlements.

Mr Corbyn added: "We cannot turn a blind eye to such wanton disregard for international law. That is why Labour is committed to reviewing UK arms sales to Israel while these violations continue.

"The international community must at last put its collective authority and weight behind achieving a lasting settlement that delivers peace, justice and security for both Israelis and Palestinians, who have waited so long to achieve their rights."

‘DESTRUCTIVE TO PEACE'

The UK Government said the violence in Gaza and the West Bank territories had been “shocking”, while the loss of life and the large number of injured Palestinians was “tragic". Ministers said it was “extremely worrying that the number of those killed continues to rise”.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office minister Alistair Burt said: “Such violence is destructive to peace efforts. We have been clear that the UK supports the Palestinians’ right to protest, but these protests must be peaceful.

“It is deplorable that extremist elements may have been seeking to exploit these protests for their own violent purposes. We will not waver from our support for Israel’s right to defend its borders.

“But the large volume of live fire is extremely concerning. We continue to implore Israel to show greater restraint."

He called on all sides to “show real leadership and courage, promote calm, refrain from inflaming tensions further, and show with renewed urgency that the path to a two-state solution is through negotiation and peace."