Tuesday, 20 September 2011

British conservative MPs get free trips to Middle East paid for by Israeli foreign office

From The Electronic Intifada

Could the Israeli government be buying favors from British members of parliament (MPs)?

I spent some time today wading through the register of financial interests for MPs from the Conservatives, the party of prime minister David Cameron. These showed that a number of them took part in a trip to the Middle East in early summer that was funded by Israel’s foreign ministry.

Declarations made by Chloe Smith, Aidan Burley, James Morris and Neil Parish cite estimates that the cost of their visit from 29 May to 3 June amounted to £1,548 ($2,429) each. They report that £574 of that sum came from the Israeli foreign ministry and the remaining £974 from an internal party group called Conservative Friends of Israel.

It is striking that the trip occurred at a time when Britain was in the process of changing its law on universal jurisdiction (the principle that a country may prosecute grave human rights abuses irrespective of where they occur) at the behest of Israel. In 2009, Tzipi Livni, Israel’s ex-foreign minister, chickened out of a trip to London because some political activists had sought a warrant for her arrest over Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s murderous assault on Gaza. Under a revised law that entered into force last week, new bureaucratic obstacles have been placed in the way of apprehending war criminals on British soil.

The Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), which organized the MPs’ trip, has been working diligently to have the universal jurisdiction law watered down to the liking of Israel’s politicians. And it is hard to believe that the fate of the new bill wasn’t discussed during the visit. more

Israeli forces fire on Arub refugee camp, clash with Beit Ummar villagers

AL-KHALIL, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation forces (IOF) fired at Palestinian citizens in Arub refugee camp in Al-Khalil and at Beit Ummar village to the north of the city on Tuesday, local sources reported.

They said that young men at the entrance to the refugee camp threw stones at the invading troops.

In the village, the IOF soldiers occupied a house that is under construction at a late night hour on Monday prompting clashes with neighbors and civilians in the vicinity. more

Palestinian and international activists launch campaign to monitor escalating settler attacks

NABI SALEH (AFP) -- Palestinian and international activists on Monday launched a campaign to monitor what they said are growing attacks on Palestinians and their property by Israeli settlers.

The campaign, launched by activists from the grassroots Palestinian Popular Committees, would see a group of volunteers documenting attacks by Jewish settlers, spokesman Jonathan Pollak told AFP.

"The idea is that groups of volunteers -- initially four -- will be on call, ready to quickly respond," Pollak said.

They would record evidence of any attacks or vandalism and make their footage and reporting available to media and rights groups, he said.

The campaign was launched after a recent surge in attacks following the Israeli army's demolition of homes in illegal settlement outposts and rising tension over the Palestinian bid for full UN membership.

In the past 10 days, mosques, cars and agricultural land have been vandalised in at least nine separate incidents blamed on Jewish settlers. more