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Israel’s restrictions hinders UK’s development work in OPT

August 7, 2014 at 4:19 pm

In a report on the UK’s development work in the occupied territories (OPTs), the international development committee (IDC) argues that Israel’s policies – which include restrictions on building, access to water, and trade, are not fully justified by Israel’s security concerns, and may in fact make the security situation worse.

Although the IDC, made up of a cross-party group of British MPs, recognizes Israel’s “legitimate security concerns” following recent events and rocket attacks from Gaza, it does not believe that “all the present arrangements, notably those which affect travel and trade are proportionate.”

“We saw Israel taking a range of actions that hinder Palestinian economic development and must, at the very least, cause deep resentment on the Palestinian side, even amongst the most moderate and pragmatic people, and so will actually worsen Israel’s own security,” the report read.

It also said that the restrictions in the OPT could not wait for a peace agreement and the stalling of the peace process should not prevent the UK from encouraging the removal of these restrictions “which are not justified on security grounds.”

While IDC noted their main role was to examine the effectiveness of the Department for International Development’s (DfID) programs- the official development aid arm of the UK government, and not to comment on foreign policy- it said that it is impossible to consider DfID’s work in the OPTs entirely separately from political considerations: one of the rationales for the OPT bilateral programme is to keep the peace process and two state solution alive.

DfID spent £87.7 million on its Palestinian program in 2012–13. The programs focus on three areas: state building, wealth creation and poverty and livelihoods.

In 2013, Israel received around £8bn in the form of 400 arms licenses from the UK. A report by a British arms export controls parliamentary committee shows that the arms Israel received included combat drones, F-16 and Apache fighter jets, which are un-doubtingly being used in the current Gaza offensive.

In 2009, David Miliband, then Foreign Secretary confirmed that Israeli equipment that had been used in Gaza in the 2008-9 conflict ‘almost certainly’ contained UK-supplied components. Since then successive UK has governments have licensed a further £50 million worth of arms to Israel.

The UK’s aid programs ring hollow when also supporting the Israeli military. Billions of dollars go towards sustaining an illegal occupation that continues to make a Palestinian State an impossible dream, and steals the resources and land of the Palestinian people ensuring poverty remains a reality.

The report shows that the barriers Israel places on the OPT works directly against the stated aims of the DfID bilateral aid program.

More than 3,000 current export licenses for arms and military equipment worth more than £12bn have been approved for 27 countries classified by the Foreign Office as “of concern” because of their poor human rights record. In many of these countries, the UK also delivers aid to those who suffer as a result of these records.