UK funding legal aid to Palestinians whose homes under demolition threat
search

The latest Jewish News

Read this week’s digital edition

Click Here

UK funding legal aid to Palestinians whose homes under demolition threat

British government 'called into question Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution', in wake of its assistance through the £1.26 billion Conflict, Stability and Security Fund

Israeli forces destroy a building in a Palestinian village of Sur Baher, east Jerusalem, Monday, July 22, 2019. . (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)
Israeli forces destroy a building in a Palestinian village of Sur Baher, east Jerusalem, Monday, July 22, 2019. . (AP Photo/Mahmoud Illean)

The British Government is funding legal aid to Palestinians whose homes are at risk of demolition as it “called into question Israel’s commitment to a two-state solution”.

It follows news in recent weeks that Israeli authorities have confiscated tents in the West Bank and bulldozed Palestinian-owned homes in East Jerusalem, prompting even pro-Israel MPs to vent their anger in a Parliamentary motion two weeks ago.

The legal aid and settlement monitoring programme is part-funded through the UK’s £1.26 billion cross-governmental Conflict, Stability and Security Fund, which draws on lessons learned from the Iraq Inquiry.

Among the recent CSSF-funded projects is the strengthening of the Lebanese Armed Forces, to help them secure the country’s border with Syria, to Israel’s north.

The legal aid programme which helps Palestinians whose homes are at-risk of demolition is run through the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC), and the UK Government said supporting these families was the “right” thing to do.

“The UK is a strong friend of Israel but our concerns about demolitions and evictions of Palestinians from their homes are long-standing and well-known,” a Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) spokeswoman said.

“We believe it is right that Palestinians should be supported to appeal these decisions through the Israeli legal system because they cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, call into question Israel’s commitment to a viable two-state solution and, in all but the most exceptional of cases, are contrary to international humanitarian law.”

The NRC supported the Temporary International Presence in Hebron (TIPH) until its 20-year mandate was withdrawn by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in February this year. The Government said the NRC was “an experienced and trusted partner”.

The organisation uses Israeli lawyers to provide legal representation to Palestinians from East Jerusalem and the West Bank who are “vulnerable to displacement, land confiscation, settlement expansion, settler attacks, and denial of planning rights”.

The CSSF budget for “information, counselling and legal assistance for the protection of Palestinians affected by or at risk of forced displacement” is currently £2.4 million over a four-year period. The Department for International Development has also supported similar programmes since 2010.

The Government said the NRC abided by the “core humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence,” adding: “They have robust controls to prevent any diversion of aid to non-state armed groups, particularly those groups or individuals designated as terrorists by the UN Security Council.”

In the House of Lords, Foreign and Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Ahmad said: “The UK is focused on preventing demolitions from happening in the first place through our funding to the Norwegian Refugee Council legal aid programme which helps residents challenge decisions in the Israeli legal system.”

The UK, France, Germany and Spain all signed a statement late last month “strongly condemning” the demolition by Israel of buildings in the district of Wadi al Hummus.

Ahmad said: “We remain seriously concerned by the continued demolition of Palestinian property by Israeli authorities… The practice causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and is harmful to the peace process.”

Support your Jewish community. Support your Jewish News

Thank you for helping to make Jewish News the leading source of news and opinion for the UK Jewish community. Today we're asking for your invaluable help to continue putting our community first in everything we do.

Unlike other Jewish media, we do not charge for content. That won’t change. Because we are free, we rely on advertising to cover our costs. This vital lifeline, which has dropped in recent years, has fallen further due to coronavirus.

For as little as £5 a month you can help sustain the vital work we do in celebrating and standing up for Jewish life in Britain.

Jewish News holds our community together and keeps us connected. Like a synagogue, it’s where people turn to feel part of something bigger. It also proudly shows the rest of Britain the vibrancy and rich culture of modern Jewish life.

You can make a quick and easy one-off or monthly contribution of £5, £10, £20 or any other sum you’re comfortable with.

100% of your donation will help us continue celebrating our community, in all its dynamic diversity...

Engaging

Being a community platform means so much more than producing a newspaper and website. One of our proudest roles is media partnering with our invaluable charities to amplify the outstanding work they do to help us all.

Celebrating

There’s no shortage of oys in the world but Jewish News takes every opportunity to celebrate the joys too, through projects like Night of Heroes, 40 Under 40 and other compelling countdowns that make the community kvell with pride.

Pioneering

In the first collaboration between media outlets from different faiths, Jewish News worked with British Muslim TV and Church Times to produce a list of young activists leading the way on interfaith understanding.

Campaigning

Royal Mail issued a stamp honouring Holocaust hero Sir Nicholas Winton after a Jewish News campaign attracted more than 100,000 backers. Jewish News also produces special editions of the paper highlighting pressing issues including mental health and Holocaust remembrance.

Easy access

In an age when news is readily accessible, Jewish News provides high-quality content free online and offline, removing any financial barriers to connecting people.

Voice of our community to wider society

The Jewish News team regularly appears on TV, radio and on the pages of the national press to comment on stories about the Jewish community. Easy access to the paper on the streets of London also means Jewish News provides an invaluable window into the community for the country at large.

We hope you agree all this is worth preserving.

read more:
comments