We asked you to let us know what you thought of Foreign Office Minister’s response to our ‘Action Not Words’ campaign so we could feed your views back to the Foreign Office. We’ve now done this – thanks so much for your response.
Here is a summary of your replies:
In response to the question raised in the survey as to whether, in addition to the introduction of voluntary labelling guidelines and the steps taken to ensure that settlement goods do not enter the EU duty-free, the government should consider further measures:
An overwhelming majority (92.2%) expressed the view that the British Government should consider a ban on settlement goods.
It was noted in relation to labelling that there was a risk that settlement goods could be transported in bulk and re-packaged in a third country. Checks should be introduced to monitor such steps.
This was linked to a view that any engagement with Israel should be accompanied by a condemnation of the construction of settlements. A related view was that financial institutions and companies which were complicit in the construction and operation of settlements should be denied favourable status or access to contracts etc. It was suggested that the British Government should issue updated guidance to UK companies that they should not operate in settlements. (in line with UNHRC report recommendations http://www.ohchr.org/Documents/HRBodies/HRCouncil/RegularSession/Session19/FFM/FFMSettlements.pdf). A further related view was that any company which knowingly profited from the settlements should be prosecuted under international law.
The view was also expressed that selective non-military trade and other sanctions should be applied to Israel, linked to the dismantlement of settlements and a withdrawal of Israel to the Green Line. It was proposed by another contributor that sanctions should be at least as severe as those imposed on Iran. Another respondent suggested the EU should impose sanctions.
Linked to this was a view that any arrangement with Israel which involves it making financial contributions should be ended as this compromises the stance taken by the British Government and by the EU.
It was suggested that Israel should not be allowed to participate in the EU Community Programmes, which involve such contributions. This was linked to a view that any non-military research arrangement with Israel should have demonstrable benefits to Israelis and Palestinians alike. A further related view was that there should be no joint arrangements with Israel until it complied with all UN resolutions and ceased to break agreements.
Just under half (47.6%) favoured a downgrading of the EU-Israel Association Agreement while just over three quarters (76.5%) supported a complete suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
Almost two thirds (60.2%) thought that military sanctions should be applied to Israel. Among the individual responses, the view was expressed that there should be an embargo on arms trade with Israel. A related response was that there should be an embargo on military collaboration with Israel, including purchases, research, partnership agreements, funding from/to Israeli Universities for military research, joint training in Israel and UK. An arms embargo should be two-way and comprehensive.
Among the individual responses, a further view expressed was that the British Government should support any action taken to charge Israel with war crimes. This was linked to a view that those Israelis who are identified with war crimes should be denied entry into the UK, with the respondent adding that the British Government should support their prosecution in the International Criminal Court.
In response to the question raised in the survey as to whether, in response to the undertaking given by the Minister that the Government will make representations to the EU to outline concerns about Ahava – a cosmetics company based in an illegal settlement – receiving EU grants, respondents are pleased that the Minister is raising concerns about settlements at the EU:
An overwhelming majority (95.7%) stated that they were pleased. 1.2% indicated that they were not pleased while 3.1% stated that they were unsure.
In response to the question raised in the survey as to what other steps the British Government should take relating to research funding by the EU:
Among the individual responses, the view was expressed that all funding to Israel in relation to FP7 and other research programmes should be linked to compliance with the human rights clause of the EU-Israel Association Agreement.
A related view was that no research funding should be provided until Israel ceases the construction of settlements/complies fully with international law in relation to Palestine/withdraws from the occupied territories, with a significant number of respondents stating that Israel should not be allowed to contribute to the EU research programme and should have its contribution returned. At the very least, no research funding should be provided for entities which operate in the settlements/operate in the West Bank. It was proposed that the regulations for the Horizon 2020 programme should specifically exclude the funding of entities operating in the settlements.
It was particularly noted that Elbit, an arms and drones manufacturer, has received funding via the current framework programme.
A further view expressed was that funding should be provided to strengthen links between the EU and Palestinian university departments to foster research collaboration. A related view was that any research funding for Israel should, at the very least, be matched by equal research funding for entities based in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In response to the question raised in the survey as to how satisfied respondents were with the Minister’s response:
0.6% were extremely satisfied. 1,2% were very satisfied. 26.4% were moderately satisfied. 41.1% were slightly satisfied. 30.7% were not at all satisfied.
In response to the question raised in the survey as to whether respondents would like to provide any further feedback about the Minister’s reply:
A significant number of respondents expressed the view that the British Government should issue stronger condemnations of Israel’s actions and take stronger measures such as sanctions to limit the ability of Israel to exploit the Palestinian territories.
The comment was made that Israel’s strategy is to play for time while changing the situation on the ground and that it is naive to think it will change this unless a great deal more pressure is brought to bear. It was noted that the lesson of history was that Israel had not been compliant with international agreements.
It was felt by many respondents that the Minister’s letter was too moderate in its tone, having regard to the severity of Israel’s actions in relation to the Palestinian territories and the total disregard for international representations on Israel’s plans to unfreeze planning in the area of the West Bank known as E1, among its many other snubs to the international community. The view was expressed that the British Government’s approach was far from adequate in dealing with the slow ethnic cleansing of the West Bank and the “strangulation” of Gaza.
Respondents reacted strongly to what was felt, underpinning the letter, to be too cosy a relationship with Israel. It was felt that the “the frank discussions often necessary between friends”, the “close and productive relationship” and the expressions of the British Government’s “concerns” to which the Minister referred had yielded no positive results (with the situation, in fact, significantly worsening) and that a more effective strategy was needed. The view was expressed that the British Government should apply the same sanctions to Israel as it would to any other government which behaves in the manner that Israel does. Concern was expressed that there had been a much greater willingness to take tough action against Arab States, relative to the human rights situation on the ground, than has been the case with Israel. It was particularly concerning, in this regard, that Israel was rewarded with favoured status in relation to various cooperation arrangements such as the EU’s FP7 programme. A number of respondents referred to the apparent treatment of Israel as though it was a member of Europe.
Concern was also expressed that the Minister referred to the potential isolation of Israel but made no reference to the isolation of Palestinians, particularly those held in administrative detention. It was felt that it was not self-evident that stronger action by the UK against Israel would result in its isolation or a break down in communications. Reference was made, in this regard, to the action taken against South Africa in response to its Apartheid system and to the effective Apartheid system in place within Israel and the Palestinian territories.
Reference was made to the recent Non-Binding Report issued by the EU representatives in Jerusalem and to the action points included within it.