November 2, 2000
MCB writes to Blair on Palestine and receives a response from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office
Dear Prime Minister .
The Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) condemns in the strongest possible terms the killing of innocent civilians and the wounding of over one thousand other Palestinians. We call upon our government to convey our concerns and consider using diplomatic and other means to put pressure on Israel to desist from further wanton shedding of blood and the desecration of the Haram Al Sharif (Holy Sanctuary), which has been a Muslim shrine for the last fourteen centuries.
The MCB further deplores the current Israeli attempt to impose by force a fait accompli upon the Palestinians. We maintain our principled and unchanging stance, as endorsed by the United Nations, that Al-Quds (Jerusalem) is the collective heritage of all Muslims.
The government of Ehud Barak is directly responsible for the events leading to the massacre of innocent worshippers in Al Aqsa Mosque and elsewhere in Palestine. It sanctioned the intrusion into the Holy Sanctuary by Ariel Sharon, who was the mastermind of the Sabra and Shatila massacres. The bloody consequence of this premeditated provocation was both predictable and avoidable.
The present Israeli offensive is consistent with similar mass murders committed in other mosques in occupied Palestine. This follows the recent massacre of worshippers in the Ibrahimi Mosque in 1994 and the 1996 murder of Muslims of the opening of the tunnel beneath the Aqsa Mosque. As an Occupying Authority, Israel is obliged under international law to protect the people of the "occupied territories". This it has manifestly failed to do.
Israel must acknowledge responsibility for the current massacres and violent clashes and bring to an end its 33 year old occupation. By the use of tanks, missiles and helicopter gunships on a civilian population Israel is in contravention of both the Geneva Convention and in flagrant breach of international human rights law. Why are we adopting "double standards" in not condemning this outrage more vociferously?
I recently visited Jerusalem and Palestine and was horrified at the plight of the people in the Palestine camps. The Oslo Process has not yet led to an improvement in the situation of the Palestinians in terms of national and human rights or in their economic and social conditions. Several generations of Palestinian families have lived their whole lives in these camps.
The British government has indicated its commitment to the peace process: it is now crucial that it employs all necessary measures towards this end and condemns Israel for the atrocities it has committed.
We ask our government through you, Mr Blair, and the Foreign Secretary to:
1. Condemn Israel for the disproportionate use of excessive force, aggressive policies and unprovoked action which sparked the conflict;
2. Propose the formation of an "International Investigative Committee" to report back on the current spate of violence and to bring those responsible to justice;
3. Apply pressure on Israel to comply with all UN resolutions including 242 and 338;
4. Put pressure on the international community to isolate Israel by means of political and economic sanctions.
It is now time for the international community, especially the European Union with the UK at the forefront, to insist that Israel abide by the principles and resolutions of international law. Integral to the success of the peace process is a full recognition and respect for the Muslim rights over Al-Quds.
I do know you are deeply concerned with all humanitarian issues and your leadership in the Kosovan Refugee Crisis was outstanding. Similarly your "ethical" foreign policy calls for appropriate action to be taken in respect of the present precarious and dangerous situation. We hope and earnestly pray for a peaceful and just outcome.
Click Here to read the respnse from the Foreign & Commonwealth Office
For further information please contact the MCB:
The Muslim Council of Britain
PO Box 52
Tel: 020 8903 9650
Fax: 020 8903 9026