UK parliamentary committee urges action on Gaza
LONDON — British Prime Minister David Cameron is coming under increased pressure over his government's policies on Gaza, after a cross-party parliamentary committee urged him Wednesday to press Israel to lift restrictions on trade and travel in the Palestinian territory.
The Commons International Development Committee says travel and trade curbs on Gaza's people are not "proportionate" and that some are contrary to Israel's obligations under international law. Members of the committee who visited the area earlier this year, said they were "shocked," even though they understood and appreciated Israel's security needs.
"We saw a country whose people have known immense suffering now imposing conditions on their Palestinian neighbors which cause a different but very real suffering and often without real security justification," the committee wrote. "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 committee called on Britain to "encourage Israeli authorities to lift those restrictions which are not justified by security needs." It said the U.K. should persuade Israel to consider steps to improve the availability of water and electricity in Gaza.
Cameron is under fire for his support of Israel. Disputes within his Conservative Party were laid bare Tuesday when a prominent member of Cameron's camp, Sayeeda Warsi, resigned as Foreign Office minister in protest of what she called Cameron's "morally indefensible" stance on Gaza.
Following her departure, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said licenses issued to arms exporters selling to Israel should be suspended. Clegg, whose Liberal Democrats are part of the governing coalition, says he was working on the issue with Business Secretary Vince Cable, whose department administers the licenses.
"The actions of the Israeli military, overstepping the mark in Gaza, breach the conditions of those export licenses and that's why we want to see them suspended pending a wider review of whether they should be revoked more permanently in the long run," Clegg said.