British Foreign Office lists Israel alongside serial human rights offenders

The British Foreign Office's update to its Human Rights and Democracy report lists Israel alongside dozens of human rights abusers and focuses more on the Jewish state than on Iran

by The Commentator on 29 January 2013 13:14


A new report published by the British government has listed the State of Israel alongside Iran, Bahrain and Belarus, in a publication designed to identify ‘countries of concern’ regarding human rights and democracy.

The document, published on the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website is an update to the Human Rights and Democracy 2011 report in December last year. It  lists 33 countries with which the FCO is concerned about democracy and the human rights situation. The news follows The Commentator's exclusive about leaked documents from the FCO revealing British attitudes towards Israel's leadership.

The report reflects upon the Israel-Hamas war that took place in November of last year, stating that, “The violence has resulted in a number of humanitarian needs, including a worsening of the already precarious humanitarian situation in Gaza”. The report refuses to state that Hamas rocket-fire into Israel reflected acts of terrorism, instead referring to the “militant groups” in Gaza.

Israel’s inclusion on a list of human rights offenders could cause upset between the two countries. Oren Kessler, a Tel-Aviv based analyst and former Middle East Correspondent for the Jerusalem Post told The Commentator:

"It’s stunning that the Foreign Office would devote twice as much space to Israel’s “concerning” behaviour as to that of Iran, a theocratic dictatorship whose foreign policy rests on regional destabilization and whose domestic policy is epitomized by its regular public lynchings of opponents both real and imagined.”

Kessler continued: “Also unfortunate is the entirely unwarranted praise for the Palestinian Authority’s (PA) supposed renunciation of incitement.  PA newspapers and television are filled daily with demonisation of Jews and the Jewish state, glorification of terrorists and promotion of Palestinian irredentism in all of what it views as ‘Historic Palestine’.”

While Israel is the focus of the section regarding the Jewish state and the Palestinian territories, the report also suggests that the British government is concerned with incitement against the State of Israel, although the report seemingly lauds Palestinian Authority efforts to reject incitement and has attributed blame to ‘both sides’, with Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt stating, “We call on both parties to refrain from statements which legitimise violence”.

Kessler noted: “Nothing comparable exists in Israeli state media, and the Foreign Office’s call for “both parties to refrain” is a false equivalency that reveals not Whitehall’s diplomatic even-handedness but its broken moral compass.”

A spokesperson for the Israel Embassy in the UK told The Commentator: "What we have to say about the report will be shared with officials in closed conversations". However, Israeli sources also told The Commentator that the report was "peculiar", adding that the British seem to be "not concerned with Iran, but rather with Israel, the most free country in the region which has just held et another free and fair election". The source went on to say, "It is strange that a report dealing primarily in facts deviates into speculation and heresay with regard to 'future developments' in Israel."

The European Jewish Press has noted, that the corresponding report on human rights violations in Iran measured half the length of that accumulated on Israel, with concerns about the continued use of the death penalty, as well as reports of violation of minority rights, including freedom of religion, being detailed.

The report also lauded the successful bid for a resolution slamming the human rights situation in Iran at October’s UN General Assembly, a motion tabled by Canada and co-sponsored by the UK, as it concluded, “the human rights situation in Iran between October and December 2012 remained extremely poor”.

Curiously, the update on Egypt has not been forthcoming, causing concern that Western governments are keen to kowtow to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood regime which has this week cracked down on individual rights in the country.

The update on Syria is also half the length of that on Israel, providing scant detail on the developments of the Syrian civil war.

No mention is made of Mali or Algeria, two countries towards which British interests have turned to given the recent Al-Qaeda related developments in the region.

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