The UK is concerned about the challenges facing human rights defenders (HRDs) and organisations operating in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs). Ministers and officials continuously urge the Israeli Government to respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of HRDs and organisations, of which the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) is a fervent champion everywhere. The UK has also raised concerns with the Palestinian Authority about the treatment of HRDs in the West Bank.
During her visit to Israel and the OPTs in June 2022, the Minister for the Middle East met with HRDs journalists and civil society organisations to discuss the pressures they face. It is of utmost importance that the Government of Israel and Palestinian Authority allow human rights organisations to operate freely.
In addition, I can assure you that reports of ill-treatment of those in Israeli military detention is not something the UK takes lightly. In terms of prosecution, it is crucial that there is adequate legal due process to make sure that people's rights can be fairly heard. I have been assured that HM Government (HMG) continues to raise these points with the Israeli authorities.
The UK has also been clear that it remains concerned about Israel’s extensive use of administrative detention which, according to international law, should be used only when security makes this absolutely necessary rather than as routine practice and as a preventive rather than a punitive measure. Detainees should either be charged or released.
The UK condemns Israel's decision to revoke the residency of and deport Salah Hammouri, a Palestinian East Jerusalemite. Israel must abide by its obligations under international humanitarian law to fully respect the fundamental rights and freedoms of HRDs and organisations and allow them to freely operate in Israel and OPTs.
Israel's long-standing commitment to democratic values is one of its great strengths as a fellow democracy, and the UK will continue to make clear that a strong, vibrant civil society is in Israel's own interest. As a friend of Israel, I know HMG would be concerned by any developments that may undermine this commitment.
Likewise, UK officials have, in no uncertain terms, highlighted their concerns over the continued transfer of Palestinian detainees to prisons inside Israel in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. HMG has, and will continue to call on the Israeli authorities to comply with their obligations under international law. I was encouraged to learn that the UK also funds projects providing legal aid to those, especially minors, detained and prosecuted in this manner and capacity building to local lawyers.
It is for reasons such as the above that Israel and the OPTs remain a human rights priority for the FCDO. HMG has committed to working with Israel to secure improvements to the practices surrounding children in detention in Israel, and I will be sure to follow progress on this matter closely.