The Palestinian delegation, which included several Palestinian figures from Jerusalem and the 1948 territories, concluded its visit to the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, which took place between September 11-16, 2017. In its final seminar attended by activists, representatives from NGO’s and local churches in London, the speakers informed the audience of the racist practices imposed by the occupying state of Israel and its continuous violations against Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and the 1948 territories.
The delegation, which included lawyer Khaled Zbarqa, lawyer Firas Sabah, Father Abdullah Julio from the Greek Catholic Patriarchate in Jerusalem, and lawyer Iyad Misk, held several meetings in the British Parliament with parliamentarians and lords from British parties, as well as with NGOs in London and Belfast in Northern Ireland. The delegation also met with a number of politicians and parliamentarians from several parties in Ireland including Republicans and Unionists, besides other solidarity organisations and trade union leaders.
The delegation focused on the suffering of the Jerusalemites and the Palestinians of the 1948 territories under the racist practices and laws of the Israeli occupation which would not be acceptable in European countries. Attorney Khaled Zbarqa warned of Israel's efforts to legalise racism through laws and legal articles that violates international laws and human rights conventions. He also highlighted the adoption of new bills by the Israeli Knesset aimed at restricting the freedom of the indigenous Palestinians. In this context, he called for Britain to adopt a clear position to bind Israel state, which claims democracy, with the principles of democracy and equality amongst its citizens, and to play a clear role in preventing racist laws that threatens the basic rights of Palestinians in the 1948 territories.
For his part, Father Archimandrite Abdullah appealed to solidarity organisations and representatives of churches who attended the seminar to expose the practices of the occupying state. Father Julio stressed that the suffering of Christians under occupation is no less than the suffering of Muslims, and that this suffering is the main reason behind the increasing migration amongst Palestinian Christians.
Lawyer Iyad Misk, head of the Legal unit of the National Commission for the Prisoners and ex-prisoners, spoke of the Israeli violations against Palestinian prisoners and their suffering and denial of family visits which is a violation of the basic rights of political detainees. Lawyer Firas Sabah, the director of the Mithaq organisation for human rights in Jerusalem, focused on restrictions on the freedom of worship for Muslims, especially during recent events at the Aqsa Mosque, where Jewish settlers were allowed to break into Al- Aqsa Mosque under police protection whilst Palestinians were prevented from entering.
Dr. Daoud Abdullah, Director of the Middle East Monitor in London (MEMO), who co-organised the delegation, said that this visit is very important, taking into account the continuous violations imposed by the occupation authorities against the Palestinian people. He referred to the policy of demolishing houses and Palestinian institutions, citing the recent demolition of a children's school in Bethlehem, stressing on the fact of denying Palestinian children their basic right to education.
Zaher Birawi, the chairman of EuroPal Forum, stressed on the importance of such delegations to convey the reality of the suffering of Palestinians under occupation. He stated that delegations are important tools to expose the Israeli crimes in Jerusalem and to enforce the Palestinian narrative of the conflict. He added that the delegation comes at a critical time as we witness a dangerous Israeli escalation against Palestinians in Jerusalem that makes the delegation more significant.
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