Wednesday, 30 September 2009

British MP confronts Israeli minister over war crimes charge


Labour MP for Birmingham Northfield
Chair, Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group


Richard Burden MP last night confronted Israeli Deputy Prime Minister Ehud Barak at the Labour Party Conference. Mr Burden called on him to respond to the findings of the recent UN report that Israel committed war crimes in Gaza during ‘Operation Cast Lead’.

Mr Burden, Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, also presented the Israeli Minister with a copy of the group’s report of a fact-finding visit to Gaza earlier this year. The report highlights the impact of Israel’s actions in deepening the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

Mr Barak’s appearance at Labour’s conference in Brighton had already attracted widespread protest. As Defence Minister in the current and previous Israeli Government, Ehud Barak was directly involved in planning and executing Israel’s attack on Gaza between December 2008 and January 2009. Mr Barak is named in the report by Judge Richard Goldstone which is being discussed this week at the UN’s Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Speaking from Brighton today, Mr Burden said:

“Israel chose not to cooperate with the UN investigation, even though it was conducted by someone as eminent as Judge Goldstone.

“Now Israel is trying to rubbish Goldstone’s conclusions before the ink in his report is barely dry. They even say the United Nations had no mandate to investigate allegations of war crimes in Gaza in the first place. That is just not good enough. If the United Nations has no mandate to uphold international law, then what does it have a mandate to do?

“Goldstone’s findings are serious and the international community cannot ignore them. If war crimes were committed in Gaza – by whatever side – they must be held accountable. It is not acceptable for Israel to demand the international community takes action against attacks on civilians by Palestinians but refuse to face up to its own responsibilities for the atrocities in Gaza last winter and for the continuing humanitarian crisis caused by the ongoing blockade.

“If Israel continues to refuse to face up to its own responsibility to investigate these things properly and to bring those responsible to justice, the UN Security Council must do so itself – by referring the issue to the International Criminal Court. The UK’s commitment to human rights means we should be at the forefront of making that happen.”
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Duncan Sinclair: +44 (0)7837 257 001 /


In February Mr Burden led the first UK Parliamentary delegation to Gaza to see first hand the results of the conflict there. A copy of the delegation’s report is available online here: