UK government

Ministers’ ‘U-turn on war-crime law’

By Anshel Pfeffer and Marcus Dysch, March 26, 2009

Senior Israeli officials have attacked the British government for reneging on its promise to change a law that allows private citizens to bring war crimes charges against Israeli officers.

The failure to alter the legislation effectively bars Israeli top brass from entering Britain for fear they would be arrested on arrival.

“Both the Blair and Brown governments promised us that they would bring the necessary legislation to Parliament,” said a senior Israeli diplomat. “But it is clear now that they never really meant to fulfil that promise.”

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Moussawi is out - but could reapply

By Marcus Dysch, March 19, 2009

An intense lobbying campaign by Jewish organisations has succeeded with the Home Office rejecting a visa application from Hizbollah media relations officer Ibrahim Moussawi.

Under increasing pressure from the Board of Deputies, the Community Security Trust and the JC, Home Secretary Jacqui Smith turned down his request to attend a seminar at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies next week.

Jon Benjamin, Board chief executive, said the result was being treated as a substantial victory.

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Amnesty U-turn over Gaza weapons

By Marcus Dysch, March 11, 2009

Amnesty International has admitted it has no proof that British weapons were used by the Israeli army during the Gaza conflict.

The human rights organisation had last month accused the UK government of “aiding Israeli war crimes”, and called for a UN arms embargo.

But on Wednesday, Oliver Sprague, the charity’s arms programme director, appeared in front of a parliamentary select committee session on arms export controls.

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Live: House of Lords debate on Gaza

February 6, 2009

The House of Lords is today holding a debate on developments in Gaza.

Around 35 peers are listed to speak, with each allotted 10 minutes to give their views on last month’s conflict, and the possibilities for peace in the region.

Israel's case ignored in secret government memo

By Leon Symons, February 5, 2009

An internal UK government briefing note on Israel’s recent action in Gaza is written almost entirely from the Palestinian perspective.

The two-and-a-half page private memo was prepared by the Foreign Office and the Home Office’s research and information unit. It is headed: “The British government position on the situation in Gaza”. It contains only two mentions of Hamas and gives no explanation or context as to how or why Israel launched its operation on December 27.

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Livni fears UK-led push to boycott settlement goods

By Anshel Pfeffer, November 6, 2008

The Israeli and British governments have clashed over imports from West Bank settlements, with Jerusalem concerned this may be the first salvo in a British-led international campaign.

The issue has been personally pursued by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, who, according to an internal document "has proposed a round-table involving UK government officials, NGOs, and retailers" to discuss it.

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Outrage as Hizbollah man is allowed in

By Marcus Dysch, November 6, 2008

The Home Office has been attacked for allowing Hizbollah-linked journalist Ibrahim Mousawi to enter Britain, days after Home Secretary Jacqui Smith announced plans to keep hate preachers out of the country.

Mr Mousawi edits the Al Intiqad journal in Lebanon and previously worked for the Shi'ite TV station, Al Manar.

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Former MP dies at 91

August 21, 2008

Former MP and gay-rights champion Leo Abse has died at the age of 91.

The former Labour MP for Pontypool, and later Torfaen, died at Charing Cross Hospital in West London on Tuesday night after a short illness.

In 1967, Mr Abse guided a Private Member's Bill through Parliament making sex between men legal.

Cardiff-born Mr Abse, elder brother of writer Dannie Abse, was also credited with helping liberalise divorce laws with the 1969 Divorce Reform Act.

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Hebron claims attacked UK envoys were on an ‘antisemitic’ mission

By Marcus Dysch, August 14, 2008

A fact-finding visit last week by British diplomats to Hebron, during which their car was attacked by settlers, was "antisemitic", according to a representative of the city's Jewish community.

The settlers blocked the route of the armoured vehicle before kicking and shaking it during the incident in the West Bank last Thursday.

The three middle-ranking diplomats were on a tour organised by human-rights group Breaking the Silence. Their guide, Mikhael Manekin, said the incident had proved "a bit nerve-wracking" for the unnamed officials.

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MPs fly to Poland to learn legacy of hate

By Marcus Dysch, July 31, 2008

A group of nine MPs visited Poland last week to discuss combating antisemitism in the country.

The three-day trip was organised by the Holocaust Educational Trust (HET) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group against Antisemitism (PCAA).

It included a visit to the former Nazi death camp at Majdanek and meetings with government officials and Jewish residents.

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