Britain’s moral blindness on Palestinian torture

JC’s investigation shows faith in Mahmoud Abbas’s regime has been major misjudgement


Bethlehem, Occupied Palestinian Territories - November 30, 2012: Hundreds of Palestinians gather to watch the speech by Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas in the bid for Palestine's "nonmember observer state" status at the United Nations, projected on the Israeli separation wall in the West Bank town of Bethlehem, November 29, 2012. Hours later, the UN General Assembly voted 138-9 in favor of the upgraded status for Palestine, with 41 nations abstaining.

August 25, 2022 14:24

For many in the West, it has long been an article of faith that peace will only come to the Middle East when the Palestinians gain a state of their own.

Along with the EU and America, successive British governments have promoted a “two-state solution” to the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.

Central to this thinking is a key distinction. Hamas is considered beyond the pale, as Islamist extremists who throw gay Palestinians off rooftops to their death and make no bones about their aim to destroy Israel. But the Palestinian Authority headed by Mahmoud Abbas is deemed “moderate” and entitled to run a future state of Palestine that would be part of the community of nations.

The JC has now exposed this faith in the PA as an excruciating misjudgment.

For while Britain has been investing millions in it, in the arrogant belief that it can teach it Western values, Palestinian officers have been murdering and torturing dissenters who campaign for their human rights.

Last year Nizar Banat, a leading Palestinian campaigner for freedom and democracy, was dragged from his home in Hebron by a squad of 14 PA officers and beaten with a hammer so severely he effectively drowned in his own blood. His murder triggered weeks of protests that were in turn violently crushed by the PA security forces.

Now the JC has revealed that for the past 14 years a “British Support Team” under the command of a brigadier has been training PA officers in human rights — including “inclusivity and gender awareness”.

The JC investigation shows that, in PA-controlled territory, torture by these forces is routine and systemic. People are arrested for their political views; lawyers are beaten; women are sexually assaulted.

A senior PA official said torture was justified to gather intelligence and that Banat deserved to be killed. Yet the British are solemnly teaching such people “inclusivity and gender awareness”. Maybe someone should teach the British “humility and self-awareness”.

The idea that human rights training might turn the PA into defenders of law and liberty is as laughable as it would be to provide human rights training to Vladimir Putin’s secret police or Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.

Yet Britain has long told itself 10 impossible things before breakfast about the Palestinians. Ever since the nineties, when the Oslo Accords established the PA as the putative government of a Palestinian state, Britain and others in the West have resolutely denied the truth about it.
They’ve denied that its aim has remained the destruction of Israel; denied that British and EU funding facilitates PA incitement to murder Israeli Jews and steal their land; denied the savage repression it inflicts upon its own people.

Whitehall’s moral blindness is truly staggering. Astoundingly, Britain has repeatedly claimed that its Palestinian human rights training is succeeding.

In 2011, the Foreign Office stated: “The PA leadership is committed to strengthening human rights and is making good progress”.

In 2018, the Foreign Office awarded itself an official score of “A+” for its PA programme, meaning that it had “exceeded expectations” for developing “capable, accountable and responsive security and justice services”.

Well, we can now see that the PA’s “accountable and responsive” reaction to this training was to continue to perpetrate torture and to produce a brutal squad that beat a human rights campaigner to death.

As a result, tens of millions of pounds have been squandered. Worse, Britain has made itself complicit with a tyrannical regime that oppresses its own people.

Worse still, the British government has been helping sanitise the PA and perpetuating the lethal fiction that it can be trusted to uphold human rights.

It told itself this because it wanted to believe it. To put it another way, if it acknowledged that the PA was incorrigibly despotic with no understanding of or commitment to justice, the rule of law and respect for human life, it would have to acknowledge that there could be no state of Palestine in the foreseeable future.

That would mean its support for the Palestinian cause would be negated. It would mean that when Israel said the Palestinians posed a mortal threat to life and liberty, they were all too correct.

This would not only derail a key feature of British foreign policy. It would also show up as hypocrites, idiots or fellow-travellers of tyranny all who support the establishment of a Palestinian state run by the PA.

Since such a state is the cause of causes for the western intelligentsia, the truth must be denied. More than £65 million has now been wasted in perpetrating a lethal “human rights” fiction instead.

August 25, 2022 14:24

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