UK fails to support accountability for attacks on Gaza healthcare at UN

We reported last week on our advocacy trip to the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) in Geneva. In meetings, at our side-event, with copies of MAP’s recent reports and through social media - thanks to all MAP supporters who tweeted @UKMissionGeneva! - we highlighted barriers to Palestinians’ right to health and our grave concerns regarding repeated attacks on Palestinian healthcare facilities and personnel.

While four resolutions on Palestinians’ rights were passed, there was much disappointment that the resolution on accountability for potential violations of international humanitarian law in the occupied Palestinian territory did not pass with as many votes as hoped for, and in particular that the UK abstained. 

Not only did the UK abstain on the accountability resolution which it had previously supported in 2015 and on an issue which it has supported at the UN Security Council last year, but it issued a statement condemning the “bias” and “disproportionate” focus on Israel at the HRC. The statement concluded by putting the HRC “on notice”. “If things do not change”, the statement reads, “we will adopt a policy of voting against all resolutions concerning Israel’s conduct in the Occupied Syrian and Palestinian Territories”.

At MAP we are deeply concerned that even when resolutions are passed at the UN HRC or Security Council condemning repeated human rights breaches by Israel, including of Palestinians’ right to health, that its overall conduct is unchanged and suspected perpetrators are not brought to justice. In this climate of impunity, as residents of the West Bank and Gaza witness daily, Palestinians’ health and dignity continues to be undermined and there is greater risk of such attacks being repeated.

We will continue to advocate for the rights to health and dignity and, and believe that accountability for attacks on healthcare in particular will support the realisation of those rights.

This week we submitted evidence to the UK Parliament's Foreign Affairs Committee Inquiry into the Middle East Peace Process, demonstrating how the failure to end Israel's 50-year occupation or ensure adherence to international law have affected the health and dignity of Palestinians.

In April, we are facilitating the visit to the UK of human rights defenders from the oPt and Israel who will help draw attention to the issue of accountability. And we will return to Geneva for the next session of the HRC, which starts in June, with strengthened demands for better access to health, for the essential protection of healthcare facilities and personnel, and for the long overdue accountability for attacks that have taken place on them.

Palestinians and people across Britain are calling on the UK government to take action to bring these man-made humanitarian crises to an end. Please support their call, and demand #HealthAndDignity for Palestinians:

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