London - 20th March 2017
The Parliamentary Committee for Privileges and Conduct dismissed allegations of anti-Semitism against Baroness Jenny Tonge for hosting the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign on October 25th 2016, in the House of Lords.
Following media reports from The Times and the Jewish Chronicle on the meeting under the headline “Jews blamed for Holocaust at ‘shameful’ House of Lords event” and after receiving complaints from Mark Regev, Israeli Ambassador to the UK, and members of the House of Lords, an official investigation was initiated by the Committee for Privileges and Conduct.
It was alleged that Jenny Tonge has breached the Code of Conduct, which requires members to act on their personal honor but The Committee has decreed a resounding result which states:
It is clear from the transcript that the event as billed—to launch the Palestinian Return Centre’s Balfour Apology Campaign—was what took place, and that the event was not intended to promote antisemitism. I find that there was no takeover of the event by people promoting antisemitism, and that therefore Baroness Tonge was not obliged to deal with any such takeover.
The report added:
For the above reasons I find that Baroness Tonge did not breach paragraph 8(b) of the Code of Conduct in her hosting and chairing of the meeting on the parliamentary estate on 25 October 2016.
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) welcomes the findings of the investigations which sheds light on the truth regarding the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign and the appalling targeted campaign to silence pro-Palestinian activists and smear them as anti-Semites.
The false accusations of anti-Semitism from the media and the Israeli Embassy were categorically refused by the Committee for Privileges and Conduct, and the investigation refuted as well the claim that the comments made by the member of the Naturei Karta amounted to ‘Holocaust denial’. And the claim from most mainstream media that the audience applauded after an audience member made an anti-Semitic comment was also proved to be incorrect.
Lastly, comments made by speaker Betty Hunter that were alleged to be anti-Semitic were also found to not even meet the new contentious IHRA definition of anti-Semitism. The investigation found that criticizing Israel as a “racist and colonialist state” clearly does not breach the new definition.
Read the full text of the Parliamentary investigation: https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldprivi/142/14205.htm#_idTextAnchor007
Geneva - 17th Mars 2017
Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) delivered an oral statement before the UN HRC 34th session currently running in Geneva. The oral statement which came under "DEBATE: racial profiling and incitement to hatred (GA res. 71/181)" highlighted on the rights of Palestinians living inside Israel.
The statement also focused on the right of return and Israeli discriminatory laws which prevent Palestinians from returning while allowing Jewish people to migrate to Palestine.
Oral statement Text:
Dear Mister President and dear members of the Council,
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) would like to bring to the Council’s attention the ongoing human rights violations of indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel.
Indigenous Palestinians inside the State of Israel are a minority currently experiencing the consequences of historical colonization and invasion of their territories, and face discrimination because of their distinct cultures, identities and ethnicity.
The most important immigration and nationality laws—The Law of Return and The Citizenship Law—allow every Jew in the world to immigrate freely to Israel and to automatically become an Israeli citizen. However, the same laws that privilege Jews exclude Palestinians who were forced to flee their homes in 1948, stripping them of their former status and denying the internationally-recognized Palestinian right of return. Israel for the past 70years has banned Palestinian refugees from their homeland.
Inside Israel, the Palestinian Bedouin community has been discriminated against for many years in the field of housing. Israeli forces demolished the Bedouin village of al-Araqib in the Negev region of southern Israel for the 110th time since 2010 on Thursday. Al-Araqib is one of 35 Bedouin villages considered “unrecognized” by the Israeli state. More than half of the approximately 160,000 Negev Bedouins reside in unrecognized villages.
Demolitions targeting Palestinians with Israeli citizenship have sharply increased since the beginning of 2017, including an Israeli police raid to evacuate the unrecognised Bedouin village of Umm Al-Hiran which turned deadly in January.
Demolition of Al-Araqeeb and other unrecognized Bedouin villages is a central Israeli policy aimed at removing the indigenous Palestinian population from the Negev and transferring them to government-zoned townships to make room for the expansion of Jewish Israeli communities.
Given that as reported by Human Rights Watch, Israeli domestic investigations demonstrate an unwillingness and inability to genuinely carry out investigations or prosecutions in compliance with international standards, we call on the Members of the Council to seek measures to hold the perpetrators accountable.
London, Geneva - 17 March 2017
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) acclaimed a report by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) accusing Israel of apartheid.
PRC believes ESCWA report is another goal scored by the human rights institutions and a sign of the inherently illegitimate nature of the Israeli practices against the Palestinians. The report is also the natural outcome of Israel’s incessant violations against the Palestinians under a legal cover.
PRC calls for making other steps to bring such racist practices to a halt and to impeach those held accountable before international courts.
The solution to Israel’s breaches lies in implementing international law, observing the principle of non-discrimination, and upholding peoples’ rights to self-determination.
A report by ESCWA concluded that Israel is imposing an apartheid regime on the Palestinian people.
The findings of the report were released by ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf during a press conference held at the UN House, in Beirut, when she launched the report entitled “Israeli Practices towards the Palestinian People and the Question of Apartheid.”
Khalaf noted that Israel, encouraged by the international community’s disregard for its recurrent violations of international law, has succeeded over the past decades in imposing and maintaining an apartheid regime that works on two levels; first, the political and geographic fragmentation of the Palestinian people which enfeebles their capacity for resistance and makes it almost impossible for them to change the reality on the ground; second, the oppression of all Palestinians through an array of laws, policies and practices that ensure domination by a racial group and serve to maintain the regime.
ESCWA Executive Secretary further stressed that the importance of the report is not limited to the fact that it is the first of its kind published by a United Nations body, clearly concluding that Israel is a racial State; It also provides fresh insight into the cause of the Palestinian people and into how to achieve peace.
Khalaf maintained that the report shows that there can be no solution, be it in the form of two States, or following any other regional or international approach, as long as the apartheid regime imposed by Israel on the Palestinian people as a whole has not been dismantled.
Apartheid is a crime against humanity. Not only does international law prohibit that crime, it obliges States and international bodies, and even individuals and private institutions, to take measures to combat it wherever it is committed and to punish its perpetrators.
GENEVA – 16 March 2017
A seminar was held by the Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) to discuss the cause of Justice and accountability in the occupied Palestinian territories as part of the 34th Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) held at the UN headquarters in Geneva.
Human rights activist Nada Awad and Director of Media and Public Relations Department at PRC, Sameh Habib, along with a spokeswoman for the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor Ghada AlRayan, and Euro-Med researcher Widad Hussein were in attendance. The debate was chaired by PRC researcher Hana Poler.
Mrs. Hussein tackled the breaches of law and the frequent attempts by the law breakers and criminals to whitewash their crimes and evade fair accountability over cases of extrajudicial killing carried out under the pretext of self-defense and psychological disorders.
Nada Awad raised the issue of collective punishment pursued by the Israeli occupation against the Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Occupied Jerusalem, in a barefaced violation of basic human rights law.
For his part, Sameh Habib drew attention to Israel’s frequent attempts to whitewash its crimes against the Palestinians and evade judicial accountability. Mr. Habib launched calls to the international community to take up its responsibilities as regards the issue and push for impeaching those involved in crimes against the Palestinians.
Researcher at the Euro-Mediterranean Human Rights Monitor, Ghada AlRayan, spoke out against the fallouts of the Israeli separation fence and the decade-long blockade on the Gaza enclave, dubbing them policies of collective punishment and pushing for their criminalization.
The Seminar comes as a part of PRC contribution to UNHRC’s 34th Session held at the Palais des Nations, in Geneva to discuss the situation of the Palestinian refugee community in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Gaza.
London, 13th March 2017
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) met with Rushanara Ali MP (Labour) to present her with an award for her support during the PRC’s bid to join the UNECOSOC as an NGO with special consultative status. Ali was pleased to accept the award and keen to discuss the PRC’s recent activities in Parliament and at the United Nations.
During the meeting the PRC and Ali also took time to explore the current and ongoing problems in the region.
Rushanara Ali a member of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East has long been calling for Parliament to recognise Palestine as a state alongside a secure Israel. In 2014 the Labour MP took to the streets by joining London demonstrators protesting against rising Palestinian death tolls in the 2014 Gaza War. The MP has for long supported the Palestinian people and their right to self-determination
Ali was briefed on the PRC’s recent events in Parliament, as well as the PRC’s meetings with other MPs. She was also updated on the PRC’s trip in January to the United Nations headquarters in New York and filled in on their activities at the upcoming United Nations Human Rights session in Geneva at the end of March.
Rushanrara Ali also provided constructive advice on the PRC’s strategy with parliamentarians which the PRC has taken on board. The meeting was a success and it is hoped Ali will continue to support the PRC in their future activities.
London, 8 March 2017
PRC took part in a session held by the Palestinian Mission to the United Kingdom, SNP Friends of Palestine, Liberal Democrat Friends of Palestine, and Lawyers for Palestinian Human Rights charity to discuss the fallouts of Israel’s illegal settlement activity across the occupied Palestinian territories.
Speaking at the meeting, Palestinian ambassador to the UK, Manuel Hassassian, slammed the pro-Israel position adopted by the British Government and its apathy vis-à-vis Israel’s illegal settlement expansion.
Harking back to her stopover in the occupied West Bank, Margaret Ferrier MP (Scottish National Party) said Israel’s settlement activity is blocking the establishment of a Palestinian state by imposing a new fait accompli on the ground.
Ferrier MP further drew attention to the abject conditions endured by the Palestinians in refugee camps scattered across the blockaded Gaza Strip and the occupied West Bank due to the separation fences built around Palestinian land and the quasi-permanent closure of border crossings.
Former Labor MP Martin Linton leveled heavy criticism at the British Government, saying its current position as regards the Palestinian-Israeli conflict undermines Palestinians’ right to self-determination.
Lawyer Tareq Shrourou underscored the illegitimate nature of the Israeli settlement outposts, dubbing them another chain in Israel’s incessant violations of international law.
The meeting falls in with the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC) staged by PRC so as to urge the British government to apologize for signing the pledge and to backtrack on its attempts to mark the Balfour Declaration centenary.
LONDON, 7 March 2017
The Palestinian Return Centre (PRC) met with Caroline Ansell MP (Conservative Party) over the latest developments emerging in the occupied Palestinian territories.
The two parties discussed Israel’s human rights violations and illegal settlement activity across the occupied territories.
During the meeting, PRC called on the British government, particularly the Conservative Party, to seriously work on finding a solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict and restoring Palestinians’ infringed rights.
PRC spoke out against a debate session staged and chaired by Mrs. Ansell in November 2016 on the commemoration of the Balfour Declaration.
PRC said that any attempt to celebrate the Balfour pledge or to hold a symbolic commemoration is another stab in Palestinians’ back. Member of Parliament for Eastbourne, Ansell, expressed her support for a political solution to work out the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and restore peace in the Arab region.
London, 8 March 2017
The English-speaking Daily Mail newspaper backtracked on inaccurate media coverage of a PRC seminar held at the House of Lords in October 2016, and which was chaired by Baroness Jenny Tonge, to announce the launch of the Balfour Apology Campaign (BAC).
The move comes following continuous pressure and follow-up by PRC. The paper faced press watchdog probes and calls for further amplifications by the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO).
PRC had formally protested against the paper's counterfeit reporting to the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO) and pushed for an immediate apology by Daily Mail.
In an apology published by Daily Mail on March 7 under the heading “Clarifications and Corrections”, the paper backtracked on comments that figure in an article published on October 28, 2016 accusing the audience of applauding a speaker “for saying that Jews were responsible for the Holocaust.”
Daily Mail acknowledged that the speaker in question had not been invited by PRC and that the round of applause “in fact followed subsequent remarks made about the boycott of Israel by Baroness Tonge.”
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