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MU Executive Committee Releases Statement on Israel and Palestine

The MU’s Executive Committee have agreed today on a donation to the Red Cross to support humanitarian efforts on the ground in Israel and Palestine, as well as releasing the following statement.

Published: 09 November 2023 | 1:22 PM Updated: 29 February 2024 | 4:12 PM
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At the MU, we are aware of members being directly and indirectly impacted by events in the Middle East. Photo credit: Shutterstock

Updated 26 February: The EC has agreed to make a £1,000 donation to UNWRA, in addition to the donations previously made to the Red Cross and West Eastern Divan Orchestra. The MU has also written to the Prime Minister (letter below), stating that the UK must demand that Israel immediately stops its offensive into Rafah and call for a ceasefire now.

Updated 14 December: We support the TUC and UN call for an immediate humanitarian ceasefire in the Middle East and strongly urge the international community to make all efforts to ensure that international law is upheld and all civilians are protected.

The MU's Executive Committee met today and agreed to make a donation to the Red Cross to support humanitarian efforts on the ground in Israel and Palestine. We call for an end to war and violence.

We will also be making a donation to the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which educates and develops young Israeli and Palestinian musicians. Its members are all directly affected by recent events and the orchestra's purpose has always been to bring individuals impacted by war together through music. In an increasingly polarised world, the ability to listen to and understand the pain of others is ever more important.

At the MU, we are aware of members being directly and indirectly impacted by events in the Middle East. We condemn the rise in hate that we know is happening in this country and the discrimination, harassment and cancelled work that members are facing as a result.

Antisemitic and Islamophobic behaviour is never acceptable. The abuse that has been directed at Jewish and Islamic communities in the UK, in some cases masquerading as solidarity, is abhorrent.

The MU stands against racism and discrimination of any kind and any members who have suffered harassment or discrimination or lost work should contact their regional office for advice and support.

 

February 2024

Dear Prime Minister,

Subject: The UK must demand that Israel immediately stops its offensive into Rafah and call for a ceasefire now

We write to you as international humanitarian, peacebuilding and human rights organisations. Many of us have worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for decades, with our staff and partners among those currently displaced and fearing for their lives in the Gaza Strip. Since October 7, the Government has heard all of us and many, many more – including in real time from Palestinians themselves in Gaza – give warnings or briefings of the following: 1.7 million people forcibly displaced only to be bombed again, more than 11,500 children killed and a catastrophic number of orphans, with a new acronym unique to the Gaza Strip – WCNSF: wounded child, no surviving family – and evidence of widespread starvation and infectious disease.

As you know, following Israel's 'evacuation' orders for areas in northern and central Gaza, many Palestinians fled to the south, to Rafah, a designated 'safe zone' by Israel. 1.3 million people are currently trapped in Rafah. It is one of the very few places where extremely limited humanitarian aid is able to enter the Gaza Strip.

We are writing with urgent concern about the overnight attacks on Rafah following Israel's announcement that it aims to conduct a destructive military campaign on the most densely populated stretch on Earth. The military operation intensified last night, with Rafah subjected to the Israeli military's increasingly intense bombardment with a further 67 people killed by Israel, mostly civilians, including women and children. This number will continue to rise. The beleaguered and strained humanitarian system will fully collapse as need will only rise and access decrease.

We ask you now to use the UK's full diplomatic pressure to demand Israel halt its military campaign, which has already resulted in the killing of 28,000 people.

Will the UK act now, as red lines are being continuously crossed despite warnings from the UK to Israel on the toll of casualties being "too high"? Or will the UK continue its current path, which each day further is enabling Israel's actions with impunity? Will the UK risk further moral complicity in the ongoing death from Israeli attacks?

We are extremely dismayed and profoundly alarmed after having met with UK senior officials, including the Foreign Secretary, over the last 128 days, explaining in clear terms the scale of the catastrophe and the consequences of the current UK approach towards Israel. We, as agencies united, attempted to work together with the Government towards leveraging what the UK can do to halt these atrocities. We are losing confidence in Ministers as the UK appears utterly incapable of restraining Israel in its current attempts. We write with immediate demands for the UK:

  • Call for an immediate and permanent ceasefire, including calling off the Rafah offensive. This is the only way to prevent further loss of civilian lives, to secure the release of hostages, and the entry of life-saving humanitarian aid.
  • Suspend all arms export licences and any other forms of military support with immediate effect.
  • The UK should ensure Israel fully implements the International Court of Justice orders.

We call on the UK Government to do all it can to persuade the Government of Israel to finally change course. Over a million people in Rafah are at grave risk. We know from history what happens when states stand by and do nothing. We urge you to act now.

Signatories

(Signed by a number of additional organisations)

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