Palestinian children and the situation in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem

I have received correspondence from constituents concerned about Israel’s treatment of Palestinian children and the situation in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem.

I know that the UK repeatedly calls on Israel to abide by its obligations under international law and has a regular dialogue with Israel on legal issues relating to the occupation, including the treatment of Palestinian children. The UK continues to stress to the Israeli security forces the importance of providing appropriate protection to the Palestinian civilian population, children in particular, and of restraint in the use of live fire.

I am concerned about Palestinian children detained in Israeli prisons and I know that the UK Government shares these concerns. Reports of the heavy use of painful restraints and the high number of Palestinian children who are not informed of their legal rights, in contravention of Israel's own regulations, are particularly concerning, as is, in violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, the continued transfer of Palestinian child and adult detainees to prisons inside Israel.

I am assured that the UK remains committed to working with Israel to secure improvements to the practices surrounding children in detention and that our Embassy in Tel Aviv is in regular dialogue with Israel on this issue.

It is for reasons such as the above that Israel and the OPTs remain a human rights priority for the FCDO, as documented in the most recent Human Rights and Democracy Report last year. I am confident that the UK will continue to monitor these issues closely and raise them with the relevant authorities where effective. 

I appreciate constituents’ concerns regarding the situation in Sheikh Jarrah, East Jerusalem. I know that FCDO Ministers are well aware of the situation.

Indeed, the UK regularly makes clear our concerns about the evictions of Palestinians from their homes in East Jerusalem to the Israeli authorities and the Municipality of Jerusalem, both bilaterally and in co-operation with like-minded diplomatic partners.

The UK Ambassador in Tel Aviv has raised this issue with the Israeli Authorities, as has the Minister of State, James Cleverly, with the Israeli Ambassador in London. The British Consul General to Jerusalem visited families at risk of eviction in Sheikh Jarrah on 8 April to reiterate the UK's opposition to the practice, and other officials from the Consulate have continued to make regular visits to at-risk areas in question.

The UK is clear that evictions of Palestinians from their homes causes unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians, calls into question Israel's commitment to a viable two-state solution and, in all but the most exceptional of cases, are contrary to International Humanitarian Law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.

I will ensure that Ministers at the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) are aware of the points which have been raised.