Pro-Palestine campaigners in the UK have renewed their call for imposing “immediate” British and European sanctions on Israel after incumbent Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was re-elected.
The campaigners believe sanctions are the only way to force Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian territories and respect international law.
The Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) has appealed to the British people to sign a petition, telling the UK government that “its citizens want immediate sanctions imposed on Israel until it agrees to abide by international law.”
The PSC doesn’t expect the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians to make any progress after Netanyahu's re-election, given his pledges during his election campaign.
One day before the Israeli general election, held last week, Netanyahu publicly pledged that if re-elected he would never allow the creation of a Palestinian state and would not halt settlement construction.
He said in an interview: "I think that anyone who moves to establish a Palestinian state and evacuate territory gives territory away to radical Islamist attacks against Israel."
“The left has buried its head in the sand time and after time and ignores this, but we are realistic and understand," he added.
“Now, as never before, it is time for sanctions to be imposed on Israel,” the PSC petition said.
“Without sanctions on Israel, Palestinians cannot see a future free of occupation, apartheid and, in Gaza, crippling siege,” it added.
The PSC warned that Netanyahu and his Likud Party were re-elected to power with a decisive majority, giving a mandate to his election commitments, “which fly in the face of any peace process, freedom and justice for Palestinians, and international law.”
The PSC, the largest and most influential organisation of its kind in the West, argues that only sanctions on Israel can end the occupation.
Its petition also demands that the UK government pushes the European Union to impose immediate sanctions on Israel, “until it abides by international law, ends settlement building, and ends the occupation and the blockade of Gaza.”
The UK says its support for the two-state solution is an important part of its policy on the Middle East peace process.
The two-state solution has also been the policy of the US and the EU.
The EU has recently called for "tougher sanctions" against Israel to punish its settlement expansion. In a report, it said Jerusalem is "more divided than at any time since 1967” when Israeli forces occupied the east of the city.
The EU warned this settlement policy exacerbates the conflict.
The report described the emergence of a “vicious cycle of violence,” warning it is “increasingly threatening the viability of the two-state solution.” The violence, it says, has been stoked by the continuation of “systematic settlement” building by Israel in “sensitive areas of Jerusalem.”
According the UK policy, Israel's settlements are illegal under international law, an obstacle to peace between Israeli and the Palestinians and make the two-state solution harder to achieve.
However, the UK government has persistently rejected calls for imposing sanctions on Israel, saying such a step would be counterproductive.