UK decries upswing in Jewish settler attacks on Palestinians

Amer Sultan, in London , Friday 21 Jun 2013

Tuesday 'price tag' attack on Arab village of Abu Ghosh confirms 'escalation' of violence by extremist Jewish settlers against Palestinians, UK Foreign Office official tells Ahram Online

Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
A protester waves a Palestinian flag in front of the Jewish settlement of Ofra during clashes near the West Bank village of Deir Jarir near Ramallah April 26, 2013 (Photo: Reuters)

There has recently been an uptick in violence against Palestinians by extremist Jewish settlers in Israel, a UK Foreign Office official told Ahram Online this week.

The official pointed to a Tuesday attack by armed Jewish settlers on the Palestinian village of Abu Ghosh, describing it as an "escalation of violence against Palestinians."

He confirmed that the UK government has been "in contact" with Tel Aviv over the issue.

Abu Ghosh, located in the foothills of Jerusalem, has become the latest victim in a wave of recent violence linked to Jewish extremists in Israel.

The UK official said the spate of recent settler violence had raised concerns that growing extremism on the fringes of Israeli society were spreading.

The UK Foreign Office's Middle East Minister Alistair Burt, for his part, called on Israel to take "decisive action" to stop Jewish settler violence against Palestinians.

"We are discussing progress in prosecuting the perpetrators of such attacks and the need for decisive action during the visit this week [to London] of Israeli Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein," Burt said in a statement.

The Palestinians in Israel and the occupied West Bank are often targeted by what violent settlers call the 'price tag' campaign.

"I condemn the 18 June 'price tag' attack in the Arab-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh," Burt said. "The racist graffiti and vandalising of property... follows a series of similarly appalling incidents in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories, reportedly carried out by extremist settlers."

The UK government describes illegally-built Jewish-only settlements in the occupied territories as "obstacles" to peace.

Burt welcomed the "widespread condemnation of these attacks in Israel and the Israeli government’s stated intention to bring those responsible to justice."

He went on to describe Jewish settler violence as an "abhorrent" phenomenon, which must be "tackled firmly."

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