Parliamentary responses to apartheid

Numerous parliamentarians from across Europe (including the UK) have spoken about Israeli apartheid against Palestinians and have responded to various reports on apartheid. In December 2021, 370 European Parliamentarians from 21 countries and respective Parliaments from across Europe and the European Parliament (including from the UK), referenced inequality and apartheid in a letter to European Foreign Ministers calling on Europe to take immediate and concrete steps to prevent the displacement and forcible transfer of Palestinians in the occupied Palestinian Territory and to actualise differentiation between illegal Israeli settlements in all dealings with Israel

Following the publication of Amnesty International's report in February 2022, there were numerous Tweets engaging with the findings. Parliamentary responses can be found in this Twitter thread. Caabu Patron, co-Chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group and Conservative Member of the House of Lords, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, also had an opinion piece published in the Independent: There is no room for doubt – the people of Palestine are living under Israeli apartheid

In the article she writes:

"The Amnesty report does not just detail the legal and policy foundations of Israel’s apartheid; it also provides numerous specific recommendations for how such a system can and must be dismantled. But it is Amnesty’s recommendations for policymakers which are particularly significant, including for our own British government.

Entirely correctly, the UK is urged to pursue a major reassessment of our foreign policy and strategy, commensurate with both our status as a diplomatic ally of Israel and the scale of Israel’s human rights abuses. The British government’s current approach combines mild, pro forma criticism of international law violations, while remaining silent on – or even undermining – efforts at accountability."

In May 2021, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi also spoke of apartheid in a speech in the House of Lords, referencing Human Rights Watch's report:

"We know about the dispossessions in Sheikh Jarrah, the chants of “Death to Arabs” in Jerusalem, the attacks on worshippers in Al-Aqsa and the attacks outside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. We know that, in the West Bank, Palestinians and Israeli settlers live side by side, the former legally, but under military law, without the most basic of utilities, the latter, 630,000 strong and growing, illegally present yet governed by civilian law and living in relative luxury. These two peoples are in the same land, but with differing legal systems and even separate roads to the same place, so we know, as it is documented by Human Rights Watch, that the threshold for the international war crime of apartheid and persecution has been passed."

In May 2021, during conflagrations in occupied East Jerusalem and Gaza, co-chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group, Julie Elliott MP called for justice, accountability and an end to Israel's illegal occupation in an article in Politics Home: The UK government must step up and hold those engaging in violence accountable in Israel and Palestine. It also included mentions of the ICC and B'Tselem and Human Rights Watch's reports on apartheid:

"A further issue in the never-ending 54-year-old occupation of the Palestinian territories and the ongoing conflict that is inflicting untold misery on millions of innocent people, is that of historic injustice. For too long have flagrant breaches of international law and human rights gone unpunished. Those that are involved in violence should know that the International Criminal Court can and should prosecute, and the UK government should be leading the way in bringing together the international community to ensure these prosecutions take place. Without justice, those who are responsible will not find themselves accountable, and the cycle of violence and hate will only perpetuate. 

It is no wonder that the long-asserted assessment from Palestinians that their lived realities equate to apartheid, are now being adopted by the likes of Israel’s largest human rights organisation, B’Tselem, and Human Rights Watch, backed up with thorough and conclusive legal analysis."

Apartheid spoken about in the UK parliament

There have been notable mentions of apartheid by UK parliamentarians in Parliament: 

Anum Qaisar MP (Scottish National Party), January 2022:

"We in the SNP urge the UK Government in the strongest possible terms to use every opportunity—indeed, this rare opportunity of trade negotiations—to end the persecution of the Palestinian people. As with any negotiation, there are trade-offs, but turning a blind eye to persecution should not be one of them. It must remain a priority for the UK Government, and a red line throughout every single stage of the negotiations. If human rights demands are not met, a free trade deal must come off the table. A life free from persecution and, to quote Human Rights Watch, “apartheid conditions”, and a decent standard of living—something we all deserve as human beings—are worth much more than a few tariff reductions between two already incredibly rich countries."


Andy McDonald MP (Labour), November 2021:

"There is no other way to look at this than as a state-sanctioned project of colonisation and ethnic cleansing. A Human Rights Watch report published in April this year concluded that “the Israeli government has demonstrated an intent to maintain the domination of Jewish Israelis over Palestinians across Israel and the OPT" - that is, the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The report goes on:

“In the OPT, including East Jerusalem, that intent has been coupled with systematic oppression of Palestinians and inhumane acts committed against them. When these three elements occur together, they amount to the crime of apartheid.”

The crime of apartheid cannot be allowed to stand, but thanks to the international community offering little more than hollow words of condemnation, the Israeli authorities wilfully continue to break the law, safe in the knowledge that they will not face the repercussion of proper sanctions."


Gavin Newlands MP (Scottish National Party), May 2021:

"The Government’s response to this and every other episode in Palestine is completely inadequate. The Palestinians have lived under brutal oppression and apartheid from Israel with the tacit consent of the west for too long, and we have heard the “plague on both your houses” song too many times." 


Naz Shah MP (Labour), June 2021: 

"The unwelcome news to him is that those of us around the world who condemn the killing of all civilians, be they Israeli or Palestinian, will not remain silent if even a centimetre more of Palestinian land is illegally annexed, and we will not be silent in pushing for Israel to be tried in the International Criminal Court for war crimes if any more Palestinian blood is unjustly spilled under a perverted interpretation of a right to self-defence, while completely ignoring the crucial principles of distinction, precaution and proportionality.

For five decades, the Palestinian territories of East Jerusalem, the west bank and Gaza have been under occupation—the longest lasting occupation in the world today. If Palestinian children in Gaza make it to the age of 21, they will have witnessed five brutal wars, 14 years of which they have spent in one of the largest open-air prisons on the world, under a land, air and sea blockade. Human Rights Watch has declared the situation in Israel as “apartheid”. Amnesty International has stated that Israel’s “systematic discrimination, dispossession and displacement” of Palestinians is“at the root of the ongoing violence we see today.”


Naz Shah MP (Labour), May 2021:

"Israeli human rights groups such as B’Tselem, international groups such as Human Rights Watch, and others have concluded from painstaking analysis that the Israeli Government stand guilty of the internationally defined crime of apartheid. I ask: how should that affect our relationship with Israel? This is not a conflict with two equal opposing sides; rather, one people dominates the other through illegal occupation, siege, dispossession and discrimination. If we claim that there are two equal sides, why is it that we recognise only one while we have yet to recognise Palestine? Israel is the occupier of the Palestinian Territories, not the other way round. Israel has placed Gaza under siege, not the other way round. Israel is dispossessing Palestinians with illegal settlements, not the other way round. Israel applies policies of apartheid, not the other way round."


Layla Moran MP (Liberal Democrat), January 2020: 

"I remind the Minister of our Prime Minister’s words when he was Foreign Secretary: “What we are saying is that you have to have a two-state solution or else you have a kind of apartheid system. You have to go for a two-state approach, that is the long-standing position of the government”. This plan is not the basis for a viable two-state solution. Does the Minister therefore accept that these are baby steps, to use his words, towards an apartheid system that we should reject outright?"


Jeremy Corbyn MP (Independent), November 2021:

"Some 600,000 people live in settlements. They are industrial and trading complexes and they have taken land and water away from Palestinian farmers. There are settler-only roads, which Archbishop Desmond Tutu recognised was like apartheid where people could not travel on certain roads. They are a breach of international law."