TWO LABOUR MPs in Tower Hamlets have signed an Early Day Motion (EDM) calling on Israel to stop holding Palestinian children in military detention – but campaigners are asking why it has taken Rushanara Ali two months to add her name.
EDMs are short statements which MPs can initiate in support of issues they want to highlight or campaigns they are running. They encourage fellow MPs to sign their EDMs in order to show support for the topic it covers. The EDMs are printed in the parliamentary agenda once a week, but they are not actually debated in Parliament.
On 20th November 2017, Richard Burden tabled an EDM (number 563) entitled “Military Detention of Palestinian Children by Israeli Authorities”. The text is self-explanatory:
“That this House notes with concern that hundreds of Palestinian children continue to be arrested, detained and tried in Israeli military courts, despite the practice involving widespread and systematic violations of international law and being widely condemned; further notes that allegations of ill-treatment at the hands of Israeli authorities include blindfolding, physical violence and arrest at night; notes the disparity between the treatment of Israeli and Palestinian children by Israeli authorities and calls for those authorities to treat Palestinian children in a way that is not inferior to the way they would any Israeli child; notes that, as the occupying power in the West Bank, Israel has a responsibility under international human rights conventions for the safety, welfare and human rights protection of Palestinian children living under occupation; notes with concern that the recommendations of Unicef’s 2013 Children in Israeli Military Detention Report remain largely unmet; and urges the Government to urgently engage with the Government of Israel to end the widespread and systemic human rights violations suffered by Palestinian children in Israeli military custody.”
The EDM was tabled on 20th November. What happened next?
•Two days later Jim Fitzpatrick, MP for Poplar & Limehouse, added his name to show his support.
•On 24th January, having been contacted by supporters of the campaign against Israel subjecting Palestinian children to this treatment, East London News emailed Rushanara Ali’s office asking if there was a reason why she had not signed the EDM. East London News received a standard reply from Rushanara Ali’s office, which states that she will respond within ten days.
•The same day, 24th January, Rushanara Ali added her name to the EDM – just over two months after it was tabled.
Ms Ali has supported many pro-Palestinian campaigns and actions before, so it is not clear why there was a delay in this case. Nonetheless, campaigners working for justice and the operation of human rights for the Palestinians will be delighted that both Tower Hamlets MPs are now on board with this campaign.