Critique of the House of Commons Library Briefing Paper “Israel and the Palestinians: no through road?"
On July 22, the UK House of Commons Library published a document under the heading: “Israel and the Palestinians: no through road?”
- This publication has the form of a research report, including footnotes and statistics. However, the contents consist largely of generalities and unsupported assertions based on “conventional wisdom” that distort the highly complex and multifaceted reality.
- The overall framing is based on a misleading narrative starting when “the West Bank and Gaza were invaded by Israel in 1967,” thereby erasing the underlying factors predating the 1967 crisis and war and which continue to determine events.
- The authors assert that “Many commentators identify the stance of the Israeli Government, and in particular of Prime Minister Netanyahu, as a reason for the receding prospects for a two-state solution.” In this and many other examples, the opinions of selected individuals are substituted for the independent expert analysis that a parliamentary briefing paper is expected to reflect.
- While acknowledging that the Palestinian Authority is increasingly seen by Palestinians as “irredeemably corrupt” and “incompetent in exercising its local governance responsibilities … and in pursuing its broader goals on the international stage,” the report then reverts to blaming the “aggressive and intransigent Israel.”
- The text glosses over Palestinian incitement and terrorism – factors which are essential in understanding Israeli democratic processes.
- The paper relies heavily on quotes from a narrow group of political advocacy NGOs (non-governmental organizations) whose statements are taken at face value, without independent evaluation. Citations from UN agencies and media platforms are based on the same group of NGOs.
- The discussion on peace efforts focuses on post-1967 settlements, occupation, and international law, citing, among other sources, the Israeli NGO Peace Now and the Swedish humanitarian aid organisation Diakonia, which have no credentials on this topic.
- The difficult economic situation in Gaza is attributed simplistically to Israel, based largely on allegations from an NGO known as Gisha, which promotes a partisan political and ideological agenda, at the expense of methodological rigor. The organization’s publications systematically omit essential factual information, including the use of aid by Hamas for constructing extensive attack tunnels and deploying thousands of rockets and missiles against Israeli civilians.
- In describing casualty figures incurred during the 2014 Gaza conflict, the report relies entirely on the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA-oPt). The publications of this agency in turn repeat the unverified claims of political advocacy NGOs. In addition, the OCHA publications do not distinguish between Palestinian civilians and combatants, reinforcing the image of Israeli wrongdoing.
- In considering Palestinian attitudes and perceptions, the report quotes an opinion poll by the Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research allegedly showing increased support for a two-state solution. However, the briefing paper omits the poll data showing that a majority of Palestinians rejects two-states and that 65% continue to support violence in the form of stabbing attacks against Israeli civilians.
- The text states that Palestinians “almost universally” cling to the claims of a “right of return” to Israel for millions Palestinian refugees and their descendants. Daniel Levy, a political activist, is cited in support of the assertion that the “right of return” is a “negotiating position on which Palestinians would compromise.” This interpretation is not backed by evidence, and is one of many different views on this core issue.
- Other entirely unsupported assertions based include:
“…the global BDS – boycott, divestment and sanctions – campaign has grown dramatically”
“Such movements are often strongly supported by increasingly influential networks of liberal Jewish activist groups in Israel and across the diaspora.”