ICAHD LOBBY PACK

Guidelines for effective lobbying of your representatives, diplomats and politicians.

Contents

Why Lobby?

            Lobby Against the Illegal Demolition of  Palestinian Homes

  1. The Issue
  2. The Impact

Is It Worth Lobbying?

How To Go About It

What Is ICAHD?

The Goal: A Just and Sustainable Peace

WHY LOBBY?

You can take action to further ICAHD’s human rights campaign by lobbying your MP, your MEP’s, representatives, diplomats and politicians. As your elected representatives, they can make your concerns heard in parliament and bring them to the attention of ministers. They have the responsibility to listen to what you say and to take it seriously. ICAHD (or other organisations) may call on members to lobby their MP, MEP’s, representatives, diplomats and politicians on a specific issue. However, you can also try to find out where your representive stands and make your views known to them.

Israel’s actions are important to them because –

  • The Israeli government has implemented policies that are in breach of international human rights agreements which Britain has undertaken to respect.
  • Israel’s policy of house demolitions and evictions is illegal under international law.  Its purpose is to displace entire Palestinian communities and expropriate their land.
  • Oppression in the Occupied Palestine Territory (OPT) with arbitrary arrests, attacks on the civilian population and restrictions on movement, etc. are a threat to peace in the Middle East and the whole world.
  • Britain is both a key trading partner of Israel and arms supplier.  It has the responsibility to ensure respect for human rights.

LOBBY AGAINST THE ILLEGAL DEMOLITION OF PALESTINIAN HOMES

The Issue:

Since 1967, more than 100,000 Palestinian homes in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza have been demolished by Israeli authorities – at least 50,000 in 1948 and the years immediately following, untold thousands more within Israel since that time (we have no exact figures as yet) and some 48,000 in the Occupied Territory from 1967 until today, leaving hundreds of thousands of Palestinians homeless. Of these 95% were unrelated to “security issues”. They are being demolished –

  • To steal land to build illegal Israeli settlements
  • To build Israeli-only roads in East Jerusalem and Occupied Palestinian Territory
  • To construct the apartheid barrier
  • For military installations
  • As collective punishment

The impact:

  • To confine Palestinians in crowded and disconnected zones
  • To prevent a viable Palestinian state from being created
  • To ensure that Israel has permanent control of the Occupied Palestine Territory

Since 1948, and especially since 1967 when the Occupation began, Israel has made life so difficult for Palestinian people that many leave – ethnically cleansing the original population from their land

Under the Fourth Geneva Convention Israel is prohibited from destroying property or employing collective punishment. Article 53 reads: “Any destruction by the Occupying Power of real or personal property belonging individually or collectively to private persons…is prohibited.” Under this provision the practice of demolishing Palestinian houses is banned, as is the wholesale destruction of the Palestinian infrastructure.

United Nations Security Council Resolution No. 1544 (2004) “Calls on Israel to respect its obligations under international humanitarian law, and insists, in particular, on its obligations not to undertake demolition of homes contrary to that law.”The Israeli government claims the majority of house demolitions are conducted for ‘administrative’ reasons and that the houses were built without a permit. Permits are almost impossible to obtain by Palestinians living under military occupation.

This cruel policy must be stopped. Please lobby your parliamentarians. Sign up to our email list now at info@icahduk.org to receive campaign updates.

IS IT WORTH LOBBYING?

Emphatically YES – for two reasons:

  1. We cannot assume that all politicians know the facts about the Occupation, or understand the Palestinian viewpoint, or the arguments about the illegality of Israeli government occupation policies. For many politicians, international issues are not a major issue. Try to make your political representatives think about the Middle East and about the situation of the Palestinians in particular, and be sympathetic.
  2. You can be sure that resource-rich, pro-Israeli lobbyists are at work on your representive to promote the Israeli viewpoint (Israel is under threat from terrorists; its actions are defensive, etc.). They need to be countered with better, stronger and more credible arguments.

HOW TO GO ABOUT IT

  • You can lobby as an individual or in a group; by letter or in an interview. An interview can be local or at the House of Commons.  Local is preferable as well as cheaper.
  • You can find the name of your MP on the website www.theyworkforyou.com. This is also a handy guide to parliamentary activity on Palestine (e.g. try searching for ‘house demolitions Jerusalem’ and see what comes up). You can also search for (your MP’s name) + Israel Palestine, which may give a useful indication of where they stand.
  • Equally useful is www.writetothem.com (UK). It enables you to send an email to your MP or MEP. You can use the email either to set out a case (calling attention to recent house demolitions or settlement expansion) or to request a meeting. The website provides information on running a campaign and taking constructive action. You can ask your MP to raise a question in the House of Commons, write to Foreign Secretary on your behalf or sign a particular Early Day Motion (EDM) on the issue. You can even suggest that they make a visit to the Occupied Palestine Territory and meet with ICAHD in Jerusalem (remember that ICAHD provides tours of East Jerusalem and the Jordan Valley and is much sought after by politicians and diplomats for briefings and analysis)– this is always an eye-opener.
  • Most MPs hold weekly advice surgeries for constituents, frequently on a Friday, but this may vary. You can call the House of Commons on 0207 219 3000 or call the constituency office number which will be found on your local MP’s website or at the local library. Explain briefly to their staff why you are requesting a meeting.
  • Decide what you want to say. Try to make sure that everything you say is factually correct and that you can back it up. If you use statistics that are exaggerated or unsubstantiated then you will immediately lose the attention of your MP.
  • Be specific and concise. See our briefing material for some of the issues to highlight.  Choose key points you feel comfortable making. Stick to one or two major points and lay out your argument in a brief, clear fashion.  Ask your MP to do something useful and inform you of the outcome.  The more MPs hear the issues the better.
  • Be as constructive as possible. MPs often say that in the past, constituents have used lobbies to release their anger. You need to ask what constructive things he/she can do to try and alleviate the situation. Even if he/she starts from a pro-Israeli position you might still enlist support against some of the Israeli government’s policies.
  • Always stay calm and composed. If your MP says things that you do not agree with, don’t react aggressively.  Be polite. Consider them as political allies not adversaries. You come across more effectively if you build a calm, rational argument – however difficult this may be.
  • You may well be contacting them over a number of years.  People can change over time.  You need to build a relationship of mutual respect to get anywhere.
  • All three major parties contain a full range of views within them so do not make assumptions based on the label.
  • Contact our helpline if you have any questions or just want a sounding-board before contacting your MP or MEP.  Ring ICAHD UK on 033 000 11033 for more info.

WHAT IS ICAHD?

ICAHD is a non-violent, direct-action group originally established to oppose and resist Israeli demolition of Palestinian houses in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. As our activists gained direct knowledge of the brutalities of the Occupation, we expanded our resistance activities to other areas – land expropriation, settlement expansion, by-pass road construction, policies of “closure” and “separation,” the wholesale uprooting of fruit and olive trees and more. The fierce repression of Palestinian efforts to “shake off” the Occupation following the latest Intifada has only added urgency to our efforts.

As a direct-action group, ICAHD is comprised of members of many Israeli peace and human rights organizations. All of our work in the OPT is closely coordinated with local Palestinian organizations.

Since its founding in 1997, ICAHD’s activities have covered three areas: resistance and protest actions in the OPT; efforts to bring the reality of the Occupation to Israeli society; and mobilising the international community for a just peace. Our activities include:

  • Resisting the demolition of Palestinian homes. When possible, ICAHD members physically block bulldozers sent to demolish homes. We also mobilise Israelis and Palestinians to rebuild them as acts of resistance. In addition to its effectiveness as a means of raising awareness of the workings of the Occupation, house rebuilding has proven an effective vehicle of grassroots peace-making.
  • Disseminating information and networking. Our familiarity with realities “on the ground” gives us special authority and insight in our frequent contacts with diplomats, politicians, fact-finding missions, NGOs, religious delegations, the public and the media. We work closely with other peace and human rights organisations in Israel, in Palestine and internationally on campaigns to end the Occupation and secure a just peace for all. ICAHD also conducts informational tours of the Occupied Territories from a critical peace perspective, sends speakers on tours and participates in international conferences and gatherings. ICAHD has Economic and Social Council consultative status at the United Nations.
  • Providing strategic practical support to Palestinian families and communities. In this way we learn about the internal workings of the Occupation, which we then convey to the broader public. ICAHD also cooperates with other human rights organizations to present legal challenges to Israeli actions and policies in the OPT.

 

THE GOAL: A JUST AND SUSTAINABLE PEACE

 

A just peace will provide all the peoples of the region with the security, dignity, freedom and economic opportunities they deserve.

The task before us is to dismantle Israel’s Occupation so that a just and lasting peace can be established on the basis of human rights and international law. In the wise words of Salim Shawamreh, a Palestinian whose home has been demolished four times by Israel and rebuilt each time by ICAHD: “Ultimately, what is good for the Palestinians is good for the Israelis.”

 

Lobbying your elected representatives is one way that we, as UK citizens, can lend our support to the Israelis who are working in support of the Palestinian people. Sign up to our email list now at info@icahduk.org to receive campaign updates.