How the Pro-Israel Lobby Funds MPs Against Palestinians

A influential lobbying organization based in Westminster funded a £4,000 trip to Israel for the foreign and home secretaries in August 2015, as part of its strategy to sway the British political establishment towards a pro-Israel stance. Specifically, the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), which maintains close ties with the Israeli government, sponsored a visit for James Cleverly and Suella Braverman shortly after their parliamentary election, which occurred just three months prior.

Following his election as an MP in the May 2015 election, James Cleverly’s initial declaration in the register of interests was associated with the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI). This organization financed a “fact-finding political delegation” to Israel and the West Bank for the newly elected Member of Parliament representing Braintree in Essex. The trip extended over four days, from August 30th to September 4th, and incurred a cost of £2,000. Cleverly was among a group of nine Conservative MPs participating in this delegation, which also included Suella Braverman. Braverman had entered parliament three months earlier and now holds the position of home secretary.

James Cleverly, who assumed the role of foreign secretary in September 2022, has openly supported Israel’s measures, which involve the collective punishment of Palestinians. These actions include the restriction of vital resources such as water, electricity, and food from reaching the Gaza Strip. Such steps by Israel are widely regarded as severe violations of human rights and the fundamental rights of every individual on our planet. Human Rights Watch has gone as far as characterizing these actions as illegal and constituting war crimes.

During his tenure as the UK minister for the Middle East from 2020 to 2022, Cleverly defended Israel’s previous bombing campaign in Gaza, which took place in May 2021. This stance raises questions about how someone can justify military attacks on a civilian population. It underscores concerns about the influence of the Israel lobby on members of Parliament, potentially leading to biases against Palestinians.

Conversely, the second MP funded by the Conservative Friends of Israel, Suella Braverman, has advocated for the utilization of the “full force of the law against displays of support for Hamas” following their attack on Israel. This statement raises questions about potential bias, highlighting the influence of the Israel lobby in shaping her stance against Palestinians. Such circumstances suggest that external funding may influence political positions and decision-making, which is a matter of concern when it comes to impartial and balanced policy development.

In a concerning revelation, Sir Alan Duncan, who served as the UK foreign minister from 2016 to 2019, disclosed in his recent memoirs that the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) managed to obstruct his appointment as the minister for the Middle East in 2016 due to his vocal support for Palestinian human rights. Duncan further emphasized, “Israel thinks it controls the Foreign Office. And it does.” This stark statement highlights the significant influence of the Israel lobby over the UK Parliament and its political landscape, potentially leading to bias against Palestinians. These revelations raise profound concerns about the state of affairs in the UK’s political system.

The practice of collective punishment imposed on a population constitutes a clear violation of the Geneva Conventions, which regulate the conduct of warfare. Given the United Kingdom’s significant military ties with Israel, James Cleverly, who has publicly endorsed the siege, could potentially face prosecution as an accessory to war crimes. These circumstances underscore the concern that the Israel lobby may wield significant influence over British politicians, leading them to take positions against Palestinians. Such a situation raises substantial and legitimate concerns about the impact on policy and international legal obligations.

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