The human rights situation in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory has continued to be a source of serious concern, a human rights and democracy report on the Palestinian territories in 2013 has shown.
According to the report, the British government's concerns centre on the continuation of Israel's violations of international law, human rights and international humanitarian law, as part of its occupation of Palestinian land.
The report said: "There has been an escalation in settlement expansion; a rise in the death toll of Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank; and an increase in the demolition of Palestinian property, with no real progress in easing Israeli restrictions."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague announced the publication of the report in a speech at the Foreign Ministry yesterday. The dossier sets out the steps taken to promote and protect human rights in 2013.
The report pointed out that the British government is also concerned about human rights violations in parts of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, especially those under the rule of Hamas in the Gaza Strip. It pointed to the deterioration of the humanitarian situation in Gaza as a result of the continued imposition of restrictions on the movement of goods and people and the closure by Egypt of the illegal smuggling tunnels.
Britain's priorities in 2013, the publication explained, included broad international action, led by the United States, for the resumption of negotiations, as well as applying pressure on Israel to cooperate with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' Universal Periodic Review. Furthermore, it aimed to focus on the treatment of Palestinian detainees, including children, in Israeli prisons; the expansion of Israeli settlement building; incitement of violence; expulsion and forcible transfer of Palestinian communities; promoting a ceasefire in Gaza and easing of Israeli restrictions.
The report pointed out that there had been some positive progress, where peace talks were resumed and Israel began to cooperate with the Universal Periodic Review and a ceasefire remained in force to a large extent. There have also been improvements regarding the treatment of detained children.
The report emphasised that in 2014 the UK will continue to support the move undertaken by the US to reach a comprehensive resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. It pointed out that it would continue to seek improvements in the treatment of Palestinian detainees, especially children; insisting on the need to stop demolitions and the expulsion of Palestinian property and encouraging the prosecution of Israeli settlers who resort to violence.