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No Way to Treat a Child

The Union notes that: 

  • Roughly half the 6.8 million Palestinians living between the Mediterranean Sea and Jordan River, an area encompassing Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, are children. Across this area, Palestinian children – like adults – are living under a system of oppression that multiple human rights organisations have confirmed meets the legal criteria of apartheid. 
  • The Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that childhood is entitled to special care and assistance, but Palestinian children are routinely denied their right to life, right to education, right to adequate housing, and are denied access to healthcare, among other rights denials inherent in a decades-long Israeli occupation. 
  • In January 2023, the International Court of Justice handed down an interim ruling affirming that there is plausible evidence Israel is committing genocidal acts against the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip. Over a period of five months, over 31,000 Palestinians have been killed, 70% of whom are women and children. 
  • The humanitarian situation in the Gaza Strip is catastrophic. 70% of all homes have been destroyed, along with schools, hospitals, and places of worship. Only a fraction of hospitals are even partially functioning, with doctors resorting to makeshift equipment and carrying out surgical operations without anaesthesia or pain relief. Palestinian children are dying from famine and disease, as well as bombs, as Israel prevents essential aid from reaching them. 
  • The UK is legally obliged to implement the provisional measures ordered by the International Court of Justice. This includes that the killing of Palestinians must stop, and that emergency aid reaches the people of Gaza and basic services restored. 
  • The United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) provides critical relief for Palestinian refugees, including 1.7 million people in Gaza, and preserves their rightful claims as refugees. In January 2023, the UK suspended all funding to UNRWA with the impact of further limiting aid available to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, and has still not resumed funding, even after the EU, Canada and Sweden have done so. 
  • The UK’s Strategic Export Licensing Criteria states that export licenses should not be issued if there is a clear risk that those exports might be used in a serious violation of international humanitarian law. Despite the ICJ interim ruling on plausible genocide, the UK is still exporting weapons and military technology to Israel. 


This Union resolves to: 

  • Call on the UK government and opposition parties to support an immediate and permanent ceasefire in Gaza; the reinstatement of funding to UNRWA, and an increase of UK aid to Gaza; and for an immediate suspension of arms sales to Israel. 
  • Continue supporting the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and the important work they do in the UK, including through their partnership with Defense for Children International-Palestine and the ‘No Way to Treat a Child’ campaign.