23 December 2016
As members of the UK-Palestine Mental Health Network we welcome Security Council Resolution 2334 which “reiterates its demand that Israel immediately and completely cease all settlement activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, including East Jerusalem, and that it fully respect all of its legal obligations in this regard”.
In all our visits to the Occupied West Bank and meetings with Palestinian Mental Health professionals, the link between poor mental health outcomes and the effects of military occupation, land seizure and settlement building is inescapable. Palestinians are daily faced with brutality if they try to resist the illegal expropriation of their land and shame and humiliation if they do not. This inevitably leads to high rates of depression. The sense that the international community has abandoned them compounds the loss of hope for Palestinians. Now there is the possibility for a process which might just bring some hope. But it will need to be tested by its material effects on the lives of those who suffer under occupation.
One of our Network members attended an event in Hebron which started on 10 December 2016 to mark International Human Rights Day and focussed on the utterly dire situation of the Palestinian citizens of Hebron and Tel Rumeida and the effects of settlement expansion, settler violence and military closures. The impact on school children of constant intimidation from settlers is particularly grave and it is in direct contravention of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, to which Israel is a signatory.
The Security Council Resolution is of course welcome and we are pleased that our government supported it. However, if it is to carry any credibility, it will need to have direct impact on the ground in communities such as Tel Rumeida.
We therefore urge our government to keep up the pressure on Israel so that the future of a yet another generation of Palestinians is not blighted.
Martin Kemp (and other members of the steering group)