Dear Candidate/Foreign Secretary/…

It has recently come to my notice that behind the scenes manoeuvrings, in train since November 2007, are on the brink of resulting in Israel being admitted to the prestigious club of high-income democracies, the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

While Israel has been under intense public scrutiny for its bare-faced refusal to engage in a credible peace process and its numerous breaches of human rights principles and of International Humanitarian Law, not least during the Gaza offensive in winter 2008-09, technical working committees have quietly concluded that Israel meets the standards required for OECD membership.

Israel expects to be welcomed to the next annual Ministerial Council in Paris on May 27-28, despite daily infringing one of the OECD’s stated values: ‘a commitment to pluralist democracy based on the rule of law and the respect of human rights’.

The only quibble was over whether Israel should be allowed to submit data covering the territories it has illegally occupied for the past 43 years. In the absence of any public outcry – because this has all gone on in secret – 31 member countries seem to have agreed to let Israel get away with this, including Britain which had initially questioned the inclusion of statistics from the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

There is to be a disclaimer: ‘The data… in no way constitute the expression of an opinion by the OECD… on the legal status of the Golan Heights, East Jerusalem and the Israeli settlements in the West Bank.’ With this simple expedient OECD expects to wash its hands of the Palestinian people and their hopes of statehood, thus burying prospects for a just peace in the Middle East.

The benefits of membership for Israel would be immense, as evidenced by energetic lobbying for Israeli accession by Bank of Israel governor Stanley Fischer and the belligerently Zionist American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).

Accession at this time would quite rightly be seen by Israel as a victory and as a vindication of its culture of impunity. There is no incentive for Israeli leaders to take any real steps towards peace as long as they are rewarded for refusing to do so.

I urge you to write to the Foreign Secretary and to your own party leadership to convey my concerns about this potentially disastrous step by the OECD and urge them to freeze the membership process.

European states and the US need to use their trade relations with Israel as leverage, making  agreements dependent on concrete improvements in human rights on the ground. This might send a clearer message to Israel that the international community is serious about Middle East peace.

I attach a statement on this matter from the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee which speaks for more than 100 civil society organisations. To ignore their pleas while encouraging Israel to continue acting with impunity sends a very divisive message to the growing number of UK citizens who are outraged by the injustice suffered by the Palestinian people.

Yours sincerely,