The Israeli occupation have barred British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly from visiting the Palestinian village of Ein Samiya in the West Bank, according to sources. This village has recently witnessed the forced evacuation of its Palestinian residents due to escalating violence from Israeli settlers.
Cleverly, who had planned a three-day trip to Palestine in September, had intended to visit Ein Samiya. However, multiple sources said that the Israeli occupation denied the request. This restriction also extended to Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt and Irish Foreign Minister Micheal Martin, who had planned visits to the village.
An Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson revealed on Tuesday that the decision to block the ministers’ visits was made in consultation with Israeli security officials.
The spokesperson added that the Israeli occupation would evaluate each visit on a case-by-case basis. Cleverly, upon his return to the UK, did not publicly mention the Israeli restrictions on his itinerary, despite the British government’s financial support for projects in the West Bank, including an elementary school in Ein Samiya. Tragically, the Israeli occupation demolished the school in mid-August, shortly after over 170 Palestinian residents were forced to flee due to increased settler attacks.
These displaced residents are currently dispersed across the West Bank, with many taking refuge in an open mountainous area near Ramallah. Yvonne Helle, the UN’s acting humanitarian coordinator for the Occupied Palestinian Territory, emphasized that the families did not leave voluntarily but were compelled by repeated home demolitions, threats to their only school, and ongoing settler violence.
This situation highlights a new stage in the Palestinian issue, where Israeli settlers often receive support from Israeli occupation forces during their attacks on Palestinian villages, towns, and neighborhoods. An estimated 650,000 to 700,000 Israeli settlers live in numerous illegal settlements and outposts in the West Bank and Jerusalem, territories occupied by Israel since 1948. Palestinians in these areas frequently endure hundreds of Jewish settlers attacks each year, including physical assaults, stabbings, shootings, and arson.
In response to the Israeli refusal to allow Cleverly’s visit to Ein Samiya, the British foreign secretary invited representatives from the affected village to meet him in Ramallah. However, one villager, Abu Najih Kaa’bniy, expressed skepticism about the outcome of the meeting, wondering whether Cleverly would take meaningful action.
Hazem, another resident, pointed out that the Israeli occupation have repeatedly banned foreign officials from visiting Ein Samiya, noting previous cancellations of delegations. Chris Doyle, the director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CABU), criticized Cleverly’s silence on the matter and the UK’s perceived failure to hold the Israeli occupation accountable for its actions.
Sarit Michaeli, the international advocacy lead for Israeli human rights group B’Tselem, challenged the security rationale behind the restrictions, asserting that there were viable options to ensure the safety of international visitors. Michaeli also criticized Cleverly for not speaking out about the situation, which she argued prevented British taxpayers from understanding the reality faced by Palestinians in Ein Samiya.
In her view, both the Israeli occupation and the international community share responsibility for allowing such restrictions to persist without consequences. She urged visiting ministers to demand change and action against such policies.