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Trump's contempt for human rights should scupper the state visit

If Theresa May won't cancel we must mobilise the biggest protests yet when the US President lands

US ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley’s announcement that Washington is quitting the UN Human Rights Council seems quite apposite given the Trump administration’s monstrous conduct towards children.

The revelation that a 10-year-old child with Downs Syndrome has been separated from her family at the Mexico-US border, following the stomach-churning audio-recording of caged infants crying for their parents, indicates that for Trump human rights is a foreign country.

Haley justifies the US action by the council’s refusal to eliminate standing agenda item 7 on the “the human rights situation in Palestine and other occupied Arab territories.”

This, for her, makes the council “a cesspool of political bias” because it “targets Israel unfairly by mandating that each session include a discussion of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

It would be amazing if a human rights council didn’t schedule their regular denial to people held down by military occupation and creeping colonisation of the West Bank and by Israel’s cat-and-mouse blockade tactics in the open-air prison of Gaza, which the UN forecasts will be unfit for human habitation by 2020.

Tel Aviv’s wanton slaughter of unarmed demonstrators demanding the right to return to their homes from which they were driven was backed by its US ally.

Benjamin Netanyahu’s apologists vacillate from calling the deaths inflicted by Israel’s well-dug-in snipers across the border from Gaza “accidental” to upholding them as defensive or justifiable by the political affiliations of those shot dead.

Israel and the US want agenda item 7 removed so there can be no institutional reminder of the violations of Palestinians’ human rights.

Palestinian casualties illustrate that Israel has no intention of compromising over its West Bank land grab and put on semi-permanent hold any prospect of genuine peace negotiations.

Trump outdoes his Israeli allies by using babies and toddlers as bargaining chips, interning them in wire cages and denying them their parents’ love and protection to make two political points.

One is to tell their parents, whom he designates “illegal” and worse, to leave the US and return to conflict, poverty and desperation.

The other is to blackmail Congress to back his plan for an impregnable wall along the border with Mexico or the children from the nations south of the Rio Grande get it.

He bickers with his political opponents about who passed which laws and when, but the reality is that he, as US president, could end the children’s torment without delay by a single phone call.

This man, let it be remembered, will be welcomed to Britain next month for a state visit at the behest of Theresa May whose first trip abroad after her appointment as prime minister was to Washington to declare her fealty to the emperor.

While shadow foreign secretary Emily Thornberry calls the incarceration of children and their parental separation “abhorrent and repulsive,” the best May can manage is “deeply disturbing. This is wrong, this is not something that we agree with. This is not the United Kingdom's approach.”

She evoked the mythical “special relationship” with the US, claiming that, “when we disagree with what they are doing, we say so.”

We can all imagine how brief, perfunctory and half-hearted any such diplomatic aside will be and how much respect Trump will accord it.

The PM ought to have announced that the inhuman treatment of children meant that the state visit is off. Her weak-kneed response should spark yet greater support for protests against Trump’s arrival here.

 

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