27 February at 14:30 at Friends Meeting House, Warwick Place, Cheltenham GL52 2NP
Taysir Arbasi, Palestinian Director of Zaytoun, with Almond and Olive Farmer Mohammad Rsheid of the Palestine Fairtrade Association, will talk about Fairtrade in Palestine – Supporting resilient liveliehoods.
Lunch is available between 1pm and 2pm at a cost of £5.
And for anyone in London …. ON NOW till March 14 At Royal Court Theatre, a new play by Palestinian writer Dalia Taha http://www.royalcourttheatre.com/whats-on/fireworks
and discussions … chance to hear her and other Palestinian writers … and even Palestinian hip-hop …
The situation in Gaza is desperate because of the winter weather and the damaged infrastructure. Details here.
The European Parliament has been playing an increasingly important role in supporting Palestinians living in the West Bank and Gaza. It has also been highly critical in the past of Israel’s over-reaction to Hamas and its wanton destruction of the civilian infrastructure in Gaza.
So we were surprised to see that the newly elected Green MEP for the South West, Dr. Molly Scott Cato, had voted against an EU resolution in September condemning the latest attacks on Gaza in operation Protective Edge. We wrote to ask her why.
We have now received a very full reply on Molly’s behalf setting out both her own views and those of the group of UK Green MEPs. It explains that the decision to vote against the September resolution was because it didn’t go far enough. For example, Molly is also calling for a comprehensive arms embargo throughout the region, the immediate lifting of the Gaza blockade and termination of Tony Blair’s role as ‘Peace Envoy’ for the Middle East.
Coincidentally, we have also been sent a copy of a reply from another South West MEP, the Conservative Ashley Fox, responding to a request that he support the calls being made for a suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement. This strikes a very different note, starting with “Hamas is a terrorist organisation. lt deliberately provoked an Israeli military response whilst sheltering behind the people that it professes to protect in the knowledge that many of them would be killed in the violence.” Mr. Fox did, however, vote in favour of the September resolution as did our other Conservative MEP, Julie Girling .
You can read both responses here and draw your on conclusions. MollyScottCato081214 AshleyFoxMEP
We are still trying to elicit the views of UKIP given that they also have two MEPs representing the South West. Previous requests to the self-styled ‘Earl of Independence’ – a.k.a. William the Earl of Dartmouth – went unanswered but we will try again. And we will write to Claire Moody, the Region’s one Labour MEP . Also newly elected in 2014, she too voted in support of the September resolution.
More to follow when we get a response.
Want to tell Martin Horwood how much you support his recent stance on Israel/Palestine … or berate him for not doing enough? Whatever your views, now is your chance. Martin has agreed to meet the Group at our next meeting – on 11th December at the Friends Meeting House, Cheltenham, starting at7:30 pm. So please come along and show him just how much interest there is in this issue here in Cheltenham.
This is the first of the meetings we intend to arrange with candidates in next May’s general election; others to follow in the new year.
Click on this link for a note of the issues we hope to discuss. Horwood 111214
Films and talks, until 16th December
Bristol Palestine Film Festival
There are talks this weekend by Ann Davison about her work with the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme (EAPPI) in Israel and Palestine. (Organised by Gloucestershire Quakers)
Saturday Gloucester Friends Meeting House at 11 am
Sunday Cheltenham Friends Meeting House at 12 noon (the same place as PSC meetings, map to the right)
UNA Gloucestershire have arranged for an illustrated talk and discussion on “Gaza: A liveable place” led by Hilary Browne, starting at 7:30pm on Tuesday, 25th November, at the Victory Club, Burlington House, Lypiatt Road, Cheltenham GL50 2SY.
Hilary is a Quaker from Bradford. She has spent time in Jerusalem, the West Bank and most recently, in 2013, in Gaza. For more details see http://www.una.org.uk/events/una-gloucestershire-county-gaza-liveable-place
A liveable place? Walking to school in Gaza, November 2014: Photo Jehad Saftawi
We have belatedly come across – but were pleased to see – an emergency motion put to the LibDem’s autumn conference in September by Cheltenham MP, Martin Horwood – “A Holistic Pathway to Peace in the Middle East” – and approved by them.
It develops the party’s policy across the whole of the Middle East taking into account the current situation. On Palestine it:
- Condemns the recent conflict in Gaza, particularly the indiscriminate firing of thousands of rockets into Israel by Hamas, Israel’s disproportionate military response and the high number of civilian casualties;
- Condemns the annexation of more land in the West Bank by Israel to develop further illegal settlements;
- Notes with concern the severity of the humanitarian disasters that have been created by conflicts and instability in the region.
Among several recommendations the motion calls on the UK Government to apply continued pressure on Israel to cease its illegal acquisition of land in the West Bank. It also ask the Government to encourage the EU to recognise the State of Palestine within pre-1967 borders, with negotiated land swaps on the basis of each side’s entitlements under international law.
The motion can be criticised as being rather weak when compared to that passed by the EU on Gaza in September and with the contribution by many of Martin’s fellow MPs to the debate in Parliament in October. And it is disappointing that Martin didn’t think to tell any of us who write to him regularly on Palestine about his success in getting the motion carried. Nonetheless it will be a good starting point for our discussion when we meet Martin on 11 December.
Click here to read the motion, listen to Martin and hear the debate: http://www.libdems.org.uk/f35a_a_holistic_pathway_to_peace_in_the_middle_east