Dear Mr. Coote,
This is an open letter which will very shortly be published on our web site at:
In order to better understand the relationship between British political parties and the State of Israel, I recently read the pamphlet by Peter Oborne & James Jones which accompanied the Channel 4 Dispatches documentary “The Israel Lobby”. On page 15 I was interested to see that Cheltenham Conservative constituency party received a donation of £2000 from the Lewis Trust Group in the months after your visit to Israel. I also noticed that nine other Conservative constituency parties whose Prospective Parliamentary Candidates were contesting marginal seats also received donations totalling a further £21,500 from the Lewis Trust Group, a corporation which sponsors the Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI), who paid for the trips to Israel.
When you attended the meeting with Gloucestershire Palestine Solidarity Campaign last December you told us about your trip to Israel but made no mention of the donation from the private, family-owned Lewis Trust Group, which has connections to the right-wing Israeli elite. It was remarkable that you made no comment on the deaths in the Gaza strip of 1400 Palestinians in Operation Cast Lead. The Goldstone report`s damning conclusions concerning Israel`s use of white phosphorous and human shields in that massacre also merited no comment. The Israeli siege that the Gaza Strip is still under, and which predated Operation Cast Lead, is an act of war in international law.
At the moment only members of Gloucestershire Palestine Solidarity Campaign are aware of your, as yet, unqualified support for Israel. Your prospective constituents have the right to know your position on this extremely grave matter, they also have the right to know about your CFI-sponsored 4-day trip to Israel (a large amount of time to devote to one foreign policy issue), and the £2000 donation your constituency party received. Why not help to demonstrate that a new era of transparency has arrived in British politics by telling them? Only when they are in possession of this information can voters make an informed choice at the ballot box. The members of our group (and no doubt many other people in Cheltenham), are keen to know if you would continue to accept such donations in light of Operation Cast Lead.
If you would like read my research on the Lewis Trust Group it has been published on the aforementioned web site.
Gloucestershire Palestine Solidarity Campaign