Cheltenham, as most will know, is a two-horse race between the Conservative candidate and the Liberal Democrat incumbent. Here’s a very brief summary of where each stands on Israel/Palestine…
Visited Israel courtesy of the inluential lobby group Conservative Friends of Israel (CFI) back in 2007. Subsequently accepted a donation of £2000 from the Lewis Trust Group, one of the key backers of CFI. In conversation with GPSC in December 2009, seemed very willing to listen, but gave very little away regarding his own position; until the end of the evening that is, when – in answer to the question of what he considered was the first step to peace – he said that “Hamas needed to lay down arms and recognise Israel”. Lest folk forget, this was post Israel’s murderous assault on Hamas-run Gaza in 2008/9, an assault described by renowned international jurist Richard Goldstone as a “deliberately disproportionate attack designed to punish, humiliate and terrorise a civilian population”.
Has consistently taken GPSC’s concerns to the relevant Foreign Office officials, and – in conversation with GPSC in January 2010 – confirmed he advocated a solution rooted in international law. Also seemed aware of the importance of both addressing and ultimately resolving the key issue, that of the refugees driven from their homes in 1948 and ever since denied the right of return, in contravention of international law. Horwood has also endorsed an official Liberal Democrat pledge on Palestine which, though it doesn’t go far enough, represents a welcome departure from the status quo positions adopted by both the Conservatives and Labour. The pledge can be found at: http://www.palestinecampaign.org/index7b-2.asp?m_id=1&l1_id=3&l2_id=51&content_ID=1268