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 .
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
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
The events at the Al Aqsa mosque and widely reported attacks by Palestinians on Israeli citizens (in contrast to those by Israeli’s on Palestinians which have gone virtually unreported) need to be seen in context.
Palestinians living under the occupation in East Jerusalem in particular have had to cope with an almost impossible level of interference with their daily lives. This reality – ignored by the Western media but which goes a long way towards explaining why some Palestinians are now resorting to desperate measures – is set out in a new PSC briefing ‘What the media won’t tell you about East Jerusalem’. See http://www.palestinecampaign.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/east-jerusalem-factsheet.pdf
Check it out; it’s well worth reading.
A fascinating interview on BBC Radio 3 with controversial Israeli historian Shlomo Sand talking about “How I stopped being a Jew”. Listen to this and you begin to understand what lies behind the apartheid towards Palestinians in Israel and just how difficult it will be to change anything.
If only there were more like him.
Pledges of $5.4B have been made for rebuilding in Gaza. This is why it is needed.
Gloucestershire PSC’s next meeting is on Thursday, 9 October 2014 at 7:30pm, at the Friends’ Meeting House, Warwick Place, Portland Street, Cheltenham GL52 2NP. Everyone welcome. Agenda 10-14
Plus: on 20 October in Oxford, there is an opportunity to hear the renowned radical Israeli historian Professor Avi Shalim talk on Israel and Gaza, the historical perspective. See http://www.palestinecampaign.org/events/avi-shlaim-israel-gaza-historical-perspective/#sthash.jxbzWvj8.dpuf
And, if you live in Cheltenham, please make a special effort to come to our meeting on Thursday 11 December, when our MP Martin Horwood will join the Group for a face-to-face discussion. Get the date booked in diary now!