Gaza: A liveable place?

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

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A liveable place?  Walking to school in Gaza, November 2014:  Photo Jehad Saftawi

Martin Horwood’s motion to Lib-Dem’s autumn conference

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.

Horwood2The 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

What the media won’t tell you about East Jerusalem

demolition-of-abu-armelhs-house-in-jerusalem_2075166 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.

Concert for Children of Gaza this weekend, Coventry Cathedral

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Message from Worcester Palestine Friendship

Concert for the Children of Gaza

I would like to share news of a concert for the children of Gaza taking place at Coventry Cathedral this coming Saturday, 1st November to raise funds for the Palestine Trauma Centre. I know that many of you will have attended our recent public meeting where colleagues from the PTC spoke about the important work they do. Further details are on the attached poster. The concert is free, but booking in advance is still required so they can ascertain numbers. Please book through this link. http://www.tickettailor.com/checkout/view-event/id/18168/chk/e38c

There will be a collection at the end to support the work of the Palestine Trauma Centre.

EAPPI Talks In Cheltenham and Gloucester

Ann Davison will be giving two talks at the end of November.

Sat 29 Nov, public meeting at Friends Meeting House in Gloucester, 11am. Bring sandwiches for a shared lunch afterwards if you wish.

Sunday 30 November at Cheltenham Friends Meeting House: 12 noon (following Meeting for Worship at 10.30) again with a shared lunch to follow.

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The Palestine/Israel debate in parliament 13 October

Some MPs said that they had been unundated with letters and emails from their constituents …

Some quotes from the debate

…… Is it any wonder that confidence in a two-state solution is draining away when the Israelis push ahead with illegal settlements in the west bank? Is it any wonder that confidence is draining away when Bedouin Arabs in the E1 area live in fear of being moved on, and are not allowed to build proper schools for their children and so are forced to build them out of recycled tyres? Is it any wonder that confidence is draining away when those same Arabs put up swings for their children, and because they are denied the relevant permit from the authorities, the Israeli authorities come and take down the swings that the children play on? Is it any wonder that confidence is draining away when we see a conflict in Gaza that leads to 110,000 displaced Palestinians and the destruction of 22 schools?….(Jonathan Ashworth (Leicester South) (Lab))

‘My other Damascus moment came when I was standing at the Bethlehem checkpoint and saw the appalling humiliation heaped on Palestinian people. I spoke to a nurse at a hospital I visited as part of a charity I ran. She lived in Bethlehem, just a few miles from Jerusalem. It was just a short walk away, but she was never able to go to the city without enormous difficulties’ …. ‘now is the time to recognise the justice of the Palestinians’ case.’ (Sir Edward Leigh (Gainsborough) (Con))

….. recent events in Gaza and the continued, determined pursuit of illegal settlement building by the Netanyahu Government must influence us, but there is a deeper reason to support the motion, especially as crises escalate across the region….if we are to tell Arabs across the region to reject extremism, rockets, bombs and massacres that are deliberately aimed at killing defenceless civilians, we must also do more to support the moderate, democratic, pluralist leaders, such as Mahmoud Abbas, who have painstakingly pursued the diplomatic path towards peace and self-determination. (Martin Horwood (Cheltenham) (LD))

‘Over the past weeks my in-box has been flooded with hundreds of letters from my constituents. Their strength of feeling is undeniable, their arguments are heartfelt, and their conviction is deep-seated — and for good reason. I share those arguments and that conviction.’ (Lyn Brown (West Ham) (Lab))

And an interesting perspective from Andy McDonald:
‘My father served with the Army in Palestine from 1945 to 1948 during the currency of the British mandate. He did not say much about it, but he did tell me that, at the end of his tour of duty, he had a chit for leave to spend a last night in Jerusalem. However, his comrade pleaded with him to let him have the chit as he wanted to see a girl in town. He had fallen in love with her and did not know when he might see her again, so he was desperate. My dad let him have his chit, but sadly the vehicle that took the soldiers into town that night was attacked by terrorists and the seat that the love-struck soldier sat in bore the brunt of the attack and he was killed outright. That could have been my dad’s seat. There were other terrorist attacks—on trains and, famously, on the King David hotel. Among the terrorists were Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir, both of whom went on the hold the highest office in the newly formed state of Israel. The point I am making is that committed individuals and groups who pursue self-determination might at one time be deemed to be terrorists but then perceived as freedom fighters and, ultimately, statesmen. We need look no further than the journey made by the great Nelson Mandela, as well as taking a glance across the water to the island of Ireland.’
(Andy McDonald (Middlesbrough) (Lab))

Well worth reading and good to see many of our concerns raised by our MPs, whether or not you feel that a two state solution is possible.

Next meeting….. and more

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!

The website of Gloucestershire Palestine Solidarity Campaign