Palestine Solidarity Campaign call for SNP to strengthen opposition to occupation


Activists prepare for SNP Palestine debate at Spring conference 

CAMPAIGNERS for justice in Palestine hope next month’s SNP debate on illegal Israeli settlements will provide a springboard to strengthen its opposition to occupation. 

A motion, tabled for the mid-March conference in Glasgow by six party branches, calls on the party to “condemn the Israeli Government’s current move to pass into law measures aimed at legalising illegal settlements already in occupied Palestinian territories”. 

The motion follows a resolution passed at the United Nations Security Council condemning settlements in December 2016, and persistent efforts by SNP Friends of Palestine to persuade the party to strengthen its resolve on the issue. 

Tommy Sheppard MP, a co-signer of the motion, told CommonSpace: “2017 is the year we need to make it right for Palestine. The SNP policy, the UK gov policy, the UN policy for many decades has been a two state solution

“You can’t have a two state solution when one state is occupying the other. 100 years since Balfour, 70 since the Nakba, 50 since the ’67 occupation, and it’s ten since the Gaza blockade. 

‘Britain should apologise for Balfour Declaration on its centenary’

“Balfour is one that people have talked about. In marking 100 years since the Balfour declaration, we have to see it’s very much unfinished business. The second part of that declaration referred to there being ‘no detriment’ for Palestine, and whatever your view on Israel it can hardly be said there’s been ‘no detriment’.”

Sheppard has previously called for a wider debate on ‘Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions’ (BDS) in response to the occupation of Palestine.

Mick Napier of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign criticised the motion for not going far enough.

A motion on Israeli settlements in Palestine to go before the SNP conference

“This motion is terrible, only re-stating UK Government policy on the illegal settlements as a barrier to a desired and desirable two state solution, a policy that is no more than a fig leaf for further Israeli dispossession of Palestinians and long since made impossible by settlement building,” Napier told CommonSpace. 

“The motion accepts the absurd fiction that the UK Government has been exerting some kind of ‘pressure’ on Israel to end settlement building. Arms sales, lucrative trade deals, and unflinching political and diplomatic support at the UN and other international bodies do not suggest pressure.

“Worst of all is the support for the Israeli position of bilateral peace negotiations between the ethnic cleansing regime in Tel Aviv and the Palestinian people (during which Israel will continue to massacre and dispossess).

“There is no acknowledgement of the Palestinian call for international pressure on the Israeli regime through BDS to force Israel to end its crimes: even the Scottish Government’s 2014 call for an arms embargo on Israel is thrown down the memory hole. 

“The SNP is making it clear it will not oppose the crimes of the state of Israel.”

Convener of SNP Friends of Palestine Andy Murray said previously to CommonSpace that the motion presented “a starting point for a far wider debate”.

The Scottish Government procurement policy “strongly discourages trade and investment from illegal settlements”, including the occupied Palestinian territories. 

The Scottish Government also called for an arms embargo on Israel following the 2013 bombing of Gaza, which killed 1,903 Palestinians including 450 children.

MSP Ivan McKee, speaking to CommonSpace, added: “It’s something that hasn’t been talked about for a while, I believe. It’s a topical issue for a lot of reasons, including the UN resolution. There was also a recent SNP delegation with Angus Robertson and others over there not that long ago.

“The sense I’ve got is that there is a significant level of support for that position [the motion] within the party. SNP Friends of Palestine set up last year is obviously working to coordinate and get this issue onto the agenda. 

“There will now be a debate and a chance for members to stand up on the floor at one of the biggest conference in the UK and speak their mind.”

Picture courtesy of K M Foto

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