Campaigners urge a focus on human rights while SNP depute leader hopes Scotland can contribute to Isreali-Palestinian peace
THE campaign group within the SNP in favour advocating for Palestinian rights and statehood has emphasised that all human rights infringements should be central in Angus Robertson’s first official trip to Israel and Palestine.
The newly elected SNP depute leader will lead the first official party delegation to Israel and Palestine for a week to find new ways in which Scotland can advocate a peaceful solution to the long-running conflict.
The news follows the news that the Palestinian Liberation Organisation (PLO) has published a letter calling on the UK Government to apologise for the 1917 Balfour declaration; in which the UK Government promised to establish “in Palestine a national home for the Jewish people.”
“Another issue I would like to see discussed is the very worrying detention of Palestinian children without charge under Israeli military law.” Andy Murray
Andy Murray, convenor of the SNP Friends of Palestine told CommonSpace: “I would expect that they [Robertson and the delegation] will be meeting with senior cabinet members from each government during the visit. I’m certain that the discussions will cover the persistent roadblocks to a just, equitable settlement in the region which are the ongoing creeping annexation of the West Bank with the unabated construction of illegal settlements and the increasingly malevolent military occupation.
“Another issue I would like to see discussed is the very worrying detention of Palestinian children without charge under Israeli military law. A greatly increasing number of children are being snatched from their homes at gunpoint in the middle of the night, detained in Israeli prisons without any visitation from their parents or family for months in some cases.
“This is a very worrying addition to a growing list of human rights abuses the Palestinian people have to endure under this occupation which is now entering its 50th year.”
Campaigners point to decades of repeated encroachment on Palestinian land, bombing campaigns and the enforcement of a blockage by the state of Israel on the Gaza strip as evidence of repression.
There have been demands by international actors and agencies, including the US, for a cessation to the building of illegal Israeli settlements on Palestinian land but these have been ignored, with the UK and US continuing to arm the Israeli state.
The nearest attempts at peace were the Oslo Accords, signed between 1993 and 1995, which led to a period of progressive negotiation between the PLO and the state of Israel. Yet, recent efforts have been thwarted by military campaigns, rock attacks by the group West-bank based Hamas and continued Israeli settlements on Palestinian land.
“I am really keen that Scotland should aspire to offer help and assistance. When I am in Israel and Palestine I want to learn about how we can be more supportive in the search for peace.” Angus Robertson
Up to 30 of the SNP MPs in Westminster support the SNP Friends of Palestine group with leading examples such as Tommy Sheppard, Angela Crawley and Dr Philippa Whitford supporting a free independent Palestinian state. Additionally, Angus Robertson, who met the Palestinian ambassador to the UK Prof. Manuel Hassassian, was keen to state how Scotland could offer any assistance to moves towards peace between the two actors.
Writing ahead of the visit, SNP depute leader Angus Robertson MP said: “Conflict in the Middle East is sadly not new, but the focus is currently very much on Iraq, Syria and Yemen. Given the scale of the horror in the Syrian civil war, the fight against Daesh in Iraq and the Saudi bombing in Yemen it is perhaps understandable that the decades-old conflict involving Israel and Palestine is less in the spotlight. The challenges in the Holy Land have not gone away, however, and the need for a resolution and peace are as acute as ever.
“Having long supported peace and reconciliation initiatives, I have been encouraged to explore whether there is any way Scotland can offer help and assistance. We are of course limited in Scotland by the fact that we are not a sovereign state actor (yet), but there are still things we can offer.
“I am under no illusion about the scale of the task that Palestinians and Israelis face in reaching a settlement or limited progress along the way. Even limited progress has been agonisingly slow and there have been so many backward steps. But I am really keen that Scotland should aspire to offer help and assistance. When I am in Israel and Palestine I want to learn about how we can be more supportive in the search for peace. There are many people in Scotland who want to help, including our Jewish community and campaigners for Palestine. Hopefully, together we can help make a difference, no matter how small."
Picture courtesy of Andy Murray
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