I have long been a supporter of the Palestinian people, whose suffering at the hands of disproportionate Israeli Defence Force (IDF) attacks has been harrowing. The occupation of Gaza and the continued expansion of settlements in the West Bank is both illegal and deeply unhelpful.
The current escalation in violence is particularly concerning with the IDF effectively implementing a shoot to kill policy on Palestinian citizens.
It is absolutely essential that we start approaching the Israel-Palestine conflict from a position grounded in a fuller understanding, and willingness to apply, international humanitarian law. An approach to tackling this conflict that is grounded in human rights is the most responsible way forward for decision makers in the international arena.
However it is important to acknowledge that progressive Israeli opinion does exist. I recently attended a meeting to hear the testimony of Yehuda Shaul, co-director of Breaking the Silence. Yehuda served in the IDF as a commander and platoon sergeant. He founded Breaking the Silence in 2004 with a group of fellow veterans to share their experiences serving in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. We need to connect with the progressive voices across Israel and build links to move towards a peaceful resolution.
I remain actively involved in, and committed to, raising awareness of the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. I am an active member of SNP Friends of Palestine, vice-chair of the Britain-Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group and in regular communication with the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign (PSC). During the recent state visit of Israeli Prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu, I spoke about the continued injustice of the treatment of Palestinians at the protest outside Downing Street attended by a number of my SNP colleagues.
I will continue to liaise with the PSC as well as other groups to ensure I can do as much as possible to alleviate the suffering of the Palestinian people. Last week I wrote to Philip Hammond to express my concern once again and ask him to make a statement to the House on the UK Government’s response to the current situation, and how they plan meet their obligations under international law to protect Palestinians.
We need to talk about democracy. The UK government recently hosted its first ever “National Democracy Week” – with no sense of irony.
We absolutely should be celebrating the 90th anniversary of the equalisation of voting ages for men and women. Nobody would argue with that.