News & Articles

Some published articles and blog posts from Tommy Sheppard MP

The Facts on the Ground

The Facts on the Ground

The hills around Jerusalem were drenched in sun the last time I was here. It brought out their significance and history. This week, though, the Holy Land has been visited by a Scottish winter. As I peer through the steamed up windows of our VW Transporter, it’s decidedly dreich out there.

I’m here on a parliamentary delegation to see if the political mood matches the weather. The trip is organised by the Council for Arab-British Understanding (www.caabu.org) and Medical Aid for Palestinians (www.map.org.uk). Over four days we have a packed schedule of meetings with Palestinian and Israeli officials, human rights groups and the UK Foreign Office. We also get the chance to see first-hand what it’s like to live under a military occupation.

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Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

I am a longstanding advocate of the Palestinian people and am vice convenor of the All Party Group on Palestine.  I am very proud to have written the motion and worked with colleagues across the political parties to succeed in having the motion discussed in the main chamber.

It is clear that if there is to be a viable two-state solution then the occupation has to end and the settlers will either need to be relocated or become citizens of a new Palestine. It’ll be one of the most difficult and complicated negotiations in international conflict resolution. But unless a halt is called to the settlement building programme and both sides commit to starting peace talks the situation will only get worse.

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Occupied Palestinian Territories: Israeli Settlements

Tommy contributes to the debate on Illegal Israeli Settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (8th February 2017).

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Point of Order - Paris Peace Conference

Yesterday I raised a Point of Order in the House.

Yesterday there was an international Peace Conference on Israel and Palestine in Paris.

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The Balfour Declaration

Next year is the centenary of the Balfour Declaration. If you’ve not heard of it, you will do. This 67 word statement by Sir Arthur Balfour, then British Foreign Secretary, is claimed by many to be the first public iteration of the British government’s support for a Jewish state in the Middle East. Despite its brevity it also declared support for existing Arab people in the region. Some, especially those who feel affinity with the State of Israel, see the centenary as a cause for celebration, and have begun the process.

I cannot agree. I find little to celebrate in that part of the Middle East today. Israel, which has become one of the most heavily militarised countries in the world, continues its illegal occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem and its blockade of Gaza, territory designated by the international community to become the fledgling State of Palestine. The resentment fuelled by the daily oppression of the occupation feeds a seething resentment of Israel, creating permanent tension and insecurity. Rather than seek a solution the right wing government of Israel is step by step annexing land by building illegal settlements across the occupied territories. This whole area is a powder keg that could blow at any time. Reasons to be cheerful? I think not.

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Local Government and Ethical Procurement

Tommy contributes to the Westminster Hall Debate on the Government's proposals to introduce updated guidelines on ethical procurement for local councils (15th March 2016).

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Israel/Palestine is a powder keg waiting to blow

Israel/Palestine is a powder keg waiting to blow

“Welcome to Israel” she said with no more sullenness than passport control officers the world over. And that was that, I was through. No “just follow me sir” to a windowless room, no search, no hassle. My colleague Hameed, who was organising our trip, wasn’t so lucky. An hour and a half later he joined our party on the other side of customs. We’re here on a four day trip from the UK parliament: six MPs, three Labour, and three SNP.

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Palestine and Israel

Palestine and Israel

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.

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Play From Gaza

Play From Gaza

 

This was a genuine fringe first: a play from Gaza in the heart of Edinburgh despite all of the obstacles in the way.

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Israel’s Treatment Of Non-Jewish Refugees

Israel’s Treatment Of Non-Jewish Refugees

Early Day Motion raises awareness of unfair treatment of non-Jewish refugees in Israel

Tommy Sheppard MP has sponsored an EDM calling on the Israeli Government to improve its treatment of non-Jewish, African asylum seekers. Less than one percent of applications by African refugees are successful, while Israel’s closest neighbours, Jordan and Lebanon, have each accepted millions of refugees fleeing Syria.

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All-Party Parliamentary Groups

All-Party Parliamentary Groups

You might have heard that Tommy has been elected Vice-Chair of the Britain-Palestine All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG). This is fantastic news for both Tommy and for the people of Palestine but you might be wondering what it means. As things develop in Westminster, one of the things Tommy and his staff team are keen to do is make Parliament as transparent as possible. As such, we will be writing a series of short articles about various aspects of the workings of Westminster. Given Tommy’s recent appointment, it seems appropriate to start with APPGs!

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Tommy's Blog Articles

Tommy Sheppard
30 March 2017
Tommy's Blog
Articles
Media
There have been some daft arguments put against allowing people in Scotland to have a choice about the future of their country. You have no mandate Ruth Davidson tells Nicola Sturgeon. Really? Did the SNP not mention this in their manifesto for the Scottish Parliament election last year? Let’s check. Maybe it’s buried away somewhere. No wait. Page 24 has a whole section on a second referendum. It...
Tommy Sheppard
11 March 2017
Tommy's Blog
I’ve been denounced – again! This time I appear to have incurred the wrath of the Catholic Church in Scotland’s hierarchy. A front page report in yesterday’s Scottish Catholic Observer claims I have a “plan” to outlaw Catholic schools and that my views are “chillingly intolerant”. Sadly due to the deterioration of Scottish journalism once great newspapers like The Scotsman have simply rehashed the...
Tommy Sheppard
19 February 2017
Tommy's Blog
Policy
The hills around Jerusalem were drenched in sun the last time I was here. It brought out their significance and history. This week, though, the Holy Land has been visited by a Scottish winter. As I peer through the steamed up windows of our VW Transporter, it’s decidedly dreich out there. I’m here on a parliamentary delegation to see if the political mood matches the weather. The trip is organised...
Tommy Sheppard
30 January 2017
Tommy's Blog
Policy
I write from the train, speeding towards London to begin another week traipsing the corridors of impotence. This week, as many, will be wall to wall Brexit as we debate the terms on which we should be leaving the EU, and try to protect Scotland’s position amid the chaos. But something else is dominating the international agenda and consumes the imagination of every person who dares hope for a bett...
Tommy Sheppard
26 January 2017
Tommy's Blog
Policy
You’ll not be surprised to hear that ever since the UK voted to leave the European Union, I have been receiving lots of letters and emails from constituents raising their concerns. While there have been a couple of requests asking me to respect the UK wide result and vote to trigger article 50, the vast majority have asked me to do all I can to protect Scotland’s place in Europe. That’s not a surp...