Scotland: Highland councillor calls for support for Palestine

Strathspey Herald, 16/12/2013 13:44:

Highland councillor calls for support for Palestine

[on the Strathspey Herald website:
Photo of the Hebrew Hor Homa settlement in occupied land]


A Highland councillor has demanded the local authority [Highland Council] denounces Israel’s “illegal” occupation of Palestine and compared it to South Africa during apartheid.

Donnie Kerr has lodged a motion at Thursday’s full council meeting in Inverness urging  it to condemn the Israeli government for its “occupation of Palestine’s east Jerusalem and the West Bank and its continuing illegal  blockage of Gaza”. But a Jewish group leader is alarmed that tension in this country may be inflamed by “disproportionate” political  criticism of Israel.

Councillor Kerr, an Independent Nationalist, said that Israel continued to ignore and breach international law and believes there will be backing for his move, particularly in the wake of Nelson Mandela’s death.

“Just as individual sanctions against apartheid in South Africa led ultimately to its demise there, so individual and collection sanctions against the State of Israel will end  apartheid and suffering in Palestine,” states the motion, which urges the council to resist any action that gives political or economic  support to Israel.

The former SNP councillor, who regularly wears a Palestinian badge, insisted there would be local backing, when asked if he thought constituents would prefer him to concentrate on Highland issues.
“I am aiming to ensure that Highland Council does not engage in activities or enter into contracts that give support to Israel’s illegal occupation and violations of international law,” said  Councillor Kerr (Inverness Central).
“In the week before Christmas and following the international outpouring of gratitude for Nelson Mandela, I believe that the motion will receive support from Highland councillors. Highlanders have a strong sense of fair play and  justice.
“In my work as a local councillor and as a supporter of local activities aimed at raising awareness about the Palestinian people’s struggle for self-determination, I have found there is considerable support from local people. We must do everything we can to  bring about a resolution that will allow both Israelis and Palestinians to live in peace with each other.”

The council could not confirm whether it had any ties, economic or otherwise, with Israel, at the time of going to press.

A similar motion has been supported by three other Scottish councils this year. Linda Martin, a Highland ambassador for the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, said it awaited the outcome of the debate “with interest” but was concerned at verbal and physical attacks on Jews. “The Scottish Council of Jewish Communities has no collective view on Israeli policies because Jewish people hold as wide a range of views as does the rest of society,”  said Ms Martin.

“We are, however, concerned at recent research findings that reveal verbal and sometimes physical attacks on Jewish people in Scotland because of their perceived identification with Israel, and the fact that disproportionate criticism levied at Israel by  some politicians makes people feel alienated and vulnerable.”

The motion has been seconded by Lochaber councillor Andrew Baxter.

Israel has been in conflict with the Palestinians and its Arab neighbours over ownership of land considered holy by Jews, Christians and Muslims since its creation in 1948.

The Palestinians in the West Bank and eastern Jerusalem have lived under Israeli occupation since 1967.

*** end of quote from Strathspey Herald ***


About Oban Concern for Palestine

. . . supporting people in Palestine and Israel who oppose the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza. Oban Concern for Palestine are a group of Argyll residents who share an interest in Palestine, a friendship with its people and a deep concern for their welfare. And, for the sake of Israel, we want to encourage the government of Israel to comply with international law. Oban Concern for Palestine believe that the oppression of the Palestinian people is a grave wrong, that the government of Israel is in violation of international law, and that we have a duty to speak up and do what we can to bring it to an end. We welcome new members and supporters. For more information, please contact obanconcern4palestine AT gmail DOT com • +44 7747 300 062 • Oban Concern for Palestine, c/o Stronchriach, Rowan Road, Oban, Argyll, PA34 5TY, UK
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