Dear All,
Something is beginning to shift in Gaza. Let’s hope the current ceasefire will hold and the Israeli troops will soon all be gone from Gaza.

External Affairs and International Development Minister Humza Yousaf has today urged the UK government to introduce an immediate arms embargo to Israel

Click on the link above to watch the live recording of the parliamentary session provided by BBC Democracy Live.

Responding to the question from SNP MSP Sandra White, Glasgow-Kelvin, “What action has the Scottish Government taken regarding the situation in Gaza?”, Scottish External Affairs Minister Humza Yousaf stated:
“The Scottish Government condemns in the strongest possible terms the escalating cycle of violence, be that rocket attacks or airstrikes, in Gaza and Israel, and its disproportionate impact in particular on civilians in Gaza, who the UN estimates make up of some 75% of the Palestinian dead.
“We’re apalled that the death toll now stands at over 1,800 inlcuding nearly 400 children. We’re pleased to know that a ceasefire was announced last night and the withdrawal of Israeli troops reported this morning and a call for meaningful peace talks [made].”

He outlined contributions by the Scottish government towards humanitarian aid and offers of specialist medical treatment in Scotland.

He continued to state that the Scottish Government calls “for an immediate lifting of the blockade in Gaza, which we believe to be tantamount to collective punishment.”

“We cannot, should not and must not stand idly by while innocent civilians are being killed. I am today on behalf of the Scottish government calling for an immediate arms embargo to Israel.
“The UN has said that there is a strong possibility that international law has been violated and the UN Secretary General has described the recent shelling of a school in Rafah as a criminal act.
“It is imperative we decipher whether or not UK arms have been used in any violation of international law. Until that has been confirmed the UK must implement a complete arms embargo to Israel.”

Further responding to SNP MSP Sandra White, Humza Yousaf continued that the Scottish Government calls for “an immediate UN investigation into all civilian deaths. Those who have violated international law must feel the full force of international law and be brought to justice – on all sides.

He condemned the indiscriminate rocket attacks from Gaza, adding, however, that the Scottish Government “have condemned the actions of the Israeli government in Gaza as heavily disproportionate.”
“Children playing on a beach … or sleeping in a UN shelter are not terrorists; they have committed no crime.”

Labour MSP Patricia Ferguson, Shadow Culture and External Affairs Secretary, expressed her hope that the ceasefire will hold and that humanitarian aid will reach those most in need.

Deploring the loss of lives on both sides, Ms Ferguson expressed utter condemnation of “the targeting of UN schools, particularly when we now know that the UN has guaranteed that there are no missiles, no weapons and no terrorists occupying those particular facilities, by the Israeli forces.”
Ms Ferguson further condemned “the sheer scale of the loss of lives in the small strip of land the Palestinians inhabit.
“The only way this apalling tragedy will end is if the world community backs a secure Israel and a viable Palestinian state, the end of illegal settlements, the dismantling of the separation wall and the restoration of water and fuel supplies to Gaza as soon as possible.”

Humza Yousaf expressed his complete agreement with Ms Ferguson, citing UN Human Rights Commissioner Navi Pillai who said that there was a strong possibility that international law has been violated, and that a UN investigation with international partners was imperative.
He stated: “The UK must show urgency to support peace … by   dismantling the separation wall, the removal of illegal settlements and, of course, the lifting of the inhumane and illegitimate blockade of Gaza”, which has been described by the Scottish First Minister as “an open-air prison” in which no civilian person should be forced to live.

The minister reaffirmed the Scottish government’s commitment to the two-state solution but stressed that “action towards that must be immediate”. Mr Yousaf also condemned Hamas’s objectives.


Please note that our friends at Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign have e-mailed round the following press release:
5 August 2014
Campaigners have responded positively to the Scottish Government call for an immediate arms embargo against Israel and a UN led investigation into Israel’s war crimes. These moves were described by the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) as a significant stance to take against Israel after more than 1,800 Palestinian women, men and children have been massacred in Gaza.
The news follows  the statement by the Scottish Government that it has not offered help to an Israeli state funded theatre company to find a new location for its show in Edinburgh which was cancelled following protests.
Claims by the Israeli government that the Scottish Government was assisting in the search for a venue for the Incubator Theatre company were rejected following news that another performance at the Edinburgh Fringe receiving funding from the Israeli government had been cancelled.
Albie O’Neill, spokesperson for the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, described the news as a hugely significant development. “The tide is turning. The decision by the Scottish Government to call for an immediate arms embargo and a UN led investigation into Israel’s war crimes is a massive step in the popular campaign to isolate Israel.
“The claim by the Israeli government that the Holyrood government was assisting them shows how low they are prepared to stoop in using culture to mask what they are doing in Gaza. To implicate the Scottish government is an outrageous act which demonstrates the depths to which they will sink.
“On behalf of the thousands who have protested over the last few weeks we ask Ministers to explain why they continue to oppose the Palestinian call for peaceful protest through boycott, divestment and sanctions against the state of Israel while developing trade and diplomatic links with the Israeli government.
“The UK government can no longer count on the support of its own ministers over Gaza, and now the Scottish government has strengthened its stand against Israel in support of the people of Gaza.
“The state of Israel does not heed international law and so, more pressure is needed.  On behalf of the thousands who have protested over the last few weeks, we ask Ministers to explain why they continue to oppose the Palestinian civil society call for peaceful protest through boycott, divestment and sanctions – such as that being carried out by thousands of Scottish people – against the state of Israel while developing trade and diplomatic links with the Israeli government.”

1. Contact: Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign
Albie O’Neill • albie @scottishpsc. org. uk • 0772 547 0071
2. There will be a lobby of the Scottish Parliament on Thursday 7 August at 12noon.
MSPs are expected to attend following First Minister’s Questions at 12.30, when there will be a photo opportunity.

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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  1. Margret says:

    This morning, 6 August 2014, Lib Dem Ministers are urging the Tory side of the UK Coalition to SUSPEND ARMS LICENSES TO ISRAEL.
    Let’s hope the current ceasefire holds.
    With many thanks to Alan Reid MP for passing on the link.
    Alan Reid MP, 95 Alexandra Parade, Dunoon, Argyll PA23 8AL
    Tel 01369 704840 • @parliament. uk

  2. Liam says:

    “children … sleeping in a UN shelter are not terrorists” –
    This part of the MSPs statement as I have received it, requires challenging. It seems to infer that, though some victims of Israel’s ethnic cleansing are innocent children, there are “legitimate terrorist” targets in Gaza and Palestine.

    We need to define the term “terrorist”. If Hitler’s fascists had invaded the UK in 1940, would my sons, two generations later, not be “terrorists” if they pulled up beside collaborating fascist “British” policemen to shoot them, or if they were carrying out other armed resistance activity? If Hitler’s army were still stationed in the UK in 2014, 74 years after invasion, would I be a terrorist if I continued to resist?

    Would we define the thousands of “civilian” resistance fighters of Europe who died in Nazi torture chambers as “terrorists”? Would we define the secret agents from the UK who landed by moonlight in occupied France as “terrorists”?

    When does “resistance” become “terrorism”? Didn’t Winston Churchill promise to resist Fascism, on the beaches from the fastness of our Empire etc, even if its evil forces occupied the British islands?

    With the passing of time, would Churchill’s statement and its intent have defined him as a “terrorist”?

    I understand the admirable aims of the Pacifist, and in my own weak and ineffective way would hope try to deploy only “Pacifist” and Democratic means to end the illegal subjugation of Palestine and the Palestinian People by Israel.

    Israel has no right to Gaza. Israel has no right to the so-called “occupied Palestinian territories” – numerous UN pronouncements say so.
    Balfour and the original map-makers who split up the Ottoman Empire are quoted in the House of Commons as saying they would make a homeland for Zionists “IN Palestine”.
    Very soon after that statement was officially recorded in Hansard, the Times Newspaper of the day, at that time very much the UK Government mouthpiece, modified that statement to say that a Zionist homeland would be made “OF Palestine”.
    The Naqbas of 1948 and 1967 and now in 2014 see that minor change of grammatical preposition becoming a geo-political fact.

    Sorry for the history lecture, but I will not give an inch to these Israeli assassins, these Israeli murderers of children, these Israeli bombers of hospitals, these Israeli ethnic cleansers.
    I refuse to legitimise these Israeli terrorists and I urge my Scottish Government to boycott all trade and commerce, cultural and sporting links with Israel, and to sanction all those who would engage in such links.

    Liam Griffin
    For a Just and Lasting Peace of Equals
    Member, Oban Concern for Palestine and Scottish Friends of Palestine

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