Scottish Parliament endorses Balfour Project Call to Action Sept 3rd 2019

Claudia Beamish MSP (Labour) introduced a members’ business debate on motion S5M-16637, “Towards an independent Palestinian state: a Scottish proposal” calling for action leading to an independent Palestinian state and acknowledging Britain’s historical responsibilities in what was to become Israel and Palestine. Claudia argued that British engagement is needed now to help secure a better future for both peoples. Scotland could act as the conscience of the UK, working for true equality through policies based on universal values and those international laws which Britain drafted, signed and ratified after World War II. She highlighted the work of the Balfour Project in raising British public awareness of the history of Britain’s involvement in shaping the Middle East.
She commended the six measures in the Balfour Project Call to Action:

  • an end to the closure of Gaza, imprisoning 2 million people
  • freedom of worship for all – Jews, Christians and Muslims – in Jerusalem
  • respect for the rule of law. Israeli settlements are illegal.
  • accountability: consequences for criminal acts, whoever commits them
  • British Government recognition of Palestine now alongside Israel and
  • commitment to defend the rights of both peoples, including the right to free and legitimate movement of goods and people between Gaza and the West Bank.

Sandra White (SNP), John Finnie (Green) and Alex Cole-Hamilton (Lib Dem) each spoke in support. Alex Cole-Hamilton recalled the McMahon – Hussein correspondence of 1915, when Britain promised to the Sharif of Mecca support for an Arab state – including Palestine – in return for an Arab uprising against the Turks. The uprising happened… .

Scottish Government Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop also clearly  endorsed the six measures, revealing that she wrote to the British Government last year encouraging it to recognise the state of Palestine, and adding “but as we know, it has not yet done so”. In the view of the Scottish Government:
 “Accepting Palestine as a state in its own right alongside Israel should be the starting point of negotiations”.
The Minister commended the work of the Balfour Project “to educate us all about the underlying causes of the Israel-Palestine conflict”.

Selected speeches from the debate can be seen here

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