John Nicolson MP – Response to Constituents Gaza Questions


Categories: Events, News

I have received a substantial amount of correspondence about the appalling scenes we have all witnessed in Israel and Palestine. Constituents have asked me for my reaction.
I was appalled by the actions of Hamas – the murder and kidnapping of innocent civilians. Hamas operates without respect for civilian life either abroad or at home. Their record of human rights abuses against their domestic population is shameful.
We all know that Hamas do not speak for the Palestinian population. I am, therefore, appalled to see the innocent civilian population of Gaza subjected to shelling by Israeli forces. In defending itself Israel does not have the right to subject more than two million Palestinians, trapped in Gaza, to collective punishment. Nor does Israel have the right to cut off power and water supplies nor move the civilian population. 
Not only are these actions illegal under international law – they are, as history has shown, entirely counterproductive. Brutalising a civilian population does not build the foundations for peace with future generations of leaders from the community that has been brutalised. 
I have been visiting Israel and Palestine for more than thirty years. My first overseas trip as a Member of Parliament was to Israel and Palestine. Previously, as a working journalist I have interviewed many of the leaders on both sides, including the late President Arafat and Prime Minister Netanyahu. And I have spent a considerable amount of time interviewing the civilian populations in both countries. 
It is abundantly clear that there is no military solution to this conflict however much extremists on both sides wish to see one. Peace will only come through negotiation. That will mean, I believe, a two state solution and Israel’s withdrawal from illegally annexed land. 
The United Kingdom, because of our history, has a unique responsibility in Israel and Palestine. I was very moved to have elderly Palestinians, living in refugee camps, show me the keys to their homes and the ‘British Mandate of Palestine’ title deeds to their houses in land that is now Israeli. We owe them a debt of honour.
As a Scottish MP, I am always proud to be able to tell Israeli politicians who ask about our country that Jewish leaders here point out that Scotland is the only European country never to have had an anti-Semitic law on our statute book. 
As we face the coming weeks and months, I hope our political leaders will offer clear and unambiguous statements about international law and the responsibility of any occupying power. 
And at home, I hope we will be united in our support for our Jewish and Muslim communities. Both communities have seen an upturn in racist and anti-Semitic abuse and bigotry directed towards them. I deplore all such thuggery.