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Campaign and petition email responses | Britain Must Act Now to Block Israeli Settlement Plans

Campaign and petition email responses

Britain Must Act Now to Block Israeli Settlement Plans

Thank you for contacting me on such an urgent and serious issue.

I am extremely concerned that the situation on the ground in Israel-Palestine is deteriorating quickly. In an already volatile region, any increase in violence and tension can lead to a full-scale escalation in the conflict. Diplomatic steps must be taken to ensure that this does not happen.

Recent events over have been deeply disturbing:

  • At the end of February, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian villages in Huwara - burning cars and houses, injuring over 100 Palestinians, and killing a man - in an apparent revenge attack after two Israeli brothers were killed nearby on the highway when a Palestinian man rammed their car and then shot them both several times;
  • In retaliation, an Israeli-American man was shot and killed in an attack on vehicles on a highway near Jericho;
  • Also at the end of February, an exchange of fire occurred between Gaza and the IDF;
  • On 11th February, Israeli Forces carried out a military raid in Nablus, killing 11 Palestinians including a 72-year-old man;
  • In January, Israeli Forces conducted a military raid in Jenin, killing several Palestinians including civilians;
  • Also in January, Palestinian citizens carried out two deadly shooting attacks in Jerusalem. Seven Israelis were murdered as a Palestinian gunman opened fire at a Synagogue in East Jerusalem. Two people were also injured the following day in a separate attack outside the Old City by a 13-year-old Palestinian;
  • In February, two Israelis - a six-year-old boy and 20-year-old man - were murdered in a car ramming attack at a bus stop in East Jerusalem.

These senseless acts of violence and displacement must stop. If they continue, there is a grave risk that the conflict may once again enter a critical phase of danger and escalation.

We welcomed the joint commitment from the Israeli Government and the Palestinian Authority to reduce this surge in violence and “to work towards a just and lasting peace” on 26th February. We also welcomed the Israeli Government’s pledge to halt new settlement construction for “the coming months.”

Nevertheless, as you rightly say, on the very day the Joint Commitment was signed, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted: "Contrary to the tweets, construction and regulation in Judea and Samaria [the West Bank] will continue according to the original planning and construction schedule, without any changes. There is and will not be any freeze."

Let me be clear: it is the SNP's unequivocal position that Israeli settlements in the West Bank are illegal under international law. The displacement of Palestinians and the demolition of Palestinian property is a violation of international law and can never be tolerated or ignored. The expansion of settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPTs) is in direct violation of the terms of military occupation under international law.

The SNP see these systematic and vicious acts of dispossession as a deliberate attempt to re-engineer the demographic make-up of OPTs.

Even before the most recent Israeli Government came to power, reputable organisations Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem, and the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territories all published separate reports concluding that the Israeli authority’s treatment of Palestinians in the OPTs amounts to the crime of apartheid. The UK Government is yet to fully respond to these reports.

Please be assured that I and my fellow SNP MPs in Westminster will hold the UK Government to account on its diplomatic strategy concerning Israel-Palestine, and push them to commit to taking action regarding recent developments of settlement expansion and spike in violence.

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