We did not write concerning some 'escalation of violence in Gaza' - what weasel words to describe Israel's crimes against humanity, Palestinian humanity...You have pointedly ignored our reference to Alex Salmond's 2010 statement that "you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in". Your letter makes clear beyond doubt that the SNP Government will indeed "have normal relationships" despite "what Israel has been involved in".
Correspondence between SPSC and Scottish Government
Sent: 04 February 2013
Subject: SNP: Neutral in situations of injustice?
Many thanks for your response. We are indeed aware that the Scottish government is not in control of Foreign Affairs. However, as a member of the Scottish Nationalist Party we would expect you to clarify to the Scottish electorate whether or not foreign policies in an independent Scotland will at all challenge Westminster’s tradition of militarism and complicity with countries involved in gross human rights violations such as Israel.
Your proposed strategy “to find a peaceful way forward” simply replicates that proposed by the current UK government – William Hague has equally condemned settlements on a number of occasions while of course hypocritically retaining active economic and political relations with Israel. It is therefore increasingly unclear how Scottish independence is expected to make a difference on foreign policies, for example to contribute to the freedom struggle of Palestinians and the end of Israel’s apartheid regime.
Desmond Tutu said “if you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor”. Those individuals who responded to South Africa’s call for boycott can now be proud of having contributed to the end of an apartheid regime. Equally, the Scottish public is not neutral to the latest attack on Gaza where human beings, victims of an ugly yet unchallenged siege, and deprived of basic human rights, were further massacred in an indiscriminate killing operation. Indeed, an unequivocal break with the promoter of such injustice is necessary.
The Scottish public is also not neutral to Israel’s on-going occupation of the West Bank. The rapid process of colonisation and settlement expansion has led the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) to call on governments to sanction Israel on the issue of illegal settlements in its most recent report - a report which Haaretz has called the UN’s “harshest condemnation of Israeli policy in the West Bank since 1967”. You may have noted that the report also called for Israel to be brought before the International Criminal Court. Perhaps more pertinently:
“The Mission calls upon all Member States to take appropriate measures to ensure that business enterprises domiciled in their territory and/or under their jurisdiction, including those owned or controlled by them, that conduct activities in or related to the settlements respect human rights throughout their operations”.
We would argue strongly that, in light of this, the Scottish government should, as a matter of urgency, review all contracts and procurement agreements with any company engaged in the catalogue of abuses detailed in the HRC report. Any company found to be involved should be removed from procurement agreements and any future contract bidding. This is the minimum the Scottish government should be doing, anything short would be the continuation of the deep insult of empty words the Palestinian have had to endure for years on top of everything else. They’ve been demanding action not words, a demand we took to Alex Salmond during the last attack on Gaza. The HRC report presents a significant step forward in that it finally begins to call for the action the Palestinians rightfully demand. It opens the door for progressive states, regional and local governments, as well as non-state actors around the world to begin cutting all ties to the illegal settlements with the knowledge that not doing so amounts to actual support for Israel’s expansion policies in flagrant disregard for the UN HRC and international and humanitarian law.
The Palestinian civil society call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) goes much further than the issues of settlement expansion and the rights denied by Palestinians in the West Bank. Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, like many in Scottish civil society echoes this call and campaigns to boycott all Israeli companies and institutions and companies linked to them. We welcome the HRC recommendations without compromising our commitment to the BDS aims which seek to secure the rights of all Palestinians, including equality for those with Israeli citizenship and the return for the refugees.
On a final note, we’re acutely aware that we are in the midst of a historic debate on Scotland’s future. We believe any strategy of mirroring the UK stance on Palestine-Israel or not ‘rocking-the-boat’ is politically and strategically bankrupt. It is precisely on an issue such as Palestinian rights that the SNP government should be exhausting every possibility to demonstrate to the Scottish electorate just how more principled, more progressive a nation the SNP envisions an independent Scotland being.
A large proportion of the Scottish voters require reassurance that Scotland will NOT be neutral in situations of injustice in order to be persuaded of the benefits of independence.
We therefore reinforce our demands and ask that as Minister for External Affairs and International Development, you openly:
- Condemn Israel’s latest attack on Gaza.
- Ensure that, in the areas of procurement and funding, the Scottish Government does not contract with or support any companies that are complicit with the Israeli occupation.
- Reject future invitations to meet representatives of the Israeli State, in line with Alex Salmond’s sentiment that “you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in”.
- Embrace the UNHRC’s call to take Israel to the International Criminal Court, based on this courts “jurisdiction over the deportation or transfer, directly or indirectly, by the occupying power of parts of its own population into the territory it occupies, or the deportation or transfer of all or parts of the population of the occupied territory within or outside this territory”.
We look forward to your response.
On behalf of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
Date: 9 January 2013 17:51:47 GMT-03:00
To: Mr Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for External Affairs and International Development
Subject: Scottish Government complicity in Israeli crimes
We note with anger and contempt your reply to the letter from Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign to First Minister Alex Salmond of 15 November 2012 concerning Scottish Government normalisation of relations with representatives of the Israeli state, technical cooperation with that state and grant of Scottish Government funds to an Israeli settler company, Eden Springs, guilty of human rights violations.
We did not write concerning some 'escalation of violence in Gaza' - what weasel words to describe Israel's crimes against humanity, Palestinian humanity - but to remind the First Minister of his previous position that the seriousness of Israeli crimes call for sanctions against that state. We asked that this position be maintained.
You have pointedly ignored our reference to Alex Salmond's 2010 statement that "you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in". Your letter makes clear beyond doubt that the SNP Government will indeed "have normal relationships" despite "what Israel has been involved in".
You have dashed the hopes for progressive political change placed in the SNP Government by so many during the dark years of New Labour and Tory support for aggressive militarism and Israeli crimes. Eternal shame on you that you attempt to justify your Party Leader's abandonment of support for the violated people of Palestine behind weasel words of neutrality and supposed even-handedness.
There is not a word in your letter of Israeli crimes or the rights of Palestinians being violated. Some of your words could have come from the offices of William Hague or Tony Blair, and rub salt in the open veins of Palestine: "We continue to urge all parties to engage constructively, proportionally and within the obligations imposed upon them by international law, to find a peaceful way forward".
Are you aware that 'constructive engagement' was the official name of US President Ronald Reagan's policy towards Apartheid South Africa, a policy of covert support followed by Thatcher, a defiance of the appeal from South Africa for boycott, and generally seen as having prolonged the life of that apartheid regime? And this support for Israel from someone who used to support Palestine, your words written just as Israel announced thousands of new illegal Jewish-only settlements.
I know that you well understand personally that Israel conducts periodic massacres to enforce its illegal occupation and its brutal form of apartheid, political, military and economic supremacy for Jews over Palestinian Arab Muslims and Christians, but you issue meaningless prattle concerning the need for 'both sides' to move towards 'a peaceful two-state solution', calling for peace between nuclear-armed Israel and Palestine.
Between the coloniser and the dispossessed, the hideous American settlers in Palestinian homes and the owners thrown onto the street, you have the temerity to call for 'peace' and 'constructive engagement'. How cowardly and despicable!
In apartheid South Africa, Humza, you would have been legally inferior to any 'White' from the day you were born till the day you died. (The regime there denied this, of course, calling it 'separate development'.) In present day Israel, Muslim and Christian citizens are made to accept inferior status in a state that claims to exist for Jews from all over the world. Apartheid is an abomination, whether based on pigmentation or religion.
You confirm that the First Minister met with the Israeli Ambassador to discuss 'issues of mutual interest', thus violating the appeal from Palestine for the isolation of the apartheid state. It also raises the question of what mutual interests Scottish people could have with the criminal State of Israel.
You further confirm that Fergus Ewing met with Israeli Embassy representatives to discuss Scottish expertise in 'technology and IT', discussions that would be useful to a state using its sophisticated technology and IT to perpetrate heinous war crimes and imprison a whole people. Most Scots will repudiate this offer of Scottish technology and IT to the apartheid State maintaining an illegal occupation.
Finally, you defend a grant of taxpayers' money during a period of austerity for the many to the Scottish arm of Eden Springs, an Israeli settler company and egregious human rights violator. You are financing Eden Springs to promote the products of Sodastream, another Israeli settler company involved in violations of international law, asserting that it will create Scottish jobs. You can produce no evidence in support of this claim but your argument that any company, however tainted by criminality, is welcome if it produces jobs is despicable and, once again, a continuity with New Labour and Tory policies where many had hoped for a shift towards an ethical element in Government policy.
Is it better to have never had any sense of ethics, as with Cameron or Blair, or to have had one and traded it for a ministerial limo? In any event, Humza, once you have defended normalisation with the state of Israel, repudiating the call from Palestine for boycott to pressurise it to end it's crimes, you have occupied the same political terrain as those who supported apartheid South Africa, from which it is impossible to come back.
"When Governments collude in the crimes, citizens must step up their opposition and support for those whose rights are being violated."
On behalf of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign
From: Mr Humza Yousaf MSP, Minister for External Affairs and International Development
Date: 18 December 2012 17:04:31 GMT-03:00
To: Scottish PSC
Subject: Letter from Mr Humza Yousaf MSP - The Escalation of Violence in Gaza
Thank you for your email to the First Minister dated 15th November outlining your concerns at the escalation of violence in Gaza.
The Scottish Government welcomes the United Nations (UN) general assembly's decision to recognise Palestine as a non-member observer state. The vote in favour of enhanced UN status for Palestine accords with our long-standing view that a two-state solution is needed and will ensure that Palestinian people have a legitimate and equal voice. Long term peace in the region will benefit the people of both Palestine and Israel. The Scottish Government's position was to support Palestine as an enhanced UN member state at the vote on 29 November. Shortly before the vote I wrote to the UK Government urging them to vote yes.
The Scottish Government also welcomes the continued ceasefire between Israel and Gaza which has been brokered by Egypt. The Scottish Government supports the UN Security Council's calls that Israel and Hamas uphold the agmement, and support all ongoing international diplomatic efforts to achieve peace in the region. We continue to urge all parties to engage constructively, proportionally and within the obligations imposed upon them by international law, to find a peaceful way forward.
Prior to the ceasefire, the First Minister released a statement on the matter which outlined the Scottish Government's position relating to violence in the region. This can be found on the Scottish Government's website http://www.scotland.qov.uk/News/Releases/2012/11/Gaza-FM-201112. I also spoke with the UK Foreign Office last month to air our concerns and to stress that the UK Government must ensure that it used its voice strongly in all efforts to help secure a lasting ceasefire.
I'd also like to take this opportunity to assure you that our policy is one of engaging with both sides in the conflict to urge them to take the necessary steps towards a peaceful two state solution. The First Minister held a courtesy meeting with Mr Daniel Taub, Israel's Ambassador to the UK on 24 October. The meeting was part of the Ambassador's first official visit to Scotland and a number of issues of mutual interest were discussed. I also met with the Mr Manuel Hassassian, Head of the Palestinian General Delegation to the United Kingdom, last month.
Your email also referenced the Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism's meeting with representatives of the Israeli Embassy. I'd like to clarify that the Scottish Government received a request from Israel's Trade and Economic Office in July this year to discuss Scottish expertise in life sciences, technology and IT. Minister Ewing accepted that invitation in September and met with Mr Shani, Israel's Minister of Trade and Economic Affairs in Londonon 13 November, before the most recent escalation of hostilities in Gaza.
In respect of your comments regarding Eden Springs the Scottish Government is tasked with delivering economic growth for Scotland and to work with Scottish companies to achieve this. The assistance provided to Eden Springs by Scottish Enterprise is specifically to support its Scottish operation and, through that, Scottish employment.
I hope this reply has been helpful in setting out our position on this matter.
From: Scottish PSC
Sent: 15 November 2012 18:31
To: Alex Salmond, First Minister
Subject: URGENT: statement needed from Scottish First Minister on Gaza
Dear First Minister
You represented the feelings of a majority of Scots when you supported the campaign to impeach Tony Blair some time ago, and again more recently when you argued that “you can’t have normal relationships if you believe another country has been involved in what Israel has been involved in…whatever measures you take, it cannot just be a diplomatic dance…”.
Many saw these words as a move away from support for Israel’s endless violations of international law and their crimes against humanity, Palestinian humanity. Our campaign has publicised your positions favourably over the years.
We were, therefore, disappointed to learn that during Israel’s ongoing siege and killings of Palestinians in Gaza, you felt able to have a meeting with the Israeli Ambassador in Bute House without publicly raising with him Israel’s human rights violations.
How modest were our hopes. John Swinney awarded a substantial slice of Scottish taxpayers’ money to the UK subsidiary of an Israeli settler company, Eden Springs, involved in human rights violations.
The stock of politicians has fallen to very low levels, and you have been seen by many as an exception - ready to take a stand against endless aggressive wars based on lies and to oppose Israel’s brutal crimes against the Palestinian people.
Successive London governments have maintained until today a policy of virtually unconditional support for Israel that is making the world a more dangerous place.
There is a special place in heaven for those who repent: we ask you to stand by your words of not so long ago, and let Scots know that the Israeli Ambassador will not be welcomed officially in Scotland until Israel ends its brutal siege of Gaza, a cancer in the Middle East that will spread hatred against all who condone or turn a blind eye. We also ask that you cancel the meeting agreed between Scottish Minister for Energy, Enterprise & Tourism, Fergus Ewing and representatives of the Israeli Embassy while Israel denies basic Palestinian human rights.
We look forward to your reply.
Secretary, Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign