Letter from UNISON to MPs re Justice and Peace
in Palestine and Israel
17th May 2004
TO: SCOTTISH MEMBERS OF PARLIAMENT
JUSTICE & PEACE FOR PALESTINE & ISRAEL
I am writing to you on behalf of the UNISON Scotland International
Committee to express our grave concern about the ongoing situation
in Palestine and the direction of the Israeli, US and United
President Bush's approval of the Israeli state unilaterally
declaring its borders and the acquiescence of the Prime Minister
in this has completely undermined Britain's previous approach
to securing a negotiated settlement. That Sharon's plans have
run into difficulty with his own party is no comfort given the
clear signal of support the US and our own government has sent.
The West Bank and Gaza are both illegally occupied by Israel.
There are countless UN resolutions requiring Israel to withdraw.
It is simply not acceptable for Ariel Sharon to dictate to the
world which parts he is prepared to quit and which parts he
wants to incorporate into Israel. By backing the Sharon plan,
President Bush is endorsing a flagrant flouting of international
law by Israel. Against this background, President Bush's claim
that he still wishes to foster meaningful negotiations between
the parties in accordance with the Road Map is meaningless.
The Palestinians do not occupy one inch of Israeli territory.
They recognised the state of Israel years ago and simply assert
that that they have an equivalent right to statehood alongside
Israel. Just imagine the outcry there would be if the Palestinian
Authority now said they were prepared to accept some of Israel's
internationally recognised borders, but not others. Sharon is
not only saying this kind of thing to the Palestinians, he is
trying to impose it with tanks, settlements and the separation
wall. It is appalling that this should be applauded by the President
of the United States.
By imperiously dismissing the right of Palestinian refugees
to return to their homeland, President Bush is again trying
to override an explicit decision of the United Nations, without
even the most cursory attempt to see what the refugees themselves
think. Most Israelis simply want to live in peace and freedom.
Most Palestinians want the same. Extremists on both sides threaten
the prospect of achieving those things. Sharon's plan to "disengage"
from Gaza has been exposed as a device to deepen his control
in the West Bank. By letting Sharon get away with it, President
Bush has single-handedly boosted the credibility of extremists
on both sides and given a new impetus to the cycle of violence
which has already claimed too many innocent lives.
If Britain is to retain credibility in the Middle East and
contribute to achieving a just and durable peace in the region,
the time has come for Tony Blair to distance himself from US
policy. International law applies no less to Israel than it
does to anybody else.
I would ask that you write to the Prime Minister and encourage
him to distance himself from US policy regarding Israel and
Palestine and do more to deliver on his commitments made during
the Labour Party Conference speeches of 2001 and 2002. When
he spoke of the "slums of Gaza" and his commitment to seeing
the Palestinian people prosper in their own land, going so far
as mentioning the 1967 borders.
UNISON Scotland International Committee
cc International Committee
Staff by email