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Sunday, December 4, 2016
Westminster: MP calls for urgent action on Gaza
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 In parliament yesterday. MP Jeremy Corbyn spoke out about the humanitarian crisis unfolding in Palestine: "We cannot simply stand idly by whilst a large number of wholly innocent civilians in Gaza are condemned to life in a prison, because of Israel's illegal actions. It is being clearly stated by a number of significant individuals in the UN and beyond, that the 4th Geneva Convention is being breached. The UN representative (and law professor) John Dugard has, in no uncertain terms, condemned what Israel is doing as such a war crime. Jeremy Corbyn stated: "This is a serious allegation by a senior UN official that Israel should be committing a war crime of the collective punishment of individuals. This country has very close relations with Israel. We supply some degree of military parts to Israel now. I hope to hear from the Minister that the government is putting the strongest possible pressure on the government of Israel, and demanding economic sanctions. The peace process will not come about by a one sided process of support being given to President Abbas." The Islington North MP spoke of his five separate visits to Palestine over the years, three of them including trips to Gaza. Most memorable was the visit he made to Gaza in 2006 as an election observer. Despite having UN accreditation for the purpose of observing the elections, he still had to spend hours negotiating his way through Israeli border crossings. The Palestinians themselves managed to carry out painstaking election procedures, which would duly be applauded by the international community, at least for a short while. When it was known that Hamas won the election, the international mood turned decidedly cool, and sanctions employed by many countries simultaneously, became the most significant contributor to what is now a very desperate situation indeed. With Israel ensuring that: - a significant percentage of the democratically elected Palestinian politicians remain in prison; - a wall is being built that continues to steal Palestinian land and enclose more Israeli settlements and divide the country - the closure of hugely important crossings such as Karni / Rafah. - 1.4 million residents virtually imprisoned in Gaza, (referred to often in the parliament and outside as an "open air prison", and subject to violent incursions by the Israeli army - the refusal of Palestinian refugees being allowed to return home - Israel's total disregard for a significant number of UN resolutions - Israel's flouting of the EU Association Agreement, notably its human rights clauses Our government must insure that international law is upheld, and must continue to put the time and energy into speaking out against Israel's current siege on Gaza, and all of the above. Throughout the debate in parliament, in which MPs concerned about the humanitarian crisis in Gaza spoke passionately. Most, including Jeremy Corbyn, went out of their way to condemn violence on both sides, and that included reference to the rockets being fired by Palestinians from Gaza, so often cited as the cause of Israeli attacks. Many Members referred to the disproportionality in violence that exists given that, for example, the ratio of Palestinians dead to Israeli dead in 2008, to date is 72 to none. Members expressed concern that the Israeli Deputy Minister of Defence wants to cut the fuel off from Gaza completely, not just in the short term. The lack of food, fuel and medicines simply cannot continue and Jeremy Corbyn pointed out the very negative results of Israel's behaviour toward Palestine visa-vis the occupation, and the strong feeling that exists among many Israelis to such collective punishment being meted out. Jeremy Corbyn said: "Such a siege is doing nothing but enhancing support for Hamas, and can the Israeli government not see the stupidity of its actions." A countrywide relief convoy and Israeli demonstration in solidarity on the Gaza border, with a parallel Palestinian demonstration in the Strip taking place this Saturday. Corbyn said: "I want peace and I want people to be able to live in peace, a political problem needs a political solution. Israel will not bring about peace by punishing the Palestinians. "What is going on in Gaza right now is illegal, immoral and is a collective punishment and it is happening before our very eyes, and we must deal with it, with a political solution."
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