Netanyahu was not arrested

When it was announced that Netanyahu was due to visit the UK, I with thousands of others asked that he should be arrested and put on trial for war crimes.  The Government response is below.

This is my open letter to the UK Government.

I was saddened but not surprised by your refusal to arrest  Netanyahu[i] for war crimes.

What did surprise me was the manifest weakness of your reply.   At a time when hundreds if not thousands of people in Europe are volunteering to join ISIS clarity and honesty are essential.

You state that the UK position is a two state solution based on the 1967 borders. What should follow from this is a set of credible policies that encourage that end result.

First there should be a clear acceptance that Israel is working every day to make certain a two state solution will not happen. The de facto annexation of East Jerusalem and the slow ethnic cleansing there, mean that Palestine will not have a credible capital. The continuing building of Israeli colonies in the West Bank make economic independence of a future Palestine not feasible.

There should be a clear condemnation of the day to day oppression of Palestinians.  Earlier this month a group of Palestinian Bedouin were removed from their own lands by the Israeli military.[ii]

Having identified the obstacles (Israeli actions) to your claimed solution, there should follow a set of policies to encourage Israel to desist. Here are three obvious ones.

1. An immediate ban on Israeli imports or exports from any firm or body that has dealings with the illegal colonies.

2. An immediate end of the arms trade with Israel.

3. Proposals to European Union and UN to force expansionist Israel to end its illegal activities.

(We in PSC support the Boycott, sanctions and divestment policy.)

Instead of credible policies you choose to

1. State that Israel has a right to defend itself.

2. Condemn Hamas for its rockets aimed at Israel.

3. Condemn Hamas for building tunnels with the intent of ‘kidnap and murder’.

4. Emphasise ‘excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation’ between Israel and the UK.

Where is the acceptance that Palestinians have the right to defend themselves? Where is the condemnation of the illegal colonies? Israel kidnaps and murders Palestinians on a far bigger scale than the reverse, yet there is no criticism. Where is the condemnation of the drones that killed innocent children of Gaza?

You are silent that British shops like Sainsbury’s profit from Israeli Apartheid.

You say nothing about the Israeli firms like Elbit in Lichfield that make those drones.

In summary expansionist Israel is behaving illegally. The UK gives lip service to opposing those policies while in practice facilitating them. In short you are hypocrites.





[i] Under UK and international law, visiting heads of foreign governments, such as Prime Minister Netanyahu, have immunity from legal process, and cannot be arrested or detained.

The British Government has invited Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as head of the Israeli Government, to visit the UK in September. Under UK and international law, certain holders of high-ranking office in a State, including Heads of State, Heads of Government and Ministers for Foreign Affairs are entitled to immunity, which includes inviolability and complete immunity from criminal jurisdiction.

We recognise that the conflict in Gaza last year took a terrible toll. As the Prime Minister said, we were all deeply saddened by the violence and the UK has been at the forefront of international reconstruction efforts. However the Prime Minister was clear on the UK’s recognition of Israel’s right to take proportionate action to defend itself, within the boundaries of international humanitarian law. We condemn the terrorist tactics of Hamas who fired rockets on Israel, built extensive tunnels to kidnap and murder, and repeatedly refused to accept ceasefires. Israel, like any state, has the right to ensure its own security, as its citizens also have the right to live without fear of attack.

The UK consistently urged Israel to do everything possible to avoid civilian casualties, to exercise restraint, and to help find ways to bring the situation to an end. The UK continues to urge the parties to give priority to reaching a durable solution for Gaza which addresses the underlying drivers of conflict, and to take the necessary practical steps to ensure Gaza’s reconstruction and economic recovery.

We welcome the fact that Israel is conducting internal investigations into specific incidents during Operation Protective Edge. Where there is evidence of wrongdoing those responsible must be held accountable whatever their position in society. Both parties must also demonstrate robust and credible internal investigations which are in line with international standards. We have also encouraged the Israeli authorities, as we do all countries, to cooperate with the independent Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) regarding the preliminary examination into the situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories since 13 June, 2014, whilst noting that Israel is not a State Party to the ICC.

The UK is a close friend of Israel and we enjoy an excellent bilateral relationship, built on decades of cooperation between our two countries across a range of fields. Our priority for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains the achievement of a two-state solution, based on 1967 borders. We continue to believe that negotiations will be necessary in order to achieve this, and that both parties need to focus on steps that are conducive to peace. The UK Government will reinforce this message to Mr Netanyahu during his visit.



Fair play for Palestine

Gathering for the March in Cardiff, Sunday 5th September
Gathering for the March in Cardiff, Sunday 5th September
An international presence at the Cardiff demo
An international presence at the Cardiff demo

About 1000 people marched in Cardiff on Sunday 6th September to protest at the Welsh FA hosting Israel in the European Championship qualifier. A great celebratory atmosphere, helped by the turn out and weather, and an i ternational presence.



The Big Riders

mona conducts ride
Mona Al Fara from Middle East Children’s Alliance greets the riders outside Sheffield Town Hall

Last Wednesday about 100 people greeted the 120 riders of the big ride at the Town Hall.

A long wait – their seemed to be a negative time warp as the riders made their way from Meadowhall – and then suddenly they showered in.

The final leg from Barnsley to Sheffield is captured here on You Tube

Pictures from Edinburgh to Sheffield can be found here.


Big Ride


Gaza is tiny
Gaza is tiny

This is the borders of Gaza superimposed on a map of South Yorkshire.  Imagine that you are confined to this tiny area that even David Cameron has called a Prison Camp.  On top of that Palestinians suffer economic and military attacks by Israel.

Two days ago I cycled to Edale and back.  This sort of trip is impossible for Gazans.

The Big ride from Edinburgh to London is to raise money for a children’s charity in Gaza and raise solidarity as well.  For me it shows how free we are in comparison.

That is one of the reasons that I have signed up for the Edinburgh to Sheffield part of the ride.


Elbit factory arrests

Sheffield PSC banner outside Elbit
Sheffield PSC banner outside Elbit

Five cars carried 25 people from Sheffield to protest at the Elbit factory in Shenstone near Lichfield.  The factory is an Israeli firm that makes engines for drones.  Drones killed over a thousand Palestinians in Gaza last year.

We went down to close the factory.

An open letter to Paul Blomfield, MP

Dear Mr. Blomfield,

We have just been listening to the BBC news on the radio and heard many speakers voice a welcome for the agreement with Iran with regard to the development of nuclear weapons. The one dissenting voice belonged to Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister; the BBC somehow omitted to mention that Israel already has a nuclear arsenal and that it has waged war on Gaza on three occasions in six years, killing approximately 3,500 Palestinians, at least a quarter of whom were children. These casualties were caused by the use of what are called “conventional” weapons and this brings me to the main reason why we are writing to you at this time.

The independent Israeli arms company Elbit Systems has several factories in the UK mostly concerned with producing components of “drones” for use by the Israeli Armed Forces. These drones carried out more than half the sorties on Gaza in the 2014 attack, directly involving parts of the British workforce in the deaths inflicted there.

As you may be aware, on 6th July 2015, people concerned about the role of this company attempted to demonstrate outside several Elbit installations. The ones from Sheffield generally went to the Shenstone factory in Staffordshire. As advance leaflets pointed out, trying to encourage support for the demonstration, the plan was “to convert a site of destruction into a fun, creative and child-friendly environment.” The police assembled there had other ideas. Firstly, they employed an eleventh hour injunction to try to prevent any assembly of protesters at all. Then, using aggressive tactics not seen at earlier demonstrations at this factory, they proceeded to manhandle and bundle people out of the way with precious little concern for their safety, arresting 19 people in the process. On an international scale – especially with regard to how matters are handled in Israel – these police tactics were mild: no one shot dead, no use of water-canon etc. But in the context of the traditions

in this country, the police tactics had more in common with Orgreave than with a recognition that legal, peaceful protest is long practised here and held to be an important right.

So, in the light of these matters, we would ask you to give your opinion on the following:

  • Is it acceptable for the police to employ court injunctions to prevent a peaceful

demonstration outside an arms factory, thereby preventing legitimate protest on an important issue?

  • Widening the issue, will you press for an arms embargo with regard to Israel, considering that the UK licensed £11.6 million worth of components to that country in 2014, many of which would have been employed in the carnage in Gaza? (Even Nick Clegg called for an embargo during the attack.)
  • One Sheffield resident has been arrested and awaits notification regarding charges. What support are you able to offer to this person? (She is in the Heeley constituency).

In conclusion, we note that there is to be an attempt to revivify a “Labour Friends of Palestine” in Sheffield. Is the arms embargo against Israel an issue this group will support?

Yours sincerely,