After writing to the Foreign Secretary calling for the Government to help in the de-escalation of the violence between Israel and Palestine, Mary gave her further support for the oppressed in Palestine at a rally in Newcastle. At the rally Mary called for sanctions to be introduced on the Israeli Government, the withdrawal from illegally occupied Palestinian land, and for the UK Government to recognise Palestine as a free and independent state.
I welcome the news of a ceasefire and I pray that it brings an end to the death and destruction of the last two weeks.
This latest crisis has seen thousands injured and has claimed the lives of 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, while 12 Israelis have been killed, including two children. I am appalled by the deaths of innocent civilians and my heart breaks for the children born into violence that they never had any chance of escaping.
However, let me be clear that this is not a fight between equals, nor are both sides equally in the wrong. Israel is a state with one of the most powerful armies in the world, heavily backed by the West, who over several decades have illegally invaded, occupied and besieged Palestinian land.
We must remember that it was Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from East Jerusalem and desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque that sparked this latest crisis and it was Israel that began a ground assault on Gaza. It is Palestinians that have died in their hundreds and it was Israel that refused a ceasefire until their military objectives had been achieved.
While a ceasefire ends the bombing for now- it is not a lasting peace. It does not end the injustice, and it does not solve the issues in the region. Israel will continue to illegally occupy Palestinian land, while Palestinians in Gaza will still be confined to their open-air prison as they somehow try to recover from this latest destruction.
Time and time again Israel has violated international law and the global community has been passive. Politicians are happy to condemn the violence and violations, to call for a ceasefire and an effective peace process. But what is peace without Palestinian liberation?
Without meaningful action these demands are empty words that have achieved nothing apart from the slow erosion of the Palestinian people.
It’s time for a different path, one that treats Israel’s breaking of international law as violations rather than indiscretions. One that treats Palestinians as the oppressed rather than oppressors. And one that commits to real action in pursuit of their liberation.
It’s time for the UK Government to:
·Demand an end to the evictions in Jerusalem, an end to the siege of Gaza, and to withdraw from the illegally occupied Palestinian land.
·To end its arms trade with Israel.
·To immediately introduce sanctions against the Israeli Government.
·To end trade with illegal settlements.
·And finally, the UK Government must recognise Palestine as a free and independent state.
I don’t expect the Government to do any of this, but we must keep the pressure on. And I take heart from the amazing displays of solidarity with Palestine from across the world, because people everywhere are beginning to learn of the persecution of the Palestinian people and the true nature of this conflict.
And to end, I pledge to be a friend to all those stricken by war and oppression and to campaign with you for a free and independent Palestine.