Last Thursday, just as First Minister’s Questions was raging below, 15 people protesting against the Israeli bombardment of Gaza were being removed from the roof of the Scottish Parliament.
A few days before, many hundreds of people marched in Edinburgh in protest at the offensive, which saw 6 Israelis and at least 158 Palestinians killed. In order to gather a statement of solidarity from Holyrood, I lodged a motion condemning the actions of Israel, which I’m please to see received the backing of many MSPs.
The Scottish Minister for External Affairs and International Development, Humza Yousaf, has rightly described the Israeli offensive as ‘heavily disproportionate’ and the ongoing blockade of Gaza as illegal. I have written to ask him to go further, and challenge Israeli representatives directly at the earliest opportunity on their blockade of Gaza and strangling control over land and water resources. I also agree with consitituents who have contacted me about bias in the mainsteam media, which often fails to reflect the relative military strength of Israel.
Again, I was very pleased to see to the Scottish Government calling for the UK Government to vote decisively to recognise Palestinian statehood at the UN, instead of their current plan to abstain. It’s refreshing to hear strong Scottish public opinions reflected by Ministers.
Given that the Scottish Government holds pretty clear opinions on the rights of the Palestinian people, they should now consider how they could join the global movement of boycotts, divestment and sanctions in support of Palestinians. For instance, I have suggested that the Government looks at opportunities in the Procurement Reform Bill to include consideration of international law and ethical issues when making decisions about public spending.
Although the ceasefire is holding and the headlines are fading, the Scottish Parliament must do all it can to keep up the pressure and push the peace process forward.