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MP Responds on Israeli Settlements

S4P&J members wrote to their MP Tom Brake to seek his views on the debate in Parliament on Thursday 9th of February regarding Israeli settlement expansion. Mr Brake wrote back:

I am pleased to say I spoke in the debate. You can see the speech I made here.

In my speech I expressed my severe concerns regarding the Land Regularisation Bill, the position the UK Government has taken by failing to support the recent Paris Peace Conference and the Government’s failure to make adequate representations to the Israeli Government before the demolition of Umm al-Hiran.

I also emphasised that Israeli settlement expansion is not the only obstacle to peace and that Palestinian initiated violence must also cease. I strongly believe that Israel must abandon its illegal programme of settlement expansion, which undermines the possibility of a two-state solution and increasingly makes any likelihood of peace in the region impossible.

I am concerned by the current situation in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and Gaza and condemn the continued cycle of violence. As a Liberal Democrat, I am committed to seeing a negotiated peace settlement with a two-state solution. This will involve difficult, but necessary compromises on both sides of the conflict in order to respect the rights of both Israeli and Palestinian peoples.

Regarding United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, I believe the motion merely reasserted that Israeli settlement expansion is in contravention of international law. I was therefore happy to see the UK play a leading role in drafting this motion. It is important that for there to be any hope that the peace process will restart, it is noted that the boundaries of Israel and Palestine should be recognised under the 1967 borders, and not take into account the illegal settlements which have since been constructed with the support of successive Israeli administrations.

I have been disappointed to see the reaction from Israel and from the new Trump administration following this motion. I believe that threats to nations which supported the motion and the withdrawal of UN funds are very regrettable. I am also greatly concerned by the current Israeli administration’s refusal to engage in meaningful talks towards a peace process.

I was also disappointed to see the Prime Minister describe the recent speech regarding Israel and Palestine by John Kerry, the then US Secretary of State, as inappropriate. I will hold the Government to account regarding this matter to ensure that the UK’s position does not shift towards that favoured by the Trump administration which I believe will lead to an intensification of the violence in the OPTs and Israel.

Hearing reports that Bedouin villages are being demolished to pave the way for further settlement expansion by the Israeli authorities and that the Bedouins are being denied basic services such as electricity, water and metalled roads is extremely concerning, as I believe that Bedouins should be granted the same human rights as others.

I have also tabled many Written Parliamentary Questions to the Foreign Secretary regarding Israel and Palestine, they can be found here.

I hope that this response confirms that I am treating the matter of Israeli settlements seriously. Please contact me if I can be of further assistance.

Regards

Tom Brake
Liberal Democrat MP for Carshalton and Wallington

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The Colloquium in Carshalton Park

Throughout the day of the Environmental Fair, Sutton for Peace and Justice will be hosting a series of informal and open discussions on a range of peace and justice issues at the Sutton for Peace and Justice stall, M12 & M13:

11.00    The challenge of Climate Change: Action on climate change is essential for peace and justice across the world.

12.00      Equality – best for all: How a more equal society would be beneficial to rich and poor alike.

13.00     Sutton for Sanctuary: Campaigning to make Sutton a community that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants.

14.00     The plight of the Palestinians: Living with occupation, illegal settlements and house demolitions.

15.00     Equality – best for all: How a more equal society would be beneficial to rich and poor alike.

16.00     Sutton for Sanctuary: Campaigning to make Sutton a community that welcomes and supports refugees and migrants.

Please come along and find out more, have your say and join the debate.

Colloquium – an informal gathering for the exchange of views, from the latin ‘to talk together’;  a seminar usually led by a different academic or expert speaker at each meeting.

Why Local Authorities should oppose TTIP

Local Authorities should officially oppose TTIP – and many have

By Mike McLoughlin

TTIP will be damaging to local authorities and their democratic rights. It will force local authorities to open their procurement processes to US corporations. Such interference will have profound effects on how local authorities operate – from lowering of service standards to lowering of staff pay. Councils committed to paying a living wage i.e. a wage higher than that which Mr Osborne thinks can be called a living wage, will be prevented from so doing in their outside contracts. The procurement process will be undermining as it forces the councils to sign contracts which go against decisions made by the democratically elected representatives of the council.

The Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanism will undermine an important role of local councils, that of boosting the local economy. At the moment local councils can, for example, choose to favour local produce and local suppliers. However, with the threat of ISDS litigation (which could be very expensive a local authority cannot afford) they could be forced to forgo that “favouritism” as it will be considered an unfair advantage to local farmers, one that excludes producers from across the EU and US. Such a change will have a crushing effect on attempts to build resilient communities. The EU negotiators are particularly keen on this aspect of the deal as they wish to get rid of the “Buy American” local campaigns in the USA. Therefore any Government assurance that this will not happen cannot be relied upon.

The trade deal is negotiated in secret. And that fact alone is enough for aware people to be against it – the lack of any information on the negotiations, other than what has been leaked, means we cannot trust any official comments about it.

TTIP is a vehicle for corporations to strengthen their hold on the economies of both the EU and the US. This trade deal is, on principle, a threat to our democracies since the power is all in the hand of corporations and its overarching aim is to increase their profitability. It is not about increasing employment opportunities, nor is it about helping small to medium manufacturers to export their goods. It is about corporate profits. Health, workers’ rights, the environment, even the local economy – all are of no account as long as the big companies in the US and EU can turn an even greater profit. That is why this deal should be rejected by anyone who cares about our communities, anyone who wants to live in a thriving, healthy local community.

A total of 46 Local Authorities, 36 in England & Wales and 10 in Scotland, have considered or are considering becoming TTIP-FREE zones. Of these only 4, all conservative controlled, have rejected a motion in some way condemning TTIP or wishing to distance themselves from it. 37 have passed a critical motion calling on the Government to abandon or modify the present state of TTIP and 5 more are actively considering such a motion.

Councils of many different political make-ups are included; in England mostly Labour controlled, but 11 have no overall control. In 7 the second party after Labour is the Lib-Dems. There is one conservative controlled council that has passed a critical motion.

 

Councils against TTIP

The following Councils have declared themselves TTIP-Free zones (April 2016):

BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL

BRADFORD MDC

BRIGHTON & HOVE CITY COUNCIL

BURY COUNCIL

CAMBRIDGE CITY COUNCIL

CRAWLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

EXETER CITY COUNCIL

GWYNNEDD COUNCIL

HARTLEPOOL BOROUGH COUNCIL

HASTINGS DISTRICT COUNCIL

LANCASHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

LANCASTER CITY COUNCIL

LEWISHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL

NORTH SOMERSET COUNCIL

NEWCASTLE CITY COUNCIL

NORTHAMPTON COUNTY COUNCIL

NORTHUMBERLAND COUNTY COUNCIL

NORWICH CITY COUNCIL

OLDHAM BOROUGH COUNCIL

OXFORD CITY COUNCIL

READING BOROUGH COUNCIL

SEFTON COUNCIL

SHEFFIELD CITY COUNCIL

SOUTHAMPTON CITY COUNCIL

SOUTHWARK BOROUGH COUNCIL

STROUD DISTRICT COUNCIL

WARWICKSHIRE COUNTY COUNCIL

UK signs up to Forced Labour Protocol

After pressure from civil society groups, the United Kingdom has become the third country, after Niger and Norway, to ratify the 2014 Protocol to the Forced Labour Convention (better known as C29).

This means that the UK has acknowledged the importance of strong international standards which will encourage other countries to join the fight to end modern slavery. This Protocol was created last year to update Convention 29, which was drafted in 1930, so that it is equipped to address modern slavery today.

Through our collective voice, we can ensure that protection measures to end forced labour are up to date in every country in the world.

TTIP threatens public services, jobs, environment & democracy

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is a ‘free trade’ agreement being negotiated mostly in secret between the EU and US.

TTIP transfers power from governments to big business. Promoted by big business for big business, it weakens standards for food safety, environmental protection, banking and the sovereign powers of individual nations. It would allow a company to sue a government, claiming that its laws hurt their profits. Democracy would be undermined as decisions taken in the interests of people, public services and the environment could be overturned.

TTIP would:

  • Weaken safety standards – opening the EU to GM foods, growth hormones in meat, chicken washed in chlorine and pesticides currently banned in the EU for killing off bees.
  • Threaten jobs – weaken workers’ rights and increase unemployment – a race to the bottom with jobs switching to the US, where labour standards and rights are lower.
  • Open up the NHS, health and care, education and water services to big business and prevent governments from reversing the changes.
  • Help the all-powerful City of London to loosen America’s tougher banking regulations.

Come and hear John Hilary, Linda Kaucher and Jean Lambert MEP speak about the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, ask questions and join the debate

Friday 30th January 2015, 7.30pm – 9.30pm, at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA

  • John Hilary, Executive Director of War on Want, has worked in the global justice movement for 25 years; his 2014 TTIP report has been translated into nine European languages.
  • Linda Kaucher, with a background in education and 15 years experience of researching the EU’s so-called ‘trade agreements’, works to expose and oppose the secretive ‘trade’ agenda.
  • Jean Lambert, as Green Party MEP for London, has campaigned for the EU to take heed of the concerns raised about TTIP and has co-authored a report on the impact of TTIP.

There is no entry charge, donations will be taken on the night.

Please reserve your place by email to sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk or by text message to 07740 594496.

Film ‘The UK Gold’ to be shown in Sutton

Sutton for Peace and Justice presents ‘The UK Gold’, an award winning documentary that lifts the lid on tax dodging and UK tax havens.

Special screening in Sutton on Friday 7 March 2014, at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA. Doors open 6.30pm, film starts at 7.00

UK Gold

If you only see one film over the next couple of months make sure it’s this one.

Developing countries lose three times as much to tax havens as they receive in aid every year – that’s money that could be spent on vital services like health and education.

The UK Gold is a new documentary written and directed by Mark Donne that expertly dissects the way in which vast sums of money are funnelled away from the people who need them and gets to the heart of how and why multinationals are getting away with dodging billions in taxes.  Featuring interviews with Channel 4’s Jon Snow, Richard Murphy of the Tax Justice Network, Richard Brooks who first broke the story in Private Eye, ActionAid’s Chris Jordan and Pamela Chisanga from Zambia. With a stunning soundtrack by Thom Yorke (Radiohead), Robert Del Naja (Massive Attack) and Guy Garvey (Elbow).

Brought to you in associatioin with ActionAid, Oxfam and ChristianAid.

“The kind of film to get the blood boiling and steam hissing out of your ears.” the Guardian.

“A shining piece of film making on the darkness at the heart of the City.” The Mirror.

To reserve your seat email Sutton4peace@yahoo.co.uk or text 07740 594496.  No entry charge. Donations will be taken.

DocWinner