• Sutton for Peace and Justice is a local voluntary group that promotes and campaigns on local, national and global issues of peace and justice.
  • Join 118 other followers

  • Follow S4P&J on Twitter

  • Creative Commons License
    The contents of this website are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
  • The views expressed are those of the individual authors and not necessarily those of Sutton for Peace and Justice or its members.

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

Advertisements

G4S AGM backsliding

Stop G4S campaigners from a variety of organisations joined local activists from Sutton for Peace and Justice to protest outside the G4S AGM held at the Holiday Inn in Sutton on 26 May.  They wanted to send a clear message to the G4S executives and shareholders that G4S could not continue to profit from war, instability, occupation and exploitation.

However, in the AGM G4S verbally recommitted to doing business in Israel. This was a surprise as just a few months ago G4S announced in its Annual Report that it would sell off its Israeli branch G4S Israel and G4S youth services in the UK and US. This announcement came after several years of campaigning, and significant campaign victories this year as three UN agencies stated that they had not renewed contracts with the company.

In the past, in order to shake off protests and avoid scrutiny, G4S has made verbal and written promises not to renew certain contracts dealing with Israeli checkpoints, police stations and the Israeli prisons. The company failed to keep its own deadlines over the past years. But, G4S  stated on the morning of the AGM that the ‘contracts in question’ (including contracts for equipment and services to Israeli prisons, a West Bank police station, and checkpoints) are due to expire by the end of 2017 and will not be renewed.

However, inside the AGM (where no recording devices are allowed) G4S executives were more candid about their intentions. When asked if G4S would be ending its 25 year contract for an Israeli police academy as a part of its sale of G4S Israel. Executive director Ashley Almanza said that G4S “will only conclude the sale of G4S Israel if we receive satisfactory terms and G4S ‘will continue to operate in Israel even if we sell off G4S Israel”. When pressed on the matter of continued G4S business with the illegal Israeli settlements and Apartheid Wall, Almanza dodged the question, stating that ‘G4S, like the UK government, opposes anti-Israel boycotts.’

A few days before the AGM, G4S released a statement rejecting comments by the BDS (Boycotts, Divestments and Sanctions) movement and anti-Israel pressure groups claiming that their actions have caused the G4S group to sell G4S Israel.

At the same time the UK and Israeli governments have stepped up their attack on the BDS movement. In the UK, this has mainly been through government statements and proposals designed specifically to silence BDS activities. In the USA, some states like Illinois passed laws to allow for blacklisting of companies that appear to be taking BDS action. Given that a wide range of US groups have gone public on their joining the Stop G4S campaign, the timing of such statements is no coincidence.

Inside the meeting, it became clear that G4S abuses all over the world are still a pressing issue for many. Of 20 questions allowed from the floor, all but two touched on G4S abuses. There were questions on G4S abuses in Palestine and the scandal exposed at a youth detention facility in Medway (Kent) in January 2016, where G4S staff assaulted young inmates. Another issue brought up was that of negligence in detention centres run by G4S, particularly in HMP Altcourse, where levels of self-harm and suicide are high. In addition there was the scandal of the G4S ‘red doors’ where the doors of asylum-seekers were painted red, stigmatising them and making them targets for violence. The G4S executives were furious when it was suggested from the floor that there is a common thread running through all G4S work: profiting from violence and abuse.

Perhaps G4S will follow through on its promise to sell off its business in Israel, while insisting that it is not doing so as a result of the campaign against G4S. Or maybe G4S will continue to do business in Israel in less obvious ways. Regardless, it is clear that G4S cannot be trusted, and that the campaigns against the company must continue.

(Report by Mike McLoughin with information from  War on Want)

 

Palestinian village Susiya under threat

Ecumenical Accompaniers monitoring the situation in Susiya have reported that Israeli officials visited the village on 16 June to advance the plans for its illegal demolition. This included taking photos of all of the buildings – a sign, based on previous experiences, of plans to carry out the orders imminently.
Many EAs and their supporters have already written to  MPs,  but if you haven’t had the chance so far, please do click on the link below to write and ask them to act urgently (or to update those you have already contacted), particularly in light of these new developments:
 
Write to your MP

Please share this action throughout your networks.

This action has also been tweeted and Facebooked  – please share these widely on social media too.

(Information from Doris Richards with thanks to Stephanie Hunt, Advocacy Research Officer, Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine & Israel (EAPPI); e: stephanieh@quaker.org.uk

www.quaker.org.uk/eappi

EAPPI recruiting EAs

EAPPI, the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel, is now recruiting EAs for service in 2016.

EAPPI provides protection by presence, monitors human rights abuses, supports Israeli and Palestinian peace activists and advocates for an end to the occupation.

EAPPI are recruiting for EAs (human rights monitors) to serve in 2016.

Living allowance + benefits • Based in the West Bank and Israel in 2016 for either 3 or 4.5 months’ service.

For more information and to download an application pack please check their website: www.quaker.org.uk/applyeappi

NB closing date is 24th April

Film – within the eye of the storm – 6 March

Sutton for Peace and Justice presents the film ‘within the eye of the storm’.

An award winning documentary film following the stories of Palestinian and Israeli fathers, both of whose daughters were killed in the conflict , as they seek to humanize the enemy and end the vicious cycle of violence and retaliation.

Within Eye of storm

Bassam and Rami were dedicated fighters willing to kill and be killed by one another for the sake of their nations, who each came face-to-face with the price of war when their daughters were killed in the conflict.

But they chose an unexpected route in reaction to the pain of bereavement. They set out on a joint journey to seek to humanize the very enemy which took the dearest thing from them and prevent the vicious cycle of retaliation in themselves and their societies.

The film follows their two parallel stories, revealing the friendship and humour that keeps them alive at this critical junction in both their lives, as their life mission and personal agenda clash and they face their shattered families, confused communities and opposing society.

Directed by Shelley Hermon, in association with the Sundance Institute and France 5 TV.

On Friday 6 March, at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA. Doors open 7.00pm, film starts at 7.30.

There is no advance 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.

5 Broken Cameras

Critically acclaimed film by Edmund Burnat and Guy Davidi.

On Friday 31st October at Friends House, Cedar Road, Sutton, SM2 5DA, doors open 7.00pm, film starts at 7.30. A deeply personal film that chronicles a Palestinian farmer’s nonviolent resistance to the actions of the Israeli army. When his fourth son, Gibreel, is born, Emad, a Palestinian villager, gets his first camera. In his village, Bil’in, a separation barrier is being built and the villagers start to resist this decision. For more than five years Emad films the struggle, which is led by two of his best friends, alongside filming how Gibreel grows. Very soon it affects his family and his own life. Daily arrests and night raids scare his family; his friends, brothers and himself are either shot or arrested. One Camera after another is shot at or smashed, each camera tells a part of his story. Nominated as best feature-length documentary for an Oscar. Palestinian-Israeli-French co-production.  90 minutes. Organised by Sutton for Peace and Justice and Sutton Palestine Solidarity Campaign. There is no advance 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.

Galilee Quartet report

On Monday 6th October Sutton was one of only seven venues in the UK to have a visit from the Galilee Quartet, a classical string quartet of three brothers and a sister, Omar, Mostafa, Ghandi and Tibah Sa’ad, from the Druze community in Israel. On their previous visit in 2013 some of them played with Nigel Kennedy in the Albert Hall as part of that year’s Prom season.

They played an exciting and enthralling selection of Western music ranging from Bach and Mozart to the Beatles and Palestinian songs in Arabic accompanied by a lute and tambourine. It was much enjoyed by the audience at Sutton Grammar School who provided the venue. At the end of the concert the quartet were acclaimed with a long ovation after two encores.

After the concert the viola player and the oldest of the quartet, Omar Sa’ad and his next brother Mostafa, first violin, answered questions and responded to comments about their lives in Israel. Omar has spent a total of 150 days in prison on seven occasions because of his refusal, as a conscientious objector, to join the Israeli army. He said he refused to exchange his musical instrument that can make peace for an assault rifle that kills innocent children. He was finally exempted from military service. The second brother and first violinist, Mostafa, has recently been summoned to present himself at the army recruitment centre and on return home expects to have to follow his brother and spend time in prison.

1 QUARTETA

The concert was arranged and sponsored by Sutton for Peace and Justice after Amnesty International had flown the quartet to England.