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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

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.

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)

 

Protest Demonstration at G4S AGM 26th May 2016

Members of Sutton for Peace & Justice joined with War on Want and other campaigners to protest outside the AGM of G4S, held at the Sutton town centre Holiday Inn on 26 May. G4S security services have their head office in Sutton.

G4S PROTEST pic

The main aim of the protest was to get G4S to dis-engage from their contracts to provide security equipment and services to the Israeli prisons where Palestinian political prisoners are held illegally, often without trial and subject to torture. In addition, voices were raised against the abuses in the child detention centres in the UK and in the prisons G4S runs in the USA, South Africa and Papua New Guinea.

G4S is the company that failed to fulfil its Olympic contract, necessitating the Army becoming involved in the safety and security work at the games. The company was also the one that in March 2013 was criticised at an inquest on a man who died after his wheelchair, which was not properly fixed, tipped backwards. This was while G4S were providing services under their £3.5 million outsourced contract providing transport services for St Helier Hospital in Sutton. The coroner’s jury said that G4S staff had not received sufficient training to move patients safely between their homes and hospitals.

(Reporting by Mike McLoughlin.)

Stop house demolitions in Palestine

Your action can make a difference

Following huge international pressure, the Israeli authorities announced at the end of July that they would indefinitely delay the demolition and forced displacement of all of Susiya’s residents. This shows the impact all of us can have when we work together to put pressure on our elected representatives.

That pressure is now needed again, and just as urgently.

While international attention has been focused on Susiya, the Israeli authorities have ramped up demolitions and forced displacements elsewhere in violation of international law. A sudden surge of demolitions across the West Bank has seen 167 Palestinians – including 101 children – left homeless in the last two weeks in temperatures of over 40°C. For some of them this is the second time since 2013 they have lost their homes to demolitions.

With plans quickly advancing to forcibly transfer over 7,000 Palestinians to make way for the expansion of settlements, the Israeli government shows no signs of slowing down its demolition policy.

If we can bring about the same pressure that led to the delay in demolitions in Susiya, we may be able to prevent more Palestinian families from facing the cruel reality of forced displacement and homelessness.

Please write to your Member of Parliament asking them to raise your concerns with the government and take action. You can use the template letter here or available as a letter or email action here.

This action alert was initiated by the UK and Ireland office of the Ecumenical Accompaniment Programme in Palestine and Israel (EAPPI).

For further information: http://www.quaker.org.uk/halt-demolitions-west-bank

S4P&J at the Environmental Fair

Sutton for Peace and Justice will once again be at the Environmental Fair in Carshalton Park on Bank Holiday Monday, 31 August 2015.

We will be at pitch K05&K06.

This year we will be hosting a series of informal and open discussions at our stall on a range of peace and justice issues, that we have billed as ‘The Colloquium in Carshalton Park’. The sessions are planned to be:

11.15    What is wrong with TTIP and ISDS
12.00    Trident – renew or scrap? (in association with Kingston Peace Council)
12.45    House demolitions in Palestine
13.30    The challenge of Climate Change
14.15    Trident – renew or scrap? (in association with Kingston Peace Council)
15.00    What is wrong with TTIP and ISDS
15.45    House demolitions in Palestine
Please come along and hear about these important issues – 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.

We will also have Zaytoun fair trade goods from Palestine for sale.

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