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Vote for Palestine in Faversham

Palestine Solidarity Campaign members have been seeking answers from the June 2017 General Election candidates about their positions on Palestine, so that they can send a message about how highly they rate this issue when casting their vote. We put those questions to the candidates in Faversham & Mid Kent, now we publish their responses.

Immediately below is a quick-glance guide to how the candidates responded. Below that table you can find the questions and answers in full.

Fav candidate responses table 2017

1) Given that Israel has continued to expand settlements on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank and East Jerusalem in defiance of international law and international opinion, do you think the UK should ban the import of settlement goods into the UK?

Michael Desmond, LABOUR: No.

Alistair Gould, GREEN: I don’t know if this would be legal, but if it is then my answer would be yes. At a personal level I have avoided produce from Israel for some time as I understand  labelling does not reliably distinguish between settlement produce and that grown in Israel itself , and the problems with water and land appropriation in the occupied territories mean that I do not think it is ethical to buy such produce.

David Naghi, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: Firstly the achievement of peace between Israel and the Palestinian people can only be achieved by a compromise 2 state solution.  The creation of illegal settlements whether in the West Bank or the Golan can only make this more difficult. The settlements are illegal and thus trading with them should not take place.

Helen Whately, CONSERVATIVE: I absolutely agree with you that settlements in the OPTs are illegal and an obstacle to peace.  The Israeli Government is well aware of the UK position on settlements, which has not changed. The government follows World Trade Organisation rules on boycotts.  I understand that any discrimination against Israeli suppliers would be a breach of WTO rules.

2) Do you agree that Israel’s blockade of Gaza imposed since 2007 should be lifted immediately?

Michael Desmond, LABOUR: In principle yes –  I held a meeting with the former Mayor of Sderot a while ago, who had considerable security concerns. There have to be guarantees on both sides to make progress.

Alistair Gould, GREEN: Yes.

David Naghi, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: The blockade of Gaza is contrary to International Law as it constitutes collective punishment of a population. Whilst Israel clearly has the right to self defence it does not have the right to retaliate against the general civil population. The blockade should end.

Helen Whately, CONSERVATIVE: On the blockade in Gaza, I would like to see an end to restrictions and urgent measures to relieve the humanitarian suffering of those in Gaza.

3) Do you agree that the government should enforce its own arms export licensing criteria and stop supplying arms to Israel until it ceases its violations of international law?

Michael Desmond, LABOUR: No.

Alistair Gould, GREEN: Yes.

David Naghi, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: The government should not be allowing the export of arms and other material that are mainly of use against a civil population, whether these are infantry weapons, tear gas, or shackles. This applies both to the occupied territories and in our view to Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Material that is for use against other armed forces or nations is a less clear cut issue. To a very large extent it will depend on how matters develop, or not.

Helen Whately, CONSERVATIVE: I do not believe that imposing a blanket arms embargo on Israel would promote progress in the Middle East Peace Process. Israel has a right to self-defence and the Government operates one of the most robust licensing systems in the world.  All export licence applications are assessed on a case-by-case basis against the consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria.

4) Numerous reports have highlighted the mistreatment of Palestinian child prisoners in Israeli military detention. Do you agree that any child prisoner should be treated in accordance with international law and not Israeli military law?

Michael Desmond, LABOUR: Yes.

Alistair Gould, GREEN: Yes.

David Naghi, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: All prisoners, frankly, should be treated in accordance with International Law, but obviously this takes on extra urgency where children are concerned.

Helen Whately, CONSERVATIVE: Yes, I agree that all prisoners should be treated in accordance with international law.

5) Do you agree that future UK trade deals should include a strong human rights clause, and that any trade agreement with Israel should be conditional upon the respect of international law and human rights?

Michael Desmond, LABOUR: No.

Alistair Gould, GREEN: Yes.

David Naghi, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: In terms of the trade issue whilst we do not support calls for a general  boycott of Israel proper, as opposed to illegal settlements, it is reasonable to include human rights standards in trade agreements and  deals concluded by Britain and The EU in a number of contexts with various nations and organisations have included ethical standards. There is no reason that trade deals with Israel should be an exception to this.

Helen Whately, CONSERVATIVE: Trade relationships with countries like Israel and Saudi Arabia enable us to raise concerns about human rights.  Liam Fox, the Secretary of State for International Trade, has written that “Britain’s exit from the EU provides us with an opportunity to explore how we can best use free trade agreements to uphold human rights”. 

Any additional comments?

Michael Desmond, LABOUR: The development of trust is a pre-requisite for any  settlement to be achieved, educational centres such as Givat Haviva should be emulated and tourism to Bethlehem, Jericho, etc supported and enhanced to enable a separate Palestinian state to enjoy commercial and economic success.

I believe in a progressive two state solution, initially with EU-style economic arrangements intact, to enhance the well-being of Palestinians and create the right atmosphere for a peaceful settlement.

I do not believe a combative approach is beneficial, each side needs to take positive steps; I attended a Labour meeting recently with a speaker from the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign, there was some consensus, but it was, for example, admitted that the treatment of gay and bisexual Palestinians needs to be liberalised so eventually, as for example in Tel Aviv, there can be Gay Pride events in Palestinian areas.

Helen Whately, CONSERVATIVE: I would like to see a comprehensive peace agreement that delivers an independent Palestine alongside a safe and secure Israel. A two-state solution brought about through negotiated agreement is the most effective way for Palestinian aspirations of statehood to be met on the ground.

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About Faversham and Whitstable Palestine Solidarity Campaign

We are one of over forty branches of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign across England and Wales, campaigning for Palestinian self determination, national, human and civil rights.

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