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Local news, Your Elected Representatives

Vote for Palestine in Whitstable

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 Canterbury & Whitstable, now we publish their responses. Thank you to all the candidates for participating. Immediately below you will find an at-a-glance table to see how each candidate responded, and below that you can read their full respones.

Whitstable 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?

Julian Brazier, CONSERVATIVE: The UK’s position on Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories is clear: they are illegal under international law, are an obstacle to peac and make a two-state solution much harder to achieve. Ministers consistently urge the Israeli authorities to cease all settlement building and to remove illegal outposts, as required under international law and in fulfilment of Israel’s obligations. The Israeli demolitions of Palestinian-owned properties in the West Bank cause unnecessary suffering to ordinary Palestinians and are, in all but the most exceptional of cases, contrary to international humanitarian law. The government raises this with the Israeli government on a regular basis.

Rosie Duffield, LABOUR: Yes

James Flanagan, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: Yes

Henry Stanton, GREEN: Don’t know.

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

Julian Brazier, CONSERVATIVE: Did not answer this question.

Rosie Duffield, LABOUR: Yes

James Flanagan, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: Yes

Henry Stanton, GREEN: Yes

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?

Julian Brazier, CONSERVATIVE: I can understand your concerns but the UK does, in fact, maintain one of the most rigorous and transparent arms export control systems in the world; all applications for licences to export military and dual use equipment are assessed on a case by case basis, against the Consolidated EU and National Arms Export Licensing Criteria. These criteria consider a range of issues, including the existence of a clear risk that exports might be used in the commission of a serious violation of international humanitarian law. The Government will not grant a licence if the export fails to meet any of the criteria. We believe that all countries, including Israel, have a right to self-defence. We stated clearly last year that Israel had the right to defend itself against illegal and indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas – but that in doing so it was vital that all actions were proportionate, in line with international humanitarian law, and calibrated to avoid civilian casualties. We take very seriously any reports that UK supplied components may have been used during Operation Protective Edge. At the time, we reviewed all extant export licences to Israel and found that the vast majority of exports licensed for Israel were not for items that could be used by Israeli forces in operations in Gaza in response to attacks by Hamas. In August 2014, we announced that 12 licences had been identified for components which could have been part of equipment used by the Israel Defence Forces in Gaza. Had significant hostilities resumed, we were concerned that it would not have been able (sic) to clarify if the licence criteria were being met and we would therefore have suspended those licences. Having monitored the situation, we assessed that the resumption of hostilities when Hamas later broke the ceasefire was not significant enough to warrant a suspension. I am pleased that shortly after this resumption, all parties reached a ceasefire agreement. In July we announced that we had sufficient information from a wide variety of sources to apply standard export licensing criteria without additional measures. We are confident that all export licences in circulation for Israel meet the licensing criteria. We will, however, continue to monitor the situation and retain the power, should it be required, to suspend licences if the security conditions deteriorate again.

Rosie Duffield, LABOUR: Yes

James Flanagan, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: Yes

Henry Stanton, GREEN: Yes, as part of our commitment to enforcing our export licensing criteria on ALL our arms exports.

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?

Julian Brazier, CONSERVATIVE: Following the publication of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office-funded, independent report into the treatment of child detainees in Israeli military custody, some progress has been made. The UK Government has pressed Israel to take action on the findings and recommendations of the report, and we have welcomed some steps that the Israeli Government has taken, such as changes to standard operating procedures on methods of restraint and the pilot to use summons instead of night-time arrests. We have also expressed our concerns about the mistreatment of Palestinian detainees during arrest, transfer, interrogation and detention and about Israel’s respect of its obligations in this regard as an Occupying Power under applicable international law.

Rosie Duffield, LABOUR: Yes

James Flanagan, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: Yes

Henry Stanton, GREEN: Yes

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?

Julian Brazier, CONSERVATIVE: Did not answer this question.

Rosie Duffield, LABOUR: Yes. I would add that the sentiments about human rights and international law should apply across the board and should not just be applied to Israel.

James Flanagan, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: Yes

Henry Stanton, GREEN: Yes

Any additional comments?

Julian Brazier, CONSERVATIVE: This is an area in which I take a great interest, not least as I previously lived and worked in the Middle East. I have spoken out many times on the floor of the House about the Palestinian issue and have been a supporter of the UN recognising Palestine as a state. The UK Government remains committed to achieving a two-state solution in the region. A long-term political settlement – one that ensures a safe future for all – is the only way to resolve the conflict, so that the Israeli and Palestinian people can live in peace.

Rosie Duffield, LABOUR: I wish you every success in your campaign to ensure that greater efforts are dedicated to bring peace to Palestine and the region.

James Flanagan, LIBERAL DEMOCRAT: I strongly believe international and humanitarian laws should be observed, and that the import of settlement goods into the UK should be banned. I am particularly concerned about the mistreatment of child prisoners.

Henry Stanton, GREEN: The Green Party believes exclusive possession of Palestine by either side is never going to be an achievable and just solution. We believe that all Israelis, Palestinians, and their families should be able to exercise full human rights throughout Israel, Palestine and the occupied territories in Palestine. We call on the democratically elected representatives of the Palestinian people to recognise the right of the state of Israel to exist within agreed borders. We also believe the government of the United States should use its special relationship with Israel to halt military and financial support until Israel enters the dialogue called for above.

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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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