Scottish Government Views on Palestine, 19 August 2014

Gaza, 6 August 2014

Letter dated 19 August 2014 from Mark Allen, Scottish Government External Affairs Directorate (International Division) in response to an inquiry from a constituent to their MSP.

Thank you for your recent correspondence to the Scottish Government regarding the current situation in Gaza, l have been asked to reply.

The Scottish Government is extremely concerned about the continuing situation in Gaza. Scottish Ministers have condemned in the strongest possible terms the cycle of violence, be it rocket attacks from Gaza or air strikes by lsrael. We consider the actions of the lsraeli Government in Gaza to be heavily disproportionate, as evidenced by the appalling levels of death and injury suffered by civilians in Gaza. The Scottish Government calls on both sides to calm the situation and to negotiate a lasting ceasefire with immediate effect.

ln the last few weeks the Scottish Government has made a number of statements and pledges to help the innocent civilians who have been caught up in the conflict, these are detailed below.

On the 9th July 2014, Minister for External Affairs and lnternational Development, Humza Yousaf wrote to UK Foreign Secretary, William Hague to express the Scottish Government's deep concern regarding tfie escalating violence in the region. The letter also offered the use of Scottish hospitals to-treat patients requiring specialist care as a result of the conflict. You can read the related press release here:
http://scottishgovernment.presscentre.com/Content/Detail.aspx?ReleaseID=3741&NewsAreaID=2&ClientID=1

On 25 July, the First Minister wrote to David Cameron calling on him to show equal determination in the UK Government's approach to the situation in Gaza as they have shown in regard to the atrocity involving Malaysian Airlines flight MH17. A request was also made to support an UN investigation into civilian deaths as a result of the conflict. You can read the associated press release here: http://news.scotland.gov.uk/News/First-Minister-calls-for-more-UK-action-on-Gaza-f2c.aspx.

On 30 July the Scottish Government announced that it is providing £500,000 to help people affected by the crisis in Gaza. The funding will be routed through the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) Gaza Flash Appeal, will help support the immediate needs of people in Gaza.

The Scottish Government has also called for an immediate arms embargo on lsrael. lt is imperative that we decipher whether or not UK arms have been used in any violation of international law. Until that has been confirmed, we call on the UK to implement a complete arms embargo on lsrael.

The Scottish Government continues to believe that it is wrong to collectively punish the people of Gaza for the actions of Hamas and Ministers continue to condemn this in the strongest possible manner. The situation in Gaza continues to be a humanitarian crisis and Ministers call unequivocally for the illegal blockade to be lifted. The blockade is making Gaza an open-air prison where people are starving and dying a slow death. The Scottish Government will continue to raise its serious concerns regarding such issues as lsraeli settlements, demolitions of Palestinian property and the severe restrictions on movement, and access, to and from Gaza.

The Scottish Government believes that engagement with those who represent both sides of the conflict is vitally important. As a good global citizen, Scotland has a strong and enduring commitment to securing democracy, the rule of law and fundamental human rights across the world. The Scottish Government would expect all states to comply with international and human rights law, and condemn human rights abuses wherever they occur. The Scottish Government opposes any form of enforced segregation wherever it may occur and has, for example, consistently spoken out against the separation wall in the West Bank.

Scotland uses its international engagement as an opportunity to help increase respect for, and understanding of, human rights worldwide. For further statements from the Scottish Government relating to Gaza and other international issues please visit the Scottish Government's newsroom:
http://scottishgovernment.presscentre.com/search/default.aspx?NewsAreaID=2&SearchText=&Subjects=51

Yours sincerely

Mark Allen

Photo: UN