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Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Call for investigation of Israeli influence in UK government

Call for investigation of Israeli influence in UK government

Will nobody bring Christmas cheer to besieged and starving Gaza?

19 December 2007

A UK-based group has written to the Committee on Standards in Public Life formally requesting an investigation of Israeli influence that paralyses the heart of British government.

As the 21-month-long siege of Gaza becomes a death sentence for yet more civilians, a group in the UK with experience of the Israeli-occupied territories is urging the Committee on Standards in Public Life to examine whether there is undue Israeli influence at the heart of the British government.

The blockade stops vital medical supplies going into Gaza and prevents chronically sick patients (including children) from transferring to proper hospital treatment outside Gaza. Israel’s deep penetration of our political system, says the group, is preventing Britain from taking a principled stand on Middle East matters, including the long catalogue of grotesque violations of Palestinian human rights, of which the Gaza siege is only the latest example. Conservative Friends of Israel, for example, claim the support of 80 per cent of Tory MPs.

Signatories to the letter include Mona Baker, Karl Sabbagh, Derek Summerfield and Felicity Arbuthnot.

The group’s spokesman, David Halpin, is a trauma surgeon who has spent all of the last five years of his retirement standing with the Palestinians for justice. He has seen the destruction of lives, limbs, livings and hope at first hand. He advised the Hamas government on how they should investigate the use of illegal weapons by Israel. In March 2007, he led a team of seven UK doctors into Gaza. The Dove and Dolphin Medical Centre was opened then. This is named after the symbolic voyage he led five years ago from which the charity was named.

He says: "It is insufficient that humans should weep beneath the crucifixion of the Palestinian people in 2007 AD. They must halt it forthwith."

Businessman Stuart Littlewood, who was in Gaza last month, remarked:

When you urge the British government to act for justice you are blocked at every turn by Friends of Israel in high places. No one, it seems, is prepared to break the siege and land humanitarian supplies on Gaza's beach. What happened to our Christmas spirit?

Felicity Arbuthnot campaigned for many years in Iraq. She says:

The horrors inflicted on Gaza and Iraq and threatened elsewhere in the Middle East are encapsulated for me by a young doctor. She had the skills but was denied the facilities and medications so she watched helplessly as her young patients died. “There is a hole where my heart should be,” she said. In the name of our common humanity, as Eid, the Jewish Festival of Light and Christmas are celebrated, ENOUGH!

The group invites readers to join them in pressing the Standards Committee to uphold the seven Principles of Public Life and banish lobby groups acting on behalf of foreign military regimes. Please write to:

Peter Ramsden
Secretary to the Committee
Committee on Standards in Public Life
35 Great Smith Street
London SW1P 3BQ


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