Contact your MP!

Unless we all make contact with our MPs there is no way they will realise the strength of feeling in support of the Palestinians within their constituencies.
Here is the text of a speech made by Kevin Hollinrake, MP for Malton and Thirsk, in yesterday’s Westminster Hall debate, in which he gives a moving account of the horrors facing Palestinians.

‘Effect of Israeli demolitions on Palestinian communities’ 

Today it seems that a two-state solution is becoming increasingly difficult to achieve, buried under settlements and settlement blocs, the Separation Barrier and a vast sprawl of military bases. The displacement of entire communities create irreversible steps away from any peaceful resolution of this conflict.

According to Israeli authorities, Palestinian homes are demolished for a number of different reasons: either the land is declared by Israel as ‘agricultural land’ or ‘open green
space;’ they have no building permit (which Israeli authorities rarely grant to Palestinians); their houses are too near settlements or Israeli highways; the ‘clearing’ of land for military/security purposes; for expanding roads and the ‘Separation Barrier;’ where houses are ‘cleared’ to make passage safe for settlers or for other security purposes and homes representing ‘collateral damage’.

Unfortunately, house demolitions have stood at the centre of Israel’s approach to “the Arab problem” since the state’s conception. The house demolition policy goes far beyond mere administrative and military means to contain or force out an entire population. From 1948 till the present, it represents a policy of displacement, of one people dispossessing another, taking both their lands and their right to self-determination.

Since 1967 when the Occupation began in East Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza,
almost 50,000 Palestinian homes and structures have been demolished – displacing hundreds of thousands of Palestinian men, women and children. So much Palestinian land has been lost, so fragmented has the Palestinian territory become, that one could argue that no coherent and contiguous territory exists. This issue was bought to my attention by two of my constituents, Anthony Glaister and Dr David Worth who highlighted many injustices and the horrendous case of Nuha Maqqdmeh Sweidan in Amnesty’s report Under the Rubble.

Nuha, a Gazan mother of 10 and nine months pregnant, was killed when the house next to hers was destroyed by Israeli troops. Her husband recalled, “We were in bed, the children were asleep,” “There was an explosion and walls collapsed on top of us. I pulled myself from under the rubble….I started to dig in the rubble with my hands. First, I found my two little boys and my three-year-old girl…. One by one we found the other children, but my wife remained trapped under the rubble with our youngest daughter, who is two. She was holding her when the wall fell on her….”

In recent weeks, the village council of Susiya in the Israeli occupied West Bank is facing the prospect of demolition which could take place any day now. Around a fifth of the village is due to be demolished, leaving 100 people without homes, half of whom are children.

Other homes are demolished in military actions or as acts of deterrence and collective punishment, with little process. No formal demolition orders, no warnings, and often no time to remove furniture or personal belongings.

The Israeli authorities claim that these demolitions are not intended as punishment, but rather to “deter” Palestinians from getting involved in attacks. However, “The demolition of a home is the demolition of a family,” so said Salim Shawamreh after experiencing his home being demolished. A home is not only a physical structure; it is the centre of our lives, the site of our most intimate personal life, an expression of our identity, tastes and social status.

The human suffering entailed in the process of destroying a family’s home is incalculable. The idea that demolishing someone’s home would in turn ‘deter’ aggression seems to be an ill-conceived concept at best, and it is time that action is taken. Both states must adopt a moderate approach in order to come to a lasting resolution. For too long now extremists on both side of the conflict have coloured the language and moderates must now sow the seeds of solution.

There is no doubt that there have been faults on both sides of the conflict which has led to claims of justification for previous atrocities. Nevertheless, if a truly independent arbitrator were to bring other moderates around the table, I believe that this would go much further towards a lasting peace settlement.

New format for York PSC branch meetings

From August we will have a different format for our meetings. We will meet monthly at 8pm for discussion of a hot topic to do with campaigning for the rights of Palestinians, as well as planning for any forthcoming events.

There will be a meeting on July 27th when we will have a presentation on ‘Life in Palestinian Refugee Camps 1947-2017’, and no further meeting until Thursday September 28th at 8pm.

For those involved in assisting with the fund-raising day at St Crux on Friday 18th August there may be a planning meeting on 10th August (to be confirmed at the branch meeting on 27th July). Volunteers are still needed for this event and if you can help, please contact us at

News about York PSC branch meetings

Discussion topics at 4th Thursday meetings

Usually at our meetings on the 4th Thursday in the month we have a discussion about a topic relevant to Palestine. Here’s the programme for the next few months:

April 27th – The impact of President Trump on the Israel/Palestine conflict

May 25th – Providing information to visitors to our stall (Parliament St, most Saturday afternoons)

July 27th – Disability amongst Palestinians, and what voluntary groups are doing to help (Anthony)


Important notice about the venue for our meetings

From May 27th we will no longer be meeting at the Priory St centre as they have put room hire prices up to a level that we cannot afford. More information will be posted when we have found a new home.


Cycling for Palestine – September 2016

We have recently had a report from one of our more energetic members on his cycle ride for Medical Aid for Palestinians in the West Bank last September.

He captured very movingly the mixture of emotions generated by his visit. There was of course the friendship and camaraderie of the riders, the welcome, generosity and humanity of the Palestinians and the captivating landscape and culture shown in, for example the ride down to Jericho, the art on display in Bethlehem and the serenity of the Al Aqsa mosque seen in the setting sun from his bedroom in Jerusalem. Not to mention the break-dancing to traditional Palestinian music by one of the group during a memorable evening in Jericho. There was also the sadness of witnessing the plight of Bedouins, the reality of areas A, B and C in practice, the tragedy and oppression in Hebron and the monstrosity that is the separation wall with its gun towers and graffiti frescos. Fortunately, some Israelis are themselves taking a stand against the government, breaking the silence, and the cyclists met with Yehudi Shaul and colleagues to hear some of the 1000 or more testimonies from ex-soldiers to the abuse, violence and humiliation inflicted on many Palestinians by the Israeli military.

He hopes to meet up again with his cycling companions, as ‘It was a pleasure to cycle with such a great bunch of people from all walks of life, each with a desire to help and stand up for the rights of the people of Palestine. It struck home that many felt strongly about the injustice and suppression even though they had no direct links with Palestine, they just wanted to make a difference, their every action and gesture ensuring the situation is not forgotten.’

We congratulate him on finishing the ride (despite a lack of training on hill climbing!) and raising over £2700 For Medical Aid for Palestinians.