Press Release 14 March 2006

Scottish Friends of Palestine questions both the integrity and the wisdom of British government policy and practice in Palestine.

In August 2001 the then Secretary General of the PFLP, Abu Ali Mustafa, was slaughtered by two Israeli missiles as he sat at his desk in Ramallah. His successor was Ahmad Sa’adat. Shortly afterwards the Israeli racist tourist minister ,General Rehav’am Ze’evi, was murdered in a possible tit-for-tat operation, with the PFLP claiming responsibility. The Israeli assassins were never brought to trial and Sa’adat was blamed by the Israeli government for Ze’evi’s murder. To appease the Israelis, Sa’adat was tried and sentenced at one of the notorious mid night security courts in Yasser Arafat’ s besieged compound.

The absence of due process, proper legal representation, never bothered the UK and the US who both offered their services to the occupiers as guarantors of the indefinite custody of Sa’adat and others in Jericho under the Ramallah Agreement. Needless to say the Palestinian people had reservations on this matter, and the role played by the then Palestinian Legislative Council under the dominance of Fatah. The election of the new PLC inevitably changed the situation, with the prospect of a Palestinian High Court edict, issued some 4 years earlier in favour of releasing the detainees, now being honoured.

For two years, Scottish Friends of Palestine, tried in vain to get questions answered with regard to Britain’s role in this affair. Our letters were ignored by Jack Straw. Ironically, it was only yesterday that a sympathetic Member of Parliament forwarded an eventual reply to SFoP.

Inevitably the fog of fact versus fiction, deliberate lies and obfuscation overtake events.

One fact is clear – the Palestinian Legislative Council never breached the Ramallah Agreement. It has been breached by Israel and by Britain (the role of the US has yet to be revealed). Britain has clearly breached its duty of care to the Palestinian prisoners – those it agreed to monitor. With no warning, no care taken to ensure the safety of those prisoners it has overseen for four years, Britain withdrew and abandoned the prisoners to the anticipated depredations of the occupier.

A perfidious action indeed which now exposes Britain as a colluder in the occupation, in the detention and highly probable torture of Ahmad Sa’adat and the others taken into Israeli detention. It is a shameful action which now exposes all Britons in the area to a danger which, hitherto, was negligible.

Jack Straw and his advisers have many questions to answer. It is not enough for Jack Straw to claim that the monitors were in danger. His evidence must be revealed and questioned. The media in Britain has a role and a duty not to ignore these events but to seek answers and expose the actions of a government which, when it comes to the Middle East, are, at the very least, highly questionable.

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