Press Release 7 May 2008

As the designated day, which marks the 60th year since the Palestinian people were ethnically cleansed from their land, approaches, Scottish Friends of Palestine can only wonder at those who will be celebrating the looting and plundering of the land, homes and property of over 750 000 Palestinian people six decades ago. We can only wonder at the contradictions which abound, and which are largely ignored by governments around the world, in celebrating the founding of the state of Israel – a state which is quite racist in nature, and which discriminates – openly – against its Palestinian citizens, some 20% of the population.

However, Scottish Friends of Palestine, are pleased to note that the flag of the state of Israel, associated by an increasing number with the acts of a rogue state now in its 41st year as military occupier of the West Bank and Gaza Strip will not, despite an earlier decision by the Provost, be flying in East Renfrewshire. Earlier in the year, In a meeting with a local residents’ group, Provost Alex Mackie agreed to provide certain Council facilities to functions being organised by this group. This included permission for the residents’ group to fly the flag of the State of Israel from a Council flagpole. This unilateral decision by one councillor contrasted with the requirements of the democratic process – the need for an informed decision, particularly on an issue outwith the competence of any local authority in Scotland.

-there had been no informed debate

-no accountable decision making process was evident

-there was no public record of the private decision taken by one individual councillor

In addition, the decision ignored the possible consequence that this Scottish local authority intended to associate itself with, and effectively give the blessing of its residents to, acts of brutality and possible crimes against humanity, repugnant to many within the Council area.

East Renfrewshire Council never had a mandate from its voters to associate the Council with the acts of a state whose flag

-dominates the wall of annexation judged illegal by the International Court in the Hague

-flies over the illegal colonial settlements throughout the West Bank

-flies over the sniper/watch towers responsible for so many deaths

-is found on the helicopters, unmanned drones, jet fighters and tanks responsible for the carnage amongst the civilian population in the occupied Gaza Strip

-presages the current daily incursions into Palestinian occupied territory resulting in civilian abductions, injury and death

Scottish Friends of Palestine now awaits the outcome of the Council’s external auditor’s investigation into the Provost’s unilateral promise that the Council Tax payers of East Renfrewshire will, in part, subsidise local celebrations of Israel’s 60th. We find it intolerable that such a promise was made and, as with the flying of the flag of the occupier, look forward to this decision being rescinded.

Scottish Friends of Palestine is a firm advocate of the total boycott of all Israeli institutions, academic and cultural bodies and Israeli products – until as such times that the Israeli state ceases to boycott the rights of the Palestinian people, and international law as it pertains to the Palestinian people.

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