Open Letter June 2014
Alex Salmond MSP
The Scottish Parliament
An Open Letter
I write on behalf of the Executive and members of Scottish Friends of Palestine in relation to recent statements credited to Minister for External Affairs, Humza Yousaf MSP, and publicised through pro-Israel agencies. In doing so, we are aware that the Scottish Government has recently issued a detailed policy statement outlining its position on Israel and Palestine. We understand that the Minister has not denied the statements attributed to him. In particular, when asked if he considers Israel to be an apartheid state the reply was “No”.
Apartheid is strictly defined. The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court 2002 which sets out apartheid as a crime against humanity, defines apartheid under Article 7(2)(h) as: “inhumane acts … committed in the context of an institutionalised regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.” It is important to note that under international law race is quite broadly defined as an ‘identifiable group’
The inhumane acts against the Palestinians, whether within Israel or the territories it holds under military occupation, are not random or isolated acts. They are systematic and institutionalised with deep roots in Israeli law and public policy. Over 50 laws which discriminate against Palestinians within Israel itself can be identified, including those dealing with residency rights, the right to live as a family unit and access to basic services. Israel’s legal, military and governmental systems are used by the state to oppress the Palestinians and this institutionalised regime of domination amounts to apartheid as defined under international law
The prohibition of apartheid under international law is a core value of international public policy and does create obligations on states. As you know, Glasgow was once at the forefront in fighting apartheid in South Africa and this does give hope that Scotland, the current Scottish Government, will continue in the tradition when it comes to Israel’s domination of, discrimination against, the Palestinian people.
We welcome a statement from the Scottish Government which acknowledges the position of Israel as an apartheid state. This would then place Scotland in the vanguard when it comes to realising the rights of the Palestinian people.
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