Letter to Rt Hon Alistair Burt MP, Minister of State (Department for International Development) (Joint with the Foreign and Commonwealth Office).

1 January 2018

Alistair Burt
Rt Hon MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA.

Dear Alistair Burt,

The Ongoing Tragedy in Nabi Saleh.

It is with a very heavy heart that I am writing this letter to you, and I am doing so knowing that you have visited the village of Nabi Saleh and know the extended Tamimi family well. Recent tragic events included the injury to 15 year old Mohammed shot in the face with a rubber bullet*, (he endured a six hour operation to remove it) the arrest of teenager Ahed, her mother Nariman, Nour and now Manal.

These four strong women stand up to the Occupation that has appropriated Nabi Saleh land and its spring to build the Israeli settlement of Halamish. The paradox is that under international law the settlements are illegal and the Palestinians have a right to demonstrate against this injustice. This illegality is recognised by the UK and I quote from correspondence received from you on settlements 'we have been clear that Israeli settlement activity is a major barrier to our pursuit of a lasting peace agreement in the Middle East'.

The situation in Palestine is multi layered, evolving over the last 100 years, but I think we cannot get away from the fact it started when Britain was pursuing a now obsolescent colonial policy; moreover, even the dubious 1917 Balfour Declaration, stated that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine. Consequentially, the UK has a duty to the Palestinians to achieve these rights.

Finally I would like to quote from Bassem Tamini, father of Ahed, from speech made when he was in court charged with organising demonstrations in his village; it encapsulates his humane values and the root of the problem which surely has to be recognised before any meaningful peace negotiations can bear fruit:

'I was born at the same time as the Occupation and have been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality racism and lack of freedom ever since. Yet, despite all of this, my belief in human values and the need for peace in this land have never been shaken. Suffering and oppression did not fill my heart with hatred for anyone not did they kindle feeling of revenge. To the contrary they reinforced my belief in peace and national standing as an adequate response to the inhumanity of the Occupation.

We have the right to express our rejection of Occupation in all of its forms; to defend our freedom and dignity as a people and to seek justice and peace in our land in order to protect our children and secure their future. The civil nature of our actions is the light that will overcome the darkness of the Occupation bring a dawn of freedom that will warm the cold wrists in chains, sweep despair from the soul and end decades of oppression.'

I know from the response to my letters over the last 7 years, that the British government has been in dialogue with the Israeli over the human rights issues, but clearly this is not enough to halt the injustices Surely now is the time to take stronger action. We cannot rely on the US to be an 'honest broker ' in the 'peace process' if it ever was.

I look forward to hearing from you.

Best Regards,
Gill Knight

ps I have sent a copy of this letter to my MP, Amber Rudd.
* calling these bullets rubber is a bit of a misnomer, they are metal with a rubber coating