4 Jun 2010

Caroline Lucas puts Israel on the spot in House of Commons

In one of my first opportunities to ask a question in Parliament, I asked Foreign Secretary William Hague whether the UK Government would put real action behind its words of holding Israel to account for allowing its troops to fire on the Free Gaza flotilla.

As you probably know, this was a convoy of ships carrying volunteers and essential medical supplies to Gaza.

Several people were killed or wounded.

I asked Hague whether he would back an urgent inquiry into the incident and whether he would consider proposing to his European Union foreign minister counterparts the suspension of the EU-Israel Association Agreement - a political and trade cooperation agreement between the EU and Israel.

There's a human rights clause within that agreement which expressly allows the EU to suspend cooperation in the event of human rights abuses taking place.

So, I asked, would the UK government use its influence and take action rather than just offer mild words of criticism?

In answer to my question Hague said that the UK Government would continue to find 'diplomatic' ways to help solve the dispute.

But diplomacy only works if backed by real action.

Will our government provide it?

Like many, I'm deeply shocked by the brutality of the assault.

My thoughts are with the victims and their families.

I was one of the sponsoring MPs who proposed a Commons motion condemning the attack.

Please see text below.

Gaza Early Day Motion

"That this House is appalled by the loss of life associated with Israel's attack on the flotilla of ships carrying humanitarian aid to Gaza.

Notes that the attack took place in international waters and demands the release of UK nationals and others being held by Israel.

Endorses the call of the United Nations Secretary General for a prompt, impartial, credible and transparent investigation conforming to international standards.

Recognises that Israel's blockade has destroyed the economy of Gaza, deepens poverty, inflicts widespread suffering and which, by imposing collective punishment on the people of Gaza, is itself contrary to international law.

Therefore calls on the international community to require Israel to end its blockade and to redouble international efforts to secure a lasting settlement with a secure and independent state of Palestine alongside a secure and independent Israel."

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