Deputy PM Clegg on Israel-Palestine

June 30, 2010
Richard Kuper

libdemsFrom: Libdemleader <>

Date: 29 June 2010 14:02

Subject: Your message to Nick Clegg MP

Many thanks for emailing Nick Clegg about the interception by Israeli forces of a flotilla of vessels carrying aid to Gaza. I’m replying to letters and emails on Nick’s behalf. I am sorry for the delay in responding and I hope you will understand that, due to the sheer volume of correspondence which Nick receives, it can take some time for us to reply.

The Government was very clear in its disapproval of the Israeli actions which ended in such heavy and tragic loss of life. You may also be interested to know that on the day after the interception, Nick himself called for the “unjustified and untenable” blockade of Gaza to be lifted.

First and foremost, the Government needed to make sure of the safety of the British nationals who were involved. We immediately pressed Israel to provide full information on British nationals detained during their operation. This was made more difficult by the fact that many of those on board the boats did not have passports. However, British consular staff visited the prison where the flotilla passengers were being detained, provided consular support to British detainees and pressed for their release at the earliest possible opportunity. At the time of writing, all except one dual Israeli-British involved have left the country. The one dual national was released to their family in Israel.

We have underlined the need for a full, credible, impartial and independent investigation into the events of 31 May. We have made clear that we want to see a process that ensures full accountability and commands the confidence of the international community, including international participation.

Israel’s announcement of an inquiry headed by former Supreme Court judge Yaakov Tirkel is an important step forward. We welcome the appointment of Lord Trimble as an international observer. Clearly it is very important that this is a truly independent inquiry and a thorough investigation that the international community can respect.

These events have captured the world’s attention, but they should not be viewed in isolation. They arose from the unacceptable and unsustainable blockade of Gaza, which is a cause of public concern here in the United Kingdom and around the world. It has long been the view of the Government that restrictions on Gaza should be lifted – a view confirmed by UN Security Council Resolution 1860, which called for the sustained delivery of humanitarian aid and called on states to alleviate the humanitarian and economic situation persisting there.

It is essential that there is unfettered access – not only to meet the humanitarian needs of the people of Gaza, but to enable the reconstruction of homes and livelihoods and permit trade to take place. The Palestinian economy, whether in Gaza or the West Bank, is an essential part of a viable state of Palestine which we hope will one day exist alongside Israel in peace and security.

A solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict is firmly in the national interests of the UK, as well as those in the region. We want the new generation of Palestinians to grow up in hope, not despair, and believing in a peaceful settlement with Israel, not impoverished and susceptible to terrorist recruitment. We want the next generation of Israelis to live free from the fear of rocket fire and able to enjoy peaceful relations with their Arab neighbours. Whilst we cannot deliver this for either side ourselves, as friends to both Israelis and Palestinians we will seek to buttress the diplomatic initiative of President Obama’s Administration and the proximity talks that are underway.

Thank you once again for emailing.

Best wishes,

Bess Mayhew
Office of Nick Clegg MP

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