BRITAIN-PALESTINE PARLIAMENTARY GROUP
Date: 11 March 2010
For immediate release
Contact: Graham Bambrough +44 (0)207 832 1322
A British parliamentary delegation that returned from the Gaza Strip on Monday has welcomed the release of journalist Paul Martin, after the group raised his detention with Hamas officials.
The delegation from the Britain Palestine All Party Parliamentary Group (BPAPPG) included the Rt Hon Lord David Steel and MPs Andy Slaughter, Karen Buck and Stephen Williams. The delegation raised the issue of Mr Martin’s imprisonment during a meeting with Gaza ‘s Justice Minister, Mr Faraj Al-Guol, on Sunday. They today welcomed the fulfilment of a commitment to release Mr Martin as a “gesture of goodwill to the delegation.”
Rt Hon Lord David Steel, who led the delegation and personally discussed the issue with Mr Al-Guol, as well as with Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Yousef, welcomed the release.
“I am delighted that Paul has been released into the hands of British officials. We twice raised the issue of his detention during meetings with the government on Sunday, and were encouraged at the time by their commitment to release him as a gesture of goodwill towards our visit. I am pleased that this assurance has been fulfilled.”
Lord Steel said that the release of Mr Martin showed that dialogue with Hamas could be productive.
“Only by engaging with organisations such as Hamas, who after all are the elected representatives of the Palestinians, will we see progress in the Middle East . We cannot implore people to adopt democratic means and then simply refuse to engage with the winners of elections.”
Graham Bambrough, Parliamentary Officer at the Council for Arab British Understanding who coordinated the delegation’s visit echoed Lord Steel’s comments.
“I am thrilled for Paul that he has been released and will be shortly reunited with his family. The delegation engaged in positive discussions with Hamas officials on Sunday afternoon, and Paul’s detention was of course one of the key issues discussed. I think this only goes to emphasise that dialogue, rather than isolation, is the best way forward.”
Richard Burden MP, Chair of the Britain Palestine APPG, welcomed the release.
“I am delighted that Paul has been released and that the delegation from the Britain-Palestine APPG was able to play a part in this. This demonstrates the importance of engaging with all sides in political debate.”
Notes to editors:
Paul Martin was detained in Gaza on February 14th by de facto security forces as he arrived to testify at the trial of Mohammad Abu Muailik, a former member of the Abu Rish Brigades, a Gaza militant group linked to Hamas’s political rival Fatah. Hamas announced he was detained for “clear security reasons”. Initially held for 15 days it was announced on March 2nd that Martin would be held for a further 15 days.
The delegation met with Mr Faraj Al-Guol, Hamas Justice Minister, as well as Deputy Foreign Minister Dr Ahmed Yousef, over the course of Sunday afternoon. Mr Martin’s detention was discussed, and assurances were made that as “a gesture of goodwill towards the delegation” the security forces hoped to release the Briton on Thursday.
The delegation’s visit to Gaza was coordinated by the Council for Arab-British Understanding (CAABU), which acts as the Secretariat of the BPAPPG. The delegates were the Rt Hon Lord David Steel, Andy Slaughter MP, Karen Buck MP, Stephen Williams MP, Andrew Baldwin (Office of Colin Breed MP) and Graham Bambrough (Parliamentary Officer at CAABU). They entered Gaza via the Rafah border crossing on 5th March and left on 8th March.
For more information, or for an interview with a member of the delegation, contact Graham Bambrough at the Council for Arab British Understanding on 07734329182 / 0207 832 1322 or firstname.lastname@example.org