BUILDING SOLIDARITY, CAMPAIGNING FOR JUSTICE FOR PALESTINE
This is a summary report of the position on Palestine of the General Election candidates’ from the Walthamstow parliamentary constituency of the London Borough of Waltham Forest.
It was produced by the Waltham Forest Palestine Solidarity Campaign (WFPSC), which is a non-political organisation and does NOT endorse or support any of the candidates.
The summary is designed to provide information for voters who wish to know what the candidates’ positions are on Palestinian human rights before deciding where to cast their vote.
Responses by candidates to the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) online questionnaire can be seen at http://www.palestinecampaign.org/candidatespalestine/
Liberal Democrat, Labour and Independent candidate Ellie Merton have responded.
Questionnaires were not sent to the Workers Revolutionary Party or TUSC candidates.
Three hustings for the Walthamstow Constituency were attended by members of WFPSC:
1. Walthamstow School for Girls (Waltham Forest Trades Council) on 22nd April.
2. Grove Road Hall (Waltham Forest Council of Mosques) on 24th April
3. Wood Street Library (Waltham Forest Women’s Network) on 25th April.
A video of the 22nd April hustings is available here http://occupylondon.org.uk/walthamstow-ge2015-hustings/
Below is a summary of the Walthamstow candidates’ positions on questions raised on Palestine from the audience.
Stella Creasy (Labour Party)
Ms Creasy made the following points at the 22nd April hustings:
- That it must be remembered that 50 per cent of people did not vote for Mr Netanyahu and that it was frustrating.
- That she believes that there was more that we could do, primarily through the European Union.
- That she listens to the Palestinian people and Mahmoud Abbas on sanctions and believes that sanctions would hurt the Palestinians.
- That she supports a two-state solution with a viable Palestinian state and she drew attention to the fact that she had voted for Palestinian recognition in October 2014.
In the 24th April hustings, Ms Creasy agreed that the settlements were illegal but did not support sanctions on the same basis as above (Mahmoud Abbas is opposed to them). When questioned further on the call for sanctions by the Palestinian Civil Society organisations, she reiterated she felt sanctions would be damaging for the Palestinian people and that she was opposed to them. Ms Creasy did not agree in response to a question whether Israel was acting like a terrorist state and went on to say that Hamas, citing its charter, was a terrorist organisation.
At the hustings on 25th April, Ms Creasy said that she voted for the recognition of Palestine in October last year. She spoke about the suffering of Palestinian refugees, including the most recent ones from Syria, but did not refer to the role of Israel in their dispossessions. She stated that she supported a two-state solution and said that the responsibility was not with the UK but with the UN and EU to make sure a solution was found.
Molly Samuel-Leport (Conservative Party)
Ms Samuel-Leport did not attend the first hustings on 22nd.
At the second hustings, Ms Samuel-Leport stated that she was against sanctions and did not consider Israel to be a terrorist state. She made no further comments to questions raised from the audience and did not appear very knowledgeable on the issues involved. In conversation after the hustings, she agreed that it was an important issue and something that she would investigate further.
Though not related to the Palestinian human rights, her response of ‘Kashmir is not our business’ to a question raised on what action the British Government should take over Kashmir drew heavy criticism from the audience and seems indicative of her views regarding these difficult long standing conflicts abroad.
In the third hustings on 25th April, Ms Samuel-Leport stated that she now had a better understanding of the Palestinian peoples suffering and that she ‘feels’ for them, but that the issue was very complex and she did not know what the solution should be.
Steven Cheung (Liberal Democrats)
On 22nd Mr Cheung stated that he did not understand why sanctions had not been imposed on Israel before, he stated that if sanctions were imposed on Russia, then why not Israel? It is important to note, that this position seems to differ to the response that he provided to the PSC questionnaire. Mr Cheung also stated that as the USA is such a strong ally of Israel, it cannot be just left to them and that Britain should provide a platform for negotiations to take place.
In the second hustings Mr Cheung once again outlined his position on supporting sanctions against Israel, though stopped short of agreeing that Israel is acting like a terrorist state. He spoke passionately about his belief in not just human rights for Palestinians, but human rights issues around the world in general.
At the third hustings, Ms Anne Crook (candidate for Chingford & Woodford Green) was in attendance rather than Mr Cheung. She stated that her party supports a two-state solution, but gave no indication as to what measures she would support (or oppose).
Paul Hillman (United Kingdom Independence Party)
Mr Hillman stated that UKIP’s position is to support a two-state solution. He stated that he is against any sanctions against Israel. Mr Hillman went on to add that he believed it was a complex issue and the only option was for people to keep on ‘trying, trying and trying’.
Mr Hillman was not present at the second hustings and Mr Freddy Vaccha the UKIP candidate for Chingford & Woodford Green gave a short one minute long speech at the start of the hustings and was not invited to participate further.
Mr Hillman was not present at the third hustings and was replaced by Mr Freddy Vaccha who gave a good summary of the dispossession of the Palestinian people and their current suffering. He however, went on to say that nothing could be done about it. In conversation after the hustings, he did agree that seeing as he regarded it as an injustice, it was not really satisfactory to simply say we should not do anything to stop it from occurring.
Michael Gold (Green Party)
Mr Gold is in favour of sanctions against Israel. Mr Gold drew comparisons with South Africa and stated he is favour of a one-state solution though it is not ideal, he believes that we are not making any progress to a two-state solution.
In the second hustings, Mr Gold re-iterated his support for sanctions against Israel and his belief that British Imperialism had played a large role in causing the conflict. He stated that Israel was a terrorist state and once again stated his support for a one-state solution. He drew comparisons between Israel and apartheid South Africa and talked about the time that he had spent in South Africa.
Mr Gold at the third hustings strongly condemned Israel’s actions and re-iterated his support for sanctions and an arms embargo.
Nancy Taaffe (Trade Unionist & Socialist Coalition)
At the first hustings Ms Taaffe stated that she supported the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination. She said that she believed in Israeli and Palestinian workers joining together to overthrow the ‘vicious Israeli state’. She stated that not all Israeli workers supported the state and it would be possible to win these workers over to get rid of the Netanyahu government.
Her position on sanctions against Israel were unclear, she stated that she would support sanctions by the unified working classes in solidarity, but did not want to push progressive Israeli’s away into the ‘arms of Netanyahu’.
Though Ms Taaffe was present at the second hustings, her contribution was limited to providing a one minute opening speech and was not invited to participate further.
Ms Taaffe at the third hustings stated that the occupation must come to an end and she said that she support of an arms embargo against Israel.
Jonty Leff (Workers Revolutionary Party)
At the first hustings Mr Leff began by stating that he had in fact visited Palestine on two occasions. He described how Israel was created by a British mandate and Imperialism. He stated that the Palestinian people are aware of the British peoples support and protests for Palestine, that they do not need our sympathy but our action. He believes that Zionism would not be able to last without British and American support. Mr Leff went on to state that he was in favour of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital.
Though Mr Leff was present at the second hustings, his contribution was limited to providing a one minute opening speech and was not invited to participate further. Mr Leff was not present at the third hustings, though it is not clear whether he was invited.
Ellie Merton (Independent)
At the first hustings Ms Merton stated that she agreed with the position of Mr Leff, Workers Revolutionary Party (above). Ms Merton stated that she was in favour of sanctions and if elected it would be her second highest priority to ensure that ‘Israel was brought to book’ and account for the crimes they have committed for generations. She said that sanctions would draw focus on the fact that Israel is an apartheid state. Ms Merton also encouraged people to support Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions.
Though Ms Merton was present at the second hustings, her contribution was limited to providing a one minute opening speech and was not invited to participate further.
In the third hustings Ms Merton spoke at length about her visits to Gaza and Bethlehem. She re-iterated her support for sanctions and the BDS movement in general.
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