Independent Scotland could play a key role in brokering Middle East peace talks, says SNP MP
Tommy Sheppard - photo credit: UK Parliament
Independence could allow Scotland to play a key role in brokering peace talks in the Middle East, according to SNP MP Tommy Sheppard.
Speaking at the SNP conference in Aberdeen, the MP for Edinburgh East pointed to Norway’s role in the 1993 Oslo Accord between Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization, which he said brought the peace process forward “light years”, and suggested an independent Scotland could play a similar role.
Sheppard was introducing a motion, which was carried, calling for an “immediate and total freeze” in Israeli settlement building.
Scottish Tories lobby for closer links between Scotland and Israel
Scottish Tories launch cross-party group to boost support for Israel in Scotland
The motion called on the UK Government to continue to pressure to Israel to cease building settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories and “condemns the Israeli Government’s current move to pass into law measures aimed at legalising illegal settlements already in occupied Palestinian territories”.
Sheppard said: “In reality what the settlements are are a de-facto annexation of territory by the Israel Government.”
He said: “You cannot have a two state solution when one of those states is in military occupation of the land designated for the other one.
“Therefore we need to reiterate our call on the Israeli Government to cease the military occupation of Palestine and withdraw to its own recognised 1967 borders so that not only the new state of Palestine can emerge and flourish and become real, but also so that Israel’s own security can be better protected, because the thing that undermines that is the continuing military occupation.”
Sheppard added: “Every new brick that is laid, every apartment block that is designed and built makes the problem larger and makes the solution further away. Like anything else, when you are in a hole, stop digging.”
He said: “I know this is a long way away from the big picture which dominates proceedings here this weekend – we are talking about independence for our country. But these things are all connected. 25 years ago it was a small country the size of Scotland, a small European country, that took action and nearly achieved a settlement to the middle east conflict.
“At the Oslo Accord, sponsored by Norway, they took things forward light years. If we get the opportunity to control our own country then we will have the opportunity to play a role like that in the international community. When people ask, will we stand up for human rights, for solidarity for the oppressed, will we do the right thing by the world, then Scotland will not be found wanting.”
Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson used a recent trip to the region to re-iterate the UK’s commitment to a two-state solution.