Palestinians: Visa Scheme — [Martin Vickers in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall am 5:07 pm ar 13 Mai 2024.

Danfonwch hysbysiad imi am ddadleuon fel hyn

Photo of Joanna Cherry Joanna Cherry Shadow SNP Spokesperson (Justice and Home Affairs), Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee), Chair, Human Rights (Joint Committee) 5:07, 13 Mai 2024

Thank you, Mr Vickers—I was not expecting to be called so early on. I thank Gaza Families Reunited and all those who signed the petition, particularly my Edinburgh South West constituents.

I want to preface my comments by saying that I am a supporter of the Balfour Project, which seeks to do three things: first, to acknowledge Britain’s historic role in shaping 20th and 21st-century Palestine and Israel, particularly in the light of the Balfour declaration and the policies of the British mandate; secondly, to support Palestinians and Israelis in building a peaceful future based on equal rights, justice and security for all; and thirdly, to work for the British Government’s recognition of the state of Palestine.

While the British Government recognised the state of Israel in 1950, Palestinians remain stateless, exiled, refugees or second-class citizens in their own land. I saw the degree to which Palestinians are second-class citizens with my own eyes when I visited in 2016 with Caabu and the charity Human Appeal, and I refer to my entry in the Register of Members’ Financial Interests in that regard. The United Kingdom therefore bears a historic responsibility for what has happened to Palestinians since the Nakba, which should be at the forefront of the Government’s and Ministers’ minds when considering this request for a visa scheme for Palestinians. This visa scheme is urgent because of the terrible situation in which Palestinians in Gaza find themselves. The United Kingdom has a historic as well as a contemporary moral responsibility to help out.

Many of my constituents in Edinburgh South West are acutely aware of that and have contacted me asking me to support this petition, a ceasefire and the immediate cessation of any arms being sent from the United Kingdom that are being used against innocent men, women and children in Gaza. Some of my constituents have a particular interest as they are exiled Palestinians or have family in jeopardy as a result of the situation in Gaza.