Friday, September 8, 2006

A policy of punishment

Ismail Haniyeh
Palestinian PM
Saturday September 9, 2006
The Guardian

"Despite the historic responsibility of successive British governments for what has befallen our people, from the Balfour declaration to the catastrophe of dispossession, Palestinians had hoped that the new generation of British politicians might break with the past and stand for truth and justice in the Middle East.

Regrettably, however, the last decade has witnessed the most unfair and one-sided British policy towards the region since the creation of the state of Israel in our homeland close to 60 years ago. The problem has been the unquestioning attachment of Tony Blair's government to the Clinton and then Bush administrations, which have seen the Middle East through Israeli eyes only.

Despite Israeli war crimes against our people and assassinations of our leaders, the Palestinians introduced to the region one of the most transparent democratic experiences ever. The response of the British government has been to back the US and Israel in imposing boycotts and sanctions, in a blatant act of collective punishment. Since the legislative elections in January 2006, the Palestinian people have endured an effective state of siege and economic and diplomatic boycotts, and the Israeli military machine has been given free rein. During July and August, Israeli occupation troops killed 251 Palestinians, about half of them civilians - without a word of criticism from the British government.

The arrest of these ministers and MPs - five ministers, 33 MPs, including my deputy and the speaker of the legislative council - is a violation of the most fundamental principles of democracy, but this appears to be immaterial to Mr Blair. For him, three captured Israeli soldiers are far more important than 10,000 Palestinian detainees.

We receive signals here that the British public is unhappy about what Blair's government has been doing to our people. We know for sure that the majority of the British people did not approve of the invasion of Iraq. We greatly commend them for such a stance and thank them for sympathising with us in our plight. It is only through justice that peace will prevail in our region and Muslims, Christians and Jews once again live in harmony."

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