This is how you can put Palestinian rights on the agenda in the general election

Palestine Solidarity Campaign are asking parliamentary candidates to stand up for Palestine

A photo of Palestine solidarity protesters

Next month, people across Britain will go to the polls to elect a new parliament and government. Before they do, many will be sizing up the candidates to see who will best stand up for their values. Millions of people care deeply about human rights and the principles of freedom and justice and stand in opposition to racism and institutionalised discrimination. They expect the same standards from political representatives. An urgent new intervention launched by the Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC) aims to help voters to make an informed choice.

This General Election has been called at a moment when Palestinians are confronting one of the darkest moments in their history. More than 37,000 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip having been killed in what the International Court of Justice (ICJ) has accepted as a plausible case of genocide. The prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) is seeking arrest warrants for Israel’s Prime Minister and Defence Minister alongside Hamas leaders, for crimes against humanity, including the use of starvation as a weapon of war. It also comes in the wake of an unprecedented series of massive mobilisations including fifteen major marches so far in London.

This year, Palestine will be an electoral issue to an extent that Britain has never seen before. Opinion polls have consistently pointed to overwhelming support among the public for a ceasefire in Gaza, as well as meaningful actions to hold Israel to account such as a halt to arms sales. Unfortunately, public sentiment has largely been ignored in Westminster. Too many politicians still make excuses for Israel’s horrific violence. In November, the only occasion that MPs have voted on a motion calling for a ceasefire, just 125 out of 650 were prepared to insist on an end to the killing.

To address this democratic deficit, PSC is calling on its supporters to use a new online tool to write to the candidates who are standing in their constituency. In conjunction with our Palestinian partners, we have drawn up a set of concrete actions that we are asking parliamentary candidates to commit to if elected. Politicians in Britain have a moral and legal responsibility to end their complicity, take steps to prevent genocidal acts, and use their influence to bring Israel’s violence to a stop. Alongside supporting an immediate ceasefire, an arms embargo, and the restoration of British funding to the aid and refugee support agency UNRWA, we are asking prospective MPs to commit to halt all moves to enhance trade with Israel and implement an immediate ban on trade with illegal Israeli settlements. We ask that they support the work of the international courts to hold Israel to account for violations of international humanitarian law and protect our right to advocate for Palestinian rights through protest, boycotts, and divestment. We will publish candidates answers in full on our website to assist voters with their decision.

Although we expect the impact of Gaza on the election to be especially strong in some places – urban areas, university towns, and seats with a higher proportion of Palestinian, Muslim and minority ethnic voters – right across the country there has been sustained action in support of Palestinian rights in recent months.

Israel’s current campaign of genocidal violence against the Palestinian people in Gaza is built on the foundations of decades of violations of Palestinian rights by Israel in which successive British governments have been complicit. Palestinians have the inalienable right to self-determination, including the right to return to their homes, and to be free from ​​discriminatory laws and racial domination. Any suggestion that, alone among peoples facing oppression around the world, Palestinians should be singled out and denied the right to appeal to people of conscience for support is wrong and must be rejected. With the election drawing near, we are urging all parties to demonstrate support for human rights and international law.

From the huge and historic London demonstrations to the smaller protests in towns and cities, from Penzance to the Orkney Islands, hundreds of thousands – like millions around the world – have taken to the streets to call for a ceasefire and justice for the Palestinian people. Now, we are taking the demands of that movement into the heart of this election campaign. In every single one of those places there are voters who will be looking closely at how candidates respond to our questions as they make up their minds about where to put their cross on 4 July.

You can use PSC’s online tool to write to candidates in your constituency here.

Check your previous MP’s record on standing up for Palestinian rights here.

Peter Leary is Deputy Director of Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Image credit: Socialist Appeal – Creative Commons

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