Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign: Media Release
DESMOND TUTU CALLS FOR ARMS EMBARGO AS ISRAEL ARRESTS INTERNATIONALS TRAVELLING TO BETHLEHEM
Archbishop Desmond Tutu has come out in support of an arms embargo against Israel after authorities there arrested scores of UK and other nationals in Ben Gurion Airport yesterday.
The Nobel Peace Laureate said “I endorse this call for an arms embargo because we desire peace and justice for Palestinians and Israelis through non-violent ways.”
Israel says 69 internationals had been arrested at Israel’s Ben Gurion Airport, but the specific charge against them is still unclear. Around 700 internationals had intended to visit the West Bank town of Bethlehem on the invitation of families there. The Jerusalem Post reported that openly acknowledging an intention to visit the West Bank was enough to “ensure… deportation”.
According to the New York Times, Israeli commentators have “criticized the country’s leaders for overreacting and for broadcasting an image of insecurity and panic.”
Amongst those arrested is the UK co-ordinator of the “Welcome to Palestine” initiative, Mick Napier. Speaking by phone before his arrest yesterday, he reported that all UK participants had been arrested and it was understood they would be imprisoned at a detention centre in Ramla near Tel-Aviv.
“By their actions, Israel has shown the world that its siege is not restricted to Gaza, but extends to the West Bank as well. We have been arrested in Tel-Aviv simply because we refused to conceal the fact that we intended to visit Palestinian friends in Bethlehem. In no other state would that be a crime.”
Napier said the group were pleased to hear that Tutu and others had called for an arms embargo against Israel: “The pressure against Israel is mounting, and will continue to mount until Israel complies with international law and human rights legislation.”
The Jerusalem Post reports that pro-Palestinian Israeli activists who had held up signs inside the terminal saying ‘Welcome to Palestine’ were “taken outside by police where they were arrested and attacked by bystanders.” Police also arrested a Jerusalem Post reporter, Larry Derfner, after he questioned the arrests. He was quickly released after showing his press card.
Organisers of the Palestine visit chose the date of the ‘fly-in’ to coincide with the 7th anniversary of the International Court of Justice ruling on 9th July 2004 that Israel’s West Bank wall, which today almost completely encircles the city of Bethlehem, is illegal.
(www.scottishpsc.org.uk / 09.07.2011)