SNP accused of having Europe’s ‘harshest’ stance over Israel
A SENIOR minister in the Israeli government has criticised the SNP-led Scottish Government’s position on his country as “the harshest in Europe”.
Michael Oren, a historian who is now deputy minister in the Israeli prime minister’s office, also accused the Scottish Government of “gratuitously misreading” international law when it described Israel’s attacks on Gaza as “disproportionate”.
Mr Oren spoke to The Herald on Sunday at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Tel Aviv last week as rockets fell on Israeli towns and cities last week.
The barrage of almost 500 rockets from Gaza followed a botched spying mission by Israeli forces that left eight dead. Israel responded to the rockets with air strikes at more than 70 sites in Gaza.
The violence was the worst in the r egion si nce the 50-day conflict in 2014.
In August 2014, Humza Yousaf, t he then minister f or exter nal a f fa i r s , c o n d e mne d rocket attacks from Gaza but added that Israe l ’s response was “disproportionate”.
His assessment was based on the death toll in Gaza, where 2,251 people died, including 1,462 civilians. On the Israeli side, 67 soldiers and six civilians died.
Mr Oren MK ( Member of t he Knesset) said: “I understand the Scottish Government has taken a position on us that is probably the harshest of any political party in Europe. They vie with some of the Swedish parties and the Irish parties.
“But let me say about [ Yousaf’s comments on] disproportionality. First of all, it is a gross misreading of international law. I studied international law. Disproportionality it says very simply that an army can only use the force necessary to meet the threat. If we use a certain amount of force and rockets continue to fall on our territory then the force cannot be disproportionate, just cannot by definition.
“So, it’s a gross misreading and I would say a gratuitous misreading of disproportionality principles. We are, if anything, under proportion in our use of force.
“Many other societies, most other societies, would use a reckless amount of force to stop rockets falling on civilians. We have not done that. We have the power, boy we have the power. We could end it very quickly.”
Human rights organisation Amnesty issued a report on Israel earlier this year that accused the government of “collectively punishing Gaza’s entire population” with an air, land and sea blockade.
The blockade has triggered a humanitarian crisis, with electricity cuts affecting clean water and sanitation and diminishing health service access. The blockade has rendered Gaza increasingly “unlivable”, according to the United Nations.
Mr Oren said: “I know this is difficult, but when you think about Gaza you have to throw out everything you know about everything in human affairs. I’ll give you examples. Hamas [the governing authority] wants to keep a low light on the humanitarian crisis there, but it burned down a crossing to Gaza three times. It burned fuel lines to a population that is in any case only getting three hours a day of electricity.
“And, by the way, Hamas has 24/7 electricity in its tunnels and its bunkers and headquarters. No problems there with electricity, no problems with water.”
The Scottish Government said its position on the situation in Gaza “was and continues to be in line with much mainstream international opinion”.
A Government spokesman added: “More generally, we support international efforts to bring resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, based on working towards a two-state solution.”
Celtic fans have been waving Palestinian flags, while Rangers supporters have been seen with Israeli flags
Michael Oren hit out at ‘misreading’ of international law