Smith Returns To Gaza Strip

27 November 2009
SNP Member of the European Parliament Mr Alyn Smith is to take part in a Parliamentary delegation organised by the European Campaign to end the Siege of Gaza in January, to meet with politicians and officials of the Arab League and Egyptian government in Cairo, and to visit Gaza itself to meet with NGOs, civic society, the international community and politicians there.

Mr Smith, who himself grew up in the Middle East, will be returning to Gaza, as he took part in an MEP delegation to Israel and Palestine in 2007. He has consistently and vocally supported the cause of peace and a two state solution, and is in favour of the suspension of the EU-Israel agreements until the state of Israel implements adequate human rights safeguards.

Smith took part on (Thursday) in a symbolic action ahead of the UN inspired international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people on 29 November where MEPs held posters in the Parliament Chamber in Strasbourg urging an end to the occupation. A picture of Smith with Plaid Cymru MEP colleague Jill Evans is attached. Speaking before the trip

Smith said:

"The Middle East is close to my heart, and the last trip to Israel and Palestine broke it. There is so much pent up hurt and hate on all sides to the interminable conflict that sometimes it is difficult to see any hope for resolution, so that all sides, and there are more than two, could live in peace and security.

"While I do my best to retain impartiality, it was clear on my last visit to Gaza that the people there bear a particular burden of aggression, and that Israel has a case to answer for their treatment. It is similarly clear that the situation has worsened since. It staggers me that so few in the world seem to take any real note of what is going on there, so this visit will hopefully go some way towards raising awareness of the reality of life under occupation."

The programme for the visit is still in formulation, but is presently as follows:

  • 14th January - Arrival in Cairo
  • 15th January - Meeting Egyptian Officials, Parliamentarians and officials of the Arab League
  • 16th and 17th January - Visit Gaza
  • 18th- Departure from Cairo